Chapter 20 : Chapter 20
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The hourly news update blared from the wireless sitting on the counter of the Leaky Cauldron. I saw more than one patron glance my way at the mention of my name. Rolling my shoulders, I tried to walk past it all, be above it. Act like an Auror.
I made it through the pub and into Diagon Alley without any incidents, though with many curious (and judgemental) glares. The Daily Prophet offices were quite a way down the street, so I weaved in and out of the crowd, rather glad for the return of my customary clothing – people didn’t want to stand in the way of someone wearing black thick-heeled boots.
Apart from the boots, I liked to think my appearance was much more grownup, and far less noticeable. I was trying to blend in, to transform myself into a respectable, working adult. Teaching had certainly helped – I owned skirts that weren’t just a part of the school uniform now, for one.
Almost stepping on someone’s toes (the stupid idiot wasn’t paying attention, sooner or later they’d get walked into anyway), I pushed my way into the Daily Prophet building. It was fairly non-descript and exactly like every other building in Diagon Alley. The foyer had a crisp, productive atmosphere, with a slight hint of panic and coffee. I didn’t ask for directions, simply eyeballed the map next to the lift, and pressed the correct button. Finding a single intern couldn’t be too hard, could it?
To me, the bigger problem was the words that would come out of my mouth.
”You rarely change your mind.”
He was still correct in that statement, but I knew now that I would change my mind - for him. How to phrase that? What to say? How to act? Do I go up to him, do I let him come to me? Do I apologise? Should I kiss him?
God. I really should have thought this through.
Standing in an elevator crammed with sweaty men in business suits and girls clutching coffee cups in great danger of spilling, and paper memos flying around our heads, I started to freak out. My cheeks flushed, and I could feel the back of my neck heating up, and my legs start to itch. This was going to be a complete and utter disaster.
I was a Gryffindor. I could do this. I forced myself to get out at the correct floor, well aware that I now stuck out like a sore thumb in the workplace. If anyone asked, I had a story ready. I’d say I was here for an interview about the trader case. It could have easily been true.
My boots connected with the floor, and I started to walk forward. Following the other two who’d gotten out on this floor, I quickly found myself in the heart of the Daily Prophet. Frantic, filled with paper and feverish writing and typing, this was the epicentre. It all happened here, and no one wanted to be disturbed.
I walked past many a rickety desk, and started to realise just how much of a bad idea this wasn’t. To be quite frank, I was surprised I hadn’t been thrown out by security already. If one wanted to break into the Prophet to, I don’t know, steal a story, it really wouldn’t be that difficult. Rather pathetic.
After a few minutes of scanning the room with my eyes, I found him, shoved in the back corner with a few other hunched over interns, all looking far too tired and with far too much paper work crammed on their desks.
I took a step forward to approach, but my cover was blown for me.
Heads snapped up. I was in a room full of news reporters after all, the name ‘Rose Weasley’ drew attention rather quickly, especially given recent, ah, events.
Scorpius’s head was among them, and I shied away both from the attention on me in the room, and from the hurt yet hopeful expression on his face.
“Rose, what are you doing here?”
His voice was low, barely audible, yet to me, it cut through the room like a knife. Cut through me like a knife.
I stopped edging backwards, I stopped trying to put my hair in front of my face. I tossed it over my shoulder, shoved my chin slightly forward, and completely ignored everyone else in the room.
“You know exactly what I’m doing here,” I said sharply, now taking a step forward.
I wasn’t sure exactly when he stood up, but somehow, we ended up only a step apart, and I was smiling.
“I’m sorry. God, I’m so so sorry, Scorp,” I said, closing my eyes and biting my lip, “I was an idiot. I am an idiot. I’m in love with you.”
I closed the gap between us, so close now that I could see his eyes shining slightly. I moved my hand to his hair, and made a watery laugh.
“I’m not letting you go.”
With that, I kissed him, my other hand moving to his neck. It wasn’t perfect – nothing with us ever was, and I doubted it ever would be, but it was us.
There was an ‘us’ now. That changed everything.
His forehead rested against mine, and he laughed slightly, his breath tickling my face.
“Thank bloody God for that.”
I laughed too, and pulled back slightly. Scorpius’s eyes left mine, and darted around the –full and completely enwrapped – room of people he worked with, and for. Oops.
“I really would like to sit and chat, Rose, but it’s the middle of the day…and I’m at work,” he said lightly, moving back to his chair.
I didn’t feel threatened or sad, I didn’t feel like I was going to lose him. I trusted him, and I knew we’d talk later.
He nodded to me, and I sighed happily.
Smiling, I then back pedalled out of the room so quickly, I half expected someone to stop me and ask for an exclusive on my record breaking pace.
I’d done it. I’d really done it. We were…well, we would be soon, at least, a real couple. I’d spoken up, and he was still there, still waiting for me. I hadn’t lost him. I hadn’t lost myself.
On that note, I apparated back to my parent’s house. I had tests in a week that I needed to study for. If all went well, in two weeks, I’d not only be Rose Weasley, dating Scorpius Malfoy, but I’d also be an Auror in Training.
Waiting for me in my room was an owl. The official seal on the parchment stood out to me from across the room, and my brow furrowed. Daily Prophet.
I’m writing this at my desk, pretending to work. I’m sure you can understand how that might be difficult at the moment. We will most definitely talk tonight. I can’t tell you how much I regret having to ask you to leave the Prophet, Rose, though it was probably for the best, Rodney the security guard was ready to murder someone after you’d left.
And Rose, just for the record, I love you too.
I laughed. I held the piece of parchment, the ink still wet, and laughed, my face breaking into a grin. I hadn’t been this happy in a long time. All I needed now was for Jack Pinton to be caught, and life would be just about as perfect as it could get.
Turning around, I went to place the letter on my desk, and shooed the owl out the window. Looking down, my throat tightened. There was a figure, not on our property, which was protected by wards, but in the Muggle yard across. Even from this distance I knew who it was.
Why he was there, I didn’t know. What he wanted? That was obvious. He wouldn’t have come here on a whim; it was, after all, the home of the man spearheading the search for him. He wanted something from me, I was sure he would have come only a time I would be home, and not my parents.
What on earth did I have to give? If I stayed up here, I was safe. I knew that. I could have called the Aurors, but by the time they arrived, Jack would have gone. He was smart, and apparating only took the blink of an eye. I knew Dad hadn’t had any leads on him. Here he was standing in broad daylight, and I had an opportunity.
It was stupid. It was something the old Rose would do. The old, still a child Rose.
I couldn’t stop myself. I was too curious.
I knew it would end badly. I knew it. I couldn’t stop myself. I was out of the house, my wand pointed out, and I’d disarmed him before I’d left the wards. He’d obviously expected that, because he made no move to stop me. He smiled, a sick, slow smile that made my stomach churn, and walked into the house behind him. He had no wand. I had two. I had the advantage here.
Curiosity, recklessness, stubbornness, some sort of hero complex mixed with self-sacrifice. Those were my flaws, and they were all at play here. I could take a step forward, out of the wards, and follow my gut.
My heart, however, was telling me to stay put. Jack wasn’t stupid, and he knew me. He knew I would follow him, that’s exactly what he expected me to do. He was playing to my character.
What he didn’t know, however, was that I had changed. Quickly, I sent a patronus to my father. It’d take him a few minutes to get here, and until then, I had to play to Jack’s plan. Keep him here.
We wouldn’t get another shot.
I took a step forward, shaking my hair back from my face, and followed him. Reckless Rose had one last job to perform before Mature Rose took her place.
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