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Chapter 23 : Love rule #22
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Love rule #22 - There's always hope or chocolate, which is almost the same thing
“Rose? Are you awake, chicken?”
I woke up with a start, disorientated by the plush bed and lack of bars on the window. I was alone, and a blush rose in my cheeks when I remembered the night before. A sense of déjà vu overcame me, and I supressed a sleepy, hysterical giggle. Scorpius had been in my bed, and now he was gone. Definitely a blessing, considering that my parents were waiting outside to see me.
“Oh, move over Ronald! Rose Weasley, you open the door this instant!” There was a pounding on the door, and I sat up. Were they somehow incapable of opening the door themselves, or was this some kind of torture?
Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I stumbled across to the door. Excited at seeing my parents for the first time in a while, I conveniently forgot that I wasn’t currently winning the ‘number one daughter’ award.
“Dad!” I gasped, opening the door. I stood in the doorway dressed only in my pyjamas, and there was a moment of silence as they studied me. Then a grin broke across Dad’s face, and he crushed me against his chest in the loveliest cuddle he’d ever given me. There was a small “Ahem!” after several long moments, and I quickly disentangled myself from Dad.
“Mum!” I cried, throwing myself at her. She caught me in a startled hug, and with a pang I noted that it had been a long while since I’d last shown Mum affection. She let me go and held me at arm’s length, once again studying me.
“Great! Beautiful! My Rose is back!” Dad crowed, spinning me back into his arms. I noticed how strong he was standing, not even supported by his walking stick. I grinned up at him before resting my head on his shoulder, breathing in his unique smell of pudding and broomstick polish. In that brief moment, fear clouded my mind. ‘My Rose is back’ could only mean one thing – I was fat again.
Mum seemed to have noted Dad’s comment, because she rushed to assure me, “You’re still very small, Rose. Come on, we have a lot of talking to do.”
I was dragged back into the room I’d slept in, and Dad followed, smiling sheepishly at me. He closed the door and I sat on the edge of the bed, smiling happily. The smile lasted until Mum opened her mouth.
“Explain yourself,” she said flatly, crossing her arms. Our happy reunion was clearly in the past, and I wondered what important meeting I’d disturbed by making a break for it and disrupting all our lives. I’d long ago learnt that the house elves were paid more attention to by my mother than me and Hugo.
“I couldn’t do it,” I said, suddenly interested in the hem of my pyjama shorts, “It was one of the most awful places I’ve ever been in.”
“You’ve never been a quitter before,” Mum noted, and I was so shocked that I could hardly speak.
“What?” I managed to get out, “This isn’t about quitting! It isn’t about not wanting to eat! Leaving that place is about preserving my mental health, and to now help all of the other girls in there!”
There was an awkward silence, and then Dad said, “I think what your mum’s trying to say chicken, is that we expected a bit more from you. You should have at least tried to stay longer.”
I was shocked into silence once more, and started to stand up to leave.
“We’re far from finished here,” Mum warned, and I wondered if we were about to have an actual, real fight. I’d been a relatively easy teenager up until the voices in my head started. Weeks of repressed anger was suddenly making itself known, and it rose in my chest like a tidal wave. The sneering looks from the matrons, the leers from Trumpleton, the stark white corridors and sheets. The unsaid words between Scorpius and I. The looks of disappointment both of my parents were currently giving me. They hadn’t lived it, and now they weren’t even trying to understand.
“I think that you’ll find that I’m finished here. And by the way, I missed you too,” I said coolly, opening the door and slamming it shut behind me.
And to think that I’d been looking forward to seeing my parents.
“Whoah there, angry girl,” a voice murmured in my ear as I stalked down the hallway. An arm hooked around my waist and I was suddenly jerked against Scorpius’ chest. Any rude or sneering comments that I was ready to make disappeared as I felt him against me, confusing and warm and oh so cute.
“Get off me!” I hissed, pushing away. I had no right to feel so happy when he was nearby, no right to let him touch me. I was fat, and insignificant, and worthless –
“Hey, hey!” he interrupted my struggling, holding my hands pinned to my sides, “It’s okay Rose. Calm down, yeah?”
When I still tried to silently fight him off, he pulled me against him in my second crushing hug of the morning. The fight left me, and all I felt was numb. How could my parents think so little of me? I clung to him for a few moments before taking a deep breath.
“Okay, okay, I’m fine,” I sighed, pushing away despite what my head and heart were screaming at me. He kept a hand on my shoulder, and I was pleased by our continued contact. It still muddled my brain to know that he was here, with me. I was going to spend the rest of my life repaying him for what he’d done for me.
“What happened?” he asked, pulling me into his room. Granny Tonks had plenty of spare room, always ready to welcome visitors.
“They don’t believe me when I say that I was in a bad place,” I groaned, fighting back tears.
