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Chapter 16 : Chapter Sixteen
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She supressed an eye roll as I glared at my brother.
"Do you want me to stay here over Christmas?" I asked him. "Because I would like to go home, personally."
Doctor Cross's lips twitched up into an amused smile, before she turned around and faced Scorpius who had completely ignored my question. "Emerald has recovered quite miraculously. I'm quite surprised in her progress, but I'm also confident in it." She looked from Scorp to me. "You need to get a lot of sleep. No excercise for a good few weeks. Don't get into any situations where someone or something could bump into you, because jostling your ribs could be very painful. I'm going to keep you bandaged up and prescribe some pain medication that it's incredibly important for you to take. Do you know how to bandage yourself?"
"Yes, I know plenty of first aid," I reassured her.
"Good. Like I say, take it easy. I might have kept you here longer but we get so crowded over Christmas that we can only keep critical patients and even though you're not entirely recovered, your lung is fine now and with caution, I'm expecting you to make a full recovery quite quickly. You got off incredibly lucky."
"I'll be careful," I insisted.
Doctor Cross smiled. "I don't doubt it, though I suppose your brother does. Reguardless, you've signed the forms. You're good to go, Emerald. You're a very brave young woman. I hope that you get justice, however this happened."
She turned back to Scorpius. "Your sister is an intelligent and couragous girl. You should be proud of her. And it's been a pleasure to see someone care about their sibling so... incessantly. I don't get to see that often enough here, so thank you."
She smiled at both of us and walked down the corridor.
I turned to Scorp, one eyebrow raised. "Is there a reason why you want me to stay here forever?"
"You're safe here?" he responded.
I hopped off the bed I had been sitting up on. "We're going to be okay, Scorpius," I promised. "You're not getting rid of me that easy."
"Worth a shot."
I rolled my eyes. "Let's go home."
I was greeted warmly by Maisy and Alice as soon as I got home. Scorpius insisted I stay sat down almost constantly which Alice thought was ridiculous.
In true Christmas spirit, we spent the rest of Christmas Eve on the couch watching Christmas films projected from Scorp's wand. We were there for hours, laughing together and talking and crying. Like a family, a real one.
Night came and soon enough it was midnight. That was when we stopped watching films and headed up the stairs.
Scorpius and I stopped outside our parents' door, both feeling unsure.
"Some kind of tradition I should know about?" Alice asked, adjusting Maisy who was sleeping against her shoulder.
In response, Scorpius opened the bedroom door and beckoned us in.
The bed was made perfectly, neat and undisturbed. Everything seemed old and faded, dust on every surface.
"We don't have a grave, so we lay flowers on their bed every year," I explained softly.
Scorpius raised his wand gracefully towards the bed and a stream of red and gold petals began to fall. When he thought there were enough he stepped back and smiled.
I aimed my wand at the petals and concentrated hard, perfectly silent. Slowly, they began to rise as I controlled them, until they spelled out the words in a red, gold, red, gold pattern:
'Your string of lights are still bright to me'
"That's the song that your mum used to sing to you, right?"
"Right," I murmured. "'Who you are is not where you've been'."
"Have you ever looked around the room for anything that could tell you more about her death?" Alice wondered, walking towards the desk in the corner of the large room.
Scorpius shrugged. "We only come in here to lay down flowers. We didn't want to clear out their things if we didn't have to. So we left their bedroom undisturbed, apart from to wish them a happy Christmas."
"Do you mind if I...?" she trailed off, nodding her head in the direction of the desk.
"Not at all," I answered, taking Maisy from her.
She turned and opened one of the old wooden draws slowly. Smiling curiously, she pulled out just a few of hundreds of letters in the drawer. "So old fashioned," she muttered. "I love it." She flipped through the letters quietly as Scorpius made sure the bed was neat and I watched Alice.
She looked confused as she inspected a new letter.
"What is it?" I asked her.
"It's addressed to you and Scorpius," she informed me.
She passed Scorpius the letter. "Well that's Mother's handwriting without a doubt." He opened the letter and skimmed it over quickly.
"Oh my God," he whispered.
"What does it say?" I asked. He looked up from the letter with tears in his eyes.
"It's a suicide note."
It took me a moment to register what he'd said. I swallowed forcefully. "Read it," I instructed.
He sat down on the bed. I sat on his right and Alice on his left.
"My dear Scorpius and darling Emerald,
I have to apologise, for everything that I've done, and for everything that I'm going to do. So this is my apology, and this is my goodbye.
For these last years I have been blessed with your presence in my life. Unforunately, you have not been so blessed. For that I am truly sorry.
When your Father and I started our relationship, we were young and fresh from the war, suffering with major depression and post traumatic stress disorder. We had been forced to do unspeakable things to innocent people that would haunt us for the rest of our lives. We were forced to sit and watch merciless torture. It was a mind game. We couldn't take it.
