Chapter 14 : Mistakes
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N.E.W.T.s were rapidly approaching and the seventh years were desperately trying to cram facts and figures into their heads. Rose’s mother even went to the trouble of creating a revision timetable for her which Rose was incredibly thankful for, and she threw herself into studying, hiding in the deepest corners of the library away from any possible distractions. Even though she had spent most of the Easter holidays going over each subject, she didn’t waste a minute’s study time, wolfing her dinner down before dashing to the library.
She’s didn’t have to try to avoid Scorpius; the prick didn’t even come looking for her to apologize or at least explain. Not once. Admittedly, she missed having a study buddy, but on the bright side it was easier to concentrate alone.
However, even disappearing for half the day couldn’t keep Rose from drama. It was unavoidable.
She caught up with Dom and Lizzie while walking to Charms, but as soon as she reached them Lizzie mumbled something incoherently and sped up to talk to someone in front of them.
“What’s up with her?” Rose asked.
Dom shrugged and said, “No idea. You’d think you had Spattergroit or something.”
Then at lunch when Rose sat down next to her opposite Dom, Lizzie mumbled an excuse that she had to go ask her cousin something and ran over to the Hufflepuff table, eating the remainder of her lunch there. By then Rose had a feeling she wasn’t just being paranoid.
“Have I done something?” she asked softly once they were up in their dormitory, joining Lizzie to collect her books for the next lesson.
Lizzie looked alarmed and hastily stuffed her books into her bag. “What? No. Why?”
“I’m not stupid - you’ve been avoiding me and I don’t know why. There are only so many people I can fall out with at a time, Lizzie-wizzy,” she pouted.
Lizzie smiled nervously, “I’m not angry at you. I’m just worried about these stupid N.E.W.T.s, but I’m sorry if it seems like I’m avoiding you. I don’t do it on purpose.”
Rose hesitated for a few seconds. Lizzie was definitely lying – she wasn’t maintaining eye contact, she looked on edge and she kept swallowing. That girl never was a decent liar.
Something was up, and it didn’t look like she wanted Rose to know what it was.
Why were people so distrustful of her these days? Was she really that bad a friend?
Prying would count as being a bad friend, wouldn’t it? She decided to let Lizzie reveal what was bothering her in her own time. She knew how annoying it was when people snooped around her own business, after all.
“Good,” Rose smiled. She leaned in for a hug which Lizzie returned almost reluctantly. Strange. “Don’t worry too much about N.E.W.T.s, okay? I can help with anything you’re stuck on. And I’m always here to listen, you know that, right?”
Lizzie nodded, said, “Same goes for you,” and returned the smile before leaving Rose alone in the bathroom.
Rose wasn’t too worried. Lizzie never could hide secrets for long – she’d come around in no time.
He hadn’t had a friend-who-was-a-girl in a long while, ever since his peculiar crush on Scarlett started. Rose thanked the heavens that he was finally moving on.
“Hey Rose, mind if we join you?” he asked, plonking himself down opposite Rose. “All the other tables are taken.”
“Er, not at all,” she replied, raising an eyebrow at him and flickering her gaze towards the petite girl standing behind him, tugging nervously on her reddy-brown hair.
“This is Lara,” he announced proudly. “She’s a fifth year.”
“Hi,” said Lara shyly in a sweet, high-pitched voice.
“Hey,” Rose replied, smiling. Lara offered a small smile in return and sat down beside Al rather gracefully, as far as sitting down goes.
There was a long pause which Rose felt the need to fill with whatever first popped into her mind. “Have you heard about the time when we got to meet the Minister for Magic’s family, and Al tripped over his own feet in front of his daughters–” Al covered Rose’s mouth before she could continue. Lara began to giggle.
He gave Rose the dirtiest look he could muster. Rose joined in the giggling. “Sorry.”
“You’ll have to tell me that story some time,” Lara smiled amusedly at Al.
“Not likely,” he muttered, smiling slightly.
After a short pause, Lara said softly, “Um, I’m just going to go pick out some books to help with my work.”
“Al!” Rose whispered with a wide smile once Lara was out of earshot. “She’s so nice!”
“I know,” he replied contentedly.
“How did you meet?”
“In the Slytherin common room. We’re both early risers. We’ve been kind of friends for a while, actually, but we’ve become quite close recently.”
“That’s really great,” Rose beamed. “You should ask her out.”
“Yeah… might do. You know, I’d be kinda lonely without her, what with Scorpius being a stupid idiot and all.”
“You’re not friends with each other anymore?” she enquired nonchalantly.
“Ha, no. He knew I really liked Bell, so he goes and stays in a relationship with her anyway?” Al sighed heavily. “I’m giving him the silent treatment. Obviously I still have to see him a lot as we live in the same dormitory, but it’s pretty easy for the most part. I have noticed that he’s always sulking around, though. He’s definitely lost that spring in his step, which is interesting considering girlfriends are meant to make you happy, not depressive.”
Rose pretended not to care about the comments about Scorpius. “Really ‘liked’… past tense? Are you over Scarlett then?”
