Chapter 1 : The Bad Times Begin
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There are two very important facts that you need to know about life:
Sometimes life doesn’t go according to plan. You think everything is fine; that things couldn’t possibly be better. It’s always at that exact moment that things fall to pieces. I’m not entirely sure why that happens. But the thing is: that’s life. There are times when you have absolutely no say and no control, and that’s something you have to accept. This has always been a difficult task for me. I am aware of the fact that I am terrible at letting go.
The other thing you need to remember about life is that there cannot be good without the bad. No one would be able to appreciate the better times if things never went wrong. It’s all an endlessly frustrating cycle and we’re caught in its hold, ‘till death do we part. But I think the most surprising thing I have noticed in my short sixteen years is that all my best memories have come from within the periods of my life that would be classified as ‘the bad times’.
These were the bad times.
This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening. This can’t be happening.
“Look, Rose, baby, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for anything to happen. I didn’t plan it.”
That has to be the stupidest thing I had ever heard. And I was prepared to let him know that. “How can you cheat on someone without meaning for it to happen?” I asked.
Matt looked down at his feet, still avoiding my eyes. He didn’t answer.
“That’s not a rhetorical question. Answer me.”
He remained silent, but at least this time he could meet my eyes. He just stared at me, like he was trying to communicate something with his gaze. Whatever it was, I didn’t want to hear it anymore.
I turned our friends, who were a few steps behind us on the platform and watching my reaction with what looked like fascination, but was most likely a mix of fear and horror. Jane and Marx had been a couple for two and a half years now, and spent every waking moment with each other. Over the past year, it was like the four of us had become a club. Two couples against the world. Honestly, if they had known about Matt’s ‘little indiscretions’ (why did people use that term?) - I didn’t know what I would do. Those three were the only non-family friends I had.
“Did you know? Jane.” I tried to get her to meet my gaze, but she wouldn’t, or maybe couldn’t, look at me. “Jane, answer me. Jane? Did you know?”
I saw the tears well up in her eyes, and that was answer enough. “You... You absolute... Merlin, there isn’t a properly horrid word to describe you, is there? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Rose, I’m sorry. I just… I thought it would be better if he… if he was the one... He needed to tell you.”
“How long have you known?”
“I found out right before the summer break started. He promised me he’d be the one to tell you.” The wind was knocked right out of me. I could feel myself beginning to panic; my breaths were coming in shorter and faster. It felt like the bottom of my rib cage was folding inwards. Right before the summer break started. She had known for months. And now it was September 1st, we were about to go back to school, and I was only just finding out.
“Can you guys leave? I need to talk Rose alone.” Matt’s voice. I didn’t bother replying to him. I didn’t know what he thought he could say to get himself out of this, but I couldn’t think of anything that would make me want to stay.
I saw Jane and Marx walk down the platform, trying to find a carriage that didn’t look overly crowded. Walking far away from me, and this whole situation. They probably thought it was for the best, but personally, I begged to differ.
“There’s really nothing you can say, Matt. I just want to leave. This is over.”
At the word ‘over’, his head snapped up like he was a seeker who had seen the golden snitch. “You don’t mean that.” He reached out like he wanted to grab my hand, and stupidly, I let him. But his fingers ended up wrapped around my wrist. I tried to tug away, but I was very effectively caught in his grip.
“Let go of me, Matt.” I said in a whisper.
“This isn’t over. We’re a team, Rose. The two of us, with Marx and Jane right behind us. That’s the way it works.”
I could feel my heart disintegrating with every word. His words were painting the perfect picture in my mind, exactly what I had always wanted. Over the last year, the four of us had grown closer and closer together, creating our own little family unit. We did everything together. I wanted that back. I wanted the group trips to Hogsmeade, the arguments over with Quidditch team would win the world cup, and the study periods spent sunbathing by the Black Lake.
But then thoughts of her ruined it all.
The train whistle blew, signalling that we had two minutes left before the Hogwarts Express left the station. I need to get in a carriage.
