Chapter 8 : VIII
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“But she won’t do it!” Hugo whines. “She won’t even talk to me! It’s like she thinks I’m tainted just because I’m related to you!” he huffs and I half expect him to stamp his foot like he did when he was a child. Hugo has a rather short temper. “I tried talking to her on the train and she shut the compartment door on my foot! I’ve got a bruise and everything! It was mortifying and it’s all you fault!”
“How exactly is this my fault, Hugo?” I ask darkly.
“Because you told me that if you broke them up, she would use me as her rebound, which she hasn’t,” Hugo sulks, kicking at one of the jumpers lying on my floor beside him.
“Hugo, it is not my fault that you are incapable of being the sensitive and caring sort of person a girl needs as a rebound. Clearly Hatty James is still hung up on her ex and therefore you barging in and being your usual pig-headed self, was not what she needed when she was feeling betrayed and hurt.”
“But you said-”
“It was theoretical Hugo. It was based on the idea that if you did get with her, it would only be as a rebound figure. At no point did I specify that you would, indeed, get her,” I sigh. Hugo narrows his eyes furiously.
“I want my money back,” he states at last.
“You lied to me and made me pay for nothing, I want my money back!”
“No Hugo. I did what you paid me for. I broke Hatty James and Aiden Brookes up.”
“But you said yourself that he didn’t kiss you!”
“That’s irrelevant. I broke them up.”
“Just give me my money back Rose! I’ll tell mum!” he practically screeches, holding out a hand as if expecting me to hand over the money instantly. I raise an eyebrow at his threat. It was like we were children again. When I refuse his face goes red with anger. “Just give it here Rose! What kind of twisted person makes their brother pay them to split up another couple anyway?” he seethes. “There’s something seriously wrong with you.”
“Get out,” I sigh monotonously, waving a hand vaguely in the direction of the door. It is only then, as Hugo storms from the room and barges past somebody, that I realise our conversation was not as private as I had originally thought. My eyes narrow instinctively as anger floods through me and I reach for my wand to slam the door shut in James Potter’s face.
How dare he? How dare he listen in on a private conversation? Anger bubbles up in my chest and I grab my shoes and the jumper Hugo had been kicking around from my bedroom floor and yank them on before wrenching open the door and storming down the stairs and, summoning my coat, out the front door.
The village is covered in a blanket of silencing snow as I trek towards the forest on the outskirts. Our cottage is right in the centre of the predominantly muggle occupied village but the road that cuts straight through the heart of the village provides and easy exit and it takes less than five minutes before I have escaped the inhabited world and disappeared into the snow clad tress.
The fringes of the Forest of Dean are young and the trees scattered sparsely, making it easy to walk through in comparison to the Forbidden Forest at Hogwarts. It takes almost an hour before my temper is once again in check. It is very rare that I experience such strong emotions but being at home, especially for Christmas, seems to bring out the worst in me.
Throughout the years, this forest has become my refuge; I must have spent countless hours walking aimlessly between its trees. At the peripheries, seeing other humans was not uncommon but this far into the uncharted trees, I rarely saw anyone else. The figure wandering barely meters from me was all too familiar. I recognised his profile at once and my stomach twisted uncomfortably at the thought of being spotted.
Pausing in my stride, I slipped behind a large oak and peered out at the figure clothed entirely in black. It was an unusual colour for him and caused a frown to form on my forehead. As I stared intently at the figure, trying to decipher what it was that was different about him, my foot shifted and snapped a twig. The sound caused the figure’s eyes to zoom in on where I was standing and as his eyes locked with mind, I realised that it was not, in fact, the person I thought it was.
As relief flooded through me, I repress a snort at the mistake I have made. The resemblance was uncanny but I suppose that was to be expected. Stepping out from behind the tree, I nod to the figure who nods in return, narrowing his eyes at me. His mind races as he tried to place me and several seconds later, recognition dawns on his features.
“Miss Weasley?” he asks, his voice a deep rumble.
“Mr Malfoy,” I nod in return as he makes his way towards me, stepping cautiously over a fallen trunk. His black robes billow out behind him and his blonde hair, while not as light as his brother’s, seems to glimmer in the white light created by the snow.
