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Chapter 11 : Letter
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Who the fuck was Danielle?
Who. The. FUCK. Was. Danielle?
I slammed the book shut, heart racing. He’d never mentioned a Danielle. I played and replayed our conversations through my head. Never a Danielle.
She could be a nurse, right? But then why the hell would it say ‘another girl?’ Godric. I was the other woman! WHO THE FUCK WAS DANIELLE?
Okay. Breathe. There had to be a rational explanation for this. After all, we had only kissed a few times. It wasn’t a big deal. Nothing dramatic. I could handle this. I could calmly, rationally, handle this.
The book in hand, I moved back into the hallway.
“Rose, there you are.” Scorpius smiled. He was closing the door to my right. “Mum wanted to chat with me for a minute and I asked her what she wanted. What do you think about me teaching you how to make a virgin martini?”
I was still having a difficult time breathing. I hated that he was smiling.
So I held up the book. “Is there something you need to tell me?” I asked flatly.
The terror was immediate. “Ah.”
“Let me repeat myself.” I kept my voice quiet because of his mum in the other room, but I did not move my gaze from his. My hand shook as I tried to steady the book. “Is there something you need to tell me, Scorpius?”
My face was flushed. Humiliated.
Scorpius raked his hand through his blond hair, letting it fall over his forehead. “I’m sorry,” he said. “Rose, I didn’t intend for you to find out like this.”
“Did you intend for me to find out at all?” I asked.
“Yes, of course.”
“You mean after you snogged the Gryffindor out of me,” I commented, now practically seething.
“Danielle is …” He took a breath and rubbed the back of his neck nervously. “She’s a girl I’ve been seeing back home.”
I hated how bad those words stung. Like a curse straight through the chest.
Seeing a girl back home. Danielle was just a girl he was seeing back home.
“Rose,” Scorpius began. “I wanted to tell you.”
“You know,” I said, cutting him off. “We had a lot of casual silences that would have fit right into.”
“I’m sorry,” he said, grimacing.
I took a step back and dropped the book between us. “You don’t get to be sorry,” I said. “I get to be sorry. Sorry that I ever let myself trust you.” I turned and grabbed the banister to steady myself as I rushed down the stairs. I could hear Mr. Malfoy saying something from the kitchen. Scorpius was shouting for me in the hall. I ripped open the door and ran.
I just ran. And kept running.
Fuck you, Scorpius Malfoy.
“Going to tell me what happened today, Coffeecake?” Dad moved to sit beside me on the bed. He kicked off his shoes and plopped onto his back, looking to the ceiling. “Yesterday you locked yourself in here.”
“Yes. Well.” I shrugged.
When I got back from Scorpius’ place I marched through the kitchen, ignoring quizzical looks, and locked my bedroom door. I didn’t come out the following day except to eat. I lost myself in any book I could reach for, but whenever characters kissed it got thrown at the wall. This created a large pile of novels just below my closet. I didn’t care. I didn’t want to read about kissing characters.
“I can talk if you don’t want to,” Dad offered.
“Go ahead.” I frowned, too lazy to blink. I hadn’t slept much.
I hated that I was this upset. I wanted to shrug and say okay, Scorpius, you have your little tart back home. Whatever. Fine. Just don’t so much as touch me. We can be friends! Gladly! Okay, let’s go catch a fucking fish!
But that wasn’t what was going through my head.
It was a mixture of hurt, betrayal, and just pissed off.
Part of me wished Dom was here, but I knew she would have walked the half hour in stiletto heels just to punch him in the face. And I would have let her.
I should have.
“Well, this morning I went into town,” Dad began. “And ate at one of the diners because your mum insisted I cook. So we went together. It was nice.” He nodded a little. Awkwardly. “And then we went into a clothing boutique. I think it’s the same one you want to, considering it was the only one there.”
“Subject change,” I said immediately.
“Flowers are beautiful this time of year,” Dad commented.
“Ugh.” I rolled over and buried my face in his chest. “I hate everything.”
“Everything?” I asked, moving his arms around me in that hug only he was capable of. “You don’t think that’s a touch dramatic?”
“Not at all. Everything.”
He scooted so that he was in a sitting position and pulled me against him. “Whatever happened, it’s going to be fine.”
“That’s such a fatherly thing to say,” I muttered into his shirt.
“Yes, well, it’s also the truth.” Dad kissed the top of my head. “I promise, okay? Don’t be sad.”
