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Show a Little Faith by DragonHeart15
Chapter 1: Hey, that's me and I want you only
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In all honesty, she was frustrated by the turn things had taken in regard to her feelings towards him. She was pretty certain it wasn't something she'd wanted to happen at all. But there she was, developing the one thing that could single handedly destroy a friendship; feelings. They were invading her life and not caring about the destruction they might leave in their wake. This couldn't possibly turn out well. Those words had become her mantra. She couldn't see any good coming from this. The emotions, feelings, desires, whatever name you wanted to give to the swooping of her stomach and the burning of her cheeks these days, could only lead to trouble.
He was her cousin's best friend. To make things even more complicated, he had also become one of hers. And goodness knows these things only go one of two ways, one of which would be particularly painful. The last thing she wanted was to lose him as a friend, but denying what she was feeling was becoming increasingly difficult. Still, she couldn't see this turning out full of sunshine and daisies and rainbows. She wasn't even sure if that was what she wanted. It would just be asking for life to complicate itself even more than it already had.
First, there was their best friend to consider. Sure, they were close with Erin as well, but Rose and Al were cousins and Scorpius was his best friend. It was different. She didn't want to isolate him or make him feel unwanted. And would he even approve? She cared too much about his opinion to not let that thought cross her mind. And then there was the rest of the family to consider. Never in their wildest dreams had they even considered something like this happening, or so Rose assumed. It was strange enough when she and Al first became friends with him, let alone the two of them becoming something more. But she was getting ahead of herself with these musings. Before anyone else ever accepted them, there would have to be a them. And he had given no sign that she was something he wanted. She knew now that there were ways she wanted him, no use denying it anymore, but she was terrified of destroying anything and everything else that they had.
These thoughts that had grown from occasional to constant over the course of the year were doing nothing to help her study habits. Final exams were only a week away, and even though she had another year before her NEWTs, she still wanted to finish the year strong. Of course, it didn't help that her study habits usually included his presence. She supposed she could always go back to her dorm and study on her own, but she would most likely end up just sitting there, openly daydreaming, rather than trying to focus with him in her presence. Or at least pretending to. If only she had kept her distance like her father had suggested. "Don't get too friendly with him Rosie…" If only. But she hadn't wanted to lose her friendship with Albus, and when he was sorted into Slytherin along with Scorpius, Rose felt like she had no choice but to accept Scorpius as Albus had, although somewhat begrudgingly. They still didn't talk to each other much the first few years or so. They didn't really hit it off until 4th year when they were partnered together for an arithmancy project. That's how the studying together and the actually having a friendship came to be. Stilted conversations in the library eventually led to a sense of camaraderie over their shared love for the topic, and they soon found themselves distracted by topics unrelated to their studies. They had even been kicked out of the library on more than one occasion for disturbing the peace.
When 5th year rolled around, well, it kind of just naturally continued. Being two of the top students in their year, if not the top two, was part of the reason they were drawn to each other in the first place. They challenged each other to be better. They started studying for OWLs together constantly by the end of 5th year. He had come back the beginning of 6th year the same as ever but more sure of himself. More confident. He wasn't exactly shy before but, he had a nervous quality about him. Like he constantly felt that he was being measured by the people around him. Especially the ones who only saw him for his name. But 6th year brought a change, and she liked to think that their friendship had something to do with it. And she couldn't deny that his confidence had made him more attractive than his blond hair, lean figure, and piercing blue-gray eyes already made him. It wasn't the cocky type of confidence that would have drove her mad, although that popped out on the occasion that he bested her in anything. It was more the humble kind that made you want to know him more, maybe figure out if he was hiding something. It gave him a sense of mystery that the girls couldn't help but notice. He wasn't trying to impress anyone, he had just accepted who he was and was thankful for the friendships he had nurtured with Rose, Albus, and the rest of their family and friends. And after the past two years, she now considered him one of her best friends. She and Albus and Erin had grown up together so they would always be close, but her friendship with Scorpius had blossomed into something completely unexpected and she cherished it more than she thought she would.
And it was more than just studying together. Half the time, she and Erin found themselves sitting at the Slytherin table for meals and hanging out with Albus and Scorpius in the joint common room, and when they weren't at their table, the boys were at the Gryffindor one. They spent time wandering around the grounds on nice days and spending time together during the holidays. She even missed him when he wasn't around. This was her first sign of trouble. Then, during Christmas that year, she started thinking about him in ways she hadn't let herself before. Wishing he would catch her under the mistletoe, hoping for a moment alone where they could just be and enjoy each other's company and who knows where that might lead. Now, here they were a few months later, entrenched in exam season and hardly leaving the library except for meals, class, and sleep. And she couldn't keep her mind off him. Her eyes were having trouble behaving as well. His movements captivated her. The way he occasionally tapped his quill on the table and ran his hand through his hair when he was thinking really hard over a difficult piece of homework. The way his mouth absentmindedly moved as he read through what he'd just written to make sure it was correct. The way his eyes twinkled when he was onto something. His smooth deep voice as he said her name over and over and…
Wait, was he saying her name?
Shite. How long had she been spacing out on him?
"Yeah?" she said in a barely there whisper, catching her breath after being caught lost in her thoughts of him.
"I was just wondering if you'd gotten to question 11 yet, but your mind is clearly elsewhere?" he responded with a twitch of his lips and a twinkle in his eye. She blushed slightly as she realized he had noticed her spacing out. Had he seen her looking at him?
"Yes, why?" she responded as she regained her composure. Thankfully she had started her homework before he'd arrived in the library and was able to get ahead.
"Oh", he said, choosing to ignore her slightly flustered state. "I'm just not sure what is going on with question 11. It's not in my notes and I can't seem to find it anywhere in the text."
She rolled her eyes and chuckled slightly at him. "That's because you and Patrick Allen wouldn't stop playing tic-tac-toe during class the day we covered this portion." She shot a bemused smile at his disgruntled yet slightly amused face.
"Well you would've done the same if you sat next to him in Arithmancy. That Ravenclaw may be smart but he has the attention span of a goldfish and is very convincing. Not to mention slightly manipulative when he wants to be."
Rose laughed at his look of annoyance but still felt slightly bad for him.
"Here," she said as she moved around the table to sit next to him. She slid her notes toward him and started explaining the topic he had missed.
"Why can't you just show me your work?" he asked with a mischievous smile. She shook her head as he started to reach across the table for her completed work. Chuckling she reached forward and dragged his arm back across the table. The look on his face was so disappointed she almost felt guilty, but not enough to compromise on her scruples. Besides, she wasn't about to complain about having to touch him.
"Why?" he almost whined at her.
"Scorpius," she said insistently, still gripping his arm, "the point of a study guide is to help you learn and retain information. How will you do that if you just copy the work that someone else has already completed?" She gave him a pointed look and he relented.
"Fine," he said with a sigh, "but you're helping me." She rolled her eyes but smiled as she released his arm and they got back to her notes. It was a little while later that she noticed he had shifted closer. Not only that, but his arm had somehow made it's way onto the back of her chair. She tried not to think too much of it or let it distract her, but the way his fingers started tapping a light rhythm on the back of her chair demanded her attention. It made his proximity that much more obvious to her and she tried to shake herself out of it. Her thoughts were starting to go to that place again and this was not the time for those musings to return.
"So having completed the first 3 steps, you just divide the answer from step two by step three and that should be your answer."
He was silent for a moment, pursing his lips as he looked through his previous answers. Once the light bulb clicked in his head, she could see it written all over his face.
"Yes, of course!" he said with realization and then began to talk through the process with Rose as he worked it out on his study guide. By the time he got to the end she was grinning at him in an amused way as he flung his quill on the table with a cocky smirk and leaned back in his chair.
"There, done. Want to go for a walk or a fly or something? It's awfully stuffy in here after a while." He looked at her expectantly and she raised her eyebrows, looking between him and their incomplete study guides pointedly.
"Umm… you do realize this is a 50 question study guide? And we've barely made a dent?"
He looked back at the study guide and stacks of books scattered across the table for a solid ten seconds before throwing his head and arms down on the table and groaning in frustration. She felt slightly disappointed that his arm was no longer around her chair, but her disappointment was brief as he sat back up with an exasperated sigh and placed his arm back in it's previous position.
"Why must we study so much this year? It's not like it's that important. This is more of a filler year, really. No OWLs, no NEWTs. Just regular old exams."
She looked at him incredulously. "Yes, but we can still fail out if we don't perform well."
He started glancing around the room and bouncing his legs in an agitated manner.
"What's gotten into you?" she asked. "You're usually more than happy to spend time studying. I thought you liked Arithmancy?"
"I do," he responded with a moderate amount of conviction. "I do, it's just…" He paused as if to gather his thoughts.
"It's just that I'm realizing that we only have a year left here. And I want to make the most of it. And somehow spending time constantly in the library doesn't seem to fit the bill."
She smiled softly at him and turned in her chair to face him. "I know," she said with a sigh.
"It's like this combined sense of nostalgia and urgency. You can't help but think back on all the wonderful memories but you're worried you haven't made enough yet. The ones that will really matter in the end. So you think you have to take every moment and make it an important one or else you might regret it."
As she spoke she kept eye contact with him, hoping she didn't sound too obvious. She wanted to make her moments with him last and count for something. As much as she thought she should study, she couldn't help but want to take him up on his offer. Who knows what could happen as they wandered around in secluded areas of the grounds. Or what would happen as they basked in the adrenaline rush after a fly. He held her gaze and a crease appeared between his brows as she spoke. As if he were really taking in what she said and contemplating it. He paused after she finished and, after what felt like an eternity to her, said, "Yeah. I couldn't have put it better myself." She smiled at him and he returned it before turning serious again, almost as if stealing himself for something.
"Rose?" He asked. She just looked at him expectantly. He seemed nervous so she placed what she hoped was an encouraging hand on his arm that rested on the table as he glanced away. Her contact seemed to give him strength and he looked back at her with confidence and began again.
"It's too bloody hot to spend an hour in a greenhouse."
They both jumped slightly as a bag was thrown onto their table and a chair across from them was roughly pulled out and turned around as their intruded unceremoniously plopped down and straddled it.
"Honestly, there should be rules about these things. It's nearing on abuse."
"Really Al? You said the same thing in the dead of winter when you complained that your bits had nearly been frozen off. Can you ever be happy?" his dorm mate asked him with a resigned look. Al looked affronted.
"Besides," Rose interjected, "the greenhouse is a temperature regulated environment. It's the same no matter the season."
Al rolled his eyes at his cousin's knowledgeable response.
"Yes, well, I more meant the trek to and from. It's stifling in these robes. I bloody stink."
"You're not wrong there," said a new voice as a fourth person joined their party and begrudgingly sat down next to an admittedly smelly Albus, who brightened at her entrance.
"Erin, can you please talk to your dad about maybe not requiring robes for Herbology? Or at least placing a cooling charm on the path to and from the castle?"
Erin shook her head at Al, her shoulder length dirty blond waves starting to fall out of her plait. "You know I have a rule about using my position as a faculty members child. You never ask and I never have to say no."
Al pouted and rested his chin on his hands that lay across the back of his chair and returned his attention to his two other best friends.
"Why did you come in behind Al?" Rose asked, "Did he race ahead to get out of the heat? No wonder you're sweating like a pig," she threw at her cousin in a teasing manner.
Al gave her a scathing look but self consciously gave himself a once over as Erin and Scorpius laughed at his expense.
"No," Erin responded still slightly chuckling. "I had to talk to dad about plans for going home after exams. Mum is still visiting with Great-Gram who's still not doing so well. Dad, Ethan, and I are leaving to be with her as soon as we're finished with exams."
The mood immediately became more somber at her words. Rose even completely forgot about her earlier moment with Scorpius for a while. Al reached out and put a comforting hand on Erin's shoulder. She looked at him gratefully for a moment before breaking the tensions by throwing it off and making a jab at his hygiene.
"Phew you really do stink. Sure you didn't have a roll in the manure before heading up here?"
They all laughed and even Albus gave a slight grin after rolling his eyes at her.
"Fine I can take a hint. Or three. I'll see you guys at dinner. I'm due for a shower. Scorp? Heading back to the common room?"
Scorpius seemed hesitant for a moment but finally relented and rose to collect his things and join his dormmate.
"See you guys later," he said as he left, but not before sending another quick smile Rose's way. She sent a shy one back as he sauntered out after his roommate, giving him a playful shove as he again mocked him due to his stench.
As soon as they were gone, Rose rested her head on the table and groaned, immediately gaining the attention of her closest girl friend.
Erin raised her eyebrows at Rose as she made unintelligent sounds.
"Pardon?" she asked with an inquisitive look on her face.
Rose lifted her head slightly to look at her friend. She considered confiding in her for a second, but then thought better of it and sat back in her chair with a sigh. "Nothing. Just all this studying. I think it's getting to me."
Erin still looked slightly skeptical. "Ok…," she said, "is that what you and Scorp were up to before Al interrupted?"
Rose turned slightly pink remembering the somewhat charged moment between them before her cousin barged in.
"Oh...Erm...yeah, we were study." She tried to make herself look busy with focusing on her study guide, but Erin wasn't fooled at her attempt to sound nonchalant.
"Wait, something happened didn't it? Something happened between you two, or was about to, and your prat of a cousin interrupted didn't he?"
Rose eyes bugged out at the intensity with which her friend spoke these words, not to mention the accuracy of them, but she was still determined to remain in denial. She wasn't even sure if something had happened between her and Scorpius.
"What? No, why would you think something like that?"
"Come on Rose," said Erin with an eye roll, "I see how you zone out on him sometimes. It's not like he doesn't do the same."
"Please," said Rose with more conviction than she felt, "we're just friends. Nothing is happening. Please don't turn this into something it isn't."
They were now leaning towards each other over the table and talking with such intensity that they forgot for a moment that they were in the library as Erin made to rebuttal.
"Come on Rose, you know you can - "
"Oh, erm, hi. Sorry, I'm interrupting." Rose and Erin looked up to see that they had drawn attention to themselves in the form of one of the library aids.
"Hey Bobby," Rose greeted, thankful for the distraction, "What's up?"
He sent her an apologetic smile before explaining his presence.
"Sorry to bother you, it's only Madame Pince has been complaining about the noise for a while. She was about to barge over herself before I volunteered. I knew it was you guys and I'd rather you not get in trouble, but, well, I'd rather not lose my job either…"
"No problem Bobby, really. You're just doing your job," said Rose as she began to hastily pack up her books and notes that were scattered across the table.
"We were about to head to dinner anyway."
"Ok, great" He said with a relieved smile. "Do me a favor? If you see your brother, don't mention I'm on duty tonight. Last time he took that as an invitation to pull a prank in here and I'm not too keen on it happening again. I already told Lily to be on the lookout but just in case."
Rose chuckled but agreed to his request as she hurried out of the library hoping to dodge any further questioning from her friend who was still glaring daggers at her. Erin turned her glare to Bobby as she got up to follow Rose.
"Thanks a lot for that" she said in a rather harsher tone than necessary, causing the sandy haired 14 year old to look slightly taken aback as she strode out of the library to catch up with her best friend. Thankfully, she hadn't gone too far and Erin was able to catch her before she got to the Great Hall as she hurried behind her, calling her name and refusing to be ignored.
"Rose," she said one more time as they neared the hall that was packed full of people.
"Please, just stop and listen to me for a second." Rose slowed to a stop just outside the Great Hall and faced her friend looking slightly hesitant. Erin sighed and gently gripped Rose's upper arms.
"I just wanted you to know," she began with a gentle and understanding look on her face, "that you can trust me. If there's something going on or if you're just filled with uncertainty and need someone to talk to, I'm here and I will do my best to understand. In fact I probably understand more than you think I do."
She spoke with such sincerity that Rose considered letting everything out right then and there, especially if it meant Erin would open up to her in return. She was unnerved by how accurately she had perceived the reason for her earlier flustered state, and her interest had been piqued by her last comment, but she restrained herself and gave her friend a grateful smile.
"Thanks Erin, that means a lot and I do appreciate it. But not yet. Trust me, when I need to talk about it, if there is in fact anything to talk about, you'll be the first on my list."
Erin looked satisfied with this response and slung an arm around her best friend to lead her into the Great Hall.
"Come on," she said with a spring in her step, "let's go tease that little cousin of yours about our dear friend Bobby Finnegan. That always gives me a laugh." Rose chuckled along with her best friend as they made their way to join the Gryffindor table.
Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed chapter one. Feel free to leave a review! I'd love to hear your thoughts. I already have the first few chapters posted elsewhere so those will probably be up relatively soon. The title of the story and the chapter are both lyrics from a song by Bruce Springsteen called "Thunder Road."
Chapter 2: We might be laughing a bit too loud
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As Rose and Erin drew near to the Gryffindor table, they began to make out a rather heated argument between Rose's brother and cousin.
"I'm serious, Lily," Hugo was saying as he brandished his fork at her. "There's no way it'll happen this year. In case you forgot, we men get stronger and faster each year, while you women stay the same after you turn fourteen."
Lily looked affronted as Rose and Erin joined the table, sitting next to her and across from Hugo and Lucy. The youngest Weasley had joined her cousins from the Hufflepuff table and was continuing to eat with her nose in a book while expertly ignoring their argument.
"Well I'll have you know that while you may be 'stronger' and 'faster' as you claim," Lily responded with disdain. "We do have something called feminine intuition on our side." She shot him a smirk as the rest of the girls, even Lucy, had looks of agreement on their faces at this statement. Hugo just stared at them incredulously.
"What the bloody hell has that got to do with anything related to Quidditch?"
Lily rolled her eyes before responding in a condescending voice.
"Well you see, us fairer sex know how to not only work together, but anticipate each other's moves. You males are too caught up in your own self importance to spare your teammates barely more than a thought as you try to hold up your own ego along with your giant head's atop your brooms."
Rose and Erin gave verbal assent to this statement as Lucy nodded along and Lily looked smug at the shocked and slightly hurt look on Hugo's face. He regained his composer a second later and couldn't help but get one more word in.
"Well I don't see how that beats muscle, speed, and raw talent."
Lily scoffed, tucking her chin length red hair behind her ear.
"What, you mean brains, teamwork, and our own heaping dose of raw talent?"
Hugo rolled his eyes and quickly fought back.
"That may be, but are you forgetting that we have an actual professional Quidditch player on our team this year?"
"Oh please," Lily said with a roll of her eyes. "James spends all his time goofing off with Fred and showing off for Violet. He's hardly an advantage."
Hugo seemed to realize he was fighting a losing battle, or at least one where no agreement could be reached, and backed off as was his custom in these types of confrontations with Lily. He had learned the hard way that pushing her too far would only lead to a well placed hex.
"Well I guess we'll just have to wait and see in a month's time then," he said, maintaining a sense of pride in his voice.
"I guess we will," replied Lily with a smug look, seeming pleased with having got the last word.
Hugo rolled his eyes at her and continued eating.
"I hate that James and Fred are gone," he said through a mouth full of food. "Two less blokes to help me defend our honor. Where are Louis and Bobby anyway? And your brother, for that matter." He addressed this last statement to Erin.
"I'm not my brothers keeper," she said indignantly. "But it just so happens that he has some head boy duty or another to attend to," she finished, seemingly disappointed in herself that she actually knew why her brother wasn't at dinner.
"Well, I'm pretty sure Lou has forgotten its dinner time and is still studying for OWLs somewhere with Caleb, and Bobby said something earlier about eating early before meeting up with Neville to ask him about a homework issue," said Lily.
Hugo seemed to accept this answer and went back to his dinner as Charlotte Bray joined them from the Hufflepuff table.
"Are you lot done arguing?" she asked as she sat next to Hugo who shot her an annoyed look.
"Are you that afraid of confrontation that you waited till we were done before you joined us?"
"Yes," said the Hufflepuff very matter-of-factly, loading up her plate with desserts and flipping her long black hair behind her shoulders. "It's not pleasant to consume ones food while there is pointless bickering going on."
"Pointless?" said Hugo in outrage. "I'll have you know that Quidditch is far from pointless."
As she started in on her desserts she responded as calm as ever.
"Well, yes, but as to who will win in the Annual Summer Manor Match? There's no question that we will throttle you as usual."
Hugo dropped his fork as his mouth hung open and all the other girls laughed at his expense. Even Lucy spared him a slight smile. Hugo tore his eyes away from Charlotte just in time to spot what he hoped would be his saving grace entering the Great Hall.
"Finally!" he exclaimed as Scorpius and Albus approached the Gryffindor table. The latter's dark, shaggy hair was still wet from his rather quick shower and both had changed into muggle attire to welcome in the weekend.
"I've had to put up with nothing but them talking shit about how they're going to throttle us in the match this summer and it's grating on my last nerve."
"Hugo", said Scorpius resignedly, taking the seat next to Charlotte. "How many times have I told you that there's no point in you arguing with them about this? It just gets you all worked up and in your head by the time the game comes and then you end up letting in twice as many goals as your sister due to your sheer state of panic. We're likely to fully replace you with Wood this year. Who cares if he doesn't have dibs due to the family he was born into."
"Besides," Al said as he sat beside Erin, "You'll get so worked up you'll wind up making a stupid bet that you'll regret if we do lose."
Hugo looked astounded at his lack of support.
"How can you say that?" he said, his voice cracking slightly. "I mean," he said, attempting to control his pubesant vocal chords. "I can keep my cool. And I think we can win it this year."
"Yeah mate we all do, but wouldn't it be better if we took them by surprise? Don't give away all our secrets beforehand," said Scorpius in a fake whisper that had all the girls laughing as Al nodded with somber agreement.
"Oh quit taking the mickey," Hugo grumbled, but went back to his dinner and dropped the subject for the rest of the meal.
As everyone continued to tuck in, they were eventually joined by Louis, who was dragged into the Great Hall by Caleb Wood as their older sisters trailed behind them.
"If you want to make it through to next term, eat," said the brunette Gryffindor as he shoved his fellow fifth year into the seat next to Lily. Louis looked up at him imploringly.
"One week Caleb. One week between us and something that will decide where our future takes us. I can't believe I've wasted so much time not studying this year. I barely have a second to lose. Plus, you can survive a week on a meal a day right?" And he made to stand up, but Caleb had remained standing with his hand on his shoulder and easily pushed him back into his seat.
"He sounds like you," Scorpius shot at Rose with a smirk. She just scowled and didn't dignify his remark with a response.
"Maybe," Caleb said, taking the seat next to Louis. "But that will make you even less prepared for your OWLs. You'll have the shakes so bad that you'll be likely to accidentally transfigure your examiner into a teacup. Besides, you're one of the best in our year. I don't understand why you're losing your head over this."
Louis looked like he still wanted to argue before their sisters sat across from them.
"Relax twerp," said Dominique with a nonchalant attitude. "You'll do fine. And anyway, OWLs have nothing on NEWTs. I can't wait for this week to be over. I feel like my head's about to explode."
"I second that," agreed Eva as she began tying her long brown hair up in a bun on the top of her head before she began her meal. It was a habit she had picked up when she refused to cut it as a child, but didn't want to drag it through her food. She had been afraid people would mistake her for a boy if she wore it short, as she always seemed to be found with dirt on her tattered play clothes and scrapes on her knees. It didn't help that she looked very similar to her brother Caleb and that they were often mistaken for twins despite their two-year age gap.
At the other end of the table, Rose had noticed something that caused her to roll her eyes.
"Malfoy?" she said to gain the attention of the boy sitting across from her.
"What's up, Weasley?" he replied with a cheeky grin.
She shot him a "don't be smart with me" look, but he just continued to grin at her.
"Have you forgotten something that you're required to do tonight?"
He thought for a moment before responding.
"Nope, can't say that I have. Did we have plans? I can't imagine how I'd forget that." She ignored his flirty attitude along with Erin's studying stare as she watched them, looking back and forth between the pair.
"Come on Scorp, it's Friday night? Rounds? You can't do rounds in muggle clothes, you'll get in trouble for that."
Scorpius buried his face in his hands as she spoke before sighing and returning to his dinner.
"Alright, it might have slipped my mind. I'll finish up and go change and then meet you in the entrance hall, alright?"
"Thank you," said Rose, grateful he hadn't complained or made fun of her for being a stickler for the rules.
As their conversation ended, Erin remembered her plan upon entering the Great Hall and turned to face the other end of the table
"Oi! Luce!" She hollered at the strawberry blond Hufflepuff who had now put her book down and was talking to Dom about some advanced form of Transfiguration.
"Yes?" she asked, turning to look at Erin, slightly caught off guard by being addressed so abruptly.
"How's the book?" Erin asked with an innocent look on her face.
"It's fine?" Lucy responded hesitantly. "Actually it is quite interesting," she continued. "It's all about Gamp's laws and I was just saying to Dom that - "
"Did you get it from the library?" Erin interrupted. At that point, the female half of the table began to gather where she was going with this, while the males remained in ignorant bliss.
"As a matter of fact, I did," said Lucy as a grin tried to come to her lips, but she carefully restrained it. "Why do you ask?"
"It's just that," Erin continued, full out grinning now. "I find the library aids to be particularly helpful this year don't you? Always willing to lend a hand and recommend books. Whoever recommended that to you must know you pretty well to understand your love for transfiguration."
Lucy's blush rose and covered her freckled face and ears as Erin spoke. The rest of the girls tried to hide their chuckling as the boys continued to look clueless.
Lucy cleared her throat and shook herself in what appeared to be an attempt to shake off her embarrassment and subsequent blush.
"Yes, they are quite helpful," she responded trying simultaneously to not give into the bait and appear as if there was nothing for her to be teased for.
"Wait," said Louis, who had momentarily forgotten about his study concerns. "What are we missing?"
"It's not so much what you're missing, rather who's missing from this table." Dom mumbled into her pumpkin juice. The rest of the girls giggled as Lucy elbowed Dom in an effort to keep her quiet.
"Wha-" Louis paused as it seemed to dawn on him, the previous part of the conversation starting to make sense, and he quickly scanned the table before turning back to grin at Lucy.
"Cheers Luce. He's alright as far as blokes go. You could do worse than -"
But he was cut off as his sister kicked him in the shin. Lucy buried her face in her hands. Thankfully, the rest of the young men at the table hadn't caught what Dom had said and were still as lost as ever.
"Oh cheer up Luce," said Lily, reaching across to grip her cousin's arm. "There's nothing to be ashamed -"
"Yes well," said Lucy as she gathered her book and rose from her seat. "I think it's time I stop by the Ravenclaw table. I just saw Molly and Jill walk in and my sister hasn't pulled her head out of a book in ages."
The girls started to protest and apologize for teasing her but she waved them off with a small smile on her face.
"Seriously, it's fine. No harm done. I was finished anyway and I really should say hello to Molly."
She started to turn away but got an evil look in her eye as she turned back to look at her only male cousin who now knew her secret.
"Say, Lou?" she said with an evil grin, the likes of which her family and friends weren't accustomed to seeing on her face, but knew spelled trouble on the rare occasions it did appear.
"Yeah..?" Louis asked hesitantly.
"Wouldn't you care to join me?" Lucy asked as Caleb smiled, catching onto what she had up her sleeve.
"Why?" Louis responded skeptically with an untrusting look in his eye.
"Oh, it's just that, I'm sure Molly would be more than happy to swap notes with you for OWLs, and I know you'd be more than happy to swap spit with Jill."
The whole group was in an uproar as the girls laughed and the boys cheered and applauded Lucy for her more than satisfactory dig at her cousin, who was now the same shade as a ripe tomato. It wasn't exactly a secret that the Gryffindor harbored more than a passing fancy for his cousin's best friend, except to maybe the girl in question.
"Oh bugger off," he responded sorely. Lucy smiled and flounced away to join the two Ravenclaws. They sat at their table looking over at the ruckus their friends and family had created as the boys continued to make jibes at Louis, who had seemed to have had enough.
"You lot can bugger off too. Don't think I don't notice who each of you can't help but drool over."
This seemed to do the job in shutting up all the young men at the table, Caleb looked particularly terrified. Albus quickly changed the subject, and the rest of dinner passed in peace.
Hello again! And now we meet many more characters. I'm rather fond of them. I have the next chapter finished so you might get it soon seeing as this one is relatively short. Many thanks to Avanell 2 for being my first reviewer! Hope you enjoy the next installment. I tend to take time on things so you can expect the things that come up at the beginning to matter, but it might take a while to understand why. I really want to get to know these characters and their world. Anyone you like right of the bat? Anyone you're not too fond of at first glance? Please, feel free to let me know what you think! Reviews are always welcome.
Chapter 3: I know that you got your reasons
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Rose was waiting for Scorpius in the entrance hall. It was now five minutes before seven and they were due to start rounds at the top of the hour. He made his way to her two minutes before she would have scolded him for being late, having changed back into his dress pants, shirt, tie, and sweater. Thankfully, robes were only mandatory for classes these days. They we about to make their way through the castle and towards the second floor to start their hour long rounds, when they noticed a disturbance in the direction that Scorpius had just arrived from. It quickly became apparent that a few 5th year Slytherins were about to try their hand at sneaking out. It was common knowledge that the Slytherin 5th years and above had a tendency to have a little too much fun on the weekends, and most of the time it involved alcoholic beverages that had somehow been smuggled in.
