Chapter 20 : So... Good Talk
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Today, you get two author’s notes- you lucky, lucky Potterhead (I’m assuming here)! Just a quick notice- this is another long chapter, and I'm concerned that I might overload you with multiple scenes and long chapters! I started with bitesize pieces and I just want to make sure that this progression onto longer chapters is not leaving you slumped dejectedly in front of your computers... ;) In any event- if I ever write a chapter this long again, would you like it in two instalments or as one big chapter? Let me know in the reviews below and I’ll comply with whatever your decision is!
Rose pulled the shoebox from her trunk and shoved it into her bag. She left her dormitory, the three other girls still sleeping behind the red curtains of their four-poster beds. Rose had left her own hangings drawn so that when Tabitha woke up, she would assume that Rose was still sleeping and go to breakfast without her.
The sunlight blinded Rose as she entered the Gryffindor common room, the brightness starkly different to that of the curtain-shrouded dormitory. She didn’t stay in the common room for long however, and let her eyes adjust as best they could as she hastened to the portrait hole. Rose could hear the Fat Lady grumbling behind her, but chose to ignore it and continued to the Entrance Hall.
She slipped out of the front doors and into the foggy grounds. The ground was covered in early morning frost, and her trainers crunched against the hardened grass. Her bag banged into her side rhythmically and she steadied it absent-mindedly with her hand.
Rose was nearing the Lake, the Castle partially obscured by mist. She found a tree that blocked her from the view of the Castle, and sat down on the ground by the trunk. The water lapped up the muddy bank, and Rose pulled her legs in so she wouldn’t get her feet wet. She heaved her limbs until she was sat cross-legged, but found this too painful due to the fatigue that was coursing through her veins. She sighed, considering her own poor fitness and waited until she had caught her breath before opening her bag.
Then she took out the box and opened the lid. The contents had been disturbed on the journey down, but everything was still there. Rose felt tears form in her eyes, but she refused to succumb to them and shut the lid quickly. She ran her fingers over the top, before placing it carefully on top of her bag, so that the bottom wouldn’t get muddy.
She hadn’t told anyone what she was doing. She hadn’t told her best friend because she wasn’t as close to Tabitha as she had been. She couldn’t tell Hagrid (whom she visited every week), as she doubted he would understand and she felt embarrassed talking to him about things such as this. Finally, she hadn’t told Scorpius because she was afraid that he would misunderstand and tell her it wasn’t necessary.
But she needed to do this, to lift some of the grief that had formed over the past few days. At the time, she hadn’t been sad or felt guilty. Even now, she wasn’t sure that that was what she was feeling. There was just a weight in her stomach, which she couldn’t get rid of no matter how much she tried. No matter how much he tried.
Rose knew she wasn’t being fair on him. He had waited for so long and then she had led him to believe that he wouldn’t have to anymore. But she hadn’t banked on feeling so uneasy about spending time alone with him or telling anyone else about their relationship.
She hoped this wouldn’t last for long, hoped that what she was doing would finalise things. Rose looked solemnly down at the box, and picked it up again. She slowly lifted the lid, almost cautiously as if she was afraid that doing so would put or in mortal danger or worse: make her cry.
She picked up the top object, a pretty frame with a picture of her and Toby together. It had been taken during the first month of their relationship, and had stood on her bedside table for a year and a half. She liked the picture because it had caught her while laughing, her head leaned against the bark of a tree trunk as Toby beamed at her from where he sat on a picnic blanket. Rose stroked the wooden sides of the frame, melancholy at the thought of letting the picture ruin underwater. She opened her bag and put it carefully back inside.
Her hand picked up the next thing it met with, which turned out to be a small velvet box that was her birthday present from the year before. Rose remembered the split second of trepidation when she was presented with it, sighing with relief when she found two small blue heart-shaped earrings. His face swept with relief also, when he discovered that she was pleased with them. She had decided there that she was in love with him. Rose smiled sadly when she realised that she hadn’t made an active decision with Scorpius. She couldn’t put the earrings back in the box, however- they reminded her of the first time she had told someone she loved them. She put it back in her bag.
