Chapter 17 : On the Road to Recovery
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I got through the front door at 6pm and was immediately attacked by my dear cousin Albus.
“ROSE! Oh my god. What happened? Did you find her? It’s so late! Did you find her? Did you find her? TELL ME!”
He then proceeded to push me to the floor along with my bags of books and I landed in a pile. He didn’t even say sorry.
“Albus! You idiot! Pick up my stuff. What are you doing in my house anyway?” I said grumpily.
“I was waiting for you of course.” He said and picked up the books. “So anyway, answer my question! Did you find her?” He said, with no effort what so ever to hold back his enthusiasm. I sighed.
“Yes. I did.” I said, Al helping me back up to my feet. He practically hit me, like a small child desperate to hear the rest of the story.
“Where?!” He demanded.
“She’s living in the most dull and grubby flat that I’ve ever seen above Scrivenshaft’s.” I told him. He pulled a face of worry, and we walked me into the kitchen. I put down my things. “Al, she looks awful.” I said sitting down opposite him at the kitchen table. He pulled a grim face. “She doesn’t look after herself or her sister. She doesn’t eat properly, she doesn’t sleep properly, she doesn’t even wash properly. She’s just moping around the place looking half dead. It’s like she feels she has nothing to live for. I’d thought I’d killed her entirely when I broke into the apartment-“
“You broke into her apartment?!”
“Shut up! Do you want to hear or not?” I asked. I wasn’t in the mood for interruptions.
In fact, I never am really. He pouted annoyed but he’d lost the excitement. “Anyway, when I came in she started screaming and looked so frightened and shocked I thought she was just going to drop dead then and there! Anyway, we had some tea, which was vile by the way. That girl can’t cook to save her life. Her brother didn’t seem to be there. I suppose he chose to stay at a friend’s. Who in there right mind would want to stay in that place anyway? She still hasn’t mentioned her mother at all. I can’t get her thinking, she has to be suspicious that I wasn’t suspicious musn’t she?”
Al started blankly, nodding. “Makes sense.” He said.
“Anyway, everything was fine and then we started talking about…about…”
“About what? Rose, tell me.”
Why am I so bad at covering things up? ‘Oh yeah sure Al, we were talking about YOU!’.
“Boys?” Al said raising an eyebrow.
“Yeah…just…boys.” I said nervously twitching. Then he burst out laughing.
“I can’t imagine Berry gossiping about boys.”
“Albus!” I said and slapped him upside the head. He didn’t even wince. “Don’t be so cruel. You know she hates it when people say she’s a tomboy, or ‘not girly’.”
Al tried to hide his grin shamefully.
“Then again, she hates it even more when you do call her ‘girly’.” I added, smiling a little.
“Ok, ok. So what um…boys?” Al said, suddenly intrigued.
“Shut up! I’m not telling you. Anyway, then she got all angry at…er…someone and started yelling at how lucky they were that they had…parents.’ She broke down then, realising what she had said. She didn’t cry, she just kind of…crumbled. It was one of the saddest sights I’ve ever seen Al.”
He stayed silent, fiddling with his fingers and thumbs. I sighed and started taking out the stuff from my bag and putting my new books on the table.
“Oh did you give her the stuff?” He said getting up and opening the fridge. I accidentally dropped a book. I bent over to pick it up.
“Yeah I left it all on her bed. She won’t refuse free ice cream and chocolates. I’m just not sure about the book tokens-“
“What about the ipod. Did she like that? I did spend forever putting all that weird kind of music on it.”
“I don’t know. As I said I just left all the stuff on her bed. I didn’t see her reaction.” I replied. Al sighed.
“Ok. I hope she’s alright. She ran away from me yesterday…”
“She what?!” I said startled by this new information.
“er...yeah. Basically she was out in the snow like an hour before the train left and I came over to give her the present. And…”
“What happened?” I asked.
“I was getting to that! As I said, she pretty much just ran away from me and told me to shut up and stop bothering her. She’s so moody-“
“Al! Shut your trap! How can you say that? Her mum’s dead. Her dad ran away for someone else. Her home’s gone. Her love life’s non-existent. You are an absolute dickhead Albus Potter!”
Al looked torn between self-harming over what he’d said and bursting out with giggles just because I’d said a bad word.