Noticing the group of them, decked out in black and trying to walk stealthily through a deserted corridor that lead to a secret passageway, Scorpius groaned in frustration. He hated having to bust his own housemates. As they got closer, he realized that one of the culprits wasn’t just another housemate.
He asked the question as if he didn’t want it to be true. The dark haired boy spun around at the use of his name and immediately looked ashamed of himself, but quickly covered it up with a nonchalant look.
“Scorp, what’s up mate?”
Scorpius scowled and approached him, the other two boys had stopped as well and were watching with slight trepidation.
“What’s going on here?” Scorpius asked, a challenge in his voice.
“Out for an evening stroll, exercise and all that. You know how Mum’s always telling me how lazy I am.” He gave a sly grin at this, as if sharing an inside joke with the older boy.
“Don’t think for one second just because we’re family that I’ll turn a blind eye.”
Scorpius stared him down with his arms crossed over his chest as Rose stood resolutely by his side, ready to support him at a moment's notice, but understanding that he wanted to handle this himself.
Corbin finally seemed to realize the situation he was in along with his inability to get out of it. He heaved a sigh and ran his hands through his hair in frustration.
“Look,” he said, “it’s the first time they’ve trusted us to do this. We’ll lose any credibility we have if they know we’ve been caught. Come on Scor, you know this is important to me.”
“I don’t care Cor, rules are rules.” Scorpius stared at him for a while. He didn’t want to let him off easy, but there was still only so much he could do as a prefect. And he really didn’t want him to have to deal with the older students giving him a hard time.
The boy had a pleading look on his face as Scorpius sighed and made, what he hoped, was the best decision.
“WelI I can’t give you a detention so don’t worry about that. And you’re not even out after hours so I won’t take points, even though I know you’re up to something. But I can tell you to head back to your common room. Please don’t let me find you out here again.”
He gave him a pointed look and the younger Slytherin nodded his head as the other two boys relaxed.
“Thanks mate, I appreciate it.”
Scorpius nodded and the three boys walked off in the direction of the common room. He stared after them for a few minutes, looking unsure if he had made the right decision.
“That couldn’t have been easy,” Rose began tentatively, not entirely sure how what just occurred had affected him. “I mean, I always hate it when I catch my cousins doing something less than acceptable, and I know it can be even more complicated when it comes to yours.”
Scorpius sighed and looked at her, a small, grateful smile on his face.
“You’re probably one of the only people who actually even remotely understands what I have to deal with in these situations.” She gave him a small smile in return as they continue down the hall together. He had his hands in his pockets and a contemplative look on his face. She decided it was best to wait him out. If he had anything else he wanted to add, he would do it in his own time. She knew he had a hard time with his housemates. With the exception of his relationship with Albus, he wasn’t close with any of them. When he reached the end of 5th year and decided to no longer participate in the monthly ragers that were thrown in his common room, any friendships he had with his other housemates fizzled out into acquaintances, save for Al. He would still occasionally attend the gatherings, mainly to make sure it didn’t get too out of hand, but never took part in organizing them. Apparently, he had refused to go through the initiation of making his first Hogsmeade run, due to his status as a prefect, and that was basically asking to be exiled. Based on how the boys responded earlier, it was something that held a lot of weight to the house as a whole. Rose wouldn’t be surprised if the Slytherins had just waited for them to leave before continuing with their mission tonight.
Scorpius wasn’t what they had expected of a Malfoy. Pureblood prejudices were all but extinct and the houses got along a lot better now, but a desire to stay within your “class” still remained among the majority of the pureblood families. With Albus, who only ever attended, they understood because of his family, but they couldn’t quite understand why Scorpius was so keen to throw them aside to hang around with a bunch of Gryffindor’s most of the time. Rose knew he had his reasons, even though she wasn’t entirely sure what they all were, but she sometimes wished he had a better relationship with his housemates, his younger cousin in particular.
She just wished that everyone else would accept him for who he was. Like she had, like Al had, and like her whole family had.
“I'll miss Ethan as head boy next year,” Scorpius said eventually. They were about halfway through their rounds and, apparently, he had decided to just move on from the subject. She looked at him quizzically, wondering how he had arrived at his last statment. He caught her questioning look and explained.
“I was just thinking about how much has changed over the past few years, especially with all your cousins leaving, and how much more it will change after this one. And I realized that I will strangely miss having Longbottom as head boy.”
“Same,” agreed Rose. “But I happen to think you'll make an excellent head boy.”
She said it with such conviction that Scorpius was slightly taken aback.
“Really?” He asked “You think it'll be me?”
“Of course,” she said, as if it were obvious.
“We all know Macmillan is too stuck up to treat anyone fairly, Shepard is far too lazy and only thinks about which prefect he can snog while on rounds with her,” she said with a shiver. “And Davies,” she continued, “is far too biased. He'd let his own house off easy every time. And goodness knows those Ravenclaws don't need any more reasons to think highly of themselves.”
“Well blimey Rose, seems like they'd be a fool not to pick me, even if it is because I appear to be the only option,” he said with a roll of his eyes.
“What, No! I didn't mean to imply that you would only get it just because no one else deserved it,” she began, eager to correct the implication of her words. “You deserve it far more than they don't. You're fair and kind and just. The way you just handled everything with your cousin earlier? There wasn’t anything else you could have done in that situation and still remained fair, and you could tell how much he respects you. You know how to lead people and bring them together. Not to mention you're smart and easy going. Not too high strung, and mature enough to know how to balance things out in your life. I think you can even be trusted to not shirk your duties by sneaking off to snog the head girl.”
She grinned coyly at him and he blushed at her praise and insinuation. Scorpius hadn't dated much. Ever, really. He had been on a few Hogsmeade dates with a few of the girls in his house last yea,r but nothing had seemed to stick.
“Yeah, well, who knows, I might surprise you,” he said with a smirk at her.
“Scorpius Malfoy, how dare you suggest you would ever break a rule. Let alone for such a scandalous reason,” she said with mock indignation.
He chuckled at her expression as they continued on their way.
“Don't worry, I'll try and behave myself.”
“Good,” she said, continuing in her mockingly stern tone before they drifted into a comfortable silence and Rose was left to her thoughts for a moment. She may have joked about it, but it pained her to think of him spending time alone in secluded areas of the castle with another girl. To her, his response seemed to confirm that he wasn't interested in her. She figured he would have denied having any such ideas or desires and gone on to confess his need to be with her and only her for all of his days.
Wait a minute, where were these thoughts coming from?
She needed to gain some perspective. She was still confused about her feelings for him and she didn't want to dive into anything too soon or get carried away. They were still young, they had time. It could wait for now.
She was brought back out of her head by the sound of his voice.
“ ‘Course, it'll probably be you though, won’t it?” He asked as if the answer were the most obvious thing in the world.
“What'll be me?” She asked, trying to regain her hold on the conversation they'd been having ten minutes ago.
“Head Girl,” he said with a smile.
“What?” She had barely uttered the word, but he heard her and elaborated.
“Don't get me wrong, Elaine, Mandy, and Angie are great and all that, but they don't have your fire. You could really challenge the students, get them going. Yeah, we have more house unity now, but there could always be more. I see you taking us to new levels. All you'd need would be people willing to follow you, and I know I sure as hell would.”
He said all this while looking straight ahead as they continued walking. Rose didn't say anything for a few moments as his words sunk in. That meant a lot coming from him. He wasn't the most trusting person, but for him to put so much faith in her and verbalize it, it meant something.
“Thanks you, Scorpius,” she said after a few minutes of silence had passed.
“It's just the truth,” he said with a shrug of his shoulders, still not looking at her.
“Really, Scorp.” She put her hand on his shoulder as they stopped outside of the joint common room, their rounds coming to an end. He stood a good half a foot above her and she had to look up to meet his eyes. “Thank you, for having faith in me. I know it's not something you do lightly and I want you to know that I'd be the luckiest head girl in the world if I got to work with you nwxt year.”
He rolled his eyes at her but grinned all the same.
“Oh, stop being all mushy. You know I love you too.”
And he swung his arm around her shoulder and lead her into the joint common room. She barely had time to register what he had said before they joined their friends in the arm chairs by one of the many fires in the great room.
The joint common room had been added on to promote inter-house unity shortly after the war ended. Her father, in fact, had made a big push for this, but part of her thought he mostly did it to impress her mother. It seemed to have worked though, because nine months after the room had been opened, she'd been born. Or at least, that's the story that her uncles liked to tell.
It was spacious with high ceilings and three fireplaces rather than four. Having one for each house would have been counter productive, so they settled on three in the hopes that it would be well used by many students, and that all houses would mix and mingle. As Rose and Scorpius approached their friends, she spotted two Ravenclaws, three Gryffindors, and a Slytherin among the couches and armchairs, and even a few on the rug in front of the fire.
Rose plopped down on the couch next to Erin, who scooted towards Albus to make room for her. Scorpius sat on the floor in front of her as they joined the conversation that picked back up after they were greeted.
“I just don't see where you come up with these things,” said Jill, addressing Louis as they faced each other over a chessboard in front of the fire. Molly and Caleb each sat reading in arm chairs on either side of the couch.
“I mean, using a time-turner to gain more study time? Do you want to die from exhaustion?”
“It wasn't my idea,” said Louis defensively. “Rose’s mum did it in her third year and she turned out alright.”
“Barely,” said Rose with a snigger as Jill looked at her with wide eyes. “She ran herself ragged according to my dad. Missed a few classes and assignments too. It was a lot to keep up with and she couldn't take it so she dropped a few classes and handed it in to McGonagall at the end of the year.”
“Wow,” said Jill with reverence. “You're mum is amazing. And that proves it Louis,” she said, turning back to the blond Gryffindor. “If Hermione Granger can't handle it, you certainly can't.”
“I think you’re all thinking about this the wrong way,” came Al’s bored tone from the other side of the couch as he stared into the fire, ignoring the Herbology book that was open in his lap.
“If you had something as precious as a time-turner, there would only be one logical use for it.”
They all looked at him, expecting him to say something profound and meaningful.
“Sleep,” he said with conviction. “I'd wake up, turn the thing back a few more hours, and get some more shuteye.”
He said this with finality and Louis nodded his head in agreement as Caleb and Scorpius chuckled while Rose, Erin, and Molly rolled their eye.
“I can see how that sounds appealing,” said Erin in an annoyed tone. “But at this rate you are going to need one to have more study time. Do you want my help with Herbology or not?”
“I do,” he groaned as he threw his head back. “I'm just so bloody tired and I want it all to be over.”
“Sorry sleepyhead,” she said as she ruffled his black hair in a rough but affectionate manner. “We still have exams starting a week from Monday and you are a few years away from being prepared.”
He threw her arm off and pouted at her.
“Fine, then you better help me. You know this stuff better than I do.”
“Will you return the favor with Defense? I'm still having trouble getting the wand movement for the shield charm.”
As they moved over to a table and chairs a few feet away, they heard Al’s incredulous response at her lack of ability to correctly perform a charm that he found as easy as riding a broom, but tuned them out as they carried on with the previous conversation.
“With all your concern for having enough time to study Lou, you sure are doing a fine job of ignoring that responsibility now,” said Rose as Jill and Louis continued in their chess match.
“I have to be prepared to beat Uncle Ron this summer,” he said, not taking his eyes off the board. “And believe it or not, Jill is my best competition.”
“Not Hugo?” Molly asked in faint surprise as everyone else around the fire looked skeptical as well.
“Skill wise maybe, but Jill here won’t shut up for two minutes straight and it blows my concentration, so, I figure, with all the commotion going on when our families get together, it's best to be prepared.”
Jill looked at him as her jaw dropped.
“Well then, what if I just refuse to play you?” she said with her arms crossed and her nose in the air, her wavy brown hair, held back by a teal headband, tossed over her shoulders and falling down her back.
“Please,” Louise said, only offering her a glance, his dirty blond hair slightly falling off his forehead and into his eyes, “you can't resist a chance to beat me in something, even if it is slim to none.” He made a move, then looked up at her with cocky smile.
Jill looked down at the board as if it had personally offended her, then placed her chin in her hand and contemplated her next move, forgetting Louis’s previous comments about her ability to jabber on.
“You know what I find interesting..” she said a few moments later as she prepared to make her move, going off on a topic unrelated to their previous few.
Louis’s grin went unnoticed as she stared at the board while he stared at her. Molly and Caleb had gone back to their books and Rose was making room for Scorpius to join her on the couch, having been vacated by their two best friends a few minutes ago.
“We still need to finish our Arithmancy study guides,” he said as he pulled his homework out of his bag. They had both left their bags there before going on their rounds so they wouldn't have to go back to their respective dorms to get them.
“You're right. Best get cracking,” Rose said as she stretched, then moved to put her back against the arm of the couch after retrieving her own notes from her bag. Scorpius watched her as she settled in and she caught him staring.
“What?” She asked as she pulled out her book and began filling in the answers.
“It's hardly fair that you're all the way over there,” he said.
“Why’s that?” she asked, pausing in her writing to look up at him.
“Because now I can't see your notes. How am I supposed to get any work done that way?”
She contemplated this for a moment, then lowered her knees and stretched her legs across the couch, crossing them at the ankles.
“Tell you what. You use your own notes for now and if you get stuck, maybe I'll be gracious enough to help you if you ask nicely.”
“Fine,” he chuckled as he started in on his work. “But on your head be it if I fail.”
She shook her head and chuckled at him before focusing back on her own work. She had to help him a few times throughout the night, and she wasn't bothered at all by the fact that they ended the evening with their legs stretched out side by side on a couch that, thanks to the brilliant mind of her father, they were able to share.
First off, anyone know of another site to host story and chapter art other than photobucket? I don't want to have to pay such a steep fee but I want to be able to add chapter images and a story banner.
Also, I know it might be getting confusing with all of the characters and I'm planning on adding a family tree to the next chapter authors note if that would be helpful! I realize that the first three chapters all take place in one day but that won't be the norm. It's going to move ahead from here. Hope you are starting to love these kids as much as I do!
Chapter 4: Let me in I wanna be your freind
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A/N: I've made character art!! Obviously, these aren't exactly what I picture and most of them look older than the characters currently are, but it's the general idea :) You can see Al, Rose, Erin, and Scorpius on the banner, so I'm skipping them for now and letting you meet some of our other characters. Tell me who you'd like to see next, but I will do my best to make sure you meet people who feature in the chapter. So, meet Lucy!
The week flew by and before they knew it, they were all prepared to face their exams.
Well…some more so than others.
"'What are the three basic uses of Snargaluff Pods?'"
"Umm...wait give me one second, I know this one."
"Come on Al," Erin sighed. "We've been over this a hundred times. You should know it by now."
"I know, I know, just give me a moment." He put his head down, mumbling to himself. Erin watched him expectantly for a moment before he let out a groan and, grabbing his text book out of her hands, began to bang it repeatedly on his head.
"Stop, stop! That's not helping anything," said Erin as she sniggered at Al's theatrics while struggling to wrestle the book from his grasp.
"You never know, it might decide to fly out of the book and lodge in my brain." He chuckled at her struggle to steal the book from him as he moved it further out of her reach and above his head. This didn't impede her determination and she became so aggressive that she ended up half on top of him. They continued arguing and laughing until Albus finally relented after she threatened to tickle him.
"Ok, ok, here. You can have the book."
She smiled at him as she sat up to take it, only to have him pull it away at the last minute.
"On one condition," he said with a devious look in his eyes.
"Oh fine, what one condition?"
"If I did better than you on the Transfiguration exam, you have to get your dad to use cooling and warming charms on the path leading to and from Herbology."
She stared at him, a shocked and slightly hurt look on her face.
"Al, you know I can't do that. That completely goes against my rule, my one rule Al."
It was a general consensus that Erin made too big a deal about never using her position to ask for favors, but she had remained adamant. Ethan was normally more than happy to put in a good word for people, but Erin was always surprised by this and refused to do the same. Not widely known by their friends, was that their older sister, Alice, had been shamelessly used by a boy during her 5th year. Erin hadn't been in school yet and the details were kept within the family, but a few close friends knew that she had been crushed by the boys actions, and that it had to do with him using her for her connections before leaving her the second he got what he wanted. Al was close enough to her family to know all this. He looked slightly guilty, but persisted.
"I know that Erin, but we've been friends for years. Do you really think I'm only in this friendship for my own selfish gain? It's not even that big of a request, and the only benefit I get is a more comfortable walk to and from class a few times a week. Besides, do you even know who my father is? I would hate for someone to use me to get to him, so believe me, I know how you feel."
Erin looked at him with an unreadable expression on her face, as if she were processing what he had said. The only indication she gave that she was thinking it over was the fact that she was slightly chewing on her lip. Eventually, she relaxed, having come to a decision.
"You're right, I know I can trust you. It's just hard to change when you're set in your ways."
He looked at her sincerely and gripped her shoulder for a moment in silent support. He could be like that sometimes. Yes, they had their moments when they bickered, quite a few of them in fact, and he spent the majority of his time speaking without a hint of sincerity, but she knew it was all a front. He was one of the most kindhearted people she knew. He'd been that way since they were kids, but as he got older, he developed more of a devil-may-care exterior to help shield him from the pressures that surrounded him. This made the moments when he was truly open with his feelings mean so much more to her.
"Ok, fine, I'll do it, but if I did better than you, you have to jump in the Black Lake at the beginning of next year."
He considered her for a second with pursed lips and a furrowed brow, trying to keep from smiling. She knew he would find this a small price to pay.
"Fine - "
He gaped at her. There, not so simple now is it, Potter?
"You can't be serious?"
"Oh, but I am," she said with a cheeky grin. "Don't worry, you can do it under cover of night and we can use the fact that Rose and Scorp will no doubt be heads to our advantage. And I'll do my best not to peek."
He rolled his eyes at her. Not one to run away from a dare, Al considered her offer. They were evenly matched in Transfiguration after all, and he felt pretty good about how he had done on his exam earlier that day. Where was the harm? He really hated that walk to and from Herbology after all.
She was slightly surprised that he agreed so quickly, but shook his proffered hand.
They returned to studying for their exam and were soon joined by Rose and Scorpius as they left Arithmancy.
"How'd it go?" asked Albus as they approached.
"Not half bad," responded Scorpius. "Those study guides were a life safer."
"Yes, and a lot of hard work you put into them too," said Rose, rolling her eyes at him. "I do believe that I ended up filling out about half of yours."
"Only because you're an incredibly generous person."
She glared at him but a slight blush had risen to her cheeks.
"Flattery will get you nowhere. And don't expect the same treatment next year. N.E.W.T.s are far too important for you to just slide by."
"I'll have you know that I take my studies very seriously and have every intention of putting forth a full effort next year. No more funny business," he responded in a pompous manner.
"Mate," said Albus, "you spend half your time in the library as it is. There's hardly any funny business for you to abstain from."
"Then I'll do my best to keep it that way," he said with a smirk.
"If you lot are done carrying on about your superb studying habits," came Erin's dry remark, "we have an exam to get to."
Al froze in terror. "Shit, I'm not ready for this. Erin, punch me, hex me, anything to send me to the hospital wing for a few hours so I have more time to prepare."
"Should have thought of that before you spent most of last night playing exploding snaps with Hugo. Let's go drama queen." And she dragged him off to what Al seemed to believe was his doom.
Rose and Scorpius continued on to the joint common room to get in some last minute studying before Charms, which would be taking place the following morning.
Exam week continued in much the same way. Al would panic at the drop of a hat and Rose would worry about how he was possibly going to handle next year if he was this affected by sixth year exams. Caleb, Molly, and Jill seemed to be handling the pressure of O.W.L.s relatively well, but Louis was about to crack under the pressure. Everyone took turns keeping an eye on him until finally, he ran out of the entrance hall and onto the grounds, collapsing under the shade of the birch tree by the lake after finishing his final exam. The other three were closely behind him and Ethan, Dom, and Eva had barely been seen all week before they emerged an hour after the fifth years, having completed their final N.E.W.T. They joined them on the grounds and pretty soon, everyone else started trickling out as their exams began to finish. The last to join were the sixth years, having come from Defense Against the Dark Arts. They all began to relax and enjoy the freedom that the summer months promised.
Looking around her, Rose saw the three seventh years looking more carefree than she had remembered seeing them all year. Dom and Eva were laying in the grass, their robes discarded, as Ethan chucked stones into the lake with Louis and Molly, competing to see who could throw the farthest. Lucy was chatting with Jill about the Transfiguration O.W.L. while Bobby listened, and Hugo, Lily, and Caleb took turns tossing things in the air at each other to try and catch with a levitation spell. Charlotte looked like she was sleeping as she lay on the ground next to Lucy with her arm thrown over her face. It was rare that they were all together at the same time. As the years had gone on they had definitely grown as a group, although last year would have been the biggest they had ever been with the added presence of Roxy, Fred, James, Violet, Lorcan, and Lysander. The younger ones hadn't hung around with them as much that year, but they would try to all eat dinner together once a month, a tradition that had continued throughout this past year. The Potters and Weasleys were also a very welcoming group, and their clan had expanded to include quite a few more people other than family. In fact, it seemed as if for every one of them, there was someone else who had joined the group. Rose looked over at her best friends and realized that Erin had yet to sit down and was watching her older brother.
"Ethan?" she called. He stopped his rock throwing to look over at her. He went to grab his bag and robe and moved to join his sister.
"Sorry you lot, but I'm afraid we have to be off." He gripped his sister's shoulder and she smiled thankfully at him.
"We're needed at our Great-Gram's," she said to the group at large. There was a swarm of movement as people got up to say goodbye.
"Really people? We'll see you all in a few weeks for the get together at the manor," said Erin as Lily gripped her tightly.
"But it's not the same as seeing you everyday," Molly said as she timidly walked up to hug Ethan goodbye.
"I guess not," said Erin, and then tears started to gather in the corners of her eyes.
"Bugger it all, I'm going to miss you lot," she said, gripping Lucy and Charlotte at the same time.
They eventually broke away from everyone and made their way to meet their dad in his office where they would be flooing home before heading to their Great-Gram's house. Everyone was silent for a moment before Scorpius gave a clap of his hands and addressed the group at large.
"Anyone care for a swim?" Everyone wholeheartedly agreed and they made their way back into the castle to change. Three hours later, 14 young witches and wizards had dragged themselves indoors after a much needed afternoon of relaxation and carefree enjoyment of the beautiful summer afternoon.
The train was set to leave the next day, and Rose felt strange to be taking a train ride with one of her best friends absent. She had ridden to and from Hogwarts with Erin every year, and they only had a handful of trips left to take. This time, she, Albus, and Scorpius were joined by the 4th years in their family, along with Charlotte and Bobby. There wasn't quite enough seats for all of them, but Hugo and Bobby were sat on the floor playing exploding snaps and they were all taking turns playing the winner. Hugo was currently on a three game winning streak.
"Cheer up, Rose," said Hugo, as she again released a heavy sigh, gazing out the window at the rolling hills. They were bathed in the warm hues of the setting sun, and the picturesque scene was making Rose feel even more nostalgic.
"We never ride the train together. There's no way we'd all fit if Erin were here. Just enjoy the time you get to spend with your little brother."
She rolled her eyes at her brother as he shot her a cheeky grin, his temporary distraction causing him to lose the game as the stack of cards blew up in his face.
"Yes!" Bobby exclaimed, raising his fist in the air. "Nice run mate, but it was bound to end sometime. Alright, who will take next?"
Al moved to join Bobby on the floor and Scorpius slid over to occupy his vacated seat next to Rose.
"You know," he said, barely above a whisper. "This time next year, we'll be heading into the rest of our lives and leaving Hogwarts behind. Scarey thought that, isn't it."
"Are you trying to distract me with thoughts even more depressing than the fact that one of my best friends isn't here and she's currently dealing with a hardship? You know how much Erin loves her Great-Gram. This won't be easy on her."
She hadn't taken her eyes off the window as she spoke. He sighed and spoke again.
"That's why she has friends like us. We'll help her get through it, you more than either me or Al. Besides, you'll probably get to spend as much time with her this summer as you normally would. If I know Erin, she'll want a distraction from the pain."
"You're right," She said before collecting herself and turning to look at him.
"Thanks for the reminder. I can always count on you to at least try and cheer me up."
"Well I hope I succeeded this time. You've been a right bore this whole trip."
She scowled at him but soon started chuckling at the extremely pleased look on his face.
"See! Mission accomplished," he said, sounding extremely proud of himself.
"Alright, you've successfully managed to distract me. So, what are your plans for the summer?"
"Well," he began, "other than the plans I have to see you lot, I'm going to spend some time helping my father out with some business endeavors. He knows I'd like to take a more active role in the business one day, and there's always more to learn about potions. I know mum wants to spend time with me as well. She's talked about taking a week long trip to visit Aunt Daphne and her family at some point. I haven't seen the twins since last summer because they were sick over Christmas so I'm sure they've doubled in size by now."
Scorpius was actually very close with his family. His father wasn't the softest of men, but he made sure to do right by his family, Scorpius in particular. He never pressured him to be anything other than himself. He had a harder time getting on with his mother, who unintentionally pressured him to bring good repute to the family, but she really did only want what was best for him. His mother was very close with her sister and they normally spent holidays with her family. Scorpius got along well with his cousin Corbin, despite some of their differences, and his little sisters, who had just turned five that spring, doted on Scorpius.
"I'm sure Evelynn and Emmaline will be thrilled to see you. I'd love to meet them someday."
"They'd love you. They are fascinated by anyone whose hair is a different color than the black locks their entire family shares. Your fiery curls would about do them in."
Rose laughed as he tugged on one of them.
"I heard that!" Lily suddenly exclaimed. Rose and Scorpius tuned back into the conversations going on around them. Lily was glaring and Hugo, Al and Bobby. The latter two were still playing their game while Hugo was leaned in close so they could talk quietly amongst themselves. Upon her words, Hugo looked up with an innocent expression on his face, Al ignored her, and Bobby tried and failed to look anything other than quilty.
"Heard what?" Hugo asked with a voice that didn't sound as nonchalant as he probably hoped it would. Al shot him a look at his complete lack of ability to remain calm.
"What you were planning. Don't even think about spoiling girls night this year. Rose and Erin can do magic now and I wouldn't put it past them to use it against you if you try anything." Lily was pointing a warning finger at Hugo. He wasn't always the best at pulling pranks off, but he was a terrific planner. They could always count on him to be one of the masterminds behind whatever devious things the boys had in store. Hugo raised his hands in a defensive position.
"Hey, you have your traditions and we have ours. Don't get your wand in a knot over it."
Lily continued to scowl at her brother, cousin, and friend as the boys got back to their game and Charlotte attempted to distract Lily from her current disdain for the male species. The rest of the trip passed in relative peace and ended with Bobby claiming the title of "Snap King" with a total of 5 wins. Lucy, who had always been rather timid, came in last with none.
"If you want, I can teach you how to play sometime," Bobby said at the look of disappointment on Lucy's face. They had just finished the last game and she had lost again in a spectacular fashion. The train had pulled into the station and they were all preparing to make their way to the platform. Lucy continued to frown as she put the book she had been reading throughout the train ride into her bag.
"I know how to play," she said. "I just can't get the hang of it."
"Well then I can teach you how to get the hang of it," he said, as if it were no big deal. She laughed lightly.
"I'm afraid I'm a lost cause. Molly is ace at Exploding Snaps so I've played many a time in my life and I'm not sure I've ever won."
They were now on the platform and she could see her family gathering a few yards away. Rose, Hugo, Al, and Scorpius had left ahead of them and were already greeting their parents.
"Well, if you ever change your mind," he said with a slight smile on his lips. "I'll see you in a few weeks, alright?"
"Alright," she smiled at him. "Bye, Bobby." And he waved at them before hollering out a farewell to Hugo and wandering off to join his parents and younger siblings.
As soon as his back was turned, Lily gave Lucy a backhanded smack on the arm. She turned to face her, looking surprised and slightly hurt. Lily was watching her with a hand on her hip and a sassy look on her face.
"That boy was straight up flirting with you and you couldn't even take the time to notice and respond in kind."
Lucy stared between Lily and Charlotte with a dumbfounded expression.
"Wha - what are you on about? We were just talking about a game! A game that I can't even play mind, which is hardly an attractive quality. He probably thinks I'm pathetic, actually."
"Luce," said Charlotte, with more patience than Lily, "a boy doesn't just offer to spend his time teaching a girl something if he doesn't like her. It's some male ego thing. They like to feel needed. And Bobby was definitely trying to make a move. He definitely gave you an opening to take things a little further. Besides, he seemed keen to spend more time with you." Lily was nodding her head in agreement.
"Girls, please," Lucy said with a roll of her eyes. "We're friends, of course he enjoys spending time with me. I think you're reading too much into this."
And she turned and continued walking towards her family. Charlotte and Lily shared a look before following. They all saw each other a lot during the holidays. They would make her see sense eventually. Besides they were only heading into their 5th year. They had plenty of time.
Chapter 5: One says she's a friend of mine
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Not my favorite one since I couldn't get his hair quite right but I'll take it. Meet James!
