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You're Nothing Without Me: A Holiday Guide for The Modern Young Widow by llyralen

Format: Short story
Chapters: 4
Word Count: 11,598
Status: WIP

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Mild Language, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme, Contains Spoilers

Genres: Drama, Humor, Romance
Characters: Ron, Hermione, Percy, Fleur, Scorpius, James (II), Hugo, Rose, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: Rose/Scorpius, Other Pairing

First Published: 01/13/2010
Last Chapter: 07/05/2011
Last Updated: 07/05/2011

Summary:


She was never going to be Rose Sedley anymore in anything but name. From now on, she would just be Rose Weasley again, even though her driver's liscence said other wise. But she was still Rose. She would always be Rose. And Rose didn't fall apart for anyone. Rose would go on because that was what Rose did best.

There was no self-help book for any widow below thirty, so she would just have to make it up as she went along.


Chapter 1: Denial
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Author's Note: Better late than never. The holidays might be over for you folks, but it's jus starting for Rose Sedley :) I hope you enjoy this story :)

Visual aid to help you imagine the characters in question!

Karen Gillan as Rose Sedley
Matt Smith as Christopher Sedley




Standard Disclaimer: JK owns everything. I'm just a starving artist XD The cast list mentioned above is a list of people I envision to be the characters and is only provided to serve as visual aids for the reader. I have, in no way shape or form, any means to actually procure these actors to be my characters. Thank you!









Denial





She was Rose Weasley yet again. Not because her name had changed. After all, her driver’s license still read Rose Sedley of Nutgrove Farm, Floret County, Hampshire, England.

No.

She was Rose Weasley again because she felt like Rose Weasley. How could she feel like Rose Sedley when Christopher Sedley, of the same 22 Nutgrove Farm, Floret County, Hampshire, England, had just died.

She could not be Rose Sedley anymore in anything but name.

However, one vital constant still remained. She was still Rose. And Rose, no matter what her last name would pick herself up after falling down. She would get up in the morning and make herself some tea. She would make herself breakfast and read the Daily Prophet. Perhaps even answer the crossword puzzle in pen. Rose would go to work everyday, putting magical creatures on the mend. She would live as she always had. As she always would.

That was why at approximately seven o’clock that evening, she would activate her portkey and lande right in front of 32 Drowling St., Tidley Hill, Wales, England. Her parent’s home, where she would be spending Christmas just like all the other years before.

She would open the door and say hello to everyone. She would kiss her mother and father hello and she would give her extensive family a hug apiece. She would drink pumpkin juice and laugh at Uncle George’s ear jokes. She would play hide-and-seek with James’s children, play cookie poker with Fred’s daughters and play carols with Louis’s sons.

And after everything was finished, after all the festivities were over and done with, after everyone was nicely settled into every spare room their house had, she would go up to her old room where she and Chris used to stay when they came home for the holidays. She would take out his old Weasley jumper, hold it close to her and allow herself one moment to forget that he was gone. That she’d buried him only a few weeks ago.

She’d tell herself that he was just in the shower, getting ready for bed. She could hear the water running and his horrible singing. He’d be out soon enough and then he’d put on his holiday jumper, get into bed and talk to her until she fell asleep.

Rose would do all of this for she was Rose. And Rose would go on. Rose always went on. Sedley or Weasley.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” his voice whispered in her ear. Or maybe it was the wind. She didn’t care. Not at this point.

“What else can I do?” she answered.

“You can skip the holidays. Give yourself some time. No one would blame you if you did.”

“That’s not what I would do. Not something Rose would do.”

“Their Rose. Not mine. My Rose did whatever she wanted and didn’t care about expectations.”

“Not even her own?”

He laughed. Or at least it felt like she could hear him laughing. She would have laughed too. She almost did. But when she turned around, no one was there. Nothing but an empty house, her packed luggage and a portkey. Chris wasn’t there.

She closed her eyes. He was just hiding, she told herself. Just getting himself something from the kitchen. Just looking for his keys.

“Should I go?” she asked him. “Do you think it’s a good idea?”

“Rose never let me tell her what to do,” he replied again.

“Well I’m asking you now. Just this once. Tell me what to do! Should I go? Should I get away from your pictures, your side of the sink, your closet, everything! What should I do?”

“Rose never let anyone tell her what to do.”

She could feel him smiling. She could almost feel his hands on her shoulders. His lips on her forehead, kissing her the way he always did to calm her down.

She almost cried. But she didn’t.

“I can’t be alone Chris,” she breathed his name out as if it were a silent prayer. “I can’t be alone in this house and be reminded of you all the time. I just can’t.”

“That’s all I needed to know.” Again, she felt his smile on her.

“Then why did you even ask? Why did you even make me think that it was a bad idea? That I could be wrong? Is that your sick, twisted way of making me miss you?”

“Because I needed you to tell yourself that. And because this is my sick and twisted way of knowing that you’ll be alright.”

“No.” The tears she’d been holding back started to escape, one by one. She felt the light shining though her closed eyes, the way it did when a dream was coming to an end. She fought to keep them closed but found no way to escape the light.

“I’m gone Rose. And that’s ok. You’ll be fine without me.”

“I won’t. No I won’t!”

“Now that’s something Rose would never say.”

“Their Rose. Not yours.”

“Open your eyes, my Rose. Its time to go.”

Chapter 2: Numb
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Author's Note: New chapter! New chapter! Thank you to everyone who reviewed the last chapter! Am working on answering the remaining ones! Sorry for the delays. One more character is added. Perhaps, this is the calm before the storm. The last moment of peace Rose will get before finally entering her parents house and the ensuing madness. Hope you enjoy it! Please review! I don't care how long it is, all of them make me smile equally!

Here's a bit of a giggle. Some faces to help you visualize the people in the story XD Bear in mind that I don't have the money to hire them nor do I have the actual power to hire anybody for this thing XD Again, just for a giggle and to help the brain cells on their way :)

Karen Gillan as Rose Sedley
Matt Smith as Christopher Sedley
Tom Hiddleston as Scorpius Malfoy




Standard Disclaimer: Own nothing. JK pwns.










Numb









Rose took the train.

