Chapter 23 : A Letter From Home
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By the time Rose awoke on Monday morning, Holly and Caitlin had already gone down to breakfast, and Colleen was already putting her books in her bag.
As she sat up and rubbed her eyes, Colleen looked over at her. “Finally awake?”
“Is it really that late, or are you lot just up that early?” Rose asked, throwing the covers back. Judging from the sun streaming in through the window, it certainly didn’t seem that late, but the days were getting shorter, and Rose had trouble keeping track.
Colleen smoothed back her blankets and sat cross-legged on her bed to wait for Rose got dressed. “It’s not that late,” she answered. “Holly and Caitlin were up early. They said something about ambushing your cousin.”
“Which cousin?” Rose asked curiously as she pulled on a jumper. When she emerged from it, Colleen was grinning.
After a moment of processing that, Rose got the joke. “Well, good luck to them with that,” she said. Given what Scorpius had told her about the incident with Gretchen, this was bound to be amusing. She grabbed her bag off her trunk, and Colleen got to her feet. “Come on. I want to see this.”
There was no sign of Albus or either of the girls in the Common Room, so they hurried down to the Great Hall. When they got there, they found Albus sitting with Damien at the near end of the table. When Rose and Colleen slid in across from them, Rose could see that his face was bright red.
“Holly Zeller corner you, then?” Colleen asked, the corner of her mouth twitching.
Albus groaned and put his head in his hands. “Leave me alone,” he said. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
Rose couldn’t help but giggle. “Did you break her heart?” she teased.
“I told her no, if that’s what you mean.”
“Oh, Al.” She shook her head as Colleen tried (without much success) to stop from breaking out into laughter herself. “Come on. What’s not to like?”
He lifted up his head and made a face as he surveyed the food on the platters in front of them. “I don’t think I’m hungry,” he said. She cleared her throat, and he glanced over at her. “I heard you. She’s nice enough, but she’s so vapid.”
“And he panicked,” Damien added, and Albus sighed.
“That too,” he admitted.
“You’re such a snob,” Rose told him as he picked up an apple and examined it. “So she doesn’t think very much. Neither do you, so what’s the problem?”
Albus gave Rose a disgusted look. “Yes, Rosie, you’re hilarious.” She smiled at him, and he sighed again. “Why me?”
“You’re probably just cool by association,” said a familiar voice, and James slid in next to Rose. “I’m pretty amazing. People must be under the mistaken impression that you are, too, just because you’re my brother.”
Given that Albus managed to be quite well-liked all on his own, he rolled his eyes. “Good morning to you, too.”
James grinned back. “Morning,” he said cheerfully as Albus took a bite of the apple. “You can do better than Holly Zeller, anyway.”
Albus choked. “You knew about it?” James shrugged, which Rose took to mean yes. “Why didn’t you warn me?”
“Where’s the fun in that?” asked James. He reached across the table and ruffled his brother’s hair. “I knew you’d handle it all right.”
“I don’t know if I’d use the phrase, ‘all right,’” Damien said. “He stood there and stammered that he was sorry but just didn’t think so.”
James raised his eyebrows. “Well, then.” He seemed to be at a loss for words. Given his surprise, Rose could only assume that he hadn’t heard about the Gretchen situation, either. “You could have handled it better,” he said eventually. “What is wrong with you?”
“Dunno,” Albus muttered. “I hate girls.”
“Well, there are plenty of eligible boys in the school,” Rose said, and Colleen gave a quiet snort.
“I don’t like them, either.” Albus studied her for a moment before a smile spread across his face, and she winced. She knew that smile, and she knew exactly what was coming. “Well, Rosie, since you’re making fun of me, how are things with Scorpius? You were outside a long time yesterday for just talking, and you couldn’t have gone far in your socks.”
Colleen turned to her instantly, and Rose felt a surge of irritation with her cousin, even though she knew she deserved it. She looked across the table at Damien, but he didn’t seem inclined to cut in this time.
She didn’t answer for too long, and he raised his eyebrows. “Shut up,” she muttered.
After that, he seemed to cheer up a little, even with a little more teasing from James. When the post arrived, all three of them had gotten letters from home. Rose glanced at the time and stuffed hers in her bag to read later, and James did the same. Albus, however, ripped open his open and read it as they walked down to Herbology.
“Anything interesting?” Rose asked, trying to peer over his shoulder.
He quickly folded the letter back up and pocketed it. “Not really. Just some advice from Dad.” He yanked open the door to the greenhouse. “How’s Quidditch practice been going?” he asked as he followed her in.
She had the vague feeling that he was trying to distract her, but she wrote it off to her imagination. She couldn’t imagine what he would be trying to hide.
It had started off cool, but as the morning wore on, the day became quite pleasant. It wasn’t warm enough to peel off her jumper, but she was very happy that they had Care of Magical Creatures before lunch; she wanted to drink in as much sun as possible.
