Chapter 3 : Rose. --- Out On a Limb.
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By the time Rose got to work on Monday, she’d spent so much time thinking about whether she was ready to meet Narcissa Malfoy and avoiding thinking about whether she was ready to meet Narcissa Malfoy that her head was spinning.
She considered talking to James about it; they’d always been close, and he’d given her a lot of good advice when she and Scorpius had started going out in their fifth year. However, while James and Scorpius were getting along much better as of late than they ever had before, she wasn’t entirely sure that James would really understand where Scorpius was coming from, so she didn’t quite feel right about talking to him about it. She didn’t need someone to convince her that Scorpius was being unreasonable, especially since there was a sizeable part of her that would have loved to take that as an out.
It ended up not being relevant: at around 10, James stuck his head inside the trainee cubicle she shared with Alex Finnigan and said, “Hey, Rosie, you have plans tonight?” She shook her head. “Al said to tell you to come by our place for dinner tonight.”
“Who’s cooking?” she asked suspiciously. James was a good cook when he put his mind to it, but Albus - for all his virtues - was absolutely hopeless in the kitchen. He claimed that he was getting better all the time, but that depended entirely on whether you liked cardboard more than the smell of burning rubber. Rose supposed that she did, but neither was something she wanted in a meal.
James grinned. “Me.”
“So Al volunteered you to do the cooking and invited a guest?” she asked. “How’s that work?”
“Ask him,” James said. “I take it that’s a yes?” She nodded. He disappeared from the doorway, and she breathed a sigh of relief. She could definitely talk to Albus. Sometimes, his having divided loyalties was actually a very good thing.
“Is Albus a bad cook?” Alex asked curiously. He had his feet propped up on the desk and was studying one of the books from the shelf propped up against the far wall; as the day when they would be sent into the field to face real monsters approached, Alex seemed to be getting more and more paranoid that his father - who headed the D.C.B. - would end up deciding that he wasn’t quite ready after all.
Seamus Finnigan didn’t seem like that kind of person to Rose, but Alex knew his father better than she did, and at any rate, parents could be rather stupid about their children sometimes. Her parents certainly were, and her uncle seemed to be so intent on proving that he wasn’t playing favourites with Albus that training was even harder for her cousin than it was supposed to be.
“He’s terrible,” she said, turning back to the map that tracked acromantula movement across the British Isles. According to the map, there was an enormous nest in the Forbidden Forest; she wondered why the D.C.B. hadn’t bothered to go in and stomp it out. “His cooking tastes like cardboard.”
Alex snorted as he tossed his book onto the desk. “So the ‘homemade’ biscuits he brought back for our dormitory after the Christmas holiday last year were really from Honeydukes or something?”
“Well, if they were edible, he certainly didn’t make them. Maybe his mum did.”
“Figures.” Alex jerked his head toward the map. “Which one is that?”
“The acromantulas,” she said. “Hey, Alex, do you know if there’s still a nest in the Forbidden Forest?”
“I do, actually,” he said. “I asked Dad about it a few weeks ago. There is. Apparently, it’s too big to get rid of easily, and since nobody’s ever died and they’re really deep in...” He shrugged. “I guess the Ministry decided it wasn’t an appropriate use of resources.”
“Oh.” She glanced back at the map. The glowing red spiders seemed to be spread across an alarming amount of the Forbidden Forest, and there were too many of them for comfort; it was one of the biggest nests in Britain. “Seems - er - dangerous.”
“Yeah.” Alex sighed. “I thought so, too. But I guess that’s why we’re the trainees, huh?”
“Guess so.” She glanced at the Forbidden Forest again, and then tapped the map with her wand. It went dark. “Think we’ll be getting squad assignments today?”
Alex slumped down in his chair. “I dunno,” he said morosely. “But I bet you get a great assignment and I have to follow Dad around for a year.”
They did not end up getting their squad assignments that day, though when they were eating lunch Rose’s cousin Victoire hinted that it would be happening before the week was out. She looked strangely pleased with herself, though Rose wasn’t sure if it was just because she knew when it was happening or if she’d succeeded in convincing their boss to put Rose with her. The timing hadn’t been right with James, but maybe things were different now.
When Rose tried to press her, however, Victoire had just laughed and changed the subject. She was just going to have to try to be patient.
She already knew from experience that she wasn’t very good at it, though.
