Chapter 16 : Love rule #14
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The next morning I was a mess. I woke up feeling strangely empty, wondering how I managed to make it into my pyjamas by myself. Then I sat up and noticed Scorpius’ pants hanging over my chair, and I froze, hazy memories flooding back into my throbbing, sore head.
I was still sitting motionless in bed an hour later, too scared and embarrassed to leave my room in case I ran into him. What does he think of me now? Probably nothing good. Dear god, he saw me in my undies and a bra! Did he think I was fat?
I burrowed back under the covers, feeling ill. Had I ruined our friendship, by doing everything bar forcing myself onto him?
I wasn’t left alone for long to muse, because at around ten, my door was suddenly thrown open and the girls trouped in.
“Good morning, my dear!” Callie trilled, and I threw a pillow at her. Judging by their wide grins, I assumed they’d already had a good dosing of black coffee and pepper-up potion.
“Come on, get up! We’re all going to go and have brunch down at the lake. Albus has conjured a pavilion, and there’s heating spells everywhere and – OH MY GOD WHOSE PANTS ARE THOSE!?!” Sophie screeched, pointing accusingly at the pants hanging innocently on the chair.
Callie squealed and jumped onto my bed. My belly lurched uncomfortably as she bounced around in excitement.
“Someone had a good night!” she said in my ear, and my headache spiked. I shook my head and rolled over, stomach lurching at the motion.
“Nothing happened. I’m an idiot.”
“Why, what did you do?” Sophie gasped, sitting on my other side.
“Probably ruined our friendship. It’s going to be so weird now! He saw me in my undies. We slept in the same bed, for goodness sake!”
Callie giggled. “Merlin, is that all? That’s not exciting.”
“Sorry to disappoint,” I muttered.
“Here, have some potion,” Sophie said, shoving a vial into my hands once they’d both established that my night was actually very boring by Callie’s standards.
I sat up, blinking blearily. It was a “Rose doesn’t feel like facing the world today’ day. I grasped the vial with weak, shaky hands and took a sip. It burned like fire down my throat, but didn’t wake me up as much as a touch from Scorpius usually did. I shook my head at that thought and forced down some more. Even with the potion taking effect, my head still felt groggier than ever.
“Shower, clothes and then brekkie,” Callie ordered, prodding me with her toe. I growled at her and stumbled to the shower. Feeling too tired and dizzy to stand, I sat down on the tiles and let the scalding water cascade down. I slowly rubbed the makeup off my face, knowing I looked a fright.
Why did I think Scorpius could ever love me? I was a mess. A crying, exhausted, stressed and hungry mess. I put product in my hair, knowing Sophie expected it, but I didn’t care anymore. I unenthusiastically clambered to my feet and turned the shower off. Wrapping a warm towel around myself, I walked back to my room, feeling physically sick with hunger. Callie had made my bed and was now lying on top of my patchwork quilt, and Sophie was going over my gown with a cleaning spell.
“You better rug up, it’s going to be cold out,” Callie advised, and I nodded. I was so used to her bossiness that it didn’t even bother me. She only meant well, and I wasn’t surprised that I could barely function when they weren’t talking to me. I grabbed clean underwear, jeans and a long-sleeved top from my closet, allowed Sophie to dry my hair and went back to the bathroom to get changed. I giggled almost hysterically when I put my jeans on and they slipped straight back off.
“Too skinny,” I repeated in Mum’s voice, and I giggled again. A shrinking spell fixed the problem, and I went back to the girls. Sophie handed me my warmest coat, Callie wrapped her scarf around my neck and a woolie hat was jammed on my head.
“Warm socks and snow shoes,” Sophie ordered, and I conjured them and wondered, if I sat still for long enough, would they put themselves on me?
Callie sighed after a few moments of me not moving and knelt down at my feet, exchanging a look with Soph. I shook my head when I realised that I was incapable of putting my own shoes on, and tugged on Callie's arm until she got to her feet.
