Chapter 24 : Rose. --- An Uncomfortable Conversation.
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“Well, that was fun.”
She twisted her head so she could look up at him. “Really?”
He rolled his eyes. “Yes, really. Couldn’t you tell I was having fun?” Rose felt her face flush, and he smiled and leaned down to kiss her forehead. “I love you,” he said softly. “I wish things weren’t so difficult.”
Her heart plummeted. “You can’t break up with me. You just had sex with me. It’s a rule.”
Scorpius snorted. “It’s a rule, huh?” She nodded, and he heaved a sigh. “Well, damn. Now I need to rethink my entire approach.”
She shrank back instinctively, and he looked over at her. “Rose, what -”
“You’re breaking up with me?” she asked in a small voice.
“You are.” She could feel the panic building again. It was clear that seducing him hadn’t helped matters much, and she didn’t know what else she could do to convince him not to leave. Her brain wasn’t working very well at the moment. “You’re breaking up with me. Why are you breaking up with me?”
He winced, but she couldn’t tell whether it was what she was saying or just how shrill her voice had gotten. “Look, Rose -”
She pulled her knees up to her chest and buried her face in them. “I don’t want you to leave. I love you.” Her voice was muffled, but she didn’t much care. At least it wasn’t as high-pitched. “And I’m sorry I’m kind of a jerk sometimes, and that I make your life stressful, and that -”
“Rose.” She felt his hand close over her wrist. “Look at me.” She hiccuped as she raised her gaze to meet his. “You are not a jerk, and if I really wanted to break up with you, do you think you could have distracted me so easily?” He shifted his position as she shrugged so he could wrap his arms around her. “Look, Rose, I don’t want us to break up. I just don’t know if this is going to -”
She put her hands over her ears so she couldn’t hear the rest of his sentence, and after a moment, he pulled them away gently.
“Rose, you need to listen to me. Come on. You’re an adult. Act like it.”
“I don’t like being an adult,” she muttered. “Being an adult means your boyfriend breaks up with you and-” The tears started to rise again, and she stopped talking.
He rested his head on top of hers and hugged her closer. “Rose, ‘your boyfriend’ doesn’t want to break up with you.”
“Then why are you doing it?” A fresh wave of tears overwhelmed her, and she hid her face in her hands.
Scorpius was generally a fairly patient person, but he was clearly reaching the end of his rope. “Well, I’m trying not to do it, but the fact that you’re refusing to talk about it is making that a little difficult.” She processed his words for a moment and then jerked her head up. It hit him squarely in the jaw, and he gave a grunt. “Ow.” He lifted one of his hands to it. “That hurt.”
Rose spun around. “You’re not leaving me?”
“No,” he said, still rubbing his jaw. “Though I repeat, that hurt.”
She threw her arms around him and knocked him backwards onto the bed. “Then why were you talking like you were?” she asked into his shoulder.
“I didn’t mean to,” he said. “I just wanted to talk about our relationship, because there are some serious problems I’m having with it right now. Then you went off and threw yourself at me - twice - and nearly broke my jaw to avoid having a conversation that we really, really need have.”
He sat up and frowned at her. “So you thought I was trying to break up with you, and your solution was to seduce me in the hopes I’d forget about it?”
“It wasn’t a very good plan. I know. I just - I panicked and it was all I could think of.” He gave another snort of laughter and climbed out of bed to look for a pair of trousers. “I’m serious,” she said as he rummaged through a drawer. “I - I can’t -”
The tears were threatening to appear again. She looked down and bit her lip.
Scorpius sighed and sat down beside her. “Does the idea really bother you that much?” She shot him a glare, and he shrugged. “Well, breakups never seem to bother most of your favourite cousins, and I know that Albus and I guess maybe James aside, they don’t exactly spend a lot of time talking me up. I kind of figured you were getting to that point anyway, and that I’d be the one who was all broken up about everything while you wandered off to fight your next monster without a care in the world.”
“No!” He looked a little surprised at the vehemance in her voice. “I - Scorpius, look, I love my cousins, but they’re idiots.” He raised his eyebrows. “I - I just can’t lose you.” She wrapped her arms around his waist and laid her head on his chest. “You’re stupid,” she said. “We’ve been together for years.”
“So have a lot of people. Most of them don’t exactly end up with the person they started going out with in their fifth year.”