“I’m not. I’m mad.”
“Oh. Then use that.” Dad chuckled. “Do you want to practice mean spells? Don’t tell your mum.”
I smiled a little. “I think I’ll be okay,” I replied. “Just a little relaxation. Maybe some sleep.”
“Hot tea?” Dad offered.
“That’s a good idea.”
He untangled himself and kissed the top of my head again. “I’ll be back shortly,” he said and paused before moving toward the door.
I wiped a few angry tears from my eyes. “Want to play some chess?”
He smiled. “I’ll get the board, Turkey.”
The owl kept tapping on my closed window.
It was now trying to bite its way in. Through the glass.
“Still no. I think you’re snogging the window.”
Yes. Owl was definitely getting fresh with the window.
I yelped as the window flew open. “Let the sodding beast in!” Hugo cried angrily. “I’m out here concentrating.”
“On what?” I said, watching the owl bounce into the room and fly up onto my bed.
Hugo shrugged. “There’s a pretty girl in town that works at the diner,” he replied with a smile.
“You’re a perv.” I sighed and looked at the owl, which was shaking its leg at me. Tied to it, which I had suspected would be there, was a small scroll of parchment.
“Who’s it from?” asked Hugo, leaning inside.
“Your dream girl,” I replied shortly. “Now go away.”
“She has better tact than to send an owl.” He slammed the window shut and returned to his speech-practicing or general prattery.
The owl was happily bouncing on my blankets.
I turned the parchment over between my fingers like a tiny baton. It was tied with brown twine. Definitely the handywork of Scorpius. I was sure it was a bunch of sappy shit about how sorry he was and him explaining his side of the story after carefully rehearsing it for the day I was burying myself in novels yesterday. Yes, indeed, Scorpius. How could you spin this so you didn’t look like a jackass?
I didn’t care. I really didn’t. All I wanted to do was hit him. Or cry. Eugh.
I just wanted to go home.
I flicked the parchment onto the stack of discarded books and pulled the blankets up to my head. The owl would have to stay the night.
My family and I spent the morning in the village eating breakfast in the diner, purchasing some groceries, and chasing Hugo down when he went after a rabbit. He swore to Mum he’d take care of it. She gave him a strange look. Then politely said when we got home maybe we could get him a bunny.
“That does not mean the kind of girl in a bunny Halloween costume,” I commented and Hugo shot me a very dirty look.
He was already upset his dream girl wasn’t working at the diner that morning.
“I will never understand how they pay their bills.” Dad pointed to a shop with a large window. Inside was a gallery of huge paintings. “How many paintings do they have to sell to afford the rent? Those spotlights don’t look cheap.”
“Apparently your father is going into real estate,” Mum muttered, peering into the window. “Want to look around, Rose?”
I bit my lip. It wasn’t exactly my family’s scene.
“Why don’t we get ice cream?” Dad offered. “And you can go poke around at the brush strokes.”
He knew me all too well.
“I’ll meet you,” I said with a cheery smile, pulling open the door and moving inside.
The gallery was enormous. It was a tall room with exposed brick walls and dozens of paintings in thick, gold frames that wouldn’t have looked out of place two centuries ago. There was a tiny spotlight on each one and a few benches in the center of the room. In the back was a small deck and an older gentleman typing away at a computer.
I moved a piece of hair behind my ear and walked as quietly as possible to the first painting to my left. It was a pastoral painting filled with simple tans and creams and golds, all mixed with gray to create the illusion of simplicity. I moved closer. Cross-hatched brush strokes. The colors barely blended, but it worked. All of it worked.
“Good afternoon, young lady.”
I looked up. Was it afternoon already?
The man from the desk was standing, hands in his pockets. He was giving me a knowing smile that was kind of creepy and kind of comforting.
“Afternoon,” I said warily.
“Have a look around,” he insisted. “A lot of them are local artists.”
“Ah.” My eyes moved back to the paintings. Some of them were rural, but a lot tackled the darkness of the smoky mountains themselves: creeks, lakes, and the fog. Each one was different, but all of them carried the same passion and desperation through the colors.
I let out a very long sigh.
“I’m assuming you know your way around a color palette?” The man moved toward me until our shoulders were almost touching as we started at the same portrait of a young woman in a study, holding a book to her chest.
“I pretend to,” I replied.
“Modest too,” he said with a chuckle. “Judging by your accent should I assume you’re not from these parts?”