“No Callie, you don’t have to do that for me. But thank you. I’m just so exhausted,” I murmured, barely able to keep my eyes open. Malfoy’s face flashed in front of my eyes, and my cheeks burned hot in embarrassment.
To hide the redness, I leant down and laboriously pulled my warmest socks on, and laced up my boots. I rummaged around in a draw until I found my mittens, my fingers brushing something hard. Finally waking up a bit, I pulled out my photo album with an exclamation of delight.
“Soph, I never thanked you for this,” I said, proffering it to her. She looked at it blankly and shook her head.
“I’ve never seen that in my life.”
“Very funny,” I said, smiling uncertainly, “It was my Christmas present.”
She shook her head, turning pink. “I didn’t buy you a present, I’m so sorry.”
I shrugged and I looked at Callie questioningly. She shook her head too, and took it from me.
“It’s beautiful,” she murmured as they both crowded around and turned the pages.
“If you didn’t give it to me Soph, then why did you ask to borrow my camera before Christmas? That’s where all the pictures came from,” I asked, bewildered.
“Oh, that wasn’t for me, it was for –“ she broke off, face lighting up with a smile.
“For?” Callie prompted, and I raised my eyebrows.
“For Scorpius. He asked me if I could get it for him.” Sophie was smiling widely, touching each picture and giggling every now and then. I sat down at my desk, stunned. He put the album together for me?
“He must really love you, Rosie,” Callie said quietly, and my head snapped up.
“You know what. Has he told you yet?”
But I was shaking my head. “Stop being ridiculous,” I sighed, and this time both girls looked up and stared at me.
“But he does like you,” Sophie said, sounding confused.
“He told us, Rose. Remember at the beach house last summer, when we started playing Spin the Bottle that time? You went to bed, and he admitted to us all that he fancies you,” Callie said. My head was spinning, but that seemed its usual state these days. She continued, “Jake was jealous for days after. That’s probably why he asked you out finally.”
I squashed the little iota of hope that was blossoming in my chest, snatching my photo album back and storing it safely back in its draw.
“Scorpius Malfoy could never like me.”
“Honey, he’d be crazy not to be madly in love with you,” Sophie said matter-of-fact, snapping the album shut, “Come on, let’s go down to breakfast.”
We left the warmth of the castle, stopping briefly in the great hall so I could administer myself black coffee, to be chilled to the bone outside. A watery sun was out, but I breathed in icy lungs of air. The cold seemed to go straight through my layers, and I picked up my pace, hoping to get to warmth as quick as possible. I could see a random pavilion down near the lake with a picnic table underneath, and snorted. Of course Al would conjure a pavilion, the show-off. Not even I could do that.
“Don’t disregard what we said,” Callie murmured as we got closer, and I blushed. Thanks Callie, I was trying to forget that conversation. I saw his blonde head of hair sitting with his back to me, and my butterflies grew claws and tried to shred their way out of my stomach. Merlin, I was so embarrassed about last night. How could he ever speak to me again?
“Hello,” he said, turning about as we approached. Oh, like that then. Callie held my arm in a steely vice as I tried to turn around and sprint back to bed.
“The mimbleus tenaclier grows in hot, dry climates like desert Australia and certain areas in Africa,” I blurted, and there was silence.
“She’s been studying very hard for Herbology this morning,” Sophie said, smiling and patting me on the head like a kid. I think my face matched my hair, and I looked everywhere but at him.
Okay that’s a lie. He was wearing dark jeans and a stripy grey and white jumper and he had dark shadows under his lovely eyes. A Gryffindor scarf was wrapped around his neck, and I wanted to jump on his lap and snog his brains out.
“Rose!” I yelled, and was received with even more silence. Dear Merlin.
“Yes, that’s your name,” Albus said, backing away slowly. I shook my head and sighed.
“Maybe I’m still drunk,” I muttered, which wasn’t true. My previously-throbbing head was evidence of that. I was just intoxicated by Malfoy and his delicious musk. I DID NOT SAY THAT.
“Crazy bitch,” Callie said, rolling her eyes and putting her hands on my shoulders. She pushed me to the table and forced me down next to Malfoy. I scooted as far away from him as possible, knowing that if his thigh even so much as brushed mine, I might faint.
