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Chapter 19 : Bombs and Bonds: Scorpius and Rose POV
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It was even more surreal to see Harry grappling with keeping himself together. For the most part, he always maintained a calm demeanor - especially when he addressed us as a whole. The entire department sat in rows facing its two most respected members. The silence in the room was palpable. We were still digesting the bomb they’d just dropped on us.
Harry’s breath punctured the air in short spurts out of his nose. I knew him well enough to recognize that this was his way of steeling himself. He probably had practiced the speech a few times before giving it, but the emotional nature of its content was just too much for him.
I shook my head in a desperate attempt to clear my mind, but little bits of the information I just received were jammed into my brain.
Stannous… testing Rose… mother… torture… definitive… Department of Mysteries… powerful magic… pro-
“Obviously, this is information of the most sensitive nature,” Harry cut off my thoughts, his voice barely above a whisper. It didn’t matter. Every person in the room was intent on hearing him. “This case is now priority number one for this department,” Harry continued stalking the front of the room as Ron tiredly swiped a thumb and forefinger across his eyes and pinched his nose. “We are not removing any cases, but I’m shifting around some duties so that we can focus our best talents... where we need them.”
“When do we tell Rose?” Kali Goldstein piped in. Ron tipped his head upward to exchange a glance with his best friend.
Harry sucked in a breath. “Right now, we don’t. The Department of Mysteries is still working on the authentication and given what she’s already been put through, I’ve…” Harry caught Ron’s eye, “... or rather we’ve decided to wait until we have enough specifics to merit it. The information I’ve given you is extremely preliminary, and we’re still learning more and more everyday,” his stare ended on me and Al. I blinked. It was the only motion my body would make. I wasn’t even sure I was breathing.
“No one outside of this room knows, d’ya understand?” Ron looked surprised at how loud he was addressing the group, but he continued, “This does not get leaked to The Prophet or anywhere else.” He began listing on his fingers. “Spouses don’t know, girlfriends don’t know, twin brothers don’t know. Got it?” Most people nodded. I was still frozen.
“And protection?” Caesar said gravely from his seat to my left. I was grateful for him and all the others. My head was swirling too much and I couldn’t get through the reality of this news to focus on what we should do next. The mentees, being a little more removed from the situation, had the clarity of mind to ask the pertinent questions.
Harry answered him. “Rose is currently under the fidelius charm, is confined to her home, work and a few close family members’ houses. An Auror guard acts as escort whenever she transports between locations and we have undercover Aurors at Mungo’s for added protection.”
Caesar nodded, assenting with the proposed safeguards.
“What’s our next move?” This time it was Teddy who spoke.
“Well,” Harry blew out a big sigh as Ron rocked his head back against the wall and stared at the ceiling, “The problem is, we don’t know Stannous’s current location so we can’t track his movement to know when he is mobilizing. What we do know, however, is that he will, at some point, attempt another kidnapping. We also know that he’s got several accomplices working with him, so he may choose to lay low and let his lackeys do the dirty work.”
The word was so soft, but clear and it came from the man sitting on my right. My head swung involuntarily to gaze blankly at Albus.
“He won’t send others to get her,” Al continued, staring at his feet, as if talking to himself. “I saw the look on the fucker’s face and he liked it. He gets off on being part of the action, being the center. He might bring others along for backup, but he’s definitely going to be the one to put his hands on... Rose,” he choked out the last words and had to clear his throat.
The last sentence passed through me like a blast of arctic air and I shook it off. From somewhere in front of me, Harry was talking again and people were asking more questions, but I couldn’t make out any words, just voices all around me. I felt a hand pressing into my back and found it to be surprisingly steadying. After several moments, I realized it was Caesar and my mind was able to refocus on Harry’s instructions.
“...need to treat this like any other case even though the subject - er - Rose is related to many of the department, myself included.” Harry eyes were on me as he spoke the last of these words. He was sending me a message with his piercing emerald orbs.
We’re all in this together. For Rose.
“Mum?” I had heard the crack in the entryway, but had assumed it was James, returning home from his Quidditch practice. We weren’t connected to the floo network, for obvious reasons, and only people given the secret could apparate into the house. Once inside, you could apparate between the floors, but the entry hall was more or less our come and go room.
