Chapter 1 : Rite of Passage
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It took Scorpius twenty-two minutes to walk to the clearing.
For the past four years he had received a letter in early June detailing his exam marks from the previous year. After giving the owl a treat, he would peruse the letter’s contents over breakfast, never terribly surprised by what he found there. When he was finished, Scorpius would exit his house through the set of ornate French doors and head out into his mother’s garden. A cobblestone path lined with roses wound through the elaborate greenery until it ended at a silver gate facing the forest. Once the stones stopped, though, Scorpius continued on with no regard for the dirt under his expensive shoes. He walked through the thin forest, past a quiet creek and up a small hill, until he emerged into the sunshine on the other side.
The clearing itself was peaceful and dotted with wildflowers. Scorpius sat down on a stump. He took a deep breath and unfolded the letter again but couldn’t look at it.
This year was different.
In his hand were the results of his Ordinary Wizarding Level exams. The marks he had received were admirable; not perfect, but enough to reflect some level of studiousness during the month preceding the tests. Of course he had tried his best; his parents expected no less, and like anyone he wanted his choice of N.E.W.T. courses and eventual careers. This was one of the few qualities he had in common with the person he was waiting to meet in the meadow.
His hair was like soft straw, but hers burned like wildfire, catching the light and dancing as she walked. Where he had light gray eyes she had irises of faded blue. He spent Christmas in the endless corridors and massive rooms of Malfoy Manor as she packed herself and seemingly innumerable family members into the tiny Burrow.
Rose was his best friend, and he didn’t want some stupid tests to change that.
The underbrush rustled on the other side of the clearing, yielding to a pair of tan boots that softly trampled the grass. Rose emerged smiling from the trees and walked toward Scorpius, pulling her light jacket around her to shield herself from the early morning chill. “You got your letter?”
“Yeah,” Scorpius replied, standing up.
Rose came to a stop in front of him. “Well, are you ready?” She reached into the small bag hanging at her hip and withdrew a neatly folded piece of paper that she opened with a muted crinkle. “I’ll start if you want.”
Rose cleared her throat. “Dear Miss Weasley, we at the Ministry congratulate you on five successful years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Enclosed are your Ordinary Wizarding Level exam results, which we know reflect much hard work and dedication on your part. We wish you all the best for what remains—” She paused, smirking. “Do you think they put this part in if you fail all your O.W.L.s?”
“Get on with it.”
“Board your broomstick with the wrong leg first this morning?” She frowned.
“I want to find out how you did. I know you studied really hard.”
“So did you,” Rose replied, but she continued anyway. “Charms—O.”
“Me, too,” Scorpius said, his lips parting into a slight smile now.
“Aren’t you glad you studied with me and Albus?”
“Yeah, but I think I did better on the practical exam than the written part.”
“Me, too. Don’t tell my mum.” Rose grinned. “Your turn, Scorp.”
“Defense Against the Dark Arts—E.”
“Really?” Rose beamed. “I only managed an Acceptable! It was the end of the week; I was too tired to study anymore, and I forgot it was going to be all practical.”
Scorpius smirked. “What’s next?”
“Care of Magical Creatures. I got an A, which is good enough for me.”
Her companion looked back down at his sheet. In place of Care of Magical Creatures was Ancient Runes. “That’s what I got, too, in Professor Scamander’s class.”
“Hmm…” Rose looked back at her list. “History of Magic—D.”
“Just kidding. Another A.”
“Me as well.” His finger fell to the next name. “Herbology… I got an E.”
“I got an O! Must be all those gardening lessons with Grandma Weasley.”
“What did you get in Potions?”
“I got an O. But I think Slytherins get points just for writing their names.”
“I could brew circles around you,” Rose answered sarcastically. “What about Transfiguration?”
“I got an A. Couldn’t Vanish the tea without breaking the cup the first time.”
“I got an E.” She looked back at her letter. “Astronomy—A.”
“Me, too. I was happy just to pass.”
“Arithmancy for me—another A.”
“I got an E in Muggle Studies. I thought I was going to fail it. They asked how Muggle automobiles work.” She sighed, sitting down on the stump. “I hate that class. I don’t care what the entry requirements are; I’m not taking it next term. It’s so boring!”
“Why did you take it in the first place?”
“My grandpa told me I should. I figured it’d be easy.”
“I’ve heard it is easy.”
“I’m sure Hugo will pass with flying colors. He eats up every word Mum says.”
Scorpius folded up his letter, sitting down next to her on the stump. “So we passed everything. I don’t know if it will be good enough for N.E.W.T.s, but we passed.”
“Yeah,” Rose replied. “But I still don’t understand why you look so relieved.”
“What do you mean?”
“You always cheat. You open your marks and look at them before you meet me here, so I know you weren’t surprised by what you got. So what’s wrong with you?”
“I just…” Scorpius trailed off, thinking about his first day on the Hogwarts Express. When he boarded the train, the first open compartment he found contained a small red-haired girl with her nose deep in a Charms textbook. When he asked what she was reading, she ignored him, so when she got up an hour later to go to the restroom, he picked up the book and started reading where she left off. When she returned, he was waiting with a comment about the interesting effects of a spell a chapter off. Unable to resist a good conversation, she quickly became his friend.
He looked into Rose’s perplexed blue eyes. “I know the only reason your parents let you stay friends with me is so that you can keep an eye on me and do one better, and this was our O.W.L. year, not just final exams. I was worried that you wouldn’t want to be friends anymore if you did way better than me—or the other way around.”
“Please, like you could ever do better than me.” Rose stood up. “We’ve been best friends for five years. Do you really think anything could change that?”
“I guess not.” Scorpius blushed slightly, embarrassed at his admission.
“Besides, nobody lets me do anything.” She dusted her jeans off, putting her letter away again. “Hey, maybe we can take some N.E.W.T. classes together.”
“I don’t even want to think about N.E.W.T. exams right now.”
“We’re going to have to pick classes in September.”
“Well, we can meet up to talk about it then. Let me have a holiday.”
“Agreed.” Rose smiled. “See you in three months, Scorp.”
“You too, Rose,” he replied, returning the smile.
The boy watched her leave, slipping back through the forest’s edge and beginning the twenty-five-minute journey back to her house. He knew that one day there would be no more exams, but this clearing was a constant, and there would always be a reason for he and his best friend to meet up and share one another’s news. There would never really be an end to the journey begun by two Hogwarts letters.
Hope you enjoyed this little piece on friendship. I had fun writing it! Please take a moment to leave a review. Everything you recognize belongs to JKR.
Thanks for reading :)