Chapter 15 : A Cottage Left Behind
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Hugo stared up at Lucius Malfoy’s ice-like features. The grey eyes pierced though him like a sword and it made Hugo even more uncomfortable when Lucius’s mouth curved into a cold smile. “Well, well, well…what do we have here?” he asked in a deadly quiet voice, much like Draco’s. The long back cloak and his pimp cane only made him more intimidating and his perfect platinum hair was tied at the back, giving one the eerie feeling of an evil aristocrat that escaped from a rare book. Perhaps he was a twisted version of Heathcliff, but of course combined with the mysteriousness of Mr. Rochester and the doubled wealth of Darcy. Yet appearances are often mistaken when aiming to mirror the soul. Hugo did not know what to say. He just continued looking at Malfoy Senior with big eyes, as if he were stupefied. Eventually, he opened his mouth to say something, but no words came out. These only made Lucius raise his eyebrows higher, summoning a set of lines on his forehead.
“Has my son or your mother approved of this morning walk of yours? asked Lucius in a deep, slithering, voice. By looking at the terrified boy’s face, he already knew the answer to that question. Hugo looked utterly petrified. “I shall take that as a no,” he said when Hugo did not reply. He could actually see the boy turning a shade paler. “Well I’m sure they will be very interested to know what you are up to…”
“Please don’t,” pleaded Hugo. Something within Lucius softened at that small, frightened voice. For a moment, Hugo could see his ice eyes becoming a few degrees warmer, but then the emotionless mask was placed back upon his face. Once more, he raised his eyebrows in a questioning glare that demanded answers.
“They…they don’t know I am out of the Malfoy estate…” he said in a small voice that trailed off into silence. He found looking at Lucius’ intimidating posture and face too painful, so he cast his eyes on the rocks around the road.
“Ah, I see,” started Lucius. “And has it ever occurred to you that it is dangerous for a child with your…background…to wander around a town he barely knows when Britain is ruled by Death Eaters?”
“Well, when you put it like that…”mumbled Hugo, but Lucius’s sharp voice once more sliced him in half: “Do not answer back!” he said in a calm but deadly voice. “It was very foolish for you to leave without telling anyone.” Hugo wanted to add that if he were to tell someone, he would most likely end up imprisoned in the dungeons, with the Mad Man for company for the rest of his life. “You ought to be chastised for this, Hugo. And look at me when you are being spoken to!” When Hugo looked up, another layer of colour peeled itself off his face, especially at his name being spoken in such a…cold manner.
“I’m sorry,” he mumbled, trying his best to keep his eyes on the older man’s face. Once again, a small smirk appeared on Lucius’s face. “No, you are not,” he eventually said and this time it was Hugo’s turn to raise his eyebrows. Was he really such as bad liar? Such an open book?
Lucius inwardly laughed. Oh, how he enjoyed winding up the boy. There were so many similarities between Hugo and young Draco that he sometimes wondered whether the two were actually related. If Hugo would have been at Hogwarts, he would have definitely been a Slytherin, or so Lucius thought. For there was a cunning nature within the boy…an esprit that he recognized far too well; and this always made Malfoy Senior take a certain linking to the boy.
“Well,” Lucius eventually said, “there would be a way for you to correct your foolishness.” Hugo’s wandering eyes became bigger. “I so happen to be on my way to Wiltshire…and may be in need of some spare hands. Prove to me that you can be an obedient boy and I might, just this time, let your little outrageous excursion slip from my mind when I will see my son.”
There was a sudden warming within Lucius’s chest as the boy’s eyes heated up and a small smile appeared on his face. Hugo had always admired Lucius Malfoy in a strange way. The man was dark and scary, however, there was kindness hidden within him, which he never allowed people to see. But Hugo did see it…he saw it in the way he would place his hand over his wife’s shoulder…he saw it in the way he would ruffle Scorpius’s hair and the way he always seemed to speak a little softer than usual when addressing either him or Rose. And this time, Mr. Malfoy’s words confirmed that he was capable of sympathy.