“Good afternoon,” he mutters when he is close enough to be heard without raising his voice. I return the greeting as he spots before me. “Pleasant day for a walk, is it not? Are you alone?”
“Yes, I felt the need to get some fresh air,” I reply politely.
“Indeed, walking is the perfect way to air one’s head,” he nods and I marvel at the correctness of his speech. The Malfoys are undoubtedly one of the most aristocratic families in the wizarding world and therefore, I suppose such correctness should not have come as such a surprise, his brother Scorpius after all, often spoke fairly properly. “Please, allow me to walk with you a little way Miss Weasley, one can never be too careful of what lurks amongst these trees.”
“Of course,” I smile slightly, taken aback by the fact that a Malfoy could be such a gentleman. “But please, call me Rose,” I ask, uncomfortable with being a ‘Miss Weasley’. It was so rare anyone called me a Weasley. He seemed somewhat shocked but swiftly recovered.
“If you insist, Rose, but if that be the case, you must call me Pollux,” he requests.
“So Pollux,” I begin as we start to walk back towards the peripheries of the forest. “Have you also come for fresh air, or do you have an ulterior motive?”
“Ah…” he gives a half smile. “I’m afraid you have me there Miss- Rose,” he corrects himself. “I was feeling a little… crowded back at home,” he explains. “I find it easier to escape for a little while and let things settle down before returning.”
“Do you live near here then?” I frown, trying to recall where the Malfoy’s lived.
“Yes, several miles from your village I believe.”
“So close?” I ask, startled. “I thought the Malfoy home was further South?”
“My grandparents live in the family home in Wiltshire,” he explains. “We are travelling down there toward to celebrate Christmas.” He holds out a gloved hand to help me over a large branch. “What are your plans this year?”
“We will be spending Christmas Eve with my father’s family at the Burrow, my grandparents’ house, but Christmas day we will be going to visit my mother’s family.”
“Your mother’s parents are muggles are they not?”
“Yes,” I reply, half expecting him to wrinkle his nose in disgust. His reaction however, is nothing of the sort.
“Fascinating,” he breathes. “Have you ever read any muggle literature, Rose,” he asks, still hesitant on my name. “It gives a truly remarkable insight into how muggles live without magic.”
The conversation continued on and I found myself somewhat amused at how easy it was to talk to Pollux Malfoy. For the six years we had been at school together, I had barely said a word to him. The occasional nod in the corridor, perhaps, but never a conversation.
“What are you doing now that you have finished Hogwarts?” I ask, genuinely interested, something that is not all too common for me. My question causes a slight blush to creep upon his pale cheeks.
“I- I’m a writer. Or at least, I want to be,” he swiftly corrects, looking down at his shoes.
“Oh,” is my articulate response. I never had a Malfoy down as a writer, least of all the one here beside me. “What sort of writer?”
“I’m not sure yet, a novelist perhaps… Or a poet,” he confesses quietly, suddenly shy.
“What would you write about?”
“The world in general, I suppose,” he replies, more confidently now that he knows I am not going to laugh in his face. “The complexities of human relationships, how small occurrences can have such large repercussions,” he shrugs.
“That sounds fascinating; you must let me read some of your work one day,” I plead and he reluctantly nods.
“What about you, what do you plan on doing when you leave Hogwarts?”
“Become a potion brewer,” I respond as the edge of the forest looms into view. “I hope to be able to invent my own potions one day,” I explain.
“You are potions partners with my brother, I believe?”
“Yes,” I reply, somewhat startled that he knows such a trivial piece of information about me and curious as to why he knows and who told him.
“Can I ask you a personal question,” he queries after a pause.
“You may but I may chose not to answer it,” I smile slightly.
“What is your biggest regret?”
“My biggest regret?” I frown. “I couldn’t possibly say. I have very few regrets; I find there is no point in regretting things that cannot be changed. They accumulate and create a burden that you must always carry with you. Therefore I try to regret nothing.”
“That is a very wise theory,” he comments.
“May I ask you a personal question?” I challenge.
