Chapter 45 : How Far We've Come
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It tended to make me do stupid things – like cry my eyes out in Myrtle’s bathroom or punch brick walls – and even made me crazy enough to believe that I could somehow turn my life around by pretending to date Scorpius Malfoy.
But life, I’ve discovered, is always changing. Life never stops. You as a person can say “stop, hold on, I need a break,” but the world keeps spinning. Cars still drive down the street past your house. The obnoxious newscaster on the telly still smiles with fake enthusiasm as she reports on yet another ‘surprising murder’. Somewhere around the world, people are waking up and going to sleep, eating breakfast and eating dinner, dying and being born.
The world doesn’t stop just because I want it to. Life doesn’t stop just because something bad has happened. And me, I’ve learned that I can’t stop either. Life doesn’t take a break, why should I?
Life is about moments. Each little moment of your life shapes you as a person and helps to define you. Everyone makes mistakes. Life is about learning from your mistakes and growing from them. Life is about falling down, but having the strength to get back up again. Life is about each moment. All the time we spend dwelling in the past are only wasted moments of our future.
I’d learned my lesson well that in life, you cannot dwell on the things you cannot change. Sure, it hurts. It hurts so badly sometimes that you want to give up. Throw in the cards, declare yourself defeated, and never see the light of day again. But life doesn’t work that way. Yes, we all fall sometimes. The best thing, I’ve decided, is to just pick up the pieces again. Dust yourself off. Cry a bit (or a lot) along the way. But move on.
It’s never easy. It’s never fair. But that’s just how life is. You have to make the best of what you’ve been given. It’s all you have.
“Hey Rosie, you almost ready to go?” Hugo asked, poking his head of unruly hair around the doorframe.
“Almost,” I grunted, wincing slightly as I almost gave myself a paper cut on the edge of the box I was trying to squeeze half my closet into.
I sighed and blew my bangs out of my eyes, grabbing my wand out of my back pocket and pointing it at the box. There was a loud bang and a puff of smoke and I instantly stumbled back, shielding my head with my arms. When the smoke cleared, I glanced warily back at the box to see it looking essentially the same, although a pair of bright blue socks that lay on the top seemed to be twitching.
“Bloody hell,” I muttered, striding back over to the box. “Can’t you just close?”
I stared down at it, as if waiting for it to answer me, but of course it didn’t. I kicked it halfheartedly and then moved the flaps out of the way before pouncing on it with something that sounded vaguely like a mermish war cry.
I stamped on it. I pummeled it with my fists. And when neither of those worked I turned around and did a jump-sit on it. The box apparently admitted defeat because it crumpled beneath me and I landed rather painfully in a downpour of clothes that exploded out of the box.
“Bloody hell,” I moaned, touching my head gingerly where it had hit the bare wooden floor and wiggling my toes to make sure my legs were still attached.
“Why is it that every time I see you, you’ve managed to inflict some new sort of pain on yourself?”
I arched my back up so that I could look at whoever was talking to me from the doorway and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to roll my eyes or jump up and run over to him. Scorpius was leaning casually against the doorframe, his expression something between amused and exasperated.
“Bad timing?” I offered up sheepishly, and he laughed, pushing off from the frame and striding into the room.
He offered his hand down to me and I gratefully accepted it, pulling myself up with a groan and dusting myself off. He just waited and smirked down at me and I let myself slowly look up at him when I was done, feeling rather embarrassed. One would have thought that after all of this time that I would have grown used to embarrassing myself in front of him, but I don’t think it’s something I’ll ever get over. He reached into his jeans pocket and pulled out his wand, pointing it wordlessly at the carnage I had created and I watched as the box reassembled itself and my clothes folded themselves and lay neatly in the box.
“Unfair,” I muttered and he laughed again, wrapping his arm around my waist and pulling me swiftly to him. I crossed my arms over my chest and pouted. He kissed the side of my jaw though and I relented, enjoying the feeling of being so close to him again. Ever since our summer vacation had started two weeks ago, I’d barely seen him. I’d spent nearly every waking moment since I’d gotten home packing. In all of the craziness that had happened over the past few months, I’d practically forgotten about the fact that my father was selling the house.
