Chapter 9 : Tell me why are you still so afraid?
| ||Rating: 15+||Chapter Reviews: 2|
Background: Font color:
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!
Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Other Similar Stories