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Chapter 15 : XV
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“Rose?” a hesitant voice asks the moment I step into the dorm. “Rose? Are you okay?”
“Huh?” is my intelligent response.
“You look like you walked through a ghost…” the voice snorts and I vaguely register the sound on sheets ruffling as the owner of the voice gets out of bed. “Seriously? Rose?” they repeat, more urgently.
“I’m fine,” I manage to articulate. “Just…”
“Yeah and I’m Captain of the Falcons now tell me what’s wrong,” they huff coming closer. Their faces blurs into view. Brown hair. Soft. Freckles. Blue eyes. Kind.
“Bethan?” I frown.
“Yeah Ro,” she snorts. “Now what the hell is going on?”
“I… It was… It just- It was just a kiss,” I stutter.
“A kiss?” she repeats and even through my cloudy haze I can hear the amused cynicism in her voice. “Are you trying to tell me that Rose Weasley – the so called ‘Other Woman’ of Hogwarts – is in shock because of a kiss?”
“It was a very good kiss!” I huff indignantly before realising I sound like a petulant child and covering my traitorous mouth with both hands. Bethan has the audacity to laugh.
“Oh sweet Merlin you should see your face,” she wheezes.
“Shut up,” I hiss.
“What the hell is going on?” another voice queries from the semi-darkness of the dorm.
“Ro here is going into anaphylactic shock because someone kissed her,” Bethan supplies helpfully. “You’re not actually allergic to anything, are you?” she frowns, adding on as an afterthought.
“Just checking,” she holds up her hands in a gesture of surrender as I glare at her.
“And I am not in shock.”
“Sure,” she smirks. “Who was? Was it Harding? Or Malfoy? Was it a teacher?” she asks gleefully, not leaving me time to reply. “Or was it Will? I bet it was Will wasn’t it!”
“It better not have been,” the other voice grumbles as Martha Henderson pushes back the curtain of her four-poster, rubbing her eyes in a way that makes it clear she wants us to know we woke her up. When I don’t say anything, she fixes me with a death glare. “I swear to Merlin Weasley, if you’ve been snogging my brother I’m going to jinx all your clothes lavender!” she growls.
“Shut up Martha,” Bethan chuckles.
“What? Will? Why the hell would I be kissing Will?” I demand, flabbergasted.
“Godric, you’re blind,” Martha grouses.
“It wasn’t McLaggen, was it?” Bethan suddenly asks in a far more serious tone.
“Fuck no,” is my immediate response.
“Good,” Martha and Bethan simultaneously reply.
“So who was it?”
“None of your business,” I mumble, heading over to my bed and pulling out my pyjamas.
“Awh, come on Ro,” Bethan pleads.
“Who the fuck cares,” Martha snorts. “She’s snogged the majority of guys at the school already.”
“Shut it Marth.”
“Whatever.” I can practically head Martha’s eye roll. “Now shut the fuck up, I’m trying to sleep here.”
That night I lie awake, my blood still pounding irregularly through my veins. Bethan had pestered me for a little while longer but had eventually given up. There was no way in heaven or hell I was going to tell her that Scorpius Fucking Malfoy was the reason I had walked into the dorm half an hour after curfew in a near state of shock and panic.
The thing is, I thought I knew what a kiss was supposed to be like. I thought I knew what kissing someone for no ulterior motive felt like. I had kissed Dave often enough to know what kissing was all about. With him I had known what kissing someone you cared about felt like. Hell, I’d even thought I might have been in love with him. I thought there was nothing that could ever beat kissing Dave McLaggen. But nothing, nothing, was like that kiss. Scorpius’ kiss.
Dave had sparked an interest in my mind and a warmth in my chest.
But Scorpius Malfoy had set my entire being on fire.
And that terrifies me.
It terrifies me that he might do it again, push my walls still further, kiss me like he is a drowning man and I am his oxygen, like he couldn’t bare to not kiss me in that moment, like he really meant it. So I imagine him never kissing me again. And that scares me even more.
And the knowledge that it would hurt if he didn’t kiss me like that again, if he didn’t mean it… It almost sends me over the edge and into a full-blown panic attack. Because there is no way I allowed him to get so far under my skin.
Taking deep breaths, I try to regain control of my breathing. Focusing my thoughts away from Scorpius Malfoy to steadily counting my inhales and exhales. In, two, three… Out, two, three… Just relax. Focus.
The rush of adrenaline fades, leaving me exhausted and I remain focused on my breathing as I somehow drift off to sleep. But even at the cusp of sleep I could feel it. Feel the world as I know it shift on its axis.