After all these years, she still felt queasy when apparating. Even more so when she used portkeys. Besides, she liked trains. She liked the humming sound the wheels and tracks made when they met. She liked the way the countryside blurred into a Monet as she breezed by them. She liked being alone in a cart.

Part of her didn’t want to meet her family yet. Not so soon. She knew how they handled tragedy. They would pet her and coddle her, give her sad eyes and tears as if it could make hers go away. They would feed her, try to make her laugh, guard every word they said being careful not to say anything that would remind her of the funeral and unintentionally do everything they possibly could to magnify her unfortunate situation. They would mean well, but it wouldn’t hurt any less.

Perhaps it would have been better if she’d stayed at home instead. No one would blame her if she did. But her mind was neither here nor there. At home or in Wales. She was stuck in limbo and all she could do to try and escape it was to keep moving forward.

That was what Rose did best.

Part of moving forward was not to look back.

She was on a train headed for Wales and she would spend Christmas with her family.

Everyone would be there, except for Lily (who was spending her first holidays as Mrs. Dr. Todd Fimble), Teddy and Victoire (the latter who was in the full moon of pregnancy and had been ordered to absolute bed rest). Other than those notable absences, everyone would be there, cramped in the old house at the foot of Tidley Hill.

For as long as she could remember, the Weasleys had always spent Christmas together. Nana Molly had insisted upon it. Every year, they went to a different house, either the Old House in Ottery St. Catchpole, Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny’s in Godric’s Hollow, Uncle Fred and Aunt Gelly’s house in Durham, Shell Cottage with Uncle Bill and Aunt Fleur, Uncle Percy and Aunt Audrey’s place near Worthing or her own childhood home on Tidley Hill. All of them, the entire ginger bunch (along with the honorary ones) spent the holidays singing carols, playing in the snow and stuffing themselves plump until reality kicked in and they had to go back home to their jobs, lives and problems.

That was what the holidays promised, despite her cynicism.

An escape.

Being a rational person, she knew that escapism was not the way to go. That facing her issues would be a far better use of her efforts, but that would take too much time and frankly too much tissue paper.

Rose was not the kind of person who liked to mope. Not the kind of person who was idle and self-indulgent. She moved forward. That was where the train was bringing her.

Forward.

As night came, she tried to sleep. The windows were frosted with the winter chill, and despite the undoubtedly competent heat insulation, she shivered as if she were standing outside a blizzard.

Rose always forgot to pack a jacket.

Chris always remembered to pack for the both of them.

She closed her eyes.

Everything would seem better once she woke up.

***









Tidley Station could hardly be called a station. It was a roof with a bench where trains stopped. But then again, what were train stations but roofs where trains stop? Perhaps what truly made train stations were the people waiting for your arrival? The people taking up bench space complaining about how late the train was, what they’d given up to make time to drive all the way there and how they had somewhere better to go.

For the first time, Rose didn’t have that. The platform was empty. Today, Tidley Station was not a station but a roof where her train stopped.

She hadn’t told anyone she was coming by train. She hadn’t even told anyone she’d be coming home. Not even Hugo. As far as they were concerned, she would still back home at Nutgrove Farm. They’d tried to catch her in the fireplace, dropped her a few owls but she didn’t reply to any of them. She’d hidden herself away from the world for the better part of two months. If she went through with it. If she actually got to her parents’ house today, it would be the first time she’d seen her family since Chris died.

She stepped off the train in a cloud of smoke and steam and took in the fresh country air of her once upon a time home. Tidley was near the sea but not so close that you could actually smell the ocean air. It was close enough only to smell the memory of it but. That was enough to give her just the change of scenery she needed.

Even at night, everything in Tidley was green and lush. Like other many towns in England, Tidley’s residents liked to say that this was God’s backyard.

Rose had travelled all around England, all around the world in fact, but she could honestly say that for once, the busy bodies were right. It did feel like God’s backyard. With the apple trees and wild flowers growing at every nook, Tidley Hill was the only place she could call God’s backyard.

Rose got her bags form the conductor and gave him a knut for his troubles. She sat on the bench and stared out into the horizon as the cold winter sun rose up from behind Froggy Fergus’s barnhouse.

Rose was home.

She wondered if Chris had ever seen Tidley like this. Straddling the line between midnight and dawn. Probably not. They always took the floo network when they came to visit. He’d probably never even seen any other part of Tidley other than the Weasley grounds. Beautiful, of course, but only a small corner of her childhood.

Had she told him about the summers she’d spent sneaking into Froggy Fergus’s chicken coops playing ‘Wolves and Lunch’ with Hugo? The afternoons she’s spent on her dad’s shoulders while they ‘borrowed’ apples from every neighbor along the road? When she’d run along the forest paths to scare the crows out of their trees?

She must have told him. She must have, but she couldn’t remember.

A few hours later, she was still sitting down on the bench, alone in the roof where trains stopped. Another train was coming in. Must be the one from London.

She doubted that it would stop at Tidley. No one came to Tidley. Muggle or wizard. The rest of the world called Tidley God’s waiting room because of its old population and their inclination to die.

No one would stop but Tidley.

But…

If someone gets off that train, she told herself. Even one person. Just one person. I’ll move forward.

To her surprise, the train started to slow down. It slowed down in the same smoke and steam that welcomed her and sure enough, someone step off the train.

A man stood worn and haggard, his weighed down shoulders telling the story of a life spent either at work or at a pub, toiling the great toil, reaching towards a seemingly impossible and improbable goal. It was common enough in London. Rose assumed that this man must be a true Londoner. Perhaps not born there. Rather reborn into the demanding life the moment he stepped into the crowded city.

He had fair hair, the color of a London sunrise: bright and yellow enough but with a dark, smoky overcast. He wore a heavy tweed coat and thick leather shoes. He had a cigarette in one hand and his small bag in the other.

When the smoke died down and the train started to leave Tidley’s roof where trains stop; when he stepped into the light and his face became clearer, she realized that it was a familiar face. A face she’d grown up with.

“Rose? Rose Weasley?” he said, as soon as he saw her. “I thought I recognized you. You haven’t changed in the slightest.”