“Maybe you should have thought of that earlier, before you introduced another girl into the equation. Now, let go.” I tugged backwards again, throwing my weight into the action, but I got nowhere. I was still ensnared by his fingers. I was pretty strong for a girl – Quidditch training with James was hardcore – but Matt still stronger.
“No.” The word was a growl that sent shivers up my spine. His voice was dark and serious – not something I had heard from him before.
“Take your hand off my cousin, tosser.” Oh God, please no. Anyone but Al and his friends...
“You should do as he says. Don’t you know better than to hurt a Weasley girl? Big family; lots of tall men. Most of them are very angry redheads. You wouldn’t see me trying it.” Scorpius called out. I looked over towards him. One blond eyebrow was raised in an expression that somehow managed to convey amusement and utter revulsion at the same. Annoyance surged through me. I would have given anything to raise one eyebrow like that.
I was jolted back to reality when Matt let go of my wrist, as if the boys had transfigured it into a red hot poker. He glared up at them, and his chest was actually heaving. That wasn’t something I had seen before. I thought that only happened in the Muggle movies. Al, Scorpius and Raphael were hanging out of the carriage window and were staring at my now ex-boyfriend intently, as if daring him to make another move towards me.
“Come on, Rose. Get on the train,” called Raphael. Raphael was the only Gryffindor in the trio, and so was the one I was friendliest with during the school term, but I didn’t really know anything about him. Al and I had been pretty close during our first few years at Hogwarts, but I suppose we had just grown apart. For the first time in a long time, thinking of that sent a pang through my chest.
I nodded mutely and started to haul my trunk through the train door. This was not the best start to the school year. Not at all.
I had barely set down my stuff before I was out of the compartment, mumbling my excuses to the boys about prefect meetings. It took a lot of pushing and shoving to make my way to the first and second cars of the train that were reserved for the prefects and Heads. A fair few of us had already gathered, and they were already chatting with each other, catching up after the summer break. I avoided them studiously, not really feeling up to talking. I barely had time to find my place on one of the couches before Scorpius waltzed into the room. I had forgotten that he was a prefect. He looked like he wanted to walk over to me, but he was followed closely into the room by both of the Heads and was unable to before the meeting began.
Georgia Moth was a seventh year Ravenclaw, and quite lovely, and I was very glad when I saw the Head Girl badge shining on the robes that she had already changed into. Next to her stood Thomas Dumphey, a Hufflepuff quidditch fanatic. He wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but all around good guy. He had yet to change into his uniform, but it was obvious that he was Head Boy from the way he stood next to Georgia. He looked both nervous and excited about his new role, which made me want to smile.
“Hi. Guys. Quiet.” Georgia tended to speak in short, concise sentences. She detested wasting words. Meanwhile, Scorpius was eyeing me, trying to see if I was alright. I wasn’t really, I was trying not to think about it though. Him staring at me was not helping. Thankfully he was distracted when Thom started talking.
“We don’t need to do much now, but you guys need to learn the passwords and sort out patrols for the first week. We’ll have a meeting at seven o’clock on Sunday night to sort out the real patrol roster for the first month of term. And we have to organise train patrols too. Don’t want the kiddy winkles running rampart.”
“Gryffindors there. Ravenclaw’s here. Slytherins there. Hufflepuffs to Thom. Get to it.”
Georgia walked through the room, handing out little slips of paper that contained this year’s passwords to each of the four sets of prefects. I volunteered to escort the first years up to the Gryffindor tower after dinner, as I figured it was good to meet the new little people before the senior kids had assigned them nicknames. After that it was a challenge to make my way to the door, where Thom had tacked up patrol time tables for the both the train and the whole first week. I managed to get fairly good slots, but it didn’t make feel any happier. I still felt hollow.
I pushed past Scorpius on my way out, knowing that my efforts to avoid his questioning gaze were going to end up fruitless once I was back in the compartment, but I tried anyway.
“So… you’re Al’s cousin.”
