Chapter 15 : Grounded
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For Pottergirl7 and ohmymerlin for the Dobby noms for this story. It means a lot!
The list of things I absolutely did not need at this moment:
The latticework frame to fall, crashing to the ground behind me.
The noise waking Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy.
Mr. Malfoy getting out of bed to check the window to see what happened.
Me clinging to the outside of said window.
I looked to my left and right. To the right was nothing now that the lattice was gone. The next window was at least five meters away and was for the guest bedroom. There was no chance of me making that jump. To the left was the porch overhang, but it wasn’t exactly close. In my head, I’d planned to force a bit of the siding away from the house with my wand (currently housed in my mouth), but there was no time for that. I could hear the bed creak as Mr. Malfoy went to check on the noise.
I should have stayed in bed.
“Do you think someone’s robbing us?” Mrs. Malfoy asked. “Sounded like someone loading things into the back of a pickup.”
And now I was a robber. Shit.
I sank midway down the window, thankful it was dark and the woods would shield my frame. I snuck across the bottom, fingers tight to the top of the window for balance. The Malfoys were still talking and I heard Mr. Malfoy say something about getting a bat or a sledgehammer. Yes, that was what I needed.
Once on the side, I stared at the distance between the window and the ledge. If I didn’t move, the moment Mr. Malfoy came to the window he would see me. Even if he didn’t light his wand, being that near would show the pattern in Scorpius’ hoodie and he would hear my own too-heavy breathing. From bloody terror. Then he would probably mistake me for a serial murderer and off me right there. I didn’t blame him. I’d expect Dad to off anyone crawling along windowsills.
“Well, go on and check,” Mrs. Malfoy said. “I’ll get the pepper spray.”
“I’m going.” He was shuffling along the carpet.
It was now or never.
I crouched low and launched myself from the sill, clenching my teeth so my wand didn’t fall. I reached out, searching for the ledge of the overhang and slapped the shingles. They were slippery. Why were they slippery?
My legs didn’t make the jump, but my hands caught the very edge of the porch overhang.
I was hanging off the porch. By my fingers.
“The latticework frame fell,” Mr. Malfoy said from the window. I could see the light from his wand on the ground below. “Must have been a cat or something.”
Yes. Cat. It was definitely a cat.
My arms were burning. I tried to grab further up, but my hands kept slipping. There was nothing to grab onto and my legs dangled toward the grass below. If I didn’t hate working out I could have just hoisted myself up onto the overhang with no difficulties. However, I never even managed a pull-up when James taunted me over the summer. Thankfully, neither did Al but that wasn’t the point. The point was I was sodding dangling from a damn porch roof!
I dug my fingernails into the shingles and pulled myself a little higher. I could feel the gutter cutting my forearm. Okay. Plan. I needed a plan.
I began to swing back and forth like I’d seen on the Muggle movies. My leg missed the first few times, but finally I got my right foot wedged into the gutter and was able to get a better handle on the shingles to pull myself up a little. Then my left foot. It took about ten minutes, but finally I managed to get my entire body on the overhang without dying.
I pressed my face against it, letting out several long breaths. After this, I was going to start working out. Weights and everything. This was absurd for a vacation.
My knees ached as I crawled along the overhang, careful to stay well below the other two windows connected to the master bedroom. I knew the Malfoys were still awake and the last thing I wanted them to see was a shadow move along their window from the light down below. Damn you, porch light. I took a moment to look around in the grass, but saw no beasts or wolves or tigers. No sighting of what had made that distinct growl. I really needed to be informed on what was in the woods before I go on vacation in the middle of the mountains.
I sat up, peering at Scorpius’ window. It, of course, was the only one not open. Either he was sweating or hogging the air conditioning. I groaned and placed my hands at the bottom, pulling up.
It was also locked.
“You have got to be bloody kidding me,” I muttered, letting out a disgruntled sigh before remembering Scorpius’ parents.
I did not climb up a lattice frame to go home without seeing this stupid, injured boy.
Biting my lip, I rapped my knuckles very gently on the glass. The last thing I wanted was for Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy to hear some creep knocking on their son’s window. I wondered if they had a shotgun. I hoped to never find out.