“They’ll come around eventually.”
I raised my shoulders in a shrug. Standing opposite him, so close in the small room, was awkward. Silence descended over us, and I shifted uncomfortably. What could I say to him? There were so many things to apologise for, and yet so many things I wanted to demand answers to.
“Where’s Lucy?” I finally said, turning towards the door. He caught me again, pulling me back.
“She’s fine, she’s watching television. We already ate breakfast together.”
I stared at him, my mouth slightly open. Gratitude filled my heart, and I tried to express it. He waved away my thanks.
“She’s a good kid, you know? I want to help her too.” He shrugged, and I threw my arms around his neck. He clung onto me, our first true embrace without me being hysterical, and didn’t let go for a long while. He was warm, and smelt good, and his arms around my waist were just perfect.
“Thanks, I guess,” I murmured when I finally pulled away. My full bladder gave a stab, and I became uncomfortably aware of my pyjamas and bed hair. This time when I tried to flee, he didn’t stop me.
I ate my breakfast after my shower, letting Dad’s unintentionally triggering words spiral through my mind. Lucy sat next to me on the couch, watching the muggle cartoons with a small smile on her face. That little smile got me through the bowl of cereal and piece of fruit. Teddy was at work, and Granny Tonks was working in her magically-expanded greenhouse in the garden.
“I’m going to go for a walk, okay? Can you tell anyone looking for me that I’ll be back in half an hour?”
She barely spared me a nod, too interested in the colours on the television, and I smiled a very small smile. I’d make a real kid of her in no time at all. I pulled on my coat and shoved my feet into my boots, shutting the front door quietly. All I wanted was some time alone to think, to get my head back on straight; the walk was nothing to do with wanting to burn calories, although the thought did briefly cross my mind.
A flicker of movement caught my eye as I walked down the front steps, and I looked through the window to see Scorpius watching me. I blushed and held my hand up in an awkward wave. He grinned back and waved back. His smile made my stomach do flips, which didn’t bode well for the breakfast I’d just eaten. I shook my head and stamped my way through the snow to the road.
When I at last felt relatively calm again, I headed back to the house. It was time to face the music, and sort everything out once and for all. I was physically and mentally sick of all the drama, and I had no one to blame it on but myself.
Voices were coming from the kitchen, the epicentre for any Weasley-related family, and I resigned myself as I pulled my winter coverings back off. Pushing the kitchen door open, I was met with silence. Mum and Dad had untouched, steaming cups of tea in front of them, Granny Tonks was nibbling on a biscuit, and Lucy and Scorpius were playing exploding snap on the floor. My eyes went straight to my parents as I tried to ignore the blonde boy looking after the tiny girl, both people who had well and truly stolen my heart.
My parents stood up from the table, looks of shame on both of their faces. Dad’s fists were opening and closing, a sure sign that he was livid. Papers from my file were spread across the tea and biscuits, and I looked away. I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted to share what was in there with the two people who doubted me the most. Maybe I wasn’t as ready to talk about it as I thought I was.
“Chicken…” Dad started, but broke off when his voice cracked.
“Darling,” Mum took over, “We’re so sorry.”
My eyes settled on Scorpius, and the look he sent my way gave me the courage to endure the coming talk. It had to be done, and we both knew it. He quietly gathered the exploding snap cards, and Lucy followed him into the lounge room. Granny Tonks occupied herself by making me a cup of tea before she left too, and I finally looked at Mum.
“Sorry for what?” I was feeling vindictive and childishly wanted to make them squirm.
“For not listening to you.”
“For not giving you the full support that you deserve. It's clear from this file that you've been through hell and back, and we haven't been there for you.”
There was a silence, and then I nodded.
“You owe us an apology too,” Dad prompted, and I sighed.
“Apology accepted, as heartfelt as I doubt it was. We need to talk about what to do now,” Dad said, his glares almost burning holes through the papers from my file.
“I want to go back to school,” I begged.
“I want you to be able to focus on yourself for a while,” Mum said.
“I want to punch this bloody sodding idiot in the face,” Dad growled, glaring at Trumpleton’s signature in front of him. The contents of my file, namely Trumpleton's letter to Avery, had clearly ruffled Dad's feathers rather severely.
“Gee Dad,” I sighed, gulping down some scalding tea, “Because that will really improve the situation.”
Mum looked exasperated. “I think what your father is trying to say is, Trumpleton needs to be dealt with, and by adults. No,” she said, holding up a hand to forestall my interruption, “I’m serious, Rose Weasley. This whole situation has escalated out of control, and it’s beyond time for it to be put to rest. We all want to get on with our lives.”
No thanks to you, Rose, was the heavy, unspoken thought, and my mood plummeted. “What about Lucy?” I whispered.
“She’s part of the situation, and she will be dealt with accordingly.”