It was a few week into the holiday and life had sunk into a rhythm for Rose. She would get up in time to have breakfast with her parents before they left for work, then spend a few hours reading. Her favorite spot to do this was on the swing that hung out front on the wrap around porch, enjoying the cooler weather before it got hot later in the afternoon. She'd then rouse herself to go get ready for the day and would usually meet up with a friend or cousin or two for lunch. A lot of her days were spent having lunch at the Potter's. Her Aunt Ginny worked from home in the summer as there was no Quidditch unless the World Cup was going on, so there was a lot less reporting to be done. Hugo would join her on some of these trips to the Potter's and about once a week, Scorpius was there as well. James, who had moved out but couldn't seem to bare missing more than a day of his mother's cooking, was there more often than not, especially since he had time off in the summer as well.
"So, do you think you'll be able to take Tutshill in the season opener?" Hugo asked one day, about two weeks into the summer.
"Well," James responded as they sat around the lunch table. "It's hard to say since we haven't started training since Adamson retired. I haven't even had my first real practice as a starter yet. Only time will tell I guess," he said with a shrug.
"Since when are you so modest?" asked Al with his eyebrows raised. James wasn't one to usually shy away from talking himself up, especially when it came to Quidditch. In fact, everyone had rolled their eyes at Hugo's question, fully expecting him to launch into a never ending tale about the superiority of Puddlemere United and their unquestionable advantage now that he was a starting Chaser. To hear his actual response had caused everyone to do a double take.
James just shrugged his shoulders in response, his manner slightly more subdue than normal. Just last week he was unable to shut up about his future with Puddlemere and his excitement over the upcoming gala that weekend, where he would make his first official appearance with the team as a starting Chaser.
"Well," began Ginny, attempting to ease the strange tension. "We're all looking forward to going to your first match."
"Yeah, mate!" said Albus, looking excited. "I can't believe you were able to get a whole box for the family. And that we're lucky enough that the season starts in August this year! Have you decided who you're going to give the tickets to?"
James just shrugged his shoulders again before responding in a rather miserable manner.
"Doesn't really matter. You can give them to whoever you want mum," he said as he threw a glance at Ginny while poking at his food.
"Well I'm sure you'll want ones for your friends, so I'll set some aside for Roxy, Fred, Ly, Lorcan, and Violet - "
"No need," James interrupted. "Vi can't come. You can give her ticket to someone else."
There was a general spirit of understanding around the table. Everyone knew that James and Violet had a complicated relationship, even if, until this moment, James seemed to be unaware and unaffected by it. Even Scorpius was aware that their relationship was different than it appeared on the surface and he wasn't even part of the family. Always one to be able to break the tension, he saw his opening.
"An extra ticket then? Great, I've always wanted to see the Tornado's thrash Puddlemere."
His plan worked as James looked up at him with a scowl before launching into a long winded speech about the statistics of both teams and the complete unlikelihood of Scorpius' prediction ever occurring. Pretty soon they were all bantering back and forth and Ginny shot Scorpius a grateful smile as Albus and James were in an intense discussion about the quality of brooms that each team possessed.
Rose subtly studied James throughout the rest of the meal. She knew him almost as well as she knew Albus, as he was her Father's godson, and he spent a great deal of time at their house growing up along with his siblings. He and Albus were very close as well so he generally hung around with him and Rose when he was visiting. Since she and Al were so close in age, James was the one who always felt more like an older brother to her, even though Albus had her beat by a month as well. As she watched him, she noticed his eyes looked slightly sunken with dark circles under them. Exhaustion seemed to radiate off of him.
After lunch, Scorpius and Al took their turn for cleanup while Hugo and Lily left to meet up with their friends in Diagon Alley, which left Rose and James alone in the family room when Ginny went out to do some work in the garden.
"So, Rosie," James began as he stretched out on the couch. "Excited to be Head Girl this year?"
Rose threw his feet off the couch and sat at the end, crisscrossing her legs and turning to face him.
"We don't even know if that will be the case yet. Besides, you and I both know that's not what we're going to talk about."
She was looking at him expectantly but he just pulled his legs up on the couch again and slid further into the cushions, trying to hide behind his knees.
"Jamie…" Rose said with a warning tone, and he slowly sat up. He only let her and Lily call him that and she knew she could use the affectionate term to get him to open up. Sure enough, he lowered his knees and scooted back up as he let out a sigh.
"I guess I was never good at hiding anything from you. I don't know Rosie, none of it makes any sense anymore."
"Try me. I'm rather good at figuring out the things that don't make sense." She smiled slightly at him and he heaved another heavy sigh, grabbing a pillow from behind his back and holding it tightly to his chest.
"I just can't seem to do anything right anymore. Nothing will make her happy. She says she wants one thing and then acts as if I've completely buggered it up by doing exactly what she said she wanted. When did this get so complicated? We never had issues like this in school and now she's refusing to even bloody talk to me."
Rose looked at her cousin sympathetically.
"I'll let you in on a little secret James."
He perked up at her words and looked at her as if the next thing out of her mouth would hold the answers to all of his problems.
"Girls don't always say what they mean. In fact, more often than not, they'll say the exact opposite, hoping you'll make the right choice on your own."
He looked at her in despair. "But that makes no sense at all. Why would anyone do that? Doesn't it just make more sense to say what you mean and actually mean it?"
"Absolutely," said Rose. "Believe me, I think it's as ridiculous as the next person, yet I still manage to do it." She paused for a moment as he looked frustrated by this news. "But maybe she's scared that, maybe if she's honest, you'll do the same in return."
He looked at her skeptically. "Why would that be a bad thing?"
"Maybe she's afraid of how you feel."
"Why on earth would she be afraid of that?"
Rose let out a sigh. "James, how do you feel about Violet?"
He thought about it for a second before responding.
"She's my best friend Rose. I know I always says it's Ly and Freddie, but there's no one I'm more sure will always be there for me than her. And now I'm questioning all of that."
"Well, what exactly happened?" She asked, deciding to come back to the feelings portion later and fully prepared to listen for as long as he needed her to.
James sighed before launching into his story.
"So you know how I was going on about that gala last week?" she nodded to indicate that she remembered. "Well, originally, I'd sort of asked her to go with me."
She had a judgmental look on her face now and James knew he probably deserved it, even though he was still trying to figure out where he'd gone wrong.
"I would say that's wonderful, but you said originally. How'd you manage to mess that up?"
"I know this whole mess is somehow my fault, but when we had originally decided she'd go with me, it was as friends. I didn't think she'd be that upset when I asked an actual date to go with me instead."
"James!" Rose exclaimed, shock and disbelief written all over her face.
"Don't look at me like that, Rosie! I asked Vi to go because I was invited so late minute due to the sudden roster change and I didn't think I'd have time to find an actual date. I told her as much when I asked her. I didn't think she'd blow her lid when I told her she was off the hook."
James looked positively miserable and Rose softened.
"Did she really go off on you?"
"Like you wouldn't believe. Started talking about how I always take her for granted and that I was a bloody fool and completely blind to how I treat her."
"Well are you?" she asked, hoping James would finally see sense about his best friend.
"I never thought I treated her differently than any of my other friends. I don't see what the problem is at all."
"Maybe that is the problem Jamie," He looked at her questioningly. "Maybe she should be treated differently."
James looked deep in thought, trying to process what Rose was implying. She patiently waited for him to speak again.
"Like how? Like a sister?" He now seemed utterly confused. Rose just rolled her eyes at him.
"Well, do you feel the same way about her as you do about Lily? Or any of your female cousins for that matter?"
He thought long and hard before a slight blush started to rise on his cheeks and he couldn't meet Rose's eyes.
"No," he said softly, "I reckon I don't."
Rose couldn't help but beam at how uncomfortable he looked.
"Do you get what I'm saying now?"
James finally looked at her and seemed to braced himself for what he was about to say.
"Look, Rose, I know what you're getting at, but I've been trying to stamp this out for Merlin knows how long. I'm not about to risk stuffing everything up or making things awkward by finally admitting how much I bloody care for her as so much more than a friend."
Rose was slightly surprised that she'd actually gotten him to admit that much, and he looked like he had surprised himself as well.
"Well, you're likely to lose her anyway with the way you've been behaving lately. Did you ever think that she might actually feel the same way as you?"
He seemed skeptical at this idea.
"But she's never said anything otherwise."
Rose ran her hands through her hair in frustration. She refused to just give him the answer. She wanted him to get there himself. She thought about her relationship with Scorpius, and the words she would want someone to say to him if he was sitting where James was. Maybe her confused feelings could come in handy right now.
"Look, James," she began, preparing herself for the vulnerability she was about to embrace. "I know how it feels to be caught between friendship and something more."
He stared at her quizzically and she couldn't help but let her eyes flicker behind him to the door that lead to the kitchen, where they could hear his brother and a certain blonde having what sounded like a little too much fun cleaning up.
Realization struck his face and he quickly looked back and forth between the kitchen and Rose.
"Really?" he asked in a softer tone so they weren't overheard, his eyes bugging out at her as he soaked in this information. "Since when?"
"Honestly?" she began hesitantly, matching his quiet tone. "I couldn't even begin to guess." She let out a small, depressed sounding chuckle, looking down at her hands and willing herself to not feel too self conscious about her confession. It was the first time she had ever admitted to anyone that she was feeling anything more than friendship towards Scorpius, and it terrified her how real it was all becoming in her mind. She was finally starting to embrace how she felt about her best friend.
Rose looked up at James and let out a genuine laugh. He still had a slightly shocked look on his face, but he was now grinning at her.
"Good one, Rosie. He's brilliant."
She quickly became subdued, recalling the situation she was actually in.
"Yes well, you're the only one who knows and I trust you keep it that way. Nothing has actually happened and I have no idea if he feels the same. He certainly hasn't given me much of an indication that he feels anything more for me than friendship, and I'd be terrified to confront him about it. The chance that he might not feel the same and that I could ruin our friendship? Right now, it's not worth the risk when I have no clue how he might feel. His friendship means too much to me. So the point I wanted to make," she continued getting back to the topic at hand and looking pointedly at James, willing him to understand, "is that, while I'm not privy to Violet's personal thoughts and feelings, I think I might know where she's coming from."
James looked at her questioningly, recalling what she had said earlier. The uncertainty of it all and about being caught between friendship and something more, afraid to take the next step because you have no clue as to how the other feels.
"Wait…" he said slowly. "You can't mean what I think you mean."
She gave him a sly smile. "Finally figured it out have you?"
He looked dumbfounded. Then his face twisted in pain and he dropped it into his hands.
"Bloody fucking hell, I'm an idiot."
"That's one thing we can all agree with, but why this time?" his brother asked as he walked out of the kitchen and slapped James on the back of the head with a drying towel, Scorpius trailing behind him.
James shot a scowl at his brother.
"None of your damn business if you're going to be an arse."
Albus had a mocking look of shock on his face.
"Me? Why, I'd never be an arse to you brother dear."
James had put his face back in his hands and was ignoring his brother, his mind clearly preoccupied. Al and Scorpius picked up on the slightly more serious tone of the situation and looked at Rose for clarification who just shrugged at them before informing them it wasn't her place to say. They looked back at James with worry on their faces. Scorpius then moved to pull out the chessboard and Al sat across from him. It appeared they were prepared to just be there incase James should need them. Rose picked up her book which rested on the coffee table and they remained in silence for a solid half an hour, until James finally picked his head up and looked around the room, as if just remembering that they were all there. Scorpius and Al looked at him expectantly but his eyes landed on Rose.
"How do I fix this?" he asked in a timid and terrified voice.
"Well, do you know how you feel? Do you know what you want?" she asked.
He nodded and she grinned at him.
"Then I suggest you do something about it."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
It was Rose's turn to make dinner that night, so she apparated home around 5:30 to get started. She and James had discussed at length how he could "do something about it" as she put it. He had argued that her solution was impractical since Violet wasn't even talking to him, so they, along with Al and Scorpius, who they clued in on the situation ("You're a bloody git," Al had told his brother who chucked a pillow at him), brainstormed ways to get her to listen so James could "apologize and confess his undying love for his best friend" as Scorpius had put it. They realized that the best chance he'd have would be at the Quidditch match that was held annually at the Potter's family home and would take place in a few weeks. She would be coming with Roxanne the night before to participate in the traditional girl's night the day before the match. Rose said she would touch base with Roxy to make sure Violet was still planning on coming at least to the girls night, and promised she'd do her best to get her to stay for Quidditch the next day.
"Ok," James had said, "but it will be very hard to keep the boys out this year. I'm going to go mad knowing I could miss my best chance to talk to her if she plans to bolt in the morning."
Rose tried to make the boys promise not to ruin their time, but they wouldn't budge.
"If James needs us to stage a coup, we stage a coup." Al had said in all seriousness.
James couldn't stop beating himself up over the situation he'd put himself in. He was pacing almost violently in front of the fireplace. Ginny had come in from gardening, taken one look at the scene in the living room, and informed the other three that they looked like they had everything handled before she went to wash up.
"I can't believe I spent all this time pushing her away. She's got to have no bloody idea how I feel! Which, incidentally, is what I was going for. But if I had thought that on some level she felt the same? Blimey, everything I've been afraid of happening if I ever said something, she's been afraid of too. And with good reason! I've been a prat!"
Everyone took turns reassuring him that the situation was still salvageable and that he needn't worry. James was still having a hard time wrapping his head around the fact that he might actually have a chance with her.
"Why else would she be refusing to speak to you right now? Girls only do that if they really care."
Everyone gave Al a quizzical look at these words, but Rose actually saw a lot of truth behind them as well.
Scorpius had given some surprisingly good insight too. He had encouraged James to be brave and to fully put himself out there.
"It'll all be worth it in the end," he'd said, "Especially if you end up getting to spend the rest of your life with someone you consider to be the best person in the world. I can't think of anything better than having your best friend forever by your side."
He had said this as he and Al continued to play chess, his eyes fixed on the board. Al just nodded his head in agreement as he too was focused on the game, but James had shot her a knowing look.
Now, as she peeled potatoes and prepared the chicken to be roasted, she couldn't help but let her thoughts stray to her best friend and what the future might hold for them. Did she think she wanted to spend forever with him? No, definitely too soon to think things like that. She was still trying to juggle her changing feelings. Was she curious about where it could go? Without a doubt, but she understood why James felt terrified to face Violet, even though he had a pretty solid idea of how she felt. The idea of rejection, of losing that person who means so much to you, it pained her to think about more than she cared to admit.
And what if he did feel the same way and they did get together but it was only for a while? What if they broke up and it was horribly messy? She'd wind up losing him eventually anyway. Would it still be worth it?
The sound of apparition outside and the door opening brought her out of her head as her parents walked in the front door, her father finishing up a funny anecdote from work and her mother chuckling at him with an amused expression on her face. Even after her father had stopped working at the ministry, he made sure his schedule worked out so that he could see his wife home from work almost every day.
"Were you able to get it off of him?" she asked her husband with a smile on her face as she kicked off her shoes and hung her bag and robes on a hook by the door.
"Took forever to catch the little bugger but yeah, we eventually controlled the situation."
By the mirth in his eyes, Rose could tell that whatever situation had occurred at the shop today was more amusing than anything.
"Rose! Hello, dear," her mother said brightly, noticing her daughter standing in the doorway to the kitchen. She smiled in greeting at her parents as her father also shot her a hello and inquired about dinner.
"It's in the oven. Another mishap with a customer then?" she asked her dad. Ever since he had left the aurors and gone to work with her uncle George, she and Hugo had loved hearing the crazy stories he would come home with.
"Yeah," he chuckled lightly. "Tiny little wizard with a sense of humor got ahold of one of the headless hats, although he was about the size of the hat itself so the whole thing covered him and made him invisible so you saw only his feet. Took ages to catch him."
Ron collapsed on the couch with a groan and Hermione chuckled at him.
"Getting old are we?"
He shot her a look. "You try going on the run for a year and then turning right around and jumping into a full fledged career as an auror. I don't know how Harry still does it to be honest."
"Yes well," said Hermione matter of factly as she sat next to him on the couch, looking through the post from the day. "Harry mostly stays in the office now doesn't he?"
"Still," Ron said, "I'm glad to spend my day surrounded by jokes rather than hunting dark wizards. Takes a lot out of you."
Hermione, still focused on the mail, silently reached out and rested her hand on his thigh as his arm came around to lightly rub her back.
Rose watched her parents and thought for the first time about how they got to where they were. They looked so peaceful and comfortable together. She knew that they, along with her uncle, had been best friends growing up, but she had never given much thought as to how or when they became something more. She knew it wasn't really until they were older, but other than that she didn't know many details.
Ron eventually noticed her watching them.
"What's up, Rosie?" he asked.
Hermione glanced at Ron as he spoke but then turned to look at Rose as well. By the looks on their faces, she knew they could tell something was on her mind.
"I was just thinking, that's all," she said with a dismissive wave of her hand.
"About what dear?" her mother asked. "Anything you'd like to talk about?"
Rose studied her parents for a moment before deciding there was no harm a simple question.
"Can I ask you something?"
"Anything, dear," said Hermione and she gestured to the chair across from them as she set aside the post and leaned back into Ron's side, his arm coming around her shoulders.
"It's just…" she began hesitantly, "I was wondering about you two."
Her parents glanced at each other and then looked at her quizzically.
"What about us Rosie?" Ron asked.
"I don't know, it's just, I don't think I know much about the history of your relationship. I know you were best friends in Hogwarts and you eventually became something more, but that's it. I don't know who liked who first or who made the first move or when things actually changed between you. I guess I was just curious," she finished, looking slightly scared that they would either scold her or laugh at her. Instead, their response was to look at each other and smile.
"We knew one of them would ask eventually. Do you want to start or should I?" Ron asked his wife.
"I'd love to see what you have to say actually, so by all means," and she rested her head on his shoulder, prepared to listen. Rose looked at her father expectantly.
"Well," he began, "I guess you could say it all started with a lost toad."
"Ron," Hermione chuckled, "not that far back or this will take ages."
"A troll then?"
"How about a hippogriff?"
"The Yule Ball then?"
"That's more like it."
Rose smiled at her parents' banter and waited for her father to continue.
"You see Rose, I had always found your mother to be a right pain in the arse, but a lovely one at that."
Hermione scowled up at him and he laughed before placing a peck on her nose and turning back to his daughter.
"And it took me forever to admit to myself how much I liked her as more than a friend."
He went on to explain, with Hermione interjecting when she found it necessary, the events of the Yule Ball, the aftermath of it, and the trainwreck that was their 6th year, before finally getting to their year on the run and the war. Rose knew quite a bit about that time, but there were still things she knew her parents had never told her. As they reached a certain point in their story, her father grew quiet, not sure how to continue. Hermione looked up at him and grabbed his hand comfortingly before looking back at their daughter.
"Rose, something you have to understand is how dark and powerful horcruxes are. I know we explained them to you last summer, but it's not something you can truly understand unless you've been affected by them. And to have to carry one around with us for months on end, well it took its toll."
She glanced at her husband and he nodded for her to continue.
"Rose, there's something that happened during our time on the run that we've never told you and your brother, and it deeply affected your father and I's relationship for a time."
Rose sat forward and nodded her head, bracing herself.
"The horcrux was trying to divide us and tear us apart. It used our weaknesses against us and, well.."
She hesitated for a moment and Ron rose to the occasion.
He said the statement so simply, but by the look on his face, Rose was shocked by his statement, but could tell he carried nothing but regret for the decision he had made all those years ago.
"I left," he said again, "I had a stupid fight with Harry and I stormed off, ignoring your mother calling for me not to go." Hermione squeezed his hand in encouragement and the pressure of her warm, familiar hand seemed to ground him.
"I regretted it immediately and I eventually found my way back, but the damage had been done. Your mother would hardly look at me for a while let alone speak to me."
"But she forgave you?" Rose questioned.
"Yes," Hermione responded, "I did. He more than proved himself, and to be honest, I missed him so much I almost forgave him straight away, but you know how stubborn I can be."
Rose grinned at her mother. She was the same way.
"Anyway," Ron continued, "by the time we ended up at Uncle Bill and Aunt Fleur's, all was forgiven. We had been through too much not to realize what was right in front of us."
A look passed between them and Rose could tell there was something else they were leaving out. They had always skimmed over the part of the story that explained how they had ended up at her aunt and uncle's house.
"We both knew then how much we cared for each other and what we wanted at that point, but we both refused to act on it or even openly acknowledge it to each other," Hermione said. "We were in the middle of the war and it was only getting harder to make it through each day, but we had to be there for Harry."
"Git," Ron said with a chuckle and Hermione smacked him in the stomach.
"We made it through the next few weeks and up until the battle of Hogwarts." Hermione continued. "For my part, it had been hard, knowing anything could happen and I'd never… well, I was scared we'd lost or chance, and then… well…"
To Rose's surprise, her mother blushed. It was rare to see her mother like this and she looked at her father in astonishment to see him beaming.
"She flung herself at me. Right in the middle of the battle. Snogged me like her life depended on it 'cause I wanted to save the house elves."
Her father was grinning cheekily and her mother's face was buried in her hands.
"I thought we might die any second and it was so selfless of you and I'm sorry I couldn't help myself."
She said all this with her face still in her hands and Ron squeezed her shoulders affectionately.
"Have I ever complained about your decision, love?" He asked with a slight grin.
She finally composed herself and looked back up at her daughter. "Does that answer your question, dear?"
Rose was simultaneously enjoying her parents tale and wanting it to end as quickly as possible. They were still sickeningly sweet on each other. But she still had one more question.
"Yes, but…" She paused over how to phrase her question. "How did you handle the transition? You were best friends for years. How did that all just change? Wouldn't it have been awkward at first?"
They just smiled at each other and her father responded to her question.
"Nah, I'd been wanting this for years. If anything, it made us less awkward around each other."
"Mind, it did take us a short while to get all our ducks in a row," Hermione continued. "After the war was over, we didn't get the chance to talk about things for a while. I had sent your grandparents to live in Australia as we've told you before, and I had set my mind on going to find them a few weeks after the war was over and all the funerals had taken place. When I casually mentioned over dinner one night that I would be setting off on my own the following day, your father lost it, in front of his entire family no less."
It was Ron's turn to blush now.
"I had just got you, I wasn't about to lose you so soon."
"And that's exactly what he said to me," Hermione said, beaming at her husband, " in front of his parents, his siblings, and even Harry, poor lad. He seems to be there for all of our big moments," her mother chuckled lightly.
"I ended up going with her to Australia and the rest, as you say, is history. We just had to make it through a year of her being away at Hogwarts as I started working as an auror, but it was all worth it."
They shared a smile before turning back to their daughter.
"What made you ask, Rose?" Her mother asked.
"Oh," Rose started at the question. She had been asking because of her relationship with Scorpius, but she didn't want her parents knowing that, not yet anyway. Her mother was already giving her a look that was slightly more knowing than she was comfortable with. So she did the only thing she could think of and threw her cousin under the bus.
"I was just talking to James earlier. He's having a hard time of it with Violet," she said as a way of explanation.
Her father chuckled slightly as her mother continued to giver her a knowing look.
"He finally pull his head out of his arse then?" Ron asked and Hermione scolded him.
"Hopefully," said Rose, "but don't say anything to Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny. I probably shouldn't have mentioned it in the first place."
"Am I at least allowed to give my godson a hard time about this?" Ron asked.
Rose laughed and decided that, while she should apologize to James for spilling the beans, a little good-humored ribbing never hurt anyone.
Chapter 6: Gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
[Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]
A/N: Figured it was about time I add a family tree! I've included friends as well as family although not everyone ever mentioned is included. Relationships between people that are already established are mentioned as well as houses. But first, meet Violet!
Teddy Lupin - 25, son of Remus and Nymphadora Lupin, grandson of Andromeda Tonks, engaged to Victoire Weasley, Gryffindor.
Victoire Weasley - 23, daughter of Bill and Fleur Weasley, sister of Dom and Louis, engaged to Teddy Lupin, best friends with Alice Longbottom, Ravenclaw.
Alice Longbottom - 22, daughter of Neville and Hannah Longbottom, sister of Ethan and Erin, best friends with Victoire, Ravenclaw.
Fred Weasley - 19, son of George and Angelina Weasley, twin brother of Roxanne, roommate and best friends with James Potter and Lysander Scamander, Gryffindor.
James Potter - 19, son of Harry and Ginny Potter, roommate and best friends with Fred and Lysander, likes Violet Finnigan, Gryffindor.
Roxanne Weasley - 19, daughter of George and Angelina Weasley, twin sister of Fred Weasley, best friends with and dating Lorcan Scamander, best friends with Violet Finnigan, Gryffindor.
Lorcan Scamander - 19, son of Rolf and Luna Scamander, twin brother of Lysander, best friends with and dating Roxanne Weasley, Ravenclaw.
Lysander Scamander - 19, son of Rolf and Luna, twin of Lorcan, best friends and roommates with Fred and James, Ravenclaw.
Violet Finnigan - 19, daughter of Seamus and Lavender Finnigan, older sister of Bobby, Sean, Bella, and Layla Finnigan, best friend and former roommate of Roxanne Weasley, probably likes James Potter, Gryffindor.
Dominique Weasley - 18, daughter of Bill and Fleur Weasley, sister of Victoire and Louis, best friends with Eva Wood and Ethan Longbottom, Gryffindor.
Eva Wood - 18, daughter of Oliver and Katie Wood, older sister of Caleb Wood, best friends with Dominique Weasley and Ethan Longbottom, Gryffindor.
Ethan Longbottom - 18, son of Neville and Hannah Longbottom, brother of Alice and Erin, best friends with Dom and Eva, Gryffindor.
Albus Potter - 17, son of Harry and Ginny, brother of James and Lily, best friends with Rose, Erin, and Scorpius, Slytherin.
Scorpius Malfoy - 17, son of Draco and Astoria, best friends with Al, Rose, and Erin, Slytherin.
Rose Weasley - 17, daughter of Ron and Hermione, sister of Hugo, best friends of Scorpius, Erin, and Al, has feelings for the Malfoy boy, Gryffindor.
Erin Longbottom - 17, daughter of Hannah and Neville, sister of Ethan and Alice, you know the drill by now so see the three above for best friends, Gryffindor.
Louis Weasley - 16, son of Bill and Fleur, brother of Dom and Victoire, best friends with Caleb Wood, suspected of having a crush on Jill Boot, Gryffindor.
Caleb Wood - 16, son of Oliver and Katie, brother of Eva, best friends with Louis, Gryffindor.
Jill Boot - 16, son of Terry and Lisa Boot, only child, best friends with Molly Weasley, Ravenclaw.
Molly Weasley - 16, daughter of Percy and Audrey, sister of Lucy, best friends with Jill Boot, Ravenclaw.
Lily Potter - 15, daughter of Harry and Ginny, sister of Al and James, best friends with Hugo Weasley, though spends a lot of time with Lucy, Charlotte, and Bobby, Gryffindor.
Lucy Weasley - 15, daughter of Percy and Audrey, sister of Molly, best friends with Charlotte and spends a lot of time with Lily, Hugo, and Bobby, might have a thing for Bobby Finnigan, Hufflepuff.
Charlotte Bray - 15, daughter of Charles and Anna Bray (Muggles), younger sister of Malcolm (wizard), and triplet of Caroline and Catherine (muggles), best friends with Lucy, spends a lot of time with Hugo, Bobby, and Lily, Hufflepuff.
Hugo Weasley - 15, son of Ron and Hermione, brother of Rose, best friends with Bobby and Lily, Gryffindor.
Bobby Finnigan - 15, son of Seamus and Lavender, brother of Violet, Sean, Bella, and Layla, best friends with Hugo, Gryffindor.
The time had finally come for everyone to be under the same roof. It was always a special week for the cousins and not once had a single one of them been absent since they had started their summer tradition. Now that Victoire and Teddy were older they weren't usually there for the whole weekend, especially since they were in the middle of planning their wedding. They had been engaged for nearly 2 years now, but with the passing of Teddy's gran a few months into their engagement, they had put the wedding off. It would finally be happening at the start of the new year, and Victoire couldn't have been more excited to get started on the final details and plans. She was the perfect bride, never losing her head and continuing to be her gracious self throughout the process, even when the wedding was delayed. Despite the heartache, the loss of Andromeda had changed her and Teddy's relationship for the better. It was almost like a wake up call. Teddy had lost his closest living relative and Victoire was to be his family. Her love for Teddy had humbled him from the start, and the reminder that life was a vapor solidified his perspective. He was blessed beyond comparison with the family that Harry had given him and the one that Victoire promised him. He'd become even more of a man over the past year. His wild side had tempered out, and his boyish qualities, while they remained, matured. Being the oldest of the younger generation, his sense of responsibility became less of a burden to bear and he embraced it with gratitude. Rose and all of her cousins had always seen Teddy as one of them, and she was excited for him to officially be a part of the family.
On the morning of the day before the annual family Quidditch match, Victoire, her mother, her Aunt Hermione, and her bridesmaids went dress shopping. She had found her wedding dress a few months ago, but since most of her bridesmaids had been at school, they had yet to find theirs. Other than her sister as maid of honor, Victoire had her best friend Alice, and 3 of her cousins: Rose, Roxanne, and Lily. Erin had tagged along as well since she was Alice's younger sister and had always been treated as one by Victoire. After three hours spent in four different shops, they finally found the perfect dress. One was ordered for each of the bridesmaids after they had their measurements taken. It was a hot summer day and they decided to make an ice cream run before returning to the Potter's.