“Well, we will.” A thought occurred to her. “Unless you don’t want m - me.” Her voice wavered, and she hid her face in his chest.
“I want you,” he said quickly. He began to run his fingers through her hair, and she nuzzled closer to him. “Well, now that I know that we’re on the same page... Rose, can we talk?”
“Without you flinging yourself at me or seducing me?”
He kissed her again and then reached over to his open drawer. “Here.” He deposited a sweater in her lap. “Please put this on.”
She looked down. The shirt she was currently wearing didn’t leave much to the imagination - she usually wore it to sleep in - but she wasn’t sure where the shirt she’d actually been wearing that day had disappeared to. It was probably still in a heap on the floor in his living room. “Oh. Does this distract you?”
He glanced over at her. “Are you seriously asking me that?”
She pulled the sweater over her head. “Better?”
He shrugged. “A little. But you’re gorgeous and sexy no matter what you’re wearing, so I wasn’t hoping for a lot.”
She got up and wrapped her arms around him. “I love you,” she said softly. “This is going to work. It will.”
Scorpius sighed. “I hope so, Rose,” he said softly. “Now, can we please talk?”
She nodded, and he led her into the living room.
“So talk,” she demanded once they sat down.
He sighed. “I’m just - well, I just got off a twenty-hour shift earlier today, and I… Rose, I don’t know if I can deal with this. I’m worried sick that you’ll be the next one carted in, and not everyone makes it.”
“Don't you have any faith in my abilities?”
“Of course I do. But it doesn't take much, you know. There's no margin for error.”
“Well, Vic and Dedworth won't let anything happen to me. They're pretty experienced, you know.”
She wasn't sure if it was her defensive tone or just the mention of Van that made him cringe, but he did.
“What?” she asked, glad that she had an opportunity to confront this head on without admitting to eavesdropping. He hated it when she eavesdropped on him. The most recent time that she'd done it before the previous weekend had been in the seventh year of Hogwarts, and he hadn't spoken to her for almost two weeks – and that had been with admitting it the very next day.
He shrugged and looked away from her. “I dunno. I just... you talk about him a lot. And – er –”
He trailed off, which left her wondering which part of that sentiment she should tackle first. “Scorpius, remember how I just threw myself at you? I love you.” He smiled a little, and she felt a slight sense of relief that she'd chosen right. She often didn't have the best judgment with these sorts of things. “And he's my boss, and he's involved with Lavender, and he's like fifteen years older than me.”
“I know. It – I just –”
“Don't you trust me?” She didn't bother to conceal the hurt in her voice; she'd been feeling it for days, and it was cathartic to let it out.
“Oh, God.” He slid closer to her immediately. “Rose, of course I do. I just… it feels like we never even talk anymore, not really. Like we’re just going through the motions.”
“Yeah, because every time I do you get tense. What am I supposed to do? I hate fighting with you or feeling like you're mad at me, and you get like that every time I say anything about work.”
“You're right,” he said after a minute. “I do. That’s the problem. I’m not mad at you, though, sweetheart, I swear. I'm just worried sick, and it’s starting to eat me up inside.”
“But I can take care of myself.”
He slumped back. “I know you can.”
His body posture was more defeated than she had ever seen it, even before she’d thrown herself at him a couple hours earlier. “What's wrong?” she asked softly. He shifted his gaze down to his knees. “Come on, Scorpius, you said you wanted to talk, so talk. I want to know.”
“I just – I have nightmares, sometimes, you know. Where I don’t even have anyone left anymore.”
“What do you mean?”
She rested a hand on his arm. When he looked up, she could see tears in his eyes again. “Scorpius, tell me.”
He blinked a few times. It did nothing but coax the tears into dripping out of his eyes and begin to slide down his cheek.
Rose was completely at a loss. Scorpius was generally fairly communicative – recent events had been the exception, not the norm – but he rarely cried, and tonight, he couldn’t seem to stop. She felt more helpless than she could ever imagine feeling in the field. She wanted to wave her wand to make everything better, but somehow she doubted there was a spell for that.
He took a deep, wavering breath. “It's not just you. It's – it's you, it's Albus, it's Jo, it’s James – everyone I'm closest to is off doing dangerous things all the time, and I hate it. Even Noah – the Department of Mysteries can be dangerous, too, you know? Not that I ever even have time to see him anymore.”
“I know.” She decided not to draw attention to the fact that he’d included her cousin James in that list - they’d clearly been spending more time together than she’d realized.
