A/N: Hi everybody! I wanted to update so much sooner, but I had exams and then the queue closed L Updates should be more regular now, though. I’ve also updated the previous chapters – there’s not much difference in the way of plot, but some events that should have been carried over have now been carried over and such, so it’ll hopefully be more coherent. Chapter 5 has the biggest change – it’s a bit plot related. Chapters 3 & 4 also have edits.
I was rooted to the ground in shock. I vaguely registered Anneliese’s cry of “There’s Rose!” before a deathly silence fell over the common room. It seemed that everyone else was as dumbfounded as I was. I wasn’t the type of girl to go around kissing people, much less in the library where everyone could see me. “He-hello…” I stuttered. Blank faces greeted me in reply.
In a sudden surge of bravery, I ran through the still-silent crowd, grabbed the picture from the bulletin board (thankfully, Melody hadn’t even put a sticking charm on it) and ran through the portrait hole, leaving the Fat Lady astonished and, for once, wordless behind me. I had to admit, it felt pretty awesome – like I was in that Muggle movie Mission Impossible or something.
I went straight to Professor Thomas, the evidence of Melody’s vindictiveness in hand. By the time I reached the bottom of the staircase leading up to his office, I was completely winded. Fueled by my fury at Melody, I made a last, valiant dash up the stairs, wheezing all the while. At his door, I paused for a moment to catch my breath, as I doubted that a wheezing, out-of-breath girl with wild hair and a large photograph of herself kissing a boy would be taken seriously. I paused to pat my hair down so that its resemblance to a tornado-struck field was somewhat decreased, and knocked on the door.
“Come in,” a voice called from inside. I pushed the door and walked into the room accordingly, making sure the front of the photograph would not be visible to Professor Thomas.
“Hello, Professor,” I said nervously.
“Rose! What brings you here? Why don’t you have a seat?” he said kindly, gesturing to one of the chairs in front of his desk.
I brushed my hair behind my ears, a nervous habit. “Erm, I’m not sure if you remember our conversation about Melody?” I began. He nodded, so I continued. “Well, she’s put up the picture like she threatened she would.” His eyebrows raised in quiet surprise. “I, erm, have it with me,” I blushed, putting the photograph on the table. His eyebrows rose even further, if that was possible.
“Rose, I’m not quite sure what to make of this,” he said finally.
“Professor, you have to understand that I have never kissed Scorpius, we’re not… like that.” A small part of me sighed in disappointment. “And if we had been… erm… sn- kissing like that in that part of the library (if you look at the photograph you can tell it’s in the middle of the library), half the students in the library and Madame Eckles would have thrown us out of the library.”
“Do you, erm, know what spells could be done on it to find out how it was edited?”
“Yes, I do, Rose, but frankly, I’m not sure what to make of your story.” My mouth may have fallen open in shock at this point.
“B-b-but Professor! You can ask Madame Eckles! We were just sitting and studying!”
“Rose, it would have been much easier to take a photograph of you and Scorpius in this… rather compromising position and change the background to the library – where I’m sure both of you go frequently seeing as you are very studious – than to edit your movement. Movement editing in photographs is rather advanced magic and would require a decent amount of study. Why would Melody invest so much time – ”
“Sir, I’ve told you how she is to me!”
“ – If she knew that she could easily be found out through a few charms cast by me?”
I had no answer to give him. It was a completely valid point – Melody was a smart girl, and she wouldn’t plan an elaborate thing like this without planning to make sure she wouldn’t get caught.
“Perhaps, sir, she didn’t think she would be caught?”
“That would be an extremely naïve assumption that I believe Melody is beyond making. My other question regards the editing – as I said, it would be easier to photograph the movement and change the background rather than the other way around. As you know, kissing is forbidden under Hogwarts rules.”
I was silent.
He cleared his throat awkwardly and said, “I will look into what kind of editing has been done on the photograph and try to retrieve the original. However, you have no proof that this was Melody’s doing and it seems very unlikely.” I nodded.
“I understand, sir.”
“My question, Rose, is this: are you sure you’re not framing her?"
I trudged out of Professor Thomas’ office and started making my way back to Gryffindor tower, tears threatening to spill. Not only was that ridiculous photograph out, it was viewable and duplicable by everybody. Even the teachers would see it and probably believe, like Professor Thomas, that the motion was real. How could this happen? I mean, I understood that in the long run and everything some schoolgirl gossip probably wouldn’t matter, but right now, it was threatening to ruin my life.
