Chapter 23 : Love rule #21
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I could only stare at him, clinging tightly to Lucy. My breath was still uneven and my heart was beating erratically. I was almost free from Trumpleton, Lucy was now crying and Scorpius was sharing the same small space as me. It was too much to take in, and I shut my eyes tightly. An awkward silence fell heavily over the elevator, broken only by sniffs coming from the small girl in my arms.
“Rose…” Scorpius said quietly, and I opened my eyes. He was frowning at me, and I frowned back, not knowing what to say. I didn’t understand the tones in his voice; longing, frustration, relief. The last time I’d seen him, he’d to ld me that he didn’t even think of me as a friend. And now he was standing in front of me, staring with his blue eyes and making my heart do funny things again.
“Where are we going, Teddy?” I said, turning to my oldest friend in a bid to distract from the stupid blonde teenager beside me. He grinned at me, bouncing around the elevator in excitement.
“No, that’s fine, you’re welcome. Really, don’t think about it,” he sang, and I rolled my eyes. His enthusiasm was contagious, and I allowed myself a tiny smile.
“Thank you, Ted, you’re the best. Isn’t he?” I directed the last part at Lucy, giving her a squeeze for emphasis. She nodded into my shoulder, and I rested my head against hers for a brief moment. “But truly, thank you.”
“I’d do anything for you, Rose. You know that,” Teddy said, finally being serious. The stupid blonde made a brief noise, which I ignored.
“What’s next?” I asked, getting my shaky breathing under control. My arms were aching from Lucy, and I let her slip to the ground. No longer crying, she kept her arms wrapped around me and her face pressed into my stomach.
“You’ll be back under the invisibility cloak until we get out of the building. Granny is waiting with Grandpop’s old car, we’ll be going to her house for a few days.”
I smiled, pleased to be soon seeing Granny Tonks. She’d babysat the Weasley kids on a few occasions, treating us like her own grandkids.
“Okay, Rose, Lucy,” Teddy said, eying the elevator doors as we got closer to the ground, “Back under the cloak. Stay close to me. Scorp, put your disguise on. There won’t be room for all three of you under the cloak while walking.”
I did as I was told, making sure that Lucy and I were completely covered. Scorpius looked comical in his bowler hat and thick-rimmed glasses. As if he could sense my amusement, he sent a glare in my general direction.
“Here we go,” Teddy said, morphing his features as the elevator doors opened. Straight away, we were almost swept apart as people crowded around us. I quickly swept Lucy back up onto my hip, wincing as my toes were crushed by a particularly heavy woman with a long beak. It was an odd feeling, seeing new people, real people.
“Merlin,” I hissed as I lost sight of Teddy. Lucy whimpered in my ear, and I hurried through the crowd. Mungo’s saw so many strange things that being pushed by something unseen was sure to stay unnoticed by most.
“Over there,” Lucy whispered, pointing ahead of us. Teddy as Stevenson had paused, seemingly studying a poster attached to the wall. I touched his shoulder to let him know we’d caught up, and he kept walking. Past wards full of sick people, animals, random bursts of singing, waiting rooms stuffed to the brim. And then at last, there was sunlight on my face and cold air biting into my skin, and the smell of cars and coffee and a street vendor’s pizza.
Tears came to my eyes as I stood on the dirty London street, buffered by muggles hurrying past. I spotted Teddy and Scorpius climbing into a nearby car, and elation rose in my chest. I turned to look back at the façade of Mungo’s for what was hopefully my first and last time, and the mannequin in the window winked at me. I grinned back, before running to the car, shoving myself and Lucy inside and slamming the door shut.
We were free.
“It’s so good to see you, dear,” Andromeda Tonks said, crushing me in the most comforting hug I’d had in a long time. We had pulled into the driveway of her house, a two hundred mile drive from London which took a mere fifteen minutes thanks to the magical modifications on the car. “And you must be Lucy. It’s a pleasure to meet you sweet pea.”
Lucy was pulled into a hug of her own before she darted back behind me, shy and afraid of the new people she’d met that day.
“Thank you so much, Granny. It’s lovely to see you too,” I said earnestly. Snow crunched under my shoes as we walked to the house. Closing the front door lifted a huge weight off of my chest, and I at last felt truly safe in the familiar surroundings.
“Okay you lot, into the kitchen now. Off you go! Minty has afternoon tea ready, Merlin knows I could use a pick-me-up,” Granny Tonks said, sternly ushering us all down the hall. My heart skipped a beat at the thought of eating in front of everyone, but I took a deep breath. I could do it. I had to, or I’d be sent back to Trumpleton before I’d even had a chance to be free.
We shuffled into the open kitchen somewhat awkwardly; I was hyperaware of Scorpius standing by my left shoulder, and Lucy kept looking up at me, as if to reassure herself that I was still here.