“I’m not,” I replied, still examining the painting. “So is this like consignment? They get a portion of the sales?”
He nodded. “The artist receives a portion and the shop does as well,” the man explained. “I’m Leonard Navy.” He extended his hand and I shook it.
“Navy?” I said. “Like the color?”
“No. Like the branch of the military.” Leonard smirked.
“Brilliant.” I smiled a little and turned to the rest of the paintings, taking in as many as I could. Landscapes. Still-lives. Everything. I finally felt calm for the first time in a while.
“Let me know if you need any additional information,” Leonard said with a smart nod. “I have all of the author biographies and photos of some of their other works in different galleries.”
“Thanks.” I moved close to an abstract, contemporary work with color-blocking. The blue was overpowering my senses.
“Friend of yours?”
“Excuse me?” I spun around, Leonard pointing toward the window.
Scorpius was standing outside, pacing, repeatedly running his fingers through his hair.
“Not at all,” I said, watching him.
He looked flustered. Sweaty. Nervous. He looked like he hadn’t slept in days.
I hoped he was miserable, sodding GIT.
“Thanks for the talk, Mr. Navy,” I said, moving past the benches and back to the front of the store. I pushed open the door and moved into the sunlight. “Why are you here?”
“Rose,” Scorpius said, in his voice a tone of desperation I hadn’t heard before. “Did you read my letter?”
“Of course not. You’re a fucking twat.” I put both hands on my hips. “Go away.”
“I need to talk to you.”
“Nope.” I smiled sweetly and turned in the opposite direction, hoping my family was still getting ice cream.
“Come on,” Scorpius said, falling into step with me. “Please just hear me out.”
“Or,” I said, putting up my index finger to stop him from continuing. “You could shut up and go away because I have absolutely no interest in listening to what you have to say.”
I spun on my heel and slapped him across the face.
“I said I have no interest in speaking to you,” I snapped. “So you can go back to your rental, write a sappy letter to Danielle, and tell her all about how the mean Rose Weasley gave you a big sodding bruise across your face.”
Scorpius looked positively dumbstruck, his lips parted as he stared back at me. His hands dropped to his sides as his cheek began to redden.
I turned back, marching down the sidewalk. When I threw open the general store door and found my family inside, I finally let out a loud sigh because hitting people HURT and my hand was in considerable pain. I made Dad buy a package of peas and placed it on my palm for the entire ride home.
This was an absolute disaster.
I stared at the canvas before me, propped on an easel. Something just wasn’t right. I was attempting to paint the clearing and treeline just off the deck, but the colors were wrong, the proportions were wrong, and my heart was wrong.
It was too dark.
I squeezed some white onto my palette, but just stared at it. Why was this so difficult?
Probably because all I’d been thinking about were those rows of paintings in the gallery. They were a vision of grandeur. Something strange an unattainable. And something I wanted desperately.
Instead I was stuck with an odd mixture of green and black that was quickly turning to some funky grey I hated. Bugger.
I slapped some white onto a tree as a highlight.
Well, that’s horrible.
What was so bad about being a painter anyway? I just didn’t want to get sick of it. I didn’t want to wake up after years of running a brush over a canvas and want to throw away every container of paint I have.
It was a legitimate fear. Right?
Or was it just something stopping me from doing what I loved?
Fear of rejection? Of not being good enough?
I certainly didn’t paint like the people in that gallery. But really, how old were they? How much training did they have? They didn’t exactly offer painting courses at Hogwarts. I should start a petition about that. Or an underground organization.
Dad would be proud.
I dipped my brush into the black again, draping it along the nearest tree on the canvas. That was a little better. I sighed. More paint. More color. Why was everything so dark?
Hell, why was my mind so dark?
The sun was beginning the sink further into the trees now, casting orange light on my shirt and very little on the subject I was painting. What a good lesson in shadows. Painting in the evening.
I could have used this for the lesson with Scorpius.
Screw it. I grabbed the orange, mixed it with some white, and started adding delicate highlights to the trees. Playing by the rules wasn’t exactly my thing.
I slid my tongue between my teeth and concentrated on each flake of bark protruding from the tree. Each leaf. I had to keep reminding myself to take a breath. I wondered how it would look in that gallery. Under a spotlight. My cursive sprawl of a signature in the bottom corner.
My heart was beating hard against my chest. The idea was thrilling. The image was clear. Everything was clear. That was what I wanted. That was everything I wanted.
