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Chapter 25 : Bone Tired: Scorpius POV
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“Rose.” I cut in. I wasn’t about to let her do this to herself.
I grabbed her tear-stained face in my hands and tipped her head up so she had to look at me. “You are not responsible for what that maniac does. And you have a right to keep yourself safe. But she won’t have died in vain, love.”
“That’s right Rosie,” Al added, as he rubbed her arm. “The Bulgarian Ministry has given us carte blanche to search their records and we know he is hiding out somewhere in that country - or very near there. We also know about how many people he’s working with.” He didn’t divulge to her that we’d suspected Stannous’d amassed a small army of followers that we were certain he’d infiltrated other countries, including Britain. We would tell her when the time was right. Not while we were standing at Healer Vanadi’s gravesite and she could barely stand.
Nonetheless, my words made an impact and Rose snuggled herself against my chest. Her sobs ebbed away to hiccoughs and finally an occasional sniffle.
The next couple of weeks were really busy for all of us. Rose had just started her most difficult round of courses and all us Auror trainees were gearing up for our S.N.A.K.E.s. (Specialized Normal Auror Knowledge Exams) there are two exams, one is written and one is a practical exam in defense, offense and ministry procedures for different situations. After passing these, we are then assigned a senior Auror guide for one year. We are sent on assignments and assessed in the field as situations arise. After that, it is determined whether more time is needed to be guided or if we can become an entry-level Auror and work as full-fledged partner.
We barely had time for each other. Either one of both of us were studying almost every moment we were at home. Most nights, she would come home from training, take a nap and then get up, eat quickly and study with Selenia until bed. Dom, Albus and I were studying constantly as well. And with James (and Jax) on a six week Quidditch Tour, we had all but stopped our nightly house dinners. We did manage to escape about once per week for a dinner out, but Rose was so preoccupied with her studies, she usually brought a book along to keep up with the coursework while we were eating.
She did, however, like wearing some of her new clothes – especially the light blue traveling cloak. It was a really fabulous item, as far as magical outerwear goes. She just beamed when she put it on. I was really glad that she likes the color blue.
We also kept up our weekly defense lessons at Harry’s house. Although they had gotten considerably shorter, we all needed the break and it was nice to just socialize with the group instead of studying day in and day out.
All this studying was making both of us stressed out. We were together, but had very little time to actually be together. She was almost always asleep by the time I finally wound my way up to our room from the kitchen where Al, Dom and I were hitting the books. Then, she usually got up early to get some more reading done before training started. We needed a break. I had an idea, but it still needed a little tweaking.
I guess I didn’t realize just how much time I had spent thinking about it when I was caught off guard one evening by Dom, Al and Selenia.
“We need to talk,” Dom said pointedly, giving me a hard look. We were in the parlor and Rose had excused herself to take a quick shower and head up to bed.
“We talk all the time,” I chuckled. “We see each other every day and we live together and practice together. Look! We are talking right now.” My smile faded as I saw the serious look on her face. Glancing over at Al, I realized this was more than a light, roommate conversation over who left their laundry in the washer too long. Al had his arm around Selenia, who was staring at the ground and chewing on her nails. My mind went to them right away. There must be bad news. Was Selenia okay?
“Sels? What’s going on? You aright?” No answer.
“Al? What is it?” Their concern must’ve been bigger than I’d thought. None of them were speaking.
“It’s Rose,” Dom finally spoke. Leave it to her. She always was one for cutting out the bullshit, unafraid and uncontrolled by emotions. She was the opposite of Rose, yet they got on so well.
“What about Rose?” I was wary. Was Selenia really this upset over Rose? Had I done something wrong?
“Haven’t you noticed how distant she's gotten lately?” Selenia’s voice was very quiet and I noticed Al pull her in closer. “She falls asleep most of the time we are studying and hardly says anything to me. It’s just like the last time. When she pulled away from all of us… and we didn’t realize something was wrong-” she didn’t continue.
“Do you think this prophecy is just too much for her?” Al picked up her thoughts. “That, combined with Ruth’s murder seems to be a bit much for her to cope with. I mean, Rose probably wouldn’t say anything to us. It’s just not like her to bring her troubles to others. She always thinks she has to handle everything on her own. She has to be the strong one.”
What a complete prat I’d been. How did I not notice? Thinking back, we’d barely had an entire conversation in the past three weeks.
“I think she’s having panic attacks again,” Dom added. “I’ve heard her in the loo a few times, getting sick.”
I stared at the wall as the memory came crashing back. “She told me she was still having them. The night she found out about the prophecy. Shit!” my eyes shot helplessly to Al. “She all but admitted it to me and I blew her off… but – she seemed so much better after her weekend with Sels, I thought she was alright.” Maybe Al was right and she didn’t want to burden me with her issues.
“She looks really pale. Also, in training she is messing up small things. It’s just not like her to miss questions asked in class or forget to study for an exam.”