I extricated myself from the piles of books, parchment, quills and ink to escape the drawing room and flit out to greet her.
“Hullo!” I wrapped my arms around her and squeezed tightly. “What’re you doing here?” Mum wasn’t a regular at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place. I couldn’t exactly blame her. The entire house had a sort of depressing air to it. The dingy rooms hadn’t changed in years, so I couldn’t tell if they’d all been painted different variations of gray or had faded to that as time passed and fashions came and went, leaving this dull, depressing house behind.
“Well… your father had a meeting at work and I thought,” she pulled at the corner of her lip with her thumb and forefinger. “I thought we could, you know… visit.”
Visit? I raised an eyebrow. We were not a pair of pure blood witches from the nineteenth century. Clearly this was not a social call, and it was obviously serious enough for her to come to me, instead of an owled invitation to my parent’s house for dinner.
I smiled, actually grateful for the company. These restrictions were wearing on me. No public places meant no Diagon Alley, no walks in the park or even Muggle London. I had finally been feeling more like a normal adult and suddenly my freedoms had been revoked. For the time being, the only places I could go other than Number Twelve and St. Mungo’s were my parent’s house, Uncle Harry’s, and of course, The Burrow. Christmas had been wonderful, as usual. My parents (well, Mum more so than Dad) were somewhat accepting of Scorpius and I as a couple, and Dom had even been discharged from Mungo’s in time to enjoy the holidays with all of us.
“How’re you holding up?” she asked, sitting stiffly down at the long table in the kitchen as I made us a pot of tea. Her voice had false cheer to it.
“It’s great Mum,” I gave my standard answer, as always. “Studying is going well, the lot of us are incredibly busy, so there isn’t much time for -”
“Rose.” She reached across the table to grab my hand as I laid a plate of biscuits out for us. “I don’t mean your studies. I meant you.” Her fingers were soft but cold as they closed around mine.
I paused and stared blankly at her. Mum always asked about my studies. It would drive Hugo mad when she asked how his classes were going and how much time he was studying for each subject, but I loved reporting all of that to her. I even felt it made us grow closer when I showed her my review tables for my O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s. It’s not like Mum never took an interest in my life, it was just that studying and books were what we had in common.
Suddenly, I realised what she was asking. And the reason for her nerves became apparent. I nodded and squeezed her hand right back as I wrapped both of mine around hers, trying to warm them.
“I’m doing really well, Mum. And I can say it and mean it for the first time in over two years.” My blue eyes bored into her warm brown ones and I rubbed her chilled hands again. “This kitchen is cold.” I pulled one of my hands away to grasp my wand in my pocket and, with a flick and a nonverbal spell, the fire that had burnt down to embers roared to life.
Settling down on the bench next to her, I poured us both a cup of tea. All of a sudden, I felt like I was seven years old again and I laid my head down on her shoulder.
“Stannous used cruciatus flagrate,” I said, almost as if we were discussing the latest brand of floo powder. “I’m fairly sure he created the spell on his own. It left some pretty nasty scars, but… they’re better now. Not gone - but… b-better,” my voice faltered. Guilt seeped through me. I had avoided this moment for so long. Actually avoiding this moment was the purpose of my entire existence for over two years until…
“Scorpius has been really, truly amazing Mum,” I blurted out, almost desperately. “I need for you and Dad to give him at least a chance. No. He deserves more than a chance. I love him. Probably more than I’ve ever loved anything or anyone,” I was whispering. “And he loves me.” The confession poured out of me as both her arms wrapped around me and squeezed tight.
“I know. Rose. I know. I - I know you need this from us. Please understand - your Dad is trying. He’s actually come further than I’d ever thought he would. But I - I think it’s time you know the whole story. About... the war,” her voice dropped.
I felt her body go rigid. My Mum never talked about the war. I’d learnt as a child not to ask. After getting a cursory response I never pressed the issue. As I shifted to look in my mum’s face, I could see how much this was weighing on her. It was my turn to place my arms around her and pull tight. She responded by resting a hand on my forearm that was crossing her chest.
