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Chapter 39 : Bereaving: Scorpius and Rose POV
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I sat in the front row between Rose and Albus. I wasn’t sure which one would need more support during the service. It soon became clear that Albus was a right mess. He was barely able to stand most of the time. Tears flowed freely down his face and his normally messy, black hair hung limp into his eyes.
Rose did remarkably well, considering everything that was weighing down on her. A few times, she found my hand and squeezed, but I got the feeling that she was checking on me as well. Selenia’s mum sat on her other side and Rose acted as her pillar of strength. I knew Rose was still carrying around a fair bit of guilt over the fact that Selenia had been wearing her cloak when she’d been murdered by Stannous or his Death Eaters, but the fact that she’d been so busy helping Albus get through each day was a considerable distraction and left her very little time to think about her own grief. I was a bit concerned about Rose holding everything in, but she and I did a lot of talking when we could spare a few moments alone. The lot of us were simply shocked from everything. The entire week leading up to the funeral seemed so surreal.
But Rose being Rose, her focus was always on others. She was very worried about Selenia’s parents. Being Muggles, they didn’t understand too much about the wizarding world and while Harry had answered all of their questions about their daughter’s death, Rose was quite concerned that they would end up blaming the wizarding world and hating magic. I understood her unease and also could never fault them for that. Magic had, after all, murdered their daughter.
Our concerns were proven to be unfounded as we discovered during the reception that followed at Mr. and Mrs. Cooper’s cottage. Selenia’s mum sought Rose out to thank her for being such a wonderful friend to her daughter. Rose’s eyes were bright with tears of sadness and relief.
“I feel like I’m the lucky one, Mrs. Cooper. She is… was an amazing friend and person. She had so much passion and kindness.” It was still hard to refer to Selenia in the past tense and it tugged at my gut every time one of us stumbled over the words.
Rose continued, “I… I just want you to know that, erm… not all magic is bad and while there are definitely some seriously dark wizards out there…” I moved to put an arm around Rose and pull her close to me.
“Rose,” Mrs. Cooper stepped in and touched Rose’s cheek. Her face was so incredibly kind. She had the same eyes as her daughter and I felt like I was looking at an older version of Selenia. Their voices even were similar. She looked at both of us when she spoke. “I know that our family never quite understood the magical world, but in truth, we’d never seen Selenia happier than when she would talk about you and Albus and all of her magical friends.” Mrs. Cooper nodded at me and took a moment to steel herself. “She belonged with you. And while we will miss her so very much, we can’t place blame on an entire community. Goodness knows, us non-magic folk - Muddles do you call us? - we’ve managed to find some right horrible ways of doing each other in, even without magic.” She trailed off, a bit overcome, and Rose gripped both of the older woman’s hands. It was abundantly clear where Selenia got her gracious nature from.
She continued: “My husband’s and my greatest consolation is to know that she was loved.” Mrs. Cooper squeezed Rose’s tiny hands lovingly. “And that is more than apparent by the sheer number of people here to celebrate her life. Thank you for being such a good friend to her. She wrote to me about you all the time and I know she was most excited for your new baby,” she rested a hand on Rose’s belly and Rose nodded back to her, eyes wide and trying to maintain control of her emotions.
Another relative approached Mrs. Cooper and I took the opportunity to steer Rose to a quiet, unoccupied hallway so we could have a few moments. Talking to Selenia’s mum reminded me so much of how remarkably sweet and open minded Selenia had been. Sadness began to seep in as it hit me that we would never again get to talk to our dear friend.
I turned Rose around in my arms and rested my head against the top of hers. She wept quietly into my chest and I cried into her soft, red hair. We both needed the time to be sad together. It reminded me of the time Rose had come to see me after my parents’ deaths.
How I got through the rest of that day, or week rather, I’ll never know. Rose and I cried and held onto each other, often in the privacy of our room as we were trying to keep up a brave front for the rest of our housemates. Hermione and Ginny alternated days, coming round to bring food, make tea, or clean the already spotless house. I’d also been cooking up a storm as it was a task that kept me busy and made me feel like I was accomplishing something at the same time. Everyone needed to eat. The meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green bean dinner was James’s and Al’s favorite and I also made my fettuccine alfredo for Rose.
