My mother’s nerves and likely hovering be damned, I went to stay with my family again. As I dragged by bags across the battered wooden threshold, I sighed a little. Part of me had hoped I wouldn’t be making such a trip again.
As was often the case, I’d been wrong.
My mother came bustling out to the entrance way, engulfing me in a hug before I could respond to her greeting. Rather typical, I suppose.
She ushered me into the kitchen, my bags abandoned by the door. She didn’t have to ask what had been happening, I knew she was up to date. There was, however, a massive side to my life that she was unaware of. I’d spent the rest of the day, after leaving the Ministry, traipsing around London, hiding out in various coffee shops and department stores. A few of the items in my bags, I was ashamed to admit, had only been bought in the last few hours.
Some of that must have registered on my face, as my mother wordlessly made us tea, and sat down at the kitchen table opposite me, waiting.
I stared into the depths of my cup, my head tilted slightly to the side. I’d been so sure, when I was standing there facing Scorpius, that I was making the right decision. Now, when I allowed myself to feel something, I wasn’t so sure. I’d finally admitted it to myself, after so, so long, and I couldn’t take those words back. They may only have existed in my mind, but it didn’t make them, or the feeling behind them, any less real.
I loved Scorpius. He loved me. I was pushing him away.
Those were the facts.
Everything else was...grey.
I looked up at my mother, taking in her concerned expression. She knew pieces of the story - that I’d broken up with Scorpius, that we were still friends, that he was now a reporter. The fact that he was working with me on this ‘case’ of sorts, or had been, wasn’t a secret either.
I closed my eyes, letting out a puff of air.
“I love him, Mum,” I finally said slowly, letting the words be heard for the first time.
It was about bloody time I said them out loud.
My mother, to her credit, didn’t react, didn’t try and push her own views on me.
“And he loves me,” I continued on, watching as a tiny smile twitched at the corner of her mouth.
“But,” I stared at her, my vision starting to cloud, “it’s not good for him, Mum. It’s not. That’s…that’s why I pushed him away! Because I love him!”
I sniffed, tears starting to fall.
“He…he told me he’s been here, he’s been waiting,” I stood up, pacing the small kitchen now – movement seemed to help the words flow.
“He’s been waiting all year for me to admit to my feelings. He knows me so well, Mum, it’s incredible. He…he…”
This was the hard part. Admitting that he’d said he wouldn’t wait forever – and admitting how I felt about that.
I looked down, raising my hand to my mouth.
“He won’t wait for me, Mum. He loves me, and I love him…I want him, but I don’t want him to wait. I don’t want him to hurt.”
“I don’t want to lose him,” I whispered finally, before succumbing to the wave of tears. It was all true. I was caught – on one hand, I didn’t want him to hurt, and he’d admitted waiting for me hurt him. On the other hand, I loved him, and perhaps, if I admitted it, and he wasn’t waiting, everything would be better.
Maybe, maybe not. I couldn’t know for sure.
It could have been minutes, it could have been hours, but eventually my tears slowed, and I looked up to my mother.
“What do I do?” I asked, pathetic and weak.
I was a little girl once again, asking her Mum for help. I’d resigned myself to the fact that I’d always be a little girl, in some way or another. My recent actions definitely proved that.
“Oh, Rose,” Mum sighed, moving to embrace me in a hug, a hug I’d experienced so often in my childhood, “I can’t tell you what to do, that’s up to you. What I can, however, say is that you’re not the person you were when you first left him.”
Her voice was calm, soothing and well-reasoned, but my brow furrowed.
“Of course I am!” I blubbered.
“Do you know just how many stupid and immature decisions I’ve made lately?” I sobbed, and Mum smiled slightly again.
“We all make stupid choices, Rose,” she said wisely, “but you’ve grown up this past year. I’ve seen it. You’re chasing criminals, you’re helping to change things for the better. You helped that little girl. I know you don’t feel like you’re worthy of him, darling, but it’s not true, not in my eyes. You’ve grown into a strong woman this year, despite what you might think.”
“One day, you’ll realise having a relationship with him is worth more than staying away from him, Rose. Just ask your Uncle Harry.”
That last statement was a little cryptic, and I looked at her curiously. She didn’t offer an explanation, so I didn’t outright ask. One day, I expect, I’ll find out.