Halfway up the staircase to the tower, I realized that I probably did not want to be in the middle of a bunch of idle, staring, whispering people. I turned my footsteps in the direction of the Room of Requirement, hoping that no one had been suddenly gripped by the urge to watch trolls learning ballet and gone up to the seventh floor to observe the tapestry.
Thankfully, the corridor was empty. I paced in front of the wall three times, thinking of my safe place and making sure to tell the room not to let anyone in. I needed some time alone with a good novel – I could garner pity and revenge plans from Sandra and Adara later.
For dinner, I went down to the kitchens (it was useful to have rule-breaking parents sometimes, let me tell you – I knew a bunch of Hogwarts’ secret locations because of them). I wasn’t in the mood for the Great Hall. After a quick meal, I hurried up to Gryffindor tower and to my dorm – thankfully, everyone else was still at dinner and I was not accosted by any unsavory specimens.
Adara came up from dinner quickly - I should have expected it, I suppose. “ROSE MURIEL WEASLEY!” I winced. That middle name was really awful. “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?! I’VE BEEN LOOKING EVERYWHERE FOR YOU!”
“Bloody hell, Adara, keep your voice down,” I groaned. “Where’s Sandra?”
“She’s coming up in a minute, she didn’t feel like running here.” Adara answered, glaring daggers at me.
“I’ll tell you when she gets here,” I said primly, my nose in the air in a fake attempt at bravado. Sandra burst into the room. “ROSE MURIEL WEASLEY!” What was it abusing my middle name today?
“Bloody hell, you two, calm down and I’ll tell you!” They sat silently across from me on my bed, glaring. I won’t lie, it was frightening.
“So, I’m sure you guys saw the picture.” They rolled their eyes in unison. “Well, you remember I told you about Melody’s threat and you guys thought I was making it up or misinterpreting what she said? The picture says differently.”
“Stop with the preamble, Rose,” Adara growled.
“Fine, fine. I took the picture straight to Professor Thomas because I’d told him about it like mum recommended.”
“What did he say?”
“Well, long story short, he didn’t believe me. He said that motion editing is hard, and given that, Scorpius and I were probably actually kissing and Melody wouldn’t do something that elaborate when she knew she could be caught by spell-checking.”
“YOU AND SCORPIUS KISSED?!” Adara shrieked.
“No,” I glared, “Professor Thomas thinks we did. I think I’d bloody remember if I kissed Scorpius, you know?”
“Right, right, forgot,” Adara muttered.
“That can’t have taken more than a half hour! Where have you been for the other, I don’t know, three?” Sandra piped in, eyebrows raised in disbelief.
“I might have snuck off to the Room of Requirement and then eaten dinner in the kitchens and then snuck up here…” I muttered.
“You WHAT?!” my two friends cried simultaneously. “How could you not tell us right away!?”
“I dunno, I just…. needed some time alone, you know?” I answered, looking at them pleadingly.
“Fine, we forgive you,” Sandra said primly. "I suppose."
“Thank you, o great and merciful friends,” I rolled my eyes at them. We all collapsed into laughter (why? I don’t know). Once we recovered, I smirked evilly at Adara. “Sandra, has Adara told you she’s dating Jonathan Wood?”
The next day, in the midst of all the gossip, it struck me that OWL’s were getting extremely close. They were only 5 weeks away now, and I had to review 5 YEARS’ worth of material. Damn, damn, damn. I decided I had better buckle down and get a study schedule and start studying it. I really didn’t want to stay in the common room (too many whispers) and I was too likely to get distracted in the Room of Requirement. I decided that an obscure corner of the library was probably best, but I didn’t want to go alone in case some gossiper attacked me (honestly, “attack” is not an exaggeration). Since Adara (who was spending some quality time with Jonathan) and Sandra (who was just being lazy) decided that studying on a Saturday was completely out of the question, I turned to my Ravenclaw cousin, Molly, who was just as nerdy as I.