"So, I was thinking," began Victoire as they sat outside Florean's. "We do a bachelorette night on Boxing Day? That way it's still a week before the wedding and it won't interfere with Christmas."
Everyone nodded in agreement and Dom began to question her sister about how she wanted to plan the evening.
"So," Erin said in an undertone to Rose, "any word on Violet?"
Erin had been brought into the loop regarding James. She, Rose, Al, and Scorp had gone into Diagon Alley the other day, and Al wasted no time before filling her in. Rose didn't mind too much that Al seemed to lack the ability to keep a secret. She supposed she could even use her help and Erin could use the pick me up. Things weren't going well with her great grandmother and she was spending all of the time she wasn't with Rose at the older witch's side.
They hadn't mentioned anything about James' dilemma to the other girls. Rose decided that the fewer people who knew the better. It was less pressure on the two of them that way.
"No," Rose sighed. "I was going to ask Roxy today, but I haven't had a good opening."
Erin nodded her head and began to respond.
"Well it shouldn't be that - "
An exclamation from all the other females seated around the table pulled them out of their conversation. They were all looking at Roxanne with a mix of shocked, excited, and uncertain expressions. The curly haired brunette had a timid smile on her face as she sunk back in her seat in response to all the stares she was receiving.
"Were you planning on telling us?" Victoire asked. She was beaming at Roxy who smiled back at her.
"Well, we had only just officially decided last week and we haven't even found a place yet. I figured I'd tell you at some point this weekend."
She was met with a chorus of questions about how her family and her current roommate felt about this, as well as the occasional affirmation of what a catch her boyfriend was.
"Alright," interrupted Erin, never afraid to be blunt and catching the attention of the whole table. "Mind filling us in? We sort of missed the first part."
"Rox is moving in with Lorcan," supplied Lily with a look of glee on her face.
Rose and Erin turned to stare at Roxanne. It was true that the two had been together for over three years now, but Rose's cousin had never been one to act without thinking, and neither was her boyfriend. They were the opposites of their twin brothers in that respect.
"Well, that's great news, isn't it?" asked Erin.
"I'll say!" said Dominique, who was sitting next to Roxy and gripping the arm of her chair, looking like she was having a rather difficult time containing her excitement. The other women present continued to have skeptical looks on their faces. Victoire's mother had pursed lips and Alice seemed to not know what to think. Hermione looked as if she was trying to keep her reputation as a level headed adult, but was actually hiding genuine excitement for her niece.
"Darling," began Fleur, "'Ave you really thought zis through?"
Roxanna nodded, a look of calm assurance on her face.
"We have," she said confidently. "We've been through alot together and we've only come out stronger. We think we're both ready for that step."
Alice spoke up for the first time.
"But, you're only 18."
"We will be 19 in the fall," she responded. She didn't sound like she was trying to convince anyone, more that she knew exactly what she was getting into and was fully prepared to face it.
"This is something we want and we've already talked to his parents and mine about it. They're all on board."
Fleur seemed to relax at this, but Alice still looked uncertain. She always did when it came to serious commitment. Hermione was letting her excitement show through a broad grin.
"Well I think it's brilliant," Rose offered, smiling at her cousin who returned it with a brilliant one of her own. She knew that they had hit a rough patch in their relationship over the last few months, but she was unaware of the details. She was thrilled to see that things had worked out for them.
"Well, I guess there goes your and Vi's apartment for the night of the bachelorette," said Victoire. Her nose scrunched up as she began to contemplate her other options.
"Speaking of Violet," Rose said, seeing her opening. "Is she planning on coming tonight?"
"Last I heard, yes," Roxanne responded, digging back into her ice cream.
Erin and Rose shot each other grins that no one else noticed.
"Will she keep the apartment? Do you think we could still all crash there? She'll be invited after all." Dominique asked.
Roxanne thought about it for a moment before responding. Her head tilted to the side and her wild brown hair threatening to dip into her ice cream.
"I don't see why not. Although, we can always have it at mine and Lor's. I can just send him to Ly and Fred and James's place. They're talking about all getting a place together once Lorcan and Ly are no longer living together. He can survive one night with them."
They all chuckled at her statement. Lorcan wasn't nearly as wild as the other three, and even though they all got along fine, he had no desire for them to all live together and was forever grateful that he and his brother had been in Ravenclaw during their Hogwarts years.
"Brilliant!" said Victoire. "We can start planning then."
They spent another half hour in Diagon Alley before heading back to Potter Manor to prepare for their girls night in. All the essentials were prepared. They had all of their favorite junk foods and sweets, some bought in town earlier that day and others prepared by their mothers and grandmother. Supplies had been set up for all things girly, music was playing on the old gramophone, and the Potter's had even invested in a television set. Muggle things had become more prevalent in the Wizarding World since the end of the war. Dennis Creevey, who was the younger brother of one of Ginny's friends from school, had gone on to work in a branch of the Ministry that allowed him to develope a way to alter muggle technology so that magic would no longer interfere with it in most Wizarding homes. "With the war and his brothers passing," Ginny had said, "Dennis is determined to better the wizarding world and he wants to do everything he can to help magical folk embrace the Muggle World." The Weasley's and the Potters had grown up watching Muggle films, and even Quidditch games were starting to be aired on the Wizarding Television Network. Ron was still fascinated by it, as were all of the older generation of Weasleys, but young Fred had taken after his grandfather's interest in muggle things and was an expert. If they ever had an issue with any of the "funny contraptions" as Ron called them, they always went to Fred.
As the other girls started to arrive, Rose grew nervous about what the boys had planned, but was determined to make herself relax and enjoy the evening. Since they normally tried something, she knew they were likely to do it again. Especially if James was determined to talk to Violet. She had arrived a few hours earlier than the rest of the girls, determined as always to be helpful. Thankfully, the boys had made themselves scarce by this time. Rose could tell that Violet was trying to avoid James. She floo called before coming over to subtly check if he was there and then arrived moments later in a puff of green smoke, her lean figure wracked with more fatigued than normal. Rose's aunt greeted her as if she were one of her own nieces, embracing her tightly and doting on her. Violet had always loved Ginny and the two had a close relationship. They, along with Alice, were in the kitchen preparing and plating some of the food. Rose and Erin were setting up the family room by putting cots and mattresses out for everyone to sleep on. There were blankets, sleeping bags, and pillows spread all over the room as they began to put sheets on everything while surreptitiously watching Violet through the entrance to the kitchen.
"She doesn't seem as…I don't know, bubbly as normal, does she? Is bubbly even the right word for her?" Erin asked. She was hardly paying attention to what she was doing and was currently trying to force a pillow into its case from the wrong angle.
"Will you stop staring?" said Rose, impatiently. "She's going to start to think something is up."
Erin looked properly scolded and got back to her bedding preparations. Violet came in a few moments later. She looked tired, in a way that seemed to speak more to her emotional state than an actual lack of sleep.
"Need any help with anything out here?" she asked.
"I think we're just about set," said Rose as they threw the last few pillows into place.
"Brilliant," she said with a sigh before collapsing on the couch closest to her.
Erin and Rose shared a look, unsure of how to proceed. While the air wasn't tense, there was an element in the atmosphere that spoke to the internal struggle that was raging in the older girl.
"You alright, Vi?" Erin asked tentatively.
Violet just sat there staring into space for a moment before shaking her head and giving them both a small smile that didn't quite reach her eyes.
"I'm alright. Just tired. Training has me running ragged at the moment. The spell damage cycle is exhausting."
Erin lit up as Violet began to talk about her work at St. Mungo's. While she had never elaborated too much on the subject, Rose knew that Erin's true love for herbology lay in the area of curative potions.
"How's that been going? Do you cycle through different specialties then? What's your favorite so far? Do you know where you'd like to end up?"
Erin fired off all these questions in quick succession and Violet looked slightly overwhelmed yet amused.
"Yeah, we spend about 6 weeks on each floor before switching to another. We should spend time on each floor at least twice throughout our training before we pick a specialty. I mostly prefer to work with the families that come in, and honestly, even though it'll be hard, I think I'd like to work in the long-term care for children ward."
"That's fantastic!" Erin said, excitedly. "You'll be brilliant at that."
Violet gave her a smile that seemed slightly more genuine than her previous one. The conversation seemed to have cheered her up.
"Thanks. I just have to do well on my qualifying exams next year."
"I'm sure you've got it in the bag," Rose said confidently. Violet shrugged her shoulders and seemed to recoil back into herself. Thankfully, Eva chose that moment to show up, closely followed by Lucy, Molly, Jill, and Charlotte. Lily, Dom, Victoire, and Roxy had all been getting things prepared for pampering on the closed in patio, but came in when they heard everyone arrive. Pretty soon, all the food had been laid out and the night's festivities began.
The evening had been going well and by 10 o'clock, Victoire and Alice had left for their respective homes and the rest of the girls were changed into their pajamas and ready to settle in for a film and eventual slumber. Lily was currently inspecting the sleeping bags and blankets. She looked quite comical as she tip toed around with a broom in her hand, using the handle to shift things around.
"Lily," Charlotte laughed at her best friend, "what on earth are you doing?"
She looked up at Charlotte as she and all the other girls watched her.
"I'm just checking. You saw the boys with their heads together on the train. These could be laced with something to make us erupt in boils. Or maybe they shoved a bunch of nifflers in here."
"Lily, we have hardly let this room out of our sight and everything was fine when we set up this afternoon. Maybe we can finally hope that they've matured enough to leave us alone." Rose said practically.
Lily still looked skeptical but resigned herself to the fact that they would have to brave the rest of the evening unprepared. They all began to settle in and Violet and Roxanne volunteered to make fresh popcorn. The rest of the girls had begun to sort through their movie options when they heard two shrieks from the kitchen, quickly followed by Violet and Roxanne dashing madly back into the family room with startled looks on their faces. They were greeted by a chorus of inquiry and alarmed expressions.
"Someone's outside -"
"We saw something through the window -"
"I don't think it was an animal -"
"Definitely human -"
"We're going to die!" Violet finished, a terrified look on her face. A few of the other girls looked startled as well, but Rose, Erin, and Lily all rolled their eyes.
"Who'd of thought," Lily began, hands on her hips and the making of mischief on her face, "they'd actually be stupid enough to show up this year rather than just set something up before hand. There's no way they can get away with anything now we know they're here."
She looked ready to catch them in the act and all the other girls visibly relaxed when they realized what was happening, but Violet tensed up.
"You think it's the boys?" she asked, her words laced with worry.
"Who else would it be?" asked Jill, looking as determined as Lily to spoil their fun. "They must be trying to scare us or something."
"Or something," mumbled Erin, but she was only heard by Rose and Lily, who shot them both a quizzical look.
Violet had started to chew on her freshly manicured bright blue nails. While she previous appeared as if her stomach had dropped through her feet, she was now hopping from foot to foot as if she were prepared to run for it at the first sign of trouble.
There was a sudden banging on the back patio door, making them all jump. It was quickly followed by a loud noise coming from one of the upstairs windows, the kitchen window and another room from the floor above. The girls all looked around unsure of what to do or what was even happening before Molly decided to take control of the situation.
"Alright, here's what we do. Lu, Char, and Lily, head upstairs. That sounds like one of them is coming from Uncle Harry's den. Jill and I will check out the master bedroom because I wouldn't put it past them to climb in through the balcony. Eva and Dom, check the dining room, Erin and Rose, take the patio, and Rox and Vi, head back to the kitchen."
Everyone nodded their heads and began to split up for their respective lookout zones.
"Umm…" Violet began, continuing to nervously shifting from foot to foot, "if it's all the same, I think I'll just stay here."
All the other girls looked at her strangely. Violet had never been one to be easily frightened. Rose and Erin tried very hard to hide grins as Lily continued to watch them, looking like she was dying to question the two girls, and jealous that they seemed to know something she didn't.
"I can go with Roxy if you'd rather just wait here," Lucy offered.
Violet nodded her head in thanks and everyone split up. Rose and Erin were inspecting the many patio windows, wands lit, when Rose finally caught sight of a lurking figure. She would recognize that blond head anywhere.
"Erin," she whispered to her friend, nodding her head in the direction of the door. They crept forward and slowly opened it, peeking out.
They both struggled to reign in terrified shrieks as Al appeared from behind the door. Scorpius approached from the other side of the patio where Rose had seen him creeping. Al laughed as Erin punched him in the chest.
"You morons," Erin said, without any actual malice in her voice.
"What's your plan then? Give us a good scare? That the best you could come up with?"
"Where's Violet?" Scorpius asked, disregarding all of her questions.
"She stayed in the family room by herself, why?" Rose asked.
Al and Scorpius shared a look, evil grins growing on their faces.
"You mean no one else is in there?" Scorpius questioned.
Rose slowly shook her head in affirmation.
"No, everyone separated to try and catch you all, but she opted to stay behind. Frankly, I think she's terrified of facing James, but -"
"Brilliant, be right back," and Al quietly ran off to the front of the house. The girls turned questioning looks on the other Slytherin.
"We aren't really pranking you this year. James was about to lose his shit so we decided we'd band together for him in solidarity. This is all just a plan to get you out of the way. I didn't think it would work this well, actually," he finished as Al approached them again.
"He's going in," he said, slightly out of breath. They all looked at each other for a moment before quietly creeping back into the patio to watch what was sure to be an entertaining encounter. Rose desperately wanted things to work out for her cousin's sake, but she wasn't above a little snooping. They all crouched beneath the window that looked into the family room.
Violet was currently pacing back and forth along the back of the couch. She suddenly stopped and turned to face the front door after hearing the lock turn. She had her wand gripped at her side, looking apprehensive, and didn't relax her pose at all when James poked his head in. He glanced around before his eyes rested on her and a smile lit up his entire face.
"Hey, Vi," he said in a whisper before coming fully into the house and quietly shutting the door behind him. They just stared at each other for a while, James leaning against the door and Violet relaxing slightly and sitting on the back of the couch, twirling her wand in her hands.
"What are you doing here, James?" she finally asked, unable to bear the silence any longer. Sensing a lessening in her animosity towards him, he pushed himself off the door and took a step closer to her.
"I had to find a way to get you to talk to me, and I didn't trust you to stick around til tomorrow."
The honesty in his words struck Rose, his fears reverberating around the room.
"I almost didn't come tonight, honestly," Violet admitted. "But I refuse to let you damage my relationship with your family. Particularly my best friend, who, unfortunately, happens to be your cousin."
There was a disturbance from the direction of the kitchen. Roxanne and Lucy seemed to have noticed something was going on in the family room and had started to walk through the kitchen door, only for both of them to be dramatically pulled back into the kitchen by Roxy's boyfriend and his brother.
Violet's eyes widened at their abrupt entrance and then subsequent removal before turning to James.
"You planned this didn't you?" she asked with an almost disbelieving tone to her voice. He had a sheepish expression on his face.
"I really needed to talk to you and I didn't see another way."
The door to the kitchen slowly crept open, only about a foot wide this time, to reveal it's occupants. Thankfully, James and Violet were too focused on the tense moment between them to notice, and Rose and her friends were able to signal to them that they needed to stay put. Roxy had a huge grin on her face and winked at them before retreating back into the kitchen, but leaving the door slightly cracked.
James was sighing and running his hands through his hair.
"I know I've screwed up. I realize that now. And it would be bloody brilliant of you if you wouldn't run off and you actually let me talk to you this time."
Violet studied him for a second before nodding and looking down at the floor.
"Vi, I'm so sorry."
She looked up at him, slowly. He spoke with such sincerity that it unnerved her. It wasn't like James never apologized, but you were never really sure how much he meant it. But he seemed so vulnerable in that moment, as if the girl in front of him held the ability to make him either the happiest man in the world, or the most miserable soul to ever walk the earth. The truth in his eyes was hard to look at. She barely had time to take in his demeanor before he continued.
"I've always thought I was doing the right thing when it came to you. You're the most incredible person I've ever known and I would hate to ruin the friendship that we have. I've been talking myself into it for years, actually." He scratched at the stubble on his chin, trying to gather his thoughts.
"Talking yourself into what? Being friends with me?" She had developed a defensive tone at his words. James started to panic and was quick to try and correct to situation.
"No! Of course not! I mean the opposite in fact, if that makes sense."
She shot him an uncertain look, not grasping what he was trying the say.
"What I mean is, I had to force myself to just be friends with you. I guess, for a while now, I've fooled myself into thinking that was all I wanted."
Violet stared at him with a hopeful look on her face, giving him the courage to press on.
"I guess what I'm trying to say, is that I didn't want to risk losing you and I was convinced that you would never feel the same way for me that I do for you. You're brilliant, Vi. The most beautiful, talented, and maddeningly frustrating witch I know and I can't stand going one day without hearing your voice or seeing your smile. So please, forgive me for being an idiot, a pig, and a coward for far longer than I would ever care to admit."
He watched her expectantly and she let herself begin to smile shyly at him. It seemed like she was about to forgive him, and Rose wasn't planning on blaming her in the slightest. It was as if her cousin had transformed into a man right in front of her eyes. Humbling himself and apologizing, owning up to his own shortcomings, and admitting how much he cared for his best friend was a lot to accomplish in one night.
"I guess I could never stay mad at you forever."
He beamed at her. Rose didn't think she had ever seen her cousin happier.
They continued to stand there and smile at each other, neither knowing what to do next. James finally worked up the courage to walk towards her. He stopped when there was roughly a foot between them and spoke in a hushed tone.
"I should have taken you with me, and I'll forever regret that I didn't."
She couldn't meet his eyes and was looking down at her feet as she chewed on her bottom lip, a slight blush on her cheeks.
"I was thrilled when you asked me, you know," she said shyly, glancing up at him briefly. "I knew you only meant it as a friend, but I kind of saw it as my chance."
"You're chance for what?" he asked, a look of hopeful anticipation on his face.
"Are you really going to make me say it first?" she asked with a slight role of her eyes, finally looking him in the face. He grinned cheekily at her before moving closer and tucking a strand of her long brown hair behind her ear.
"Nah, I think I've already put you through enough, honestly."
She smiled at him as he reached out and laced his fingers between hers. She blushed at the gesture, but gripped his hands back all the same.
"I just don't fully get why you never said anything before," he asked.
She shrugged her shoulders.
"Probably the same reason you didn't. I was bloody terrified of losing you. Of course, my stubbornness almost managed to make that happen anyway."
He chuckled at her before replying.
"Well, we'll just have to make sure that doesn't happen again, alright?"
They just stood their, their hands grasped at their sides and staring into each other's eyes. Their lovely moment was interrupted by James' younger sister, who apparently couldn't take it anymore and hollered from somewhere up the stairway.
"Will you bloody kiss her already you great pansy!"
The sound of people shushing each other was heard from up the stairs, and the group out on the patio had a hard time keeping in their giggles as James blushed brilliantly. Violet started laughing and buried her face in his chest. He wrapped his arms around her and held her tight, slightly rocking her back and forth.
"I was getting to it!" he hollered back at his sister. Violet still had her face buried in his chest and seemed to be either too nervous or too embarrassed to lift it. James kissed the top of her head before pulling away and leading her out the front door to disappointed groans from the others.
"You buggers are way too nosey!" were his departing words before heading outside for some privacy. They could hear Violet laughing before he closed the door behind them. Everyone started coming out of their hiding places and gathering in the family room. It appeared that James had required the help of every single one of their male friends to be able to pull this off, but Rose had to admit, his planned had worked out brilliantly in the end.
"If you ask me," Bobby began to a disappointed looking Lily, "I'm rather grateful I didn't have to witness your brother snogging my sister."
Everyone laughed and even Lily managed to see the humor in the situation as she started to suggest ways they could still spy on them, before something else that she considered far more pressing caught her attention.
"I don't think so!" she yelled, as Hugo, Louis, and Caleb began to make themselves at home on the various pieces of furniture.
"Lily, come on,' Louis began, "we're here now. Might as well make ourselves comfortable."
Lily huffed at them and turned to Rose, Erin, Scorpius and Albus, who all looked very pleased.
"So, you lot all knew then?"
Rose knew she had to tread lightly here. While Lily had wonderful relationships with both of her brothers, she tended to resent Rose for how close she was with them as well. Rose could understand how she felt, though. She had the same insecurities about Lily's relationship with Hugo.
"It just came up the one afternoon, when you and Hugo went to Diagon Alley that day after lunch," Al jumped in with the save.
Lily seemed to accept this excuse and resumed her cheerful demeanor before going to join Caleb as he looked through the movie collection. Rose shot Albus a grateful look. He understood the complicated dynamics of Rose and Lily's relationship all too well, having been the subject matter of more than one of their arguments.
Most of the others seemed to be gossiping about the new development between their two friends. Fred appeared to be describing the night's events in vivid detail and had Dom and Eva laughing along with Lysander and Roxanne as Lorcan tried to jump in with the story of what had actually occurred. Erin and Scorpius had wandered off after Lily had approached and were gathering food from the dining room for everyone.
"I can't believe the idiot actually pulled this off," Al chuckled quietly as he and Rose stood side-by-side, taking in their surroundings.
"You and me both," Rose agreed with her cousin. "I can't imagine how this is going to affect the dynamics of things either."
"What do you mean?" Al questioned.
"Just that," Rose began, unsure how to explain what exactly she did mean. "When you throw feelings and new emotions and relationships into an already established environment, things are bound to change."
Al nodded his head with a contemplative look on his face.
"Yeah, sure. But not in a bad way, right?" He looked hopeful as he asked the question. "I mean," he continued, "that is to say, if things work out, it can be for the better, right? Change happens all the time, and not all of it's bad. It's inevitable, so why not embrace it when it comes? We'd all be a lot better off that way, I think."
Rose looked at her cousin. Al always managed to surprise her with his ability to be so insightful on occasion, but she wasn't sure why. She knew he was smart, and very intuitive, but he rarely let it show. Take Herbology, for example. He was always complaining about how horrible he was at it, but she was willing to bet he wasn't as bad as he made himself out to be.
"I suppose you're right," she said with a small smile as Al watched their best friends make their way back into dining room for more food.
"Another thing that's changing," she continued, and Al turned to look at her in interest, "is Roxanne and Lorcan's living arrangements."
Al's eyebrows shot up and he looked at his cousin, who's boyfriend had his arms wrapped protectively around her middle as she leaned against his chest. They looked blissful.
"Well, that's brilliant. Cheers to them then," he said with a crooked grin and a far off look in his eyes. He didn't seem quite like himself, but before Rose could ask him what was on his mind, he spoke again.
"I think I'd like that someday, you know?"
"Like what?" Rose asked.
Al nodded his head towards his cousin and her boyfriend, but didn't elaborate any further. Rose was surprised by this. Al had gone on his fair share of dates and had even gone out with Mandy Jordan for a short period of time in their 5th year, but he hadn't shown any special interest in a girl since then.
"Really?" she asked, a smile creeping onto her face.
He noticed her expression and rolled his eyes before shrugging his shoulders. Rose was about to question him further before the door suddenly burst open and Alice Longbottom walked in, closely followed by James and Violet. The latter two were holding hands and had looked concerned as Alice's eyes scanned the room for her siblings. She found Ethan standing against the back of the couch in conversation with Bobby and Lucy about their upcoming O.W.L. year. He looked alarmed at his older sister's sudden presence.
"Alice?" he asked, walking toward her and gripping her arms as if to hold her up. She looked as though she could collapse from exhaustion at any moment.
"Where's Erin?" she asked in a rough voice. Erin chose the next moment to walk back in from the dining room with Scorpius by her side. She had been laughing at something, but her face immediately dropped at the presence of her sister.
"Ally? What's going on?"
By the shake in her voice, Rose could tell she was terrified to hear her sister's answer.
A/N: Sorry for two notes! But I'd love some feedback on the characters. Who do you like, who do you dislike, who would you like to see more of, etc. Happy reading!
Chapter 7: So never mind the darkness
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Rose only slept for a few hours that night. No one else had felt like leaving after the Longbottoms left. Staying together made them feel like they were somehow able to still be there for their friends, despite their absence. A few people had wandered off to sleep in the bedrooms, but many of them had ended up crashing on the various surfaces in the living room. It was half past six the following morning and Rose couldn't have slept any longer if she'd wanted to. She had gotten up, made herself a cup of tea, and was now sitting out on the patio, the windows open and a breeze coming in as the sun started to rise over the rolling hills in the distance. There was a light sprinkling of rain that made the air smell fresher. Rose hadn't heard anything from Erin yet. She hadn't heard from her parents either, and she wasn't sure they were even aware of the situation. They had gone out with Harry and Ginny the previous evening and they were all expected to return to the manor by ten o'clock to prep for lunch and the Quidditch match. She wasn't even sure if that would all be happening now. It felt wrong to just go about her day knowing her best friend could be grieving.
She closed her eyes as she cradled her tea in her hands, enjoying the warmth that seeped into her fingers as she leaned back in the wicker chair with her feet up on the coffee table. The breeze from outside had a chill in it that was odd for that time of year, but Rose assumed it had something to do with the rain. She'd only worn shorts and a tank top as pajamas the night before and was thankful she had thought to grab the button up shirt that had been lying across the back of the couch. She assumed one of the boys had discarded it the previous evening.
Rose was pulled out of her thoughts by the sound of the patio door creaking open and the soft pad of bare feet moving towards her. She wasn't too surprised to see the bright red hair of her cousin Molly. She had it pulled up in a messy bun on the top of her head, and she looked like she hadn't slept at all. Her eyes and nose were red and she kept sniffling as she sat on the loveseat with her own mug of tea, pulling an afghan over her legs. Rose watched her younger cousin for a moment. Molly had always been the most sensitive of all the cousins. She and Lucy were both rather quiet and reserved, but Lucy had a tougher shell. Molly was the type of person to cry at the birth of a child, or the sight of a puppy. She had a natural disposition to be empathetic to those around her. Rose wasn't shocked to see her in her current state. She also knew her cousin well enough to realize she needed to process her emotions, and a bit of a heart to heart was the best way to do that.
"Did you sleep at all?" Rose asked in a soft voice. Molly just shook her head slightly and took a sip of her tea. They remained in silence for a few moments before Molly finally spoke up.
"You know, when Mum's dad died, I thought it was the saddest I could ever feel. It was the first time I had ever experienced loss so clearly. But I was only eight when Grandpa died. What's that compared to what Alice and Erin and Ethan are dealing with right now? They've all shared more than half their lives with this person. I can't imagine what type of void that will leave when she…"
Molly let her sentence trail off, unsure how to voice what they knew, in all likelihood, would be happening soon. Rose chose to believe that no news was good news, but she knew it would only last for so long.
"I know Erin is especially close with her, Rose. And I know she has a hard time expressing and accepting her emotions." Rose let out a small smile at how easy her best friend was to read.
"I know this will be hard on her," Molly continued, "but I don't want us to forget that it'll be hard on the others as well. Alice has had a hard time of it since she left Hogwarts. She hasn't been loving her job at the Ministry, and Ethan…" she paused for a moment and looked as if she might start crying, and not for the first time, Rose gathered.
"He's just finished school, and he's so excited to start Auror training. This is going to be hard on the whole family."
Her words were not a surprise at all. Molly always managed to think of everyone. She saw the whole forest and not just the trees like Rose was prone to do. She actively cared for other people and went out of her way to make sure the unincluded were brought into the fold, and the forgotten remembered.
"We'll take care of them, Molly. We always take care of our own."
Molly finally looked over at Rose and gave her a watery smile before her eyes dropped down to take in Rose's attire.
"Are you two dating then?" she asked.
Rose looked at her questioningly, not sure who she was asking about or why. Molly answered part of her question by nodding towards the shirt she was wearing.
"That's Scorpius's, isn't it? I could have sworn he was wearing it last night."
Rose looked in surprise at the shirt she wore. She hadn't even realized, but now that she thought about it, she noticed Molly was right. The thought made her happier than she thought appropriate. Rose struggled to come up with an explanation, even though it was a simple one.
"I've seen boyfriends give girlfriends their shirts before. Victoire wears Teddy's all the time, so I just wondered," Molly explained before taking another sip of her tea. Rose finally found her voice.
"No, we're not. I just found it on the back of the couch. I knew it would be chilly out here."
Molly accepted this answer. She wasn't overly inquisitive, not like Lucy, who could badger you for hours about a single topic.
They sat together in silence for a quarter of an hour before they heard the sound of Apparition from out front around seven o'clock. They both hurried to their feet and into the house, desperate for some form of news. They entered just in time to see their Aunt Ginny doing the same. She looked exhausted, but the just gotten out of bed kind, rather than the up all night look that Rose and Molly were sporting. Ginny gave them both a sad smile as they entered the room.
"Morning, girls," she said in a whisper. Al walked out of the kitchen having heard his mother enter the house.
"Hello, sweetheart," she said as she turned and greeted her son. He didn't look like he had gotten much sleep either. Last night, he and Scorpius had gone up to his room after sitting with Rose till almost 3 in the morning. Rose wouldn't be surprised if he hadn't slept much more than she had.
"Hey, Mum. Any news?" Al asked as he handed her a cup of tea.