“Get of me, lump,” Fred said, pushing me off his lap. Okay, so maybe I scooted a bit too far over. I opened my mouth and unintelligible dribble came out.
SEE WHAT YOU DO TO ME, MALFOY! I CAN’T EVEN THINK STRAIGHT.
“How are you feeling?” a deep, smooth, velvety voice asked me. I looked up, startled, into Scorpius’ eyes.
He smiled and grabbed my hand under the table. I jumped a mile in the air and stared at him. He was actually choosing to touch me, after my disgusting display of I-don’t-know-what last night?
The butterflies had teeth now, and it was actually starting to hurt – until I realised that maybe my hand in his was calming and comforting, even if he was making me tremble.
Once I was calmer, I reluctantly pulled my hand from his and smiled up at him for the first time today. His cheeks flushed pink, and I wondered if he was getting sick.
“Hey look, it’s Higgins,” Albus snickered, nodding towards the forbidden forest. Our headmaster was wandering along the edge of the tree line, still wearing his suit from last night. He stumbled over a root and giggled.
“Merlin, I think he’s pissed off his tits!” Callie laughed, standing up at the same time as Albus. There was an awkward silence. Callie looked at Al and shrugged, and they both left to go and assist him.
“If I was the headmaster of a group of idiots like us, I’d be eternally drunk too,” Freddie said.
He and Sophie were still in their strange sort of courteous cold war with each other. ever since Christmas. She was currently sitting opposite him and smiling politely, but I could see the pain in her eyes.
Freddie reached across the table for a bread roll and kept chattering on about nothing. The boys had been to the kitchen, securing rolls, juice, fruit and bacon. I reached hesitantly for a bit of fruit, feeling Sophie’s watchful gaze on me. I guess all the dancing from last night counts as exercise?
“Anyone notice Crystal Lewis last night? Drank too much wine, danced with McGonagall and then vomited on the Minister for Magic’s shoes,” Scorp laughed, shoving bacon and bread into his mouth at the same time.
Boys are gross.
I took a careful nibble of my orange, and put it down. The taste burst on my tastebuds, and it was completely divine - my head actually span at the heady taste.
“Here you go, Rose, have some bacon. There’s some eggs under here too…” Freddie said, dumping what seemed like a whole pig on my plate and lifting lids off containers. “Ah ha! Here you go, fried soft, your favourite.”
He slid two eggs onto my plate next to the bacon and Scorp handed me a knife and fork. Our fingers brushed, and I felt like I was on fire. I didn’t know which was more distracting – Scorpius Malfoy, or the bacon in front of me.
“Thanks, guys,” I murmured, staring down at the feast in front of me. Callie and Albus emerged from the castle walked across the snowy lawn towards us, minus the professor. The moment Callie stomped across the pavilion and flung herself down opposite me, I knew that Albus had fucked up again. He followed more sedately and sat next to Sophie. He kept his eyes down and reached for the closest food.
“Took him to the hospital wing,” Callie said, breaking the silence and grabbing a juice. Everyone relaxed again, and chatter filled the pavilion. I was glad for the toasty warmth surrounding us, because beyond the open edges of the hut-like structure, snow began to fall.
“This is so lovely,” Sophie said, all dreamy-eyed. She met Fred’s intense gaze briefly and looked away, blushing bright red.
MAKE UP AND GET TOGETHER ALREADY, I wanted to yell at the two couples sitting with me.
We may all be friends again, but no one was admitting what they were feeling – myself included. As talk swelled over me, I carefully cut my bacon into tiny pieces, wondering how much fat and oil was in it. I speared a tiny fragment and held it up before me, studying its pinkish colour.
Slowly, holding my breath, I popped the teeny piece into my mouth, and I swear it melted on my tongue. I shuddered in pleasure, and then straight away felt terrible.
What had I done? Bacon is full of fat! Trying to keep my breathing even, I took out my wand and Vanished small bits of my bacon and eggs at a time, still pretending to eat. I can’t believe I just put that rubbish in my fat-enough body!