“Yes, Raphael. Their parents are siblings. That makes them cousins,” said Scorpius with an overly dramatic sigh.
An awkward silence began, stretching out into what seemed like infinity to an angry teenage girl mulling over her cheating ex-boyfriend. I stared out the window looking out across the calm English countryside that contrasted so starkly with my current mood, trying to think it all over. Had there been any warning signs? When had it started? Why hadn’t Jane told me? Why hadn’t I noticed? I should have noticed. No wonder he had cheated. No freaking wonder. I couldn’t even notice when my own boyfriend was having an affair. Was it an affair? Or does that word only apply to adult relationships? Probably. Wasn’t that why they called it adultery?
“Rosie. Earth to Rosie?” Al’s voice began to trickle into my brain-space. He had probably been calling out for a while, I really was just unobservant. Unobservant enough to miss Matt cheating and Jane lying.
“Sorry, Al. I’m just… I’m just tired. I dunno.”
“You’re not tired. You just broke up with your boyfriend. You’re ‘emotionally drained’,” said Scorpius, a slight smirk pulling up the corners of his lips.
“You’re a smartass. Just sod off.” I pushed the heels of my palms into my eyes, already sick of this conversation.
“Not helping, Scorp.” Raphael’s voice was softer and more hesitant. I didn’t know why though, I mean, it wasn’t like I was going to go bounding off the train any time soon. I was upset, yes, but at this point I wasn’t yet emotionally unstable.
“Rosie…” Al started. But I knew where that question was headed. Al and I were the same age, and as a result he was my closest cousin, or at least he used to be. I knew him like the back of my hand. Sure, we had grown apart in recent years, but he was still the same old Al. So I knew I had to nip his curiosity in the bud if I wanted a quiet
A startled laugh escaped from Scorpius. “No to what?”
“No to questions.” A small, mirthless smile pulled at the corners of my mouth. At this point, I was well and truly aware of the fact that I was being downright awful. I wasn’t saying anything hurtful – yet – but I wasn’t exactly showing them my gratitude. The boys had stood up for me and invited me into their compartment. There were hundreds of girls throughout the school who would kill to be in my place right now. These three didn’t just invite people to sit with them. I mean, they were popular, and had their own group of dutifully devoted fangirls – but they were a tightknit, hugely exclusive unit – which was actually another reason I felt so uncomfortable around them. I felt like an intruder, so my walls of defensiveness were slamming up around me. “No. It doesn’t bloody help, because Matt still cheated on me and –“
“Wait, wait. Stop. The git cheated on you? On you?” Raphael laughed as he said it. I didn’t know whether he was insulting me or Matt. I tried not to be offended, but I felt like snapping at him.
Al stood up so fast I swear his neck should’ve broken in the process. “I’ll bloody kill him. That’s what I’ll do. I’ll kill him.”
Scorpius’s arm snuck up around Al’s neck and pulled him back down. The crash he made as he collapsed back onto the train seat seemed far too loud for such a slight guy.
“I’m all for killing the git, but I think we should at least come up with a plan of attack first.” As usual, Scorpius seemed far too calm for his dark words. I had no idea why he cared and I was (as per the usual) prepared to voice that fact.
“Why do you even care?”
I smiled in victory as I finally saw Scorpius lapse in his cocky facade for a moment. He looked genuinely surprised that I had asked the question. I watched him flounder around for an answer, but he didn’t find any. It looked like he honestly didn’t know why he cared about making my dumb-as-can-be ex-boyfriend pay for his actions. For some unfathomable reason, this made me giggle: an actual girlish, high-pitched giggle.
“You boys are insane. I mean, thank-you for getting me out of a tight spot, but you don’t need to go after him. He’s an idiot, a right bloody idiot… But I don’t want to make a fuss of this. To be perfectly honest, it’s a bit embarrassing isn’t it? I just want it left alone.” I said the last part with a sigh. I should probably have been embarrassed that I admitted so much to boys that weren’t even really my friends – well, Al was family – but I wasn’t ashamed. Simply because I knew that since I had said that, they wouldn’t go blabbing.