Al nodded, looking around nervously to make sure no-one, or more specifically Lara, could hear, “I think so. I mean, I don’t follow her around anymore and I’ve come to the realisation that her crazy mood swings would be pretty hard to deal with.”
“Finally! I’ve been waiting for this moment for ages!” Rose said, pinching Al’s cheeks. “I’m so proud of you, Albus Severus.”
“Geroff,” he muttered.
“Now we just need to make Hugo see sense.”
“Oh, Hugo’s well over her. You know, I have this niggling suspicion that he only went after Scarlett in the first place because I let slip to him a while ago that I was after Scarlett.”
Well, that was news to Rose. “Oh, really? That’s good then, I guess. But there wasn’t much point of making us go through that whole crazy spy mission for a girl he hardly even liked…”
“That’s Hugo for you,” Al shrugged.
“Can’t believe you devoted so much of your life to stalking her, though. Well actually, I can. It’s you we’re talking about here.”
He rolled his eyes and said, “I don’t just get stupid little crushes, okay, I get infatuations!” At that moment Lara returned with a pile of ancient Herbology books, causing Al’s cheek to go pink. Rose smiled to herself when she noticed Al explaining things Lara didn’t understand, and it was hard to ignore the not-so-subtle arm brushes and hand touches when they turned bright red every time it happened.
They worked in silence for a good ten minutes, with Rose stifling her giggles at their cuteness, before getting interrupted.
“Rosie!” trilled a voice she had grown to loathe. “Guess what!”
Rose sighed as she looked up from her potions textbook. A tall skinny girl with perfectly curled dark hair and ruby red cheeks looked back at her excitedly. “What, Scarlett?”
“I’m in love!” she squealed, clapping her hands together and jumping about giddily. She seemed to be completely unaware of Albus and Lara sitting there with their fingers in their ears to shield their eardrums from the piercing noise.
Rose’s eyes narrowed. “Of course you are.”
“Quiet, please!” called Madam Pryce crabbily.
Scarlett lowered her voice a little and concluded her little clapping dance. “I told Scorpy I love him the other day! And then we kissed for ages! It was so romantic, right by the lake with the breeze gently blowing my hair and everything,” she sighed dreamily.
“Sounds great,” Rose muttered sarcastically. Too bad the Giant Squid didn’t make an appearance and eat you.
Scarlett put her hands over her heart. “I’ve never been happier in my life, he makes me feel like –”
“Uh, I’m kind of in the middle of studying here, ‘cause, you know, I have to take my Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests in a matter of weeks.” Why can’t she take the hint?
“Oh, yes, of course! There must be so much pressure on you to do well, what with your family history for being geniuses and all.”
“Not really. My parents just want me to do my best, that’s all that matters to them,” Rose lied. In reality, she knew how disappointed her mum would be if she got less than Exceeds Expectations in anything. Her father, however, would be happy as long as she beats Scorpius. She was definitely going to try to please them both.
“Your parents sound so lovely,” Scarlett smiled, looking off into the distance. “My dad said if I don’t get all O’s next year, I’m getting disowned.”
Rose nodded. “Interesting tale, old chap.” Please leave now.
“So, what are you planning to be when you leave Hogwarts?” Scarlett asked, cocking her head to the side.
How does that concern you, exactly? “Don’t know really, maybe a Charms Professor or something.” Ugh, damn Scarlett for always giving her full attention as if she actually cares about what I’m saying…
Scarlett considered this for a moment. “Hmm… Professor Weasley. I like it! Or Professor Foster, if you get married.”
Rose coughed uncomfortably. “Um, I don’t think I’ll be getting married anytime soon.”
“No, you certainly won’t be, not if I have anything to do with it,” muttered Al.
“Well, personally I’d kill to be a St Mungo’s Welcome Witch. The job looks ever so fun and the lady is always so jolly!” Scarlett beamed. “It’s been my dream job since forever.”
The scariest part was that Rose could easily picture Scarlett as a Welcome Witch, grinning from ear to ear at visitors and saying, ‘Hello, I’m Scarlett Bell, St Mungo’s Welcome Witch, and I’d be thrilled to help you!’ in that annoyingly over cheerful voice of hers.
Rose made a mental note to avoid ever going to St Mungo’s if she could help it.
She flipped the page of her textbook and resumed reading.
“Well, it’s been great chatting to you! I’ll be off to go find Scorpy,” Scarlett chirruped.
“Have fun,” Rose sneered.
They suit each other perfectly, she thought.
“Will do,” Scarlett replied as she happily skipped away.
Wow. Rose was such a cow to Scarlett and she knew it, yet Scarlett seemed completely oblivious to Rose’s sarcasm. And it annoyed her to no end.
What’s the fun in mocking people if they don’t even notice?
Rose was fast asleep in bed, exhausted after spending three quarters of an hour reviewing how popcorn was made and during which activities it was usually devoured by Muggles. Whilst revising her mind flitted back to that lesson before she and Fabian started dating when she had called it ‘poopcorn’. She ears still tinged pink at the memory.