Ginny gave him a sad smile as tears gathered in her eyes and she rested her free hand on her son's cheek.
"Yeah.." she said in a shaky voice. Al closed his eyes as the implication of his mother's demeanor hit him and he pulled her into his arms in a firm hug. Rose and Molly clung to each other as well, silent tears flowing from every eye. August Longbottom may have lived a long and full life, but that didn't make the loss much easier. She was dearly loved by all who knew her, and Rose would miss the old woman's brash demeanor. Eventually, Ginny managed to regain her composure and pulled back from her son, wiping her eyes and taking a calming sip of tea.
"Your dad is with Neville, helping sort out the details. The kids are helping Hannah with things at the inn. They can't exactly close during the summer."
"You're serious?" Al asked, looking somewhat upset by this news. "Isn't there anyone else that can step in?"
"They've been understaffed all summer. And honestly, I think Hannah just wants to keep herself busy and you know Erin's exactly the same way."
"Is there anything we can do to help?" Molly asked through her tears.
"I'm not sure," Ginny responded. "For now, just be prepared to be there for them. They're going to need you. All of you." Al squeezed his mother into his side, his arm still around her shoulders. He heaved a heavy sigh before letting go and turning to head upstairs.
"Well, looks like you lot had quite the slumber party," Ginny commented, taking in all the people scattered around her family room. Rose couldn't help but let out a small chuckle as she took in the scene. Lily and Charlotte were sleeping top and tail on one of the couches, with Louis and Caleb doing the same on the one across from them. Lucy, Jill, Eva, and Dom were all spread out on the floor. Hugo and Bobby occupied an armchair each.
"James and the other boys all crashed in his room, and Roxy and Violet are in Lily's." Rose told her aunt. Ginny nodded her head in recognition of her words, and then began to pick up all of the discarded food and trash. They could hear movement coming from upstairs, and Rose quickly discarded what she now knew to be Scorpius's shirt, laying it in its previous position on the couch. She and Molly set about helping Ginny and soon enough, others began to stir. By eight-thirty, everyone in the house was up and had eaten breakfast. Harry came home to find most of them still seated around the dining room table and filled them in on the details. The funeral would take place the following weekend.
"I'm sure most of you aren't even feeling up to it by the look of things," Harry continued, "but I think it's best if we put Quidditch off. At least til later in the summer. Agreed?" Everyone nodded their heads in assent. Al looked around the table, catching the eyes of all the boys. He nodded, then stood as the rest followed.
"We're heading over to the Leaky," he announced to his parents.
"All of you?" Harry asked skeptically. "Don't you think that's a lot of visitors to have at once, especially at a time like this?"
"We're not going to visit, Dad," James chimed in. "We're going to work." He bent down to press a quick peck to Violet's lips, who blushed violently at the public display of affection, and followed his younger brother out of the room. Harry had a look of pride on his face as he watched the boys trail out of the house. The only ones to stay behind were Bobby and Hugo, who explained that they were going to make sure the house was put back in order.
"We ate most of your food, Aunt Ginny, so we figured you and some of the girls would need to make a run to the market and we didn't want to saddle you with all the work here as well," Hugo elaborated.
"That's lovely, dear," she said absentmindedly. She was in the middle of questioning who she assumed was now her eldest son's new girlfriend. Harry was focused on Violet and his wife, a grin growing on his face.
Later in the evening, the food had been replenished and the house had been put back in order. Ron and Hermione came over with dinner for everyone. Violet and Bobby had gone home to see their parents and siblings, as they were close with Hannah and Neville as well. Charlotte was muggle born so Harry had taken her home by side-along after lunch. Dom and Eva had gone to check in on the boys, Ethan in particular, and hadn't come back.
"You should be proud of your boys, Ginny," Hermione said over dinner. "We stopped by the Leaky earlier to see if Hannah needed anything, and those young men had it all under control. Al was barking orders from the kitchen and James was making sure everything got covered out front. It was brilliant."
Ginny looked thrilled that they were doing such a wonderful job of stepping up. Neville was Al's godfather after all. They had always had a close bond, not to mention his close friendship with Erin.
"Ethan's really been pulling his weight as well," Ron chimed in. "He was helping Neville get all the details in order and didn't seem like he planned on stopping anytime soon. We actually got Neville to agree to a nap, seeing as Ethan had everything under control."
"I've been impressed by Ethan too," Harry added. "I offered to let him start Auror training a week later since Monday's the firsts day, but he wouldn't hear it. Says his Gram would of kicked his arse if he did something like that."
There was general amusement around the table at this statement. Even Molly, who had been having a hard time not crying all day, let out a light chuckle.
A commotion was heard at the front door and most of the boys who had left for the Leaky Cauldron that morning filed into the house and to everyone's surprise, Erin was with them. Rose jumped up to embrace her best friend with tears in her eyes.
"I'm so sorry, Erin," she whispered as she held her.
"I'm alright," was all Erin mumbled in return. Rose pulled back to look at her. She seemed almost void of all emotion, and she didn't even look close to crying. Her wavy blond hair didn't look like it had seen a brush since the previous morning. Rose glanced at Al. He had a concerned look on his face as he stood next to Erin, watching her.
"Are you all hungry or did you eat there?" Ginny called from the dining room.
"I'm starving, actually," said Erin, and she made to join the others eating dinner.
Rose turned to Al with a question on her face as Scorpius joined them while the rest of the boys headed in to eat.
"She's not ok, is she?" Rose asked.
Al shook his head as he continued to watch Erin, who was acting as if nothing had happened in the past 24 hours to cause her any pain.
"I don't think it's hit her yet," Scorpius said. "When we showed up we sent them all to get some sleep and I haven't seen her bat an eye since she got up. She was a bit of a mess when we got there though. Not crying, mind, but extremely out of it."
Rose knew it was going to be a hard road for her friend, and she wasn't sure how they were going to help her get through it.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The boys continued to help out at the pub everyday the following week and before they knew it, the funeral had come and gone and life would be going back to normal, or as normal as it could for the Longbottom family. Molly and Arthur had hosted the wake at the Burrow, giving Hannah a much needed break from hosting duties. Erin had stayed stoic all week and Rose had yet to see her shed a tear. The most emotion she'd shown was when she snapped at Al for asking how she was doing one too many times.
They had decided to have the annual friends and family gathering and Quidditch match the week before they were to leave for Hogwarts. James was back in training full time and his first match would be the day before they left, but he'd managed to secure the weekend off so he could participate. Rose was starting to get antsy roughly two weeks before term started. Their Hogwarts letters were due any day, and the suspense was killing her. Not only was she having her usual nerves about her grades, but she was dying to know if she had been chosen as Head Girl. Professor McGonagall had hinted as much, but she had no guarantee. More than she wanted to know her fate, she was praying to Merlin that Scorpius would be Head Boy. She felt he truly deserved it, and it would mean the world to him to see someone other than his closest friends place so much faith in him.
She was in the middle of her usual morning routine, sitting on her porch swing with a book in her lap and trying to read despite the many thoughts running sprints around her mind, when she noticed an owl coming over the trees on the edge of their property.
She got up and went into the house yelling for her brother.
"Hugo! Hugh, wake up! Our letters are here!"
She had made it up the stairs and was now banging on his door.
"You do realize I don't care nearly as much as you do, right?" He hollered back in a groggy voice.
"I don't really care right now," she responded with an edge of panic in her voice. "Mum and Dad aren't here and I can't do this on my own."
"Can't do what? Open a letter? You do this every summer Rose! Why are you so worked up?"
She knew he was protesting, but she could also hear him getting out of bed and wandering around his room. He finally opened his door to reveal his disheveled appearance. His dark red hair was sticking up in all directions, and his t-shirt was on inside out. He rubbed his eyes before looking at his sister's pleading expression.
"Don't worry, I'm coming," he grumbled, and followed her downstairs. They arrived in the kitchen just in time to see the owl swoop in through the open window above the sink.
Rose stood gripping the back of one of the kitchen chairs as her brother took their letters from the owl before it flew off again. She watched him weigh them in his hands, testing to see if hers held the desired Head Girl pin. He looked up at her, unsure of what to say.
"They don't feel that much different from each other, to be honest," he said sadly. Rose's face fell and she moved forward to grab the envelope. She tore it open and pulled the parchment out, hearing something drop onto the kitchen table. Her breath caught and she looked at her brother who had yet to open his own letter. He was looking back and forth between the pin that had fallen on the table and the letter in his hand. Rose finally looked down to see a silver and gold badge with the words
shining on it. She grinned before looking back at Hugo, who stood staring at his letter in puzzlement before it seemed to dawn on him.
"No way…" he said softly, before opening his own letter, much more carefully than his sister had. He pulled a red and gold pin out that was in the shape of a P with a confused look on his face. Rose just grinned more brightly.
"That's brilliant, Hugo! Congratulations!"
He continued to stare at the badge in his hand.
"Yeah… I guess so."
A grin started to grow on his face and he looked at his sister with a disbelieving expression.
"I can't say I was exactly expecting that."
"Come on Hugh, you're brilliant. They'd be fools not to make you prefect." Hugo just shrugged his shoulders and started looking through his list of school supplies as well as his exam scores from the previous year.
"I didn't do too bad, I guess," and he handed his results to his sister. He didn't have anything below an Acceptable.
Rose placed his on the table and pulled out her own exam results. She didn't have anything under an Acceptable either, and that was only in History of Magic. She never tried as hard in that class. Not only was it rather dull, but so many topics had to do with her family. You would think this would make her an expert in the subject, but it just made her slack off in most of the other topics that they covered since she could just make it up in the areas that she knew by heart.
"I was going to meet up with Bobby, Louis, and Caleb in Diagon Alley today and pick up our stuff. You want to come?"
"I have to see Scorpius."
He looked at her quizzically. She had said it without thinking and a little too eagerly for her taste.
"And Al and Erin too," she was quick to add. "They'll want to know I've been made Head Girl. Hopefully Scorpius was as well. Made Head Boy I mean," she rattled off, feeling slightly nervous under her brothers stare.
"Right," he said, a smirk growing on his face. "I'm just gonna go get ready, then."
He turned to go upstairs before turning around and walking back over to his sister, pulling her into a hug. He was a good head taller than her now so he lifted her slightly off her feet as he gripped her. Rose laughed at the rare display of sibling affection from her brother.
"I'm so proud of you, sis," he said as he plopped her back down on the floor. Rose laughed again as Hugo let go and stepped away. She slugged him lightly on the arm. "I'm proud of you too, bro." He chuckled at her before ruffling her hair and hurrying up the stairs.
She was about to get ready herself when she was distracted by the sound of the fireplace bursting into life. Rose entered the living room just in time to see a male figure tumbling out. The Slytherin stood and dusted himself off. It seemed he had forgotten to change out of his pajamas in his haste to get there. He looked up and noticed Rose standing in the kitchen doorway. She had a good idea as to why he had shown up at her house unexpectedly. She hadn't been able to stop smiling since she'd opened her letter, and his presence just solidified the smile on her face. She was certain she wouldn't be able to stop grinning all day. He took in her incredibly joyful demeanor before a brilliant smile graced his handsome face.
"Well," he said with a cheeky smirk and his hands on his hips, "aren't you doing to greet your new Head Boy?"
Chapter 8: But what goes up must come down
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Hey there, Louis ;)
Everyone was ecstatic for Rose and Scorpius and the cloud that had hung over the families due to the recent loss was lessened amidst all of the excitement. After going to see Rose, Scorpius went with her to the Potter's to tell Al, who wasn't surprised in the least. The newly appointed Head Boy informed them, along with Ginny and Lily, that his parent's had offered to have an informal get together in celebration the following day, which happened to be a Friday night.
"Mum knows that you've had a lot going on with being there for Neville and his family, and it's rare that you ever come over, so she wanted me to extend the invitation. And she said she'd especially want to do one if we both got it. She actually already floo called your mum at work, Rose, and she seemed fine with it. I know it's last minute and all and it's probably inconvenient, not to mention likely to be embarrassing. My mum is an expert at making an unnecessary fuss over me, but I think she'd really appreciate it if you came, so yeah..."
He seemed nervous as he spoke, though Rose wasn't sure why. She'd actually never been to Malfoy Manor, but Albus had spent a decent amount of time there. Rose had been invited, but her mother had always given her a reason that she couldn't go whenever she'd asked if she could. She was slightly suspicious about this behaviour, but she also knew that her mother genuinely liked Scorpius. Her father even seemed to have a soft spot for him. Seeing as her mother had given her consent this time, it seemed as if she hadn't had any reason to be suspicious at all.
Ginny assured him that they would love to come, while he communicated that anyone they wanted to invite was welcome. This lead to the majority of the Potter/Weasley collective showing up at Malfoy Manor that Friday night. Rose was giddy with excitement and Hugo was grumbling about how hungry he was as they walked up to the front entrance. She couldn't help but notice, however, that both of her parents seemed slightly on edge as they followed their children. All of this fled her mind the moment she saw Scorpius open the door.
He was dressed in muggle attire: dark wash jeans, a soft, gray jumper, and a pair of black socks on his feet. Rose had never remembered seeing him look quite as comfortable as he did when he welcomed them into his home. He looked slightly nervous as he greeted her parents though, and Hermione gave him a reassuring smile as she began to relax in his presence. Ron still seemed rather stoic, but shook his hand in a firm, yet friendly grip, along with a pat on the back. Scorpius breathed a sigh of relief as Hugo and Rose's parents moved forward into the house and were greeted by Draco and Astoria.
"Relax, will you. Our mothers love each other and our fathers can put up with their differences for one evening. They've done it before," Rose reassured Scorpius. He fidgeted slightly with his sleeves in an agitated manner before letting out a puff of air as if he had been holding his breath the whole time.
"You're right," he said, as he ran his hands through his hair in an attempt to calm his nerves. "That's not exactly what I'm worried about though."
She was about to ask what he meant when the doorbell rang and he was forced to return to his duties as host. The Potters made their entrance as Rose turned to join her family in what looked like a parlor or family room. She had to pass the closed door of another room before she reached it, and she only gave a momentary thought as to where it led. She was sure this house was filled with an abundance of rooms as well as a secret or two. As she moved towards her family, she noticed her father, Hugo, and Draco examining an exquisite marble chess set in a corner of the room, while her mother looked to be in a serious conversation with Astoria. Rose could swear she saw tears threaten to form in her mother's eyes before she smiled and embraced Astoria firmly. The women broke apart and noticed Rose walking towards them, looking concerned.
Astoria waved her hand as if to tell her to disregard the emotional state that both women seemed to be in.
"You'll have to excuse us dear," Mrs. Malfoy began, "our babies are growing up so fast."
Rose let out a sigh of relief that it wasn't something serious. Apparently their mothers were just having a maternal moment.
"Well, you've still got Hugo to worry about, Mum. Don't go thinking you'll get rid of him so easily. He won't go anywhere as long as you continue to feed him."
The women shared a laugh at this as the Potters entered the room, followed by a host of more Weasleys. The girls were all quick to rush Rose in congratulations.
"Please, please tell me you'll let me visit you in the heads common room," Lily begged. "I've always wanted to see it. I've heard it has a direct line to the kitchens and you always have an assortment of food available."
Rose laughed at her cousin's enthusiasm. Lily may be tiny, but she could challenge Hugo when it came to who could put away more food.
"You'll have such a nice, quiet place to study for your N.E.W.T.s. You're so lucky." Molly looked like she had never been more jealous of anything in the world.
Lucy started asking questions as well and it got to the point where they were all talking over each other. The most common theme among their questions seemed to be the privileges that would be extended to them with Rose's new position, especially the use of the common room.
"I can't promise anything," Rose spoke over them, gaining their full attention. "I share the room, you know. I'll have to ask Scorpius what he thinks. By the way Luce, I heard you made prefect as well. Congratulations!"
Lucy blushed and expressed her thanks.
"You know," Lily said with an eager look on her face, changing back to the previous topic. "Roxanne told me once that Lorcan and his co-head each gave the password to one other person. He gave it to her and the Head Girl gave it to her boyfriend. But I'm sure you could give it to a friend or, say, a cousin instead."
Rose gave her a crooked grin.
"Well then, seeing as neither of us have significant others we will have to make other arrangements."
They all looked at her in anticipation and she rolled her eyes.
"You honestly think I'd just pick one of you with you all staring at me like that? Doesn't it make more sense that we'd give it to Erin and Al anyway?"
They all deflated at this and Lily looked like she was about to argue before Molly changed the subject.
"Ethan told me that the common room was a mix of Gryffindor and Ravenclaw colors last year to represent the two heads' houses. I guess yours will be Gryffindor and Slytherin! I wonder when that happened last."
They continued to discuss all the different prospects of Rose's duties and the next year in general when Erin and Ethan showed up. Rose was pleased to see her best friend looking so well, even though she had yet to show any visible signs of grieving. Ethan looked a little haggard, but he had recently begun Auror training as well so that came as no surprise. Erin greeted Al and Scorpius as Harry and Hugo approached Ethan. Rose's younger brother had always looked up to Ethan. They were vastly different, but they both had an eye for strategy and could spend hours sitting across from each other with a chessboard between them. It was one of the places that Hugo was most likely to open up, so Ethan had gotten to know him relatively well. She turned and noticed that her father and Draco were having what looked to be a very serious conversation in a secluded corner of the room as they both kept glancing at their wives. The women both appeared to have regained their composer, though her mother seemed to not quite be her usual, poised self. She was distracted from her observations by two arms engulfing her from behind.
"Cheers, Rosie!" Erin greeted her friend as she gripped her in an exuberant hug. Rose laughed at Erin's enthusiasm before stepping away to turn and grin at her.
"Thanks, Erin. Part of me still can't quite wrap my head around it."
Erin scoffed. "Come off it, Rosie. You knew you were going to get it. You were probably more worried that Scorpius wouldn't. Lord knows you would have cried if it had gone to someone else."
Rose willed herself not to blush. "I was also referring to the fact that we're actually seventh years now. And quite the opposite, actually. I was almost positive it would be him. But I guess you're right, I would have hated not to be able to do it with him if only one of us got it. I also think we'll work very well together. We'll be efficient, a well oiled machine by the end of the first term. I know it."
Erin chuckled at how seriously her friend took anything to do with her education, even if it were extracurricular. But it was one of the things she loved about Rose, so she wasn't about to mock her for it.
"Well, I'm happy for you both. It seems like everyone else is as well. Quite a show they've put on for the two of you."
Rose took in their surroundings and noticed the decor for the first time. A gold and silver banner hung above the food table at the back of the room that read Congratulations to the New Head Boy & Girl. There were streamers lining the walls and balloons tied to various pieces of furniture.
The other girls had wandered off to talk to various people. Lily was with Al and Scorpius, while Louis, Lucy and Hugo started in on the food and Molly talked to Ethan and Teddy. Apparently he had arrived with Victoire when Rose wasn't paying attention. Her eldest cousin was now talking with all of the mothers in the room, most likely about wedding details. Rose took the opportunity of having a moment alone with her friend to see if she could get her to share how she was managing the recent hand she'd been dealt. Brushing off questions had been her go to move all week.
"So," Rose began tentatively, "how're you holding up?"
"Oh," Erin quickly waved her off, "I'm fantastic. Shall we say hello to your Aunt Audrey? She always gives me a laugh." She walked off towards the tall, slender brunette and Rose sighed in defeat.
While she hadn't looked well the first few days after Augusta Longbottom's passing, Erin now seemed very well put together. Her shoulder length, wavy blonde hair was half pulled back and well groomed, and she was dressed in a floral skirt and navy tank top. The only real difference Rose noticed was in her eyes. They weren't quite as lively as they used to be. She had yet to get Erin to open up at all since her great-grandmother's passing. She had asked how she was on a few occasions in an effort to get her to talk, but she had so far been unsuccessful in her attempts. The only real positive that she noticed was a renewed closeness between all of the Longbottom siblings, Erin and Alice in particular. Rose knew Alice would have been at Malfoy Manor as well if she wasn't helping her mother out at the inn.
Deciding to give up her attempts to get Erin to talk as a bad job, she went to join the rest of the party, meeting Teddy's eyes across the room. He broke away from his conversation and approach her, giving her a brotherly hug and an affectionate noogie.
They weren't related by blood, but Teddy had been a part of the family for her whole life. She didn't know what her family was like without him. He had developed a relationship with the Malfoy's over the years as well. His grandmother had reached out to her sister after the war, and the two had made strides to mend their broken relationship. It was never the same as it had been when they were young, but Andromeda wanted Teddy to know his family, especially after losing his parents.
Teddy had become something of an older brother to Scorpius over the years. It helped to solidify the bond between the two of them when Albus and Scorpius met once they started Hogwarts. He was over at the Potter's all the time, and when Teddy, James, Al, and Scorpius got together, it tended to spell trouble. While Teddy tried to show some responsibility, the younger boys always managed to bring out the child in him. Rose vividly remembered one day during the summer after her first year when a rather rambunctious game of indoor keep away got slightly out of hand. James had suggested that they add an extra quaffle and bludgers to the equation, and Rose and Lily retreated upstairs at that point, scared for their safety. The harsh scolding given by Ginny Potter, the sound of which had carried up the stairs, had scared Rose into never doing anything that would cause her aunt to yell at her in that way.
"Congrats, Rosie. I always knew you had it in you."
Rose laughed as she threw her cousin off.
"Thanks, Ted. I suppose it runs in the family."
Teddy had been Head Boy during his final year at Hogwarts, and he was now positively beaming at Rose. She wasn't sure if it was with pride, or if he was just deliriously happy with life in general. It had taken him awhile to get his spunk back after the passing of his grandmother, but now that wedding planning was in full swing and they had a date set, he seemed like his old self. His hair had remained black for months, but it was now his trademark turquoise.
"And who'd have thought that both of my cousins would be heads together. Knowing you both, I think you'll make a spectacular team."
Rose thanked him again before asked how things were going in the Auror department.
"Not bad. The hours aren't the greatest at the moment, but my squad partners are a laugh, so that makes things better when we're working long hours into the night."
"Do you interact with the trainees at all?"
"Oh yes," he chuckled. "We get to go up against them during some training exercises roughly once a week. Ethan's been doing a bang up job, actually. You wouldn't think it if you knew him based on his demeanor so I was pleasantly surprised. He does look cut out for it though."
Rose noticed that Ethan did look like he had filled out a little since starting his training. He had always had a lean build, but his arms and chest seemed to be more solid. He caught them watching him and excused himself from his conversation with Percy before making his way over.
"Hope you're not spreading lies about me, Lupin. I'll have you know, Rose, that I'm top of my class at the moment."
Rose looked at Ethan in delighted surprise. His closely cropped brown hair still had a slight coife to it that was becoming, and his green eyes sparkled with life. He wasn't normally this confident, or cheeky for that matter. Teddy looked slightly surprised as well, but chuckled at the young man.
"No worries, Longbottom. I would never do such a thing."
Ethan seems satisfied with his answer and turned to Rose.
"I don't think I got to congratulate you yet, Rose. Speaking as a former head, I'm sure you're more than up to the task."
"I hope so. How've you been doing? I know you've had a lot to deal with all at once."
His smile faltered and the light in his eyes deadened, but only slightly.
"I'm holding it together. Erin's not taking it well, though you probably know that. She hasn't even talked about it really. But I'm glad I have work to distract me. Keeps my mind off it."
Rose gave him an understanding smile as Teddy gripped his shoulder. Ethan looked grateful for their support.
"So you're enjoying training?" Rose asked.
He shrugged his shoulders, his troubles already forgotten and genuinely excited about the work he was doing.
"Can't complain really. Not only am I actually enjoying it, but I can't exactly speak ill of the man in charge can I?"
Rose and Teddy laughed.
"Don't worry, I think he's out of earshot."
"Who is, Ted?" asked the man himself, coming up behind Ethan. Teddy and Rose laughed harder at the terrified expression on Ethan's face. He turned nervously towards Harry.
"Nothing sir, they're just taking the mickey. Sir."
Harry clapped a hand on the young auror's shoulder.
"What have I told you about calling me that outside of work?"
Ethan looked abashed but gave Harry a slight grin. The Head Auror shot a look at his godson who wore a mask of innocence.
"Try not to be too hard on him Teddy. The bloke deserves at least one day off."
Roughly an hour later, as Rose was enjoying the company of Scorpius and Louis along with some of the delicious food the Malfoy's had provided, her father approached her with an exhausted look on his face.
"Your mother and I are going to head home. She's a little tired."
He turned to Scorpius and shook his hand.
"I'm sure we'll see you in a few weeks, but best of luck with this one. She's a lot to handle at times." Her father had a slight smirk on his face as Louis and Scorpius chuckled appreciatively at his comment and Rose's red face. Ron lent in to give her a kiss on the cheek in farewell.
"We'll expect you and your brother to be home by midnight. We're so proud of you Rosie."
His eyes showed the truth of his statement as he gave his final goodbye and walked towards his wife who was saying farewell to Astoria and looking very eager to leave. Scorpius seemed to have noticed their parents odd behaviour throughout the night as well, and followed Ron with a simple "I'll be right back," to Rose and Louis.
They watched as he approached Ron and offered his hand again. Rose could just make out that he was thanking them for coming, before he turned towards her mother and dropped his voice. Rose watched in surprise as tears welled up in her mother's eyes before she embraced Scorpius in an affectionate and motherly hug. Astoria and Draco were looking at the scene in pride as Ron looked close to tears as well. They said their final goodbyes and it didn't appear that anyone other than she and Louis had noticed the exchange.
"What was that all about?" she asked Scorpius as he approached them again.
He merely shrugged and said he was just thanking them for coming. Louis was able to shrug it off and accept the excuse, but Rose knew there was something they weren't telling her and she was determined to get to the bottom of it.
"How about we break out the ice cream?" Scorpius suggested to the room at large, and the atmosphere returned to normal.
The merriment continued and they carried on into the evening until the rest of the parents began to say their goodbyes around ten o'clock. The children were allowed to stay with the promise that they would floo home no later than midnight. James had to be at training early the next day so he had left with the adults. Fred and Roxanne weren't able to come and Ethan and Erin had also left early at his insistence that they were needed at home. Teddy and VIctoire had opted to stay and spend some time with their younger cousins, much to their delight. They all lounged around the room, their desire to stay upright nonexistent. Rose was sitting on the floor in front of Victoire as the older girl braided her hair with Teddy sat next to her on the couch. Louis was taking up the other half of the couch and Hugo was as good as passed out in one of the armchairs. Molly, Lucy, and Dom were stretched out on the floor in front of the fire while Scorpius, Lily, and Al shared the other couch. Scorpius was flipping through a quidditch magazine and batting away Al's feet as he tried to stick them in his face. The younger Potter boy was lying on his back with his head against Lily's thigh. One of his arms was pulled behind his head and draped over her lap as she used a pen to doodle all over his limb. She always kept one of the muggle tools on her, and her current activity was a small way that Al indulged his little sister, especially when there was no parchment to be found. She got incredibly creative during late night hours and was a brilliant artist. No one knew where her talent had come from as no one else in the family shared it.
As they sat around the fire, enjoying one of the more peaceful moments of the day, the conversation, inevitably, had gotten around to the wedding.
"Are we still carrying on with all our usual holiday traditions though?" Al asked.
"I don't see why not," Teddy said. "We're getting married a week after Christmas for a reason, you know. We don't want to disrupt things too much. Granted, we won't have the same New Year's bash this time, but it'll still be one hell of a party." He grinned at his fiance who always wore a permanent smile on her face whenever she was in his presence. She was shooting glances at him, grinning broadly as she finished off Rose's braid.
"Do you two have to be so sickeningly sweet?" Louis asked. "It's rather disgusting."
Teddy grabbed his future brother-in-law by the leg and successfully flung him off the couch, much to the entertainment of everyone else in the room.
"I sometimes wonder why I ever wanted a brother," Louis grumbled as he pulled himself off the floor but refused to resume his place on the couch, taking a vacant armchair instead.
"Speaking of brothers," Teddy changed the subject, "I hear a friend of mine will be one of your new professors this year."
Everyone looked somewhat interested at this news, but Lily quirked her eyebrow at her godbrother as she finished off the landscape that was now covering Al's arm.
"What does that have to do with brothers?"
"Oh, right. You're friends with Charlotte Bray, aren't you?"
"It's her older brother, Malcolm."
Everyone who wasn't paying as much attention before certainly was now. Hugo looked more awake and the girls on the floor had sat up.
"You mean the one with the dark, wavy hair? Rather tall?" Dom asked.
"That's the one."
"Oh you lot are so lucky. He's so fit," Dom gushed, and all the other girls giggled as they nodded in agreement with Dominique's assessment.
The boys gave a collective eye roll as Teddy tried to regain control of the conversation.
"Anyway, he was the same year as me at Hogwarts and we were prefects together. He told me the other day that he's the new Muggle Studies teacher."
"Oh that's brilliant!" Rose said. "I can't wait to see what changes he'll make. Not that Professor Bancroft wasn't good, mind, but she was getting on in years. I felt like we went through the same material over and over again."
"Does Charlotte know?" Lily asked, ignoring Rose's attempt to discuss school. "She hasn't mentioned it to me."
Teddy shrugged in his ignorance.