“After the war was a really dizzying time - for all of us,” she began with a deep inhale. “We were war heroes, but I think that everyone forgot that we were eighteen-year-old war heroes. Hell, I think we even forgot that bit.” My eyes shot up to hers. She wasn’t kidding about having a serious conversation. This was the first time I’d ever heard my mother use that word. This was the first time she ever sat down and willingly gave me information about the war. She stopped herself and pulled at the edge of her lip.
After a moment, her hand sank into her lap and she subtlety recomposed herself as I loosened my grip. “What I meant to say was, it was extremely busy. The summer after the war was insane, really. The three of us were expected to attend ministry functions almost nightly. Some were to help prepare the new government, others were to celebrate the victory, and still others were to mourn the dead. We worked to help rebuild Hogwarts during the day and I took a few weeks to get my parents from Australia.
“Harry, your Dad and I were hounded, day in and day out by reporters, ministry officials and fans who just wanted to be close to us. We really did our best to respect that everyone had a right to know… erm… to know as much as possible about the correct version of events. Harry was very adamant about that - to a certain extent. We learned early on that some reporters would rather make up facts than worry about our reputation or publishing accurate information. For that reason, we decided to tell the story as truthfully as we could. There were a few details that we chose to hide but, in the end, we told everyone about the prophecy that had been spoken and how Harry was ‘the chosen one,’ destined to kill Voldemort by his own wand. At the time, it felt like the right thing to do.”
I knew about the prophecy. But not because my parents ever told me about it - we had learnt about it in History of Magic classes at Hogwarts. My initial confusion was leading me to a new emotion - aggravation. So my parents had thought it prudent to reveal all of this information to the general public, but never to their own children?
My brief moment of frustration faded when I saw her hands were shaking slightly in her lap. I poured her another cup of tea and fixed it up for her. She smiled warmly at me, and her nerves seemed to settle a bit, after taking a few long sips before continuing.
“That proved to be a huge mistake. Once word of the prophecy got out, every would-be seer this side of the Atlantic Ocean started having visions about Harry - or your father, or me. They ran the gamut from what restaurant we would be dining at for Halloween to predicting our untimely deaths - again, and again,” her voice slowly rising in timbre also caught an air of bitterness to it.
She paused for a moment to let it sink in with me. This was the most decomposed I’d ever seen my mum and it was more than a bit unnerving to me. She’d always been so in control of everything from keeping track of our daily schedules to arguing cases in front of the Wisengamot. She was a true Gryffindor, although I never realized until this moment how brave she really was. She took a deep breath and I could swear I felt a tremor pass through her core.
“I really wanted to finish my final year at Hogwarts. McGonagall had made me head girl and focusing on my studies and duties kept me busy enough to… not deal with things. Things I should’ve dealt with. Things like… like seeing people die and escaping death more than once and… and… my own torture,” while she spoke slowly, her voice was firm.
“The nightmares began the summer after the war.”
This was her confession and I knew. I knew how hard it was to say the words. I knew she had to get through it without me interrupting. So I snuggled deeper into her side and let her tell me everything at her own pace.
“I rationalized it. I told myself of course I would have some recurring dreams of the horrors for a bit. I struggled through for the summer and through my year at Hogwarts. As head girl, I didn’t even have two seconds to think about things for nearly a year. Actually exactly a year.
“The anniversary celebration was a large scale event at the castle. The idea of a celebration seemed absurd to me. I’d been sinking deeper and deeper over the previous months and the nightmares were becoming more frequent. I felt so alone, not even realizing that I was pushing everyone away.” She turned to face me and traced her fingers down the side of my face. Oh Merlin, her words rang so true. It was the same for me and she knew it. But Mum was so much braver than I was and she kept going.
“I hadn’t seen your dad in months. I kept owling him that my studies and head girl duties were taking most of my time. But the truth was that I’d gotten to a point of barely eating or sleeping. During the day, I put up the front of a girl with everything together, but at night, alone in my head girl room, I was a complete wreck.
“The celebration was supposed to be a happy one, but as soon as your father saw me, he knew. After the ceremony, he refused to go back. He stayed with me until the end of term. I don’t think I’d have made it through my N.E.W.T.s without him. Shortly after graduation, we moved into a small flat in Diagon Alley.
