Chapter 2 : Love rule #2
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Love rule #2 – When in doubt, fake it
After the day at the beach, the rest of my summer consisted of early morning runs, smaller portion sizes and being anywhere that Malfoy and the rest of the guys weren't.
When September 1st at last rolled around, I made sure that my shining new Head Girl badge was pinned firmly in place on my uniform. Opening my school letter that year and seeing that badge was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. It was the culmination of six years of hard work and leadership, and something I'd be proud to add to my resume at the end of school.
Being Head Girl almost made my chubby limbs and hours in the library worth the work.
That day at the station, Mum had touched the badge with trembling fingers, and Dad had pretended to bow down before me. I kicked him gently, my face as red as my hair.
“Get up Dad, you’re so embarrassing!” I hissed, but he just grinned and kept bowing.
“Have a good year, honey. I’ll send you some more course information during the year,” Mum said as she hugged me. I hugged her tightly back, and was surprised to discover I was taller than her.
“I miss you already, munchkin,” Dad said, finally standing up. Merlin, he was going to make me cry. Dad and I had always been close. I hugged him and hopped on the train before I could start bawling, watching them say goodbye to Hugo from where I sat in our usual compartment. My eyes travelled over the bustling platform, landing on a familiar mop of blonde hair. Malfoy and his parents were saying their goodbyes, and I quickly looked away. No need to make him think I was staring, considering that I hadn't said a word to him since the beach day.
Malfoy and I had always had a weird relationship. He was convinced I thought that I was better than him, and I was convinced he hated me. After what happened at the beach, I'm sure he'd be happy to never see me and my chub ever again. He being a fellow Gryffindor and therefore always around didn't help things either - we never really had space from each other except when we were asleep.
Pushing him from my mind, I looked up as the compartment door slid open. The trunk Sophie was dragging in was almost the same size as her, and Callie rolled her eyes impatiently our tiny friend struggled. I jumped up to help her and together we wrestled it away.
"Finally," Callie muttered, throwing her trunk on the racks above us with ease. They sat down opposite me as the train pulled away, all of us waving at our parents. Sitting back, I took a deep breath. It was our last year of school. Sophie had her prefect badge on, and Callie had her quiddich captaincy. We were going to go places. Without warning, I jumped up and hugged them.
“Get off, you great lump,” Sophie giggled even as she hugged me back.
“What was that for?” Callie asked, and I smiled and shrugged as I sat back down.
“Felt like it.”
“Your robes look too big,” Sophie commented lightly, and I looked down sceptically. Were they really? Maybe all those runs were starting to pay off? Running was certainly starting to feel easier, my lungs didn’t burn like they did when I first started.
“I doubt it. You girls have to promise to go for runs with me this term, otherwise I won’t keep it up.”
“Sure, honey,” Callie flashed me a smile and went back to her usual magazine. The compartment door opened again and the boys – Albus, Jake, Fred and Malfoy – trundled in. I felt my heart sink as my eyes locked with Malfoy's for the first time in months. I looked away from his icy blue eyes and smiled at Jake instead.
“Here you all are,” Freddie said, and Sophie turned pink as he sat half on top of her. Callie and I shuffled over to make more room, and I found myself sitting next to Malfoy. Ignoring him, I pulled out some parchment and starting jotting down notes. I wanted to be on top of my Head Girl duties before we got back, so I didn’t end up too stressed when the school work started piling up.
I zoned out of the conversation that soon started, cosy in my corner. The frantic scratching of my quill soon became gentle doodling, and I found myself nodding off. My body was tired from all of the exercise I had been doing and I hadn’t been sleeping well in recent weeks. I woke with a jerk when something brushed against me.
“Sorry,” Malfoy muttered as he leant forward. The parchment I’d been writing on had fallen from my lap. He offered it to me, and as he did so, his Head Boy badge sparkled in the sunlight. “Weasley?”
I was staring at his chest, shocked. In hindsight, he was the obvious choice for the position, but my tired brain was slow to process the fact. I took the parchment robotically, tucking it away safely.
“Are you okay?” he asked reluctantly, and I swallowed.
“So ah – we should go to the prefect meeting soon, yeah?”
He sounded as unsure as I felt, but I nodded anyway. I was still reeling but tried to keep it from my face. Apparently I didn’t do a good job.
“Rose! You’re so pale, are you okay?” Sophie suddenly exclaimed from her spot next to Albus. Everyone turned to look at me and I blushed.
“There you go, problem solved,” Fred said cheerfully, and they all laughed. I forced a smile and stood up.