"That's all I know, honestly."
The topic changed to the plans for the upcoming weekend at the Potter's and jumped around to various other subjects until Victoire announced that it was time she and Teddy left.
"I have an exam on Monday and loads of revising to do in the meantime," she informed them. Victoire had spent her first few years out of Hogwarts working a desk job in the ministry for the Muggle Liaison Office before deciding to enroll in a muggle university. She wanted to pursue her work further and thought the best way to gain practical knowledge about working with muggles was to interact with them on a daily basis. She had always loved learning as well and was very excited to try something new. Not to mention that she was taking night classes, which fit well with Teddy's schedule. Her supervisors had approved and were even helping fund her classes and allowing her to work fewer hours. She seemed to be loving every minute of it.
They all bade them goodbye and noticed that it had reached quarter to midnight. They collectively began to rouse themselves, cleaning up the last of the cups and plates that had gathered over the course of the evening. It had been a wonderful night, but Rose couldn't stop thinking about the interaction that she had seen between her parents and Scorpius, along with the overall behavior of both sets of parents throughout the night, so she followed him into the kitchen with a stack of dishes as the others continued to take down the decorations and gather up trash.
"Hey," she began tentatively, placing the plates she was carring on the island in the middle of the room as he placed some beside the sink. He glanced back at her and smiled in greeting.
"Can I ask you something?" she asked
He turned and leaned back against the sink, his hands resting on the countertop and an open expression on his face.
"Sure, what's up?"
The island stood between them and she braced herself against it.
"What was going on with my parents tonight? I know you know, so don't even bother trying to deny it," she cut him off. He looked like he was about to protest the fact that anything was going on.
He sighed and hung his head before looking up at her.
"Rosie, If you don't know, then I certainly can't be the one to tell you."
His response did nothing but frustrate her.
"Scorpius, come on. Something's going on and we tell each other everything, don't we?"
She knew this wasn't entirely true. He didn't know what her feelings were for him, for example. But everything else? They had never had a problem being open with each other over the past few years. He seemed to struggle internally with himself before speaking again.
"Rose I wish I could tell you. Better yet I wish you just knew. But it's not my place. You have to trust me on this. This has to come from your parents."
He was looking pleadingly at her, willing her not to argue.
"How come you know and I don't?"
Apparently, she wasn't quite ready to let this go.
"You'll have to take that up with your parents."
She stewed for a moment before he spoke again.
"Can I make a request though?"
She was slightly surprised by his words but nodded her head. He let out a deep breath before continuing.
"Don't ask unless you really want to know the truth. It's not an easy one to hear, nor is it easy to tell. And please, try not to see me differently afterwards, even though you probably will."
Rose took in his words and was simultaneously afraid to hear the truth her parents had to tell, and angry at Scorpius. Why couldn't he just have some faith in her? In their friendship? He had shown confidence in what they had over the past year and he hadn't really talked like this since they were sixteen.
"What makes you think my opinion of you would ever change?" she said rather heatedly, "You're my best friend Scorpius Malfoy, so get your head out of your arse and accept it."
He looked dumbstruck at her words as she turned to leave the kitchen. She was just about to fling the door open when he called her name. Her hand stilled on the doorknob but she didn't turn around as he spoke quietly.
"Just remember that we come from vastly different backgrounds, and some things are hard to forgive and even harder to forget."
She looked over her shoulder to see that he almost looked resigned. Resigned to the fact that there was something that could cause her to turn her back on him. It only made her angrier.
"That may be, but it's high time you accept who we both are and say to hell with the rest of it. I'm tired of reminding you that, despite your doubts and whatever it is the world tells you, I actually do care about you."
And with that, she walked out of the room.
A/N: Dun dun duuuunnn.. Trouble in paradise? People keeping secrets?
Thoughts? Feelings? Let me know in the form of a review! And we finally get some Teddy Lupin :)
One more chapter before we head back to Hogwarts! Excited for the upcoming school year? Thanks for reading!
Chapter 9: Tell me why are you still so afraid?
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They were the first to show up at the Potter's the next weekend. Rose quickly joined her aunt in the kitchen to help with the last minute preparations upon their arrival. Hugo had gone off to find Lily, and her parents were talking with Harry in his study. It was a blisteringly hot summer day, the type of day that makes you yearn for the cooler weather, and the athletic shorts and tank top Rose wore weren't quite enough to keep her cool when she was outdoors. They would all be crammed into the dining room for lunch, and while cooling charms were regularly reinforced, it wouldn't be able to completely regulate the temperature in the usually spacious room that felt cramped when the entire family was packed around the table.
It was going to be a long and miserable day, the way Rose saw it. She much preferred brisk temperatures to the hot sun, and her fair skin was easily burnt. She was also not looking forward to facing her best friend. She knew she had gotten angry at him a little hastily, but she was tired of having to stick up for him to his own self. While it was true that he hadn't said things quite like that for at least a year now, he still made the occasional subtle comment that she would always deny before he took it any further, and it was wearing on her. She missed him, but she wasn't sure she wanted to be the one to break the silence. No owls had been exchanged and as far as she knew, he hadn't made an attempt to come and see her. She had avoided the Potter's all week, in case he would be there, but this weekend would bring the inevitable face to face they would need to have if they were to resolve their issues before term started. She wasn't even sure why he hadn't reached out to her, why he hadn't tried to talk to her. Was he angry with her or just being stubborn? Was he embarrassed because he knew she was right? Was he so sure that whatever had happened in the past was so awful, that he thought it best to just cut ties then and there? She hoped and prayed that wasn't the case. Physically knocking some sense into him wasn't something she was keen on doing.
Finding the time to talk to her parents about what she had witnessed at Malfoy Manor and what she and Scorpius had ended up arguing about had proved impossible. Her mother had been caught up with work that week and usually came home just in time to eat dinner and spend a short amount of time with her husband before it was time for her to turn in. She would occasionally have exceptionally busy weeks, being Minister of Magic called for long hours at times, but she never seemed to wilt under the pressure like she had seemed to be doing the past week. The most Rose had gotten out of her had been something about being busy "tracing things back to the source" and "getting it all sorted." Her father seemed to know what was going on, but having stepped away from the ministry five years earlier, he generally kept his nose out unless his wife needed his support in some way. The fact that he was privy to the details spoke loads to Rose. It must be serious, whatever was going on.
So, all in all, it had been a stressful week in the Granger-Weasley household, and Rose was looking forward to hopefully patching things up with Scorpius before they headed off to Hogwarts. Even though she dreaded the actual confrontation part of it, she wanted to put it behind them. The first of September was on a Thursday that year, so she had less than a week to do so. If it wasn't today, her next chance would be on Wednesday, at James' first match, the day before they left for their final year at Hogwarts.
Rose was helping Ginny place the last few pieces of cutlery on the dining room table when Al walked in, wearing nothing but a pair of baggy athletic shorts and a sour look on his face. He ignored the immediate command from his mother to put some clothes on and focused his attention on Rose.
"Mum, I'd like a word with my cousin. Please."
Though his words were polite, his tone came off harsh. Ginny looked like she was about to scold him before deciding it wasn't worth her time and walking briskly back into the kitchen.
"If you expect me to take you seriously, you're going to have to put some clothes on. The pasty whiteness of your chest is enough to temporarily blind me."
Hoping her comment would cause him to pitch a fit, she continued to place forks and knifes on the table as if his presence didn't bother her at all. Al grabbed her wrists to still them and gain her attention. She reluctantly turned towards him.
"I'm not in the mood for jokes, Rose. What did you say to him?"
"To whom?" Rose feigned innocence. She didn't want to explain herself to Al. He tended to defend Scorpius when he thought she was too hard on him. He claimed to understand the pressures that Scorpius was facing, due to the ones he believed himself to be encumbered with as well. Rose knew this was partly true, Al faced plenty of pressures from the wizarding world, but he never thought less of himself due to who his family was. He had no need to. It wasn't something he could understand just because he wanted to.
"Trying to frustrate me won't work," he persisted. "Scorpius was fucking miserable after you left so abruptly the other night, and you've been conveniently absent since then. What the hell did you do to him?"
"Who says I did something to him? Did you ever think it might be the other way around?" She was becoming increasingly frustrated with her cousin. She knew he cared, but there he was, picking his side again, assuming she'd been in the wrong.
"Well seeing as you've been hiding away, I assumed you were ashamed of something."
"Ha!" she mockingly laughed, sounding close to hysterics. "I'm the one who's ashamed? Point that judgmental look at your other best friend Albus Potter. I've done nothing I regret."
Al looked surprised by her words. He let her wrench her wrist free and she turned to storm into the kitchen without looking back. She began to wash up some of the dishes that they'd used to prepare the meal. When she was frustrated, angry, or upset, it calmed her to do chores the muggle way. It forced her to concentrate her energy elsewhere. She was so focused she almost didn't notice her aunt walk out of the pantry. Ginny paused to study her niece, wondering if it was safe to intrude in her personal life. Rose knew she was being examined by her aunt but she didn't think she could hold it all in any longer.
"It's not bloody fair!" she exclaimed, close to tears as she scrubbed furiously at a giant pot. She thought it had been used to make the custard that was to go with their dessert later that evening.
"He's done absolutely nothing to deserve this, yet people still treat him like shit and he treats himself the exact same way. Like he deserves to be treated that way. There's no fucking way that's fair."
Ginny watched her niece with raised eyebrows.
"You really are your father's daughter aren't you? Does your mother know you curse like that?"
Rose immediately relaxed and was thankful that she had let herself open up in front of her aunt. Her ability to make light of situations that Rose found dire, though hardly ever were, always succeeded in giving her a bit of perspective and lightening her mood. Rose even managed a slight chuckle.
"She'd probably scourgify my mouth if she'd heard. But I've always believed that when you do express yourself, it's best to do it honestly."
Ginny nodded her head, a look of agreement on her face.
"May I ask who is being treated like shit? I doubt it's your cousin. He's usually not the type to let people get to him that easily, so I can only assume you're referring to someone else? Someone you both care for?"
Rose cursed her aunt's inquisitive nature, as well as her ability to be uncannily perceptive. She heaved a sigh as if to release all the emotions she had kept pent up over the past week.
"I know I don't understand what you all went through or what his family was like back then, but I don't see why any of that should matter. He's good and he's kind and he wants to turn things around for his family name. Why can't people just let him do that? Why can't he let himself do that?"
Ginny had moved beside Rose and placed her hands on her arms, stilling them as they were still furiously scrubbing at the pot. She turned and faced the older witch who was wearing wisdom and love in her eyes.
"Rose, if I know Scorpius, he's doing his best to do all of those things, but he's terrified of becoming anything less than a kind, humble wizard of good repute. I'm willing to bet he thinks he's doing it for his own good. Thinking so little of himself, that is. I don't know specifics as to the situation you're referring to, but that boy has been in my house often enough for me to witness the occasional unfortunate incident based on his name."
Rose looked at her aunt questioningly, wanting her to elaborate but not sure it was her place to ask. Ginny seemed to understand her unasked question and continued.
"There are some other Hogwarts kids that live around the neighborhood. The Shepards and the Turners, to name a few."
Rose nodded. They had played together before Hogwarts.
"The summer between your second and third year, their two boys that are in your year stopped by to see if Al wanted to go around the corner to the park. Scorpius was here as well, and Al said he wouldn't go without him. Alec didn't seem to mind too much, but Devon Shepard? You could tell he was uncomfortable with the idea. He practically scowled at Scorpius when he saw him."
By the way she was talking, Rose could tell her aunt was still bothered by the interaction.
"Scorpius insisted that Al go on without him. Claimed he wasn't feeling up to it. He went, begrudgingly, and while he was gone, the only thing I managed to get Scorpius to say was that he understood and that he would have felt the same. He moped around the whole time even though he tried to put on a brave face. I managed to corner Al later and question him about the behavior I'd seen and he told me that Scorpius tends to get a bad rap with the boys in all the other houses. Al is accepted because of his family, and there isn't much animosity between houses anymore, but Scorpius was never treated fairly by anyone. I think it got better for a while, based on Al's letters, but I believe it changed again after your fifth year."
This all made sense to Rose. He had stopped trying to fit in with his house around that time, and she hadn't known him well enough before then to be able to say how he was treated by other students. She was only thankful that she had never contributed to the negative energy that affected him. At least she hoped she hadn't. She may have been indifferent to him at one point, but she never hated him.
"What I'm saying," Ginny continued, "is that he hasn't been given a lot of reasons to see himself the way you clearly do."
Rose opened her mouth to protest, but her aunt beat her to it.
"I'm sure you do your best to reassure him of his worth and how much he matters to you, but something that ingrained in you doesn't go away overnight."
Rose slouched against the counter in resignation as her aunt moved forward to hug her.
"Don't give up on him, Rosie. He needs someone like you. It's hard to do everything on your own. You need people to encourage and support you. And I know how much he values you."
Rose held her aunt tightly, nodding her head.
"I'll do my best. But I'm not apologizing first."
Ginny laughed at the stubbornness her niece showed.
"I'd expect nothing less from you. Besides, he could use a little toughening up. He's strong that boy. He's endured a lot. But he needs to learn how to fight too."
Rose teared up at her aunt's words as she pulled back.
"You really care for him, don't you?"
Her aunt nodded in response.
"And he knows that. That boy is almost as dear to me as your cousins. I'm not sure he understands just how much you care for him though."
Rose looked at her aunt in surprise. Ginny's face wasn't coy or teasing. It was warm and encouraging. Rose was torn between telling her aunt everything, right then and there, or trying to deny her implications entirely. Luckily, she didn't have to make the choice herself.
"Are we playing Quidditch today or what?" was how James announced his presence as he barged into the kitchen.
"Mum, Al's refusing to clean out the filter again," Lily complained as she poked her head under James' arm that was resting on the doorframe.
"Do none of my children know how to properly dress themselves? We have company coming any moment."
Sure enough, James was also shirtless and Lily was wearing nothing but a baggy t-shirt over her swimwear.
"I thought you said we could use the pool today?" she asked as James rolled his eyes at their mother.
"Yes, but we're eating soon so please put some pants on," Ginny requested. She went about the last finishing touches for their meal as Lily requested that her mother at least talk to Al about doing his chores, before she trudged up the stairs and James started poking around for leftover scraps, ignoring his mother's request.
"So," James began, sticking a piece of discarded cheese in his mouth. "What's got Al so worked up? Every time I've mentioned you this week he's been snappish. I'd ask what you did, but I have a feeling you didn't actually do anything."
"What makes you say that?" Rose asked, slapping his had away from the plate of lunch meats. She was relieved that not everyone was against her right now.
"When I asked what you'd done, he had trouble articulating it."
"That's because he doesn't even know. He just confronted me a few minutes ago and asked what I'd done. So yes, he is pointlessly mad at me because he doesn't even know what to be mad at me for."
She gestured for him to grab the other plate of sandwich fixings and he followed her to the dining room.
"Did you actually do something then?" he asked.
"In so many words, no."
She hesitated before continuing.
"Scorpius and I aren't exactly speaking at the moment."
An expression of understanding crossed his features.
She heaved a sigh. She was tired of talking about it, but seeing as James actually knew the extent of her feelings, it wouldn't hurt to tell him.
"We said some things to each other. Well, he said some things, I shouted a bit."
After reiterating everything that had happened that night in the kitchen, James' best advice was to "just stick around. He'll thank you for your honesty in the end."
"Besides," he continued, "a lack of honesty only keeps you from being with the person you're supposed to be with. And for longer than necessary, in my experience."
Since she'd been keeping her distance from the Potter's she hadn't been able to witness the first week of her cousin's new relationship, but by the cheerful demeanor he wore, she could only assume it was going well.
"How are things with Violet then?"
"They're outstanding," he beamed. "I can't believe we didn't do this along time ago. Nothing has ever made more sense to me, you know?"
Rose nodded. She did know, or at least she had an inclining. Hopefully she'd know fully one day, if her best friend would ever speak to her again.
Pretty soon, everyone else in the family started to show up. All the non family participants of the Quidditch match were due to show up after lunch. Ginny used to feed everyone, but they had grown to a size that she claimed to be absurd. Most of the time at least half of them stayed for dinner, and she refused to feed them all more than once.
After lunch, James, Lily, and Hugo went out with Ron and Harry to set up the Quidditch pitch. The Scamanders were the first to arrive and they didn't even come inside other than to poke their heads in and say hello before heading to the field around the back of the house. Fred, Roxy, Dominique, and Louis were quick to follow them outside. Rose was doing her best to ignore Al as they cleaned up after lunch. Thankfully, she had enough family members around to always ensure that they would have a buffer of some kind. She normally stayed by Lucy's side when trying to avoid a confrontation with someone else. The younger girl wasn't always keen on talking, but she also let her inquisitive nature get the best of her whenever an argument broke out between other people. She usually chose to stick around and hear things out rather than slip away. Al hated this, preferring to keep his arguments private, although he usually failed miserably at it.
Rose was in the middle of laughing at a story Lucy was telling about an incident in her Transfiguration class the previous year that involved Hugo and a rather unfortunate skin color, when she noticed that Scorpius was hesitantly standing in the entrance to the dining room. A nervous smile was frozen on her face and his eyes briefly landed on her before turning to acknowledge Al who followed him out of the room, neither giving Rose a second glance. Once they were gone she let out a frustrated groan and ignored Lucy's inquisitive look as they finished cleaning up before joining the others outside.
Everyone had shown up by the time Rose and Lucy had finished. The girls were on the end of the field closest to the house, while the boys stood on the far end. The air was buzzing with anticipation as everyone donned their gear and mentally prepared for the match.
Though she didn't play in school, Rose always took the position of Keeper during family matches. She was brilliant at it, but hadn't wanted to distract herself from her studies. She tended to dive into things one hundred percent and knew herself well enough to not spread herself too thin. Besides, Gryffindor had Caleb Wood as Keeper, and they'd be hard pressed to find a better man for the job. Hugo normally played for the boys side during family events, and when Caleb was around, like today, they'd switch off. With the number of people they had, most positions had a reserve, and Eva would always sub for Rose. As they took to the air, Dom, Roxy, and Molly were in the Chaser positions with Lily in Seeker and Lucy and Violet as Beaters. The rest of the girls would sub in for various positions as needed. Their matches had lasted as long as five hours in the past so everyone would get a fair chance to play.
The boys were getting into position as well. James was leading the pack, Louis and Scorpius on either side of him as his fellow Chasers. Fred and the Scamanders all swapped around as the two Beaters, while Hugo played keeper and Al was in his usual spot as Seeker. He and Lily were very evenly matched and it was always thrilling to watch them face off. They were the only two positions that never swapped out.
As the match began, everyone was cracking jokes and reveling in the sport of it all. They took the match seriously, but never to the point where no fun was had. All of the parents that had come were on the sidelines ready to cheer them on. A few of them used to participate in the game, but they had left it to the kids for the past few years.
Rose was doing her best to enjoy herself, but watching Scorpius fly was doing nothing to help her concentration. She was incredibly frustrated by the distance he was keeping. He hadn't said a word to her and had spared her barely a look. But she couldn't really blame him. She'd kept her distance all week. Yet she still held to the belief that he should come to his senses and apologize to her. Hopefully they'd have a chance to talk once all of this was over.
After an hour, they switched players and Eva took the hoops. Rose was thankful to have a moment to relax and hydrate, but she didn't count on the fact that Scorpius was taking a break as well. Rose watched as Bobby flew up to take his place as Lysander took Lorcans while Caleb took Hugo's spot as Keeper. Erin was now playing as Beater for Lucy, and Jill took Roxanne's spot as Chaser. They would sub again in another half an hour or so.
Rose kept surreptitiously glancing at Scorpius. He stood on the sidelines chugging water and cheering on his teammates. He hadn't so much as glanced at her. She debated with herself for all of two minutes before caving. She slowly made her way forward until she stood next to him, the top of her head reaching his sweaty cheekbones. Now came the hard part, trying to actually start a conversation.
"You flew well. Have you been playing much this summer?"
Really? Rose thought to herself. That's almost as bad as asking about the weather.
He just shrugged and shot her a curious glance. She could feel herself growing frustrated but tried to remain in control of her temper.
"Are you planning on saying anything to me at all today?"
He took another drink from his bottle of water.
"Scorpius, I'm trying to make amends here despite my better judgment. The least you could do is respond."
He looked at her suddenly, a trace of hurt in his gray eyes.
"Why do it then, if it's against your better judgment?"
His response surprised her. She assumed he'd be willing to forgive and forget once he realized that was what she wanted.
"Well, seeing as I didn't technically do anything to apologize for, I didn't really want to be the one to break the silence."
He only looked more hurt at her words.
"Wow. I really didn't think you'd blame me."
"Seeing as you were the one who forced the issue I don't see why you're so surprised."
She was starting to become increasingly frustrated and also slightly confused. Of course she blamed him for thinking so little of her. It had hurt more than she cared to admit.
"I forced the issue? Rose, you were the one who insisted on knowing, and now that you do, what's supposed to happen now?"
They were facing each other and Scorpius was becoming increasingly agitated. His hair was sticking in different directions due to the effects of him running his hands through it while it was drenched in sweat. Rose figured she didn't look much better. Her hair was falling out of her ponytail and the humidity wasn't helping the curly mass remain calm.
"Now that I know what? That you think so little of me? That I'd turn my back on you when I've never given any indication that I would do such a thing?"
"You just said you blamed me!"
"Only for how you see me, but not for anything else! Scor, your family is your family. I accept you for all of that. It's part of who you are and believe it or not, I love who you are."
She was surprised the words had come out of her mouth, but she was also determined not to take them back. He softened slightly at her words. Rose realized that they had gained an audience. Thankfully they were on the opposite side of the field from their parents so they didn't seem to notice anything was going on. Everyone else who wasn't playing was doing their best to pretend they weren't listening to their conversation. Charlotte and Lucy were trying to fake their own discussion and so were Lorcan and Ethan. Roxanne was lying in the grass pretending to be resting, but Rose had noticed her eyes flicker towards them. Hugo was the only one that wasn't trying to hide the fact that he was listening in. He stood a few yards away with his arms crossed, watching their confrontation as if he were ready to come to her aid at any given moment. He liked Scorpius just fine and the two were even friends, but he would always protect Rose. Especially when she told him not to.
Scorpius seemed to notice the eavesdroppers as well and stepped closer to Rose and dropped his voice.
"But now that you know everything, can you really not see my family any differently? After what they were a part of? What they allowed to happen?"
Rose finally understood. He thought she already knew the secrets that he and her family were keeping from her.
"That's why you've been ignoring me. You thought I had found out and that I was choosing not to speak to you because of it."
He nodded his head.
"I actually haven't had time to talk to my parents to be honest. Mum's been awful busy at work and I've barely had a moment with the two of them. I was just angry that you thought so little of both of us that you would think you're deserving of being cast aside based on choices you never made, and that I'm the type of person that would hold something like that over your head."
He closed his eyes and heaved a heavy sigh.
"So you still don't know then?"
"I don't and it doesn't matter," she insisted. "I will eventually, but you can sure as hell count on me sticking around no matter what. So please, stop trying to push me away."
Almost as soon as she'd gotten the sentence out, he'd pulled her into a bone crushing hug. Rose thought she could have almost cried from relief. He released her just as quickly.
"I'm sorry, Rose. I know you've said the same thing practically a million times, and as much as I enjoy hearing it, I'll try my best not to make you say it again."
"You'd better not," she scolded as she poked him in the stomach. He chuckled at her and she smiled at the ease with which they slid back into their friendship.
"Let's try not to do this again, ok? I'd hate to have to spend a second of our final school year not talking. I already regret ignoring you those first four years."
Rose was smirking at him and he couldn't help but smile at her cheeky look.
"Sounds like a plan to me."
"Oi! Fancy cheering us on every now and again?" James hollered from above them before shooting a wink at Rose and flying off. Al seemed to notice they'd made amends as well and was grinning. He usually didn't care too much what they were fighting about, only that they would eventually make up.
The match ended two hours later with the girls coming out on top, but only by a margin of twenty points. The boys had scored more goals but Lily had been able to grab the snitch. This would normally put Al in a slightly sour mood, but his joy at not having to mediate between two of his best friends seemed to outweigh his disappointment. There was still a few hours until dinner and they all spent the time in between cooling off by the pool. In a few days a lot of them would be going to James' first match as a starting Chaser for Puddlemere United. The day after that, they would be heading off for another year at Hogwarts. With her best friend by her side once again, Rose felt more than ready to take on whatever the coming year would throw at her.
A/N: Next chapter we head back! All aboard. Hope you enjoyed it and I hope I was able to portray everything in a way that made sense. Let me know what you think!
Chapter 10: Tell me your troubles and doubts
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Before Rose knew it, James' first Quidditch match had come and gone and they were on the train back to Hogwarts. James flew fantastically and Puddlemere won the match, much to everyone's delight. Violet had been ecstatic and Rose had never seen her quite so jubilant. The ease with which James' girlfriend now seemed to carry herself made Rose envious. Their situations had been very similar a few weeks previously, and now Violet seemed freer than she was before. James' number had been painted on her cheek and she wore one of his old Gryffindor jerseys with his last name across the back. She didn't have to hide her enthusiasm whenever James made a spectacular shot. Rose could picture herself doing the same for a certain blond haired Chaser during a Slytherin match.
Ever since Rose and Scorpius had made up, she'd been getting carried away with her emotions once again. She was noticing everything about him much more keenly; the way he moved and the infectious sound of his laugh. It was easy to get butterflies whenever his arm accidentally brushed against hers, and to share in his excitement whenever they talked about being Heads together. He was his old, confident self again. Her feelings were growing deeper now and she wasn't sure she would be able to stop herself from falling completely, even if she wanted to. And she was the type of girl who said she'd never let herself fall for a guy without knowing that he felt the same in return. She laughed and girls who fell for boys that didn't give them the time of day. It was making herself sick how hypocritical she was being.
She'd spent most of the week leading up to their departure for school with Scorpius, Al, and occasionally Erin, who'd been busy with her family and hadn't been around as much the last few weeks of summer. Her sister Alice had suddenly quit her job at the ministry a week after their grandmother's passing when Madame Rosmerta had offered her the opportunity to run The Three Broomsticks. The elderly landlady had wanted to retire but wasn't prepared to sell her beloved pub either, and she knew that Alice had experience from living above The Leaky Cauldron for most of her life. The eldest Longbottom had eagerly accepted the offer. Her parents were skeptical of the sudden change but had decided to do their best to support her decision. Alice had never been content working a desk job in the Department of Transportation and they didn't want to force her into doing something that made her unhappy. Erin had spent the last few days before term helping her sister move into her new flat in Hogsmeade.
"This means we'll get to see each other fairly often. Dad said she's more than welcome to come up to the castle for dinner on occasion. I think he wants us to have family dinners now and then which won't be the worst thing in the world. I've missed her over my years at Hogwarts so it'll be nice to reconnect."
They were loading their trunks into their compartment and Erin had hardly stopped talking since she and Rose had found each other on the platform.
"You should see her flat. We'll have to visit her during Hogsmeade weekends. She said we're always welcome."
"That'll be brilliant," chimed in Al, who had followed them into the compartment and caught the last part of their conversation.
"It'll be nice to have something different to do. Hogsmeade weekends started to get a little boring last year."
"Who says you were included in this invitation?" Erin shot at him. He raised his eyebrows at her in mild surprise.
"Well, someone's in a snappy mood."
"Maybe I'd be in a better one if you hadn't insisted on asking "how I'm holding up" half a dozen times since you laid eyes on me. I can take care of myself, you know."
Scorpius had come in just behind Al, and he and Rose shared a concerned look. Erin and Al both had a tendency to fly off the handle when it came to each other, and the way Erin had been on edge lately didn't promise a peaceful journey. Al was about to retort when Scorpius, ever the peace keeper, stepped in.
"We have to be going. Head duties and all that. You sure we can leave you two alone and still find you both living when we come back?"
Al rolled his eyes and Erin chuckled.
"As long as Al here can promise to remember that I'm fine, I think we'll be alright."
She locked eyes with Al, challenging him to contradict her. He let out a huff of breath before waving away their friends.
"Go on, we'll be fine, apparently. I can take a hint."
With that less than reassuring statement, Rose and Scorpius made their way to the prefects compartment, hoping that their friends would be able to survive without them. As they walked, the amount of responsibility they now held started to sink in for Rose. Soon they'd have to start putting out fires among other students and not just their best friends.
"Nervous?" Scorpius asked her quietly as they made their way down the train.
"Terrified," he chuckled at her.
They had reached the compartment and she gave him a reassuring smile.
"We've got this though. Nothing to be worried about, right?"
"Don't jinx us before term has even started, Weasley. You're practically asking for trouble with that statement," he joked.
They set about getting things in order as they waited for the other students to arrive. It was roughly fifteen minutes into the train ride when the first of the prefects started to show up. Rose didn't know some of the younger students so she took some time to introduce herself as everyone settled in. She knew the ones she was related to, obviously. Hugo, Lucy, and Molly were all there. Anastasia Bennett was the other Gryffindor prefect in Hugo's year and Rose was familiar with her, but mostly with the fact that Lily wasn't her biggest fan. Lucy's counterpart was Andrew Mitchell, a rather timid looking Hufflepuff that Rose knew to be exceptionally bright. She made her way around and greeted everyone, even the other Gryffindor prefect from her year, Devon Shepard, whom she had never been overly fond of. After what her aunt told her over the summer regarding his cold attitude towards Scorpius, Rose's opinion of him had sunk even lower.