It was something I kept forgetting, that Faye Rivers was an orphan. She had told me once, ages ago when she first spilled her secret to me. Yet somehow, I kept forgetting. I suppose when you go to a boarding school you never really give much thought to peoples parents so I never really took the time to process what this would mean for her. But the fact of the matter was: Faye Rivers was sixteen, pregnant and an orphan.
“Faye,” I whisper gently. We are seated on the far side of the Black Lake, the sun setting behind us and casting a montage of colours on the still surface. “What are you going to do? You know, when the baby is born?”
Faye sighs heavily in response, throwing tuffs of grass down the hill. “Well hopefully I’ll have my OWLs, the baby is due a couple of weeks after exams,” she explains. “I told my grandmother over Christmas… Merlin I can only thank the stars my grandfather wasn’t alive to be a part of that conversation, it would have killed him twice over,” she shudders.
“So your grandmother will help you look after it?”
“She doesn’t really have a choice, I’m still underage,” Faye shrugs.
“Have you got any other family?”
“I’ve got no family on my father’s side, his parents were killed in the War. My mother’s family is very traditional. They’re all Slytherins and until my parents… Well, until my parents died, I had never even met them. My mother married a muggleborn Hufflepuff you see, she was disowned after they eloped and broke off all connections to her family. So when they died, it was just me and my brother, complete alone.
“The authorities tried to get either my aunt or uncle to take me in but they both refused, my aunt has four children of her own and my uncle’s wife has a mental disorder – she could barely look after her own son, let alone two strange children. So they left us with my grandmother.”
“I- I didn’t know you had a brother,” I frown.
“Well, he’s a Slytherin, like the rest of my family. He barely acknowledges my existence at school. Not many people realise we’re related despite our last name. His name’s Julian, he’s a Sixth Year.”
“Julian Rivers is your brother?” I ask in horror. It wasn’t that Julian Rivers was a particularly unpleasant human being but my ‘job’ meant that I had encountered him a couple of times. Which was something I certainly was not about to tell Faye.
“Yeah, shocking isn’t it,” Faye chuckled.
“I had no idea. Does he know?”
“About the baby? Yes. He doesn’t know who the father is though, I wouldn’t subject my worse enemy to Jules’ wrath, let alone Andrius.”
“How are things between you and Andrius at the moment?”
“Truthfully? They’re pretty good. I don’t know the exact details, but I believe a certain someone-” she glances at me pointedly, “-had words with him and he apologised. He was afraid; I knew he was. We’ve decided that we shouldn’t even try dating but he’s been very attentive. It’s nice. He seems genuinely interested in being part of the child’s life.”
“That’s good,” I smile.
“It really is. He’s promised to tell his parents during the Easter Holiday. He wants me to meet them,” she frowns. “I’m not sure if I’m ready for that. The Malfoys have such a reputation. I know my grandmother will be somewhat comforted that it was a pureblood Slytherin that knocked me up but it doesn’t comfort me much,” she winces.
“They- He, Andrius, has a brother,” I start awkwardly, shifting in position.
“Scorpius? I know,” Faye replies. “He’s spoken to me a couple of times. He seems like a decent person but I can never really tell what he’s thinking.”
“He is a decent person,” I mutter without thinking about it. “But it wasn’t Scorpius I was talking about.”
“He has another brother – two actually, twins – both of them are decent people but one of them, Castor, he was in Gryffindor,” I direct my words to the ground so Faye can’t see quite how hard it is for me to talk about him. “He is friends with a few of my cousins, I think he’s dating one of them. I used to be quite good friends with him too…” Even I can hear the bitterness in my voice. “Anyway, he is a really good person. He’s funny and friendly… If you meet Andrius’ family, you’ll meet Castor and you really don’t have to worry about him. He’ll try his best to make you feel comfortable. Honestly, I would trust him with my life.”
“You sound like you miss him,” Faye hedges uncertainly.
“Yeah,” I shrug. It’s the truth. I really do miss him.
“I… It’s complicated.”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to pry.”
“No, it’s fine. I just… I made some not-so-great choices and screwed some things up,” I shrug again, trying for nonchalance and knowing I fail completely.
“You’re friends with Scorpius too, aren’t you?” she asks, blessedly changing the subject. Although at the mention of Scorpius’ name, I can feel my entire body tighten, readying itself for a fight or flight response. Which is absurd.
“What makes you say that?”
“Uh… Well, you’re with him a lot and you’re always looking at each other across the Hall. I just assumed you were friends… Or at least you know each other.”