James took a week off from Quidditch to be around for Albus. Jax offered to do the same for Dominique, but the Cannons couldn’t really afford to lose two players and she assured all of us that she was doing alright. James promised Jax that he and I would keep an eye on Dom. She always dealt with things by keeping busy. And for the time being, keeping busy meant diving into work. She returned to the Auror office two days after Selenia’s funeral. No one blamed her. She just felt like she had to be doing something toward catching Stannous. Rose checked in with her nightly. In reality, we all checked in on each other. The house felt so barren and empty without Selenia. It was as if we were walking around in a haze, and the effort it took to keep our minds off of the enormous empty space in our home and in our hearts was exhausting.
Although he wouldn’t have it any other way, James really didn’t need to be there for Albus. Rose and Ginny were the only ones he let into his room, other than to drop off a plate of food that he wouldn’t eat. Occasionally, Harry or I would venture in to try and get him to at least talk for a bit. Ginny would fuss over his bed linens, draw the drapes and lay out a clean set of clothes for him. Rose would sit next to him on his bed for hours, ready to comfort him when he broke down. All the same, James was determined to stick around for his brother.
“I keep expecting her to walk through the front door - after apparating home from St. Mungo’s,” James admitted to me one afternoon, scrubbing a hand through his already mussed hair. I knew exactly how he felt. It hit us all really hard the day that Molly came over with Selenia’s stuff from her locker at St. Mungo’s. She and Wolfie had cleaned it out. James took the box of personal belongings and I grabbed all her textbooks. Rose peeked into the box and lifted out a photo of the four of us. Selenia must’ve kept it in her locker. It was taken at Rose’s twenty-first birthday party at Ron and Hermione’s house.
“Should I bring these up to Al’s room?” James asked warily.
“N-no,” Rose’s voice was shaking as she succumbed to the sadness again. “I’ll sort them into the boxes I’ve got going in h-her room for now. Al’s in no sstate to deal with this.” she cleared her throat and pulled in a lungful of air, in an effort to calm herself down.
James smiled weakly and rubbed her arm. “We’ll come up with you, Rosie.”
I had to look away for a moment to collect myself. The picture made me think of how happy we all were for those brief months. Rose and I were together, it was before I’d proposed and we found out about the baby, and everything just seemed like it was simpler.
Molly, James, Rose and I trudged up to Selenia’s room. I was grateful Molly was there - for Rose’s sake. After we sorted her stuff from the hospital, Rose and Molly headed to our room for some cousin time while James and I went down to the kitchen for a cuppa.
“Was he any different when you brought up his lunch?” James asked, a hitch in his voice. He was gripping his tea in one hand and tousled his hair with the other. It seemed like he’d been doing more and more of that lately.
“Nah,” I inhaled as I shook my head. "He won’t come out. Still barely eating.”
“How’s Rose doing?” his brown eyes bored into mine, and I never really noticed how much he and Albus resembled each other. Probably because James usually wore an amused smirk on his face while Albus had this intensity about him, even when he was relaxing or joking or… with his arm around Selenia.
“Rose is actually doing remarkably well,” I shook my head to clear it. “She’s taken on the role of Al’s nursemaid. I thought she might just be doing it to avoid her own feelings, but she’s had her share of good cries over the past week. She’s got a check up with Healer Chang in a couple of days. It’s sort of nice to have the baby to focus on.”
“And you, mate? How’re you holding up?”
“I’m… doing…” I was going to say ‘fine,’ but James had known me for far too long to be fooled by that. “... as best as can be expected. We all miss her. I just never, ever, thought… Let’s put it this way. I’m glad to be going back to work tomorrow. I feel like Rose has things covered here and I can do more good helping Harry and the lot at the Ministry.”
“I hear you,” James ran his hand again through his hair and the angles of black tufts changed position atop his head. “I don’t know how… to be a good enough brother to him right now,” he suddenly took a serious interest in the kitchen pots hanging from the ceiling. “I mean, I never really had to think about it before. But I - I’ve never seen him like this.” There was a long pause.
“James, none of us can really do anything better than we’re already doing. We’re here and he knows that and he appreciates it even if he can’t show it just yet.”
“Yeah,” James began tracing the wood grain on the kitchen table with his thumb.
“Listen,” I started again, “I’d be lying if I said that I know for certain Al’s gonna get through this.” James’s head jerked up, but I pressed on. “However I know the only way he’s gonna get through this is with all of us being here for him as much as possible. And if I know Rose, she’s not going to give up on him, ever. She’s already set up camp in his room. She’ll be there ‘till Christmas if she has to.”
“Yeah,” he repeated. “She’s really amazing with him. Sorta makes me feel useless.”
“Nah, there are certain things you need a brother for,” I smiled at him and he knew what I meant. Al and he were considered my brothers. “Let’s get dinner started. If Rose won’t come down out of Al’s room to eat, we’ll have to bring something up for both of them - again.”
