Chapter 25 : Love Rule #24
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I pushed him away, and there was a moment of shocked silence as we stared at each other. We were standing so close, pressed against each other really, and I could see the blues and greys of his eyes as they bore into mine. I could feel my tears drying on my cheeks, and my heart was thumping painfully hard. I raised a hand to my tingling lips, and his eyes followed my movements.
“Rose, I –“
But I didn’t let him finish. I pushed his hands away from where they felt like they were burning holes on my waist and ran.
Of course I ran.
“Rose, stop!” I heard him yell, and it was almost reminiscent of two months ago, when we’d fought terribly and I’d ran, binged, and then ran even further away – to Mungos.
This time however, I outran him to the library, his yells echoing after me and his hands brushing my back as he tried to stop me. In the library and in front of our friends, Scorpius wouldn’t dare make a scene in front of everyone, and I was just too muddled to deal with what had just happened.
“Is that Rose Weasley?” I heard students gasp as I ran past. It was mid-afternoon on a Friday, a time that most students had off, so there weren’t many people loitering about the corridors. I ignored them as I ran, longing to see my friends and longing to escape the blonde.
“I thought she was sick?”
“Yeah, Andy said she had Dragon Pox.”
“I thought it was Witch’s Fever?”
And Scorpius, yelling, “Rose, STOP!”
I’d been expressly forbidden by Healer Rivers to not exercise until given permission, but I figured that running from Scorpius Malfoy was a valid exception. I was feeling the exertion though. My heart was beating out of rhythm, and I knew it wasn’t just because I kissed Scorpius Malfoy. I skidded to a stop outside the library, startling some younger students. Scorpius staggered to a stop next to me and grabbed my arm as I tried to push the doors open.
“Don’t even think this means we won’t talk, Rose. You’ve dodged it this time, but we need to talk eventually. About everything,” he warned, surprisingly upfront. I tried not to let myself get distracted by his closeness again –I can’t believe he kissed me!- and glared at him as I pushed the library doors open.
“Hello, Scorpius, Rose. Rose!” the librarian, Madam Pine, exclaimed. She was in the process of scanning books back into the system when she greeted us, and I managed a grin.
“Hello, Piney. Doing alright?”
“I’m doing great. It’s lovely to have you back, dear,” she said, coming around the desk and giving me a brief hug, “And by the way, I still have my sights set on Teddy Lupin.”
I grinned properly that time. Some things never changed. Realising that Scorpius had disappeared, I looked around and was greeted by staring students stopped halfway through studying. I offered a general, awkward smile, and was saved as the librarian said, “He went towards the history section, I think I saw your little group troop that way a few hours ago.”
“Thanks, Piney. We’ll catch up soon, yeah?”
“Whenever you’re ready, dear,” she said, smiling kindly at me. “Oh, and here. You’re looking a bit worse for wear.” She picked her wand up and tapped the top of my head with it. I touched my cheeks, and felt only smooth skin – no signs of my emotionally-fraught day.
I thanked her and took a deep breath, setting out towards the history section. Whispers followed me, and my chest was getting tight again. The stares from familiar faces were making me terrified.
“Oi, Scorp! How are you, mate? It’s been so quiet without you around!” I heard, and I shrank behind a book shelf, suddenly ridiculously nervous and scared. Albus.
“Oh shut up, Potter. You’ve been making enough noise to make up for Scorpius’ absence,” someone snapped, and I grinned. Callie. Clearly things hadn’t changed for the better between the two of them.
“How is your mum? Is she all better now?” came a girl’s voice, and I wanted to throw my arms around her. Sophie.
“Quidditch was rubbish all week. I actually, really, truly studied rather than practiced. Don’t ever leave me again, man.” Fred.
There was a silence, and I knew what Scorpius was waiting for – me to step forward. When I didn’t, he said, “Rose would have been proud of you, Freddie. Studying over quidditch?”