“We don’t always look at each other!” I huff, fighting down a blush. Do we?
“Um… okay?” Faye frowns. “I just, sorry.”
“Don’t be… I guess we do know each other, sort of. We’re not really friends as such though…” I manage to articulate, trying to process what my ‘relationship’ (for want of a better word) with Scorpius must look like to outsiders. I had always assumed it had just gone unnoticed. There wasn’t really anything there. But I suppose that was stupid – everyone knows I’ve kissed Scorpius Malfoy multiple times. His break ups are rarely quiet affairs.
“Oh….” Faye frowns, glancing down at her toes. “Oh.” There is something about her second exclamation that sets me on edge. As if she has read to far into something that isn’t really there. Because it’s not. There is nothing between Scorpius and I. Not really. Just occasional kisses. Kisses that leave me tingling for hours afterwards.
“We should probably be heading back inside,” I decide, standing up and brushing my robes off. Faye follows my lead without another word. Her silence unusually unsettling.
Other than my conversation with Faye, the day after The Kiss passes by in a blur. Bethan pesters me a little more but doesn’t push it, it’s odd really, the change in her attitude towards me. My mind goes back to what Hugo told me that night in the kitchens where he pieced together my secret: You’re changing again, you’re not quite as distant anymore, you smile more too. Maybe I was changing. Maybe that’s why Bethan is being civil to me again. Maybe that’s why I told Faye about Castor.
I don’t see Malfoy until Faye and I are heading into the Great Hall for dinner. He’s just coming out, flanked by Sammy Goyle, the Slytherin in our Potions class, and Logan Moon, another, quiet Slytherin Seventh Year. He pauses mid-sentence when he sees me. And then a smile breaks across his face. It’s small but it’s there. Private. Like it’s just for me.
“Good evening, Rose,” he nods as we pass each other. I blink at him in shock and by the time I gather enough wits to respond, he is already half way across the Entrance Hall, laughing about something with Goyle.
Turning, I spot Faye smirking at me with a raise eyebrow and all too knowing look. I glare at her. She laughs.
“Come on, there had better still be some food left, this baby makes me hungry,” she chuckles quietly, steering us into the Great Hall. Andrius smiles at her as we enter and she gives him a small smile in return. “Oh look, it’s Lily,” she grins, hoping down the Gryffindor table and situating herself comfortably next to my cousin as the two duck heads and chatter away.
“You just going to stand there? Or do you want something to eat?” Will queries from my left. I hurriedly take a seat beside him and start spooning food onto my plate. “You alright? You’ve been distant all day.”
“I’m fine,” I smile. And maybe Hugo was right. Maybe I do smile more.
“Rosa!” comes my cousin’s singsong voice from across the Three Broomsticks as I step in out of the chilly March air. Glancing around, I spot Dominique sitting at a small booth near the back of the pub with two heads of blonde hair either side of her.
“Dominique,” I smile in greeting. “Pollux. Louis? I didn’t know you were joining us today,” I grin, a faintly teasing tone to my voice which, judging by Louis’ face, does not go unnoticed.
“Someone let slip they were meeting me again today,” Dominique smirked, glancing pointedly at Pollux. “Louis threw a hissy fit at the thought of his best friend and his sister enjoying each others company without his supervision.” The smile on Dominique’s face is nothing short of savage. Beside her, Pollux blushes, lowering his eyes to the butterbeer clasped firmly in his hands. I move into the seat next to Louis.
“Rose,” Louis murmurs by way of greeting, clearly uncomfortable with his sister’s chatter. But that was Dominique’s way. She relished in other people discomfort. Practically basked in it.
“So Rosa, how have you been?” Dominique questions. “How are things at Hogwarts?”
“Good, we’re working in a new Keeper and Chaser after the Hufflepuff fiasco last month which has calmed Al down a bit, thank Merlin,” I snort as Pollux gets up to get me a butterbeer. Louis watches him with faint amusement etched on his face. “Lucy is still ignoring my existence but that whole thing seems to have died down a little now.”
“A little birdy told me you had detention with a certain Slytherin on Monday,” Louis smirks as Pollux returns with my drink. The later shoots the former what could only be described as a warning look as a blush creeps up my cheeks.
“Rosa, Rosa, what did you get detention for?” Dominique enquires, either not noticing my discomfort or choosing to ignore it.
“For laughing,” Pollux chuckles when I take too long to answer.
“She was given detention for laughing in class,” he elaborates to Dominique’s confused look.