She was sitting on the grass with Albus and Natalia as they waited for Care of Magical Creatures to start when Scorpius joined them. Her first impression was that he was wearing a bizarrely-textured green hat, but at closer glance, she realized that his hair had been turned bright green.
She and Natalia both let out loud involuntary laughs, and even Albus let out a chuckle.
Scorpius made a face as he sat down beside them. “Thanks,” he said irritably. “How bad is it?”
“Er-” Rose wasn’t quite sure how to answer the question.
Albus answered for her. “Very.”
“What happened?” Rose asked, trying to hold back her giggles.
“Your cousin,” Scorpius told her. That didn’t really narrow it down, and after a minute, he relented and added, “Albus, your brother is a jerk.”
“I didn’t put him up to it,” Rose said immediately, and he cracked a smile.
“I know,” he said. He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. When he turned back to Albus, Natalia raised her eyebrows at Rose, and she felt her face get warm.
“So what happened?” Albus asked, and she looked back at Scorpius.
He sighed and fell backwards onto the grass. “Your brother stepped out from around a corner when I was on my way here and jinxed me,” he said after a minute. “I’m actually not sure whether it was supposed to be a warning or his idea of a friendly gesture.”
“Probably both,” offered Rose, Albus, and Natalia at the same time.
“Well, at least it’s green instead of red, anyway,” Rose pointed out. “That’s what you wanted, right?”
“I wanted to keep my hair blond,” he said, “but I suppose this is much better than that red, and he said this would take less time to fade.”
“Did you try to jinx him back?” Albus asked curiously.
Scorpius gave him an exasperated look. “Of course I did,” he said. “But it didn’t work, probably for the same reason I couldn’t jinx Rose. He just laughed and walked away.”
“It’s good to have cousins,” Rose commented.
“Yeah, well, I don’t have anywhere near as many as you do.” Scorpius put his hands behind his head and closed his eyes. “I think that puts me at a disadvantage. Also, all of my cousins are prefects, which puts me at a bigger disadvantage.”
Rose could not imagine not having an enormous family full of people who loved her. It seemed deeply depressing. “Well, the green hair isn’t my fault, at any rate,” she said after a moment. “So you can’t get back at me for it.”
“I wasn’t planning on it.” He opened his eyes and grinned at her. “I wasn’t even planning on trying to get back at him.”
“Why?” Albus asked. “I love my brother, but he deserves it.”
“I know when I’m beat,” Scorpius said simply. “Start a jinx war with James Potter? I know I’d lose, I’m not stupid.”
“Better be careful,” Natalia said, throwing Rose an amused look that said that she knew exactly what her friend was thinking. “Rose doesn’t understand the idea of picking your battles. She might be rethinking your relationship.”
“Has she actually admitted that we’re going out?” he responded, closing his eyes. “Last I checked, she was having trouble with getting the words out.”
As Rose tried to think up some appropriate response to that, something moved out of the corner of her eye. She looked up at the sky and saw a lone owl making its way to the castle, which struck her as odd - why hadn’t it come with the morning post?
She looked back down. Neither Albus nor Natalia, who were now discussing O.W.L.s, had noticed. Scorpius, however, was staring at her.
“What?” she asked, shifting uncomfortably.
He smiled, looking supremely unconcerned. “What, I can’t stare at my girlfriend?” She rolled her eyes but didn’t contradict him, and his smile broadened.
After the lesson, he caught her hand before she could walk off with Albus and Natalia. They looked back, and she waved them on before looking at Scorpius. His green hair glinted in the sunlight, and she giggled.
He sighed. “How bad is it?” he asked.
“The truth?” He nodded. “Better than the red.”
“Well, that’s not hard.” He jerked his head toward the lake. “Come and sit with me?”
She hesitated, and while she was thinking about it, her stomach gave a loud grumble. “I think I should get something to eat,” she said. “You can come and sit with me, though, if you like.”
He considered that for a moment. “I’d better not,” he said. “Not today, anyway. I don’t want them thinking that I’m turning into a Gryffindor.” As they started making their way toward the castle, he grinned. “You could always come sit with me,” he suggested, and she shuddered.
“No thank you,” she said stiffly, and Scorpius laughed.
“Didn’t think so, but it was worth a try.” He reached out and grabbed her hand. “Don’t worry. I know that if I ever want to eat a meal with you, it’s going to need to be at Al’s house or the Gryffindor table.”
She nudged him. “How about your house?” she asked, not sure whether she intended it to be a joke or not. “What, you don’t think I’m good enough girlfriend material to introduce to your mum and dad?”
His eyebrows shot up, but he only said mildly, “Maybe when you decide to call yourself my girlfriend, I will.” He shifted his bag a little and said, in a significantly more uncertain tone, “Well, would you introduce me to your parents?”