“She forgot to study?!” Now I was in full-blown alarm mode. Something was definitely up. I began pacing around the room with my head in my hands, wracking my brain to think of any little thing she might have told me. “Has she said anything to any of you?”
“We thought you might know,” Dom explained. “I mean, she could just be really stressed out with all her training and the prophecy and stuff, but it just seems like there is something… more. We also thought… you would be the best one to talk to her. She always seems calmer when you are around.”
“All right,” I said slowly. “I will talk to her tonight – right now. You guys let me know if you think of anything else, okay?” They all nodded and Dom put her arm around me. I expected her to say ‘don’t worry,’ but instead she came out with, “Let me know if you need anything.” This only set my nerves up a notch.
Without waiting for anyone else to boost my confidence, I headed up to Rose’s room. I didn’t apparate so I could collect my thoughts along the way. She was the one that kept insisting that we needed to live our lives and not focus on what fate had in store. Before I realized it, I had opened the door to her room and was staring at her – sleeping on the bed, medical documents and photographs strewn about her.
“Rose,” I arranged myself next to her on the bed and propped myself up by one arm. Leaning forward, I gently kissed her on the lips.
“Mmmm,” she mewled contentedly and shifted, rolling towards me with the sweetest smile on her face, but didn’t wake up. I softly pushed my lips against her again. “Ro?” I said again, whispering very close to her face.
Her eyes opened slowly. “Scorp? I must’ve dozed off…”
“You’ve been doing that a lot lately,” I commented, bracing myself for the denial and brush off that would follow.
“Have I? Yeah, I guess so. I don’t know why. I’ve just been really tired. I think I’m fighting something,” She smiled at me and stretched herself up to a sitting position, resting my head in her lap. She began rubbing her hands through my hair, massaging my scalp. This was my Rose. But I couldn’t let myself get distracted from my mission.
“Ro, are you sure everything’s alright with you? How are your panic attacks?” I paused. “Everyone’s a bit worried.”
“About me?” she sounded genuinely shocked. “Honestly Scorp, I am doing just fine. Why wouldn’t I be? I have you,” she moved her hands to either side of my face and looked into my eyes. I swear she could hear my heart thumping to beat out of my chest. “I mean, Ruth’s death was a bit of a shock, but I’m getting used to that now. I still get sad sometimes and I am still having some panic attacks,” she admitted, looking away from me. “They definitely make me sick, but they seem to pass quickly and don’t stress me out nearly as much as before. Don’t worry; I won’t ever go back to the other Rose. This one is so much better. Prophecy or not, I feel like I can handle anything when you’re around.”
“Me too, Ro. You will let me know if the attacks get worse, right?” she peered over my face and bent her head down. Our lips met and brushed lightly. Instead of answering, she nodded as the kiss deepened. Before I knew what was happening, she shifted herself around and was straddling me, pushing down on my shoulders. Achingly slowly, she lowered herself down to me and just barely nipped at my jawline. I let out an involuntary groan. She sat up slightly and smiled, raising an eyebrow.
“I’m not tired right now, love. Do you have any ideas what we could do?” She was so sexy; I grabbed her waist and lifted her up, turning both of us over. She let out a wicked chuckle that did things to me I can’t even explain. When she looked up at me with her stunning blue eyes and smiled seductively, I lost all control.
“Good news,” I reported to Al, Dom and Selenia about an hour later. They were all studying in the drawing room. “She’s just fine. I spoke with her and I can attest to the fact that she is doing alright. Just a bit of nerves from all the studying and working through Ruth’s untimely death.”
“You are shameless!” Al just shook his head.
“Don’t even try to tell me that you two were only talking up there, when you come down here with your JBF hair…She’s my cousin, please don’t forget that. I’m only asking that you just try-”
“Come off it Al, it’s not because she’s your cousin,” Dom interrupted his tirade. “It’s because she is Rose, and you have always been so protective of her – even more so than Lily. I’m your cousin too and you’ve never said two words to Jax.” Dom wasn’t pissed, just trying to calm Albus down. It didn’t appear to be working; I don’t think he even heard her, so I looked to Selenia for help.
“Al, love,” she gently put a hand on his arm. “Do you think that maybe we should take a study break as well?” She moved her hand to his chin and turned his face toward hers, “you know I can think of a few things that might relax you.” That worked. The filthy hypocrite didn’t even look over at me as he allowed Selenia to lead him out of the room.
I headed back upstairs and was not surprised to find Rose asleep again. I covered her up and got myself ready for bed. She was so beautiful, I made my mind up right then and there. Glad to see she had fallen asleep early, I fell into an easy slumber, cradling her body close to mine.
A/N: Hi everyone! I know this chapter isn't very thick in the plot department and I struggled with it in terms of whether I should just skip over it or not. I decided to leave it because it lays a little groundwork for what's to come... duhn, duhn, duuuuuhn! Thanks so much to Joey (crestwood), my awesome beta reader! And thanks to everyone who's been reading this story. I'd love to hear what you think! ♥ Beth
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