“Rose. Rose got a detention for laughing?” Dominique repeats for clarity, as if the thought were to absurd to comprehend. Which I suppose it is to an extent. I am not one for open displays of amusement to say the least. “Are you serious?” Dominique directs to me.
“Oh come on, it’s not that big a deal. Zabini wasn’t in a great mood because some Hufflepuff smashed a root too hard and it hit him in the back. Scorpius and I thought it was funny and got detention,” I snap.
“Scorpius?” Dominique asks as Pollux’s eyebrows simultaneously shoot up.
“I thought we had already established that?” I frown, glancing between Louis and Pollux. Louis just shrugs, clearly not overly interested in this conversation.
“Well, yeah,” Pollux ponders for a moment. “It’s just… You normally refer to him as just Malfoy.”
“There are too many Malfoys,” I mumble into my glass. “How do you know about this anyway?” I ask Louis accusingly. Louis just nods at Pollux, who pretends not to notice. “Did Malfoy write to you about this?”
“So he’s back to ‘Malfoy’ now, is he?” Dominique smirks. If looks could kill, my cousin would be six feet under.
“He may have mentioned it,” Pollux shifts uncomfortably. “Has Louis told you about the new werewolf initiative they’re trying to bring in?” he asks in a blatant change of subject and I cannot decide whether I am relieved – to not be talking about Scorpius Malfoy – or disappointed – to not know why exactly Scorpius Malfoy was writing to his brother about a detention.
“Mmm, they’re trying to get werewolves more integrated and accepted in society. They are planning to include more in depth lessons on werewolf behaviours and lifestyles in General Magic rather than only teach about them in Defence Against the Dark Arts or Care of Magical Creatures which they see as dehumanising the werewolf population…” Louis explains in an almost rehearsed manner.
While I listen with interest – Louis works for the Werewolf Liaisons Department at the Ministry and is always the first to know about new initiatives they’re trying to introduce – I notice that Dominique is barely paying attention. She is glancing around the room, studying the mass of (mainly) students. Pollux, however, has focused all his attention on his best friend, despite no doubt having heard it all before.
Suddenly, Dominique glances up at me, a grin breaking across her faces and a twinkle of mischief in her eyes. She doesn’t say anything though and I feel like maybe I’ve missed something.
“You know you have a werewolf at Hogwarts at the moment,” Louis states, drawing me back into his conversation.
“Really?” I ask in surprise. “A student.”
“Yeah, his name is Brookes or something,” Louis frowns.
“Aiden Brookes?” As in the guy I tried to kiss for Hugo so Hugo could bang his girlfriend?
“I think so. Barely anyone knows he’s a werewolf though; he inherited it from his mother. She was bitten in the War. We’re working towards it not being so tabooed so that it can be general knowledge. I know Harry did a lot after the war but it’s still not completely accepted, which is entirely irrational.”
“Should you be telling me this then?” I raise an eyebrow at him pointedly.
“He doesn’t mind people knowing, he just never goes out of his way to tell them and it’s not exactly something people tend to ask,” Louis shrugs again. “I’ve met him a couple of times, he’s a nice guy.” Well now I feel even guiltier. “He’s in Ravenclaw, do you remember him Dominique?” Louis asks his sister.
But Dominique isn’t listening. Her attention is focused on the bar where a couple of Slytherins from my year are sitting. Scorpius is thankfully not among them. One of them glances our way and for the life of me I cannot remember his name. He catches Dominique’s eye and smiles. It’s not an overly flirty or suggestive smile that men usually through at Dominique. It’s just a smile. Like seeing her has made his day a little brighter. And Dominique is smiling hesitantly back. And if I can tell you one thing about my cousin, it is that she is never hesitant.
“Dominique?” Louis repeats, pulling her attention away from the Slytherin and back to us. The faintest of blushes rises in her cheeks but neither of the boys seem to notice. “Vous avez la capacité d'attention d'un poisson rouge,” he mutters to her in French. She just rolls her eyes.
I tug my robes a little tighter around me against the wind as I head back up to the castle. It had been oddly calming seeing Dominique, Pollux and Louis again. Dominique’s attention had been divided between us and the Slytherin at the bar for most of the day but Pollux had been more animated that I have yet seen him and Louis was more comfortable with the three of us than he ever was at family gatherings. We had parted ways with solid plans to meet again once Hogwarts had broken up for Easter in a couple of weeks.