From any other person, it would have seemed like a template response. Something you say to any acquaintance you meet out of turn, when your guard is the lowest and you feel somewhat guilty for not acknowledging a person who’d clearly recognized you.

But this was not any other person. It was her friend. Scorpius Malfoy.

“Hello there yourself,” Rose managed, trying to smile but failing in the attempt. She was happy to see him, yes. They hadn’t seen each other in more than eight years, she supposed. Not since Rose dropped out of the Healer’s program in St. Mungo’s to become a veterinarian. Last she heard, Scorpius graduated in the lower half of his class but, like the scrapper that he was, still managed to get a residency at the Hospital (against the staff’s better judgment). Whether it was by his father’s influence or his natural knack for getting things that he wanted, she didn’t know. She was, however, genuinely happy for him. Rose remembered sending him a congratulation card at any rate. To which he responded with another thank you card. Chris, who she’d just met through a network of friends, had suggested she send a thank you card to the thank you card, and idea she found absurd but polite. But she’d forgotten. And that was the end of that.

Scorpius put out the cigarette underneath his shoe and lit another one. He sat down next to her and looked towards the same direction she did, only with less enthusiasm and reverence but more of an undisputed need to take a deep breath.

“What a coincidence, yeah? I’d forgotten you lived here. Coming home for the holidays?” he took a drag of his cigarette and blew out the prettiest smoke she’d seen. “How long has it been now? Seven…eight years now?”

“Right about I guess. Long time, come to think of it. What have you been doing with yourself? Still in St. Mungo’s?”

“Nah. Left after I finished my residency. Moved out to Prague if you can believe that.”

“Let me guess, your mum went on to husband number four?”

“Number five actually. She went through number four…well technically number two, while I finished up the program. They ‘discovered each other again’ so she says, and decided to give it another try.”

“Tallish pseudo-German?”

“The one and the same. Divorced him half a year later citing ‘irreconcilable differences’. Although why they got back together was beyond me. She divorced him for the exact same reason the first time around.”

She couldn’t help it; Rose gave off a little laugh. “Sounds like Asteria alright.”

“She and husband number five are still together. Longest one next to Dad so here’s hoping for some stability.”

“For you or for her?”

“God knows she needs it more than I do.”

It was a relief to talk to someone like this. Without them saying anything about Chris’s death or asking how she was coping with everything. Scorpius probably never even heard that she’d gotten married in the first place, let alone becoming a widow. The knots around her chest loosened. It felt better not to be the object of constant pity.

“So why come you to God’s backyard?” she asked.

Scorpius laughed. “Work. What? I’m not being funny! Its either that or spend Christmas at home. God’s backyard, as you call it, was the lesser evil.”

“What on hell kind of work would bring you to Tidley of all places?”

“An old mentor from Prague is here,” he took another drag of smoke. “Retired in Tidley but set up a private practice six months later. He’s getting a bit old so he asked for a little bit of help until he can manage to get along on his own again. As much of a workhorse as I am. Doesn’t know the meaning of holidays.”

“Is he picking you up?”

“No. Have to find my own way. No idea how I’m going to manage it. Can’t possibly apparate to a place I don’t know and can’t floo to a place not listed in the directory.”

The sun wouldn’t be coming up for a few more hours and Tidley was far from waking up to an early start. Rose still didn’t feel like coming home just yet. So she got up, shrank her bags to fit inside her pocket and gave out a big sigh. “I’ll help you find it.”

“Really? Listen, I don’t mean to impose. I was just having a laugh back then. I’m sure I can find my way.”

“No you can’t. It may have been eight years Scorpius, but I know what terrible sense of direction you have. I’m surprised you even got as far as here without getting on the wrong train.”

“Never said that,” he cracked a smile. Men and their pride. Never asking for directions and when the help is finally offered, you have to force them to take it. Chris was the exact same way.

“I suppose a little help would be good. For good measure and all that,” he stood up, stretching his tired arms as far as they went. “The company wouldn’t be so bad either.”

“Your welcome,” she nodded.

“You really have to get your way don’t you?”

***



She took him along the forest paths. Dark and straight out of a horror novel for any first time traveler, but she’d cast a firefly charm to light the path as they walked on leisurely through the winding, snow covered road.

“Old haunts seem very literal in this sense doesn’t it? This place’s right off some horror story. Are we going to get eaten by the boogey man or is some cannibalistic old bat going to lure us into her house with some candy?”

“It looks better in spring. Irises grow along the road and makes for a pretty walk. In the afternoon, light shines through the leaves and makes your skin look green.”

“Must be nice living in the country. Quiet. Not at all like London.”

“But I thought you lived in Prague?” Rose looked at him as she walked, her back facing the road ahead. She knew these paths like salmon knew their way upstream. The likelihood of her backing up into a tree was slim to a very certain none.

“I floo back and forth from Prague to London. Dad doesn’t say anything but I’m sure he hates being in a big house all by himself. Mum will run mad without someone to fuss over and God knows she’ll never fuss over her current husband. So Prague in the weekdays, London in the weekends. Been that way for a long time.”

“Still the adult. Bet they’re hopeless without you now.”

“Well Mum is on a second honeymoon with Holster the Hoot, which probably means they’ll be divorced within a month or so. And Dad’s busy with Ministry work, adding more toilets in Diagon Alley and what not. So I suppose they’ll get along just grand for holidays. How I’ll survive on the other hand is all up to what the charming town of Tidley Hill has to offer.”

And that wasn’t much of anything for a townie like Scorpius. Even in school he wasn’t the type of man easily impressed. He was a Malfoy for goodness sake and his hereditary haughtiness often inflated his head against the simpler joys of quiet living. Tidley had peace and perspective to offer. No pubs other than the Old Gentleman’s Tavern her Dad frequented. No clubs other than the Knitting Club her Mum forced herself to join. And no nightlife other than wondering what the owls did when they took their evening flights. The only place to be ever filled to capacity was the funeral parlor. It was an old town with an old population that rather liked a but of serenity as they waited on death’s door to finally open.

“You’ll have work,” she turned around and faced the road. “Work should keep your busy enough.”

