A/N: Hello everyone! A thanks again to everyone who is still following this story so faithfully! It really means the world to me.
I just thought I would mention one thing real fast! Rough chapter estimate till conclusion of story: 7 chapters. I can't believe how fast this going, and it saddens me that this story is so close to hitting the climax!
It all begins next chapter! Please enjoy! :)
chapter graphic by me.
Over the next few weeks, Peakes was kept under close watch. He wasn't in confinement for questioning or anything, but he had an escort nearly 24/7 to make sure he stayed in line. Sondheim kept in close contact with Ron just to make sure Rose was making a steady recovery. While we knew he want to speed the process of the trial along, he was kind and understanding when it came to Rose's recovery. He didn't want to resume the trial until he knew she was prepared and had made a full recovery.
And every day she was recovering more and more. The idea of a full recovery, though, seems unlikely even now. I don't know if Rose will ever be the same, but as each day passes she becomes more and more prepared to face the Wizengamot court once again.
I'm often at the Weasleys. I don't really hang out at my flat much these days to do anything other than shower and change clothes. Hermione always drags me to their kitchen table for each meal and insists that I eat with them. During the day when Rose is conscious, I sit on the floor outside her bedroom and just listen to the goings-on inside the room in tranquility. I listen to Hermione sing their lullaby to her daughter; I listen to Ron try and convince Rose that she should love me. I listen to them just talk, and it soothes me. While I don't want to intrude and sometimes feel like I am a burden, Ron and Hermione both constantly demand that I stay. They want me there.
I think she knows I'm there. I don't go in unless asked. Despite how much I want to, I give her the space she needs and hope that she will someday feel what is right in her heart.
After weeks now of being catered to and treated like glass, Rose has finally begun to take care of herself again. She gets out of her bed, maneuvers around the house to do whatever she pleases, and she eats with her family. Nowadays when they're eating, I normally leave to take care of the other things I should be doing. Like paying my rent, showering, and maintaining my flat. The boring grown-up stuff.
Then, one day when I went back to the Weasleys after they had lunch, I found Rose tying her scarf about her neck. She stopped briefly to look at me. We didn't converse much these days, and now was no different. She acknowledged with a small incline of the head and brushed past me. I tried to ignore her actions towards me, but I was too curious as to what she was doing. As I watched her stop in front of the mirror in the living room and fix her hear, I realized she was going out.
She was leaving her house.
Before I could begin questioning where, Ron was swooping into the room. He looked appalled, and I could tell he wanted to keep Rose by his side. Wherever it was she was going, Ron did not want her to go. He ran past me, and I wondered if he had even taken note of my presence.
"Rose," said Ron quickly. He stood behind his daughter as she ran her fingers through her curls, adding volume. "Don't go see him. You will only be hurt in the end."
"I can't know that if I don't try, Dad," Rose said under her breath.
"Rose! Don't do this," demanded Ron. "I have only your best interests at heart, and honey, I know this won't end well."
"I can't go on just wondering what could have been if I don't try though, Daddy," said Rose again. Then she pulled her coat over her shoulders and stalked past him. I practically jumped out of her way, and she exited the house. The sound of her apparating away was apparent.
Ron was left to stand in the living room in shock. He couldn't seem to take his eyes off the mahogany wood on the floor.
"What's happened?" I finally asked.
Ron looked at me apprehensively, as if he knew this conversation could potentially hurt me. Heeding his warning, I sucked in a deep breath and did my best to prepare myself. I told myself that I wouldn't be hurt or afraid. He finally ended the excruciating wait by speaking.
"Rose has this mindset that...she loves the real Scorpius Malfoy, and she believes that he will love her in return. Someday," said Ron uneasily.
I blanched. I felt my heart drop into my stomach; I could feel it trying to climb up the wall of my chest cavity, to return to its proper location, but it just kept sinking deeper and deeper. Rock bottom. I thought I had hit it long ago, but this was it, wasn't it? How could Rose think that the real Malfoy would love her? After what she did? After what she confessed? There couldn't possibly be a way he would even go out for a cup of coffee with her.
"What?!" I was suddenly shouting. Fury took over me. It was fury in Rose's stupidity, and fury and jealousy for Scorpius Malfoy to have the opportunity to be with the woman I love.
"She can't date
him! He...He's not...He's not me!
She fell in love with me!
Not him! And he told me himself, he would be furious with her if he discovered she was the reason for his confinement! He will never even give her the time of day! She will only be hurt in the end," I shouted. I was pacing the living room, pulling at my hair as the roots shot a deep raven.