As an imprisoned child, Lucius knew that Hugo wanted nothing more than to just escape the brooding shadow of Malfoy Manor for a few hours. He had been walking behind the boy for at least ten minutes before he stopped him. And he saw how cautious he was…with every step he took towards the village, it was almost as if he was a small puppy that made its way for the first time through the snow. Cautious and unsure with each step that he took. It was his intention at first to take him back to the Manor and demand a full explanation for his foolishness…but there was something in the boy’s eyes that stabbed his heart when he mentioned Draco, his mother and the Manor. And then he thought that a few hours of freedom would not do the boy any harm if he was accompanied by someone responsible. Surely, Hugo would attract far less attention if he was with Lucius. A lonely child wandering the streets of Wiltshire could be questioned by the authorities as to why he was not in Hogwarts. It was true that Hugo was sharp enough to lie…but Lucius inwardly cringed how bad the boy was at it. But the authorities would never stop someone like Lucius Malfoy, even when in the company of an under grown, poor looking child. He would just look like his squib servant, and the living picture of exploitation certainly fitted the image of Malfoy Senior.
Mr. Malfoy ignored the voice in his head that repeatedly and annoyingly reminded him that he just wanted to make the boy happy. But Lucius would never admit that. He could, after all, do with a spare set of hands since he had a few things to buy. And he found house elves far too annoying to summon. Or so he tried to justify his decision to take Hugo with him. “Well then?” he eventually said directing his icy glare at the boy.
“I’d be glad to help you, sir,” responded Hugo, making use of his best manners, but his voice was slightly shaky. Relief washed through him and his posture relaxed. It seemed that Hermione and Draco wouldn’t find out about his journeys after all. With a curt nod, Lucius started walking up the road. The mist had partially cleared and if one looked up, some sun rays managed to penetrate through the heavy curtain and illuminate the day. Hugo followed Mr. Malfoy and smiled a little, an image which pleased Lucius, even though he would have never admitted it.
They walked in silence for most of the time. Lucius went in various shops and emporiums, buying several vials and objects which didn’t look like anything familiar to Hugo. In two or three of the shops that Lucius went in, Hugo was made to wait outside and when Malfoy senior would come back out, his face would regain the little bit of warmth that he allowed himself to show Hugo. The things that he bought would have definitely fitted into his cloak pocket, were he to place a shrinking charm on them. But Lucius insisted that such charms were for the careless and the lazy, since they had the ability to damage goods. And so Hugo’s hands became very useful, once the hours passed and the number of shops they visited increased to numbers that Hugo couldn’t keep a count of.
It is miraculous what little deeds can do with human beings, especially those who, like Hugo Weasley, are deprived of normalcy. On his own, Hugo would have never dared to walk inside any shop…but with Mr. Malfoy, it seemed that all the doors opened, even for someone like him. He inwardly laughed at the thought of Lucius Malfoy as his lucky charm, but the sharp look he got from the older man made the smile on his face disappear. Hugo once again had to remind himself to behave like a servant.
When they walked into the last shop for the day, however, Hugo’s servant mask fell off his face and shattered to pieces on the floor. His mouth opened very largely and he almost dropped all the goods that he had to hold. Lucius turned his back on the boy to hide a small, sincere smile. He had no idea that a book emporium would produce such reactions within the child. Hugo followed him like an obedient puppy through the various book stalls as Lucius picked up several volumes and newly published grimoires. Hugo did not pay particular attention at any of the titles…he was too engrossed in the smell of parchment and the dust particles that lifted themselves into the air, like fairies, each time Lucius would place a volume back on the shelf.
Eventually, they reached the till and Hugo’s eyes widened once more as Mr. Malfoy took out five gold galleons. The book keeper seemed utterly terrified of the platinum blond male who hovered over his desk and as they made their way towards the door, Hugo could hear the old man let out a sigh of relief. He barely even acknowledged the small and curious boy by Lucius’ side. Once outside of the book emporium, Lucius hastily handed five of the books for Hugo to hold. “Just one more stop,” he said and started to make his way to the stalls located by the edge of the forest, at the far end of the village. Hugo’s heart skipped a beat as the realization hit him: he would see Dawn Morgan again.
The dark haired young witch was arranging a couple of fidgeting blue cabbages on the stall. From the distance, Hugo could swear she threatened one of them with a sharp knife and in the blink of a second, the moving cabbage stood still. When Dawn finally looked up from what she was doing, Lucius Malfoy was already a few feet away from her stall. Her eyes widened when she saw Hugo walking behind the intimidating tall man, and for a moment, a flash of smile appeared upon her lips.
“Good morning Mr. Malfoy,” she said in a small voice. Lucius gave her a curt nod before starting to inspect the content of her stall. He frowned at the few things, perhaps comparing the Morgan merchandise with the neatly packed ones in the Diagon Alley Potions Emporium.