“Now look at us, prattling on and on about me. I know I have a reputation of being self-absorbed wanker but you don’t have to indulge me,” he walked up to her. “So, what’s new with you? Tell me all the sordid little details.”

This was it. The comfortable escapism of talking with blissful ignorance personified would be shattered and Rose would once again be subjected to awkward pity. For a moment, she toyed with the idea of lying to him all together. Of skipping passed her personal life for the last two years and the following lifetime and skipping right ahead to ‘I’m fine. Nothing special’.

There was something special and she was far from fine. But most important of all, she could not even deny it, even if she tried.

She took a deep breath.

“To be honest, I’ve been going through a rough patch lately.”

“Anything I can help with?”

“To an extent you have. But overall, it can’t be helped.” The next words hung to her throat as if being dragged out from a place of comfort. They raked at her and seemed almost physically painful to say, but she managed to say it nonetheless.

“My husband died.”

But she surprised him. Most people would call Scorpius numb, tactless or maybe even heartless for what he said next. But they hadn’t known her the way she had. To her and to everyone who knew him well enough, he was the brutally honest, blunt and direct Scorpius. The tosser she’d gone to study groups with, drilled tests with and made fun of people with. The Scorpius that indulged her tendency to be catty and petty without making her out to be a horrible person. The Scorpius that encouraged her fighting with waitresses when didn’t take down her order. The Scorpius that was her friend. This was the Scorpius she’d known eight years ago and it seemed like he hadn’t faded away just as she hadn’t.

Scorpius said, “Bad things happen for no reason at all.”

He was right. Bad things happen for no reason at all. It happened and it happened to everyone.

It made her angry, sad, tired and broken to hear it. But it also felt like a relief to hear someone say it out loud.

She felt like crying, but it was too cold to cry. Instead, she wrung her fingers until they turned red and ached.

Scorpius put an arm around her and gave her a friendly hug. They walked like that the rest of the way, until they reached Healer Tichy’s clinic a mile away from the foot of the hill. Scorpius helped her climb over a pasture fence and she took him as far as the road did.

“So this is my stop?” he asked.

“Just walk down to the old mill. I’m pretty sure that’s where you’re looking to go.”

“Will you be alright?”

“Our place is just further down the road. I’ll be fine.”

“Right,” he nodded. “Well, later Rose. Don’t wait eight years to call again, yeah? As far as the holidays go, I’m just down the road.”

She gave him a quick hug and waved goodbye.

Just like that, the moment ended and the knots on her chest formed again, this time reaching all the way down to her stomach. The old leaning house would be at the end of the road. And with it, the full force of her large family.

But forward, she told herself. Forward.

Forward again. Rose was going to move forward.

It was what she did best.

Chapter 3: Home
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Author's Note: A short chapter, but a big turning point for Rose, I think. Sorry for taking so long with this. I hope you like the chapter! Reviews are welcome no matter what length!

Karen Gillan as Rose Weasley-Sedley
Toby Jones as Willy the Garden Gnome
Sophie Marceau as Aunt Fleur
  Alex Kingston as Aunt Audrey





ADDED MAY 30, 2010: Also, if you want to know more about Chris and/or Rose, I have a new short story collection put up just for their life before Chris died. A prequel of sorts told from Chris's perspective. It's called You're So Lucky That I'm Around and the first chapter has already been posted! Enjoy!


Standard Disclaimer: None of this is mine, but JK Rowling's. The cast list mentioned above is a list of people I envision to be the characters and is only provided to serve as visual aids for the reader. I have, in no way shape or form, any means to actually procure these actors to be my characters. Thank you!














Home









The last time she saw her mother was at the funeral. Hermione Wealsey was wearing black, much like the rest of them, and she wore her mother’s pearls around her neck. Rose never knew her grandparents. The only grandparents she’d ever known were her Nana and Pop-pop. Her Mum’s parents died before she and Hugo were born. The only thing she knew about her - her mother’s mother - was they were cut from the same cloth. She and her grandmother could almost be the same person. That was what everyone said.

Especially after Rose had cut her hair short.

Hermione always liked that about her.

Rose didn’t know why she remembered that all of a sudden. As the firefly spell lit the way from the old mill and through the forest, all she could remember was her mother lightly touching her pure white pearls as Chris’s body was being lowered down into the ground.

It was the most beautiful she’d ever seen her. The calmest she’d ever seen her. Like winter had passed over Hermione and she turned cold for her daughter. Sharing Rose’s sadness. Sharing Rose’s grief. Silent and reverent.

It was the kindest thing her mother had ever done for her.

***



Their house was like her Dad’s famous lemon meringue pie. There was nothing better in the world. Despite Hogwarts being a dreamland during my school years, Rose used to dream every night of coming back home to her lemon meringue house. Back in her warm, sweet, old fashioned house.

It wasn’t the grandest thing in the world. It was just as it was. It was just as it should be. Just a modest little cottage in the middle of a forest. When they were children, she and Hugo used to pretend that it was the house in Hansel and Gretel stories. They would sneak around licking the snow off the windows and pretending that the wood was made of chocolate and wafers. Ron would always play the Evil Witch, threatening to throw gingerbread dopplegangers of them into the oven. In their games, the Evil Witch always won, for an hour before  he clock chimed midnight, Ron would pop in the gingerbread men into the oven. Cookies and Christmas always came at the exact same time.

Of course their Mum thought that he spoiled the children rotten with sweets during the holidays. She’d always make the both of them floss after, saying that they wouldn’t want the dentist to be cross with us on our next visit.

Rose held her coat tighter as she got closer and closer to the house. There was no warm glow coming from the windows and no vanilla scented smoke coming out from the chimney. Everyone was likely to be asleep still.

The sun was just peaking from behind the pine tree horizon and the stars were still out in the sky, enjoying the last moments before they were sent to bed by their parents.

Even with Nutgrove Farm waiting for her a hundred miles away, this house, the house on the foot of Tidley Hill was still – and always would be – her home.

And yet, there was something about it that frightened her. It looked the same as it had always looked, but each step she took, bringing her closer and closer to her childhood home, was filled with dread and fear. Family had always been such a comfort to her, but she could not shake the feeling that she was forcing herself to do something she did not entirely want to do.