Unfortunately, Molly still refused to come and do her homework in the library because Higgins insisted on spending time there with the same gaggle of girls that Scorpius was wont to “study” with. However, after a remarkable display of diplomacy on my part (read: I found her store of milk chocolate, courtesy of a Ravenclaw friend of mine - also known as our cousin, Fred - and refused to return it), she consented to come to the library with me and spare me the indignity of studying alone whilst sneaking glances at Scorpius from behind the ugly potted plant next to the Charms books. Of course, since the pictures had gone up, Scorpius had been avoiding me like plague (not that I blamed him) and hushed whispers and rude comments had been following me through the halls. Molly was my temporary shield, at least for some comments.
“Hey Rose, where’s Scorpius?” someone sneered. I looked up, only to be met with Melody’s smirking face. Fury completely overtook me. First, she had the nerve to put up the pictures and then she was taunting me about it?
I struggled to keep my voice low, but didn’t bother to restrain the menace in my tone. “Leave.”
“Oh, am I bothering you?”
“Did I do something?” Her eyes, narrowed in triumph, glinted in the lamplight.
I completely lost it. “YES, MELODY, YOU DID SOMETHING!”
“Whoa, Rose. Getting a little angry, are we?” She smirked.
“SHUT THE HELL UP!” I cried.
“That’s a bit harsh, Rose, isn’t it?” By this time, everyone in the library was watching, including Scorpius (it’s bloody annoying that my heart skips when I see him even though I’m in the middle of screaming at Melody).
“IT’S NOT HARSH IN THE LEAST! I KNOW YOU PUT UP THAT PICTURE OF SCORPIUS AND ME!”
“What picture is that, Rose?” She was trying to get me to say I’d kissed Scorpius or admit something that she could use against me. Everyone knew which picture it was, especially her.
“So you’ve been so out of the loop that you haven’t heard the gossip going around? Didn’t your “friends” see fit to tell you?” I sneered, drawing dramatic air quotations around the word “friends.” Her cheeks colored faintly at the slight and the emphasis I put on “friend.” At least she had some shame. “It’s the picture, Melody, that you took of Scorpius and I talking in the library and edited to make it look like we were KISSING!” At this, the room seemed to gasp. It was soap-opera-worthy material, after all.
“I definitely did not put up that picture and I certainly don’t think it was edited. It looks extremely authentic,” she sniffed.
“So you did know which picture, then? Saw it yourself, didn’t you?”
“I…” Melody, for once, was lost for words.
“Melody, why don’t you accompany me to Professor Thomas’ office?” I asked coolly.
“I’ll come too!” A voice cried from somewhere in the room. I looked around to see Scorpius shuffling up. “If she did put up the pictures, I’d like to know,” he said simply, though not without a glare in Melody’s direction.
“Let’s go, then,” said Melody with a smirk. Why was she smirking? She should have been hanging her head in shame!
As we walked out of the library, I saw Molly’s worried expression, one that must have mirrored my own.
The walk to Professor Thomas’ office was, to say the least, awkward. Melody was unaffected by the edginess in the air, but Scorpius and I were walking on eggshells.
“Aww, look at you two awkward little lovebirds,” Melody’s mocking voice broke the silence.
“We’re not lovebirds,” I growled.
“Of course you’re not,” she smirked in reply. The smirk didn’t leave her face for the rest of the journey. We walked up the staircase to the headmaster’s office single file, first me, then Melody, then Scorpius (I think it was an attempt to keep her from escaping.) I took a deep breath, hoping this meeting would go better than the last, and knocked three times on the heavy wooden door. “Come in,” came the reply from inside. The three of us walked into Professor Thomas’ office.
“Rose…. And Melody and Scorpius! Hello!” Professor Thomas greeted us.
“Sir, I really don’t understand why I’m here. Rose and Scorpius have some silly idea that I put up a picture of them kissing!” Melody complained.
“So I have heard, Melody,” Professor Thomas replied coolly. “Do you know where they might have gotten this idea from?”
“Well, Rose has always hated me for some weird reason, as I had told you before,” Melody exchanged a meaningful glance with the headmaster, “and if she and Scorpius were kissing, I’m sure they’re dating, so he does as she says.” She cast a baleful glare in my direction.
Professor Thomas nodded calmly (he's always so bloody calm, it's infuriating!). “The photograph was edited, Melody. This is the original.” He withdrew from under his desk a photograph of Scorpius and I each bent over an essay. “Rose, I’m sorry for doubting you – the photograph was motion edited and the background was authentic.” I smiled my thanks. Melody, who should have been looking crushed, was smiling brightly.