“Would misses and sirs like some tea?” Minty asked as we sat around the table. Teddy sat next to me, good-naturedly bumping my shoulder with his. Lucy immediately shook her head at the offer of tea, and I squeezed her hand.
“Everyone will have tea,” Granny Tonks said sternly, fixing a steely but kind gaze on little Lucy.
“So, we have a few things to talk about,” Teddy began, but I interrupted. Lucy was looking exhausted and terrified, and I was worried about her. She, like me, had only eaten breakfast that morning, although it felt like a lifetime ago. Add in the day’s massive upheaval, and I wasn’t convinced that she was up for a big conversation.
“Just a sec, Ted. Minty, can I please have two small bowls of soup, some bread and two pieces of fruit?”
“But there’s food here,” Teddy said, and I shook my head.
“Lucy and I are going to eat in the lounge room quickly, and then she’s going to have a bath and go to bed,” I said, overriding him. I ignored Scorpius’ gaze as Lucy and I left the room. If I’d learnt one thing in recovery, it was that eating food in front of people could be a confronting experience. I didn’t want to put Lucy through more stress.
“Here you go, Miss Rose,” Minty said, coming into the room with the requested food.
“Thank you, Minty. Do you want to eat with us?”
The little house elf beamed at me but shook her head. “No miss, Minty has a paid break in one hour.”
I smiled, thinking how pleased Mum would be at finding how much her legislations had improved living conditions for the creatures.
“Here, Luce. I want you to eat at least half of the soup, and a piece of bread.”
“But-“ she started to protest, and I sighed.
“I didn’t take you out of Mungo’s so you can make yourself sicker. I took you out to help you get better, okay? And that can’t happen unless you eat.”
She groaned slightly, and nibbled at a piece of bread. I did the same, trying to project confidence into my actions. Lead by example and whatever else Mum preached at me over the years. Through the open doorway, I could hear the other three talking quietly. A rather belated thought stuck my mind, and I ashamedly asked Lucy, “Are you okay with being here?”
She dropped her bread in surprise and stared at me, eyes huge in her tiny face. “Are you kidding?”
I gave her a relieved grin and ate my soup, trying to think of it as not fat invading my body, but nourishment and vitality.
Lucy won her battle with her early dinner, and I sent her off for a shower and bed.
“You’re really good with her, you know that yeah?” Teddy asked suddenly, leaning against the doorframe between the kitchen and lounge room. I jumped, almost spilling the last of my soup.
“I’m trying,” I sighed, putting my down the bowl, “It’s just hard sometimes. I’m still trying to get better myself.”
“We all have faith in you, Rose. Ready for a chat now?”
I nodded and followed him back to the dining table, heart beating too fast as I caught Scorpius’ eye. I settled myself next to Granny Tonks, smiling at Minty as she gave me a cup of tea. My early dinner sat heavily in my stomach, but I did my best to forget about it.
“So that was quite a dramatic rescue,” Granny began, rubbing my back. I smiled at her and shrugged sheepishly, “There wasn’t an easier way to do things?”
“I tried, honestly,” I said, “None of my letters were sent, I didn’t receive any letters, my questions were ignored and Teddy says whenever anyone tried to visit, they were turned away.”
Teddy nodded in agreement, and I pulled my folder from Trumpleton’s office from my pocket. I opened it and showed Granny Tonks my letters, realising as I did so that one written in Scorpius’ writing adorned the top envelope. He frowned formidably at his own handwriting, and I wondered what and why he’d written.
“It’s okay, dear, I believe you. I just worry that we’ve created more drama than needs be. I expect your family here any moment.”
My heart skipped a beat at that, in both excitement and trepidation. I missed my parents so much, and yet I couldn’t help but feel they should have done more to help me.
“Do they know where I am?”
Teddy nodded, saying “Yes, I sent letters off to anyone I felt necessary while you were eating – McGonagall, your parents, Lucy’s aunt, Al and your friends.”
I beamed at him, another weight lifting off my chest. I could only imagine everyone’s worry on finding me missing, so I was pleased that had been taken care of. I didn’t ask Teddy what he had written; he’d gotten me this far, so I could trust him to write a letter.
“My main worry dear, is what you will do now?” Granny asked, eying me beadily.
I sighed, fiddling with my tea cup. “My main goal is to get back to Hogwarts and finish the year - and to get better of course. But I’m also worried sick about Lucy.”
Scorpius, who had been ominously silent until now – I still didn’t know why he was here – finally spoke. “Lucy Hollingberry. Teddy said the name was familiar, and I know why. Her parents were murdered in the deatheater uprising of 2015. Her aunt, Gemima Hollingberry, was tortured in the same incident and her mind hasn’t been sound since.”
I winced, both at his voice and his news.
“That explains a fair bit. Is she well enough to look after the girl, do we know?” Teddy asked, and Scorpius nodded.