There was no doubt that she wanted to see them all. She missed her family with all her heart, but everything in her said that she did not want to see them right now. Not now.

In her heart, all Rose wanted to see was Chris. But he was gone and that was the end of that.

Rose moved on.

As she opened the gate, a rather large party of garden gnomes – all dressed like Father Christmas – greeted her. Some even walking away from their tiny bonfire to say hello. They were all enjoying miniature sized mugs of hot cider and butterbeer, and what seemed to be a feast of day-old treacle tarts. No doubt, her mother was the benefactor of their festivities. Hermione had always had a soft spot in her heart for the poor creatures. So did Rose. Those garden gnomes had been her first patients out of Hewertt’s School for Magical Creature Healers. She greeted them with a tip of her imaginary hat and politely declined to join them.

“Tuckered out I’m afraid, but don’t mind me. Enjoy yourselves.”

One of them raised a mug to her, “Ah Rose-girl. Such a sight for sore eyes. It’s been a while since we’ve seen your pretty face around. Your mum said you weren’t coming home for Christmas. Afraid no one’s waiting up for you.”

It was the gnome better known as Willy. Still the same old rosy-cheeked gnome she’d known all of her life. A longer, grayer beard since she last saw him, though. It quite suited him, she thought.

“Probably better that way, don’t you think?”

“Not be wanting a fuss?”

“Definitely not.”

“Then fuss not for we gnomes keep quiet to ourselves. Celebrating an early Christmas while those damn hellions are sleeping away in their wee beds. Dreaming of throwing us around in the morning, no doubt.”

She smiled, choosing to believe that he was talking about her nieces and nephews. “How are you Willy?”

“Fighting fit, my girl. Fighting fit! Just let those children try to wrestle old Willy down. They’ll see that they’ve yet to toss a gnome until they’ve tossed Willy.”

“And how about the others?”

“Right as rain! We’re all a tough bunch to de-gnome. Your sainted mother has been feeding us well. Though Benny over there has been having problems with the ticker.”

“I can have a look at it if you want—-“

“Don’t you bother, Rose-girl. We may not be as young as you remember us, but we’re all fit as fiddles.”

“Still, I’ll look at it in the morning. And if Benny runs, I can run faster. Tell him that.”

“I’ll try Rose-girl. But the cider gets to his head quicker than fluff and it’ll be hard to get a fair warning in him. Now get yourself into that house before you freeze to death. You people don’t have a gnome’s strong constitution, you don’t.”

“Alright then.”

“Take the back door if you ask me. The devil cat be sleeping by the door. Wake that one up and you’ll have the whole house in a frenzy before sun-up.”

“Thank you Willy!”

“Cheers!” they all said, insisting on drinking to my health.

Rose really should have gone on inside by then. It was freezing cold enough to frost the end of her nose, but still she stood there. The gnomes had gone on back to their fire, singing their carrols and drinking their cider and butterbeer, but Rose could not move an inch closer to the house.

Willy noticed from the distance. Standing there, more of a statue than a person. Rose stared but she could no longer see shapes or fixtures. She stared for the sake of starring. Willy tugged her coat.

“Why not go in, Rose-girl? You’re home!”

“I am,” she nodded. “I know I am. But…”

“The Rose-girl I knew wasn’t afraid of anything at all, bless her. So why is she afraid of a little old house, d’you think?”

“I don’t know, Willy. I just…”

“No need to be explaining there, lass. Old Willy was just thinking to himself. Some doors are right fiercer than others. And some doors can be opened as easily as you toss a gnome,” Willy sat on a small stone. He put down his butterbeer, brought out a small clay pipe and puffed out green and red whisps of smoke. Rose used to remember loving to watch him do that.

“I should go in, shouldn’t I, Willy? I can’t have come all this way just to go back again. I should go in. I should.”

“What you be asking me for Rose-girl? You have your own mind, don’t you? Ask yourself. Don’t tell. It’s not polite. Old Willy will stay here and keep you company till you decide.”

Rose turned to him. “No Willy. Go back to the party. I’m sure they’ll be missing you.”

“They’ll not be missing an old gnome when they’re all drunk beyond they’re wits. Don’t mind me, Rose-girl. Just ask yourself that question and let me smoke my pipe while you do.”

It seemed odd to Rose, taking the advise of a garden gnome. But Willy had grown old and wise there in the Weasley yard. He’d been tossed out and again since before Rose was born and he still managed to find his way back into the yard. It never hurt to listen to someone with experience.

So, she stood there. Asking herself. Should I really go in? she said.

No one answered. Not even Chris’s voice in her head. All she could hear were vague strains of Old King Wenceslas being sung by tiny drunken voices, the sound of the cold wind as it passed its way between the trees and leaves, the eerie silence of the countryside in slumber. But no answer.

Once more, she asked. Kinder. Pleading.

“Find the answer yet?” Willy asked.

“Nothing’s coming,” Rose answered.

“Well maybe there is no answer. Or maybe you’re just ignoring it, Rose girl. You are still standing out here in the cold.”

All this time, she’d fought against herself. She forced herself on the train, forced herself out and forced herself to the very spot where she stood.

But she was there.

Willy was right. She was still standing there.

“I’m still here,” Rose whispered. She turned to Willy. “Do you think I’m making the right decision, Willy?”

Willy hopped off his stone and picked up his butterbeer. The look on his face beamed with the hint of a spirte’s mischief, as if he had a secret he would take to his grave.

Rose smiled. “Don’t forget. Tell Benny I’ll check up on him in the morning.”

“Take your time Rose-girl. He won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Same goes for the house.”

Willy winked at Rose as he stumbled on back to the party.

Rose made her way round the back to the frozen pond and tapped the three frogs that guarded it. Suddenly the ice cracked and the shards formed a staircase.

This had been the entrance of shame. The one she and Hugo had taken when they had dirty shoes, wet clothes or nasty secrets. She couldn’t even count the number of times she’d helped Hugo inside the house after a late night of drinking with his friends, the number of times they both snuck out to chuck rotten fruit at Foggy Fergus’s barn, the number of times they cracked the ice to see their mother waiting with crossed arms and tapping slippers.