I’d never realized how much junk I had. When I cleaned out under my bed two days ago, I was shocked to find the broomstick I’d accused James of stealing a few years ago, a calligraphy set, and a fishbowl that I still did not understand why I had. I’d never even owned a fish. My closet had been worse, seeing as I found I still had clothes in there that had fit me when I was about 8 and I had a lot of fun throwing away clothes that I knew Noel would approve of, just to spite her for dressing me up all the time. She wasn’t there when I did that, nor did she know that I’d thrown them away, but it was the thought that counted.
“How did you get up here?”
“Your dad was busy talking with your Muggle neighbor about the move while trying to get all the boxes to shrink unnoticeably so that they would fit in the car. I just walked in the front door.”
“That’s surprising,” I replied. “My dad usually hates talking to the neighbors. Says its Mum’s job. He’s always afraid he’ll let something slip.”
“You want to know what is surprising,” he said, grinning wolfishly, “seeing your room so clean.”
I laughed and hit him playfully on the arm, but I couldn’t help but look wistfully around my bare room. It was shocking to think that such a short time ago there were piles of clothes all over the floor, and spare shoes on the windowsill, and an unmade bed, and a warped, paper covered desk. A pang of sadness washed through me as I realized that really everything about my previous life had changed. Even my room – my messy, cluttered, but completely me haven was now just an empty room. The walls were a bare white and the floors were a dusty wood.
“Everything’s changing,” I whispered quietly and I felt his fingers press into my side supportively.
“Change isn’t always bad,” he pointed out. “And sometimes it’s self inflicted. Take your hair for instance-“
I reached up self-consciously and ran my fingers through my freshly cut hair, still not over the feeling of my fingers sliding through nothing but air a little bit past my chin. It had been my mother’s idea, or well, she’d asked me why I didn’t cut my hair more often, and the idea had just sort of stuck. I’d gone out yesterday to the local Muggle barber early in the morning and told the woman who worked there that I wanted it shorter. She cut it off bit by bit until I found something that I liked, and I had to admit, I was rather fond of my new bob.
“Do you like it?” I asked nervously, biting my bottom lip in apprehension. I hadn’t even really thought about what Scorpius would think of it. I’d just been determined to change my look a little bit to match the way I’d been feeling recently.
He nodded, his eyes darkening slightly with lust and he grinned. “It looks sexy.”
I smirked up at him and wrapped my arms around his neck and he pressed his lips to mine gently twice and then I pulled away. “Really?”
“Would I lie to you?” he asked huskily and I didn’t have time to answer because he pulled me to him again and kissed me harder. I laughed against his lips when I felt one of his hands slip up inside my shirt and I pushed against this chest hard. I felt him sigh and then he pulled away, instead choosing to kiss the side of my neck.
“Scorpius, my dad could come up here any moment,” I reminded him, biting my lip to stop myself from squealing as his teeth grazed the base of my throat. “Or Hugo-“
“Did someone say my name?” Hugo asked, sticking his head back into my room, his big green eyes nearly bugging out in shock.
Scorpius laughed and then straightened up, and I tugged the bottom of my shirt down in embarrassment, my cheeks flaming a bright red. Talk about bad timing.
“What did I say about abstinence?” Hugo cried, stepping fully into the room and crossing his arms over his chest angrily.
“Too late for that,” Scorpius muttered and I snorted and Hugo turned a shade that was oddly purple and yet pale at the same time.
“You and Rose and you and my sister and-“ Hugo stuttered, seemingly unable to understand the concept.
“Yes, Hugo,” I snapped, turning an even brighter red but feeling slightly put out. Was it really that hard to believe?
The color slowly returned to his face and his eyes returned to their normal size and he grinned at Scorpius. “Good job mate,” he said, reaching out and giving Scorpius a high five. “I thought she was going to make you wait until marriage.”
Scorpius laughed and said something else, but I didn’t hear it because I was too busy trying to figure out what demon had just possessed my little brother. Where the hell did that come from? One moment lecturing us on abstinence and the next congratulating my boyfriend. That boy was seriously messed up in the head.
“Are you lot almost ready to go?”