Everyone laughed, but it was tinged with sadness. Sadness that I had caused.
“She would have to hear it to believe it,” Callie said, and I smiled, heart beating hard. I walked a few steps forward and leaned against the end of the bookshelf. And there they were, arranged around a table talking and laughing. The same group of friends who had always known me so well, but also not at all.
“I heard it, and I still can’t believe it,” I said with a smile, “Freddie Weasley, preferring to study rather than play quidditch? I’m supposed to be the crazy one around here.”
There was a silence, and I met the startled eyes of Albus who was sitting opposite to me. A slow, radiant grin spread across his face, and the girls whipped their heads around to look at me, eyes wide. Freddie laughed even louder and Scorpius… his eyes said, this doesn’t change anything.
“Rosie!” came a collective screech, and I was slammed into the book shelves and squished into the happiest, loveliest hug of my whole life. There was more laughter, and questions, and I was happy – almost as happy as I’d been with Scorpius’ hands around my waist and his lips on mine.
We went to the Head’s dormitory to talk. Wanting to compose myself for the coming interrogation, I made excuses and fled upstairs to my room. Somewhere on the walk from the library to the dorm, Scorpius vanished.
Even thinking about him made me turn beetroot red.
Trying to buy time, I sat in front of my mirror and ran a brush through my hair. The rhythmic strokes and the bristles against my scalp slowly, so slowly, calmed my thoughts.
My face flushed even further, but I wasn’t sure if it was because of the memory of Scorpius, or of my panic attack leading up to the moment. How was he still possibly interested in knowing me? And why did he kiss me? Or did I kiss him? What –
The brush caught in a particularly tangled curl, and I winced. My hair, like my mum’s when she was my age, had tamed significantly in the past two years, but would tangle when left to its own accord. Since admitting myself to Mungo’s, it had slowly began to regain its health and lustre. I put down the brush and attacked the tangle with my fingers, brow furrowed in concentration. I was doing anything to avoid thinking about what had just happened.
It was strange, being back in the Head’s dormitory at Hogwarts. The blanket Nanna had knitted me in my first year was still thrown across the end of my bed, comforting in its familiarity. Placed into the corner of the room were my bags from Mungo’s, restored to their original sizes by house elves most likely. My meagre supply of makeup, mostly gifted from Sophie over the years, was tucked behind a pile of books on the desk. Sighing, I dropped the tangled curl and ran my hands over book spines. Novels, textbooks, manuals. How far behind had I fallen in class? Would I even be able to catch up?
Through my closed bedroom door, I heard talking from downstairs. I rubbed my eyes and stood up. I couldn’t avoid the talk for much longer, and I truly did want to see everyone.
Once we were all settled around the fire with cups of tea, I caught them up on everything that had happened. Everyone was silent as I spoke. By the time I was done, the sun was nearly set and Albus had abandoned his tea to pace the room. His fists were balled angrily.
“At least Avery and this Trumpleton fellow will get what’s coming for them,” Albus spat, and Callie nodded along with him. It surprised me to see them cooperating for the brief moment; I clearly had a lot to catch up on.
“It’s out of my hands now,” I shrugged. The realisation was somewhat relieving. I’d done what I could in regards to Avery, Trumpleton and Mungo’s, so maybe it was time to move on. If only I knew for certain that Lucy and the other girls were okay, then I could truly begin to relax.
“You’re so brave,” Sophie said, squeezing my hand. She’d been leaning against me the whole time we’d been on the couch, her head on my shoulder. Her presence was comforting, calming; her own little Sophie gift.
“I don’t feel like I am,” I sighed, thinking about Scorpius. As if my thoughts had summoning powers, the portrait door suddenly pushed open and there he stood, eyes immediately meeting mine. We both blushed, and I broke the eye contact first. His lips had been so soft.