At the end of the day, James poked his head in, and she followed him out to the floo network. It landed them in the lobby of the witches-and-wizards-only building he and Albus lived in, and they climbed the flight of stairs that led to the flat.
Once they got inside, James wandered off to the kitchen, and Rose tossed her coat and gloves onto their couch on her way to Albus’s bedroom. The door was closed, but the light streaming out from the crack where it met the floor indicated that he was already home.
She knocked loudly, and after a moment, he called, “Come in!”
Rose pushed the door open. When he saw that it was her, he tossed the book he’d been reading aside. “You came.”
“I heard you weren’t cooking,” she responded, flopping onto the foot of his bed.
He made a face. “I’m not that bad,” he said. “Bridget said I’m getting pretty good. I made her breakfast last week.”
“It’s a good thing that she’s the one learning Legilimency, not you.” He looked a little stung, and she hastened to add, “I dunno, Al, maybe you are. I haven’t wanted to risk it in so long that for all I know, you’re a great cook now.”
He rolled his eyes but looked appeased. “Yeah, that’s me. Albus Potter, Auror trainee and master chef. I’m multi-talented.”
Rose privately thought that her cousin had quite a lot of talents, but she wasn’t about to tell him that, especially since she still very much doubted that cooking had become one of them.
He cocked his head to one side. “You look distracted. What’s wrong?”
She glanced toward the door, which was still hanging open. She could hear James turn on the radio in the kitchen, which meant that they were about as alone as they were going to get that night.
Rose didn’t always like to drag Albus into issues that she and Scorpius were having, but while she still wanted Lucy’s take on the situation, Lucy still didn’t know Scorpius all that well, and she didn’t know Rose as well as Albus did, either. Maybe he’d have some special insight that would solve all of her problems.
Probably not, though. But it was still worth talking to him about it.
“Scorpius wants me to meet his grandparents,” she said. Her cousin immediately looked away from her, and her temper rose. “You knew?”
Albus sighed. “Yes, Rose, I knew that he wanted you to meet his grandparents. He talked to me about it. Are you really that surprised?”
“I guess not. What did he say?” she demanded, leaning forward.
She didn’t really expect him to respond, so she was surprised when he sighed again, ran his fingers through his dark red hair, and answered her. “Just that he’d asked you and that you were considering it.” She continued to stare at him, and he made a face. “Rose, I don’t know. I think I said that I was pretty sure his grandmother would be fine, but I thought he should probably drop his grandfather entirely.”
“You get it, then?” she asked hopefully. She’d spent the day before second-guessing herself about whether what he was asking was really so difficult after all.
“Of course I do,” her cousin said. “They supported a regime that tortured and killed people like you - I wouldn’t feel too comfortable with them, either. Hell, I don’t feel too comfortable with them - they’ve got no reason to like me.” He glanced toward the door; the strong smell of garlic and olive oil was beginning to permeate the flat, and right on cue, they heard a faint sound of chopping from the kitchen. “But I also understand why it’s important to him.” Albus shrugged. “It’s a hard situation, Rose.”
She slumped back against the wall. So much for Albus’s advice. “What should I do?”
Albus considered her for a minute. “Whatever you think is right.” She wrinkled her nose, but she was completely distracted by his next word. “But...”
“But what?” she asked quickly, leaning forward. Her heart was starting to beat harder.
Her cousin shook his head. “Look, I’m not trying to guilt you into it or anything. I know you, and I know that if you feel guilted, you won’t do it just to be contrary.” Rose smiled despite herself. “But... Rosie, I do think that things go your way a lot more than they go his, because he’s just a lot more easygoing than you. And that’s fine, that’s how he is, but I feel like that means that when something matters this much to him… you should really think about doing it.”
“So you think I should meet his grandmother?”
Albus shrugged. “I don’t know. As far as requests go, that’s a pretty big one. I don’t think he’d blame you for saying no.”
“But it would mean a lot to him if I said yes,” she prompted.
“Oh, yeah. It’d mean the world to him.”
If she seemed a little preoccupied throughout dinner, James didn’t seem to notice, and Albus clearly understood what she was struggling with. He hadn’t given her a magical answer to solve everything perfectly - in some ways, he’d even made it all more complicated - but he had helped to clarify this for her. He wasn’t shocked when she said she had to leave shortly after they’d finished eating what had turned out to be a delicious pasta dish, and James had waved her off after extracting a promise that they’d do it again soon.