Three photos, two badges, three letters and ten cinema tickets later, Rose looked dejectedly into the now almost empty shoebox. Every object held so many memories, so many good moments of her life. She felt guilty (again) that she couldn’t get rid of Toby in the only physical way she could think of, but she tried to convince herself that holding onto things that reminded her of him was more positive than trying to erase him completely. It wasn’t as if she wanted him back; she knew that she loved Scorpius and that she didn’t feel the same way about Toby.
However, as soon as she was open to go out with Scorpius freely, the adjustment hadn’t been as easy as she had anticipated. There was still awkwardness, a feeling that they were doing something wrong. Rose still couldn’t come to terms with the fact that Scorpius could now be her boyfriend and he still seemed uncertain in the fact that they didn’t have to sneak around anymore. Rose, although she never expressly admitted to herself, was almost afraid that the fact that they couldn’t be together was the reason she had fallen for him in the first place.
Rose shivered, and realised that it was actually very cold, and her jacket was very thin. The tree trunk was icy beneath her, so she turned her attention back to the task at hand.
The box in front of her had only one thing in it, and Rose’s heart jolted when she realised what it was.
She lowered her hands into the cardboard and picked it up, putting it on her knees in a ghostlike manner. The envelope had browned at the corners, and the Myron Wagtail sticker that had sealed it was ripped in half. Rose pulled out the letter inside, and traced the curly ‘R’ at the start of her name quickly.
Rose remembered every word in the letter, the moment she opened it swimming to the forefront of her mind as she read the first sentence. At first, she thought it was a letter from Hugo, who had sometimes written to her to tell her about things that had happened at school or at home during the school year. Then she had seen the well-formed letters on the front and realised that she didn’t recognise the handwriting. What was inside was even more of a surprise.
Be prepared, for what is inside this letter may surprise you. In fact, it may repulse you. I hope this won’t be the case, as my dignity depends on it, but we never know. I promise to keep an open mind, however, to allow you to make your decision without considering how my sanity and reputation are solely in your hands.
For some years now (if you do comply with what I am about to ask, then this phrase still stands- if, however, you regard me as a stalker and are uncomfortable with the time span of years, I am referring to only a matter of months), I have admired you from afar. I am of the opinion that you are the most beautiful girl at this school, possibly in the entire world and would like very much to take you on a date to prove that my sentiments are true.
If this is something you feel you would like to do, then kindly send your submission by way of this owl. (His name is Archimedes- if you wish to ask him about the upstanding nature of my character.) Of course, the aforementioned shock you may be experiencing at this time may delay your answer. In which case, down a glass of pumpkin juice, have a few sausages and kindly send your answer by way of this owl. If you wish to reject my proposal then send your response by way of a different owl, because I may (if you’ll pardon the expression) ‘shoot the messenger’. So with that pleasing thought I conclude this letter, and look forward (albeit anxiously) to your reply.
(I asked you for a pencil once during study period and I am now sitting opposite you on the Ravenclaw table- I’m the one staring at you rather disconcertingly)
P.S. I don’t usually talk in this manner- I’ve been reading a fair amount of Tolstoy recently.'
Rose smiled, tears rolling down her cheeks as his hopeful face materialised in her head. Inside the envelope was the response she’d written, although she couldn’t remember why she ended up with it.
I would like to accept your offer, and am deeply flattered that you even enquired.
In truth, I can hardly purport that I have not considered an exchange such as this for some time and can only stress how little you needed to remind me of your identity. With all sincerity, I reveal that I have thought of little else these past few months.
I await your reply, should your feelings remain as they are, forthwith.
(I gave you a pencil once during study period and would ask for its prompt return)
P.S. I have been reading Tolstoy recently also, and can affirm that his choice of language is highly infectious.'
And so the letter went back into her bag.
The empty shoebox sat pathetically on the frosted grass, its cavernous cardboard centre dampening from the melting ice beneath it. Rose didn’t want to put it back in her bag, needing to dispose of something in order to salvage some success from this journey.
So she pulled out a quill and some parchment and wrote a single word on it. She ripped the word away from the rest of the paper and set it in the box, covering it in tape so that it was fixed to the bottom. She threw in some rocks from the lakeside and sealed the lid with the same tape, before lifting the box and carrying it to the edge of the water.
Rose hugged it to her chest one last time, before lifting her arm and throwing it in a fashion that James (as her Quidditch captain) would have been proud of. She returned to the base of the tree and watched as it slowly sunk beneath the murky black water. Praying it hadn’t hit any merpeople, Rose turned away and began walking back to the Castle.