I knocked again. Come on, Scorpius. Don’t do this. No answer. I squinted, trying to see if the curtains were open, but the glare from the light made it nearly impossible for me to see anything inside the dark room. Come on. Come on.
Another tiny knock. Another. A little bit louder after listening to make sure no one else had heard me. I timed it carefully with a few owls hooting in the distance. Should have been a fireworks display I could have timed it with.
I heard a nearby owl and then knocked a little harder, careful to quit when the owl did.
I slid a little away from the window and peered out over the front lawn. I’d have to get down somehow, though I assumed climbing down would be much easier as the drop wouldn’t be quite as bad. I could slide off the edge, hold on again with my hands, and then drop into the garden where the dirt would be softer (apologies to the orchids).
Then I could be home in time to get a few hours of sleep before waking up early for a shower and the pretend smile of a well-rested evening.
I jumped, catching myself before I toppled off the side of the overhang. I spun around. The window was cracked and I could just barely make out Scorpius’ face behind it.
“Surprise?” I said with a half-smile.
He opened the window all the way and took a moment to pop out the screen, pulling it inside. “It’s the middle of the night.”
“Is it?” I asked. It was. I was on his roof in the middle of the night. In his sweatshirt. I just then realized what a crazy girl I must look like.
He jerked his head toward the house. “Get in here,” he said. “I’m not even supposed to be up.” He was smiling.
I crawled in through the window and closed it behind me. He moved toward the bed and flipped on the lamp, watching me.
Scorpius didn’t look much better, but I reminded myself it hadn’t even been an entire day. He was still pale, though he wasn’t attached to the contraptions anymore and he was in fresh pajamas to cover up his scratches and the wound on his arm, though I could see the beige bandage poking out of the end of his white t-shirt.
“I’m sorry,” I said, apologizing in advance because I could think of nothing better to do than throw my arms around him. He winced at first, but pulled me close, his fingers clutching the back of my sweatshirt tight. I buried my face in his chest, heart racing because of how worried I’d been about him. My panic when Dad woke me. Tearing through the trees. Seeing the blood on the leaves under him. The lifelessness of his body was I levitated him back to his house.
We stood there for a while, clinging to each other. I didn’t want to move. I didn’t want to let him go.
“You found me,” Scorpius said after a while, kissing the top of my head.
“You were at the bottom of a hill,” I said, finally pulling away to look into his eyes. I couldn’t hide the terror in my own. What if I hadn’t gotten there? “Covered in blood.”
“I was,” Scorpius agreed. “After I tripped and fell I fractured my ankle and couldn’t walk. Then I got lightheaded and passed out.” He rubbed his lips together, keeping strangely calm.
I hadn’t paid much attention to the hill as I made my way down to investigate the noise, but I assumed branches were snapped in the path of his fall. He must have tripped near the top to fall that far.
“What happened?” I asked, dreading the answer once it came out.
Scorpius kissed my forehead. He sat back on the bed, scooting to lean against the headboard. Then he motioned for me to lay beside him and put his arm around me. “I got the pleasure of interacting with one of nature’s not-so-friendly animals,” he said.
“A tiger?” I guessed stupidly.
“A black bear,” Scorpius said, his nose wrinkling. “It wasn’t enormous, but it was crossing the creek right when I reached it and noticed me thanks to some unfortunate footfalls which cracked sticks. Must have been unlucky fishing or something.” He shrugged. “Went after me. I tried to hex it, but it was fast and swiped my wand, busting it in half, and getting my arm.” He nodded to the bandage. “So I took off, but bears are fast.”
I tried not to imagine the bear crashing through the woods behind Scorpius.
He tightened his grip on my shoulder. “I lost my footing at the top of the hill and fell. The bear didn’t follow. It was probably too steep.”
That growl. Was it a bear? Was I really that close to the creature that had injured Scorpius that bad? I shuddered and moved closer to him, stretching my arm over his torso and pressing my cheek to his chest.
“Lucky you found me,” Scorpius said.
“What if I hadn’t?”
“But you did.” He kissed the top of my head again. “And that’s that. Don’t think about what-ifs.”
I couldn’t help it. It was in my nature.
“Let’s celebrate,” said Scorpius and reached over to grab a plastic cup off his nightstand half-filled with what looked to be lukewarm water. “I’d like to make a toast.”