As I near a bend in the path, I hear the unmistakeable sound of my brother’s voice ahead of me. He’s not shouting but there is definitely a note of distress to his tone. Rounding the corner, I spot him in animated conversation with a slightly taller figure with a mop of dark hair that hangs slightly in front of his eyes. With a start I recognise him as Logan Moon.
I must make a noise of some sort because their heads simultaneously whip around to see me.
“If you are trying to have a private conversation, I suggest you don’t do it on the path that leads up the castle on a Hogsmeade day,” I say dryly into the silence.
“Oh, we’re done here,” Moon spits in my direction before turning back to my brother. “I know what I want Weasley,” he hisses quietly. “Let me know when you figure it out.” And then he is gone, marching up to the castle with a stormy expression on his face. Hugo looks vaguely shell shocked.
Sighing, I approach my brother and guide him down a side path until we reach the bench I was looking for. He takes a seats wordlessly and looks down at his hands.
“Talk to me,” I requests. He shifts awkwardly before letting his head fall into his hands in defeat.
“I don’t know what to say,” he shrugs after a moment of silence.
“Well, why don’t you start by telling me why I keep finding you talking to Logan Freaking Moon,” I encourage. It gets a faint snort out of Hugo.
“You always used to do that – add words to the middle of peoples names.”
“Yeah well, old habits die hard,” I mutter. “Now quit changing the subject.”
“I… It just… It was a while ago, after a tedious Charms lesson, I was heading to the kitchens to get a snack when it hit me. Fuck, I haven’t had a panic attack like that in years,” Hugo mutters and my heart seizes up. When Hugo was younger he started getting panic attacks, they started off in his sleep and the whole house would be woken by it but then they just started coming out of the blue. The Midiwizards at St Mungo’s couldn’t find a reason for them and as of yet, there is no cure. A year before he started at Hogwarts, they subsided slightly. He still gets them occasionally but they are rarely as severe.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” I demand.
“I didn’t want to worry you,” he mutters.
“Hugo, you promised me, when you boarded the Hogwarts Express for the first time, you promised me you would tell me if you even had the smallest attack,” I insist.
“I’m sorry,” he ducks his head.
“Please Hugo, you have to tell me if it happens again,” I beg, reaching an arm round him. He nods into my shoulder.
“Logan found me,” Hugo continues in a quieter voice, keeping his head resting on my shoulder in a sort of half hug. “He recognised what it was immediately and started helping me through the breathing exercises. He stayed with me for three hours after it had passed, we went to the kitchen and we just talked. He told me his mum had panic attacks occasionally, which is how he knew what to do. Anyway, he started helping me with my Transfiguration homework and we just kept talking. It was well after curfew when we snuck out of the kitchen and he asked me if I wanted to meet there again and I agreed and it just became a regular thing. Sometimes we went to the library, sometimes we just hung out in the kitchen, we’ve even looped the Black Lake a couple of times,” Hugo sniffs.
“But then a couple of nights ago, we fell asleep together in the kitchen and ever since it’s just been awkward between us and I don’t understand why,” Hugo sighs. “I just wish we could go back to how it was before. He’s basically my best friend even though I haven’t really know him that long.”
“Do you like him?” I ask gentle when Hugo doesn’t continue.
“I just said he was my best friend,” Hugo huffs.
“That’s not what I meant Hugo,” I sigh. “Do you like him?”
“I’m not gay,” is Hugo’s snappish response. I don’t say anything. “I like girls,” he adds on, as if to clarify.
“Just because you like girls doesn’t mean you can’t like boys too,” I say softly, carding my fingers through his unruly red hair. Hugo doesn’t say anything and we sit in heavy silence for several minutes.
“You won’t- You won’t say anything… To mum and dad? Will you?” he whispers eventually.
“No,” I promise. “But you know that they won’t care, don’t you Hugo. So long as you’re happy, they won’t care who it is that makes you happy.”
“Unless it’s a Malfoy,” Hugo mutters and I can hear the smirk in his voice even if I can’t see his face. The little shit.
Hello lovely readers! So a nice quick update! I'm just as shocked as you are. But I've made a plan for the rest of this story now which is really helping so hopefully these regular updates with become a thing again. Anyway, thanks for reading and if you want to know more about when I'm updating or if you want to ask me or my characters question, or if you just want to look at photos then please come and check out my blog - there is a link on my Author's Page - and say hello! Thanks for reading and reviews are always welcome, I know there is some slightly sensitive stuff in this chapter so if you think I need to handle anything differently, please don't hesitate to says so,
P.S. Vous avez la capacité d'attention d'un poisson rouge = You have the attention span of a goldfish.
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