"Don't you think I know that? I was doing everything I could to keep her here. But I can't strap her down or demand it. She's a woman now; I can't keep a leash on her..."
"I know," I sighed. I did understand. I knew that Ron could only do so much to try to stop her. He couldn't keep her here if she was determined enough. I sank down onto their leather couch, and tears were suddenly in my eyes. "I know you can't do that. She just...Merlin, she's such an idiot, isn't she?"
"I know she is," Ron groaned. "I can't tell you how disappointed I am in her. She's going to get hurt, that's a given. And I...I'm still rooting for you, Ted."
I looked at him at that statement and blinked away my tears. In that moment, I knew how genuine Ron was being. He really had taken me in like his second son. He was like a father to me now, and he wanted me to be with his daughter. More than anything.
I couldn't believe how stupid Rose is. Did she really think the real Scorpius Malfoy could love her? He told me himself he would never forgive her if she was the reason for his confinement, and she was. It was all her fault. Well, not completely. It was Peakes' fault, but Malfoy doesn't know that! It wouldn't matter to him. He would throw her out without even thinking twice about it.
I paced about Ron's living room. He was watching me, refusing to take his eyes off me, probably wondering what I would do next.
Then I suddenly realized I couldn't do anything until I found out what happened between Rose and Scorpius. I had been polite and respectful of Rose's space, requests, and privacy. In this moment now, I threw all of that out the window. I didn't care about giving her the space she needs now. Her happiness was my first priority, and it wouldn't come to her by making a pass at Scorpius Malfoy. I needed to be here when she came home; she would be devastated, and she would need a shoulder to lean on.
I was staying. I had made up my mind. So I dropped down onto the couch. I leaned forward and braced my elbows against my knees, entwining my fingers, and letting my chin rest on the folds.
Ron appraised my stance as I glued my eyes to the door, and he seemed to know what I had decided. With a curt nod, he left the room.
I sat there for what felt like hours. The wait was excruciating, and I didn't tear my eyes away from the door. They grew dry and tired, but I refused to look away.
Finally the recognizable sound of appration sounded and the front door was flung open. In a mess, Rose bolted into the house. Her cloak was hanging off her shoulders, and her cheeks were damp with fresh tears. She was hiccupping as she scaled the room in a blur, bolting up the stairs. I was on my feet in an instant, following in her wake.
"Rose!" I called to her, letting her know that I was pursuing her and I wasn't going to give in. "Rose, what happened?"
"Leave me alone! I don't want to talk about it!" she called over her shoulder to me.
That didn't push me away. I continued to follow her up the stairs, through the hall, and into her bedroom. She dropped to the floor in the corner of her bedroom, pulling her knees up to her chest, and burying her face between them. There, her cries grew louder.
I kneeled down in front of her and gingerly touching her calf. "Rosie," I muttered, "please tell me what happened."
"I'm not telling you," she hissed into her knees. "You out of all people."
"Rose, I - "
"No! I'm not telling you!
" she cried. She actually lifted her head. She used her hands to emphasize her upset, and her mascara was smeared down her cheeks from being pushed against her knees. "You will think I'm so stupid. You'll probably laugh at me, and for Merlin's sake, you love
me! I can't talk to you about this."
"Rose," I whispered lovingly, coaxingly, "don't think about my feelings for you right now. Why don't you talk to me like I'm your friend? I am
She hiccupped, and I could tell she was debating it. Finally she nodded, wiping away her tears and smudging her mascara even further.
"I thought...I thought Scorpius Malfoy would give me a chance. I thought that - since you were pretending to be him and clearly there was a connection - then I would have a connection with the real Malfoy also. I thought that, maybe, if I loved the Malfoy at the summer house, then I could love the real one. I thought that if the Malfoy at the summer house could love me, then so could the real one...I went to see him. I didn't straight up tell him that I wanted him to love me. I just...I just asked if we could get coffee sometime. He said yes, and now as I'm looking back at it, he probably thought I wanted to take him out to coffee to apologize for everything that happened...So he actually cleared his lunch schedule and we went out to coffee. He seemed anxious. Now I realize he was trying to dial down his anger with me, but I didn't notice that until it was already over. He then rudely
asked if I had just wanted to go to coffee just to chat, and when I said yes, he snapped. He started yelling at me about how this was all my fault! How it was my fault he was held in confinement for so long! That it was all my fault and he would never forgive me for it. And then he left and..."
I just stared blankly at her, trying to take it all in. Her words had hurt. It hurt to hear her phrase things as 'the Malfoy at the summer house.' Not phrased as 'you,' but as someone who in her mind didn't even exist anymore. It was painful. Then to hear about her foolish choice in going to see Malfoy. Of course he reacted that way. I don't blame him.