Instead he just sat there constipated.
“Oh I give up. You’re a coward.”
“How am I a coward?” Al said getting angry and frustrated all of a sudden. He hated being accused of things.
“Because! You asked out a bitch because your so called ‘friends’ starting calling you ‘gay’ because you hadn’t dated in so long!” I blurted, furious.
“What? Rose I thought you were on my side in this. You don’t get it! You have no idea! Why does it matter to you?” He yelled.
“Because you’re an obnoxious little bitch. You don't listen to what your heart tells you. Fuck that, you don't listen to what anyone tells you. You were so close Al. SO FUCKING CLOSE.”
And with that I stormed up the stairs with my chosen book and ran to my room. I slammed into my Dad on my way up. I hope he hadn’t heard me using those bad words. I think that was the first time I’d used the F-word.
“Rosie, what’s up?” He said, ready to have a little comfort chat with me. I didn’t want to talk though. How was I supposed to say both my friends were crazy about the other and life was stuck in between desperately trying to push them apart?
“It’s fine Dad. Just a long day.” I sighed. He didn’t move.
“Did you find Berry then?” He asked.
“Yes. She’s…better. She still needs help though. I’m going over tomorrow as well. Maybe I’ll bring Al.”
“Ok good. Well dinner’s going to be late because Mum’s not home yet.” He said, pouting a little in longing for a meal.
“Dad. Have you ever thought about ever making your own food?” I said smiling a little.
“Oh Rose dear! Your mother’s the best. I could never step in on her duty.”
Shaking my head smirking, I walked up to my room.
The front door slammed as Al left the house.
The next day I left the house and ran over to the Potters.
Aunty Ginny opened the door and welcomed me inside, clearly clueless as to the fight her son and I had yesterday. I went through into the kitchen and was offered some cake. I took a huge helping, knowing that Lily Potter’s cakes really were the best of the best.
The chocolate melted on my tongue and I shuddered with delight as James walked into the room. His eyes found the cake and darted to the source where he quickly cut a slice.
“Hey Rosie.” He said as he gobbled down his slice with the least etiquette possible. I cringed a little.
“Hey James. Did you know that your brother’s an obnoxious, arrogant prick?” I said calmly.
“I did indeed. He pretends that he is to know everything on the Quidditch pitch when really he can barely fly his broom straight.”
“James. I wasn’t talking about Quidditch. Your brother, is oblivious, to Berry.”
James stopped eating for a moment to try and work this out. This could take a while.
“What?” He said.
I sighed. Frustrated. James was just as stupid as Al.
“Can’t you see it?! They both like each other!” I cried.
“Oh my god…yeah, they kinda do actually.”
I slapped my palm against my face.
“Well…why don’t they just go out?” James asked.
“Umm…er…um…BECAUSE ALBUS ALREADY HAS A GIRLFRIEND YOU IDIOT!”
Working the mind of Potter boys is tough work.
“WHAT?!” He yelled, suddenly furious. This confused me.
“…didn’t you know?” I said quietly.
“NO! Since when was Albus going out with someone?! He hasn’t been out with anyone in ages. Everyone was starting to wonder if he was still straight!”
“Er…what?” I said.
“Yeah! Now who is it? And why the fuck isn’t it Berry?” He said.
“James! Don’t swear.” I told him, hoping no one had heard his language. “It’s that girl in our dorm, Emma Thirsk. The one who used to be nice…”
“Her?!” James jumped, accusingly. “Oh Albus is going to pay for not telling me this…why her?!”
“I don’t know…Al has been a bit…weird on those last few days of Hogwarts. He won’t properly explain why he asked her out. He is very touchy on the subject.” I answered.
“But why her?!” He demanded.
“I don’t know James! He’s your brother. You sort it out.” I said and with that I walked upstairs to find Albus.
I heard James still cursing even as I walked up the next flight of stairs.
“Al?” I called up. “Al?”
No answer. Uncle Harry walked passed.
“Hello Rose!” He said and then continued walking by. Al wasn’t coming. I resigned and went to seek him out in his bedroom.
"AHHH WHAT ARE YOU DOING GET OUTTTT!" Came a screech as soon as I had so much as taken a step in the room. Albus was in the corner...naked.