The train compartment fell into silence again. Al, who was sitting closest to me, put his arm around me. I took this as an invitation to rest my head on his shoulder. Before long, the gentle motion of the train and his steady breathing had lulled me into sleep. Turns out I was tired after all.
When I woke up, the first thing I saw was Scorpius and Raphael having a poke war on the seat opposite. Scorpius was the first to notice my return to the land of the living. “Sleeping beauty awakes!” he called happily.
“Stop it with the sarcasm.” I grumbled. I knew I must look like a complete mess. I sure felt like it. Sleeping at such a weird angle had put a severe crick in my neck. I took my head off Al’s knees (how had I ended up there?) and tried to see roughly what time it was by looking out the window. To my surprise, the boys had actually drawn across the tartan print curtains so that I could sleep better. I was a little bit touched. I had always thought the boys were completely insensitive monsters, but sometimes they proved me wrong. I stumbled to my feet, almost tripping when the train lurched.
“I’m going to go change into my robes. Be back … soonish.”
The boys let me go without a word. That was the wonderful thing about Al being a part of the trio – none of the boys were prepared to make some stupid comment about me changing right there in front of them when Al was sitting across from them. God bless the male protective instinct.
As I walked out of the compartment, I could see some of the other female students shooting me daggers, and one or two boys. For a moment I was left wondering why, I mean, it was only the first day back! Then I remembered who I was sharing compartment space with. The dumbasses glaring at me just didn’t know any better.
Once I was changed, I almost didn’t want to go back. I didn’t know whether or not they would try questioning me again now that I was good and rested. But at the same time, a small voice at the back of my head was screaming that I didn’t want to be alone. But there were my prefect rounds to do – at least that way I could buy myself some time to think.
Being a prefect has some definite perks. Essentially, we have an extended curfew because we can always claim to be ‘patrolling’ the halls of Hogwarts. My mother would murder me if she ever heard me saying that. We also get to wear shiny little badges and it looks great on a résumé. But I think my favourite part of the whole job had to be the ability to give detention. Not that I was that nasty – I didn’t abuse the privilege. But it made for an excellent threat. However, the role of prefect had major downfalls too. We had to give up our spare time to patrol, we had weekly meetings, and for some reason unknowable to me, a lot of people hated us.
I walked slowly down the carriages searching for signs of trouble, but the most that happened was a first year that tripped whilst chasing after a rogue chocolate frog. Spelled band-aids are extremely useful when you’re not yet seventeen. We were allowed to use magic on the train, but it was easier this way. Casting spells onto other people could get you in some serious trouble if you weren’t careful how you went about it.
I made my way back up to the boys’ carriage; we were about half an hour away from the Hogsmeade at this point. The train jolted and I, like the utter klutz I occasionally prove myself to be, fell onto the person in front.
Scorpius’s hand pulled me back to my feet and all of a sudden we were face to face. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t as if I had anything against Scorpius, but I liked my personal space. I had never been one for the touchy feely stuff. Hugging, patting, heads resting on my shoulder: all of it annoyed me to no end. I wanted to pull away, I really did, but his grey eyes were staring at me, really staring. He still hadn’t let go of my hands. I was officially weirded out. I pulled back. It only occurred to me after the event that he was checking to see if I had been crying.
“Blue?” I regretted asking as soon as the word had left my mouth. I really didn’t want to give him the satisfaction. It was painfully obvious that he was trying to get me talking with some form of weird nick name, and, blast him, it had worked. He smirked at my obvious annoyance, frustrating me even more.
“Well, obviously you’re not blue.” He picked up a lock of my hair to the light so that I could see its redness for myself. As if I had somehow forgotten since the last time I looked in a mirror. I was incredibly glad when he let go. No touchy touchy the Rose. “You’re red. So why give you such an obvious nick name? Blue is cooler. Plus, this way all the other Weasley’s are less likely to turn around when I call out to you.” I decided to let the dig on my family’s hair colour slide.
