Chapter 1 : darkest hour
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The woman who opened the door knew immediately who I was looking for. “He’s here. Follow me.”
I stalled then. I stared at the closed door; I took a deep breath, and nodded. I saw the bed before I saw him; it dominated the room with its quaintly flowered quilt and pillows weirdly out of place in that setting. Draco Malfoy sat on one side of it, Astoria on the other.
She looked ghostly pale and stood up when she saw me. “Rose.”
Emma was seated on a wooden chair in the corner, bent over her knees, her hands pressed together as if in prayer. She lifted her gaze as I walked in, revealing shadowed eyes, reddened with grief, and I felt a brief spasm of sympathy for her.
I didn’t know what to say. It was such a ridiculous, mundane sight, the three of them sitting there, as if they were a family trying to work out where to go sightseeing that day.
I turned towards the bed. “So,” I said, my bag over my shoulder, “I’m guessing the room service isn’t up to much?”
Scorpius’ eyes locked on to mine and despite everything, despite all my fears, the fact that I had thrown up twice, that I felt like I hadn’t slept for a year, I was suddenly glad that I had come. Not glad, relieved. Like I had excised some painful, nagging part of myself and given it over.
And then he smiled. It was lovely, his smile – slow, full of recognition. Weirdly, I found myself smiling back. “Nice room,” I said, and immediately realised the idiocy of the remark.
Scorpius turned towards his mother. “I want to talk to Rose. Is that okay?”
She tried to smile. I saw a million things in the way she looked at me then – relief, gratitude, a faint resentment at being shut out of these few minutes, perhaps even a distant hope that my appearance, meant something, that this fate might yet be twisted from its tracks.
She moved past me into the corridor, and as I stood back from the doorway to let her pass, she reached out a hand and touched my upper arm, just lightly. Our eyes met, and hers softened, so that briefly she looked like someone else entirely, and then she turned away from me.
Emma stood slowly and walked out silently, her very back broad–casting her reluctance. She was followed by Mr. Malfoy.
And then it was just us.
“You’re not going to–“
“I’m not going to yell at you.”
“If you’re here, you accept it. This is the first thing I’ve been in control of since I was diagnosed.”
And there it was. He knew it, and I knew it. There was nothing left for me to do. Do you know how hard for me to say nothing? When every atom of you strains to do the opposite? It was still nearly killing me.
I nodded. When I finally spoke, my voice was a small, broken thing.
“I missed you.”
He seemed to relax then. “Come over here.” And then, when I hesitated. “Please. Come on. Right here, on the bed. Right next to me.”
I realised then that there was actual relief in his expression. That he was pleased to see me in a way he wasn’t actually going to be able to say. And I told myself that it was going to have to be enough. I would do the thing he asked for. That would have to be enough.
I lay down on the bed beside him and I placed my arm across him. I rested my head on his chest, letting my body absorb the gentle rise and fall of it. I could feel the faint pressure of Scorpius’ fingertips on my back, his warm breath in my arm. I closed my eyes, breathing in the scent of him. I tried to think of nothing at all, I just tried to be, tried to absorb the man I loved through osmosis. I did not speak. And then I heard his voice.
“Hey Rose,” he said. “Tell me something good.”
I stared out of the window at the bright–blue England sky and I told him of a story of two people. Two people who shouldn’t have met, and who didn’t like each other much when they did, but who found they were the only two people in the world who could possibly have understood each other. And I told him of the adventures they had, the placed they had gone, and the things I had seen that I never expected to.
I drew a world for him, a world far from the miserable Hospice, a world in which he was still somehow the person he had wanted to be. I drew the world he had created for me, full of wonder and possibility. I let him know a hurt had been mended in a way that he couldn’t have known. And as I spoke, I knew these would be the most important words I would ever say and that it was important that they were the right words, that there were not attempt to make him feel bad, but respectable of what Scorpius had said. I told him something good.