"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" I screeched as I ran out closing the door behind me. I shuddered and sank back against the wall trying to get the pictures out of my head.
I started heaving, feeling sicker and sicker as the image stuck to the insides of my brain. I gasped in disgust. "Ugh Albus! Why did you have to be so stupid? Have you ever heard of this thing called a lock?"
"HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF THIS THING CALLED KNOCKING?" He yelled through the door. I could hear things moving around as he hastily got his clothes back on.
"What were you even doing?!" I yelled back through the door, not sure I wanted to know
"Ah! My God you are unbelievable! Of course you would assume that I was doing something…something…oh my God Rose! Your just so judgemental and ALWAYS suspicious of me, always! I HAD A SHOWER AND GUESS WHAT! I WAS NAKED IN MY SHOWER! AND GUESS WHAT? WHEN I GET BACK FROM MY SHOWER, I’M STILL NAKED! BECAUSE GUESS WHAT? I HAVE TO CHANGE!" Al roared through the door.
He’s like a girl.
A sensitive, melodramatic, frigid, little girl.
Twenty seconds later he calmly opened the door and let me in. I opened my eyes hesitantly, then filled with relief to see all his clothes intact. I must forget what I saw. Must.
"Well...er...anyway. I thought you'd come with me to find Berry today."
He looked startled. "...Wait, what?! You want me to just drop everything, forget my day planned and go find some girl who runs away from everybody?" Al wailed as if I was asking him such a big favour. I mean come on, I know he loves her, a lot. Not that he likes to show it. He’d certainly drop everything –oh God. Poor choice of wording. UGH THAT IMAGE!!
I nodded to him. That pretty much did it.
“Ok, when do we start?”
Rose walking in on me changing was a huge blow against my masculine pride development. It really burst my bubble. And her screaming like a girl didn’t help much either.
We apparated to Hogsmeade, and were walking down Avery Path, leading to where all the boring shops were. All the Rose kind of shops. Books and things, not healthy.
I hadn’t been to Hogsmeade for quite a while, not since October when I bought that Christmas present for Berry in the jewellers. I don’t actually think she likes jewellery much.
Rose lead me to a bookstore (help me) called something like ‘Screw-Shaft Quills’ where they sold modern books and stationary for Wizards. Instead of walking into the shop, we came to a stop at a front door that had lost its whole bottom, making it possible for any decent sized person to crawl right under. It was rotting and peeling like there was no tomorrow. It was dark green and it was the kind of place you’d walk a little faster when you passed it. I glanced it up and down and cocked an eyebrow at Rose.
“You really weren’t kidding about the whole ‘not-nice-place-to-live’ thing.” I said, more to myself than to her. She shook her head rolling her eyes as we entered. We climbed the stairs, the cold draft stirring the hairs on my back. I shuddered a bit.
After about four flights of creaky stairs we came to another door, slightly stronger looking than the one downstairs, but no better on the rotting-front. Rose hesitated before knocking cautiously against the wood. There was no answer. Rose sighed, and turned to me, and whispered.
“She’s either not there and therefore can’t answer or she’s in there freaking herself out to death, too petrified to open the door like she did last time!”
Oh. Well that’s helpful.
“Should we just open the door then?” I said. Rose looked at me like I was a genius.
Which, quite frankly, I am.
I kicked the door open and walked through the room searching for any sign of life. Nothing. I lost my cautious stance and slackened my body and went to sit on the couch. Rose stared at me like I was an idiot. She keeps changing her idea on me.
“Hey Rose,” I said, kicking up my feet on this fraying old ‘lump’ I’d call it rather than a sofa. “Can you get me a coke? Make me some popcorn? We don’t know how long Berry could be…”
“Are you thick?”
“Well now you say so…no.” I replied.
“WHAT IF BERRY’S STILL IN THE HOUSE YOU DIMBO!” Came a screeching in my ear. I literally jumped two feet in the air. Then I whimpered.
Yes. Yet another blow to my masculinity.
I got up and looked around the place desperately in search of Berry, hoping Rose would think I’m doing the right thing.
“Well she’s not going to be under a CARPET is she!” Rose screeched again. Shamefully I dropped the carpet back into place. She gave me her feistiest glare and stormed off to search in the bathroom. Dumbfounded, I went the other way into another room to find…oh shit.