Familiar with the jumpy tendencies and numb expressions, it was easy for us to pick each other out, as people who could understand what it was like to relive the horrors hiding in the back of our corrupted minds every night and every day. It was also easy for me to pick him out because he was simply beautiful. He would always say that I was beautiful, too.
And we healed each other, as much as was possible. We were both getting so much better, so much happier. We were adjusting slowly.
Marriage wasn't a question for us. We loved one another with our entire hearts, and when the time was right, we married. When we were both sure we were prepared, we decided to have Scorpius. And we loved him so much. He was an absolutely beautiful baby. We couldn't keep our eyes off him. It wasn't too long after that Emerald came into our lives. Emerald was not decided upon like Scorpius was. She was a happy accident. What a happy, glorious accident. I remember a few hours after Emerald was born, Draco had his arm around me and Scorpius sat up in his lap whilst Emerald was sleeping in my arms. Your father burst into tears, murmuring 'We have a family, Astoria. We have a family'. And he loved you more than I can ever tell you. More than he can ever tell you. More than you will ever know. He would have died for both of you without thinking. I promise you, he loved you, so much. And so did I.
But my darlings, we were not as fixed as we convinced ourselves we were. We were under pressure. Your father sunk into a grave depression. He never quit his job. He was fired because he simply stopped showing up. He would not leave our room. He started to drink. He started to take drugs. Then he started to have manic visions, flashbacks, and episodes. I had to look after him, and I hated it. And it meant that neither of us made enough time to look after you. I wanted to die. I want to die. I tried so many times to bring him back to us, the him I was in love with, but he is gone.
Draco Malfoy is dead. This monster in his place is irreparable, as am I.
My greatest fear is that you two would have to be irreparable. I cannot allow this.
What I'm going to do is selfish, I know, but I do it in the hope that it will lead your father away. I have a gun - a muggle weapon. I will shoot myself and I will die. If I know anything of this mess that was once your father, he will flee upon my death. Once he is gone you should contact the auror's office at the minstry immediately, or St Mungo's and tell them everything. Tell them what I did. Tell them everything about your father.
I am so sorry that I left this so long. I have risked your lives since they started. Bringing you into existence was selfish but I am so glad I did it because you two are the greatest thing that ever happened to me.
I should have told someone about your father long ago. I should have told a doctor. I was just ridiculously in love. That doesn't make up for what I've done, but it is the only honest explanation for my despicable actions. I realised I was completely out of my mind that night, less than a month ago when Emerald lay dying in her bed. If Scorpius had not controlled me, I would have let my own daughter die. You two are the best hope for each other that you have. And your father and I are the exact opposite.
I will leave this note somewhere you can find it easily. I do not plan to do this until you are both safely asleep tonight. If you should find this note before I do this, please do not try to stop me. Do not approach me. You could get hurt.
If you don't, then I can assume I am already dead. I am sorry for the pain I have caused in my life and in my death. I am sorry for all of this mess. I am sorry for all of this hell. From now on your lives will be so much better.
Stay together. Love each other. Support each other. Scorpius, you have always raised your sister better than I have. You have protected her better, you have loved her better. Emerald, you have always been Scorpius's reason to wake up. You have been his smile. I hope you know how much you mean to one another. I hope you tell each other how much you mean to one another. Keep each other safe, keep each other going, keep each other sane, keep each other happy. Just love each other.
And despite what my actions suggest, I promise you now, in the hope that this is the last thing I say to you, and that you remember it: I love you.
We were silent for a few minutes, taking it in.
"I think she did it," Scorpius said finally, his voice soft and airy.
I thought about this for a few seconds. "I hope she did. I hope... she got her peace and quiet. She gave us ours... I hope she got hers. I want to think that the last thing she did was win against him, even if she didn't really win. Does that make any sense?"
Scorpius wrapped his arm around me. "Yeah," he murmured.
"I just wish she would have told someone herself, instead of everything that happened that night. That big fight. What would have happened if she had let him kill himself instead?"
"It would have driven her mad. She would've become what he became. I loved mother, but I think... after everything that happened... we were better off without her."
Maybe I should have been hurt by that. Maybe I should have defended my mother, who I loved, and who taught me so much. But as far as Scorp was concerned, Mother had betrayed us and I accepted that.
"You guys have overcome so much together. I know it's still a fight, but just think how far you've come. All the bruises I've seen... I know they're still on your hearts. But you've been so brave. You're fighting every day but you're winning," Alice said thoughtfully.
I smiled weakly. "Not just us, Alice. We'd be lost without you."
"And we," she gestured to Maisy, curled up in my arms, "Would be lost without you."
"Merry Christmas," Scorpius smiled.