Meanwhile, inside the box, the water slowly disintegrated the cardboard and the parchment’s ink ran. The word was morphed until it reached illegibility, securing the secret of what had been written forever.
Only Rose knew what it was, and she promised that she would never tell anyone no matter how much the word haunted her.
Rose walked into the Great Hall to find Tabitha, but she was nowhere to be seen. Eventually, she saw her cousin Dominique and sat beside her.
‘Rosie!’ Dominique, red-haired like Rose, squealed when she saw her. Rose laughed at the eagerness that was deeply annoying two Gryffindors in heated discussion further down the table. ‘How are you? I haven’t seen you in ages! How’s that attractive boyfriend of yours?’ The smile slowly left Rose’s face, although Dominique didn’t seem to notice.
‘Oh, we broke up.’ The words still felt foreign to Rose, and they hung in the air unpleasantly as Dominique took them in.
‘Oh, shit. Sorry Rosie. How are you?’ Dominique lowered her voice, and placed a hand on Rose’s. It was then that Rose appreciated having relatives at her school.
‘I’m ok, it was my fault to be honest,’ Rose paused, deciding whether she should tell her cousin everything that had happened.
‘I’m sure that’s not true.’
‘No, it is. I treated him really badly…’ And like that, she confessed what she had been going through for the past few months. Rose told Dominique about Toby, Scorpius, how he’d changed, how he’d told her he loved her, why Toby had to break up with her, how she didn’t know what to do now. ‘I don’t want to hurt him and I feel like automatically moving onto Scorpius would be really disrespectful. I mean, if it was me then I wouldn’t want everyone knowing that I had broken up with someone and that they had forgotten me almost immediately.’ Rose looked down at her lap, and felt herself being pulled into a hug.
‘God Rosie, that’s not easy.’ Dominique let Rose go, and took a sip of pumpkin juice as she thought about what to say next. ‘I think you should talk to both of them. Tell Toby that you want to be with Scorpius and see what his reaction is. You seem to feel like it’s your fault, but we can’t help who we fall in love with. As for Scorpio-’
‘Scorpius,’ Rose corrected.
‘Right. Sorry, Scorpius. As for him, if he’s pressurising you to go out with him-’
‘No,’ Rose looked horrified, ‘no, he’s been great. I’m the one who doesn’t want to make him wait for me any longer. It’s not fair on him.’ Dominique nodded and leaned in closer to Rose with a smile on her face.
‘Is he the Malfoy kid?’ Rose murmured her assent. ‘Wow Rosie, he’s really fit! And he sounds lovely too. I wouldn’t hesitate, but then I’m superficial and I don’t care about anyone else’s feelings.’ Rose laughed and hugged her cousin again.
‘So you think I should go for it?’
‘Yeah! If someone liked that loved me- if anyone loved me for that matter- I would want everyone to know about it. But I still think you should tell Toby first if you’re going to tell other people, just so that he doesn’t get stick from anyone without him knowing about it.’
‘Thanks Dom, you’re so wise!’ They both laughed, and Rose helped herself to a pile of pancakes in front of her.
‘Hey, do you think you’ll go with Scorpius to the dance?’
‘To the what?’
‘The dance. Didn’t you see it on the notice board this morning?’
‘No, I left early this morning. I went to the…’ Rose thought frantically, ‘the library.’
‘Oh, well, they’re holding some dance to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the end of the Second Wizarding War. Part of a weeklong celebration apparently.’
‘Hmm, don’t know how I could’ve missed that,’ replied Rose, just thankful for a change in topic.
‘Yeah, there’ll be all sorts. The teachers aren’t allowed to give us homework, unless it’s to do with exams and stuff.’
‘Which basically means that we’ll still get homework.’
‘Basically, yeah! But there’ll be a candle thing in the grounds and a feast and a ceremony for all of the people who were killed.’
‘And loads of people pestering us.’
‘Mainly you five children of the Golden Trio.’
‘Ugh, people are going to start talking to me now,’ Rose rolled her eyes.
‘McGonagall will properly announce it after we come back from Easter holidays, but they want us to get dress robes. Wanna come with me to help me pick?’
‘Yeah, I guess. Do I have to come?’