He stood up and crossed the room to me, standing and catching my eyes. His mouth tried to form words as he stood there, staring at me. James wasn’t ever really big with the emotions, and that was the first time I’d ever had a conversation like that with him.
“I know, mate.” I patted him on the shoulder.
To say that Scorpius, Dom, James and I were lost was an understatement. Dom went back to work a couple of days later and Scorpius and James hung around for about a week, until James couldn’t miss any more of his Quidditch season. Scorpius asked me if I needed him to stay around a bit longer, but I told him no. In truth, I was still grieving for my best friend, but I knew I could count on all my friends and family - and I did, quite a bit. It wasn’t the same as when I was keeping my pain and suffering a secret. The sadness was overwhelming at times, but I truly felt like they were all there to keep me from falling into myself.
Another week went by with Albus refusing to do anything but lie in his bed. I could usually get him to eat a little bit once per day and I counted it as a personal victory when he would munch on something for both lunch and dinner.
A third week passed with little change.
It was a welcome relief that I had the baby to think about. Healer Chang had required me to have checkups every other week, just to be sure there were no residual effects after the attack. Everything had been going really well.
Samara had been unexpectedly called away for some sort of international situation that needed to be taken care of. She sent her condolences to the rest of us. I think James was a bit torn that everyone else seemed to be pulling together and she was off in another country. But I didn’t feel any love lost. Since Samara’s little tirade at Uncle Harry’s house about Avada kedavra, I’d been a lot less tolerant of her and her comments. The blokes thought I was being unfair and the lot of them chalked it up to my hormones. But pregnant or not, I simply didn’t care for her. Even after I pointed out to James and Scorpius that she’d been rather close to Selenia and it seemed odd that she scooted out right after her funeral and left the rest of us to pick up the pieces, they didn’t cave.
“Everyone grieves differently, Rose,” James said, not unkindly. “Sam’s just the type that holds a lot in, ya know? Most of the time I don’t even see a lot of her emotions. It’s what makes her great at her job. She has the ability to keep her feelings in check and keep a focus on her duties.”
I was about to ask if he thought any of her duties included consoling her boyfriend and his roommates during one of the absolute worst times of their lives, but Scorpius quickly distracted me by pressing against my belly and whispering in my ear, “Anything yet?”
“Nope,” I shook my head, but the corners of my mouth tipped up at the way he was staring at my middle. At my maternity check up a few days earlier Healer Chang mentioned that I should’ve been feeling the baby move any day. That news was the one good piece of information Scorpius and I’d been holding onto since we’d heard it. He’d made me promise to tell him the minute I felt anything, regardless of where he was or what either of us were doing. It kept me grounded to know that there was something to look forward to in the middle of all the sadness.
To say that Albus was a wreck would be the understatement of the millenia. By the end of the third week, I was really starting to worry. I was torn between wanting to give him as much time as he needed and worried that he might never come back from his despair. I kept thinking of how Ruth, as my therapist ,would give me such sound advice. I found myself asking, ‘What would Ruth do?’ The answer was always the same: Keep him safe and as long as he’s not harming himself, let him know you’re there when he’s ready to talk.
As his Healer, I kept a supply of potions close at hand. He wouldn’t take the calming draught and only would drink the draught of dreamless sleep after much convincing on particularly bad nights.
The whole family also came by regularly to check on him, but there was little anyone could do for him. Scorpius graciously took on the role as house-chef so I could be with Albus.
Uncle Harry reluctantly returned to work, as he had a department to run and a dark wizard to catch. I didn’t think Uncle Harry did very well in the ‘sitting around’ department, so it worked out, especially considering he was short by one newly promoted Junior Auror. Dominique returned shortly after the funeral and, after about a week or so, Scorpius went back to work as well. They both felt that they could contribute more by helping to catch Stannous and his Death Eaters. After a few weeks, Aunt Ginny even started coming around less and less - although she made sure to send over ridiculous amounts of food for us.
One afternoon, I was tidying up our bedroom for the millionth time and I happened upon the case file that I still owed as my final assignment. I hadn’t really forgotten about it - but it simply wasn’t in the forefront of my mind since Selenia’s death. I stared at the open desk drawer for a full two minutes before reaching in to retrieve the thick folder. The last time I’d looked at those documents had been with my best friend. I couldn’t remember the specifics of the conversations, but I knew we’d sorted out some important details. I was about to set the portfolio on my desk when I spotted a package that’d been hiding underneath the file. It was wrapped in light green paper and I didn’t remember ever seeing it before.