She hadn’t spent much time with Fabian lately, now that she thought about it. Preparation for the upcoming exams consumed all her time and she only really saw him in Muggle Studies. She hated the thought of drifting apart from him; he was really sweet and great to spend time with (apart from the times when he was annoyingly persistent), not to mention he treated her like a lady and never lied to her unlike some boys she knew.
Her dream about – what else – a homicidal rubber duck was ended abruptly by someone breathing on her face. She shrieked and sat up straight in bed, clutching the covers close to her pumping heart and scrutinizing the room carefully for any flash of yellow. It turned out to just be Lizzie, who leapt back in surprise.
"It’s just me! Elizabeth Lola Martin, dorm mate, best friend of nearly seven years. No rubber duck around for miles,” she added at the stricken look on Rose’s face.
“Oh, thank Merlin,” she mumbled groggily. “What’d you wake me up for?”
“Well,” Lizzie began quietly, sitting on the edge of Rose’s bed. “I need to tell you something important.”
“Can’t it wait till morning? I’m awfully tired,” she replied, yawning for effect. “It’s, like, gone midnight.”
“No. I don’t think I can wait that long. You know how I can’t keep anything a secret; I have a terrible guilty conscience.”
“Guilty? Uh-oh, what’ve you done?” Rose asked warily, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.
Going paler than a blanket of snow, Lizzie whispered, “I’ve done a really bad thing, Rose.”
‘A really bad thing’ in Lizzie’s standards was skipping breakfast or handing in homework late; Rose really wasn’t expecting anything too dreadful.
“You aren’t pregnant, are you?” Rose asked teasingly.
Lizzie shook her head solemnly and bit her lip. “Worse.”
“No,” Lizzie answered humourlessly.
“Don’t tell me you read that horrible book, ‘Midnight Dusk’?”
“Nope. I did something a lot worse.”
Rose raised an eyebrow and gestured for Lizzie to continue.
“Can I ask you a question?” she finally asked.
“Erm, I guess?”
“Do you believe in love?”
Rose laughed. What kind of question was that? “Of course. As that famous old wizard once said, ‘pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love,” she said in a deep voice.
Rose was disappointed to see that Lizzie did not even crack a smile.
“Are you in love with Fabian?”
Whoa, hold on a second. Where did that come from?
“Well, I… I don’t know really.” What was love, anyway? She had enough sense to know it wasn’t a fairy-tale or a storybook, but whatever it was, she was pretty sure that she was not currently in it. “I don’t think so, no. I really like him, but, no.”
Lizzie sighed in relief.
“Yeah… here’s the thing. You won’t like what I’m about to say. I completely understand if you never want to talk to me again, but please tell me you’ll hear me out before you announce I am dead to you. Please?”
Where was she going with this? And more importantly, who could say no to those big brown eyes?
“Sure, I’ll hear you out.”
“Okay.” Lizzie’s eyes fluttered shut and she took a deep, steadying breath. The room was deafeningly silent as Rose waited for her to speak. “Wekidinkitchen,” she mumbled.
“Say again?” Rose requested.
“We kissed… in the kitchens.” Lizzie opened her eyes and looked straight into Rose’s blue ones.
“You kissed who?” Rose asked, scrunching her eyebrows.
“Your boyfriend,” Lizzie squeaked, tears brimming in her eyes.
There was a few seconds pause.
“What?” Rose choked, sitting up straighter.
Lizzie was full on sobbing now. “Two nights ago, I was in the kitchens getting some ice-cream and F- Fabian was there and he was joking around as usual and we had this mini food fight and then h- he wiped some cream off my nose and he leaned forward and we kissed,” she said in a teary rush.
“What… why? How could you?” Rose whispered. Her brain was working overtime trying to process the hogwash her best friend was saying.
“I don’t know!” Lizzie wailed. “It was a complete mistake! I’m so sorry, Rose! I swear on my mother’s life that I pulled away really quickly; I was just so completely caught off guard… I don’t know what he was thinking…”
Rose was absolutely stunned. She had no idea what to do but morbid curiosity kept her rooted to the spot. “What did you do after you kissed?”
“We agreed it was a huge mistake and pledged never to speak of it,” Lizzie sniffed, “but I couldn’t not tell you, Rose. I’m sorry for avoiding you, but every time I looked at you I thought about what I’d done and nearly broke down in tears!”
Rose looked down at her hands. Was this for real? Was she dreaming? This was just not the kind of thing Lizzie did. Ever.
“It was a mistake, I’m so sorry,” Lizzie said again. She bravely went in to hug her but Rose was unresponsive.
“Look, just… I just need some time to think, alright?” Rose said shakily, lying back down in bed, pulling the covers up tight and facing away from Lizzie. With a wave of her wand, the hangings closed shut around her.
“Okay,” Lizzie breathed into the silence, going back to her own bed.
Needless to say, Rose didn’t get a wink of sleep that night, and neither did Lizzie.
A/N: Oh, snap! Who was expecting that? Hopefully this dramatic chapter made up for the last one. :D
Also, I would be eternally grateful if you checked out my new story, Enchanté, and tell me what you think. It’s yet another romcom next gen but it’s pretty different to this story, I think. /self-promotion ;)
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