There in the room, fast asleep, snoring, on the floor, was Berry. With duvet flung on the other side of the room.
Because normal sleep walking just wasn’t enough.
I was paralysed, wanting to rush over to her, and, I dunno hug her? But I knew that’d be weird, and I shouldn’t. So I just stood there instead.
“Rose,” I said quietly. She was still running round the flat calling out loads of different things. “Rose,”
“What is it Alb-“ She said and then came up behind me and saw her there. Sleeping innocently on the bed with no blankets, lay a small girl with a blob of curly blonde hair.
Bonnie, Berry’s sister.
I looked to Rose as for what to do next. But this time Rose didn’t seem to know what to do. So we both just stood there, waiting for the other to tell us what to do.
“Yeah, um, so, should we wait till she wakes?” I said uncertain. Rose nodded instantly, like it was a good plan of action and we went back into the main room, and I made Rose get some popcorn.
**one hour later**
“You slept with my husband the night before my wedding? BITCH I CAN'T EVEN LOOK AT YOU!”
“Well it was totally payback for what you did, to my Carl back in high school! I couldn't even believe you'd be so cruel. HE WAS MINE AND YOU TOOK HIM FROM ME. YOU SLUT-”
“Muggles actually waste their time watching this crap?!” I said throwing the remote on the sofa and blocking my ears and quite literally head-desking the coffee table in front of me as the scene played onto some massive cat fight between the two women on the screen.
“Strangely enough.” Said a voice that I was 100% sure wasn't Rose's considering she'd gone out to buy some groceries. I whizzed round to see, knocking my popcorn all over the floor in the process. And there she was. Berry, in a night gown that was a little more see-through than I think she realised, and she looked like a ghost all in white. Her hair was a monster, dramatic, twisted and matted, and I sure as well was glad not to be the one who was going to brush it.
I jumped at the sight of her, recovered, and slowly stood up, her expression unfazed.
“Back from the dead?” I choked out in what was supposed to be a jokey way, but it really wasn't quite the right thing to say. Under her mask of no feeling she looked weary and in grief, and it seemed like she was dying.
She didn't laugh at the joke and I was immediately sorry. Even after all her running away and hating everyone business she was still Berry and she was hurting, hurting so much it hurt me. In three strides before I knew what I was doing, I walked over and squeezed her, hugging her because she really looked in need of a cuddle. She needed human comfort, and love, and care.
And who else in the world was left to give that to her?
Her body slackened under me and her weak arms hugged me back with something I'd call 'Berry strength' which in case you hadn't registered, isn't much at all. She started to make coughing sounds, and began to rack with sobs and I felt salty tears spill over my t-shirt. It made me squeeze harder. And through all the confusion in my life right now, there was one instinct alone swimming around in my lonely head.
I never wanted to let go.
I didn't want to let go. He was so warm and he smelled like he always did, a homely smell that made my insides melt. He was so comfortable, and through the past week I'd felt so unloved, so alone, so out of reach and untouchable. Now here he was, the one I wanted most, missed most, hurt by most, holding me.
But why was he here? I thought he didn't want me. He never had, it was all an illusion I'd created in my own head. The idea that he could possibly like me back. Love me-
No. Not love. I wasn't in love. Was I? How could you know? Because after all of this, love seem a bit of a burden rather than something wonderful.
But why was he here? Why would he want to come to this excuse of a home to see me? A pathetic, mess, in his eyes. He probably thought I was insane. Probably thought I had moved out from my own home because I was a stressy teenager that had had some argument with their parents or something. What would you assume? If you didn't know the truth?
Either way in his eyes, I was some crazy loon, out of reach, and lost behind impenetrable wall.
Eventually, I did let go though, because I felt so weak, even just hugging somebody. My arms drooped to my sides. He looked at me, his eyes sad and longing. What did he have to be sad about anyway? Who knew.
I didn’t know what to do next. I’d spent so much effort of my time avoiding everyone to this point, and now all I wanted to do was to be able to see all my friends and have their comfort. But I’d neglected that a long time ago. I couldn’t just go back. I couldn’t change the fact I’d pushed them away and not told them anything. And how could I tell them now? How could I possibly ever explain to them now? Would they know how to comprehend with that? They couldn’t exactly just go ‘Oh, that’s too bad. I’m sorry.’