Time slowed, and stilled. It was just the two of us, me murmuring in the empty, sunlit room. Scorpius didn’t say much. He didn’t answer back, or add a dry comment, or scoff. He nodded occasionally, his head pressed against mine, and murmured, or let out a small sound that could have been satisfaction at another good memory.
“You have been,” I told him. “the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
There was a long silence.
“Funnily enough, Rose, so have you.”
And then, just like that, my heart broke. My face crumpled, my composure went and I held him tightly and I stopped caring that he could feel the shudder of my sobbing body because grief swamped me. It overwhelmed me and tore at my heart and my stomach and my head and it pulled me under, and I couldn’t bear it. I honestly thought I couldn’t bear it.
“Don’t, Rose,” he murmured. I felt his lips on my hair. “Oh, please. Don’t. Look at me.”
I screwed my eyes shut and shook my head.
“You’re angry. Please. I don’t want to hurt you or make you–”
“No...” I shook my head again. “It’s not that. I don’t want... I don’t want the last thing you see to be my miserable, blotchy face.”
“You still don’t get it, Rose, do you?” I could hear the smile in his voice. “It’s not your choice.”
It took some time to regain my composure. I blew my nose, took a long deep breath. Finally I raised myself on my elbow, and I looked back at him. His eyes, so long strained and unhappy, looked clear and relaxed.
“You look absolutely beautiful.”
“Come here,” he said. “Right up close to me.”
I lay down again, facing him. I saw the clock above the door and had a sudden sense of time running out. I took his arm and wrapped it tightly around me, threading my own arms and legs around him so that we were tightly entwined. I took his hand – the good one – and wrapped my fingers in his, kissing the knuckles as I felt him squeeze mine. His body was so familiar to me now.
I stroked his hair, his skin, his brow, with my fingertips, tears sliding unchecked down my cheeks, my nose against his, and all the time he watched me silently, studying me intensely as if he was storing each molecule of me away. He was already retreating; withdrawing to somewhere I couldn’t reach him. I kissed him, trying to bring him back. I kissed him and let my lips rest against his. I wanted to give him every bit of life I had and forced him to live.
I realised I was afraid of living without him. How is it you have the right to destroy my life, I wanted to demand of him, but I’m not allowed a say in yours? But I had promised.
So I held him. Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy, ex–prankster, entrepreneur, traveler, lover. I held him close and said nothing, all the while telling him that he was loved. Oh, but he was loved.
I couldn’t say how long we stayed like that. I was dimly aware of soft conversation outside, of the shuffle of shoes. Finally, I felt him loosen a great breath, almost a shudder, and he drew his head back just an inch so that we could see each other clearly. I blinked at him.
“Are you scared?” I asked.
“Peace” He gave me a small smile, almost an apology. “For once, everything’ll be peaceful.”
Mr. Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy suffered a spinal injury in a road accident two months ago and had been diagnosed C5/6 quadriplegic with very limited movement in one arm only. Further investigation reveals that Mr. Malfoy was diagnosed with a muggle illness, called cancer, two years ago.
Also involved in the car crash was the daughter of Hermione and Ronald Weasley, Rose Weasley. Rose Weasley was rushed to the Hospital, where it was revealed that her livers were slowly giving up. With no other choice, Scorpius Malfoy, being an organ donor, gave one of his kidneys up for her.
Mr. Malfoy’s family and friends had all expressed that they didn’t know of what he had done until the cancer began spreading to the rest of his organs and he became immensely weaker. It should be noted that the adopted daughter of the Malfoy’s, Emma Malfoy, has tendered her resignation in light of the publicity surrounding the case.
The funeral will be held on the twenty–second of November at Malfoy Manor.
Rose Weasley chose not to comment.
- Sarah McGuire, Daily Prophet.
Two weeks had elapsed since the weekend; two weeks since I’d learned that he’d passed away.
I kept the letter, along with the photographs and the ring, stashed in the bottom of my pyjama drawer. Every now and then, when the ache I felt as his loss was especially strong, I’d pull those items out. I’d reread the letter and twirl the ring between my fingers.