‘You’re not leaving me on my own! You’re coming so I don’t have to get a date!’ Rose laughed mirthlessly.
‘You’ll be the girl that every boy wants to go with- you’ll have no problem getting a date!’
‘I know, but I don’t want a date. You can be my date.’ Dominique linked arms with Rose and batted her eyelashes. ‘Please say yes.’ Rose laughed again, but more cheerfully this time.
‘Fine.’ Dominique smiled and clapped her hands together joyfully. ‘But if a really attractive guy asks me out then I’m going with him.’ Rose sighed, a knowing smile breaking over her face.
They continued to chat, although Dominique dominated most of the conversation. Rose didn’t mind too much, as she didn’t feel like talking, so she let the discussion pass by her with only murmurs and monosyllabic interruptions on her behalf. Eventually, Dominique decided she needed to get started on her NEWT homework and left Rose to finish her pancakes alone.
Rose took a final sip of juice and stood up, unsure of where to go next. All of her homework was finished, as she had done it during the week while trying to avoid Toby. Now Rose wished she hadn’t, as she was left with nothing to do and two full days before her next lesson. She thought about going to the library, but that would be busy with people working, and she didn’t want to be pestered for answers by classmates. Finally, she considered going to Hagrid’s, but once again, there was the issue of talking to people when she didn’t want to talk.
Rose slowed down on her way to the Entrance Hall, buying herself more time so that she wouldn’t halt at the doors with nowhere to go and look stupid. She concluded that she would have to go back to the common room. There was a possibility that she would run into Tabitha, but that was a risk she’d have to take.
Sure enough, when she got past the portrait hole, Tabitha was waiting for her in a chair by the unlit fire. Although piles of unfinished homework surrounded her, she closed the textbook she was reading and gestured to the chair opposite her.
‘I thought you were still in bed; did you go for a walk or something?’ Tabitha looked questioningly at Rose, her blonde curly hair scraped back into a messy ponytail. The band that secured it was stretched over a mass of hair thicker than Rose’s wrist, and strands of it had escaped so that even more was tucked behind Tabitha’s ear. It gave her the rather unfortunate appearance of a scruffy lion- although Rose supposed this was apt considering her house.
‘Yeah- sort of.’ Rose sat back in her chair and fixed her gaze on the ash before the fire. She found looking at the strands of hair that were free from the ponytail deeply frustrating. When she had calmed herself, she looked back at the bent Tabitha who was scribbling furiously. ‘D’you want me to look over that for you?’
‘Would you?’ Tabitha’s face had lit up and she slumped in relief as Rose pulled the essay towards her.
‘Have you spoken to Scorpius Malfoy recently?’ Even as she stared at the parchment, Rose could feel Tabitha stiffen.
‘No. No I have not.’ Her response was curt so Rose paused for a few minutes before following up.
‘How do you feel about him?’
‘I hate him. Obviously.’ Rose nodded; unsure as to whether this was a good sign.
‘What if I told you that I didn’t?’
‘Didn’t what?’ God, she was stupid at times, Rose thought. She read the first line of the essay. A lot of the time evidently.
‘Hate… him.’ Tabitha took a long time before she responded.
‘So you don’t hate him. But that doesn’t mean you like him. You could just be indifferent. Right?’ Rose had stopped reading, but kept her eyes glued to Tabitha’s homework. ‘Rose? You don’t like him do you?’ Rose forced herself to meet her best friend’s eyes. ‘Oh. Shit.’ Tabitha sank in her chair and stared incredulously at Rose for what felt like forever.
‘Yeah. I think I love him.’ The essay lay forgotten on the table, the friends staring at each other barely blinking.
‘How…’ Rose was pretty sure the next words were meant to be ‘could you’, but she answered the question as it was.
‘He’s changed; he’s not the same person I hated at the start of this year.’
‘Is that why you broke up with Toby?’
‘Did you go behind my back too?’
‘I didn’t go behind anyone’s back,’ Rose cringed inwardly when she remembered this wasn’t exactly true.