I jumped slightly at the sound of the new voice and looked up to see my father standing in the doorway. Over the past three months since he had gotten out of the hospital, he really had made vast improvements on himself. For starters, he was always clean shaven and he had cut his hair shorter and more professionally. The healers had put him on a strict new diet to prevent the buildup of plaque in his arteries again and combined with the new exercise regimen Uncle Harry was helping him with, he had lost probably about 45 pounds. The most noticeable and my favorite thing that had changed though was now there seemed to be a bit of the old sparkle in his pale blue eyes and the sides of his mouth quirked up in a small smile.
He was looking around at the three of us inquisitively, not at all looking surprised about seeing Scorpius there, although I could sense the tension in his shoulders when his eyes passed over him. That too, had slightly changed over the past three months. It was obvious that my dad still didn’t like Scorpius, but he at least made an attempt to act more civil towards him. It was all I could ask for, I suppose.
“Go where?” Hugo asked.
“Nana Molly’s birthday party,” I told him, feeling slightly horrible about forgetting that we even had to go.
“How old is she now?” he asked and Dad and I both just shrugged.
“Old,” he told Hugo and we all laughed. “You’re ready to go then?”
“Just finished packing the last box,” I replied, gesturing to the box behind me.
“Me too,” Hugo added. “I was just bringing it out to the car.”
“Well hurry up and let’s bring it down. Nana will never forgive us if we’re late again. Rose, is that box coming with me, or are you going to Apparate it over to your mum’s?” There was still a taste of that old bitterness in his voice at the mention of my mother and I couldn’t help but internally cringe a bit. No matter how well he was doing, I doubted that he would ever fully lose that hard bitterness.
I glanced back at the box of clothes and nodded. “That one goes to Mum’s,” I told him, looking down at the floorboards and didn’t need to look up to know he was slightly disappointed. The way I had divided my possessions, most of them were going to my new room in my mum’s new flat in London. But the same thing had happened with Hugo, only in the opposite way.
We’d all decided as a family that it was probably best to stick with the custody agreement for this summer. I would get to visit my father every other weekend and every Wednesday night, and Hugo came to my mum’s on the other weekends and every Tuesday night. I liked the arrangement actually – while my dad and I were getting along much better now, things were still awkward. We were trying to take things slowly. The best way to do that was probably not to be forced together all the time.
“Ok, well you should take it over there, then,” he said quietly, tapping anxiously on the wooden doorframe. “I’ll help Hugo fit his last box in the car, and then we’ve got to drive over to the new house. Shall we meet you at the Burrow?”
“Sounds like a plan,” I replied just as quietly, glancing up to see him looking rather sadly around my empty room.
“Come on Hugh,” my dad called, pushing away from the door and staring down the hallway towards my brother’s room.
Hugo looked back at me sadly for a moment and then loped wordlessly out of the room, leaving me alone with Scorpius again. I sighed loudly and then pushed the door closed, leaning back against it wearily. This whole moving thing was seriously wearing on me. I wanted to be excited, I really did. My mum was looking forward to helping me completely redo my room, but honestly I had no idea what I wanted. Well, yes I did. I wanted my old room. I just wanted to pick it up and transplant it into my new flat. And transplant it into my new room at my dad’s too.
“Are you okay?” Scorpius asked after a few minutes of me not saying anything and I nodded, knowing that I was just wallowing in self-pity for a moment.
It had become a goal of mine after that day in the hospital to try my best to not feel sorry for myself anymore. After hearing about what it had done to my father, I was terrified to think that one day that could be me. One day, I might stop seeing the silver-lining to whatever clouds darkened my path. One day I might find myself wondering what the point of it all was. One day, I might look at my own little daughter and see the same things my father had seen in me. The pang of agony that tore through my chest at the thought was almost unbearable and I feared for that unmade little girl already. No, I decided, I would never do that to her. Or to him, if one day I was given the gift of a son.
Me, as a mother. Wow, that thought was almost scarier than the idea of me mistreating one of my children.
“Just feeling sorry for myself,” I told him quietly.
“Well stop it,” he replied and I could hear the subtle sarcasm in his voice.
“Make it go away,” I whined and he laughed, stepping forward and kissing me gently on the forehead.
“How can I do that?”