“Of course,” he smiles. “But I may choose not to answer.”
“What made your home so… crowded that you had to leave?” Pollux frowns down at his toes, clearly uncomfortable. “You do not have to reply if you do not wish to, I am just curious.”
“It’s fine,” he shrugs. “They were just arguing.”
“All of them,” he snorts.
“About what?” He looks up at me then and a sort of sad smile appears on his face as if there is something satirical about my question.
“That is three questions now, Rose,” he smirks an all too familiar smirk. “But if you must know… they were arguing about you this time.”
“Me?” I say in shock. Pollux nods and continues walking. I follow him wordlessly. As we reach the edge of the forest, he turns back to me.
“I believe we must part ways here, Rose,” he smiles sadly, my name still novel coming from his mouth. “Please, permit me to write to you?” he asks gently. Once again taken aback, I nod and give him my address. “It has been a pleasure to make your better acquaintance,” he smiles before lifting my hand to his lips and pressing the faintest of kisses on my frozen knuckles. “Until we meet again,” he murmurs before turning around and heading off into the trees.
“Send me some of your work!” I call after him and I receive a slight chuckle in reply.
The days running up to Christmas pass in a blur as I manage to avoid the hectic tide of well-wishers that come knocking on our door at this time of year. Preferring to remain in my room while the others participate in all sorts of festive actives gives me the time I need to perfect the potion I had been working on at Hogwarts and now I had a neat selection of phials and bottles filled with the molten silver liquid. There was something uncanny about the colour and after a few days, I found myself removing them from my shelves and packing a couple in my trunk whilst putting the others way in the cupboard.
My encounter with Pollux Malfoy replays in my mind. It seems almost surreal now. Despite his proper speech and old-fashioned manners, he seemed almost normal. I remember him at Hogwarts, the cold and silent Slytherin who spoke to no one outside of his small circle of friends. He was fascinating, to say the least. It was not until the Christmas Eve, however, that I received a letter from him.
Dear Miss Rose Weasley,
I must apologies for taking so long to write, I hope that you will forgive me. I have enclosed some of my work at your request, please be honest in your opinions. There is one especially that I would like your opinion on; it is the one without a title. If you have any ideas of what to name it, please let me know.
It is odd, we have spent so many years living in the same castle but it is only now, when I have left, that we meet properly. I hope you will not find it impertinent of me to say that I feel we have a lot in common. You are one of the few people that I have met and been able to converse so easily with. I hope that we may become friends rather than remain as acquaintances.
I am sorry this letter cannot be longer but we are leaving for my grandparents’ house shortly and my mother is becoming impatient. I wish you the very best for Christmas and hope to hear from you soon,
Pollux Arcturus Malfoy.
I place the letter on my bedside table, making a mental note to respond to it later. My curiosity about the work he has sent me has to be pushed aside as my mother yells up the stairs, demanding that I get ready. This evening we are going to the Burrow with my entire extended family from my father’s side.
When the evening finally rolls around, I find myself crammed into the living room of my grandparents’ house with far more people than I am comfortable being with. My mum and several of my aunts have vanished into the kitchen and my dad and uncles appear to be starting on the firewhiskey. Along with all my cousins there are a number of familiar faces that I am more accustomed to seeing in the corridors at Hogwarts or, in Will Henderson’s case, on the Quidditch pitch.
He catches my eye and nods in greeting. I return the nod before disappearing outside into the snow. The flutter of white momentarily blinds me and I am forced to blink the flakes from my lashes in order to see anything. I had not realised it had started to snow again. To my surprise, the door opens behind me and Will Henderson steps out, shrugging his coat on.
“Evening,” he nods as he comes to join me on the snow covered bench. “Enjoying the holiday?”
“Not particularly,” I reply truthfully. We sit in silence for a while, both watching the snow whirl about our heads. I am so lost in my thoughts that I jumps slightly when he speaks.
“Lucy has been staying with us,” he murmurs. Frowning, I remember that Will is Martha Henderson’s younger brother. I nod. “She is still mad at you.” I nod again. “Did you really do it? Kiss Dave?” I nod once more and he lets out a low whistle. “There’s more to it than that, isn’t there?”