“Hello,” said Hugo, trying to maintain the balance of the objects that he was carrying.
“What are you doing here?” she asked, looking from Mr. Malfoy to him with suspicious eyes. “I didn’t know you worked for the Malfoys.” There was no sense of rigidity in her voice as she mentioned the name of “Malfoy”. Indeed, if Hugo recalled correctly the moment from earlier, she greeted Lucius with what seemed to be utter…respect.
“My mother and I…we are employed by them,” he said, rather embarrassed as he scratched his left ear. Dawn said nothing, but continued staring at Hugo.
“So you lied to me,” she eventually said, a frown forming from her soft features.
“About what?” asked Hugo slightly puzzled. This only made Dawn’s frown deepen. “I thought you said you went to Hogwarts,” she said but without looking at him. Her pale hands were busy arranging some lavender leaves.
A fire became bigger within Hugo, fueled by her words if they were oxygen. It wasn’t exactly that he was angry or upset. He felt mildly irritated at Dawn’s words; they stabbed him in a different way than pain and anger. There was something about Dawn that he liked and yet he felt as if she were not a person that he had to justify himself to. He was ashamed that he felt slightly…superior to her. He couldn’t quite pinpoint why. When he spoke, his words were sharp as a dagger. He would later regret his sharp outburst, but right then, Hugo felt slightly relieved.
“No I didn’t…I just didn’t contradict you when you assumed I did.” Dawn did not reply, but Hugo went on, as if speaking more to himself than to her. “It just seemed like a nicer way to end our first conversation…you assuming that I went to Hogwarts. That my life was mildly interesting. But I guess you are right; I should have contradicted you. I shouldn’t pretend to be someone I’m not.” He took a few steps towards Dawn, whose dark deer-like eyes were once again upon his face, her gaze softer than before. “Hello Dawn. My name is Hugo and I am a servant at Malfoy Manor. How are you today?”
Dawn opened her mouth to say something but words did not have time to come out because Lucius Malfoy’s hand came upon Hugo’s shoulder and in a hard voice he said: “Come, we’re going.” Dawn lowered her eyes, mumbled a have a good day and as the two made their way towards the main road of Wiltshire, her eyes burned upon Hugo’s back.
Lucius cast Hugo inquiring looks throughout the journey back to the manor. The boy seemed troubled, wound up in his own mind, holding on to the books that Lucius had brought as if for dear life. He had not been near enough to hear more than random snippets of the boy’s conversation with the Morgan child, however he could tell from his tone when talking to the girl that it had not exactly been a pleasant exchange. They continued the rest of the journey in silence, Hugo too caught up in his own thoughts to do more than acknowledge the dark presence before him. And yet as the Manor started appearing in the distance, Hugo’s blurred refuge of thoughts started disappearing and sharp reality hit in: the day trip was over and he had wasted the last part of it by acting like dumb pair of gluteal muscles towards Dawn Morgan. And now Hugo was beginning to be filled with dread at the thought that he idiotically pushed away his only chance at making a normal friend. He hated himself more than ever for letting his emotions override his rationale and he swore under his breath in much the same way that he overheard Draco say it.
“I beg your pardon?” Hugo stopped rather abruptly as they reached the main gates of Malfoy Manor, having forgotten that Lucius had been next to him the whole time.
“Puck…I just said Puck…as in…err….the character from Midsummer’s Night Dream. Shakespeare.” Lucius raised his eyebrows at the child. He wasn’t aware of Draco’s possession of muggle fiction.
“Don’t make me order a house elf to wash your mouth with soap, boy,” he said in a harsh tone followed by a smirk at the socked look Hugo cast him. The youth mumbled a small apology and cast his eyes upon the approaching manor.
They made it to the small drawing room in silence. Hugo was carrying the leather bound volumes that Lucius had acquired in his hands, wishing to prolong the feeling of being in fake possession of such knowledge. But then Malfoy senior’s harsh, deep voice brought him back to reality.
“That would be all. You are dismissed.” He made a gesture for the boy to hand him the books. The black leather gloved hands were rather intimidating. However when Hugo extended the volumes towards the older man, Lucius took them all except one. Then he immediately turned on his heels and started walking away from Hugo.
“Sir, excuse me, err…”
Lucius stopped walking. He had already reached the doors and without turning around he said: “I don’t need that particular one.” Without another word he disappeared, leaving Hugo rather bewildered as he stared down at the book that Lucius did not need.