“Sophie, can I talk to you for a second? Outside?” My voice sounded strained and I opened the door before she could answer.
“What? What’s wrong?” Sophie fretted. Callie followed us out and shut the compartment door behind us. I turned my back on the boys and their inquisitive looks, grabbing Callie’s hand.
“Malfoy is Head Boy,” I hissed.
“I know. Lucky you gets to share a dorm with Eye Candy for a year,” Callie muttered, pouting.
“It’s going to end in blood and tears,” I groaned, rubbing my face. The mascara that Sophie had given me last Christmas was probably smudged across my cheeks.
“You’ll be fine,” Sophie said, rubbing my arm, “He’s such a nice guy, and all the younger kids love him.”
Her reasoning didn’t help. Apparently I was the only one in the universe who didn’t like perfect Scorpius Malfoy. “He’s an idiot! He hates me, I know it. I’d rather stick my head in an oven than co-Head with him!”
The girls had fallen silent, looking behind me. Sophie winced as someone cleared their throat. I spun around to see Malfoy towering above me, arms crossed and a frown creasing his forehead.
“Nice,” he muttered, “It’s time for the meeting. Unless you’d rather stick your head in an oven first?”
He strode away before I could say anything, swallowed up by students milling in the corridor.
“Oh my Merlin,” I breathed.
“Well that went well,” Callie said, popping her gum and heading back into the compartment.
“I’m so sorry!” Sophie fretted, wringing her hands, “He opened the door so quickly and you weren’t shutting up and I didn’t know what to do!”
“It’s okay,” I said, laughing shakily, “I better go and apologise. I’ll see you at the meeting.”
I grabbed a black coffee from the lunch trolley as I passed it on my way to the front of the train, swallowing it down in scalding gulps. The liquid somewhat rejuvenated me but didn’t rid me of the horrible guilt I was feeling.
Malfoy didn’t look at me when I entered the compartment. Apart from Sophie and Albus, I was the last to arrive, meaning I couldn’t talk to him beforehand. Loretta O’Walsh, a Ravenclaw seven year, glared at me as I sat beside Malfoy in one of the plush seats. I forced a smile which she ignored. She never had liked me. Everyone else greeted me with jovial hellos and congratulations on my position.
The meeting was a short one to welcome new prefects and the new heads, and it was soon over. Once everyone had filed out to patrol the train, I caught Malfoy’s arm. I wanted to apologise, but he yanked his arm away.
“Malfoy, look, I just wanted to –“ I began, but he cut me off.
“I want to work together Rose. That doesn’t mean we have to like each other too, as you've made crystal clear.” He glared at me, and I was suddenly aware of how close we were standing. I could see the light freckles on his nose, and amber sparks in his eyes.
As I opened my mouth to reply hotly, he interrupted again. “No, I don’t want to hear it. I am nothing but nice to you, Rose Weasley. All you do is glare and complain and insult me to our friends. I may be an idiot by your standards, but you’re a rude, ignorant little girl."
I stared at his back as he stalked past me and slammed the door in my face. I couldn’t help but burst into tears. I never really had dealt well with confrontion.
“I just wanted to apologize,” I muttered to myself.
Wiping my eyes and leaving the compartment, I was surprised to see Jake was waiting for me outside. I wasn’t sure if I was happy or annoyed – seventh year blonde Gryffindors weren’t on my number one list at the moment.
He was leaning against the window opposite to the compartment, arms crossed as he chatted to a sixth year boy. Seeing me, he slapped the boy on the back in farewell and pushed off the window.
“Rose, hey,” he said, walking alongside me as I wandered down the corridor. I could see Malfoy disappearing, once again swallowed by the crowd, and guilt stabbed in my stomach again. “How was your summer?”
I forced a smile at Jake. He was so likeable and easy-going that I was starting to feel better already.
“It was okay, I guess. Spent a lot of time outside.”
He laughed at that. “I can see! You look great. So fit and tan,” he complimented.
I blushed –actually blushed- and decided that maybe blondes were alright after all. He dropped me at our compartment but I didn’t go in, not really wanting to see Malfoy. Instead, I roamed the train and caught up with classmates until we arrived at Hogwarts.
By the time I finally got to the feast later that night, I discovered that I’d missed dinner and no one had bothered to save me any food. A run-in with Peeves and a missing first year ensured that dinner was well and truly over when I at last wedged myself between the girls.
Further down the Gryffindor table, Fred, Albus and Malfoy were deep in quidditch conversation. I glared at Malfoy. His face was animated and lit up as he gestured, describing a move. I hoped he fell off his broom the next time he –
“Rose, are you okay?” Callie broke into my mental musings, and I jumped.