“Why not Rose? I don’t know anyone else called Rose.”
“But everyone calls you Rose. Don’t you get bored of it?” The smirk still hadn’t left his face. In fact, I think it had gotten bigger. His blond hair was falling in his eyes and it gave off a definite bad boy Slytherin vibe. Lesser women would have fainted at the sight, actually, I think some had before. Scorpius was very popular with the ladies. And by ‘ladies’ I mean daft airheads.
“Do you ever get bored of Scorpius?” I quipped back.
His face scrunched up, and it made him look decidedly less attractive. I smiled. It was nice to know the boy was in some way human - even if he was magical.
“I hate my name. I’m not bored of it though. Where were you?” His tone was full of concern, so I took it as him patronising me. I frowned. “You took a little longer to get changed than we thought you would. I was hoping I’d see you on prefect patrol but hopefully not passed out somewhere or dead or anything like that.”
“I went on patrol too. So, no, I wasn’t passed out or dead or anything so exciting. Anyways, I covered one half of the train, you covered the other. The students of Hogwarts should be safe for now.”
“Whatever would they do without us?” he mused. I laughed at that, or at least, I sort of did. It was more like chuffing out air through my nose, but I think Scorpius understood. He looked pleased.
By this time we had arrived back at our compartment. He threw open the doors, which made a strange chic-chic-whir noise as they rolled across. I was greeted by an excessively happy Al. “Rose, Scorpius. We have a plan.”
“Oh Merlin, please, no.” I shook my head and tried to back out of the room, but I crashed into Scorpius again. He had insisted on being gentlemanly and letting me walk in first, and now I was very decidedly in his personal space.
“I concur with Blue this time. I don’t like the sound of this. Your plans are rubbish, Al.”
Both Raphael and Al looked puzzled at my new, ridiculous nick name. I shook my head at them. I understood Scorpius far less than they did. Far be it from me to try to explain the labyrinth that was his crazy mind.
“Rose, you should pretend to be Scorpius’s date to the party tonight. It’ll show Alexia that he’s over her, and if Matt finds out, you can be sure he’ll be properly pissed off. Come on Rosie, you know you need a distraction.”
I could feel myself shaking my head. That had to be the dumbest idea I had ever heard. Firstly, I didn’t do parties. Parties involved lots of people and loud noises and underage drinking and strangers messily making out and just… general ickyness. I wasn’t in that crowd, but these boys were. I usually referred to them as the Trio of Doom, because wherever they went, trouble followed. Al was fairly quiet and tame compared to his reckless older brother James, but Raphael and Scorpius had built themselves each a bad boy image and they went to great lengths to maintain it. Plus, Al had been known to make some pretty poor decisions in the heat of the moment.
Scorpius still hadn’t made a move to step into the carriage (probably because I was standing right in front of his chest). I felt his torso rumble as he replied to the boys.
“That has to be the stupidest idea you two have ever come up with. And I was there when you tried to prank Professor McGonagall by releasing Cornish pixies in her desk drawers.” They all sniggered at the memory. “And I can’t actually believe you want me to pretend to date your cousin. Your cousin, Al, I mean really?”
“Yeah!” I piped up. “Whatever happened to that male protective instinct?”
Al chuckled in such a fashion that it made me want to poke him in the ribs until he stopped. I’d heard that noise before, but usually only from his older brother. It promised mischief.
“Emphasis on the word ‘pretend’; Rosie dearest. Scorpius, my good friend, we’re going to put on a show for the students of Hogwarts. One of the best they’ve ever seen.”
Remember before, when I was telling you about the important facts about life? Well, I forgot one, and it’s vital to this story really.
Sometimes, it ends.
A/N: I would like to dedicate this first chapter to Sean – for telling me to write it – and to Gabby - for being ridiculously excited about it all and editing everything for me. The two of you are fabulous people, please continue to be fabulous.
Also, to the lovely people who have bothered to read this chapter, thank-you so very very much.
Oh, and I promise that there will be some actual plotline in the next few chapters.
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