A Theory of Potions for Beginners
“It can’t be…” she said in a voice that did not quite belong to her. In a world ruled by Death Eaters, Rose learned not to be surprised at things as common as appearing ghosts, or how Harry Potter and Ron Weasley had been transformed from heroes into enemies who deserved their “cowardly” death. She ran a hand over her face and closed her eyes. When she opened them again, the ghost with round glasses and a lightning bolt scar was still there, still smiling. “Harry Potter?” she whispered in a small voice. The ghost nodded once. “But…but how?” she asked, taking a step towards him.
“There isn’t time to explain now,” Harry said looking towards the closed portrait of the Fat Lady. “I need you to listen carefully, Rose. A week from now, I want you to come to the Owlery at thirteen minutes past two a.m. Come alone and come quietly. Everything shall be revealed then.”
He sounded strange. No, not strange, but unfamiliar. Although Rose had been very little when uncle Harry and her father died, she still remembered the weekends when he would come and visit. And he never spoke in such a mechanical manner. It wasn’t particularly cold, but it just wasn’t uncle Harry’s voice. And yet still…the eyes looked warm and kind, behind the ghostly spectacles. They looked…green. And his smile was the same, yet it never disappeared. The ghosts of Hogwarts had all expressions of melancholy upon their faces, as if they all secretly fed in the Cave of Spleen. But Harry’s ghost seemed uncharacteristically cheerful, and the smile upon his face seemed to be permanently engraved, as if by a wood carver, for it never withered.
Could she take this chance? Getting caught would mean off the record torture, and she knew it. Maybe he wasn’t even real…maybe he wasn’t really Harry. Maybe he was a trap. But if he was not, then he was a chance. And Rose Weasley needed a chance more than anything. Anything that would break her away from the painful existence of a “stay invisible” self-made routine. She could not abandon this hope and as she stood all pensive in the middle of the common room, she felt long forgotten twinges of Gryffindor bravery rush adrenaline-infused blood through her veins. Her first instinct was to rush and tell Scorpius what she had discovered, but then she mentally slapped herself as Lysander’s face entered her mind. He was her boyfriend now. And yet still, she could not picture herself telling him such news. He had been behaving rather oddly lately, and she thus felt too insecure in their relationship to share Harry Potter’s ghost with him.
As if summoned, the portrait of the Fat Lady opened and Lysander Scamander walked into the common room looking a lot calmer than he did before. He even offered Rose a little smile which she did not return. Indeed, Rose appeared to be in a sort of trance and didn’t even flinch or blink as Lysander touched her arms. Eventually, she lifted her gaze to look at him, but her eyes were somewhere else. “I’m going to bed,” she said abruptly and without another word, disappeared up the staircase and into the girl’s dormitory. As she laid her head on the pillow, the longing she wished to subdue was growing despite the cage she placed it in. Oh dad, please come back to me as well.
The red haired witch started out of the window. And yet perhaps daydreamed is a better description, for her eyes focused on nothing in particular. The room she was in was empty, save for the neatly arranged suitcases by the door. They dared leave nothing behind, not even the furniture, not even the dust. Nothing that could give clues as to what they were planning to do. Nothing that could reveal their identities. And in the world in which they lived, even dust had unwelcoming eyes.
It was nearly dawn and they had to start making a move. The forest was looming large and dark before the small hut which she had for three whole years called home, offering the protection of elder trees and moss and dark shadows. The forest would act as a chameleonic veil; for once again in her life she would walk in with one identity and come out a completely different person. Each time leaving a little bit of her true self behind…ultimately forgetting the person she started out as. It was easier for them, for they were younger. The past may have inflicted deep wounds, but time had been kind with them…time had allowed them to forget, even if just a little. But for her, who had lived before it all went wrong and twisted, before the carnage no longer surprised people, before the Dark Regime became mundane, for her this was still painful. It was painful because no matter how strong she remained, she could never be strong enough without him.
From across the room, the children watched their mother’s petite figure. Her red hair still had the luminance they remembered from their early childhood, even when sprinkled with a little grey at the side. There were no wrinkles at the side of her eyes, no smile lines acting as a parenthesis to her mouth. She seemed deadly serious, and her dark green robes added to this first impression of her. But although this might be the way a stranger would perceive her, Albus, James and Lily knew for sure that when Ginny opened her mouth, the softest, most encouraging voice would come out. Apart for when she commanded Albus to brush his teeth every night and when she scolded Lily for charming her hair pitch black. Then she had been fierce, much like they remembered nana Molly to be.