Her stomach full, she headed home: there was still one person she really wanted to talk to.
To Rose’s relief, Lucy was just sitting down to dinner when she walked into their flat. She hadn’t seen her cousin the day before at all; Lucy had been gone when she’d gotten home, and she hadn’t gotten home by the time Rose called it a night around midnight.
Rose slid into the chair across from her and poured herself a cup of tea from the steaming teapot Lucy had left sitting on the table. She was more than a little curious about what had kept her cousin out so late, but she’d learned months ago that asking would do no good.
“So how’d Scorpius like his first Saturday with the Weasley clan?” Lucy asked as Rose took a sip of her tea. “I’m sorry I couldn’t be there - you know how work is.”
Rose didn’t really know how work was, not in the sense Lucy was talking about; for one thing, Lucy worked in the Department of Mysteries, and for another, she’d already been there for a few years, having been two years above Rose in school. She nodded anyway; there wasn’t really any other appropriate response.
“It was all right,” she said, frowning into her tea. “He felt a little awkward, and he kind of stuck by me, Albus, and James most of the time, but I guess that’s to be expected, right?”
Lucy snorted. “James, huh?” Rose grinned despite the memory of his request the previous night, and Lucy pushed her bowl away from her. “But yes, I’d be surprised if he’d felt comfortable the first time out. Our family can be… overwhelming.”
“He wants me to meet his grandparents,” she burst out, and Lucy’s eyebrows rose a centimetre.
“Haven’t you already?”
“His other grandparents.”
Now Lucy’s eyebrows shot up. “What, the Malfoys?” Rose nodded. “What did you say?”
It took about ten minutes, but Lucy eventually managed to wring the entire exchange out of Rose, who still had no idea how to feel about the whole thing.
Scorpius really was a good boyfriend. It wasn’t just that his personality fit with hers, or that she enjoyed spending time with him. Those things were true, of course, but it was more than that. He was attentive, he was patient, and his sarcasm and dry humor lightened her spirit even at her most morose.
And he loved her. She could feel how much he loved her every time he looked at her or ran his fingers through her hair or kissed her. He made her feel safe, and her best nights were always the nights she spent with him.
It said something that where most of her cousins who had gone into similar fields had had difficulty with relationships - James and his girlfriend had gone through a thoroughly unpleasant and painful breakup at the end of their seventh year, and the only girlfriends Dominique had managed to hang onto for any length of time either worked in Dragon Research with her or in a similar division like the D.C.B. As far as Rose knew, Louis didn’t even really bother, though she supposed that you never did know with Louis. He tended to keep his own council.
Even Albus, who was involved with a fellow Auror trainee, had more than his share of relationship issues, though Rose privately thought that Albus’s issues probably had much less to do with his being an Auror and more to do with his being Albus.
The only Weasley cousin who’d gone into a dangerous profession who really had a healthy, functional relationship was Victoire... but even there, Teddy was a Cursebreaker, which really was quite different from a Healer.
But Scorpius hung in there, even though she knew it wasn’t easy.
“What are you going to do?” Lucy asked, and Rose blinked, refocusing on her cousin. Lucy’s attention was on her, and her eyes were wide with curiosity.
Rose sighed. “I don’t know,” she said. “I feel like I owe it to him to at least give it a chance.” She was fairly certain that Albus was right, and it would mean quite a lot to Scorpius.
Her cousin frowned. “That’s really not the way you should be looking at it,” she told Rose. Her voice was still mild, but something in her deep brown eyes had shifted, and Rose got the distinct impression that Lucy had a strong opinion about this.
Lucy let out a sigh and shook her head. “Because... Rose, if you do it just because you think you owe him, you’re just going to end up resenting him for it, even though he didn’t actually make you do anything.”
Shortly after that, Lucy excused herself to go take a bath, leaving Rose to puzzle that out. By the time Lucy retreated into her room and Rose’s tea had gotten ice-cold, she’d come to a decision. She just hoped she wouldn’t regret it.
A/N: I want to thank everyone who's reviewed so far, both before I took my hiatus and after. I'm switching things around a little and adding some Scorpius pov chapters, but I hope that it's continuing to flow okay!
Thank you so much for reading, and I'd love to know what you thought - if you have the chance, please leave a review. :)
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