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Chapter 15 : Love rule #14
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I woke the next morning with a jolt. The first thing I noticed was Scorpius’ suit jacked slung over the back of my chair. The second thing I noticed was that he was gone. I burrowed back under the covers, feeling ill. What was I thinking last night? Clearly, nothing at all.
I felt like a complete and utter idiot.
I wasn’t left alone for long to muse, because at around ten, my door was suddenly thrown open and the girls trouped in.
“Get up, you lump,” Callie said shortly, and I threw a pillow at her. Judging by their wide grins, I assumed they’d already had a good dosing of black coffee.
“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 WHAT IS THAT DOING IN HERE!?!” Sophie screeched, pointing accusingly at the jacket hanging innocently on the chair.
Callie laughed 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 I felt a headache building. I shook my head and rolled over, stomach gurgling again as I lay down on it.
“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 snorted. “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 definitely a “Rose doesn’t feel like facing the world today’ day. A cloud has hanging around my head and all I wanted to do was sleep. 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 breakfast,” 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 last night’s 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 to keep Sophie happy, 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 lovely,” she said 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, that day at the beach when Hugo was being an idiot and you stormed off. He admitted to all of us 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. The moment I stepped outside, the cold chilled me to the bone. A watery sun was out, but I was breathing 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 that butterbeer last night was alcoholic,” I muttered, which wasn’t true. I wanted to sink into the ground.
“Mad as a hatter,” 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. Sophie sat down next to Fred, and I saw her hand on his knee under the table. I scooted as far away from Scorpius as possible, knowing that if his thigh even so much as brushed mine, I might faint.
“Get off me, you great 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.
I couldn’t even think straight, and I was sure it wasn’t just because I wasn’t eating.
“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.
“So what do you want to eat, Rose?” Callie and Albus asked at the same time. They both turned red and looked everywhere but at each other. They had been in a 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.
It would take a huge gesture from Albus for her to forgive him, even though they were both in on his stupid plan.
“I’ll just take some fruit,” I said, reaching for it with my pale hand. My mouth was watering so much I was surprised I wasn’t drooling yet.
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 felt Sophie’s gaze on me as I ladled some strawberries into a bowl. I guess all the dancing from last night counts as exercise?
“Anyone notice Anna Hart’s mum 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.
Eating was so easy for him.
I took a careful nibble of a strawberry 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, “So where is Jake?”
Albus answered. “Studying when we left the dorm. He’s giving you some space.”
I nodded, feeling a bit guilty. He shouldn’t have had to miss out on being with his friends just because I still hadn’t forgiven him. Chatter filled the pavilion and I was glad for the toasty warmth surrounding us. 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. It was lovely, having everyone get along again. 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. 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. His arm shifted against me and he gently plucked my wand from my hand. I wanted to protest, but to do so would draw attention to what I was doing.
“Eat, Rose,” he murmured, voice quiet but insistent.
He lied about flying in the snow being amazing. 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.
“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. Besides, your bed is comfier than mine.”
I wrinkled my nose at him and he grinned. ‘He must really love you, Rose’, Callie’s voice drifted into my head from this morning, and met his blue eyes. 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 quidditch, his muscled body completely in control and his 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 – my vision darkened around the edges. My eyes were still on Scorpius, and he was saying something that I couldn’t hear with a 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 I fainted.
I think 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.
I felt like I was in a different reality. Everything was chillingly, bitingly cold. There were hands on my body and my clothes were being torn off. Voices sounded far away, as if someone was speaking to me through a tunnel. 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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