As Rose went in the house, she couldn’t help feel every bit as guilty as she had been in the past. She felt like a thief or a cheat. She hadn’t even told her parents that she would be coming. What if they’d let out her room to one of the older kids? What if they’d used it to hold the useless junk that needed hiding? What if her room wasn’t her room anymore, but a game room or a small study?

Rose groped through the darkness filled with the fear that she didn’t know her own house anymore. Hesitant as she was to come in the first place, she did not want to feel like a stranger that was, and always would be her home.

And what better way to reassure her of the familiarity than the sudden waft of vanilla, chocolate and butter that came from the kitchen.

Rose smiled. It was four o’clock in the morning, the sun had hardly come up, and yet a Weasley kitchen was still at work.

Rose tip-toed up the basement stairs and into the kitchen only to find her two favorite aunts slaving over bowls, stoves and countless ingredients.

Seeing her come out from the woodwork, they stopped in their tracks.

“ROSIE!” they both cried as they dropped all that they were doing and ran to her in a dust cloud of flour and sugar.

Rose found herself in the vies-like grips of her Aunt Fleur and Aunt Audrey. Kisses fell like rain on her cheeks and laughter came out of all of them as if it were Christmas morning.

“Your Mum said you wouldn’t be coming. Oh Rosie darling, come and sit. Let’s get some food in you. You look tired to the bone!” Aunt Audrey forced her down on a chair and as quick as you could blink, she put a plate of eggs, muffins and brownies in front of her.

“Chérie, we missed you so,” Aunt Fleur couldn’t hugging her. “I never stopped hoping you’d show up the way you do. Rosie is like a butterfly, I told them. You never know when she’s going to break out of her shell. You were always so, ma chére fille. Didn’t I say so, Audrey?”

Aunt Audrey was building up a whirlwind as she opened cupboards and drawers, looking for more and more things to put on Rose’s plate. Jams, preserves, fruit, milk, coffee, juice, anything she could find! She seemed too happy to talk and Rose was too glad of it to care.

Rose kept quiet as she watched her aunts and listened to them go on about this and that. Victoire’s pregancy. Lily’s wedding. Hugo coming back from his visit in Romania. The various grandchildren that they shared. It was as if Rose was not to be left missing a thing. Home was just the way she’d left it. People were talking, laughing, fresh toast broken and shared with family.

The pair of them were white with flour and busy at their mixing bowls. The oven was already fired up and baking a batch of pastries and the frying pans were sizzling with sausages and bacon.

It was the same every year. Audrey and Fleur were the first ones up, ready and rearing to cook a storm for the perpetually expanding party they had to eat. Eggs, bacon, pancakes, pumpkin juice, bangers and mash, anything that the family could want. They were better than an army of house elves and what was better was that they liked making everything from scratch.

Her Aunt Fleur looked the same as she did in the wedding photo that hung in the living room. Even early in the morning and covered in flour, she still looked like the fairy queen that Rose and her cousins had pretended her to be.

And Aunt Audrey! Oh she couldn’t wait to get one of her bone crunching hugs. She wouldn’t dare ever voice it out, but Aunt Audrey was her favorite person in the family. Of course, her Aunt Ginny and Aunt Gelly legends, her father was the sweetest man alive, Uncle Harry was a national treasure, but her Aunt Audrey was in a league of her own. The fact that she made her Uncle Percy act like an overgrown child was only the tip of the wonderful iceberg that was her.

“Oh you should see Roxanne’s new fella!” said Audrey as she took a nice little break from cooking, helping herself to some toast and eggs. “Gordon, he said his name was. Bit pudgy and even more than a bit odd, but he seemed like a sweet man.”

“Oh oui! He brought his adorable son with them. Oh such a sweet little boy. Poor cheri. He and Roxanne seemed to get along quite well and she will make for a good mother for him. ”

“Roxanne is getting married?” Rose choked out.

“No, no, chérie,” Aunt Fleur tutted her. “Or at least, I don’t think so. They said nothing about marriage, from what I remember. Did they Audrey?”

“No they did not. I think Roxanne has turned into those modern types. The kind that don’t believe in labels or insittutions and such.”

“Just like Dominique," Aunt Fleur groaned. "Ah! Merlin forgive me for wanting control of my children’s lives! But I do wish she would settle down already! She is so beautiful and so kind and intelligent! I cannot imagine why the men do not flaunt themselves at her!”

Rose laughed. “And what does Uncle Bill think about this?”

“Oh you know your uncle. Let her be, he says. She is her own person, he says. Why if my parents ever gave me such freedom, I would have ruined my life and ended up a horrible old maid.”

As the plates of food piled up and the stacks of baked goods came one after the other out of the oven, none of them seemed the drowsier and the conversation simply got more and more animated. Still they hushed themselves when the laughter got too loud. They wouldn’t want to wake the children. They needed all the sleep they could get, especially since they slept so late during the holidays.

Things began to slow down and soon both of the Aunts were seated, dust-free, and sipping hot cups of coffee while they waited for the house to realize it was morning.

Their topics became more somber, missing Nana and Pop-pop the most during the holidays, hoping Lily could have been there with them because it would not be the same without her, and finally, the topic drifted to two months ago and how sad they still felt. How much they felt Chris’s loss.

“He was such a good man. Such a good man. So kind with the children,” said Aunt Audrey. “I remember when he dressed as Father Christmas and slid down the chimney for the little ones so they could have the perfect Christmas morning.”

“I remember that,” Aunt Fleur nodded. “He was the only one who could fit through the damned thing, bless him. Oh Rosie, ma chérie, how you must feel. We are sorry we could not help more during the funeral.”

“Now stop that Aunt Fleur. You know you helped incredibly. All of you did. It was just…just…”

Rose couldn’t thank them enough for what they’d done during that time. Her family had taken care of everything. Calling the different people to tell them the sad news, inviting them to the funeral, arranging everything from the color coffin to the brass handles on the side. She didn’t even have to lift a finger. All she did was cry, for she did not know what else to do.

It hurt. It physically hurt to watch them take care of him for the last time while all she could do was sit and watch.

“You chose the dark suit, remember Aunt Fleur?”

Fleur nodded.

“And you, Aunt Audrey, you wrote the epitaph.”