Feeling James’s interrogative eyes upon her, Ginny turned her head to face them, attempting to offer the youngsters much needed encouragement. But only a half-smile had the strength to appear on her pale face and her eyes looked down at the well-polished floor for a few moments. “We’ll find home again,” she finally said when regaining her voice. Lily rolled her eyes saying, “But I liked it here!”
“I know honey, but we have to move on. You know that we cannot stay in one place for too long,” said Ginny in a soothing voice, but the eyebrows of the young witch before her grew increasingly together. “So we’ll keep running for the rest of our lives?” she said her voice getting louder.
“We run until we can fight. And we fight until it’s over,” said Ginny taking a step towards her daughter. “That’s what dad would have wanted us to do…”
“I hardly remember dad, so I don’t give a shit what he would have wanted us to do. This is my life too and frankly, mum, I don’t want to run anymore.” It was James that slapped the back of her head, rather hard.
“Never talk like that about dad!” he said in a deadly, poisonous voice. Lily looked up at him with pure hate.
“Come on James, you must think this too…what if it’s never over?” she said in an equally deadly voice.
“Then we die fighting!” he snapped. “We’re not giving up. Not to them.”
“I think we’ll die running, not fighting. I’d rather die now if life means we’ll hide in different places with no interactions!” she spat and stormed out of the hut, past her mum and towards the forest. Her unnatural dark hair loomed over her like a veil of angry melancholy.
“She’ll get over it,” said Albus in a calm voice. “Lily’s such a drama queen!”
“She’s just upset,” said Ginny in a soft voice, going after her daughter. James and Albus followed closely behind and the luggage floated obediently after them. The dusk air was clogged with humidity and the grey clouds ahead made the probability of rain very likely. The cottage in which the Potters had lived for three years was becoming smaller and smaller in the background of a blurry past, and it was soon lost behind all the branches and lichens at the entrance of the forest. While Albus leisurely watched the wildlife, stopping a few seconds at every interesting insect he found before James tugged him along, the latter walked nervously ahead, expecting every bush to pose a major threat. It was only the sight of Ginny and Lily holding hands that comforted him a little, and he felt that for that night, they may just be okay.
A new era had started.
He was just standing there, tall and dark when she came out of the bathroom. She was hardly startled, for it was customary of Draco Malfoy to creep on her like that, and before their previous encounter she had loved such surprises. But now a lump formed in her throat and Hermione wanted nothing more than to just return to the bathroom and flush herself down the toilet. “What do you want?” she asked in a voice full of defensive acrimony.
He said nothing for a while, but simply made his way towards the window, looking out at the grey sky before turning to burn her with his icy stare. “I will make arrangements for you and your son to be transferred to a different house to live and work,” he said in a robotic fashion. When Hermione said nothing, he continued. “There is an old aunt of mine living in the north. She is partially blind a deaf and the housel elves cannot deal with such a big mansion alone. You will be safe there. She hardly leaves her room and nobody would ever suspect her of having non-pure blood servants. If the arrangements run accordingly, you shall be gone within a week,” he finished and showed no emotions when her eyes filled with tears and her hands became fists.
“You can’t do this,” she said in a weak voice. “Draco, you can’t do this to me.”
“Can I not? I fail to see an alternative.”
“I can’t marry you,” she said as the tears finally fell on her jaundiced cheeks. “Draco, I…”
“Yes, you have made that quite clear. You also mentioned that we should break whatever we have off. This is the only way. Don’t you see? I am intoxicated. While you are in the house I cannot do anything but hate you for refusing me. I do not understand you, I do not want to. I want whatever is left of my life back and in order for that to happen you have to leave,” he said almost aggressively, taking a step towards her.
“You have to understand that no one could ever replace Ron for me,” she said regaining her ground. “You had to understand that from the very beginning…it should have gone without saying…”
“I know that. I never asked to replace the father of your children. Never!” he reiterated. “But I could have loved you too, maybe not like him, but I could have been there for you. I could have protected you and Hugo and Rose. It would have been the healthy thing to do…to move on. Hermione it’s been eight years since Weasley died! You have to let go, and if you can’t do that here, then perhaps it would be better for us both if you went away and we never saw one another again.”