“I’m just great. I guess I’ll have to wait until breakfast though, I missed dinner,” I said, slumped in my chair.
“That’s okay honey, just have some dessert instead!” she said brightly, reaching for my favourite pecan pie. Just as she was about to grab it however, it disappeared and Professor Higgins stood up. I could have cried in frustration. And to think that it started off as a nice day.
“Welcome, students new and old!” he boomed in his deep, loud voice. “You are all in for a busy and exciting year. As usual, there is an extensive list of banned substances and objects on the board outside the office of each Head of House. Non-compliance with this list will result in detention and further punishment for repeat offenders.
“Congratulations to our new Head Boy and Girl, Mr Malfoy and Miss Weasley - erm, Rose Weasley, that is. They are here to guide and instruct you. Should you have any issues, please turn to them or a prefect for assistance.
“Finally, I have some exciting news for our senior students. Fifth year students and above will now have access to the new gymnasium, located on the fourth floor. Quiddich teams are welcome to book the equipment for periods of time, and the sign on sheet is available at Master Treelore’s office. This new castle addition is a part of the Ministry’s new healthy citizen initiative. I’m sure returning students have probably noticed the lack of dessert choices – you can also thank the Minister for that.”
There was grumbling from students around the hall, but I hardly noticed. My heart lifted. Maybe today wasn’t so bad after all. I could still work on my running even if it was raining or snowing outside! “Yes,” I whispered to the girls, “Let’s go sign up!”
At the Ravenclaw table next to us, Loretta O’Walsh leaned past some of her friends to scathingly say, “You’re going to join, Weasley? Why? They don’t offer food as a good work incentive, especially now the Minister is getting rid of all your favourites.”
The whisper carried across the space between the tables and more than a few students sniggered. I felt sick. Beside me, Callie turned pink and Albus stiffened. Sophie whipped her wand out underneath the table and cast a silent spell. Before our eyes, Loretta began to swell up until she was like a miniature hot air balloon. I couldn’t help but giggle even though the comment made my heart sink. Titters began through the hall when people began to notice, and some of the new first years look horrified.
“Dear me,” said Higgins in a bored voice, for these things did tend happened on a regular basis, “Someone go and take Madam Rivers her first casualty for the year. You’re all dismissed.”
The girls and I explored the Head’s dormitory after dinner. It was a smaller version of the Gryffindor tower, with the addition of a kitchenette in the common room. Malfoy disappeared into his room and shut the door soon after Professor McGonagall showed us the location. My door was opposite his, and we pushed it open.
“Oh, wow,” Sophie whispered, “Please can I be Head Girl?”
“No!” I cried, jumping on the bed in excitement. It was huge and soft and covered in a beautiful brocade quilt. “It’s mine, all miiiine.”
My bad mood was forgotten as I slipped off the bed and joined Callie by my desk. She was shaking her head as she ran her hand over the dark wood. A mirror was mounted on one wall, and there were wide windows which would give me views of the lake and mountains.
“It’s lovely,” Callie sighed, sitting on the bed. Sophie and I joined her, listening as she said, “You know, downstairs would make for a great party venue.”
There was a wicked gleam in her eyes, and I shook my head in alarm. “Oh, no way, do you want to get me expelled?”
“Come on, Rose,” she moaned, “You’ve been so uptight lately and you’re only going to get worse. Let’s have some fun!”
“It could be okay,” Sophie said, warming up to the idea. “It’s not as if you would be doing anything wrong, so long as everyone goes to bed before curfew.”
“And so long as no one drinks,” I interjected, raising my eyebrows.
Callie snorted. “Yep, sure, no drinking. If that’s your only objection…?”
“It is,” I said, nodding, “I don’t want to be responsible for underage drinking in my own living room.”
“Sold!” Callie said, grinning and clapping her hands, “I’m so organising this one. Right, I’m off to bed. Come on Soph, we mere commoners have to go to our boring old dormitory.”
I walked them downstairs, feeling troubled. Callie said that there wouldn’t be drinking if there was a party, but I didn’t think she meant it. Sometimes she promised anything to get her own way.
I went to bed that night feeling somewhat troubled. Loretta O'Walsh's words kept spiralling through my mind, keeping me awake.
Restless, I went into the ornate bathroom I'd be sharing with Malfoy and stood in front of the mirror. Maybe my favourite pyjama bottoms were getting a bit loose? Perhaps my school robes did feel a bit big?
Glaring at my body, I sat down on the floor and started doing sit ups.
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