Audrey nodded too.

“And Dad read his favorite poem, Fred played the guitar, Mum said a prayer. The children made paper flowers for him. James and Hugo were pole bearers. Everyone did something. You all helped. Thank you.”

She wasn’t able to thank them before. Not just for carrying him, but carrying her as well. She’d been too busy crying that she forgot to thank them. Or maybe she did, but she couldn’t remember thanking them enough.

She kissed both of them on the cheek and said good night. She was tired and tomorrow would be a long day.






Translations:
ma chére fille - my dear girl
ma chérie - my dear

Chapter 4: Family
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Standard Disclaimer: None of this is mine, but JK Rowling's. The cast list mentioned above is a list of people I envision to be the characters and is only provided to serve as visual aids for the reader. I have, in no way shape or form, any means to actually procure these actors to be my characters. Thank you!

Karen Gillan as Rose Weasley-Sedley
Tom Hiddleston as Scorpius Malfoy

Sophie Marceau as Aunt Fleur
Alex Kingston as Aunt Audrey


 


Family







 

Chris was right beside her. She felt his warmth. She felt his breath on her neck as he gently snored into her ear. She didn’t mind. Not anymore. They’d been married for two years now. After the first few months, she stopped being bothered by it. She started liking it. It was the assurance that he was there - next to her. It was the assurance that he was safe. That she was safe. That they were together and that nothing would change that.

“Good morning,” she breathed.

But no answer came.

The sunlight pierced through Rose’s eyes and Chris’s snoring grew fainter. It was replaced by the sounds of laughter coming from outside her window.

It was not long before Rose left the fringes of sleep – the time between dreams and reality where she could at least pretend that Chris was still there. But she did not want to open her eyes. Not just yet.

She wanted to go back to sleep. Escape into a dream. Have some peace.

She used to be able to do it without difficulty. Go back to sleep. Sleep until noon. But she no longer could. Not in that room. Not in that bed.

The pillow didn’t smell like Chris.

Back home, in the bed she once shared with her husband, the sheets still smelled like him.

She hadn’t felt like doing the washing since he died. She hadn’t felt like doing much since he died, but the laundry especially. She didn’t want to lose the way it made her feel when she got up in the morning. Smelling him near her, closing her eyes and imagining that he was right beside her. It was the only part of him that lingered now and she refused to let it go.

Now, she had nothing.

Rose opened her eyes.

***






The house no longer smelled of pastries and sausages. The time for breakfast had long passed. Sweet meats and potatoes now filled the air. Christmas spices and butter too. The air inside the Weasley household was so thick you could barely breath through it, but sure enough it was the scent of home for Rose. It was the scent she grew up with. The scent she was raised on. As she did her best to go down the stairs and quietly as possible, she couldn’t help but feel nostalgic for her own childhood when this time was a time of pure wonder and excitement. She and Hugo used to race down that same flight of stairs in hopes of getting to the batter bowl first. Who would get to lick the spoons covered in chocolate and cream? Who would get the first mice pie out of the oven? Who would get to dust the gingerbread house and eat all of the left over candy decorations?

Rose’s time for that had already long passed. The sound of laughter coming from the kitchen could easily have belonged to a younger version of herself, but it did not. It belonged to her little nieces and nephews. The younger ones at least. The ones who still marveled at the smallest things. Who found joy in the simplest acts.

She walked in to find Aunt Audrey and Aunt Fleur, still slaving away to feed the multitudes. But this time, they had a gaggle of little helpers. Pippa and Polly, James’s three year old twins, were cradled in their arms while fighting over who put the batter in the cupcake tins. Grace, Fred’s eldest, wasn’t far behind. She was the oldest of the new Weasley girls. At seven, she must have thought herself too old to be helping the Aunts in the kitchen, but you could see it in her smile that she enjoyed getting flour on her nose just as much as the little ones did. Of course, wherever Grace was, Anne, her younger sister, followed. The poor darling was only five but she tried desperately to be grown up like her sister.

But there was a new face in the crowd. One she did not recognize. A little boy sitting in the corner, watching as the girls pretended to be their grandmothers. He must be the boy the Aunts were talking about earlier that morning. Roxanne’s almost-son.

Rose came in and gave her Aunts a kiss on the cheek each. Her nieces erupted into screams of, “Aunt Rose!” as they tackled her down with kisses and hugs.

Rose didn’t mind. They’d grown up so much in the two months she hadn’t seen them! She wanted to stare at them the whole day just so she wouldn’t miss a thing.

“Come on you little hooligans! Let your Auntie Rose have a breath, why don’t you. Off, my pets! Off!”

“I don’t mind, Aunt Audrey. Honestly. I missed the devils. Oh!” Rose rounded them up again and hugged them all at the same time. They giggled and wriggled and her arms and she ordered them all one more kiss on her cheek before she let them go.

One by one, they served their sentence and were released back to the custody of their grandmothers.

But Pippa didn’t go back to Aunt Audrey’s welcoming arms. She went to the corner and fetched the little boy. Pippa took his hand and led him up to Rose like a lamb for the slaughter. The boy didn’t seem as eager to greet Rose as the others. He squirmed out of Pippa’s grasp and ran to hide behind Aunt Audrey.

“Oh, don’t be shy boy! It’s only Rosie,” Aunt Audrey laughed.

“That’s right,” Polly nodded. “It’s just Auntie Rose. You’ll like her.” Bless her, she still had her lisp.

Pippa took his hand again, this time, practically dragging him to Rose.

“Auntie Rose, this is Simon. He’s new.”

Rose smiled at her little niece and shook Simon’s hand. He looked at bit older than the twins, but definitely younger than Anne. But despite that, he was shy. He kept looking at his shoes, never meeting her gaze. And with the mess of curls he had on his head, it wasn’t as difficult as it seemed.

“Nice to meet you Miss Rose,” Simon mumbled.

“Auntie Rose, silly!” Polly giggled. She seemed to be under the impression that that was Rose’s full name. But such was the innocence of children.

“Sorry,” Simon whispered.

“Don’t worry about it. You can call me Miss Rose. If you want, though, you can just call me Rose and I won’t mind. After all, I do call you Simon.” Rose winked at the child and a small smile came shining through the corner of his mouth.

