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Chapter 1 : this is pouring rain, this is paralysed
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There was a time where she trembled at the slightest touch of your hand. Her eyelids lowered to her cheeks and she sighed, tilting her bare neck ever so slightly to allow your fingers to trail along it. There was a time where she would smile just because she knew it was you standing behind her. She would turn around and run her fingers through your hair, whichever colour it was that day, then kiss you softly, teasingly almost. But then you supposed she hadn’t quite grown up yet.
She sat across from you with her shoulders bent, head down and playing with her food. You wanted to reach across the table, over the salt and pepper and the basket of bread, just to touch her hand. Sighing, you kept to your side instead and rearranged the vegetables on your plate. The sound of her voice stirred you, and you gingerly let your fork slip from your fingers.
Your brown eyes found hers curiously and you raised an eyebrow at the question that had not yet left her lips.
‘Could you pass the salt?’ she asked shyly.
‘The salt?’ You smiled in spite of yourself and then laughed at the absurdity of the question. Or was it the situation?
With your shoulders shaking, you handed the shaker to her to which she frowned in response. ‘What’s so funny?’
You hold your hands outstretched, ‘Look at us. We’re out to a fancy dinner, and the only thing we can say to each other is ‘pass the salt’?’
Her face broke into the most genuine grin you’d seen there in a while before she shook with laughter too.
‘We’re pathetic, aren’t we?’ she asked, midway through gasping.
‘Very much so.’
You burst through the doors of the restaurant and out into the pouring rain with her hand gripped in yours. You were laughing. The muscles in your face stretched so much until they hurt and you found this all welcoming. You hadn’t laughed like this in a long time. She hustled you into a sheltered alleyway and peered out into the street; the rain struck the pavement with fury.
It fascinated you how absorbed she became in the little things, like rain. You imagined she would allow herself to be lost in it if she ever got the chance: if she ever broke free and ran straight into it. You smiled a little at the thought of her dancing in the middle of the street with her arms outstretched, not caring in the slightest if she caught a cold. She shuffled closer to you, perhaps out of practice, and sighed. Her hair was stuck to the sides of her face and her neck. Almost shyly, you brushed away a damp strand. Her focus shifted from the falling rain to your face in response and you resisted the urge to drag her back into the rain again and hold her against you: that clichéd thing they did in Muggle movies. She surprised you by lifting her cold hand to your face, taking in your warmth. She pushed you out into the downpour and pulled you close to her. You suppressed a grin against her lips; it seemed she thought the same.
You found it hard to breathe as you sat in the middle of her bed in a tangle of limbs. She dug her nails into your back and in response you whispered her name. It hadn’t been like this for a long time and you wondered where it all came from. Rose was cold of late and needless to say, you did have your suspicions. But you couldn’t think of them just yet. No, not at all.
Your hand traced small circles in her palm and she smiled; for once it was genuine – the entire night was. Maybe you thought it was the beginning of something. Maybe things were going back to normal, and you would be all right.
‘Your eyes are beautiful,’ she whispered.
You wrinkled your nose, not at her words, but to make a change to your features. You did it all the time whenever someone talked about your appearance. This gift of yours was inherited from your mother and you paraded it with all the pride you could muster. You watched her, as your eyes turned from light blue to a steely shade of grey. At first, you didn’t do it on purpose; after all, grey was just another colour, but to her it was different. Her smile faltered and she tried to hide her discomfort by painting over it. She looked away from you now, her eyes trailed down your face and stopped at the first button of your shirt.
‘Rose?’ You lifted her chin up with your thumb – you wanted her to look at you. Her eyes lacked the emotion they held before; they looked far away. She sighed as your fingers slipped under her shirt and your lips touched her neck. The gesture sobered you and you paused. Why did she sound so defeated?
‘Teddy?’ she called to you. ‘Don’t stop.’