I hated it when people said sorry when they hadn’t even done anything.
I stared up at him lost for words, I was pretty sure I looked like some petty lost kitten right now, searching and searching for the home I’d never find.
He cleared his throat a bit, he clearly couldn’t deal with silence any more than I could. He said lamely “Did you er…get the ipod?”
I froze and the sudden change of atmosphere was so absurd I wanted to laugh. “You got that? For me? What with all those weird muggle songs?” I said, and I even cracked a smile.
“Hey! They’re not weird.” He said protectively, but he was smiling too, because I was.
He was smiling because I was smiling!
Oh dear brain do shut up. Then a little drop of wetness fell from my cheek, having leaked from my eye. Oh God I thought I’d said no more tears. But I couldn’t care less, because Al was here, and he was holding me, and I had the right to cry a little. A little.
As he wiped the tear away with his gentle touch on my face I started to choke, choking up more tears. Oh no, no, no. Trust me to ruin a moment where I was happy. I tried to speak, trying to say the words, but they couldn’t come out. And I sobbed, loudly, my body shaking with it. And then I got the words out. Croakily, and barely audible, but I think he heard.
“Thank you Al.”
“Thanks for everything.”
“I know.” He said. I didn’t know what he knew but I accepted it and put my arms round him once more and squeezed with all my strength.
For the next hour or so Berry and I sat on the sofa and continued to watch some crap muggle TV and we ate popcorn and she was laughing. Really laughing. I really began to feel her stages of denial and depression were slowly transforming gradually into something like acceptance. Acceptance of her loss. And I couldn’t wait for when she felt free again and moved onwards in life. There was hope she wouldn’t stay in this tragic gloomy puddle of grief forever.
When Rose came in she closed the door quietly and gave me a stupid girly face with a wink and a thumbs up. If she were a boy I would have hit her, but at least Berry hadn’t seen.
“Hey Berry. How’s things?” Rose asked as she put her bags of food down on the grubby kitchen table.
“Watching a trashy muggle TV show? Brilliant.” She said sarcastically, but she wasn’t frowning. Her eyes twinkled. Just a little, but I saw it and I didn’t look away. Then she looked at me looking at her and I sheepishly looked back at the TV. And then she asked, rather carefully.
“How’s it going with Emma?” She said it quietly, and didn’t look at me, pretending to be transfixed at the TV, like she wasn’t very interested about the answer.
She was trying on purpose to be casual. Why?
“Er…” How did a person answer that question when they were talking to the person they liked- NOT LIKED. Sorry, don’t know where that came from. Well, I mean, I like her. But not like ‘love’ like. At least…I hope not. What I’m really trying to say (and not being very successful here) is I like as a FRIEND. FRIEND. Nothing else…
“Er…good I think?” Rose was shaking her head violently and making a hand gesture of cutting her throat. “Well not good…I mean…er, yes good! Ok? Yeah Ok. Things are ok…”
Berry wasn’t looking at me. HOW CAN ONE PERSON MAKE ME ACT SO I SEEM SO UTTERLY STUPID AND LOST FOR WORDS THE WHOLE TIME.
After that it was a bit awkward, and Rose having hung up her coat came to sit down with a lovely follow-on with the conversation. “Well actually, Al and Emma haven’t seen each other-“
I snorted. Rose was a real bitchy trouble maker when she wanted to be. She wanted it to make out like I wasn’t a good boyfriend!
“It’s been three days of holiday-“
“and,” Rose said, completely over powering my part in this discussion. “he hasn’t been replying to her letters, at all. In my opinion, things aren’t quite working out…”
“What letters?!” I said, hacked off now because I wasn’t a bad person. And there really haven’t been any letters…
“Oh Al, the ones that are owled to you every morning and afternoon since we left school! They’ve come to your room everyday. Haven’t you even looked-“
“My owl is sitting in my ruddy cage and it hasn’t been going anywhere!” I intervened. What was she talking about? If Rose has been muddling with my post…
Berry made a face of alarm as we continued and chose to stay out of it and continue watching that awful crap on the screen.