“Take that box over to my mum’s flat,” I answered, pointing sluggishly over at the box he had fixed and he laughed.
He nodded understandingly and pushed away from me, loping over to the box and picking it up effortlessly. I watched him silently and opened the door for him and he disappeared out into the hallway. I listened to the sound of his muffled footsteps thudding down the carpeted stairs and then the sound of his shoes squeaking on the hardwood floors of the hallway and the kitchen. The door opened and then shut again and I heard the telltale ‘pop’ of him apparating.
The door opened again and I heard the sound of our car’s engine roar to life and then the clicking sounds of the doors opening. I heard my father swear loudly and then the doors slammed and there was the telltale sound of the rubber wheels grinding against the pavement. I listened until the car too was out of hearing range and then ran my hand over my face wearily, cringing slightly as my fingers brushed the short ends of my hair. I really wasn’t used to that. I had used to be so adamant about having long hair – and then I’d gone and cut it all off on a whim.
But this was a new beginning, right? And if I was going to be starting a completely new life, I might as well do it thoroughly.
With that thought in mind I pushed away from the wall and walked quietly into the middle of my completely empty room, listening to nothing but the enormously loud and oppressing sound of silence. The white walls loomed down around me, looking slightly whiter in places where I’d had posters or furniture. My closet was for the first time in my life clean – but only because it was completely empty. Even my small window that overlooked the front lawn was bare, seeing as my mum had reminded me to take my curtains with me. Looking at it like this now, so bare and skeletal and huge, it didn’t feel like my room anymore.
I ran my hand gently over the small hole in the wall from where I’d ‘accidentally’ pushed Hugo when he was five and looked sadly at the tick marks carved into the wall next to the door where my dad had measured me every year on September 1st, until I went off to Hogwarts.
Part of me felt like crying. This was the house I’d grown up in – the house that housed just as many good memories as bad ones. By moving, was I leaving all of those behind too?
I shook my head as I grasped the doorknob in my hand, giving the room one last glance over. Just because I was leaving the house didn’t mean I was leaving my memories behind. Those I would have with me forever- good and bad. The house was the place that stored my possessions, not my emotions and memories. And now I’d have two new houses to make new memories in.
I smiled at the thought and then walked out the door, shutting it with a deafening click behind me. I walked past the empty bathroom and Hugo’s empty room, not bothering to go back and look at the other two rooms upstairs. They all looked the same – cold, lonely, and insanely large without furniture in them. I walked down the stairs for what would probably be the last time and down the hallway that used to be decorated with pictures of our family into the kitchen. This room didn’t look all that different – we had left behind all of the major appliances – but it still seemed oddly empty without the fruit basket sitting on the counter and the table.
I opened up the refrigerator one last time just to make sure that it was empty and sighed when I saw a molding pan of what seemed to have been at one time a casserole. I pointed my wand at it and instantly it cleaned itself and I vanished the dish, shutting the refrigerator again.
I was about to glance through the cupboards again when the back door opened and Scorpius loped inside, looking rather like he was waiting for a ticking time bomb.
“I’m okay,” I assured him as he came to stand next to me, his hands shoved deep inside his jeans pockets. “Really.”
“Do you ever wonder what would have happened between us if you hadn’t come out onto the pitch that night?” he asked and I felt slightly startled. That hadn’t been the question I was expecting.
“I’d still be a long-haired, immature, non-tattooed, virgin,” I replied cheekily and he chuckled, wrapping his arms around my shoulders and pulling me to him.
“I’d be pretty lost right now,” I admitted quietly, burying my face in his chest. “I think I probably would have given up already.”
“I think I’d have a hell of a lot more free time,” he joked and I smacked his arm.
He pulled my chin up and kissed me full on the lips and I melted into him naturally, kissing him back. I don’t know how long we spent like that, a few seconds or minutes, or maybe hours, but eventually I pulled away from him when I couldn’t breathe any longer.
“You’re going to be late to your Nana’s party,” he told me.
“Come with me?” I asked, giving him my best puppy-dog look. “Please?”
“I wasn’t invited,” he reminded me.
“You were at the hospital when my dad had his heart attack – you’re practically family now.”
I grinned and he rolled his eyes. “Joy.”