New Year's Eve was making me nervous. As was tradition, we were attending the Potter's annual New Year party, but Scorpius was slightly all over the place, and I wasn't sure if having him sober or drunk would be worse.
My green dress matched the green in my eyes. It stopped just above my knees. My lipstick and shoes were the same crimson red as my hair, which fell past my shoulders in curls.
I was watching Scorpius from across the ball room at the back of the Potter's manor.
The room was often reconstructed to hold various events, for example, if someone was holding a meeting the room would be full of chairs, or a press conference would require a stage.
On New Year's eve, the walls were as high as two floors. The centre of the room was a dance floor. To the left was a bar and to the right was a stage that a classy band all in tuxes were playing on. At the back of the room, the glass doors opened into the vast and beautiful garden, the temperature of which had been magically modified so it was quite cool and pleasant even without a coat despite the winter.
Mr Potter had asked to speak with Scorpius without me. I assumed he thought he would upset me if he talked about my accident in front of me. He didn't realise that it would do me far less damage than it would Scorpius. He seemed calm and collected, but I knew better.
"I am not drunk enough," Al murmured in my ear, taking a sip from his wine glass. I ignored the butterflies soaring around clumsily in my stomach as goosebumps spread over my skin when his warm breath tickled it.
"Me neither," I sighed. "In fact I'm not drunk at all. Gotta keep up an appearance. Make a good impression."
"Welcome to my world," he responded dully as he watched the formally dressed witches and wizards swirling around the ballroom together. "Where's Scorpius?"
I gestured towards a group of aurors in suits who were chatting enthusiastically with my charming older brother, who was feigning enthusiasm quite miraculously. He looked professional and sensible in his smart dark grey suit with a convincing smile plastered on his face. Like I said: keep up an appearance, make a good impression.
If you're going to suddenly reveal to the wizarding world that your father is a psychopath then you have to play nice in the hopes that the aurors forgive you for not telling them sooner about said psychopath being lose on the world, potentially out there killing people, and you have to look good in front of any press members who within the next months would most likely take a sudden interest in you.
That was why Scorpius and I were on our very best behaviour. I was 100% sober and Scorpius had only had one drink. To say it was testing our patience was an understatement.
Especially since Louis and Dominique were doing anything they could to stay as far away from me as possible. What's more, Danny decided he couldn't deal with either of them and refused to attend the party.
On the upside, Alice was here with James, so at least there was one familiar face around, but she was dancing with her boyfriend and I didn't feel it necessary to disrupt her good time.
"Is he gonna be okay?" Al asked, his eyes anxious on Scorpius.
"I'm not sure," I muttered. "Your dad seems to think I'm the one who can't handle whatever they're talking about but I think I might be better off. I'm gonna step in."
"Allow me to join you," Al replied, dramatically politely as we began to walk across the room.
I laughed. "Are you having fun?"
"Oh yeah," he scoffed. "Time of my fucking life. How about you?"
"About fifteen adults have congratulated me on my bravery already. The story isn't even in the papers yet," I said flatly.
Al's jaw locked. "Yeah I have a feeling things aren't going to be so easy until they find Malfoy."
"Fun year cut out for us then," I responded sarcastically.
He laughed but didn't reply, because we had reached Scorpius, Mr Potter and two other men about Mr Potter's age, both in fancy suits.
"Oh, Emerald, Albus good of you to join us," Scorpius greeted pleasantly, relief evident in his eyes. "Mr Finnigan, Mr Thomas, this is my sister Emerald. Emerald, these gentlemen are working with the auror team that will be searching for our father."
The two men shook my hand in turn.
"It's nice to meet you." Mr Finnigan spoke in a thick Irish accent. "We were just discussing the procedures we'll be going through over the progression of the case."
"I'll explain all of that later," Scorpius assured me.
"Yeah. We wouldn't like to make your whole evening about business. I'm sure it can't be the most uplifting thing to dwell on at a party," Mr Thomas said friendlily.
"We'll leave you to it," Mr Potter agreed. "Besides, it's almost midnight."
"Thank you sir," Scorpius smiled a winning smile. He shook hands with all three men.
"I'm sure we'll be speaking soon."
"We'll contact you," Mr Finnigan nodded, before turning to Mr Thomas as we turned and headed towards the garden together.
"Jesus Christ. I appreciate that this is your family Al but I'm considering killing someone."
"Same," Al and I responded at the exact same time.
We'd make such a great couple.
"Okay I don't wanna bale but I'm gonna go find someone to kiss at midnight and see if I can get laid."
"Just what I need to hear," I said brightly.
"Al which ones aren't related to you?" Scorpius asked, pretending I didn't exist.
What a charmer.
"Normally the ones that aren't ginger," he told him honestly, which made me giggle. "If you recognise her, don't do it. If you don't, I probably don't either so just go for it. With consent. Consent is important."