For a moment I was worried that it was a trap, but then I remembered that all of our desks had special locking and concealment charms on them - so that only the owner of the desk can see and retrieve its contents. It was necessary in a house where everyone did highly specialized and sensitive work. We’d all grown up in homes where our parents had the same charms on their own home-office desks, so no one thought anything of it.
Carefully, I unwrapped the rectangular package. It was a clothing box, but rather smallish. Inside there were two sets of baby pyjamas, one pair in the same pale green as the wrapping paper and the other in a lovely cream color. They were so soft and so very tiny. A card was buried deep within the tissue paper.
My Dearest Rose and Scorpius,
I wanted to be the first person to give you a baby gift, so I ran out and bought this on my way home from St. Mungo’s today. I can’t think of two people more fit to be parents than the both of you. Your baby will know only love, kindness, and of course, a fair bit of mischief (especially with Albus and James as uncles)! I know you’ve just found out about the pregnancy, but in time, you’re going to be so excited. I can’t wait to meet your little one and shower them with loads of Auntie Selenia kisses!
My heart, already stretched to its limit, completely fell apart as I breathed deeply to calm myself and caught the faint scent of her perfume wafting from the baby’s clothes. She must’ve hugged each outfit, pulling it in close to test the softness of the fabric, making sure it was perfect. It was that image that completely undid me.
Another week passed by and I slowly began to feel like myself again. Bouts of sadness still overtook me from time to time, but finding the baby gift had been the low point. Albus still wasn’t improving however, and I was at a loss for how to help him.
Because this attack was in broad daylight, in the most public street in wizarding Britain, it was obvious that Stannous was getting more desperate in his attempts to find me. Uncle Harry and the Auror department had to reinstate the original restrictions of no public places. So I wasn’t permitted to respond to Auror calls. I actually wasn’t very upset about it, as I was still recovering from dealing with Selenia’s death. It was early August, and I would only be able to apparate until the end of the month before hitting my third trimester. The only other place I was permitted to go was to my appointments with Healer Chang, escorted by Scorpius and a barrage of other Aurors, of course.
Uncle Harry said I could still work at the clinic I’d set up at the Ministry . If I wasn’t safe three doors down from the Department designed specifically to hunt and capture dark wizards, then I wasn’t safe anywhere. But I was waiting for Albus to be a bit better before I left him in an empty, old house every day.
It broke my heart to see him torn apart and I’d attempted everything to get him to simply go downstairs and have a meal. I tried daily to get him to leave his room, eat, drink or even carry on a conversation. And I wasn’t going to give up, even if it took months.
The emotions themselves were draining enough for me, but I was also getting very tired physically. My belly was growing bigger every day. One afternoon I’d been up and down the stairs several times, doing laundry, sorting through Selenia’s things in her room that her Mum had asked me to find for her, and bringing Albus and I some lunch. He ate about half of his sandwich, which was a good sign because he was finally eating a somewhat respectable amount, although he still spoke very little.
“Budge up,” I said to him as I flopped down on his bed next to him. He sat up and scowled. His eyes were bloodshot and there were heavy bags under them. His face, almost always clean shaven, was sporting a black shadow across his jaw and upper lip. The normally messy hair was even more disheveled, resembling a tangled, black mop. If I’d come across him in a dark alley, I’d have been performing petrificus totalus on him.
“I’m tired Al,” I explained. “Too tired to tromp down to my room and take a nap. You’ll just have to make do with me sharing the bed with you.” I was completely unapologetic. Perhaps whining and getting into his personal space would bring him around, if only a little bit. I settled myself down into his rumpled covers, not even caring if it bothered him or not.
He looked a bit of a loss for words and finally collapsed down next to me, but turned himself towards the wall. I fell into a light sleep almost instantly. I hadn’t been sleeping too well either, but I wouldn’t take any potions, because of the baby. While Healer Chang said that I could take a half dose of draught of dreamless sleep, I really didn’t want to. So, to make up for restless nights, I’d taken to frequent naps during the day.
As usual, my rest was punctuated by brief moments of rousing, which wasn’t helped by the fact that Albus was very tossy-turny in bed. Even after he stopped rolling around, his hand kept bumping into my belly. I knew it was getting bigger and he couldn’t help it, but I wasn’t able to sleep with the light fluttering on the outside of my belly.
Not outside. Inside.
I sat bolt upright and let out a squawk of surprise.
“Whazzamatter?!” Al was immediately sitting up next to me. I was hyperventilating and squealing while I pressed my hand to my abdomen and felt the baby move from the outside and the inside simultaneously. It was amazing and wonderful and weird and...