“Please?” I begged. “I’ll make it worth your while.”
“How could I resist that?” he smirked, lacing his fingers through mine and pulling me out the door.
We walked hand in hand to the apparition point and then as one turned on the spot. The air was squeezed from my lungs so fast that I felt slightly shocked and my eyes felt like they were going to bulge out from their sockets. Just when I thought that I was going to die from lack of oxygen I felt my feet hit solid ground and I coughed slightly, staring up at the towering façade of the Burrow.
“Déjà vu” Scorpius muttered and I couldn’t help but share that sentiment.
I squeezed his fingers tightly in mine and then we walked through the field we’d landed in towards the garden gate. It wasn’t long before I could hear the sounds of my family members laughing and talking loudly, the shriek of small children and the distinct voice of Celestina Warbeck crooning over it all. The smell of fresh baked pies and treacle tart hung in the air, along with the flowery smell of Nana’s flowers and I breathed in deeply, relishing in the scent that I would always associate with my grandmother.
I opened the gate wordlessly and Scorpius and I walked inside. I had just shut the gate behind us when I was instantly engulfed in a giant hug and it took me a moment to register that it was my cousin Dom. She shook Scorpius’s hand when she had finished squeezing the air out of my lungs. We talked for a few minutes about the past few months and then she flitted off to go find Victoire.
We made the rounds around my family quickly, me stopping to give them each hugs and Scorpius smiling politely and shaking hands. I couldn’t find Al and James, but I figured they’d show up sooner or later and dragged Scorpius over to see Nana Molly, who was seated at the head of the long table Uncle Bill and Uncle Charlie had set up earlier today, talking to Aunt Audrey about something.
“Happy Birthday Nana!” I cried, throwing myself at her and probably cutting off whatever Aunt Audrey had been saying. Nana Molly didn’t seem to mind though and she enveloped me in her arms, crushing my face into her soft shoulder and kissing my head.
“Oh Rosie, look at you! Look at your hair! It’s so short, but it’s lovely; you look so grown up! And Scorpius, look at you. You grow more handsome every time I see you. Rose is a lucky girl.”
She winked at Scorpius in a knowing way and he flushed bright red, muttering a hasty thanks and both Nana Molly and I laughed. I straightened up and pulled from my pocket the slightly wrinkled card I had made her last night, placing it in front of her on the already towering pile of gifts.
“So how old are you today, Nana?” I asked, remembering Hugo’s question from earlier.
“Old,” she replied and I burst out laughing.
“You’ll always be young to me, Nana,” a new voice called and I turned around to see James striding towards us across the lawn, a bottle of butter beer in his hand and a clumsily wrapped gift tucked under his arm.
He swooped down when he got near enough and planted a sloppy kiss on Nana Molly’s cheek while she tittered about him being too kind and that she knew he was up to something.
“Happy Birthday Molly,” another familiar voice called kindly and I whipped around in surprise to see my mother standing there, looking mollified and flushing slightly red, but holding her red, neatly wrapped gift tightly to her chest.
I wanted to ask my mum what she was doing here, but that little voice in the back of my head stopped me before I could.
She’s still one of us.
And it was true. As my mother stood there, staring down at Nana Molly with a proud sort of defiance, as if daring Nana to send her away, it was obvious that my mother was born to be a Weasley. She had our temper and our pride, and most of all, her complete love of family. Nothing else could have made her come today. Even now that my father and she were trying to get along, it was a pretty open secret in the family that people still harbored ill feelings toward her.
“Thank you, Hermione dear,” Nana replied, smiling up at my mum and I edged away from their silent conversation quietly, pulling Scorpius along with me, not surprised when James followed.
“Well look at you, Rosebud,” he said, whistling appreciatively as he ruffled my new short hair. “When did you become so grown up?”
“Don’t patronize me, James,” I warned him, pointing one threatening finger at him, but he didn’t look at all intimidated.
“I’m not patronizing,” he said. “Just simply asking a question. But moving on now - does this new ‘do have anything to do with Quidditch?”
“Why would it?” I asked, puzzled. “I don’t play Quidditch anymore.”