“About what?” I said, laughing a little as I straightened up.
“About being bloody rescued from the bottom of a hill,” he said, nudging me with his elbow. He raised the cup. “To Rose Weasley.” Scorpius brushed his thumb across my cheek and leaned in, pressing his lips to mine. “The bravest girl I know.”
We fell asleep in each others’ arms hours later after I explained what had happened up to that point, how I found him, and what happened after. He had very little memory of the day, but did recall the joke he made when I found him. I changed his bandage and snuck into the bathroom for more water before we snuggled under the blanket and finally drifted off around dawn.
I dreamt we were back at Hogwarts at the welcoming feast. He caught my eye from the Slytherin table. I smirked and waved before Dom starting telling me about the boy she snogged on the train who couldn’t possibly be a Gryffindor because Gryffindors kiss in a hungry, obsessive kind of way. The headmaster was pounding a gavel on the podium to quiet us. We stopped talking, but he kept pounding.
I jerked awake, realizing all too quick that was not a gavel and I was not at the welcoming feast.
It was morning and Scorpius’ parents were knocking at the door. Hard.
“Hell!” I whispered as Scorpius opened his eyes in a groggy way. It was cute, but there was no time to concentrate on that. I rolled off the side of the bed and onto the floor, scooting under it quickly. That was when I realized there were at least five to ten bruises on my legs and arms, complete with two minor scrapes on my arms to go with a cut on my shoulder.
And it hurt.
“Scorpius?” Mrs. Malfoy said. “The door is locked.”
Clearly Scorpius got with the program because he sat up and I heard his wand move from the bedside table. The door unlocked. “Sorry, Mum,” he said, yawning.
“How are you feeling today?” I watched her slippers cross the room.
“Better,” Scorpius replied.
“Did you get enough sleep?” she asked.
“I did, yes.”
She paused. “Where’s your new bandage?”
“I changed it last night,” Scorpius said quickly.
“Oh, did you?” Her tone worried me. “That’s very resourceful of you. What time?”
“I didn’t look at the clock.” Good answer. It was certainly not directly after the latticework frame was mysteriously broken into a thousand pieces.
“So.” Mrs. Malfoy sat on the edge of his bed and crossed one leg over the other. “Do I need to look under the bed or not?”
“Um,” Scorpius said. “Depends on what you think is under there.”
Mrs. Malfoy uncrossed her legs. “Thank you for changing his bandages, Rose.”
“Welcome,” I muttered, scooting out from under the bed. I paused to flatten my hair before peeking over the top of the bed. Thankfully, Mrs. Malfoy didn’t look furious. She was smirking a little.
She cleared her throat. “Breakfast will be ready in a half hour,” she said. “I hope you like bacon.”
Was there a person on Earth who didn’t like bacon? What a comment.
With that, Mrs. Malfoy excused herself, closing the door with a soft snap. I heard her move down the steps.
“How is she doing?” I asked Scorpius.
“Better now that she can focus on me,” he replied, scooting over so I could sit beside him. “She hates how much people try to tend to her and do everything for her. My mum is more of a do-things-yourself sort of woman.”
“Did you get that from her?” I said with a smile.
“I know I got my stubbornness from her,” Scorpius said, kissing me for a long moment. “You up for breakfast?”
“I should probably tell my parents I’m alive,” I said, not looking forward to being scolded when they realized I was missing.
“So send an owl.” He kissed me again, fingers tucked under my chin. “I don’t want you to leave.”
I smiled a little against his lips. “I won’t,” I said. “Not yet at least.”
I took my place beside Scorpius as the kitchen table nervously. In the center was a vase of fresh daisies on a green fabric runner. Dishes of eggs, bacon, toast, and fruit were placed unceremoniously before me. Mrs. Malfoy was on my left, helping herself to a glass of orange juice. Mr. Malfoy poured himself a mug of coffee before sitting down to Scorpius’ right. He cleared his throat.
“Nice of you to join us, Rose,” he said. No doubt he was briefed about my overnight adventure into his son’s bedroom.