With her pained expression, I knew she was about to rant even further. But she was about to dive deeper into her raging emotions. She was done with telling me the basics; now she was going to go into the emotions. And I took that small amount of time to man up and try to put my emotions and feelings for her aside. I needed to do what I told her; I needed to listen to her next words as her friend and not think about my love for her or worry about how her next words could potentially hurt me.
I sucked in a deep breath as she began again.
"And I was devastated! I think I love him. If you were being him, you were being him!
Him! I could love him. I could be happy; he could be happy! I could make him happy, and I want to make him happy! I just want to be happy again and forget about everything! I just want to forget about the murder, and I just want to forget about the summer house, and about Azkaban! I don't want to remember it because it's all just too painful. I need someone, and I know it sounds foolish and conceited, but I've been destroyed, Teddy! Azkaban...I can't even begin to tell you what it's like. I've been ripped to shreds and stitched back together by my parents, and I'll never be the same again. Damaged goods! I'm damaged goods, Teddy! I need someone to be there for me and to love me, and I want to love them!"
Her words finally came to an end, only for her to cry with loud sobs. I tried to hold back my tears, her words tearing my heart into a thousand pieces. "I'm sorry, Rose..."
Why couldn't she see that someone is here for her?! That someone is wanting to love her, and someone needs her! I want her, and I love her. I need her, and I want to be therefore her and she for me! I was willing to give her all those things she just mentioned. Yet she refused to even look my way in a loving manner.
She wanted someone, she had made that much clear. Did I take this opportunity to show her that I could be that person? Did I try to do that again for my own benefit and potentially her own? Or did I be the friend I said I would be and just listen and console her? What was I to do?
"I love someone," she sobbed, holding onto her head, shaking it. "I know I love someone. I just can't find him anymore."
I knew I couldn't sit back and be her friend. Not now when I knew I could convince her otherwise. I moved closer to her, and I reached out and cupped her face in my hands. I wiped her tears with my thumbs, and held her gaze to mine.
"You love me, Rose," I said sternly. "You love me. He's been here this whole time."
"No," she sobbed desperately, shaking her head in my grasp, but I still didn't let go. "I don't love you."
Well, if that's how she wanted to play for now, I would take it. I could work off of that.
"Okay then. Say you don't love me now, but Rosie, I'm here for you. You know that I am. I could be the one you're looking for. Why can't you just give me that chance?" I whispered. Even as I continued to stroke her cheek as she shook her head, I was moving closer to her. Her legs were touching mine, her head bowing closer and closer to mine. Finally my hands moved from her face and about her body. I pulled her into my lap, my arms going about her waist, and I rocked her in my grasp.
"You betrayed me," she sobbed against my shirt. She was doing a terrible job of fighting against me. For one so firmly adamant about not wanting to give a chance to, it was surprising how much she was letting me touch her.
"I know I did," I whispered. "But I made a mistake, and I ask for your forgiveness. Someone is right here loving you, and he always will. He will always be there for you, and you make him so happy. You know that?"
"No..." she muttered, her response to my question.
I whispered more things like that, and as I did so I planted soft, gentle kisses on her body. I kissed her shoulder, her collar bone, her cheek. With each kiss, I could feel Rose moving against me. It wasn't in refusal or denial. In fact, I could feel her inching closer and closer to me. Her mind may be protesting me, but her body was saying different. I could feel her turning into me. Her arms were slowly going about me, and she would turn to expose bits of her flesh for me to kiss.
She was finally understanding.
I held her face, whispering against her. "Let me love you the way I already do."
She didn't say anything. Her eyes found mine, beseeching me, and then she surprised me by wrapping her arms around my neck. Then she kissed me. This one was different from any before. She was nervous, uneasy. I could tell she was putting too much thought into that kiss. She was analyzing the way I moved - which wasn't much because I was still coping with the shock - and I could tell she was comparing kisses. In that moment I didn't care. She was kissing me. She moved slowly at first, unsure, but as my lips moved against hers with reassurance, her confidence grew.
She kissed me harder, moving in my lap so she was straddling me, pushing her chest against mine. My hands moved into her hair, running through her curls like I so often would at the summer house. Everything suddenly felt in its place; it felt like nothing had changed. It felt like I had just kissed her yesterday; I forgot about the months of pain I had felt. I forgot about her abandonment, her imprisonment, her stupidity in refusing to acknowledge my love and turning to Scorpius. We kissed with the remembrance of our past relationship, and it seemed like second nature once again.