“But I’ve graduated now,” he said, sounding slightly guilty. “I’m not going to be Captain anymore. I just thought that maybe you’d want to get back on the team. You have a lot of talent Rosie; I’m sure that if you tried out, that you’d make it instantly, no matter who the new Captain is.”
“So basically,” I answered, drawing out the last syllables into a long, suspicious sound, “you’re telling me that Reagan has made Captain and that she wants me to try out for the team again.”
“Err, yes, kind of,” he replied, scratching the back of his head uncomfortably. “But Al already agreed to at least try out – even he admits he misses playing.”
I looked back at Scorpius, to see what he thought and he just shrugged, as if to say that this one really was my decision. I thought of my broom, which had been collecting dust under my bed since before Christmas and the feeling that I had gotten from playing those few pick-up games with Al. I really did miss Quidditch. And now that things were different and that I had new friends, there really was no reason for me not to agree to try out.
“Yeah, ok,” I agreed, nodding and grinning. “I’ll try out. But that’s it. If I make it, then I’ll play. But if some new talent who is ten times better than me comes out of nowhere, then they have to get the spot.”
“I think that’s a manageable deal,” James grinned, draping his arm around my shoulders. “I’m sure Reagan will be thrilled when I tell her.”
“You still going to harass her now that you’ve graduated?”
“I do not harass her,” he replied indignantly, puffing up his chest with pride. “And yes, I still plan on keeping in touch with her – she’d probably kill me if I didn’t. She finally agreed to go on a date with me.”
I shrieked, attracting quite a bit of attention to our little group and James clapped his hand over my mouth, blushing the bright Weasley red. “Keep it down,” he hissed.
“Sorry,” I whispered when he removed his hand from my mouth. “But wow, that’s amazing! I thought she hated you.”
“I thought so too,” he admitted and we all laughed.
A loud bang on the food gong signaled that it was time to eat and James hurried away from us with a wink, securing himself a good spot at the middle of the table. Scorpius and I walked hand in hand to the table, taking seats in between Al, who had brought his girlfriend Daphne along, and Hugo, who was busy flicking peas at Lily, who was mocking him about Nellie. Apparently, they were still together. I’d never met Nellie, but from what I’d learned from eavesdropping on his conversations, she was petite and blonde and cute. Just like every other 4th year Hufflepuff.
I looked around the table and was pleased to see that my mother and father were seated across the table from one another, my mother next to Aunt Ginny and my father next to Uncle Harry. They were all talking about something and my father said something and my mother burst out laughing, her head of wild brown hair thrown back. I saw my father stare at her in the sort of way I sometimes saw Scorpius look at me and my heart twinged for the both of them, knowing that deep down inside they still really loved each other.
Granddad stood up at the head of the table and gave his usual speech that he gave at the beginning of each family meal and I hardly paid attention to it, considering that Scorpius was tracing circles on my knee under the table. Finally when he was done I distracted myself with food, piling my plate high with ham, mashed potatoes, carrots, some sort of casserole, and a piece of chicken. Scorpius took about the same and everyone tucked into their food, talking loudly about Quidditch and the Ministry, and even at times the use of Muggle electricity. Scorpius talked with James and Al about James plans now that he’d graduated – he had gotten signed to Puddlemere as a reserve chaser and was renting a flat in Diagon Alley – while I tried to extract more information out of Lily and Daphne about Nellie.
Soon enough, dinner was finished and we all lazed about tiredly in our chairs, suffering from what Ashley called a ‘food coma’. I laid my head on Scorpius’s shoulder, listening to the sound of the crickets chirping in the background and shivering slightly as a cool breeze blew through the garden. Nana Molly waved her wand in the air suddenly and the first few soft lines of a Celestina Warbeck song came on again, tinkling on the wind in a rather soothing way.
“Dance with me,” she commanded Granddad and instead of looking frustrated or put out he stood up immediately, extending his wizened hand to her. She took it and let him spin her out into the center of the garden and everyone turned in their seats to watch them sway softly in time to the music. Uncle Bill was the next one out of his seat and he extended his hand to Aunt Fleur, who said something fast in French and then stood up, letting herself be twirled and dipped before swaying like Nana and Granddad.