“Thank you for having me,” I said politely and proceeded to grab food to have something to do with my hands. And face. Mr. Malfoy started talking about something from the paper and I allowed myself to calm down. These nerves were beginning to get annoying.
I jumped when Scorpius placed his hand on my thigh, squeezing it a bit. Silence fell, so he coughed and said, “Should we expect the doctor today?”
His parents looked up. “Do you think you need it?” asked Mr. Malfoy.
Scorpius turned his gaze on his mother. “I mean for you.”
She looked annoyed as she poked at the eggs, none of which stuck to her fork. “I think we should be concerned about you, dear. You’re still pale and malnourished.”
Scorpius snorted. “Malnourished? Mum, please.”
Mrs. Malfoy said nothing. Instead, she excused herself for a glass of water.
I placed my hand on Scorpius’.
“I’m serious,” he said after a while. “You’ve been too active this week.”
“I’m fine.” Her tone was cut-throat. She slammed the fridge shut. “You should be in bed.”
“You told me to come down for breakfast,” Scorpius noted.
“Clearly I was wrong.” Mrs. Malfoy moved gracefully back into her chair. “Rose, it was lovely having you. At the risk of you witnessing a Malfoy family dilemma, which we would not like to air, I’d like to offer you a to-go bag and a ride home.”
I blushed. “Thank you,” I said. “But I’ll be fine walking.”
“After what happened to Scorpius? We wouldn’t be responsible if we let you leave.” She pressed her lips together, eyeing her husband.
“I’ll get my shoes,” Mr. Malfoy said and disappeared into the living room.
“I’ll come too,” Scorpius said, but his mother shook her head. “Or not.”
“Back to bed,” she said. “I’ll bring up some more breakfast. You look famished.”
I didn’t have time to shoot him a sympathetic look before Scorpius muttered something darkly and left. His footfalls were heavy on the stairs.
I was silent as I got into the car with Mr. Malfoy, pulling on my seatbelt and placing the white bag of breakfast leftovers in my lap. I felt horrible overhearing what I did. It wasn’t my business. Scorpius shouldn’t have brought it up while I was there. Mrs. Malfoy was probably scolding him for it right now.
The car started with ease and the road was bumpy. I was secretly glad I didn’t have to walk. It was already hot and muggy and the possibility of the bear stalking me home wasn’t in my greatest interest.
After a while, Mr. Malfoy flipped on the radio. Classical music began to play, which startled me. I hadn’t thought about what kind of music the Malfoy family would favor, but classical definitely wasn’t on the list. Maybe I thought Mr. Malfoy would be a closet metal fan.
“Should I attribute the creative destruction of the latticework frame to you?” Mr. Malfoy asked quietly as the car moved around one of the many curves in the road.
“I would be lying if I said no.” Great. Now I was going to have to fund the replacement of a giant goddamn frame.
“It was ugly anyway.” He shrugged. “Honestly, I’d like to know the point of latticework if there aren’t flowers attached.”
I chuckled, letting out the breath I’d been holding. “Can’t say there is a point,” I replied.
“I can’t believe you scaled a building to get to my son,” Mr. Malfoy said, shooting me a look.
“I’m a Gryffindor.” I smiled, shrugging.
“That is clear.” Mr. Malfoy snickered a little and we pulled into the drive. He put the car in park and looked over. “I don’t want to put words in my son’s mouth, but he’s been different lately.”
Immediately, I was worried. Great. “Oh?”
“It’s not a bad thing,” Mr. Malfoy noted. “So thank you.”
I didn’t know how Scorpius had changed or how he’d been around his parents. I just knew how he was around me. He smiled. He kissed me. He laughed. He made me laugh. That was all I cared about. If he was laughing with me, at least it would lessen what he was going through.
I swallowed hard and nodded a little, unsure of how to respond. I didn’t think there was any real way to respond other than in acknowledgement that I’d helped in some way.
“I’m glad Scorpius ran into you,” Mr. Malfoy continued. “However it happened.” He smiled and put the car in reverse.
“So am I,” I said after a while, waving good-bye and heading into the house.
My parents were at the table, mugs of hot tea before them. Dad looked up.
“Grounded,” he said.
“Ugh. I know.” I pushed my hair away from my face. “I’m sorry.”