“Melody, do you know of anyone who is capable of doing this kind of picture editing?” I frowned, unsure of what the point of Professor Thomas’ question was.
“Of course, Professor – Rose is, as you know, the best in our year,” she smirked sarcastically at me, “and she would be extremely able to edit photographs, especially since her mother is a particular expert in photo evidence and editing it.” I gasped at the slight against my mother - there was no reason for it!
“Excuse me, sir, my mother does not edit evidence and neither do I!” I protested hotly.
“Melody, I’m afraid that was a rather unfounded accusation against Rose’s mother, and I will have to ask you to apologize,” Professor Thomas told the she-devil standing next to me.
“Sorry, Rosie,” Melody smirked. I glared. Scorpius stood in the back looking as though he’d like to melt into the floor.
“However, Melody, I must ask – what motive would Rose have for putting an incriminating picture of herself on display?”
“Well, Professor, if she put the blame on me, then I would be punished, which is always satisfying to her,” Melody lied, her oily voice just about driving me mad.
“I see. Rose, may I see your wand?”
I gaped at him. “My wand? Why on earth do you want my wand?”
“We must ascertain whether Melody’s accusation against you is true.”
“Don’t you want to ‘ascertain’ if my accusation against her is true?” I spluttered.
“All in good time,” the headmaster said calmly. I thrust my wand at him, and he examined it and tapped it several times, but evidently did not find what he was looking for.
“Rose’s wand did not perform these spells,” he concluded finally. “Melody, may I see yours?”
“Of course, Professor, I have nothing to hide.” Her wand, too, proved innocent. I was sure she must have used someone else’s wand, because no one else would have been out to get me like that.
“All right, girls – and Scorpius – who else might have had a grudge against either Rose or Scorpius? Remember, the photograph incriminates him as well.”
“Annalise does!” Melody piped up. “Annalise has never like Rose – she’s jealous because Rose always gets higher marks. She’s also held a grudge against Scorpius since he turned her down for Hogsmeade a few weeks ago.” I glanced sidelong at Scorpius, who was blushing slightly. Interesting – he’d turned her down? Could he possibly… like someone else? My heart thudded at the sliver of hope, but I told it to shush.
“Annalise Peakes? I’ll ask Professor Bell to bring her right away.”
A few minutes later, Annalise entered the office. “Hello, Professor.”
“Hello, Annalise. I’m sure you are wondering why you are here. Have you seen this photograph [he withdrew the edited version] today?” Annalise nodded, perplexed.
“We believe it is possible that you edited the original,” he began, gesturing to the original photograph, “in order to ‘get back at’ Rose and Scorpius.”
“What?” Annalise cried softly, her face completely confused. Her expression was genuine, and I, for one, was convinced of her innocence.
“May I see your wand, Annalise?” She handed it to him mutely. He performed some spells, then frowned and performed them again. “I’m sorry, Annalise, but your wand performed the editing charms used on this photograph.” Annalise gaped at him, much as I had only minutes before.
“I will have to assign detention three nights a week for the rest of the year. This will, of course, go on your record as a malignant act against two other students. A letter will be sent to your parents and you will have a discussion about your behavior with your head of house.”
“But Professor, I’ve never done those spells in my life! I have nothing against Rose – it’s true that I didn’t like her before, but I’ve gotten to know her lately and she’s really a kind person. I wouldn’t want to hurt Scorpius either!” Annalise protested.
Professor Thomas appraised her face, perhaps searching for honesty (which, to me, looked abundant.) “I expected better of you, Miss Peakes.” Scorpius, Melody, and I he dismissed with a cordial “You three may go.”
I couldn’t believe that it was Annalise. It must have been Melody – she probably took Annalise’s wand. My wand was kept under my pillow, in case Melody tried to steal it, and it had a caterwauling charm that was triggered if someone other than me picked it up. She probably wasn’t able to steal mine, and decided that anyone besides her getting blamed was fine. Her own best friend – I couldn’t believe the level Melody had stooped to.