Time had done nothing to diminish my memories of Scorpius, if anything; my feelings for him had deepened. His love had given me the resolve I’d needed to make it through the last two years.
I took a deep breath, and then picked up the letter. On the front of the envelope, in typed capitals, it said, under my name: TO BE READ ON THE DAY OF THE FUNERAL.
Guilt began eating away in the pit of my stomach, even as I wept – the feeling of remorse never left.
There are a few things I wanted to say and would have told you in person but a) you would have got all emotional and b) you wouldn’t have let me say all this out loud. You always did talk too much.
You once said that the days I left behind didn't have to be the thing that defined me. And that I didn't need to let the chair define me.
But this chair really does define me. You never saw me before this thing. You never saw the true me. I loved my life, Rosie. Really, loved it. I loved my job, my travels, the things I was. I loved being a physical person. I liked riding my motorbike. I liked having sex. Lots of sex. I led a big life. I'm not designed to exist in a chair - and yet for all intents and purposes it is now the thing that defines me.
Rosie, I can practically hear you starting to hyperventilate from here. Don't start panicking, or try to get away - it's not enough for you to sit on your arse for the rest of your life. You need your freedom, both from that claustrophobic little town we both call home, and from the kind of choices you have so far felt you had to make.
I don't want you to feel wistful, or indebted to me, or feel like it's some sort of bloody memorial. There's not much that makes me happy, but you do. I am conscious that knowing me has caused you pain, and grief, and I hope that one day when you are less angry with me and less upset you will see not just that I could not have done the thing that I did, but also that this will help you live a good life, a better life, than if you hadn't met me.
You have done so much for me. Knowing that, somehow, from that complete arse I was at the start, you managed to salvage something to love is astonishing to me. But.... I need it to end here. No more chair. No more pain and tiredness and waking up every morning always wishing it was over.
It's not going to get any better than this. The odds are I'm only going to get increasingly unwell and my life, reduced as it is, is going to get smaller. The doctors have said that much. I don't want to be in pain anymore, or trapped in this thing, or dependent on everyone, or afraid. So I'm asking you - if you feel the things you say you feel - then do it. Be with me. Give me the end I'm hoping for.
Life... It's not enough for me. This - my world - even with you in it. And believe me, Rosie; my whole life has changed for the better since you came. But it's not enough for me. It's not the life I want. Some of us are just trying to get through the day, without falling apart.
The thing is, I get that this could be a good life. I get that with you around; perhaps it could be a very good life. But it's not my life. I am not the same as these people you speak to. It's not enough for me. It's not the life I want.
I mean, c'mon, it took me seven years to get your attention. I know, sad.
Now listen Rosie. You're going to feel uncomfortable in your new world for a bit. It always does feel strange to be knocked out of your comfort zone. But I hope you feel a bit exhilarated too. There is hunger in you, Rosie. A fearlessness. You just buried it, like most people do.
I'm not really telling you to jump off tall buildings, or swim with whales or anything, but to live bodily. Push yourself. Don't settle. Wear your crazy shoes with pride. And if you insist on settling down with some ridiculous bloke, make sure some of this is squirreled away somewhere. Knowing you still have possibilities is a luxury. Knowing that I might have given them to you, has alleviated something for me.
So this is it. You are scored on my heart, Rosie. You were from the first day you walked in to the great hall, with your ridiculous clothes and your bad jokes and your complete inability ever to hide a single thing you felt. You changed my life so much more than this money will ever change yours.
Don't think of me too often. I don't want you getting all maudlin. Just live well. Just live.
A tear had plopped on the rickety table in front of me. I wiped at my cheek with my palm, and put the letter back on the table. And stepping out from behind the table, I straightened my bag on my shoulder and set off down the streets towards the sea, and the whole of London behind.
In all honesty, I'm not exactly sure where this came from. Just imagine every Sco-Rose you've ever read, the ones where they're enemies first before they start falling for each other. Imagine that as the back-story, and then imagine a few years later... and this story just came out. Sco-Rose is one of my favourite OTPs and I've always wanted to write about them, and now I have!