“Grounded,” he repeated. “Do you think I wanted to wake up and find you gone, driving over there in a panic to see if you were there? You could have been killed, Rose.” He looked legitimately worried even though I’d owled him when Scorpius suggested it.
“I’m sorry,” I said again. “I couldn’t sleep.”
Mum shook her head. “That doesn’t mean you should leave in the middle of the night and head over to Scorpius’. Your father’s right, Rose. It was foolish. And right after he was hurt. You gambled with your life.”
I was quiet. All I wanted to do was see him. I didn’t intend on gambling with my life. Or hearing that possible bear-growl. All I wanted to do was make sure he was okay. And he was.
I didn’t bother mentioning the growl, the lattice-scaling, or crawling through a window.
“I don’t want you in the woods alone for the rest of the vacation,” Dad said. “You can stay here and spend the rest of the time with your family like you were supposed to do originally when we came here.” He wasn’t looking at me. I was glad because the humiliation was already great enough. “We’ll let you know when lunch is ready.”
I placed the bag of leftovers in the fridge and returned to my room, changing and falling into a dreamless sleep.
Grounded was not a word frequently used in the Weasley house. I’d been grounded all of twice in my life. The first was when I was five and I helped Albus dig up the back garden at the Burrow and destroy all the flowers. The second was when I was twelve and had failing grades from the first term of Potions when I got home for Christmas holiday. Both times were miserable.
The third time was not any more enjoyable.
I spent the rest of the day stuck in the bedroom with periodic visits from Mum bringing lunch and dinner and Hugo asking me where the remote was. I leafed through some novels, painted a little, and tossed and turned atop my sheets. Dad didn’t appear.
I didn’t blame him. Where had my head been?
I snuck out in the middle of the night (like I told him I wouldn’t) after Scorpius had been mauled by a bear the previous evening in the same woods.
If I had a kid that had done that, I’d probably lock them away in the basement with some cookies and a television.
Being that I was my father’s daughter, he had probably already considered it.
The owl arrived just before dawn.
I painted again yesterday. My mother and I are okay. It took me refusing assistance to get her to return to the way things were. The doctor arrived yesterday evening. They shut my door. I pressed my ear to it. My father and the doctor spoke in hushed voices in the hall. It wasn’t positive.
How can I go one day forgetting about everything to having it thrust back in my face?
I haven’t found a middle ground. All I want to do is leave. Have you ever just wanted to leave? Run away? Never come back?
But my other fear is I’ll run away and have something missing when I do come back.
Because I know I will.
I kept my window open, pretending to enjoy the breeze. I listened hard to see if someone was coming and grabbed the parchment and quill.
I always want to run away. I feel like my reasons are trivial though. Like I’m confused or heartbroken or disappointed. It never has anything to do with a mystery disease or the failure to find a middle ground. To be honest, I feel like I’m always floating in a strange middle ground.
I’ll move over and share if you’d like.
I feel guilty I’m not there to distract you. I told you I would be.
Instead I’m here. I haven’t painted much of anything. I’m grounded. Even the word is foreign to me, but I can’t blame my parents. I could have just as easily suffered your fate. Could have just as easily not been found.
Don’t say that. Don’t even think it because now you’re making me think it and my stomach keeps tensing up. So stop.
I’d appreciate it if I could share your middle ground. It doesn’t sound like such a horrible place to be.
You know what I want to do right now? Go fishing.
I could go for some fishing. Unfortunately, the only fishing I’m doing here is for a clean shirt in my wardrobe. My laundry skills are lacking. Still fancy me? That’s not a very attractive quality.
I want to see you again. I miss you.
I’m sure that’s obvious since I scaled the side of a building to see you.
And now I feel like a crazy fangirl.
You teach the torches to burn bright.
Okay, if you get to be a crazy fangirl then I get to be a romantic sod. Deal?
Let’s go fishing.
Allow me to remind you: You’re injured and I’m grounded. That does not bode well for a fishing adventure, let alone in the middle of the day. I wonder how long I’m actually grounded. I’m not supposed to leave the house. I’m supposed to spend the time with my family. They’re out in the living room watching a game show (loudly).
Am I allowed to say I miss you? I saw you yesterday. That seems weird. We’re not even dating.
I shouldn’t have written that.