Rose considered that. She hadn’t really thought about introducing Scorpius to he parents. It wasn’t that she didn’t intend to - she just hadn’t really thought that far ahead. Now that she had, however, she could see a potential problem arising. She knew that Scorpius’s father hadn’t gotten along with her parents or her uncle very well. He seemed to have mended fences with her uncle well enough that Albus and Scorpius had never felt awkward about being friends, at least not that she’d ever picked up on.
However, Rose doubted that her father felt the same way.
“I thought so,” Scorpius said, and she snapped back to him. He didn’t look very happy.
“No,” she said quickly, and then remembered what the question had been. “I mean, yes. I mean - yes, I would, I was just thinking about my father. He didn’t like your father very much.”
She stopped walking as they passed a tree. They were nearing the castle, and despite her hunger, she wasn’t ready to end the conversation. He turned to look at her, and she frowned. “Well, what would your father say about you going out with me?”
The shadows from the branches fell across his face in a way that made it difficult to read, and she half expected Scorpius to feed her a line about his father having changed. She was therefore completely unprepared for it when he said, “He said that he was disowning me for falling for a Weasley.” Her shock must have shown on her face, because he laughed. “Rose, I’m joking. I don’t think that I could do anything that would make my father disown me, and even if there is, going out with you definitely doesn’t qualify.”
“How do you know?”
He shrugged. “I wrote home about it a few days ago,” he said casually. “I got their letter back at breakfast this morning.”
Several questions warred with each other in Rose’s thoughts. After a moment, she decided on the one that felt the most pressing. “What did they say?”
“My mother said to make sure I didn’t make Albus uncomfortable and my father said that this didn’t mean I was allowed to complain any more about Rose Weasley than I already do.”
Rose had a hard time believing that that was all his parents had said, but she accepted it after he swore several times that that was the only reaction they’d expressed.
“Rose, my father and your parents had their differences, but that was a long time ago,” Scorpius pointed out when he saw that she was still a little sceptical. “And your aunt and uncle like me.”
Rose wasn’t quite convinced, but she decided it wasn’t worth pushing it. She’d probably see soon enough, at the rate things were going.
She glanced toward the castle, and he followed her gaze. “I don’t want to go in just yet,” she admitted, and he smiled.
“Neither do I.” He took a step toward her, and when the sunlight falling through the leaves hit his hair, she could help but giggle.
He stopped, looking disgusted. “Great,” he said. “Now I’ve got another two weeks of you laughing whenever I try to kiss you.”
“I can’t help it,” she said, and before he could turn away, she said, “Scorpius, it’s just funny. I don’t like you less because of it.” She hesitated for a minute. She knew what she really did have to say to make him feel better, but just thinking about getting the words out made her heart begin to beat faster. “I don’t think you’re less attractive, either.”
She wasn’t sure if that was entirely true, but it was certainly true enough - she wasn’t at all inclined to stop kissing him just because James had turned his hair green. When the tension on his face cleared, she knew she’d said the right thing.
“Really?” he asked, and she nodded, moving in to close the distance between them. Rose was finding that the more she kissed Scorpius, the more she enjoyed it, and today was no exception.
After they finished their classes for the day, Rose turned down Albus’s invitation to go and study in the library, instead choosing to go back to her dormitory to answer her letter and take a quick nap. She’d gotten enough sleep the night before, but she was still feeling exhausted. It was just one of those days.
She intended to answer the letter first, and the sight of her bed was simply too inviting. She laid the letter on her side table and curled up on her bed for a quick nap.
When she woke up at 6:00, she was sorely tempted to go back to sleep, but she forced herself to get up. She had several assignments due the next day, and she had patrol the following evening as well, which always cut into her work time.
After a quick dinner and several very focused hours of work in the Common Room, she managed to get enough done that she didn’t feel guilty for taking the time to chat with Albus for awhile. She had the faint feeling that she’d forgotten something, but she didn’t remember what it was until she retired to her dormitory for the night and saw the letter from her parents still sitting on her side table. She considered opening it, but it was starting to get late, and she was tired. If it was something urgent, someone else would have told her. It could wait another day.
She didn’t have the time to open it until the following afternoon; James was nowhere to be seen at lunch or in the Common Room when she checked it right after, so a visit to Fred was out of the question. Instead, she spent a little time chatting with the other Gryffindor fifth years who didn’t take Muggle Studies before excusing herself to go upstairs, where she flopped onto her bed and finally grabbed the letter and opened it.
She’d barely gotten through the first few lines when she dropped her head back against the headboard and groaned. Of all the things that she didn’t want to do, talking to her parents about her relationship with Scorpius Malfoy had to be near the top of the list.
Apparently, she no longer had a choice in the matter.
A/N: I want to thank everyone who's been reviewing this (and, of course, my other stories). I love all of your reviews and I can't tell you how much I appreciate them. I'm a little backed up with responding right now, but I promise you that I will.
Don't worry - next chapter you get to see exactly what Ron and Hermione know, how they know it, and what they have to say about it. ;)
I hope you enjoyed this chapter, and as always, I would love to hear your thoughts about it!
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