‘No, I doubt Scorpius would fall in love with you anyway,’ Tabitha’s vicious words scalded Rose’s eardrums, and they started thumping uncomfortably. ‘After all, he’s in love with someone else. That was why he couldn’t make it work with me- because he already belonged to someone else. And how could he belong to you.’ Rose wanted so much to burst Tabitha’s bubble, tell her that the shred of dignity she had held onto these past few months was unfounded and based on her own stupid fantasies. But something was stopping her. Perhaps it was because she had hurt too many people with honesty that week and she couldn’t hurt another. She stayed silent, refusing to retort rashly just because of her ill temper. ‘Of course, you should just face facts. I don’t want you to get hurt, as a good friend. Let’s say this girl did break Scorpius’ heart- I’d be the first person he’d turn to.’ Rose fought to keep her cool after this, but just managed to stay in control. ‘After all, haven’t we always agreed that I was a much better girlfriend to him than you ever were to Toby. You always treated him like shit, Rose. Don’t worry though- you can’t help it. Some people are better than others at relationships.’ Rose waved goodbye to her resolve.
‘Well. I hate to inform you Tabitha that Scorpius broke up with you because he was in love with me. In fact, the very night that he broke up with you, he kissed me.’ Tabitha blinked twice, looking incensed.
‘You bit-‘ Rose carried on talking, spewing fire with such ease that it was like breathing.
‘And for the record, I was loyal to Toby until I realised my feelings had changed. Then we broke up before either one of us got hurt. But that’s none of your business. Tabitha, I’ll make this very clear. I love Scorpius Malfoy.’ Rose savoured the sound of those words for just a few seconds, proud to admit it so openly at last. ‘And I even think I can overlook his bad judgement in going out with you- because after all, he can see past my bad judgement in being your friend,’ here Rose paused and gestured to the essay on the table, ‘and doing your homework for you.’ Tabitha stared aghast at Rose, who had jumped up and was now towering over her with a thunderous expression.
‘I swear to you,’ Tabitha’s voice was trembling with anger, her cheeks equally as heated as Rose, ‘if you pursue this… thing, with him. I swear that you will not be my friend anymore.’ Tabitha found she was standing too, her nose inches from Rose as they leaned over the table. She knew that they must be garnering looks from the rest of the common room, and could see people over Rose’s shoulder who were staring curiously. She ignored them, as the fury controlled every crevice of her conscious brain.
‘Are you asking me to choose? Between you and him?’
‘Yes. Who’s it going to be?’ Rose smirked, her eyes sparkling devilishly. The girl in front of her really had no idea. She was so secure in her own self-importance that she was willing to gamble with the only betting chip she had. Rose didn’t know why she was suddenly bordering on psychotic, but in recent months she had become more unhinged than she ever had been before. It was as if going out with Scorpius had taken her out of her shell and now she had outgrown it. She was, in a way, Scorpius’ Monster. Rose couldn’t help but laugh at the mental image of two bolts in Tabitha’s green neck as she groaned around the common room begging for friends.
‘I choose him, Tabitha,’ and as Rose turned away from her fuming ex-best friend she realised that this was the second time she had picked Scorpius that week.
Author’s Note (2):
Hello again! Thanks for reaching the end. Sorry I don’t have a thumbs up gif or animation waiting down here- all you get is your own personal feeling of achievement and an empty review box (do with that what you will…)
I wanted this chapter to be the mourning period for Rose, thus the beginning of the chapter. The rest I kind of made up as I went along, so I hope you liked it! I hadn’t planned on the big fight with Tabitha, but I had a dream a few days ago where I was at Hogwarts and she threw a bucket of water in my face and punched me in the stomach. After that I decided she had to pay, and decided on retribution in the form of portraying her as a total bitch. I know that some of you got there before me so I hope that you enjoyed Rose sticking it to her as much as I did!
Anyway, enough with the Tabitha-hating, and back to the story! Did you find the memories of Toby cute? Did you like knowing all of that or do you now wish that you could take back the last chapter? What do you think will happen at the dance Dominique mentioned? Are you glad to see the back of Tabitha? (I sure know I was… Sorry, I’ll stop going on about it now- it’s just the water was really cold…!)
Sorry if you wanted some Scorpius action to counteract all of the sympathy towards Toby. I promise that some will be coming up really soon! In fact, we’ve got a lot of stuff coming up really soon! Including the return of a certain flame-haired father and his SPEW-tiful wife! See what I did there…? ;)
So please leave a review to tell me what you thought and I’ll see you in the next chapter!
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