Her hand moved to my shoulder where she gently pushed, and I was willingly falling back onto the wooden floor, letting her climb on top of me. She settled comfortably on top of me, her tongue finding mine and breathing heavily into my mouth.
It was when her hands moved to my chest did I finally freeze. I grew still beneath her, and suddenly I pushed Rose off of me, and I scrambled away from her like she was the plague. I backed away into the corner.
I couldn't do it. Not like this, and the realization had stuck me hard. I couldn't kiss her like this; I couldn't begin a relationship with her like this. Not while she was in such a vulnerable state.
I shook my head, fresh tears clouding my vision, and I choked out to her as she looked at me in shock. "No. No, no, no, Rosie. I can't."
"What?! You just said you would be here for me!"
"I know I did," I moaned. "And I want to be. I love you more than anything, and I want to be with you romantically, but...Not like this. I can't kiss you like this. You're not kissing me because you love me or are even infatuated with me. You kissed me because you felt lonely. You kissed me because you wanted someone to kiss you and make you feel wanted, and you are, Rose, but - "
"Then kiss me!" she demanded, interrupting me.
"But I can't take advantage of you like that! And I don't want to be your second choice. I want to be your first, and I want you to kiss me because you love me. I don't want to be your rebound or someone who will just snog you when you want. I've been here for you this entire month; I was even here for you while you were in Azkaban. I've been waiting for you, putting my life on hold to make sure you got yours on the right track again and are happy. That's all I want, Rose, but I can't destroy myself along the way. I have to keep some
of my dignity, and I couldn't stoop so low as to give you what you want just so you can feel loved. I want you to want me the way I want you. I know you've been through a lot, but after everything I've done for you, I deserve better than that."
"T-Teddy," she cried out painfully as if she had realized what she had done.
I felt terrible then. I didn't mean to upset her. She was already upset enough, and I hated to be the cause of her disappointment, but I had to be. It was wrong of me to take that chance. I shouldn't have kissed her. I shouldn't have tried to take that window when I had the chance. Now look at what I had done.
"If I'm going to be the one you want to snog when you are pitying yourself, then I refuse. I can only be your friend."
I had nothing more to say after that, and I didn't want to watch her cry. So I rose from the ground and headed for the door, looking at Rose all curled up on the wooden floor, crying and calling for me.
"Teddy, I'm sorry! I know you deserve better! You do. I'm sorry. I just...I'm broken. I'm sorry," she continued to apologize profusely. "Will you ever be more than my friend?"
"Will you ever kiss me for me, or love me for me?" I asked her, for the answer to that question would decide my answer to hers.
"I-I don't know," she whispered desolately. "I can't know for sure."
"Then I don't know either. Until you know, however, I am only your friend. I can't be anything more."
"But you love me!" she declared.
"You're right. I do love you, and because of that, I will always do what is best for you. And trust me. This is what's best."
Then, without waiting for her to respond or to even take a moment and glance at her expression, I left her room. Before my tears could spread, I bolted down the stairs. Ron had been sitting on the couch in the living room, and upon hearing my thundering footsteps, he stood in surprise. He inquired what the matter was, but I plainly ignored him. I moved across his living room in a blur. I didn't want him to see me cry; I didn't want him to know that I was breaking. Not now.
"Where are you going? What did she do to you?" Ron demanded from me. His voice wasn't one ready to defend his daughter; it was ready to defend me. He wanted to know why she had hurt me. I knew in that moment that Ron didn't have just two children to protect now; he had taken on a third a long time ago. He loved me and would look after me, even if that meant protecting me from his daughter. "What did my daughter do to you?!"
"Nothing. I can't stay here anymore," I choked out.
And I left him standing there, looking upon me with defeat. He wanted to help me. I could tell that much, and with the look he shot towards the stairs, I could tell he wished to reprimand his daughter. But she was fragile still.
"Why? You're not staying here anymore? Not for dinner? Or in the guest room? You're...leaving?" he asked, hurt.
"I'm leaving. For good. I can't stay here," I said.
And I didn't let him question me further. I pushed past him, and as soon as my foot stepped past the threshold, I apparated the hell out of there. I had to put some distance between Rose and myself. I couldn't handle it anymore.
Glass. We were all like glass. Not just Rose. Seeing Ron like that in his living room like I had physically wounded him, I realized he was glass as well. I thought back to how I had felt when kissing Rose. How happy I had been, and how quickly that had changed. How I suddenly hated myself for leading her on like that, for taking advantage of her damaged state like that. I thought to how I was feeling now. A broken mess. Rose and Ron weren't the only ones made of glass. I was made of glass too, and I had long ago begun to break.