“You never let one finish, do you?” asked Hermione with a sad half smile.
“Pardon?” he asked rather confused as she sat down on the bed, looking out of the window.
“I didn’t refuse you because of Ron,” she said after a painful sight. “The healthy thing to do…” she repeated his words in a small laugh. “Is there anything healthy about this world anymore?” She finally looked at him and for the first time in his blinded love, her dark eye bags and slim figure started gaining a different meaning. A meaning which had been unobvious to him before for he had always dismissed them as signs of fatigue.
“What are you talking about?” he asked approaching her.
“Oh Draco…how do you want me to move on when I’m running out of time to even take a step forward? You’ve been so kind to me…but it would be easier for you to lose me as a lover than as a wife.”
“You’re lying!” he exclaimed and sat down next to her. In one swift movement he placed both his hands over her cheeks, dragging her into a hungry kiss. “You’re lying,” he repeated in a soft voice as if telling her a tale of love. Hermione gave him a sad smile that confirmed his fears. “Hermione you’re not just my lover….you’re my everything! I will fix you, just let me know what’s wrong. I will get the best healers…please don’t look at me like that!”
“Shh…”she said soothingly. “I’ll be your wife this evening. Just lie down with me for a bit.” Draco hugged her close to him as the bed welcomed them like long lost lovers. “Never leave me! Do you understand? Never…” he whispered as he held her tighter. “I need you near me Hermione Granger.”
“Malfoy,” she corrected before falling into a disturbed sleep as Draco Malfoy held her tight. He smiled a little before dosing off next to her frail body. It pained him greatly for he felt her to be older than she was biologically. Older than his ancient aunt far north.
When Draco awoke from his slumber the room was decidedly darker. He had been lying on his side with Hermione in his arms for such a long time that he felt rigid and numb. Caressing her face, she felt unnaturally cold, colder than death itself and when he tried to move her arm a little, he found it to be very stiff. “I’ll warm you up,” he whispered soothingly, but his voice broke a little. “I’ll keep you safe,” he continued rocking her to and fro for hours and hours until the coldness of the night was shattered by the dawn. And it was only when the sunrays bathed the room in a warm glow that Hermione moved a little and offered Draco the small smile that he had been waiting for the entire night. Without that smile one could have easily pronounced Hermione Weasley dead.
Rose couldn’t particularly sleep that night. She tossed and turned in bed, counted sheep, even tried reading her History of Magic manual, but sleep was determined not to embrace her so she gave up. There was a rather unpleasant feeling in her stomach and her brain felt overworked, for ever since she encountered Harry’s ghost, she replayed every detail in her mind to the point of incoherency. She was now not even sure she saw Harry at all. What if it was all in her mind? What if she was slowly going insane? On and on she went off in a tangent until the dormitory…no…the entire Gryffindor Common Room became stuffy and unbearable. It was the fresh, pensive air of the Owlery that she needed, and as swiftly as quietly as she could, she made her way out of the girls’ dormitory, half expecting to still find Lysander as she left him in the communal area. But of course he wasn’t there and Rose tried to ignore the relief that washed through her. She wished he had the same calming effect that Scorpius had on her. She wished she could just see him and feel infinitely better. But right at that moment, the solitude of the dark Owlery combined with the adrenaline of getting caught was immensely more exhilarating.
Rose tried avoiding all the corridors where she knew teachers patrolled at night. Whenever she heard a noise, she would hide behind a pillar like a guilty escaping convict…for Hogwarts felt more and more like a prison each day, suffocating the life out of everyone that didn’t take the chance to escape, even for a few minutes at night. And yet she made it to the Owlery, climbing all the way up to the top where the owls were so used to her presence that they hardly acknowledged her. Rose sat in her customary spot and looked at the sky for a moment, but the stars were hidden beneath a veil of dark, smog like clouds about to pour a viscous rain. Indeed, the night was so dark that she could hardly make out her own hand in front of her, let alone the tall figure standing broodingly not far behind.
“Rose?” came a whisper from behind.
“Lumos,” she exclaimed startled and nearly blinded Scorpius Malfoy who covered his face with his hands. He too was in his pajamas. He too was barefoot despite the coldness. But he had been slower than her in drawing his wand. A rush of relief came upon them both at the realization that their midnight escapades remained safe from the hungry eyes of Death Eaters. “What are you doing here?” she said in a cold voice, yet a cold voice that did not deny pleasure in seeing him.