All of the damn drama was really getting to me, especially as it was stopping me from studying for exams, which were fast approaching. This year, it wasn’t even just exams – this was OWL year, which meant I had to review five years of material. I had to study for seven subjects (thankfully, there was no physical education exam) and I was getting really stressed. For some reason, I’d been extremely tired this year. I couldn’t do half the things I’d been able to do the previous year, and it was really exhausting. I’d been spending twice the time on my essays, and Melody even got a higher grade than me on the Color-Changing essay. I couldn’t concentrate, and it was bloody annoying. I ended up doodling in the margins in different colors of ink instead of actually working, and then I stayed up really late and didn’t sleep, which meant I was even more tired the next day and could concentrate even less.
All in all, I was not a particularly happy Rose when I headed to the library the day after the Melody episode. I had my Arithmancy and History of Magic notes and the big, fat books for those two classes in my schoolbag. I really, honestly did not want to study for History of Magic – I was re-copying my notes from the year while looking up the corresponding pages in my textbook (or at least trying to – that textbook was honestly the most dry material I had ever tried to read, and the pages weren’t very inviting). On the other hand, Arithmancy was ridiculously difficult. We had just started Forraderro’s Equivalence, and it most definitely wasn’t easy. We’d only covered the theory in class and the problems were much, much harder than the theory.
With a sigh, I decided on History of Magic and took my books out of my bag, settling down to the drudgery of Emeric the Evil and the goblin revolts of 1623. As I turned to the textbook, I noticed that there was an envelope sticking out from between the pages and remembered Mum’s letter that the owl had delivered two nights before. I hadn’t had a chance to read it due to all the drama, so I pulled it out now. It was written in very messy handwriting, unlike my mother’s normally neat penmanship, and there were several ink blotches on the paper. It was only a few lines long.
That case that I told you about, the top secret one? The Daily Prophet’s gotten hold of the story and will probably be printing it any day now. Melody’s father has been embezzling money from Hogwarts. I called for it to be top secret because I didn’t want it to affect you. Now that it’ll be out, be careful.
I was shocked, to say the least. Melody’s father had been embezzling money? Her family had always been wealthy – they had a colossal mansion of a house, far too much space for such a small family. It did explain Melody’s comment about my mother, though. I still couldn’t completely believe it, so I quickly penned a note back to mum.
Are you sure?
Leaving my History of Magic book sitting there, I ran to the owlery to post the note, my mum’s letter crumpled in my pocket. I sprinted down the halls, my trainers slapping the stone ground, until the fact that I hadn’t run in ages (not counting this morning’s mad dash) caught up with me and, completely winded, I stopped in the hallway to catch my breath. As my breathing calmed, I heard the sound of raised voices. My curiosity piqued, I stepped a little closer to the hidden corridor from which the voices were coming.
“I can’t believe you, Melody! How could you put the blame on me?” That was Annalise’s voice!
“Annalise, I didn’t blame you! Once it was clear that I hadn’t done it, Rose decided that it had to be you! I can’t help her juvenile grudges,” Melody replied smoothly.
“Bullshit,” Annalise replied rudely. “You know just as well as I do that that picture was your work.”
Ha! A confession! Not quite, the voice of reason intervened. Annalise said Melody did it, Melody didn’t confess. That’s a technicality, I huffed back at that stupid voice of reason, turning my attention back to the conversation.
“Annalise, you know that I would never do something like that!” Melody argued.
“Of course you would,” Annalise scoffed back. “Thanks to you, I have a disciplinary session with the headmaster, a letter to my parents, and detention for the rest of the year. James even broke up with me because he heard that I was responsible and got angry that I’d hurt his cousin over a grudge and that I was still angry at Scorpius even though I had him! All because Professor Thomas was silly enough to believe you.” I heard footsteps, and quickly hid behind the tapestry. Annalise stormed past, her face red with anger and her hands balled into fists. I wanted to stop her, but decided that it was best to keep walking past as though I hadn’t heard – after all, there was no guarantee that she wouldn’t be angry with me for my involvement. I did, however, make a mental note to tell James that I didn’t think she was responsible. Then, I kept walking to the owlery.
Just when I was about to tie my short note to a tawny owl with big amber eyes, I remembered the events of the day (a bit hard to forget them, I thought wryly) and added to it.
P.S. Melody posted the pictures up. They were motion-edited. The spells were traced back to Annalise, but I think she’s innocent, especially after the fight I just heard between her and Melody. She knew about your part in her father’s case already.
After I watched the owl fly away into the distance, I went to find Sandra and Adara – they would definitely want to hear this.