“The nightmares got worse and worse. I couldn’t understand why he stayed,” she shook her head. “It was the worst time in my entire life. After all the years of Muggleborn hating, living on the run and defeating Voldemort, I just… wasn’t expecting - I thought - rather foolishly, that it would just be over and everything would go back to… peace and calm.”
“Oh, Mum,” my heart swelled for her and Dad.
“Most of my nightmares were about being tortured at… at Malfoy Manor, but that was really only part of the problem. The crazy seers making prophecies just got worse and worse. Each one tried to outdo the previous. It became so sensationalistic, so absurd. It added to my trauma. I felt like I couldn’t move on and I was… stuck. Your Dad never gave up. By the end of summer, he decided to leave the joke shop and join Harry at Auror training. Both he and Harry saw first hand that the end of the war was not the end.”
The end is not the end. No words were truer than those.
Mum took a deep breath and blew it out. “Your Dad still holds on a bit. He holds on to what happened at Malfoy Manor and all the prophecies and all of it. But I also know that he sees how you are with Scorpius - and how he is with you. I think he sees so many similarities that it makes it harder for him to accept. Am I making any sense?”
I nodded into her shoulder, “You’re making perfect sense.”
Two distinct cracks sounded in the entry hall.
“Rose! Rosie?” It was Dad.
“Rose, are you home?” Scorpius.
“Down here - in the kitchens!” I called as Mum smoothed her hair and collected herself.
“Hiya!” I tried to make my voice light as Scorpius paced into the room, relief washing over his face. Dad was right on his tail, almost as if he were pushing past Scorpius to get to us. “Dad, you look a bit peaked, you alright?” I asked.
“Fine,” he answered quickly. His eyes darted between Mum and I. For a moment, I thought he’d guessed the topic of our conversation. “‘Mione, everything alright there?” he asked as he skirted round the table and stood behind the two of us. His hands instinctively began rubbing Mum’s shoulders. Fortunately, he took her muffled mm-hmm as an acceptable response and sat down on the other side of her.
“Would you like to stay for dinner?” Scorpius asked, finding my hand and lifting it from my lap as he stood behind me. “Rose and I can whip up something quick.”
“Oh! We wouldn’t dream of putting you out,” Mum gave the polite response timidly.
“Nonsense,” Scorpius replied, “It’s really not a bother at all.” I could hear the eagerness in his voice. He loved to cook. I think sharing the recipes that his Mum taught him made him feel closer to her and also was a way to show how much he cared for others. I really, really wanted Mum and Dad to say yes.
But Ron Weasley came through - even if it was with his stomach more than with his heart. “Well, perhaps a quick bite wouldn’t hurt, Hermione. We could spend some time with Rosie… and Scorpius.” He was now cuddled up next to her, one arm around her shoulders and drawing her close. I wondered if he sensed what we’d just been discussing. It was a rare moment to witness this tenderness between them.
Scorpius led me to the other side of the kitchen and we began prepping his Mum’s meatloaf recipe that he knew I loved so much. He leaned in close as I set my wand to chop the onions. We stirred the gravy together - he always insisted that be made the Muggle way. I felt like he was making excuses to be close to me, rubbing my arm and grasping my hand whenever he got a chance.
“You alright?” I asked as we were plating the four dishes for us. We’d made about ten times more than needed, but it wouldn’t go to waste. James and Al were famous for their midnight snacks that regularly cleared out the refrigerator.
“I’m great, Ro.” He sent me a tight-lipped smile with bright eyes.
I was about to call his bluff when Dad bellowed, “That smells incredible! When do we eat?”
A/N: So this chapter was an add-in to my original outline. I need to thank kenpo for the idea of Rose and Hermione having a heart-to-heart about their common experiences. Thanks Georgia! You mentioned it in one of your reviews and this chapter would never have been written without your comments. It may look like filler, but this chapter really kicks off the second part of the story.
Special thanks also goes to my awesome beta reader, crestwood, whose encouragement, edits and reassurances are invaluable to me! ♥
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