The sun hadn’t yet risen when you slipped out of bed the next morning but she was still asleep with her back turned. She was still wearing your shirt from the night before, but it didn’t matter to you. She could keep it. You needed to get out of her flat. There was a heavy weight of something unspoken hovering over both of you in there and for once, you felt you needed to breathe.
Pulling your robes off the back of a nearby chair, you made for the door. You paused uncertainly at the threshold, your foot hovering over her doormat. It was one of those Muggle ones she picked up at a flea market one day; she was out with her mother. She charmed it so the little birds on it would flit around every now and then; they always drew your attention. But for some reason, your eyes fixed onto the large letters filling most of the straw-like surface – ‘Love’. You smiled to yourself as the door clicked shut behind you.
The streets were still quiet as you stepped out of her building and hustled across to the closest Apparition point. Part of you was still wary of being seen, even though you’ve left her flat so early several times in the past years. She knew whenever you were about to leave, and teased you about your walk of shame. There was something about this that felt different; it was as if you knew you wouldn’t be making this trek again.
You Apparated home, and landed in your Grandmother’s garden, heavy feet crushing her petunias. Eyeing the back door through glazed eyes, you slipped up the stairs with practiced ease. Her picture was the first thing you saw whenever you entered your bedroom. You remembered the day she posed for it in her grandmother’s garden, gazing out across the lush hills. Her eyes were wide with wonder; the little girl with pigtails who used to hide from you wasn’t quite gone yet.
As the days grew in number you realised that the light in her eyes was fading, taking her childhood infatuation with it – for in the end, that’s really all it was. In some ways, this reminded you of your rift with Victoire. After years of whispered promises, and dreams made while drunk with youth, you drifted apart.
Lying flat on the floor, you laughed. Its hollow emptiness echoed across the walls of your tiny room. You were a rite of passage, the living manifestation of that old saying ‘everyone must have a first’. It seemed you missed the boat on learning how to be the last.
The room was heavy with silence. Nothing moved and you were too afraid to breathe. Rose was wrapped in an old blue shawl, staring at the empty spot on the wall just above your head. You kept your eyes trained on her face, waiting. The clock broke the silence with a loud chime; you’d been in the same place for the past twenty minutes. Between you was a cardboard box of memories about to be thrown out the window, and all she had to do was say the word.
‘You’re not happy, Rose,’ you told her matter – of – factly.
She blinked and stared at you as if seeing you for the first time. ‘You don’t know that.’ She shook her head, stray red strands falling into her face that she brushed away with shaking fingers.
She let her shoulders droop, and the shawl loosened over her small frame. You closed your eyes, resisting the urge to go over to her to make it all right again.
‘Teddy,’ she sighed, she raised her hand hesitantly to reach for you, but it fell limp at her side.
‘We’re both tired, Rose, and we have been for a long time.’ You paused as she gazed at you out of dry eyes. ‘I don’t know what else I can do.’
She pursed her lips and looked away, her fingers found a loose thread to pick at – something she did whenever she came down with nerves. You found yourself smiling. Your feet dragged you over to where she stood, and you pulled her close to you. She smelled of lavender and vanilla – it was from the shampoo she made you buy her a few months earlier.
‘I don’t know what to say,’ her words were whispers against your neck; she gingerly placed her hands on your arms.
‘You don’t have to say anything,’ You placed a soft kiss on her lips, and pulled away slowly. Her hands cupped the sides of your face.
‘I’ll always love you, Ted.’ she smiled sadly at you, and you nodded.
As you pulled away, you realised that you were wrong. This wasn’t at all like it had been with Victoire. There was no dull pain chipping away at your insides, the load you carried around for weeks suddenly felt lighter. You gave her a sad smile before heading to the door, your bags hovered dutifully in the air behind you. For a moment, you felt the need to be brave, and hoped that your choices won’t rear their ugly heads after.
Your hand brushed the knob, beneath your feet the straw mat was crushed. ‘Give Scorpius my regards when you finally tell him, won’t you, Rose?’