Across the compartment, Rose could see Scorpius talking to a Ravenclaw prefect that she believed to be Molly's fellow sixth year. The Ravenclaw seemed to be doing most of the talking while Scorpius looked less than pleased with the conversation as he responded occasionally. She continued to steal surreptitious glances at her partner while trying to focus on talking to the other students.
"Alright everyone," Scorpius eventually called to the compartment at large, "if we can all take our seats, we'll get started."
Once they were finally all settled, Rose opened up the meeting. She and Scorpius had discussed how they were planning to run things beforehand. Rose would handle the welcome and description of duties as well as expectations, and Scorpius would hand out patrol schedules and discuss the do's and don'ts of rounds. They had moved onto that portion of the meeting and Rose was trying hard not to beam with pride at how well Scorpius was carrying himself.
"You're allowed to take points, but do this with discretion," he was saying as he handed out schedules. "You'll have to write up a report at the end of the night explaining the situation, and it will need to be signed by your patrol partner for accountability purposes. You can recommend a student receive a detention, but you can't give one out on the spot. This will be reported the same way as any point docking. You'll stick with the same patrol partner for the entire term. Please, no requesting to change based on preference. We consulted all of your schedules as far as extracurricular activities go, so you better have a good reason if you ask us to swap any of you permanently. If something important comes up and you need someone to take your shift, that's your responsibility to figure out, but don't make a habit of doing so. If you sub for someone, make sure to tell either myself or Rose who's shift you're taking. We don't want people abusing the system so we will be keeping tabs."
As he spoke, most of the students seemed to be respectful of Scorpius as they listened intently, but his housemates almost seemed bored, and Devon Shepard couldn't hide the derision on his face. Rose held her breath as her fellow Gryffindor raised his hand towards the end as Scorpius asked if there were any questions after the explanation of their guidelines.
"Yes, Shepard?" Scorpius acknowledged him.
"What did you bribe the Headmistress with?"
Scorpius stiffened but didn't allow his professional expression to shift.
"Pardon me?" he said curtly.
"All I'm saying is, the Headmistress has to be off her rocker by now if she wants a Death Eater spawn like you in charge of her students."
There was a general intake of breath around the compartment. Many of the students shot Devon dirty looks as he continued to sit there with his arms crossed and a smug look on his face. Even the Slytherins didn't looked too pleased. A few students were staring at the floor as if trying to mind their own business. Rose had stood up to stand by Scorpius's side but he stuck his arm out as if to keep her back.
"If you have a problem with me, Shepard, I'd appreciate it if you took it up with me in private next time. Any other questions?" he addressed the rest of the room. Everyone looked too scared to say anything as some shook their heads while others began to gather their things. The atmosphere was tense and Rose was having a hard time biting her tongue. Her pulse was racing and she was sure her face was flushed with anger.
Devon had a slightly pleased look on his face. He could tell he had gotten to the Head Boy. Rose could too. Scorpius had schooled his expressions to seem impassive, but the temper that he rarely let loose was bubbling just below the surface. When there were no further questions, Scorpius was quick to dismiss the majority of the prefects as the few who had to patrol the train stayed to receive further instruction before heading out as well. Hugo was one of the few who had stayed behind and he turned back to address the Head Boy before leaving with his patrol partner for the front end of the train.
"Don't pay him any mind, Scor. Devon's a prat and everyone knows it."
Scorpius nodded in appreciation at Hugo before the young prefect left the compartment. Once they were alone, Rose wasn't sure what to say to her friend. She was always so quick to tell him not to think so little of himself when he was the one doing the talking, but when someone else was saying it? It was hard to deny that no one saw him that way.
"You don't need to say anything, Rose. He's always been an arse to me, it's nothing knew."
She watched him pack up his notes and the leftover copies of the schedule, refusing to look at her.
"I didn't expect that," she said softly.
"You never do."
And he strode past her and out of the compartment, leaving her uncertain of what she could do to help him this time. Following him out, she jogged to catch up with his quick pace.
"It actually went rather well overall, don't you think? Aside from the statement by the pompous arse towards the end," she prompted, not wanting to walk in awkward silence and hoping to crack his stoic facade. It didn't matter to her if he smiled or scowled at her jab, as long as she got something out of him.
He just shrugged in response. Apparently making light of the situation wasn't helpful.
"Did you have a good time mingling with some of the other students? I saw you talking with the Ravenclaw prefect. What was his name again?" Maybe a different tactic would work and she could distract him from thinking about Devon Shepard. Changing the topic seemed like a safe option.
She was pleased that he had verbally responded, but he still wore a creased brow and a slight frown.
"Yes, he's in sixth year with Molly, right?"
He nodded in answer to her question.
"He seemed eager and friendly. What did you two talk about?" she asked.
"Just about plans for the year, my thoughts on house unity, shit like that."
He didn't seem too pleased by the way his conversation had gone with the prefect, and Rose grew slightly concerned as he continued.
"Even managed to note how surprised he'd been with the Headmistresses choice of Head Boy."
Rose's eyes widened with worry at his words. Had two students in the course of one hour questioned whether or not Scorpius deserved his new position?
"What do you mean? What did he say?"
He shrugged again before responding.
"Just that he'd been surprised when he'd heard and he wondered if I had been too. He did say he thinks I'll do a bang up job, but it doesn't exactly inspire confidence, you know?"
He looked more depressed than upset now. Rose linked her arm with his and tugged on it affectionately.
"Hey, he's right you know? You've already done brilliantly. Don't listen to what people say, especially when they don't know what they're talking about."
By the time they reached the compartment, she hadn't been able to get him to say anything else and his somber demeanor hadn't changed. As much as she wanted to just fix things for her friend, Rose was beginning to realize that she might be out of her depth this time.
The feast had gone well enough and the new Muggle Studies teacher was everything that Dominique had described him to be. Malcolm Bray was tall and had the same warm brown hair as his younger sister, who had been beating off girls trying to gather information out of her as they blatantly stared at their dreamy new professor. His eyes were kind and he wasn't too muscular, sporting a rather lean build, and he seemed to be getting along well with Neville at the head table.
Scorpius had dragged Al over to the Slytherin table when they had entered the Great Hall, stating that they should start their final year the same way they'd started their first. The rest of the train ride had been a bit tense. Scorpius hadn't said anything to Al or Erin about what had happened during the prefects meeting, so Rose hadn't either. She could tell Al knew something was off based on her rigid demeanor, but Scorpius had acted as if nothing had happened and Erin did her usual brilliant job of remaining oblivious.
Rose was doing her best to not keep glancing over at the Slytherin table by trying to focus on the conversation that was being had between her dorm mates. Natasha Jones was going on about her summer spent in Paris, while Miranda Robertson was detailing the extensive camping trip she'd taken with her family. Rose and Erin got along well enough with Miranda, but neither could put up with Natasha for very long. They had one of the smaller classes of girls, but the seven boys in their year more than made up for it. In fact, it always made Rose wonder why Devon Shepard, out of all of the seventh year Gryffindor boys, was the one picked to be a prefect.
She was looking forward to having an opportunity to talk to Scorpius once they were in the Head's Common Room. She was sick of Natasha insisting that she had picked up a slight French accent during her time abroad, but it was worth it when Louis overheard from down the table and started asking her questions in rapid French. Her subsequent stammering and blush was priceless and it sent Rose off to her common room in slightly better spirits. It was on the seventh floor, just down the hall from the Room of Requirement. This made it difficult to throw elicit parties there, but her older cousins had always seemed to be able to pull them off over the years.
When she arrived, Scorpius was talking to the portrait that guarded their dorms and common room. It was of a middle aged woman, knitting in a rocking chair. She reminded Rose of her Grandma Weasley and the thought comforted her.
"We're supposed to pick a password," Scorpius said after he noticed her approaching.
"Have anything in mind?" she asked.
"Most students," the portrait chimed in, "pick something that they have in common so it's easier for both of them to remember."
"This is Margaret, by the way," Scorpius said, gesturing to the portrait. "Margaret, this is Rose, the Head Girl."
Rose and Margaret greeted each other.
"Well, how about 'The Burrow?'" Scorpius suggested.
"It doesn't have to be something to do with my family. It can be about yours," Rose offered.
"I'd rather it not," he responded quickly.
Deciding it best not to argue with him at the moment, Rose agreed. They made their way into the common room and she was thrilled with what she saw. The ceilings were high but the room gave off a cozy feel. A giant hearth housed a fire to the right of the portrait hole, and a couch with two arm chairs on either side of it sat across from the warm glow. On the other side of the fireplace were bookshelves that continued onto the wall perpendicular to it, interspersed with windows that reached the ceiling and had desks in front of them. To the left of the portrait hole was a small kitchenette, and on the back wall were two doors that Rose assumed led to their respective dormitories. The furniture was a rich maroon color and the walls were a deep forest green. The woodwork was a dark walnut and Rose couldn't have felt more comfortable in the intimate yet spacious room. She kicked off her shoes and sunk her toes into the deep, cream colored carpet, watching as her feet left imprints in the soft material.
Looking up, she saw Scorpius making himself at home in one of the armchairs and she moved to join him by the fire, taking the other one.
"Are we going to talk about this?" she asked as she sat down
His head was resting against the back of the chair and his eyes were closed. He opened them slowly and turned his head to look at her.
"What's there to talk about, Rose? No matter what you, or anyone else says, some people will always see me for who my family is and question my place in this world. And there's nothing you can do about it, so why bother?"
She sat there for a moment, contemplating the day's events and what Scorpius had just said.
"I guess I hadn't really ever witnessed it in person. Honestly, it shocked me. I can't believe anyone would say something like what Shepard did."
Scorpius sat forward and rested his head in his hands, covering his eyes and muffling his voice.
"Yeah, well, I've had more than enough experience to last a lifetime and it still manages to shock me whenever I hear it as well."
He sounded so resigned when he said it and it worried Rose.
"Maybe it's about time I just embrace who I am. Give the people what they want, what they're expecting."
Now she was scared. He couldn't actually mean that and she told him as much. He shrugged his shoulders as he sat back and gazed into the fire.
"Maybe I do. Maybe it's about time I start hanging around my own kind."
"Scorpius, we're your own kind. I'm your own kind. Stop talking about this as if people belong to different classes. We're all the same, and only pigheaded idiots still manage to think otherwise. Maybe you're looking at this all wrong. Maybe this is your chance to prove that there is no difference between you and the rest of the wizarding world. That you deserve to be Head Boy just as much as I deserve to be Head Girl. If not more so."
By the end of her speech she was standing between him and the fire and he was looking at her fondly as she spoke with conviction, hoping he would actually hear her. She hadn't anticipated having almost the exact same conversation they'd had a week ago, especially not this soon. While this was slightly different, she didn't expect to have to convince him of his worth twice in one week, and it was becoming exhausting to continue to do so.
"Maybe you're right," he said, standing and stretching with a yawn.
"I'll try not to let it get to me. It's just one prat after all, how much harm can he do?"
Rose smiled at him, relieved that he was letting it go, at least for the moment.
"Good. Now, I think it's time we get some shut eye. Classes might not start til Monday, but we've had a long day, and I for one am very much looking forward to having a dorm all to myself this year."
Scorpius chuckled at her as they headed towards their dorms.
"Poor Erin. I expect we'll be seeing a lot of her around here."
"About that," Rose said, stopping right outside her room and turning to face Scorpius as he paused outside his own.
"I was thinking we give the password to one person each, and I was thinking it could be Al and Erin, if that's alright with you. I don't fancy us getting overrun by my entire family so I'd rather only a couple people know."
Scorpius was quick to agree with her suggestion and they bade each other goodnight as Rose opened the door to her dorm, stopping short in awe as she entered. The room was decked out in Gryffindor colors and the four poster bed on the back wall looked slightly bigger than her old one. A beautiful vanity sat in one corner, and a large wardrobe in another. Her bathroom was to her right and she quickly looked in to find a claw foot tub and a shower stall along with the sink and toilet.
As she made her way towards where her trunk was positioned at the end of her four poster, she hoped that their first day would be the only instance where derision and contempt were shown by their fellow classmates. It might have been naive of her to wish for such a thing, but if Scorpius was going to succeed, he needed not just her support, but the support of the students as a whole. Part of her wanted to go to Professor McGonagall, but Scorpius wouldn't have appreciated that either. Unable to spend more time thinking about all of it, she decided she was too mentally and physically exhausted to unpack just yet and quickly changed into her pajamas before climbing into her new bed, which she assumed was what heaven felt like, and quickly drifting off to sleep.
A/N: I kind of agonized over this one so I hope it works well. Thanks for all the kind reviews! Happy Reading :)
Chapter 11: I see trouble on the way
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It's been a while since I posted a character image! It felt like we'd been focusing on our main foursome the last few chapters so I wanted to wait til someone popped up again to include their picture, so here's Lily!
Since they'd arrived at Hogwarts on a Thursday and classes weren't starting until Monday, they had the weekend to settle in. Rose took great pleasure in making herself at home in her new dormitory. Erin had joined her the majority of the evenings, claiming that the other seventh year girls were insufferable at the worst of times, and unbearable at best. Natasha more than Miranda.
Rose and Erin were each taking seven N.E.W.T.s during their final year at Hogwarts, as were Scorpius and Albus. By the time Monday arrived, Rose was practically skipping down the corridors. She had missed being in the classroom and she had a feeling that her final year would be the best one yet.
Her first class on Monday was Defense Against the Dark Arts, followed by Arithmancy, and then Potions and History of Magic after lunch. Three of those classes she had with Scorpius and Al, and two of them with Erin. Al and Erin had never taken Arithmancy so they had a free period before lunch. Rose and Al were the only ones who had elected to continue with History of Magic. On Tuesday, the first class of the day was Transfiguration and then Herbology. Rose and Scorpius didn't take the latter, giving them a free period that they usually spent in the library. They all took Charms together after lunch. Scorpius and Erin took Ancient Runes while Al and Rose had a free period, and then they all had Muggle Studies as their last class of the day.
Every class had the same basic format those first few days. They were reminded of the importance of N.E.W.T.s, and given more homework than they knew what to do with, all while being encouraged to revise on a consistent basis. Rose was starting to feel the pressure as they headed to their first Muggle Studies class on Tuesday afternoon. It was the last first class they would take, and Rose had almost forgotten that they'd be breaking in a new teacher. Rose and Erin settled into a desk together, with Scorpius and Al behind them somewhere near the middle of the class. Professor Bray was writing his name on the chalkboard along with a list of dates when they walked in.
"Good afternoon class," he addressed the students as they settled into their seats. He casually moved around to the front of his desk and sat on it, appearing very much at ease as the class sat eagerly on the edge of their seats, curious about their new professor..
"My name is Malcolm Bray, but that's Professor to you lot. I'm not the biggest fan of the rather stuffy title though, so I'm all in favor of trying out names until one fits. None of your other school mates have been brave enough to try anything other than boring old Professor Bray, so it's up to you lot to rise to the occasion. Sound good?"
Everyone nodded and grins were appearing as they glanced around the class at each other. He grinned back at them as he stood from his perch on the desk.
"I want this class to be engaging and comfortable. We've got a lot of material that I'd like to cover, but if we're all focused, I believe we can make it happen. So, all that being said, there's only twelve of us so let's clear these desk out of the way and circle up."
With a wave of his wand the desks vanished and everyone excitedly shuffled their seats around. Rose was now seated between Erin and Al, with Scorpius on his other side. They were sitting to the right of their brand new professor, who was looking excited at his students eagerness.
"Now," he began once they were all settled. "We won't always meet like this. You'll have your desks when there's ever any practical work to do, but I want a lot of this class to focus on discussion. Before we get into what our topics will be this year, I want to take some time to introduce myself a bit."
Everyone sat forward in interest. He was very captivating with his deep voice and his warm smile.
"I was raised by two wonderful parents, as were my three sisters, one of whom some of you might know."
The people who knew Charlotte nodded in response.
"Both my parents are muggles, as are two of my sisters," he continued. "I was raised with the mindset that those with magic and those without were no different other than their ability to use a wand. My father's brother was a wizard, and he and my grandparents were killed in the second war. My parents raised me and my siblings to be accepting and considerate of anyone we crossed paths with, and I believe those are valuable traits to have. Not that we are to turn a blind eye when there's evil or someone is cruel, but to not judge someone based on something as inconsequential as the family they were born into. That's one of the main things I want to get across this year. That fundamentally, muggles aren't so different from us. I know most of you probably already have that mindset, but there are some things it never hurts to learn twice. So, are you with me so far?"
There was more nodding around the room. He was very upfront, and Rose liked that about her new teacher. Just about everyone else in the room seemed to share her sentiment, based on the expressions they wore.
"What it comes down to is that we're all people. We're all human. Being raised in a muggle family has helped me to see that, but not everyone has that privilege. So that's what we'll be exploring this first term, and we'll be doing it through the help of literature."
He got up and went behind his desk to retrieve a box of thick, heavy books, as curious murmurings started up around the class.
"What do you think it'll be?" Erin leaned in and whispered.
Rose only shrugged her shoulders as she watched Professor Bray start to pass out the massive volumes.
"I wasn't given the position until it was too late to put the necessary reading material on your supply list. Therefore, I'm handing them out now and the school is footing the bill for them. I had to beg for them to let you keep them and not have to turn them in at the end of the term. I want you to be able to write notes in the margins if you'd like."
He finished passing them out and Rose looked at her copy. Les Miserables was embossed in gold across the front of the brown leather cover.
"Who's Victor Hugo?" Angie Archer asked. She was the seventh year Ravenclaw prefect, and Rose had gathered that she was rather disappointed that she hadn't been named Head Girl.
"Anyone else care to answer Miss Archer's question?" Bray asked the class. Rose's hand slowly went into the air and he nodded at her.
"Victor Hugo was a French muggle author in the eighteen hundreds. He's also known for his novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame."
Bray smiled at her in pride.
"Excellent, Miss Weasley. Ten points to Gryffindor."
Angie Archer had a slight pout on her face.
"He was also a dramatist and a poet," Bray continued, "but our focus will be on the work you now hold in your hands. I know it looks daunting, but it's all very important. We have a lot of themes and topics to cover and this book does it the best. There will be a foot long reflection paper due once a week, which you will normally have time to work on during Tuesday's lesson, and then discussion on Thursdays when they are due. You will also have a group project about halfway through term that will be a study on a character of your groups choosing, to be approved by me. I'd like each group to pick someone different. And finally, throughout our time in the book, I want you to pick a main theme and write a final paper on it for the end of term. You can use your reflection papers to build up your material and figure out what you want to cover. It must be longer than your usual reflection papers, but the overall length is up to you. I want you to get out of this what you decide to put into it. The due dates for these are on the board. Any questions so far?"
Everyone looked impressed by their new professor and a few of them were flipping through the pages in the book, but Scorpius had his hand in the air.
"Mr. Malfoy," the professor acknowledged him. He seemed excited that someone had a question.
"Yes sir - "
"Too formal," the professor interrupted. "Try something else."
Scorpius looked taken aback before a contemplative look formed on his face.
"Professor Mac?" he said tentatively. The whole class looked at the young professor in anticipation. His face gave nothing away for a few moments before a smirk appeared.
"That's more like it. Ten points to Slytherin. You may continue with your question."
Scorpius smiled in relief as did most of the class. Even though he came off extremely friendly, the class seemed to have develop a sort of reverent fear of Malcolm Bray. Rose assumed it was a fear of disappointing him more than anything. He was the type of person that inspired people's best efforts.
"I was wondering," Scorpius continued, "other than this being by a muggle author, how does it tie into what you were talking about earlier? About muggles and magic folk being the same. How do you plan on using literature to show that?"
There was a scoff from across the room and Rose turned to see Devon Shepard with a smug look on his face as he whispered into the ear of Alec Turner, who looked like he'd just been told a distasteful joke. Professor Bray either didn't notice or chose to ignore the disturbance.
"I'm so glad you asked, Mr. Malfoy. That's the most important part."
Rose shot Scorpius a smile and he subtly returned it before she focused her attention back on her professor.
"For your papers, you'll pick what you thought was one of the themes of the book, like passion, or revenge, and I want you to find parallels between what you see in the text, and what you've seen in our society. It can be things that have happened in history, things that are going on in our current age, or things that you've witnessed in your own life. Even though this takes place a few centuries ago, I think you'll find that these characters are a lot like the real people you come face to face with everyday, be they muggle, wizard, or witch. And our worlds aren't all that different either. So, that being said, let's crack this giant open and get an overview of the
They were leaving class an hour later and Rose was chattering excitedly about their Muggle Studies assignments. Scorpius seemed excited about it as well, while Al and Erin looked extremely intimidated by the book that was now weighing down their bags.
"I'm so excited to finally read it," Rose was saying. "It's one of my mother's favorites. In fact I think it's where she got my brother's name and-"
"Oi, Malfoy!" The four of them paused and turned to face Devon Shepard as he was leaving the classroom behind them. He had an arrogant look on his face and Alec Turner was trailing cautiously behind him.
"Heard your comments in there. Don't think muggles are equal to wizards do you?"
"What are you on about, Shepard?" Scorpius asked with a resigned posture. Al, Erin, and Rose immediately had their guards up as the other boy approached them.
"Dev-" Alec timidly tried to speak up before his friend continued.
"I hope you're open to learning how wrong your prejudices are. Us Muggleborns are ready to teach you a lesson. Here's hoping we won't have to do it the hard way."
"Shove it, Shepard," Al barked. "He's in Muggle Studies isn't he? That not enough for you? Maybe you should check your own prejudices next time you start accusing someone else of having them."
The Gryffindor boy raised his eyebrows at Al in surprise.
"Sticking up for your boyfriend there Potter? Don't worry," he raised his hands in a gesture of surrender as Al made to lunge towards him. He was held off by Erin who was whispering warnings furiously at him. "I don't judge, unlike some people."
He shot Scorpius another dirty look before walking away, but not before giving him a rough bump to his shoulder. Rose had just about had enough.
"Hey, Shepard!" she hollered at the boy. He turned around and looked her up and down, a smirk on his face.
She ignored his disgusting observation of her and attempted to put on her most authoritative disposition.
"Next time you threaten another student, I'll be very much inclined to give you a detention."
Shepard just laughed as Turner hauled him off towards Gryffindor Tower, but he couldn't help getting one last shot in.
"You won't be able to hide behind the children of war heroes forever Malfoy!"
"Bloody Bastard," Al grumbled as he shook off the grip that Erin still had on his arm. They all continued down the hall and Rose suggested they head to the joint common room instead of their separate ones. She didn't want to be in that slimeball's presence for longer than necessary, so the Gryffindor common room sounded less than appealing. They spent the majority of their walk abusing the Gryffindor boy and Scorpius remained mostly silent, only offering any conversation when he was specifically addressed.
Once they'd made it to the joint common room and were settled around one of the fireplaces, Rose immediately started pulling homework out of her bag.
"I can't believe we already have work due tomorrow," Erin complained, beginning to copy Rose's actions. "Blast that Simpson and his need to make us all suffer."
"Are you joking?" Al asked Erin. "Learning how to cast a Patronus is all you talked about wanting to do last year. Now that we're starting in on the theory of it you complain?"
Erin rolled her eyes at Al, pulling a book from her bag. "Performing one, yes. But you know I'm not the best at defense theory."
"How do you expect to master it without knowing the theory behind it?" Al challenged her.
"I never said it wasn't needed," she countered in annoyance. "I merely said that I-"
"Your problem," Al interrupted, "Is the fact that you'd rather just have it handed to you than actually work for it. Well that's not how the world works. You have to do difficult things and shit happens. So quit complaining about it."
He started flipping through his defense book. Erin's jaw was clenched and her brow severely furrowed in anger.
"I know," she said in a poor attempt at remaining calm, "that the world doesn't work that way. You don't have to remind me how unfair it can be."
Al looked back up at her, a blank expression on his face. Rose and Scorpius watched in silence, unsure of what to make of the situation or if they should interfere, before Al spoke in a cool voice.
"I don't? I never would have guessed." And he turned back to his homework.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means that I'm not sure I've ever met someone quite as cold as you."
Without another word, Erin slammed her book shut and shoved it back into her bag before rising to her feet and storming from the room, with only a "see you at dinner," thrown at Rose.
The redhead turned to her cousin, furious.
"What the hell was that?" she snapped at him. Scorpius didn't look too happy either.
Al sighed and set his book aside before looking between his two friends.
"I'm sorry, I probably shouldn't have done that, but you can't deny, that's the most emotion any of us have seen come out of that girl in weeks," he said, pointing towards the door Erin had stormed out of moments before. At his words, Rose realized that Albus was probably right, not that she approved of his method though.
"That may be, but I don't know if you're going about this the right way," Rose cautioned.
"I don't know," Scorpius said with a shrug. "He may be onto something."
Rose looked at him questioningly.
"Why do you say that? I hardly find it beneficial for her to be mad at Al."
"Well at least her emotions have some kind of outlet," Al defended himself. "I'm just worried she'll keep everything bottled up until she goes crazy. You remember what happened when she had that fling with Carter Brighton? How much she shut down when it ended? She completely lost her shit that summer, and this could be worse than what that Gryffindor put her through. Trust me, Rose," he said before his cousin could interrupt as she was preparing to do. "I think I know what I'm doing."
She shared a look with Scorpius, who seemed inclined to trust Al, before she nodded and they all got back to their homework.
Al and Scorpius sat at the Slytherin table during dinner at Rose's request. She assumed Erin hadn't calmed down yet after her confrontation with Al, and she wanted to have some time alone with her friend. If Al was right, maybe this would spark some emotional venting from her, and she could finally deal with her grandmother's passing.
Erin was already in the Great Hall when Rose arrived, separating from the boys as she entered. The blonde looked up at her as she approached the table, giving her a strained smile. Rose sat across from her best friend, searching her face for any sign of how she was doing.
"I'm sorry I didn't come after you," she apologized. "I figured you needed some time on your own to deal with things."
Erin looked confused at Rose's apology.
"Why would I need to deal with things? There's nothing to deal with."
She started eating the food she'd already dished onto her plate before Rose had arrived. This was what Rose had feared. Al's plan hadn't worked at all. Time for a new tactic.
"Erin, I know you're avoiding how you feel, and it's ok to let yourself fall apart. Let yourself feel your grief, deal with it, and move on. You're bottling everything up and I'm worried about you."
Erin stared blankly at her friend, chewing her food slowly before swallowing, setting her fork down, and draining her goblet of pumpkin juice before addressing Rose.
"How many times do I have to tell you lot that I'm fine? I'm guessing Al's little goading session was an attempt to get me to 'feel' or something?" She said this in a calm voice with a sarcastic edge that made Rose cringe in guilt on behalf of her cousin. "I can bloody well take care of myself. You don't need to prod me into behaving the way you think I ought to behave. We all handle things differently, and if you have a problem with the way I do it, you can bugger off until you think I'm stable enough to be friends with again."
They stared each other down for a solid minute. Rose felt slightly ashamed of herself. Erin was right, to some extent, but she was still worried about her.
"I understand what you're saying," Rose assured her friend, "but that doesn't mean I'm not going to worry about you. So if I agree to stop pestering you, can you agree to at least let me worry from a distance? No more interfering. I promise."
"From any of you," Erin said.
"I know Scorpius will let it be if I ask him," he hadn't pushed her much anyway, "but I can't do anything to control that hotheaded cousin of mine, unfortunately."
Erin gave a slight smile at this.
"I'll deal with Al, no worries. Thanks, by the way. I know you mean well, but I really think I have to figure all this out on my own. Let me deal with my own issues, please."
Rose smiled at Erin, nodding her head as they continued with their meal. A few moments later, they were joined by Louis and Caleb, who were quickly followed by Lily and Hugo. They could see Molly and Jill at the Ravenclaw table, and Lucy and Charlotte at Hufflepuff's.
"Is this national sit-with-your-own-house day?" Rose asked. It was rare for them all to be segregated.
"Well, we saw Al and Scorpius weren't sitting with the two of you, so we figured it wasn't a free for all tonight," Louis explained.
Erin and Rose shared a confused look.
"Why would what we do affect what the rest of you decide?" Erin asked.
"You're the seventh years now," Caleb shrugged. "You pretty much set the tone. That's the way it was last time we had inter-house friendships among the seventh years. Don't you remember what it was like with your cousins and the Scamanders?" he gestured at Rose.
Rose thought back to two years previously and sure enough, if Lorcan and Lysander were at the Gryffindor table, so were all of the other people from other houses they were friends with. If Fred, James, and Roxy were at the Ravenclaw table with the Scamanders, the rest of the Gryffindors joined their friends at their respective house tables. They rarely didn't sit together for a meal, but when the odd moment happened, everyone else stayed with their own house as well. It was surreal for Rose and Erin to realize the position they now held. Not that they had any type of unlimited source of power, but that they now set the example for everyone else. They were looked up to by their friends and family. This was exceptionally difficult for Erin to wrap her mind around, being the youngest in her family.