“I could ask you the same questions,” he said in a composed voice resembling that of his father. Rose scoffed and, half ignoring him, she sat down in her customary spot, watching the viscous sky. “You know this is my place of refuge,” she said.
“Don’t see your name written on it,” he shot back as he sat down next to her with a half smirk. Oh how he loved winding her up. She didn’t have the energy to start a battle of words with him, so for a few minutes they just sat there in silence, trying not to show one another the forbidden pleasure they both felt.
“It was Blackwell, by the way,” started Scorpius in a small voice. “He gave me the bruise you inquired about.”
“I know.” Rose’s voice was warmer than she wanted it to be, but she did not mentally slap herself this time, for she felt Scorpius’s body softening next to her. And despite all the hurt that he had caused her, she still inwardly smiled at the comfort she made him feel. “You should tell your father,” she continued in an attempt to right whatever small thing she could.
“No,” he replied in his customary defensive voice. “He has enough on his mind.”
“You’re more important to him than anything that might be on his mind.” Scorpius snorted and even Rose only half believed her own statement. It was true that Draco Malfoy loved Scorpius more than anything, but not even she could deny the fact that he had been extremely distracted by life’s queries lately. And so had her mother.
“I don’t want to give Blackwell the satisfaction,” said Scorpius and Rose had the immediate feeling that he was trying to appear older and stronger than he actually was. “You know how powerful he is…dad would not really stand much of a chance.”
“True,” said Rose and another moment of heavy silence followed at the acknowledgement of their own doom. They heard the fluttering of heavy wings in the distance, but could not see anything before them. The creatures felt peaceful and yet at the same time angry, as if carrying a thousand dead people’s burdens on their shoulders. But if the two youngsters looked diligently enough they could almost make out shining white orbs. And if they looked closely enough at those orbs, they could almost make out the faces of those that died before them.
Rose felt the little hairs on her arms stand up and chills ran down her spine like serpents. Despite not being there when her father had been killed, she could still make out his lifeless features. And it was a painfully clear image enclosed in those white Thestral orbs. Ron’s ghastly face disappeared and was replaced by the young face of the muggle born boy that accidentally died during the Sorting Ceremony in her second year. And she knew that Scorpius saw him too, for he stiffened next to her and she could almost hear his eyebrows drawing together into an angry frown.
But soon enough the Thestrals disappeared further north into the night, allowing Rose and Scorpius to fall back into a slightly less relaxed silence. But the silence became violent and soon enough, Scorpius could not stand it anymore.
“It’s your turn. I told you about my bruise. What’s your secret?”
There was something about the warmth of his body that made her want to open up. She could have easily told him about the ghost of Harry Potter…she could have easily told him that she still wanted to be with him, more than anything. But she did not. Instead, she opened her mouth but no words came out and she only looked at him with unnaturally shining eyes.
So he leaned forward and kissed her mouth, and before she could register and account for her actions, she responded, her hands escaped in his un-kept golden mane as he dragged her closer by the waist and the kiss only intensified. It was Lysander Scamander’s smiling face appearing in her mind that slapped her across the face with a wet, stinking fish.
“I can’t,” she whispered, abruptly breaking the kiss and standing up. ‘I can’t,” she repeated and stormed out of the Owlery before Scorpius got the chance to say anything.
Rose carelessly ran down corridors and veered left and right unthinkingly. She was not even going towards the Common Room, not even towards Gryffindor Tower. The only thing she could coherently focus on was Scorpius’s kiss and Harry Potter’s ghost. She could see nothing before her eyes and it was only when she bumped hard into another body that reality hit her. She mentally murdered herself for having been so careless, for right there in front of her, wearing an extremely angry mask, stood a murderously frowning Professor Jugson.
A/N. Feel free to hate me. It has been over a year since I last posted, so I would not be surprised if there are no readers left for this story. Anyway, my only excuse is to have lived with a Dementor for the past 12 months or so, which has annoyingly given me the longest writer's block I ever had. I think you understand what I mean. Anyway, if you do read this chapter, my biggest thanks are with you for sticking with Roses Grow at Malfoy Manor for so lonf. Revies would be greatly appreciated as always.
I hope you enjoyed this chapter. I will stat working on Chapter 16 today and aim to update regularly from now.
Merope :) (June 11th 2013)
P.S. Please exuse any mistakes you find in this. I will come back to edit, but I couldn't wait to post again.
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