And then it was like a chain reaction. Teddy and Victoire were dancing. Aunt Ginny and Uncle Harry were dancing. James and Lily. Al and Daphne. Uncle Percy and Aunt Audrey. Uncle George and Aunt Angelina.
“Care to dance?”
I looked up from watching the other couples to see my father standing before me, his hand extended towards me and I flushed a light pink before placing my hand lightly in his and standing up. He lead me out onto the dance floor and I could feel more than a few pairs of eyes lingering on us as he took my right hand in his and placed his left hand on my hip. I placed my left hand on his shoulder and together we began to sway to the music. We were both so uncoordinated that we stepped on each other’s toes for a moment before we got it down right and then we were twirling amidst the other couples.
“This is nice,” my father said quietly.
“I’m glad you’re not collapsing on me,” I replied cheekily, remembering with a slightly déjà vu feeling the last time we had danced together. That had been a nightmare. And absolute nightmare. I clung onto his shoulders tighter, as if I was afraid that if I let go he would suddenly be laying at my feet, barely breathing again.
“Me too,” he chuckled and then he dipped me and I couldn’t focus on anything but keeping my balance.
We swayed to another song in companionable silence, neither of us having anything to say nor knowing what to say either. There really weren’t words for it. To think that nine months ago we had been at each other’s throats and that I was afraid of him. It was hard to be afraid of him now. It was hard to even be mad at him now. He was trying so hard to become better that it was almost painful to watch. He was trying so hard to make up for all the time that he had missed that we hadn’t fought once since that day in the hospital – had hardly shared more than a few kind words at a time. It wasn’t ideal, necessarily, but it was a start.
And he was a Weasley. We Weasley’s were survivors. Conquerors. He had helped defeat the darkest wizard of all time. I knew that he could beat this too.
The song came to an end and my father pulled me to him, wrapping his arms around me in a hug and kissing my forehead gently. I hugged him back tightly and kissed his cheek.
“I love you, Rose,” he said, a warmth in his voice that I hadn’t heard in a long time.
“I love you too, Daddy,” I replied, and he looked like he could cry.
Another song began to play and we started to sway again when a voice interrupted us.
“Can I cut in?”
We both looked over to see Scorpius standing there, looking humble and shy and I could tell my father was slightly taken aback. He glanced over at me and I nodded slightly, telling him I didn’t mind whatever he decided. I watched as he stared at Scorpius, as if sizing him up. I could tell from the tension in Scorpius’s shoulders that he was nervous, but he was standing tall and proud like a Malfoy, trying not to show it.
“Go ahead,” my father said after a long moment, releasing my waist and waving an arm forward as if to sweep Scorpius closer to me.
“Thank you sir,” Scorpius replied, shooting my father his most charming smile and stepping closer to me, taking my hand and waist in much the same way as my dad had.
“Take good care of her,” my father said, his voice going hard and slightly threatening. “That’s a precious treasure you hold in your arms there.”
“I know, sir,” Scorpius answered, and the tone of his voice made me think that there was something in this conversation that I did not understand. “I always have, and always will.”
My father nodded, seemingly satisfied with this answer and he walked slowly towards the table again. I sank into Scorpius’s arms as he twirled us around and I couldn’t help but notice the difference in the way they danced. My father was more awkward and gentle while Scorpius guided us across the garden like a professional, whipping me carefully this way and that. They were both wonderful in their own rights, but I had to admit, dancing with Scorpius hurt my toes a lot less.
When he twirled me around again I felt myself gasp in shock and I felt Scorpius stiffen around me. “What?”
I gestured with my head back in the direction my father had walked and I saw him look, his own mouth falling open in a small ‘o’. He slowed us down so that we could watch the scene unfolding before us and I laid my head on his shoulder, smiling as he ran his hand up and down my back.
My father was standing in front of my mother at the table, his hand extended towards her in much the same way that he had extended it towards me. She flushed bright red and I saw her mumble something, looking down at the grass and I felt my heart stop for one fleeting moment. Then my father said something else and she looked up again and hesitantly took his hand. I watched as they walked awkwardly out into the middle of the garden and then they clasped hands gingerly and I could almost see my father’s hand shaking as he put it on her hip. They swayed slowly and sooner I could see them both smiling and my mother laughed at something that my father said.