“There’s no need to sound so cold about it. She’s just a kid, she needs to be looked after.”
Mum slammed her hand down on the table, causing papers to flutter to the ground and tea to slosh over the sides of our mugs. “You need to be looked after too, Rose! Everything that we do is for your benefit, and you keep trying to find ways to disrupt that. We know that you've been through so much, as has Lucy, but we'll look after everything. That's a promise. But we need you to just stop, okay? It’s time for all of this to stop.”
Tears were rapidly clouding my vision, and I let my head sink in shame. Of course she was right. “I was going to send a letter to Aunty Luna and her magazine about Trumpleton,” I whispered, and this time it was Dad who made the noise of disproval.
“See? This is the point exactly. Where did this drama come from, kiddo? What were you planning on doing, a behind-the-scenes exposé on the ‘horrors of Mungos’? This is a legal matter, not a sodding circus.”
When I didn’t say anything, there was a collective sigh from both of my parents.
There was an awkward silence before Mum spoke again. “We’ve been in contact with Minerva this morning. She said she’d be glad to welcome you back, but only if you undertake mandatory weekly counselling with Amethyst Lewis and follow a strict eating plan. If Hogwarts is where you want to be, we can make that happen.”
I still said nothing, for it was clear nothing was expected from me but full co-operation. It was frustrating and upsetting to say the least; for weeks now, I’d been a role model and helper for all the girls in the ward, and now I was a naughty child being chided by my parents. I think what grated the most was that, although I did think I deserved some credit for what I had endured for so long, I also knew that the wrongs outweighed the rights.
“We just want you to get better, chicken.”
I drained my tea and then finally looked up. “Is that all?” My voice was meant to be cold, but instead it held a pathetic waiver. There were nods from my parents, and I pushed my chair back. “Let me know when you’re leaving, then.”
They said their goodbyes through the door when I wouldn’t open it. I was going to Hogwarts the next morning, and they were going to visit in the afternoon to make sure everything was settled. After our conversation in the kitchen, Lucy was taken to her aunt. We had the briefest goodbye, and then she was gone. My only consolation was that she seemed genuinely happy to be seeing her aunt once more.
“Rose?” came a voice and a knock. This time it was Teddy, home from work. I wondered what Scorpius was doing and where he was.
“Will you let me in?”
“Once, the phrase ‘I have chocolate frogs’ would be enough to get you to do anything. Does it still work now?” He sounded so unsure, so concerned, that I got up and opened the door. A grin broke across his face, and he held out a bag. “I come in peace.”
“If you come bearing chocolate, you’re welcome anywhere,” I said, standing back to let him in.
“I’m glad that not everything has changed, then.”
We sat on the edge of the bed, and I looked at him. “What are you here for, then?”
“The pleasure of your company. And a hug,” he said, doing so. I clung on to him for a long time, until my belly rumbled and we broke apart, laughing.
“You said chocolate frogs?” I asked hopefully, rummaging through the bag he’d given me. It was actually so nice, looking forward to eating something. Perhaps it was because I hadn’t eaten lunch that day, but I was really hungry and ready to eat for once.
Once I had devoured several frogs, I lay back on the bed and sighed. “Everything is shit, isn’t it Ted.”
“No, not really,” he mused, lying down next to me, “I’m getting married soon.” The happiness in his voice was beautiful, and it gave me hope that something would make me blissfully happy one day too.
“I thought I was meant to be a bridesmaid.”
“We wanted you to be, but then we didn’t want to burden you.”
“I’m going to be a bridesmaid,” I said determinedly, and Teddy laughed, “You can’t exclude me from your wedding, you’re like my brother.”
“A brother you haven’t spoken to at all in the last half a year,” he said reproachfully, and I sighed.
“I’m sorry, I really am. Like I said, everything is shit. Mum and Dad were really mad...” I trailed off, not wanting my voice to break.
"I think they're just a bit confused. Try to put yourself in their shoes, how would you be feeling right now? Probably shocked that your daughter was treated so awfully in a place she was meant to be safe."
I shrugged moodily. "Whatever. They could have been nicer."
“Now you’re just throwing yourself a pity party. Want some more chocolate frogs? I can put some music on, really get this party started,” he jested, and then turned serious. “But honestly? Life is as shit as you make it, Rose. Glass half empty, full, all that jazz.”
“My glass has nothing in it.”
“Air is something.”
“Is that a metaphor that I’m not following?”
“No, it’s science.”
“No. You know we all believe in you, yeah? No matter how much you scare us, or annoy us, or make us angry. You’re always our little Rose, and you’re always going to push through. Your parents said some harsh things today, but they’re also right. You need to grow up a bit, stop dramatizing everything. And start eating.”
“You think so?” I said, voice wobbling for the zillionth time that day.
“I know so, Rose Weasley.”
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