“-YOU TOOK MY LETTERS AND HID THEM FROM ME?!” I yelled at Rose. She was not even embarrassed now, she was on fire with taunts and comebacks. There was something that crafty witch really wanted, which I wasn’t quite getting at, but by the looks of things now it was to ruin my entire social life.
“Well you should have got them first! And in every single one she’s like ‘Oh my darling dearest Albus, I’ve struggled so throughout this era of not seeing your flawless sparkly face, I just can’t take it-‘“
I went bright red. “ENOUGH ROSE!” I said and began to chase her round the room as she went on in her dreamy voice imitation of Emma.
“-any longer! I have to see you. We are not two individuals now, we are one! I want you Albus! I want your body!”
This fuck better be made up.
From the corner of the room I heard giggling, coming from Berry and her little sister who had just wondered into the room and sat on her lap.
I turned back to Rose and realised I was too late. She'd slipped from reach and run to the bathroom, door locked.
Humiliation and my ego weren't a great combination. I was seething with anger, and I really wanted to get to the bottom about what Rose had done. She really was a true Gryffindor. A sneaky, arrogant, bastard.
I slunk back into the sofa and pretended like nothing happened, and stared at the stupid TV. Berry's sister, Bonnie, crawled over and sat on my lap and started pulling at my hair, skin and glasses. It's a little difficult to focus on a TV when your being harrassed by a toddler.
I sighed and picked her off me, but then she simply came back onto me with more persistence.
“Oi! Ouch! That hurt! Berry, can you get your evil sister off me please.”
“I thought you were a man Albus. Can you not handle it yourself?” She asked. Trust Berry to turn a simple favour into a daring challenge.
Her malice masked her colossal grief entirely fine, why did that have to be the quality that remained with her no matter what?
So, considering obedience does not come very naturally to me, and the idea of my pride being squashed seemed an unnecessary consequence, I decided to pick up Bonnie gently and put her into the bedroom. I placed her in the cot, which seem a little out of place for a four or five year old (I'm not good with numbers). She didn't protest but simply made cooing noises and yanked at my hair a little more. I turned off the lights and left the room. Not that I expected her to be sleeping at midday.
Rose came back to the room and I sent her the evils but she dismissed them. She sat down and pulled a dozen plastic boxes from her bag. Some muggle products I didn't understand...
Berry's eyes widened.
“You brought me DVD's? I love you!” She said, overwhelmed with joy and thankfulness. She even gave Rosie a hug.
“Well, if your going to be staying here alone all Christmas, I thought you'd need some good company.” Rose said smiling, but Berry's face had turned to stone. Rose smile vanquished and I realised a second to late what Rose had let slip out.
“How the hell do you know I'm going to be here alone?” Berry said standing up, eyes darting madly. Her sense of fear had such an aura, it washed over the room and the TV turned off.
And the room was silent.
A/N – Please, hurt with your violent abuses at another delayed chapter update. I shall take them willingly. I've going crazy myself, saying to myself, I need to write more, for you guys, and now that exams are over and that distraction is out the way, I can finally get on with it. I'd like to dedicate this chapter to Cameron, (sorry Cameron, not that this chapter is awfully exciting) because she has been pushing me to write the most. I doubt this chapter would be here without her. You see, I know her at my school and I didn't realise she was on hpff, let alone reading my stories till a couple of months ago. Anyway, so she made me update chapter 16 in time. And every time I thought 'well I can't be bothered to write right now...' my brain's instant come back was 'CAMERON'. So yeah, thank Cameron that I updated, not me :) Thanks for those of you that still follow this despite my lack of enthusiasm lately and plain laziness. But I think now Im pretty much on the final step of Berry's acceptance and realising that Rose and Al already know so hopefully when she's all cheered up, I can write normally and naturally again. I really can't thank you enough. Over 10,000 reads? To another author that might seem like nothing but every time I check I literally am so happy and proud that every single one of that huge number actually bothered to have a look at my story. And the reviews mean so much to me, I treasure each and every single one, and I'm getting to know my followers bet with each review. I really don't mind critique and story ideas and people threatening to eat me for not updating. In all honesty it gives me a lot more inspiration and encouragement to update, because funnily enough I don't want to be eaten :P