“Yes. I found a newspaper article in which Trumpleton claimed Gemima’s mental inadequacy as a reason for Lucy to be taken to Mungo’s. Until then, they’d been managing fine. I suppose there’s something about Lucy or her family that he wanted to capitalise on,” Scorpius said, fiddling with the letter between Trumpleton and Clarke Avery. I determinedly ignored his gaze, irrationally hating his voice of reason.
“Well,” Granny Tonks said with a sigh, “I suppose that’s a few kinks sorted out. We’ll settle Lucy back in with her aunt and get you two kids back to school. It’s a bit of a waiting game now, waiting for replies to the letters sent out. Do you mind if I look through this, Rose?”
She indicated my file sitting on the table, and I nodded after removing the bundle of letters from my friends. Scorpius’ eyes followed my hand as I tucked the letters into my pocket, and I burned with a desire to know what he’d written.
Granny Tonks and Teddy began sorting through my file. I felt comfortable with that, despite there being intimate details about my physical and mental health recorded in it. As soon as Scorpius began to reach forward as well, I cleared my throat pointedly and glared at him. He frowned back, rolling his eyes and slumping back in his seat. He had no right to know what was written in there.
It was only after a silent ten minutes of reading and ignoring Scorpius that I held back yet another yawn and got to my feet.
“If you don’t mind, I’m going to go to bed. Thank you again for everything,” I said sincerely, leaning down and dropping a kiss on Granny Tonk’s cheek. I did the same with Teddy before leaving the room and going to the guest room that I stayed in as a child. I could feel Scorpius' eyes burning into my back until I was out of sight.
I shut the bedroom door quietly, and I was surrounded by silence. I heaved a great sigh, rubbing my eyes. The stress of the day was still weighing heavily on me, and I sat down on the soft bed. Despite Teddy looking after most things, I still had so much to deal with. First and foremost would be to contact Aunty Luna about Trumpleton and his deal with the Daily Prophet. Settling Lucy into a loving, safe environment was next and making a full recovery and going back to school was last. I groaned and stretched out on the bed. A few moments with my eyes shut wouldn’t hurt at all.
When I woke up, it was pitch black and a cover had been pulled up to my chin. The digital alarm clock nearby told me it was close to midnight. I lay peacefully for a moment, blissfully comfortable and warm and content. Snuggling deeper into the bed, I forgot for a moment why I was at Granny Tonk’s house and what had happened over the last few months. The moment was lost however, as the bedroom door opened and faint light from the hallway spilled inside. I quickly squeezed my eyes shut and pretended to be asleep. A night of peace was all I wanted.
“Rose?” came a voice, and my heart skipped a beat. What did he want? “Are you awake?”
I stayed silent, and was relieved as the door shut a few seconds later. The relief was short lived though, as I heard his footsteps coming towards the bed rather than disappearing down the hall. His weight caused the bed to dip slightly as he sat down beside me. I could almost feel the heat coming off his body, and wanted nothing more than to reach out and touch him.
Still I stayed silent, wanting him to leave before I lost my self-control. I had to forget about someone who didn’t even think of me as a friend.
He sighed deeply, and I wasn’t sure if I’d ever heard him sound so defeated.
“God Rose, what are you doing to me?” he muttered quietly, and I frowned. I could ask him the very same question. “I can’t even tell you how it’s been, not having you around. Please don’t ever leave me like that again.”
I shifted on the bed, burying my head in the pillow in the hopes his sad voice would be muffled.
“You wouldn’t believe my relief when I saw you in the lobby of that Merlin-awful ward. I assumed you wouldn’t send me letters, but when Albus said that you hadn’t sent anything to anyone, I knew something was wrong. Teddy was the first person I thought of who could help.“
My heart stopped beating at his words. Scorpius had been the mastermind behind rescuing me?
“I don’t even know what I’m saying right now. Just please don’t leave like that again. I can’t deal with it.”
I felt tears form in my eyes, and I rolled away from him. Why was he saying this? What did he hope to achieve by making me want him more? It took all of my self-control not to jump as he rested his hand on my lower back. The mattress shifted slightly, and suddenly the length of his body was pressed against me. I stopped breathing, my eyes squeezed tightly shut as his warmth radiated into me. His arm came around my waist, and his face pressed into my hair.
“I thought I’d lost you,” he whispered, and I felt the fight go out of me. This one night, in the company of the only person I’d ever want, was all I’d allow myself. My body relaxed against his, and I sighed slightly.
This had to be what heaven felt like.
It was only as his fingers stroked my waist ever-so-lightly that I started to cry. The quiet crying turned into deep, wracking sobs, and I rolled over to face him. Burying my head in his chest, I sobbed until my throat hurt. He traced patterns on my arm and rubbed my back until, exhausted, I fell into the deepest, most healing sleep I’d had in a long time, wrapped up in a boy who refused to let me go.
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