“We should go for a fly after this,” Callie interrupted my careful spell work, and I looked at her dubiously. Flying in the snow? They might do it during quiddich matches, but it didn’t sound like the best recreational thing to do.
“It’s amazing,” Scorpius said, obviously seeing my doubt. He spoke quietly, only to me. “It’s cold and miserable and absolutely crazy, but it’s also beautiful. You’ll love it.”
I nodded once; if he approved, then maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.
He lied. It was worse than bad. I sat aside my accio’d school broom, being buffered by wind and icy snow. Even though I’d cast warming and anti-freezing spells over everything and everyone, I still felt as if my hands were frozen onto the wood in front of me. Around me, the others were laughing and looping through the air. I stared at Callie in horror as she dipped the tips of her shoes in the partially frozen lake.
“Don’t do that!” I shrieked, “You’ll fall in and get hypothermia!” But my words were snatched away by the wind. I knew without looking that Scorpius was behind me somewhere; I always seemed to know where he was these days.
“Have some fun!” he yelled at me, zooming closer on his much better broomstick. I stubbornly shook my head and continued to hover three metres above the ground. Albus was just a speck somewhere high above, probably unable to breath because of the air temperature. Serves him right.
“Come on, Rose!” Scorpius yelled, grinning at me. His smile made me shy again, and being shy reminded me of not-being-shy last night. I turned red yet again.
“Scorpius, I am so sorry about last night!” I yelled impulsively. He raised an eyebrow at me and hovered higher in the air.
“Sorry, what? I can’t hear you, come up higher!”
Overwhelmed with the need to apologize for my behaviour, I growled and slowly went higher.
“I said I’m sorry!”
“Sorry for what?” he grinned, this time drifting further towards the lake. This was absolute madness, having a conversation several metres above ground and having to yell because of the weather.
“Stop being a prat! I’m so embarrassed; I’m amazed you’re even talking to me!” I cried, becoming frustrated. By now, we were at the edge of the lake. Merlin, it was cold. My hands were so numb I could barely feel them, and I was struggling to keep upright because I felt that tired.
“It’s okay Rose,” he relented, coming closer so we didn’t have to yell, “Really. I won’t tell anyone.”
I nodded, not looking at him. This was so humiliating. At least he didn’t hate me.
‘He must really love you, Rose’, Callie’s voice drifted into my head from this morning, and I snapped my eyes back to his face. He was watching me carefully, and I stopped breathing.
Merlin, he was beautiful. He was sitting on his broom like he owned the world of quiddich, his muscled body completely in control and his deep blue eyes on my face. I sighed, dizzy.
Then everything went horribly bright as hunger stabbed at my stomach. I shook my head, but it didn’t help. In fact, it made it worse – the world darkened around the edges. My eyes were still on Scorpius, and he was saying something that I couldn’t hear with a sweet frown on his face. He reached out to me, and his hands on arm felt like lead, pushing me over the edge.
“What?” I asked stupidly, and then everything went black.
And I fell, physically and metaphorically. It was a relief, actually.
Everything was always too vibrant and too alive, I felt too much, around Scorpius Malfoy.
Everything was chillingly, bitingly cold. It felt like a dream – the hands on my body, my clothes being torn off (sounds almost familiar. The previous night comes to mind. Okay, back to being serious), voices reaching me through a vacuum. I decided that, despite what numerous voices were telling me to do, perhaps I didn’t want to open my eyes. Perhaps I didn’t even want to wake up.
It was nice, being in suspense. Despite the cold, I was clear-headed for the first time in months. No dizziness, no thoughts of food and exercise, no dark cloud hovering over the world.
In fact, maybe I would just stay like this forever, there was nothing to stop me from -
“Rose, please wake up,” said the first clear voice in my ear. I sighed internally. As if I could deny the owner of that voice a single thing. He owned me, mind, body and soul; if he didn’t want me to go, then I guess I wasn’t allowed to.
“Okay,” I murmured, and reluctantly let myself be pulled up.
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