She was my mother, of course she thought I’d grown up this past year. Yet, I knew she was speaking honestly. My mother had never held back when it came to telling me to clean up my act. This was definitely a different side of the coin.
Thinking about it, I knew I wasn’t the same person I’d been at Hogwarts. We were all different. I doubted I would have been able to communicate with Sophia, let alone help her, at the age of sixteen. Albus was dedicated and hardworking, Miranda had finally found her voice.
And Scorpius? He’d become my friend. My closest friend, my confidant, my partner of sorts as we chased down the trading ring. He’d worked himself into the ground over this story, not just for his career, but for me.
I sniffed, and wiped a hand over my cheeks, brushing away left over tears.
“Thanks, Mum,” I managed to choke out, though the words nowhere near covered my feelings. I smiled, a weak effort, and Mum smiled back.
“I want to help,” I said, slamming my hands down on my father’s desk.
He looked up at me, surprised, rocking back in his chair.
“Rose, you can’t help. This is an official investigation,” he replied mildly, and I gritted my teeth in frustration.
“But I’ve been involved! I’m a witness! Surely I have something to offer that you can use-“
He silenced me with a stern look. He was, after all, my father, and still had that parental punishing affect over me.
“No, Rose. You’re not an Auror.”
That was a blow. I hadn’t quite realised how much I’d wanted to be a part of the case until that moment. It hurt, it physically hurt to turn around and walk away. I wanted to solve it, a part of me felt like it had to.
That was it. Walking out of my father’s office, wearing some sort of combination of my old clothes, all black and moody, and my new work appropriate wardrobe, looking rather dishevelled, that was the moment.
I’d left Hogwarts with no idea what I wanted to do. I’d entered into education because of a bet. I’d followed Scorpius along on a case purely out of curiosity. I’d never had a plan, I’d never really had an end goal at all. No ambition, I suppose you’d say.
I wanted to help on the case. I wanted to solve things, I wanted to help.
I wanted to be an Auror.
Over the next few days, I heard from Dad that they were slowly rounding up the last members of the trading circle. I merely nodded in response, still bitter that I’d been cut out. Scorpius, from what little information I’d gleaned, was still hanging around in order to finish his story.
It looked like he’d officially win our bet, then, since I hadn’t returned to the school since we’d been arrested. The whole thing was rather ridiculous, as the only person who cared at all about that bet was Albus, and he was too distracted by Miranda and their new relationship to notice anything at the moment.
As it was, I devoted myself to checking over my O.W.L and N.E.W.T scores, and rifling through the old careers pamphlets I still had lying around, trying to find Auror requirements. It was hard, that much I knew, and I wouldn’t qualify straight away. Once I had that figured out, I investigated intensive courses and night classes. I’d need potions, but it wouldn’t take me too long to be up to speed.
I could do this, and that scared me. Sure, it wasn’t immediate and I had a hell of a lot of work ahead of me, but I wanted to do all that.
I couldn’t think of a single moment where I’d felt such determination ever before.
I could do this. I was going to do this.
I felt a weird sense of relief, and excitement. Finally, I had a plan. I had a goal.
Yet, there was one thing missing. Oh yes, I’d made a decision about my future. Instead of allowing myself time to bask in that fact, all I wanted to do was tell Scorpius.
Given how we’d ended our last discussion, that wasn’t a good idea. One day, Mum had said. Yet, that day was such a risk.
I was taking a risk with the whole Auror plan, I knew that. It was a hard road, and there was a large chance I’d fail, and end up right back where I currently was.
The situation with Scorpius was similarly risky. I knew he loved me. He’d done so much for me, and he wouldn’t wait. I was running out of time, I couldn’t avoid it any longer. I was being a coward, putting it off. If I didn’t speak to him, I’d lose him. It was simple, really. There wasn’t a choice.
I was going to go talk to him, it was time.
A/N: I know, it's a short chapter! I wanted to write more, I did, but the chapter seemed to end here naturally, so I didn't see the point in fighting it ;) There's only a chapter (or two if plot lines decided to drag themselves out, as they like to do) left now, and I'll try my best to get it out before June starts. I began this story in the middle of November last year, as my second of two NaNo novels, and I'd love to finish it before CampNaNoWriMo starts in June :) Anyway, thank you to all of you who've stuck with this story since it's beginning, I really do appreciate it!