“You could be a Ravenclaw,” I reply starkly. He just watches my face, waiting for me to go on. When I don’t, he speaks again.
“You don’t always have to be so removed you know…” he sighs, finally turning his gaze away from my face. “People care about, no matter what you think.” I cannot help but wonder when Will became such an expert on me. “You don’t always have to shut everyone out.”
“It’s easier that way,” I whisper, suddenly unsure of myself.
“In the short term perhaps but it will only make it harder in the long run,” he shrugs, brushing snow off his sleeves for something to do. “Lucy will come around eventually. She just needs time to get over the hurt it caused. Will you forgive her for blaming you?” I do not reply, unsure of my answer. “I think you will.”
I smile faintly at Will and he rests a hand on my shoulder. “You seem to know a lot about me Mr Henderson,” I tease and he blushes slightly. “So tell me, how are you enjoying being on the Quidditch team?” I ask, changing the subject, for some reason eager to keep talking to him.
“I love it. Even is Al does scare the shit out of me sometimes,” he chuckles, relaxing. “I just hope that we don’t have a match – if you can even call it that – like the Hufflepuff v. Ravenclaw one.”
“Their Seeker got lucky,” I state, recalling the quickest Quidditch game I had ever experienced. The whistle had been blown and less than a minute later, the Ravenclaw Seeker had caught the Snitch. Albus was furious as it meant we could not analysis their players. “Nervous about your first game?”
“Only a little, we have until February so I’m sure I’ll be much more nervous then,” he laughs.
Staring down at my empty plate I wish I could be anywhere but here. The chatter of my family and their friends echoes unnervingly through my head. On my right is my cousin Louis who, as the only member of our family to be sorted into Slytherin, makes a point of rarely talking to any of us. Usually, I would not have had a problem with this, however today I would much rather make conversation with him than with the person on my left. Audrey Weasley is Uncle Percy’s wife. She is the sort of woman for whom nothing ever goes wrong; she believes the best of everybody and it was she who rescued Percy from his downward spiral after the war. Her sympathetic glances between her daughter and myself, however, I could do without.
It was clear to everyone who did not already know, that Lucy and I were not speaking. I was mentally preparing myself for her attempts to make things right between her daughter and me again when someone managed to squeeze in between us. Glancing up, I was greeted by the somewhat flushed face of my cousin Dominique.
“You looked rather uncomfortable,” she whispered in my ear, the fainted traces of a French accent in her soothing voice. Audrey, too, seemed relieved to have someone between us as she turns to talk to Dominique’s mother, Fleur, on her left. “So how are you ma chère?” Dominique smiles as she helps herself to a glass of muggle wine.
“Fine,” I shrug. “How is France?”
“Beautiful,” she winks, offering me the wine bottle which I take gratefully. “You must come and visit me when Hogwarts is over. It is such a joy to be so free, where hardly anyone knows who you are.”
“I definitely shall,” I promise, the world she was describing all too tempting.
“So tell me Rose, what has been happening here in miserable England?” she whispers, as if divulging in secrets. “I hear that you and the charming Lucy are not on speaking terms?” she smirks. It was common knowledge that Lucy was Dominique’s least favourite cousin.
“She caught her boyfriend declaring his love to me,” I murmur in response, not looking her in the eye.
“Rose!” she squeals. “Explain yourself.”
“There is nothing to explain. He found me alone in a corridor, kissed me and told me he loved me,” I shrug, omitting the finer details.
“Who was he?” she breathes, her eyes alight with interest and a desire to know more.
“McLaggen,” I state and it takes her a moment to place the name.
“Dave McLaggen?” she hisses in astonishment. I nod. “He told you that he loves you?” I nod again. “But he cheated on you, didn’t he?” her eyes were wide with shock. Dominique was one of the few that new exactly what had happened on the day I found Dave in that girl’s arms. “What a shit!” she exclaims, a little louder than I think she intended as her mother sends her a disapproving glare from the other side of Audrey while my mother, who is sitting across the table from us, glances over in surprise.
“Lucy overheard and, after hexing him into the hospital wing, decided it was my fault,” I continue.