I just wanted to create. And damn anyone who said I couldn’t.
Or looked at me weird when I said I liked to paint.
So it wasn’t Quidditch or Gringotts or designing runway robes. I didn’t care.
Once the sun sank too low for me to continue, I moved into the kitchen, placing the canvas in the center of the table to dry. I boxed the paints and left them as well, only to find my family in the living room.
Dad looked up and disguised his laugh for a cough. “Painting, muffin?” he asked.
“Yeah. Did you see me out there?” I glanced over at Hugo, who was mashing buttons on the controller as he tried to kill zombies.
“I just kind of assumed.” He was smirking.
“Rose,” Mum said with a sigh, elbowing Dad in the side. “You have paint all down your front.”
I looked down and spotted the collection of colors. At least I could call it abstract art. Perhaps Leonard would display it and I could get a few sickles out of it. “So,” I started and they looked at me. Well, Hugo didn’t. “I’m going to be a painter.”
They looked unfazed.
“For real,” I added. “Like, in my life.”
Still, expressions unchanged.
“For a career or something,” I said. “Or on the side if I need rent money.”
Dad actually yawned. He yawned. Seriously?
“Rosey,” Mum began with a knowing smile. “It’s really about time you figured that out.”
“Even I knew that before you,” Hugo said and then yelled a few colorful phrases when he was killed by a swarm of zombies.
I looked between all three of them. “Seriously? Why did you humor all of my other ideas then?”
As I recalled, I went through several career phases. Healer. Administrative Assistant at the Ministry. Minister of Magic (I was six). Shop owner. Novelist. Traveling poet (I was seven). At one point I told my father I was just going to grow up and live off of his money. He told me that was fine, just as long as I wore a thick coat on dates.
“We felt it was something you should discover on your own,” Mum said, smiling. “It’s your talent, love. You should use it.”
I felt a little dumbstruck. They knew the entire time. I wondered if Scorpius knew. If he would have said anything.
It didn’t matter now.
“Get changed and watch a movie with us,” Dad said. “I’m not having paint on my good shirt.”
I stared. “Dad, your shirt has three holes in it and has the Weird Sisters logo on the back.”
My family was so strange.
I closed my curtains and pulled off the shirt when I got back into my room, searching around for something else to wear. I found an old Harpies shirt and tugged it on.
My room was a disaster. I’d pulled out half my trunk when searching for the right paints, so that was sprawled everywhere. Mum was going to murder me, so I began to pick it up, tossing random things back into the trunk, folding clothes, and tidying up a little. Chances are if I didn’t, she’d walk in somewhere around seven in the morning and tell me to get up and do it.
She was unpredictable like that.
I grabbed a stack of books and neatly piled them on the bedside stand. Then another group of them on the dresser just under the mirror. I liked the way books looked as decor.
I jumped when I heard a crunch under my feet. If there was a dead animal in my room so help me Godric Gryffindor I would die.
I looked down.
It was the letter, still rolled into a scroll, but now bent because of my foot.
I considered tossing it out onto the deck and letting it roll away in the breeze. Though there was a chance Hugo would find it and read whatever was in there. I did have a lighter. I could just set it on fire. I didn’t care what he had to say.
He lied to me.
And as much as I didn’t want to admit it, he hurt me.
I moved the scroll into my hands, fingers tracing the twine against it. He seemed pretty desperate in town today. Like this was eating him up inside. And I hoped it was. That’s what he gets for being a liar. For kissing me like he meant it while he was seeing someone else.
Whatever that meant.
And I couldn’t stand him.
I crumpled the scroll in my hands and chucked it into the mirror, watching it bounce onto the floor and under the bed. Then I sighed and walked back into the living room to kick Hugo off the television and hug my dad.
It stormed that night. I pulled the blankets up over my head until it was over.
A/N: And now we know who Danielle is! Do you think she'll ever make an appearance? Do you think Rose will ever let Scorpius explain? Or ever trust him again? What do you really think is going on here?
I want to say a quick mushy thank you to everyone following this story and a HUGE thank you to everyone following ALL FOUR of the stories I'm updating right now. Seriously. You are all amazing and I appreciate you so much. As long as I have readers, I'll probably keep writing even though I'm trucking through an original novel as well.
So thank you again. Love you and such! Hugs!
UP NEXT: The letter. And some well-deserved honesty. Not just from one side.
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