“So – you could all just... well, you might get really absorbed in your departments. I'm not like your coworkers, I know I'm not, and you’re all loving your departments. And if you love that, maybe I'm just... well, not interesting enough for you.” He hesitated, and then added, in a voice barely above a whisper, “And I'm scared you're going to get really hurt. I’m scared you’re going to get yourself killed. And - fuck, Rosie, that would break my heart.”
She didn’t think he’d ever called her ‘Rosie’ before. “Oh, Scorpius.” She wrapped her arms around him.
Once he'd buried his face in her neck, he started to cry in earnest. She held him, not quite sure what to say; his worries weren't entirely unreasonable, though she thought he was overreacting a little, but she doubted that anyone was going to change their career to help alleviate his anxiety. She didn't really want to tell him that he should make friends with more Healers, either, because she was afraid he'd take it as her pushing him away.
“Sorry,” he said, pulling back and wiping his face with his sleeve. “I didn't mean to – I just...”
“I know.” She took his hands and squeezed them. “Look, I don't know quite what to say. You know me, I'm no good with this feelings stuff.”
That got a half-hearted chuckle out of him.
“But... Scorpius, look, our jobs our dangerous, but it's not like we're Hit Wizards. And - you don’t want logic, do you?” she asked, cutting herself off once she saw the look on his face.
He shook his head.
“What do you want?”
“I don’t know. I just… I can’t do this, Rose. I thought I could figure it out, but it’s eating me up.”
“Well, is there something I can do? To change it, I mean?”
He thought about that for a moment. He didn’t make a joke about quitting her job, which she was very grateful for. “I don’t know,” he said finally. “Talk to me, I guess. Be patient when I get tense about what you’re saying - you always just want instant results, but that’s not the way it works.”
“I know. I know. I can do that.”
He slumped back, his hands slipping out of hers. “Fuck, Rose. Why do you think I want to work with creature injuries in the first place?”
Rose stared at him. She didn’t know what to say.
“You keep trying to talk me out of it, and I think that you really don’t see that this is how I cope. It makes me feel more confident in the Healers, the treatments… everything. I don’t have some inate calling beyond being a Healer, but my heart is so damn full of you that there hasn’t been room for so much as a crack of anyone else - in that way, I mean - in years. If this helps me with that, why are you so damn set against it?”
She wasn’t sure that she’d ever encountered any other situation - ever - where she had so little idea of what to say. “I… it’s just not like you to be so - so hasty. And I didn’t make my decisions around you, so you shouldn’t make yours around me.”
“Yeah, but Rose, it’s not hasty. You don’t think I’ve thought it through and talked it out with people? Because I have. I brought it up to my father, even. I’m not being ‘hasty,’ whatever the hell that means. If you really want to help, you can stop being pissed off at me for it.”
“Okay,” she said. “I can do that.”
“Even if you still think it’s a stupid decision. Let me make it. I’m a big boy.”
“Okay. I - I’ll try. Are we okay, though?”
“I guess we’ll see if we can do that and if it even helps.”
Rose got the feeling that she wasn’t going to get much better than that. She began to run her fingers along his bare chest. “You know, you've got a lot of muscles for a Healer.”
He let out a laugh that was probably louder than the obvious change of subject warranted. “Thanks.”
“Everyone must fawn all over you. Are you the smart sexy Healer everyone wants to sleep with? Do women - and men, for that matter - swoon when you walk into a room? Do they write poems about your eyes and your profile?”
“You’re ridiculous.” They sat there in silence for awhile, and then he cleared his throat. “Rose, will you promise me something?”
“Be careful tomorrow. You might not care much about your life, but I do.”
“That's not fair. I care about my life.” She felt that that had been a distinctly low blow, though it didn't seem sporting to argue over it right now, not when he'd been sobbing into her shoulder only shortly before that.
“Okay. But be careful anyway.”
“I will.” She glanced up at him, and he raised his eyebrows. “I promise.”
“Well, that's all I can ask for.” He pulled her up and pressed his lips against hers again. As his arms wound around her, Rose let herself forget everything.
For a little while, at least.
A/N: Rose may have overreacted a bit. Maybe.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on the chapter, if you have a moment to review! Do you think that their plan will be successful in preventing future conflict? Is there anything that can prevent the conflict?
Regardless, though, thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed it!
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