You saw a familiar shadow of your cousin leaning up the stairs. Even after all his Grandmother’s trials, she still could not get him to stand with his back straight – a horrible habit. You were careful to make as much noise as possible with your shoes to get his attention, even if it meant disturbing one of his long dead relatives on the wall.
He turned on the spot with a furrowed brow, and frowned. ‘Teddy,’ the young man called to his cousin hesitantly.
‘Hello Scorpius,’ You gave him a weak smile.
‘Oh,’ the blond blustered, ‘You’re early to pick up your Gran, but if you want to see her, she’s upstairs with my Grandmother.’
You shook your head. ‘Oh no, actually I’m here to see you.’
You watched his face carefully, but it was as blunt, and uninterested as he could manage, revealing nothing.
‘I see.’ His tone didn’t match his dismissive words. His eyes met yours for a brief moment and you knew he understood you perfectly. There was a light flush on his cheeks, something rarely seen within the walls of the cold, drafty manor. His pale fingers drummed the wooden railing of the curved staircase leading to the guest rooms of the house. His grey eyes fixed on the space above your head. You didn’t mean to make him uncomfortable, but you supposed he couldn’t help himself, especially when it came to her.
‘Best we go into the garden to talk,’ his voice was low as he took uncertain steps down the stairs to meet you. ‘They like to eavesdrop.’
‘They?’ you asked, frowning at his admission.
‘My grandparents and the portraits.’ He smiled sadly as he led you through the front door. ‘They’ve given up on my father since I started puberty.’
He caught your bemused expression and shrugged. ‘They don’t have anything else to do.’
You resisted the urge to laugh, and shake your head instead. You stared at the back of his head, as you followed him around to the side of the house on a narrow gravel path, hidden neatly within the grass. The property was still vast, but not as rich as it was years before. The Weasleys told him to be careful coming around the house, and its people, but they were the only family his Gran had left. In a way, they were your family too.
Scorpius stopped short as the path grew wider until it split into two. One path led further on into the garden, while the other led to a fountain which stood as a lonely sentinel between two massive hedges. You haven’t been to this part of the garden before, but you assumed it was the opening to the maze your grandmother told you about. Your cousin continued into the garden, where the only flowers in bloom were roses. You wondered if he did that on purpose.
Off to the left stood a small summer set – a glass table with four chairs surrounding it. The white paint peeled away from their legs, and the glass was spotted from the downpour a few days earlier. You paused at the nearest hedge wincing at the scraping of the furniture across the grass, as Scorpius sat down.
You plucked a flower from its stalk; its petals were like bright little flames setting fire to your hand, and if you let them they would set fire to everything, just like she did.
‘Rose and I are over.’
The words spilled from your lips like water did from a faucet, only to be greeted by silence. You hadn’t quite thought about what you’d tell him, or why. You were never really that close, but there were times when you told him things that his father never could.
You tilted your head in his direction, his face was rigid. ‘Why?’
You shook your head. ‘She loves you, that’s why,’
‘Of course she does, we’re best-‘
‘No,’ you cut him off, ‘You know what I mean.’
It wasn’t the type of conversation to be had in the middle of your great-aunt’s garden; it was best served cold in the corner of a pub with a pint.
‘Why are you telling me this?’ he asked you, finally. His voice revealed nothing, and you weren’t surprised.
‘Because she won’t,’
Words hung in the air like smoke did in a small room, only you were the one who lit the cigarette. He looked out into the garden, grey eyes fixed on the roses as if he were trying to understand them. The sun cast your shadows against the dull green of the grass under your feet. He looked defeated for some reason you couldn’t grasp.
It was there that you left him, even after you heard the approaching voices and recognised your Gran’s laugh among them. He didn’t owe you much explanation, and you never expected him to give you one. Every word spoken was as if this was the first time you heard them. Every word was a truth you refused to admit until that very moment. Every word made it clear that she was never yours in the first place.
Author's Note: I started this a while after I finished 'In Full Circle'. I felt that Teddy needed to have his side heard too. Hope you like it :)
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