My mind churned furiously as ideas flooded through it but I pushed them all away. If there was one thing I’d learned through all of this it was not to get your hopes up. But this was a start, right?
I turned my head from staring at my parents to look back up at Scorpius, who was staring down at me with a curious look in his blue-grey eyes.
“Who would have thought?” I asked, letting the end of my sentence drop, knowing that he would know what I meant more than I could verbalize it.
“Life is strange,” he replied and I chuckled slightly at the irony of it all.
Life was very strange. If someone had told me at the beginning of the year that my parents would have gotten divorced, that my little brother would go to therapy and get a girlfriend, that I would make two new best friends, that I would quit the Quidditch team, that I would cut my hair, and that I would fall in love with Scorpius Malfoy, I would have called them crazy. Actually, I would have probably taken them to St. Mungo’s to have their head examined. If someone had told me that I would spend a majority of my time crying, that I would break my hand punching a brick wall, that I would have planned a wedding that never went through, and that I would get a tattoo, I would have wondered how many potions fumes you had inhaled.
What would my life have been like had I not called Scorpius’s name out onto the pitch that night we spied on the Slytherins?
I glanced around at my parents who were still slowly dancing together and at Hugo, who was watching them with bewilderment from where he was dancing with Roxanne. I saw James and Al out of the corner of my eye and thought about Noel and Ashley, who were probably sneaking into my mum’s flat at this very moment and taking away all of my ‘unsuitable’ clothes. I looked up at Scorpius, who was still staring down at me with such intensity that I thought I probably should have felt small, but instead, I felt rather large – like I was the only thing in the entire garden he could see.
I smiled at that thought and then looked down at myself, thinking of that tattoo freshly ingrained into my hip. A rose in bloom. I really was a rose in bloom, wasn’t I? I’d grown so much over these past nine months. I could feel it in every way now as I thought about it. My mind, my body, my emotions – I felt strong. I felt beautiful. I felt loved.
I beamed up at Scorpius and he grinned my favorite crooked smile down at me and then I pressed my lips gently to his, wrapping my arms around his neck and holding him close to me. I heard James make a rather rude catcall but I didn’t even care. When we broke apart he brushed a piece of hair out of my face and I laid my head on his shoulder, breathing in his deep musky scent, and just listening to the sound of the crickets chirping in the night, the soft din of my family talking and laughing, Celestina’s warbling vocals, and most prominently, the sound of Scorpius’s heartbeat under my ear.
I sighed and smiled to myself, closing my eyes with content. For the first time in a very long time, I felt at peace with the world.
A/N: Oh my god. It is done! It's really done! I've finished my first novel! Can you believe it? I can't. I really can't. I always thought I would cry when I posted this chapter. Because this story that I've worked on for so long and so hard is finally over. But I'm not. Maybe it's because it hasn't sunk in yet. Or maybe its because of this overwhelming feeling of joy. Rose's story is done.
So now, I know you're all probably wondering - is there going to be a sequel? Honestly, my answer right now is no. I don't really have the inspiration for one, and I'm terrified that by writing a sequel I would be ruining this story. So I think will leave it as it is. Although some of you have expressed interest in seeing parts of this story from other POV's, so I am going to write some of those. It will be under a story called "All the Small Things" to be posted soon.
And now, a few acknowledgements:
-to Nancy, the woman who encouraged me to write what I was feeling: this probably wasn't what you had in mind, but writing this story has been more therapeutic than anything else.
- to everyone who has read and reviewed this story: I would not have had the guts to write beyond the first chapter if not for all of you. I have wanted to give up so many times, but you kept me going.
- to everyone who nominated me for a Dobby - I made it to voting for Best Next Generation! Holy crap! Thank you all so so much. Please vote for me. :)
- to my own father: you will never read this, but I just want you to know I will always love you and I hope that someday you can come to the realizations Ron has.
- and to Rose, my main character and such a huge part of me, thank you for putting up with all I put you through and being such a trooper about it. I don't know how I'm going to write without you.
Thank you all so so much for reading and reviewing throughout this story. I really cannot put into words my gratitude. Thank you for reading this final chapter, and for the last time, I ask you to please, please review. :)