Why don’t we?
Cut it out.
I miss you too.
You never asked.
Neither did you.
I folded the latest sheet of parchment, my heart hammering against my chest painfully. This was not a conversation I intended to be having via owl post. Or at all. I had left that thought in the back of my mind for a day in the future – if ever. I didn’t want to think about it. I didn’t want to think about what would happen when we were in England and not here.
What would his friends think? What would Dom think? What about the rest of my family? I knew Albus was never exactly fond of Scorpius and his charismatic smile. What would he say?
I figured maybe one day I would just be taken by surprise and I’d have to make a decision right then and there. If I truly fancied him or not. It would be something that just sort of spewed out of my mouth in an uncontrolled way. I didn’t have to dwell or make myself sick over feelings or thoughts or what-ifs.
Now I did.
I stared at the way his writing sprawled across the page. He was right. I didn’t ask either. Then again, I had said I liked him. But I never really explained it, did I? I kept the details inside. Just in case.
In case of what? He was lying?
That was rubbish. He wasn’t lying.
I wasn’t ready to ask. I wanted him to ask. I wanted this to be a fairy tale. I got to be the girl in the pretty dress and Scorpius could be the knight. We were hidden away from prying eyes and this could be an entirely new experience for us both. Swimming. Fishing. Running through creeks. Falling asleep in sheds.
I realized I was smiling.
Silly me. It must have slipped my mind.
Any chance of stuffing pillows under your blankets and going fishing with me? I need a distraction today. I promise to keep my hands to myself. Unless you get your line tangled in the tree again and then I’ll have to provide assistance. And immediate laughter.
Too much romance? Forgive me. I’m terrible at this.
I wish I could. I promised my dad I’d stay here. I know he’s sore with me and I feel horrible enough already. I’m going to have to pass today. I don’t want to pass, but I’m going to. School is soon though. Can I ask what you think will happen at school? We’re kind of different. If you haven’t noticed.
Different? Hmm. Well, I am blond. So that’s quite different. I have different colored eyes. I am also taller than you, so I see where you get that. I have to admit I am more spontaneous than you are. And my rain boots are far more attractive than yours. Is that what you meant?
You are ridiculous. That’s what I meant.
I am going to sit next to you on the train. I hope your mates can handle me. I’m going to give them something to gossip about.
P.S. Are you blushing yet?
Yes, I was. Git.
I don’t know what you’re talking about.
I leaned back in bed, pulling out the novel I’d started the night before. After our letter exchange it was already late morning. I hadn’t bothered changing into legitimate clothes since I was grounded and the most I would do today is shuffle into the kitchen for lunch and dinner and maybe paint on the back deck. I figured I’d get some reading in for a couple hours until I got hungry enough to see my family.
Not that I didn’t want to. I just didn’t exactly want to sit at the table when I still felt guilty for leaving.
I groaned, rolling over. “Yeah, Dad?”
“I’m thinking board games today!”
Well, at least he wasn’t still furious with me. That was a start.
“No card house?” I asked. Dad used to challenge me to the construction of a house made from playing cards on holiday. He always won because Hugo managed to ‘accidentally’ chuck something at mine.
“Not today! Get dressed.”
“I’m not going outside.” I snapped the book shut and tossed it onto my bedside stand. I stretched, hearing my back pop. That was not at all attractive.
“Trust me.” Dad knocked on the door.
“Allow me to get bloody dressed to play some board games,” I muttered. “Fine! I’ll be right out.”
He knocked again.
“Come in then!” I said, annoyed. “I’m not going to wear anything nice though. Being grounded is a lot like being in prison. Or what I imagine it to be like.” I stuck my head in the closet. I tossed a few shirts onto the bed. “No privacy either. I’m a teenage girl, you know. You never know what I could have been doing in here.”
“Writing snarky letters to a boy?” asked Scorpius and I slammed my head hard on closet door.
A/N: How could I resist love letters? That's right. I can't. Ever.
Thank you all for reading and I hope you continue to enjoy the story! Thank you for the nominations and votes in the Dobby awards -- I really appreciate your support!
NEXT UP: Scorpius bonds with the fam, Rose tries again at the fishing, there's some yelling, and of course some rain.
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