“She always was a little bitch,” Dominique murmurs, casting an icy glare at Lucy, who was seated between the Henderson siblings. “Well serves her right for dating your ex,” she snorts. “Who’s the boy though,” she nods at Will, “he seems kind of cute.”
“He’s a Sixth Year,” I roll my eyes. “His name is Will Henderson, he’s is Lucy’s friend Martha’s brother.” Dominique sighs.
“So I’m guessing the news you wanted to tell me isn’t that you’re engaged?” I smirk.
“Oh no! Nothing of the sort,” she laughs. “You must promise not to tell anyone though,” she pleads, her look suddenly serious. I nod. “Well,” she whispers. “You know I was writing that book last summer?” I nod again. “A friend of mine found it and forced me to show a publisher – a muggle one – in France and they want to publish my book,” she grins happily. I repress the childish urge to squeal, instead flashing a true smile at her.
“That’s incredible Dominique,” I whisper. “You must let me read it when it’s out. Send me a copy,” I instruct and she nods happily. “I have a feeling I’m going to be overrun with work to read soon.”
“Has Lux sent you any of his?” a deep voice murmurs to my right, causing me to swivel in my chair so fast I almost slide off. Louis is inspecting his goblet so intently you might have thought it was engraved with ancient runes. The disinterested look that graces his face would never have suggested that he had been listening in on a private conversation.
“Louis!” Dominique hisses at her younger brother. “If you breathe a word to anyone, I swear I will tell maman your little secret,” she threatens. Louis shoots her a dark look before returning his gaze to the goblet.
“What do you mean?” I frown, regaining my composure. Louis turns his steely blue eyes on me and studies me for a moment.
“I meant… Has Lux sent you any of his work?” he repeats, more slowly than at first. I just stare at him in confusion. “He told me he had,” he shrugs.
“Who’s Lux?” Dominique interrupts, voicing my thoughts. Louis rolls his eyes.
“Pollux,” he elaborates making my eyes widen in surprise.
“Who’s he?” Dominique queries.
“Pollux Malfoy,” I respond automatically, making Louis smirk. “I met him the other day and he sent me some of his work to read… But how do you know that?” I frown at Louis.
“I said: he told me.”
“Oh.” My mind goes into overdrive, trying to figure out why on earth Pollux Malfoy would tell my cousin something like that. “Oh!” I repeat, recalling that the two of them had been in the same year and same House at Hogwarts and would therefore have shared a dorm for seven years.
“It is times like this when I remember why you are not a Slytherin,” Louis smirks, earning him a glare from both his sister and me.
Turning the corner to head back downstairs, I bump into someone solid. My eyes dart up and my stomach twists uncomfortably, just like it did back in the woods the day when I met Pollux Malfoy. The same profile greeted me this time as the man glanced down, an apology already forming on his lips. The sound of laughter came from behind him and I made out two heads of hair: one black and one red.
I had managed the entire evening without so much as glancing at them. Not a word had been uttered between us. No nods of awkward greeting, no hurried aversion of our eyes. So why, Merlin, did I have to bump into them now? Just was I was preparing to leave.
“Rose,” the one right in front of me mutters uneasily and the laughter immediately dies down behind him. The already narrow corridor seems to shrink as dread swoops through my stomach. I nod in reply.
“Castor?” murmurs the redhead. Castor Malfoy jerks his eyes from my inflamed face and glances back at the pair behind him. “You’re blocking the corridor,” she mutters quietly, shooting a sympathetic look in my direction which I promptly ignore. Castor steps aside as Molly and James press against the wall to let me go by.
So here it is, Chapter Eight. I hope you enjoyed it, I know it a major filler chapter but it needed to be done in order for the story to move forward. A whole host of new characters for you: Dominique, Louis, Molly, James... and while there was no Scorpius, we meet two other Malfoys, Pollux and Castor. I would love to hear what you think about them, obviously we barely met James, Molly and Castor but they will appear in the next chaper. For now though, let me know your thoughts and for any questions that you might like to ask my characters, please visit my blog (link on Author's Page). Thank you so much for reading, IrishMyth.
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