"Great.I'll see you guys in the new year. Love you," he said to me, kissing me on the head before he went back into the building.
"And then there were two," Al sighed.
"Oh don't let me keep you here. You can go, I don't mind," I told him genuinely.
I liked it out here with the music in the distance and the air cool and calm. There were only a few people in the garden, and they were right on the other side of it. It was peaceful.
"Are you kidding? I'd much rather spend New Year's Eve with you."
"I'm flattered," I replied, laughing. I was flattered. But I wasn't going to tell him that was I?
"Yup. You could be my New Years kiss," he suggested jokingly, effectively sucking all the air out of my lungs. My cheeks were blazing but he couldn't tell.
"Oh Scorpius would love that," I laughed.
"What Scorpius doesn't know can't hurt him," Al murmured seductively.
"He's in the room right behind us," I responded flatly, my voice remarkably casual considering that my throat was dry.
My acting skills are awesome.
"Oh I get it. You don't want to kiss me."
"You're not really my type," I agreed dismissively.
"You don't want to kiss me because you're a bad kisser!" he cried as if he had stumbled onto a groundbreaking discovery.
"I can assure you that is not the reason."
"Prooove it," he teased.
I rolled my eyes and shoved his shoulder gently.
"I think you're a little drunker than you realise, buddy."
"I am not. I just think that you look beautiful tonight and I'd like to show you how beautiful you look. With my lips. And your lips. By kissing them."
I can't believe I'm in love with this freak.
"I'm being a good friend by not taking advantage of you when you're drunk, Al," I responded, amused. "Besides new year isn't about kissing."
"Am I not good enough for you?!" he cried dramatically.
"If I told my brother about this he would slaughter you."
"If I told your brother about this he'd kiss me like a true friend."
I heard simultaneously yells of 'ten' from around the house and garden, beginning to count down the seconds until we were in a new year.
"Just because you're a terrible kisser," Al pouted.
Then I made a very stupid decision. A very very reckless decision.
I sighed, and then I tugged Al's tie lightly, pulling him down so my lips hovered just before his as the counting down continued in loud excited voices behind us. The noise seemed to fade into the background and all I could hear was his breathing.
When my eyes flicked up to meet his he seemed enchanted as he watched me. Then I stared at his lips, before I leaned up to meet them with my own. They fit perfectly. And then I kissed him. I really kissed him.
I'd never been in a relationship, granted, but God did I know how to kiss. If I credited myself for anything, it was the crazed look I could leave in a guy's eyes after I left the broom cupboard.
Classy, I know.
But this was different. I fell completely into his lips, and he fell into mine. It was as if nothing was between us and yet we had to fight down a thousand things in our way.
His hands were on my waist and his lips were soft and desperate and I had never felt more... Right. In the right place.
And then I knew I was fucked. Because his lips moved with mine perfectly, and I knew
I wouldn't be able to forget how they felt.
The yell of "HAPPY NEW YEAR!" broke through, and fireworks errupted in the night sky above us.
I pulled away and looked up at Al from under my eyelashes. His eyes were large with surprise and something else, but I didn't know what.
I put all of my messy feelings aside for a while and smirked playfully.
"See? I'm anything but a terrible kisser. Happy new year Albus Potter," I smiled, before I skipped away to find my brother, trying to squish down my heart that was trying to leap out of my throat.
I looked over my shoulder as I entered the house again. Al was stood still, one hand ruffling his hair, looking dazed.
"Al? Are you coming?" I called, amused.
He snapped out of it. "Yeah sorry." He took a couple of strides and stood by my side.
He smiled down at me. "Happy new year, Emma Malfoy."
A/N: OH. HI. FINALLY. I KNOW.
First of all, disclaimer: I don't own anything. Harry Potter and everything is JK Rowling's APART FROM the lyrics "Your string of lights are still bright to me" and "Who you are is not where you've been" which are from the song Innocent by Taylor Swift which belongs to Taylor Swift and definitely not me :)
Second, sorry! Basically, my life has just been really bad for a while and that meant that I got writer's block. Really bad writer's block. I have been trying to write this chapter for what feels like twelve billion years. But there you go! Finally! And I hope it satisfied you :) Bit of Al/Emma action, finally. More explanation about Astoria's death. Not a work of art but at least there was kissing.
THIRD: I need to explain to Potterfan310 that I think the way in which I used the word 'wards' I might have been talking about um safety spells on the house? But I'm not sure. But yeah. I might have used completely the wrong word and if I did I'm super sorry. BUT YES THANK YOU SO MUCH TO potterfan310, and BBWotter and Meggnog for sticking with this story it really means a super lot because I have been so crap and I do hope you read this chapter
I will be trying to write a little more often now but yeah life has been really difficult and just badness so I'm sorry and I hope this was a kind of okay chapter! Thank you ^_^ x
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