“Erm…” Callie said, trailing off. The atmosphere in the room had suddenly become awkward, and she stood up. Her body unfolded magnificently, and I felt a pang of jealousy. Months of starving myself could never give me the body Callie had, and for a brief moment, I absolutely hated her. “We should probably head off. Will you be at dinner, Rose?”
I shook my head as she pulled Fred to his feet. “I have to eat in the hospital wing.”
My words had an immediate effect; no one met my eyes. It was as if they were pretending I’d been away from school for a different reason than an eating disorder. I sighed. “I’m fine, you guys. But thanks for asking anyway.”
Sophie turned red, and I immediately felt bad for being so immature. It wasn’t as if they didn’t care, they probably just didn’t want to make me feel uncomfortable.
“See you in class tomorrow?” Fred asked, looking from me to Scorpius uncomfortably.
I grinned. “Nope, see you at breakfast.”
Sophie kissed my cheek as she stood and they all trooped out of the door, leaving Scorpius standing by it awkwardly.
I cleared my throat and put my empty tea cup on the table in front of me.
“Hi,” I whispered, looking anywhere but at him. He didn’t say anything as he moved to the kitchenette and made his own cup of tea.
“Do you want another?” he asked, voice rough. My heart leapt into my throat and I fought back a hysterical giggle.
“Another what?” I managed to gasp.
“Tea.” There was a frown on his face, and I giggled properly.
“Oh. I thought you meant…” I trailed off, and his cheeks reddened.
He cleared his throat and sat down at the opposite end of the couch. “Right.”
“So… do you want to talk about it?” I whispered.
“Yes.” His voice was still rough, and I watched out of the corner of my eye as he took a gulp of tea. Then, “Why do you always run from me, Rose? You always run. Do I scare you that much?”
His eyes were angry, and I cowered under his glare. He slammed the mug down on the coffee table, and its contents sloshed over the side. I began to pull my wand out of my pocket to clean it up, but he caught my wrist, hanging on to it tightly.
“Leave it and answer me!” he growled. This was the Scorpius I’d known up until the beginning of seventh year; untamed, harsh, intimidating. I wondered what I’d done to make this Scorpius surface once again.
“You’re scaring me now,” I whispered, dropping my wand. He shifted so that his whole body was facing me. My wrist was starting to ache in his grip.
“Well you know what, Weasley? You scare the hell out of me, too,” he said, shaking me slightly, “You scared me when you stopped eating, you scared me when you disappeared to Mungo’s, and you scared me when you began to walk around with that awful, dead look in your eyes. You scared me when you ran from me the first time, and the second time too. I’m trying my best, Rose, but no matter what I do, you always go running! What will it take for you to like me?”
He ended his rant, breathing heavily.
“Scorp, you’re hurting me,” I whispered, tugging my wrist from him. He gasped and released it; red and white finger marks striped my skin. He reached out tentatively and ran his fingertips over them, making me shiver.
“I’m sorry,” I said, tears welling in my eyes. “You’re just so… you confuse me. I don’t know what to feel around you.”
He shifted even closer, unconsciously it seemed, gazing intently at me. My heart skipped a beat as our eyes met, and he followed my movements as I wiped my tears away. Suddenly, his hand was cupping my cheek and my hand was gripping his wrist, and his lips were against mine again.
We broke apart with a gasp, and he stared at me wildly.
“Don’t run,” he pleaded, and I smiled shakily, touching my lips. My heart was thudding painfully in my chest, and I couldn’t help but smile at how right it all felt. Despite everything, a tone of playfulness entered my voice.
“Convince me to stay,” I whispered, and his eyes widened.
“Are you… flirting with me?” he ventured, and my smile widened. Maybe this was okay. Maybe I could get better. There was still so much to talk about and deal with, like the upcoming trial and my study status at Hogwarts. And Mum would kill me if she heard that I was basing my happiness on a boy, but that was another battle. And for a second, none of that mattered.
“Do you want me to flirt with you?”
He was kissing me again before I could blink.
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