"Oh," Rose finally said. "Well, you don't have to do things just because it's how we do them."
"We know that, Rosie," Hugo said with a roll of his eyes. "But it's sort of easier this way. Keeps the status quo and all that."
Erin leaned across Lily who sat beside her to address Hugo.
"What happens if we have a falling out with those two Slytherin's over there?" she said, gesturing across the room with her fork and causing Lily to back even further away from her out of fear of losing an eye. "Who's to say we haven't already fallen out with them and that's why they're over there and we're over here?"
Lily shoved Erin back into her seat.
"That," Lily said, "will happen when hell freezes over. Ever since the four of you buddied up in your fifth year, I've never known you to go a day without each of you speaking to each of the other ones."
Erin looked like she was thinking long and hard about Lily's words as Rose couldn't help but agree with her younger cousin.
"I'm pretty sure I didn't talk to Scorpius one day in sixth year, and the only reason I saw Al that day was because he needed to borrow one of my Herbology books. Plus," she almost yelled in Lily's ears at her excitement of what she believed to be a counter to the younger girl's argument. "Al and I had an argument just today. Who says I'm planning on speaking to him again?"
Caleb snorted into his dinner and began choking. Rose had to pound him on the back as Lily asked him if he was alright before turning back to Erin.
"You, my dear friend, will not last a week without talking to my dear brother. I'm willing to bet on it."
She looked incredibly smug at her challenge, knowing Erin was going to take her up on it.
"How much?" Erin asked, her competitive nature coming alive.
Lily thought for a moment before she answered.
"I'm not sure I want to play for money. How about you owe me a favor? To be cashed in at my discretion?"
"Deal," and they shook on it.
"I'm not sure why I'm doing this," Erin told Rose in an undertone as conversation carried on around them. "I lost the last bet I made with a Potter."
"What bet was that?" Rose asked.
"That I'd do better than Al on our Transfiguration exam. The prat beat me and I had to ask my dad about heating and cooling charms on the path to and from the greenhouses," Erin explained.
"You actually asked your dad for a favor on someone else's behalf?" Rose questioned.
Erin merely nodded in response. Rose couldn't think of anything else to say. Erin never went to her father for favors, even for herself.
"He did it, too. I was surprised." she told Rose. "Then again, Al is his favorite, unfortunately, and I told Dad it was for him."
Rose laughed at the less than pleased look on Erin's face.
"Well you have slightly more control over this bet, and not that I want you to ignore my cousin, but I have all sorts of faith in you to remain stubborn."
Erin grinned and thanked her friend.
"Oh! And don't tell Al. It'll be fun to watch him go spare, thinking I'm actually still mad at him."
"You're not then? Still mad at him?" Rose clarified.
"Nah, not really. He means well, I suppose. Even though he's got a funny way of showing it most of the time."
Even though Erin smiled, it didn't quite reach her eyes. Rose reluctantly decided to let it be. This whole letting her friend deal with her own issues was going to be much, much harder than it sounded.
A/N: I have loved Les Miserable since I first read it about four years ago, so I was very happy when it fit in rather well with the story I developed.
Thoughts? Feelings? I've loved hearing from you all! Sorry I haven't been able to respond to every comment. It's been busy recently! Keep sending the love and I will respond!
Chapter 12: Sometimes love don't feel like it should
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Image made by yours truly! And the character of Jean Valjean and the priest are from Victor Hugo's Les Miserable. I don't own them.
"I really don't see the point of this. What's so important about a priest? And I thought you said this book was about a man named John."
"It's Jean Valjean," Rose corrected her cousin with a chuckle. "And I'm sure it will all come into play eventually. How far are you anyway?"
She peered over Al's shoulder from where she sat next to him on the couch in the heads common room.
"You've only read twelve pages! We have to be through the first eighty by Thursday, and you have to make sure you have time to write your paper before then as well. What exactly did you do all week?"
Rose of course knew the answer to this question. Al had spent the past three days trying to get Erin to talk to him. She had held up her end of the bargain with Lily and had not spoken a word to Al since their argument on Tuesday. It was now Friday evening, and Al seemed like he was about to lose his mind.
"I'll have time this weekend," Al grumbled, turning back to his book. It was hard for Rose not to feel sorry for her cousin. He missed Erin, and he really thought she was still angry at him. He'd asked Rose multiple times how he could fix things and it had been hard for her to keep her mouth shut. Giving into her desire to share the truth with her cousin was starting to look more and more appealing.
"She'll come around, Al. She's just going through a hard time. You know that."
"I was just trying to help, honestly," he insisted. Setting his book aside, he turned to face his cousin.
"Should I just give up then? Let her come to me? It's obvious that pushing her doesn't seem like the best option."
"Maybe that would be best. Just give her time. She's bound to start missing you eventually."
Al looked at Rose hopefully.
"You think so?"
"Of course. It's not normal for you to ignore each other for this long. She probably misses you already."
Al grinned sheepishly before going back to his book. Rose shook her head to herself. Mediating between her friends wasn't on the top of her to-do list for this year, especially when she didn't have to.
Unable to stay quiet and actually focus for long, Al tossed his book aside roughly ten minutes later and stretched.
"I can't take anymore of this right now. Where's Scorp? I haven't seen him all afternoon."
Rose's rather temperate mood plummeted at Al's question. The truth of it was, she didn't know for sure where her co-head was. Ever since their encounter with Shepard after Muggle studies on Tuesday, Scorpius hadn't been in a particularly joyful mood. He had taken to spending more time in the Slytherin common room, sometimes without Al, and never telling Rose anything about what he had been up to. It wasn't that he owed Rose an explanation about what he did, but he'd been rather aloof with her whenever she inquired about his day. Never fully committing to where he was or who he had been with. It had her more worried than she maybe should have been, but it was extremely out of character behavior. She scrunched up her face in displeasure at the situation as Al checked his watched and looked around the room, as if he were expecting his best friend to just appear out of nowhere.
"He wandered off after breakfast this morning and I haven't seen him since, other than during class. Did he tell you what he was planning to do today?" She tried not to sound too eager for information.
Al just shrugged and slumped back into the couch. "Nope. He did the same thing after lunch and I haven't seen him since we got out of potions. He wandered off then too."
They were both lost in thought for a moment. Rose tried to go back to reading her book but couldn't focus. Her brow remained furrowed and her eyes stared straight ahead without seeing.
"Are you worried about him?"
The question startled Rose and she glanced at her cousin, who had apparently been watching her. She looked at Al, an eyebrow raised in question, and he rolled his eyes at her.
"I'm not thick, Rose. I can tell you've been on edge since term started when it comes to Scorpius. I get that things have been a little tense because of what Shepard did the other day, but I also know something happened on the train."
"It was pretty obvious it didn't go splendidly just based on the fact that you didn't gush about how thrilling it was, not to mention you watched him like a hawk the whole rest of the ride and said basically nothing. What happened? Is something going on between you two that I should know about?"
Rose's eyes widened at his question.
"Going on between us?"
"I know it's not outside the realm of possibilities that there are parts of your friendship that don't include me. Did you have a fight about something?"
Rose was relieved that he didn't seem to be hinting at what she herself had no desire to discuss at all, especially with how Scorpius had been acting lately. She could feel him getting further away, so admitting any feelings she might have to her cousin didn't seem like the best idea. It was looking more and more like nothing would come of them.
"No, we didn't fight. Let's just say that our little hallway incident with Shepard wasn't the first time he'd decided to speak his mind."
Al's face hardened in anger.
"You're fucking kidding me. What happened?"
"Questioned Scorpius's authority in front of all the other students!" Rose said in indignation. Apparently her feelings on the matter had yet to fade.
"As he was giving out instructions and doing a wonderful job showing leadership by the way. I know we didn't really talk about the meeting but he really did brilliantly. He even kept his cool after Shepard accused him of bribing the headmistress for the job."
Al clenched his fists and looked as if he were restraining himself from tearing apart the room.
"Bastard. Did he say anything else?"
"Called him death eater scum. Ruddy prat."
Unable to remain seated, Al started pacing in front of the fire.
"No wonder he got to him so much the other day. That little shit head."
Rose was about to respond when the portrait swung open and Scorpius walked in.
"And where the hell have you been?" Al practically yelled at him.
Scorpius hadn't noticed his friends right away and started at Al's exclamation. He gave Rose a questioning look and a small smile which she didn't return.
"Sorry, Mum. Can't a bloke spend some time in the library?" His words dripped with sarcasm as he placed his bag on the floor and flopped into the armchair closest to him.
"Sorry," Al mumbled, "I just haven't seen much of you this week."
"Have I been neglecting you, dear? I do apologize." He gave Al a teasing grin, who merely rolled his eyes and resumed his position on the couch. The jab even brought a smile out of Rose. Scorpius seemed to be doing just fine, at least at the present moment.
"Erin's been avoiding him too, so you'll have to excuse my cousin. He's a little emotionally vulnerable at the moment."
"I hate it when the two of you gang up on me," Al grumbled as Rose and Scorpius shared a laugh.
"I'm not avoiding you," Scorpius assured him. "I just have a lot more on my plate this year, being Head Boy and all."
"I know, I know," Al said. "Rose's right. I'm letting all this Erin stuff get to me. How're you doing though, mate? You may not be ignoring me but I still haven't seen you much this week."
Scorpius shrugged noncommittally, not making eye contact with either of his friends.
"I've been pretty busy, like I said. And you'll see me more once practice starts up."
The boys began talking about Quidditch while Rose went back to her book, her previous conversation with her cousin forgotten in the comfortable and familiar atmosphere. It was common for her to study with Quidditch conversation as background noise.
They all headed to dinner together about an hour later, and the boys joined Rose at the Gryffindor table. Louis and Caleb were already there, as well as Bobby and Hugo. They were talking Quidditch as well.
"Might want to stuff it now lads, if you don't want us hearing your strategies that is," Al quipped. He and Scorpius sat with the two fourth year boys and Rose took the spot across from them and next to the two fifth years.
"We were actually talking about the league," Caleb informed them. "Did you hear about what the Arrows did against Puddlemere?"
"James wrote me describing the whole thing in vivid detail," Al said.
"I thought Appleby wouldn't stand a chance this year," Hugo enthused.
"Wait, what happened?"
Everyone looked at Scorpius in something close to surprise. All except Al, who filled him in.
"Puddlemere only won by twenty once they caught the snitch. The Arrows have a new Chaser who's a lot better than everyone expected. I got the letter this morning and didn't read it til after you'd run off at the end of lunch."
It was odd for one of them to know something of this nature and not the other. The boys didn't pay this much mind and went back to their discussion on Quidditch, but Rose was just reminded again that Scorpius hadn't been around as much as he normally was.
"What worries me is - Erin!" Al exclaimed.
Rose rolled her eyes and heaved a sigh at her cousin.
"Yes, Al, we know. Can't you let it be? She'll talk to you when she's good and ready."
"No, she's -"
"Budge up, Rosie."
Rose looked over her shoulder to see her best friend, who'd apparently decided to join them for dinner.
"I was wondering if you'd be coming, seeing as you're ignoring my cousin and all," Rose commented as she moved closer to Caleb to make room for Erin.
"Yes, well, it's not really worth the effort."
"Does that mean you're talking to me again?"
"Are you up for going to visit Alice tomorrow?" Erin asked Rose, completely ignoring Albus, much to his displeasure. "She's invited us for lunch."
"But it's not a Hogsmeade weekend."
Erin shot a look at Hugo, who had inserted himself in their conversation, but it was Al who responded.
"Seventh years are allowed to go in every other weekend, not just the designated Hogsmeade ones."
"What? How come I didn't know that?" Hugo asked his sister.
"I'm almost positive it's come up before. You just don't pay attention to the things I say that have nothing to do with you."
"She's got a point."
"Nobody asked you, Finnigan."
"Anyway," Erin interrupted. "How about it? Scorpius, you're more than welcome to come too."
"I have plans, thanks though."
This time, everyone did look at Scorpius in surprise.
"With who?" Louis asked.
"I do have other friends, you know."
"No you don't," Hugo bluntly pointed out. Al was quick to reach behind Scorpius and slap his cousin on the back of the head.
"It's none of your business anyway, Weasley. I just have other plans, that's all."
He returned to his meal, but Hugo wasn't done making snippy comments.
"You know, it's very confusing when you refer to one of us as 'Weasley,' seeing as there are three of us sitting right here."
"Rose, permission to punch your brother?"
"I'm inclined to give it to you."
Hugo raised his hands in defeat and returned to his meal with a smirk on his face.
"Well then," Erin said, returning to the original conversation. "I guess it'll be a girls luncheon. That'll be nice."
"Oi! What's your problem Longbottom?" Al now looked rather furious with Erin's dismissal of his presence. She lazily made eye contact with him, looking bored.
"I know I upset you the other day, but you know I only want what's best for you. I've always been there for you and done nothing but look after you our entire lives. You haven't always been a saint to me either but I've done my best to forgive you for the shite you've put me through. So would you stop being such a bitch about all of this?"
Erin was now fuming. Rose was mad at Albus herself. He may be right about a lot of what he said, but he definitely didn't have to be such an arse about it. However, it did seem that his method was about to get him exactly what he wanted as Erin opened her mouth and let him have it.
"How dare you call me a bitch you idiotic prick. You call this always being there for me? You can't mean to tell me that you actually give a fuck about my feelings. You've done enough damage to them that I'd be a fool to let you near them ever again. And take care of me? I've never asked you to do that nor have I ever needed you to. As for the shite I've put you through, I'm sure you've deserved every fucking minute of it."
She violently stood and collected the school bag she had brought with her, before getting one last word in to a still livid looking Albus.
"If you'd been patient with me, like you never have been, I wouldn't have ignored you forever, you know. I thought you were decent enough to be forgiven eventually. Guess I was wrong."
Al's face was starting to lose it's hard edge as he realized she was about to walk away. She quickly told Rose she'd see her tomorrow before throwing a short wave to everyone else and running from the Great Hall.
"You daft idiot, Al. Why? Why did you think anything that you just said was a good idea?"
If anyone else had said this, Al would've snapped at them. But Bobby Finnigan was the type of person that you could not easily be mad at, especially when they spoke the truth to you. There was an awkward moment of silence before Rose spoke up.
"I told you to give it time, Al. I told you she'd come to you when she was good and ready. You had to push her, didn't you? This is about her, not you. And everything you just said to her was entirely about you."
"I know, Rosie! I know that. It's pretty bloody obvious I made a mistake. Get off my back and let me be miserable in peace, will you?"
He poked at his food and everyone let him be, but the worst thing about awkward moments during meals is that if you aren't done eating, you can't just get up and leave. Unless you'd rather be anywhere but there, hungry or not. Nobody seemed to have had their fill enough to leave, so the next few minutes were spent in uncomfortable silence that was only broken when Anastasia Bennett slid in beside Louis.
"Hey Lou, any plans for the weekend?"
The girl had long, slick, chestnut hair that she was flirtatiously twirling around her finger. Her eyes were blinking a mile a minute as she bit her lip in a nervous fashion. Louis looked uncomfortable as the other boys tried to hide their chuckles at his expense.
"Oh, you know, just practicing some Quidditch, maybe getting some homework done."
She let out a giggle and rested her hand on his arm.
"Sounds awfully boring if you ask me. But if you insist on being the studious type, perhaps you need a study partner?"
Louis awkwardly cleared his throat as he searched for a way to respond. He was a rather attractive bloke and the summer had been good to him. Not to mention the Veela blood that drew women to him through no effort on his part. Throughout their first week, Rose had seen half a dozen girls approach Louis in this way. And she only saw him at mealtimes, so she couldn't imagine how often he had to put up with this.
"Well, I usually study with Caleb. And sometimes Molly and Jill, since we're all in the same year. You're in fifth though, right?"
For reasons unbeknownst to Rose, this made the girl blush and giggle yet again.
"That's right. I'm in your cousin Lily's year."
"You're also in her seat."
Everyone looked up to see the youngest Potter had shown up with Charlotte Bray in tow, and was glowering over Anastasia's shoulder. It was fairly well known that, despite sharing a dormitory for the fifth year in a row, the two had never gotten along. Lily crossed her arms and looked expectantly at her dormmate.
"Do you mind?"
Anastasia gave Lily a sarcastic smile and turned back to Louis.
"Well, if you change your mind."
She slowly rose from the table and blew a kiss at Louis before walking away, not sparing Lily another glance.
"What a sleaze," Lily huffed as she and Charlotte sat down. "Sorry, Lou. She didn't contaminate you too much did she?"
Louis shook his head, relieved to be rid of the other girl's presence.
"Thanks Lily, I owe you one."
"You're welcome. So, what did I miss?"
Everyone went quiet again as they remembered what had happened a few minutes earlier. Al focused on his food and everyone else shared uncertain looks. Nothing could get by Lily that easily, and she quickly picked up on the mood - her brother's in particular.
"Wow, something big then?" Charlotte asked, also noticing the tense atmosphere around the table.
"Did Al do something dreadful?"
"Shut up, Lily."
She ignored her brother and looked around at everyone else. No one seemed to want to talk. With Al being so on edge, they weren't exactly keen to throw him under the bus. He'd already put himself through enough that evening. Lily scrutinized them, trying to find her weakest link. Rose and Scorpius were a no-go. They were his best friends and didn't seem likely to crack. Hugo and Louis were oddly loyal to their older cousin, and Bobby was too good a bloke to do anything unkind. That left Caleb.
"Hey, Wood. Spill."
His eyes widened at being singled out and Caleb looked nervously between the two Potters. One was giving him a soft smile and batting her eyes, while the other was glaring daggers. The other boys wore bemused expressions. None of them believed for a second that Lily could get strong, masculine Caleb Wood to break, so they were all shocked to watch him crumble a moment later.
"Al may have yelled some things at Erin and she may have screamed some things back at him."
The dropped jaws and sneers he received from his friends caused him to turn red in shame. Lily looked extremely pleased before she fully comprehended what he said.
"Wait, what? Erin actually talked to you?" she asked her brother.
"If you can call it that, yeah. Why?"
"Because that means she owes me big time. Ha!" Lily grabbed a few rolls and a chicken leg before sprinting from the room.
"What the bloody hell did that mean?" Al asked the table at large. None of the boys seemed to have a clue, Charlotte had quickly followed after Lily, and Rose's silence was a dead giveaway, unfortunately for her. All the boys looked at her expectantly as she prolonged the inevitable by sipping her pumpkin juice. Finally setting her empty goblet aside, she told Al the truth.
"The main reason she hadn't said anything to you sooner, was because Lily bet Erin that she couldn't go a week without speaking to you. Turns out she was right, but I guess you already know that."
Al's face went from distraught to livid as he spoke.
"You mean to tell me that she wasn't all that angry with me, and that my prat of a little sister stuck her nose in my business and lost me my best friend in the process?"
"Looks that way, doesn't it?"
Hugo earned a smack on the head from Scorpius for that one.
Al's previously furious expression had all but disappeared, and Rose wasn't sure if she'd ever seen him look so pathetic. He was monstrously angry with his sister, but he couldn't believe he'd actually pushed Erin even further away when she wasn't all that mad at him to begin with. He hardened his expression and rose to leave.
"Why didn't you say anything, Rose? You knew all along? I've been asking you for ages how to fix this!"
"And I told you to let it be! I couldn't betray her trust when she asked me not to say anything."
"Al, mate, calm down."
"No, Scor. I've had enough of this. I can't believe any of you would do that to me, Rose."
He stormed out of the Great Hall without looking back.
"I'll go talk to him," Scorpius assured a distraught Rose. He reached across the table and squeezed her hand before exiting the Great Hall and going after his best friend.
"We should be going too. We have to meet the girls in the Library," said Caleb as he and Louis also rose to leave. Rose was soon left with just Hugo and Bobby as the crowd in the Great Hall started to dwindle around them.
"Rose, it'll all be alright," Bobby assured her. "It might be a little more complicated between Al and Erin, but your part in this is one of those things that isn't exactly black or white. It's rather gray, if you ask me. You did right by your friend by keeping your promise to her, and you did give Al the advice he needed. Knowing Al, he might've flown off the handle at her even if he did know the truth. That's not on you."
Hugo nodded along as his friend spoke.
"He's right, Ro. Chin up. It'll blow over soon."
Rose gave the younger boys a small smile in gratitude, already feeling slightly better.
"Thanks. I know you're right. And I hope for all our sakes that my best friends are able to work things out before this gets really messy."
On Saturday, Rose got up early to meet Erin for breakfast. They had some shopping they wanted to do in Hogsmeade before going over to Alice's for lunch and planned to get an early start. Rose also had a feeling that Erin wanted to do everything in her power to avoid Albus, who was never much of an early riser on the weekends.
When she'd finished dinner the previous evening, Rose had gone to find Erin. When she did, Erin was more visibly upset than Rose expected. She was down underneath the castle where the boats that bring the first years dock. It was a rather eerie place, with walls that echoed and were covered in slime. She and Erin had rediscovered it in their third year after Erin had gotten into a fit in front of everyone in the Great Hall when her dad wouldn't let her spend the Easter Holidays with Rose and her family, insisting that she spend it with her own. Erin been going through a season of life where it was impossible for her to get along with her older brother and had claimed she "wanted nothing to do with that uptight prat." Professor Longbottom wasn't having it, and took away her Hogsmeade privileges for the following weekend. Rose and Erin had spent the day exploring the castle and wandering the grounds when they'd happened upon the docks. It became their place to go when either one of them needed to get away. They hadn't even told the boys about it. Scorpius was still just Al's friend to them at the time, and they'd decided to keep it their secret as the years went on and the friendships changed, just incase they ever needed something that was just theirs. Rose was thankful that they had.
As they sat there with their feet dangling over the water, Erin talked in a way that Rose had wanted her to for weeks. She talked about her grandmother and how much she missed her; about how she really was having a hard time with it even though she'd been denying it. She'd begrudgingly admitted that Al had been right all along and turns out she did need an emotional push to get over her hurdle.
"Unfortunately for him, he had to go and damage our friendship in the process so he can't even rub it in my face that he was right."
She sniffled and rubbed at her eyes.
"I hate him. I really hate him."
Rose put her arm around her friend, letting Erin rest her head on her shoulder.
"But you don't. Not really, right?"
Erin let out a heavy sigh and sat up, grabbing a small stone that lay beside her and hurling it into the water.
"I'm not so sure this time. I guess I don't, but he's always a right prick to me. Why should I care about him if he refuses to care about me?"
"Don't be daft, Erin. You know he wouldn't try so hard if he didn't care about you."
"Yes, well, he doesn't know how to show it very well. I know he's always so kind and caring with you and your cousins -"
Erin gave Rose a look at her interruption and the redhead signaled for her to continue.
"But, I rarely get any of that. I get the tough exterior that he puts on for everyone else. Maybe once in awhile I get a bit of his softer side, but it's not enough to make me secure in our friendship to the point where I can say 'don't worry, it's ok, I know he only does it cause he cares.'"
Rose had tried to convince Erin otherwise, but her insecurities were determined to get the better of her. Hopefully their shopping trip and time with Alice would do her some good and give her some much needed space. She already had a bit more of a spring in her step as they made their way from the castle into the village. It was still rather warm out but it was early so the day wasn't at it's peak temperature yet, and there was a nice cool breeze in the air that promised the coming autumn.
They wandered around a few different shops as Erin looked for a housewarming gift for her sister. She eventually decided on a biscuit jar in the shape of a brown bunny, Alice's favorite animal. Rose had bought a carton of biscuits to fill it with at the bakery in town.
Alice's flat was above The Three Broomsticks, so the girls wandered around to the back entrance right around lunchtime. Since it wasn't an actual Hogwarts weekend, the village was rather quiet save for the locals and a few other seventh years wandering around. Rose spotted Albus walking into Weasley Wizard Wheezes' Hogsmeade branch and quickly diverted Erin before they could be spotted.
They gave Alice her gifts as they entered, and she told them to make themselves at home as she put the finishing touches on lunch. For only being there for a few weeks, she was already very settled. The flat felt like a cozy log cabin. There was a comfortable sized seating area with a large fireplace surrounded by a loveseat and two armchairs. A bar with two stools under it separated the kitchen from the sitting room, and a table and chairs on the far end of the flat by a door lead to the bedroom suite. She'd given the place a feminine touch with flowers on the mantel, throw pillows on the furniture, and a floral patterned carpet spanning most of the sitting room floor.
As they ate, Alice filled them in on how things were going with the pub. She'd been in a bit of a funk for the past few years and it was encouraging to both Erin and Rose to see that she found so much joy in her new situation.
"The locals have already started to take to me! It can be hard going from someone who they've known for so long to someone who looks like they haven't been out of Hogwarts for more than a handful of years, which is actually the case. But the rest of the staff has been so helpful and everyone came around very quickly when Rosmerta gave a little introduction speech for me. She stayed on the first week til I got settled and made sure to give anyone who gave me a hard time a good talking to."
She was beaming as she regaled them with tales of the locals and all of the responsibilities she now had.
"It's strange doing all of the things that used to be Mum's job when I worked at the Leaky, but I'm also learning a lot about what she did that works for me, as well as figuring out my own way to get things done."
"Sounds like it's been going brilliantly, Ally," Erin enthused. "Is there anyone around who's your age though? Do you get to have any social life?"
"Well, one of the other barmaids is in her upper twenties but she has a kid and she tries to spend every spare minute she has with him. We get along well when we work together though. The other workers have been around for a long time so it's a bit odd to be the boss of people so much older than me."
"Any interesting patrons though? Any nice boys show up?" Rose teased as she and Erin grinned. Alice blushed and rolled her eyes at the younger girls.
"It's only been a few weeks. Even if there was someone, I wouldn't know him that well yet, would I?"
"Does that mean there is someone?"
Alice chuckled at her sister as she stood to start clearing the table.
"Erin, whether there is a bloke I've taken a fancy to or not, it's not the right time for that. I'm just getting settled and I want to make sure I'm in a good place before I start to consider anything like that."
Rose and Erin grabbed their plates and followed Alice into the kitchen.
"Sounds like you're avoiding the question," Erin teased.
Alice just gave her a pointed look before ignoring her.
"I suppose that makes sense, though" Rose said, setting her plate on the bar next to Erin's as they both sat on the stools. "Make sure you've got yourself all sorted out before you attempt to sort anything out with someone else."
"Exactly. I haven't really dated since Hogwarts either so I'm also slightly terrified of what's out there."
"They're all idiots. Every one of them," Erin grumbled.
Alice shared a questioning look with Rose before putting away the last of the food and returning to lean on the bar across from her sister.
"What's he done now?"
Erin gave Alice a confused look. "Who?"
"Albus, of course. Anytime you're pissed about boys, it's usually because he's done something stupid that's upset you. Am I wrong?"
"No," Erin said with a sour look. "He's being as big of a prat as ever. Yelled at me in front of the whole Great Hall. Called me a bitch too."
Alice didn't look too pleased with this news.
"Why'd he yell at you?"
Erin sighed and launched into the whole story - how he'd gotten on her case earlier in the week, how Lily had talked her into ignoring him, and how he'd gone on about how much he cared and did for her, and how she ought to forgive him since he'd always forgiven her.
"I don't think I can, though. Not this time. I need to look after myself, like you said. That goes for any relationship, right?" she asked her sister, who nodded.
"Absolutely. But he is one of your oldest friends. I like to think I know Al pretty well and no matter what you've been through together, I still believe he cares about you."
"Maybe so," Erin agreed. "But I don't think it's the same way I care about him."
Erin looked very upset as she spoke. She even looked like she might be close to tears. Rose wasn't entirely sure she'd ever seen Erin quite this affected by anything her cousin had done before.
"Erin, why is it bothering you so much this time? I understand that he wasn't exactly nice to you, but he does care about you."
A small tear fell from the corner of Erin's eye and she hastily wiped it away.
"I know that. I know he's only trying to be my friend, but…"
She shared a hesitant look with her sister, who seemed confused before it dawned on her.
"You like him, don't you?"
Rose's eyes widened at Alice's words and she turned to her best friend in surprise.
"What's it matter if I do?" Erin said in defeat. "I'd be an idiot if I did, and he definitely doesn't feel that way about me."
"Are you sure though?" Rose asked, coming out of her state of shock. Thinking about it, she shouldn't be all that surprised by the turn the conversation had taken. And she'd always suspected that Al had a thing for Erin.
"Please. He's never shown any sign of thinking of me as more than a friend. Besides, I never said I liked him. Am I confused about how I feel? Sure, but he's not doing himself any favors if he does happen to like me."
"Fair point," Alice conceded. "What do you think, Rose? You probably know Al better than anyone."
Rose thought for a moment as the Longbottom sisters waited for her answer. In truth, Rose had a strong feeling that Al and Erin actually had very similar feelings for each other. But meddling was definitely something she knew she shouldn't do.
"I think you need to work out your friendship before you try to sort out anything else."
Alice nodded in agreement and Erin gave them both a small, slightly disgruntled smile.
"Fine, you're probably right. And for the record, I never admitted to anything and this conversation never leaves this room. Now can we talk about something other than boys, please?"
A/N: Drama, drama, drama. Happy reading :)