“Rose! What is it? Is it the baby? You alright? Do I need to call Scorpius? A Healer? Rosie!”
He was in full blown crazy-Albus-mode, but I was too excited to say anything. He rolled onto his knees and grasped around for his wand. I came out of my reverie just in time to grab his hand and press it to my bump before he had a chance to jump out of bed and send a patronus. I just hoped he could feel it too. He was still barking questions at me.
“Rose! Do you need help? Who do I call, Rosie?”
“Shut up!” I finally managed to get words out, hoisting my awkward body up to my knees to be at his level. “Just shut up and feel.” I pushed his hand harder against my belly. The fluttering continued. But at least Al was quiet for a moment.
“Was that?! Rosie! Was that th-the baby?! Merlin.” he breathed out. “There it goes again! Rosie! CAN YOU FEEL THAT?!”
I nodded, smiling and giggling. I couldn’t believe it. Finally.
“That’s unbelievable!” Al’s eyes were wide and he put his other hand on my belly to feel from all angles. We sat like that for several minutes and little Weasley-Malfoy did his butterfly dance the whole time. We took turns staring at each other and my bump, as if we could see through my middle and stare at the baby. Al’s eyes finally, finally got a tiny bit of their spark back.
“Oh no!” I squeaked. “No, no, no!” I jumped slightly and Al looked at me again with a worried frown.
I stretched a smile over my lips and spoke quietly, “Scorp is going to be so upset that he wasn’t here to feel the baby move first.” I looked at Albus sheepishly, ashamed of my quick outburst. I realized I’d given him enough of a scare for one day.
He cast his glance down at the tangled blankets on his bed. “Selenia would’ve loved to be here for this.” His hands slid off of me and he began to twist away.
“I know,” I said, grabbing his chin with my fingers before he could hide his visage. I gently forced his face toward mine, not wanting to lose him again. It was the first time he’d said her name or even mentioned her at all. I took it as a good sign, despite the anguish on his face.
“I miss her so much Rosie.” A few tears escaped out of his bright green eyes as he tried to pull back. My hands immediately grasped onto both sides of his face, letting him know that I wasn’t going to let him slip away again.
“Me too, love. So much it hurts.” My thumbs smoothed circles on his rough stubble that hadn’t been shaved in weeks.
“When does it stop hurting, Rosie?” His hands reached up and softly rested on my wrists, as if grasping on to me would help the answer along.
I simply shook my head and pursed my lips together, “Most days, I don’t think it will ever stop.” As soon as I saw the look on his face, I wished I hadn’t said it. He was falling back into himself.
“But,” I quickly continued, “every now and again something happens that reminds me of her - in a good way. An amazing, fabulous, brilliant, Selenia-sort-of-way. And I know… I just know that she wouldn’t want… this.” I looked around the dimly lit bedroom. “She’d be really sod off if she knew that you and I’d been holed up and wallowing in our own misery here in this place for the past four-and-a-half weeks.” I gestured around his dark room that had taken on the aroma of someone who hadn’t bathed in quite a while.
“I - ” he began, fresh tears brightening his eyes once again. “I don’t know if I can…” he trailed off.
“You can, Al. It’s gonna take a long time and it won’t happen all at once. But today, you can do this. Let’s start small. You can meet me downstairs in the parlor - we’re gonna have a cup of tea and a much needed chat - after you take a shower, of course.” I tried not to wrinkle my nose and I grabbed his weary eyes with my own.
“Okay Rosie,” he lowered his head and turned to get off the bed - finally. He grabbed his dressing gown and paused at the door, a curious look across his brow. “What exactly are we having a chat about?”
“We have got to come up with a plan to explain to Scorpius how you felt the baby move before he did,” I put my hands on my hips and tried to give my sternest, most serious look. I even managed to get a small smile out of him.
A/N: Hello! I'm so, SO sorry that I've taken a ridiculously long time to update this. Idk if this chapter makes anyone feel better or not. I'm not even sure if anyone remembers the green package that Selenia gave to Scorpius the day that they discovered Rose was pregnant or not, but I've been planning on bringing that back. The good news: I've outlined the story to the end - and I always have known how it was going to go, but now I've got is all down official-like and typed up by chapter, so yay!
I want to thank EVERYONE from the bottom of my heart who nominated and voted for this story for the Dobby awards. I'm still in disbelief. Gah! This site is so wonderful and welcoming and I'm still reeling from it!
As always, I'd love to know what you think - thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read or leave a review. ♥ Beth
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