Rose ruffled up his hair and took his hand from Pippa’s domineering grasp. She helped him back to his chair, then she propped herself up on the counter beside him.

“Ces Magnifique!” Aunt Fleur swept the children back up to their work stations and the elves went back to their toil.

“Catch, dearie!” Aunt Audrey chucked a mince pie Rose’s way and she caught it with practiced ease.

Rose split the pie in half and gave the other to Simon, who looked more than grateful to have it.

“So,” she said as she helped herself to the other pastries cooling beside her, “where is the rest of the Weasley brood? I don’t remember it being this quiet.”

“Well, most of them are in the back yard with your Aunt Gelly and Aunt Ginny. Hugo brought over some brooms from work and the munchkins begged their poor parents for a game.”

“The Handsome Men’s Club? Are they there too?”

“Thank heavens no! Your uncles are out into town. Imagine the bother they’d make, bless their souls. No. Fleur and I thought it would be clever to make them do the shopping so that we can get things done around the house. They’re buying nonsense the poor dears.”

“Your mother is there too, ma fille chérie. Hermione’s off at the post office dear. Mailing some last minute Christmas cards.”

“And everyone knows you’re here so don’t think you can just sneak off back into your room without so much as a hello. Now I will hear no more about it. You will go out, mingle with your cousins and that’s that. We have have enough little darlings here to help us till New Years.”

“You know what, I think I might just go into town first. Say hello to Mom and Dad before the rest of the motley crew.”

“Suit yourself darling. Don’t forget to bundle up! It snowed hard this morning and it’s freezing.”

“Fleur knitted you a little Pre-Christmas jumper to use before present time. I put it by your coat so you have no excuses.”

“You didn’t have to…”

“Say no more Rosie. We were happy to do it. Just put the jumper on and be off with you. Say goodbye to Auntie Rosie, mes enfants!”

“Bye Auntie Rosie!” they yelled in unison, trying to be cheeky by being extra loud. Still, Simon sat in his chair, looking at his feet as they dangled too and fro. Rose’s little nieces could be a bit much, she had to agree, and he was a shy boy, bless him.

Crouching down to meet his gaze, she lifted up his chin and smiled. “Do you want to come with me for a walk, Simon? We can count some sheep and maybe even catch a few brams. They’re nasty little devils. We can get some hot chocolate later. I’d even give you all of my marshmallows”

Rose didn’t know whether it was idea of getting out into the countryside, running and playing, or the thought of hot chocolate and marshmallows that appealed to Simon, but his smile slowly grew and he nodded with a restrained form of excitement.

Rose took his hand and helped him off of his chair, walking him to the coat rack and bundling him up tight before stepping out into the crisp, white wonderland that was Tidley in the winter

***






It was a slow walk, and not just because Simon had short little legs that took small steps rather than long strides. Rather it was because Rose enjoyed seeing Tidley in the winter. Everything seemed so pure. So wonderfully clean. Like a fresh start or a new day. Of course, she still loved the flowers and scents that bloomed in the spring but there was a charm to the winter that felt absolutely in it’s own league.

Rose could hear Simon struggling beside her. Even in their glacial pace, he grappled with the amount of walking it took to live in the country. A true Londoner through and through.

“You know what, Simon?” She looked to him, “I’m feeling rather knackered. Would you mind if we sit for a while? Just so I can catch my breath?”

Simon vigorously nodded and Rose smiled. Finding an old and familiar tree stump by the road, she sat them both on it and took a deep breath of the fresh air that surrounded them. Rose hugged him close and kissed the top of his head. “Enjoying yourself?”

“Daddy says that exercise is good for me.”

“And right he is. Best thing in the world, exercise.”

“I can’t do much, though. Makes me go thump-thump,” he punctuated the action by drumming on his heavily padded chest.

“Hmmm, sometimes a little thump-thump is good, but you should never have too much of a good thing. That’s why I like sit down and rest. You?”

He nodded again. Simon didn’t like to say much, as it seemed, and it suited Rose just fine.

She pulled out a candy bar from inside her coat pocket and gave it to him as a treat. His little eyes lit up as he opened the wrapper and took a bite. Not forgetting his manners, he offered Rose some as soon as he realized he hadn’t yet. He was a very sweet child.

From the stump, Rose could see almost all of Downhill Tidley. Chimney’s all asmoke, houses decorated with garlands and twinkles. She could even see the red farm, the one Scorpius was supposed to be staying at.

The idea tickled at her brain as she thought of visiting him instead of going into town like she’d said earlier. She didn’t want to meet her parents, not just yet. Neither did she want to run into any of her uncles. Catching up, laughing about old times. It seemed more appealing to her than being asked how she was coping or how she looked rather well.

Dangling her feet, Rose looked to her little companion and wondered whether it would be strange at all to bring him into a stranger’s home.

But he wouldn’t be a stranger. Not really. He’d be Scorpius.

Rose tugged at Simon’s hood. “Would you mind at all if we dropped by on a friend of mine before going into town? I promise I’ll get you two hot chocolates if we do.”

Simon looked as if he was truly thinking on it. His bites on the candy bar became smaller and his chewing became slower. Finally, he nodded, jumping off the stump and taking Rose’s hand.

***






Just like she told Scorpius the night (or rather the morning) before, Healer Tichy’s clinic was the old mill at the end of the road. It was bright red against the white snow that covered it. Refurbished into a home with large windows to bring in the light.

Rose could see Scorpius out in the porch. He was bundled up as much as she and Simon were. He had a hot mug of something in his hands, a cigarette in between his lips.

Rose waved out to him, using both of her hands to send a bigger signal. Simon started imitating her as he waved his hands as well, jumping in the air so he could be seen. They must have been quite the sight and true enough, they finally caught Scorpius’s eye.

“Hullo there!” Rose yelled out to him as she walked down what would have been a grassy meadow in the spring.

Scorpius waved back. He was leaned back on his chair, a hand covering his amused smile, before finally deciding to set down his mug so he could walk out and meet her.

“I know I told you not to be a stranger, but I didn’t expect this. Miss me already, did you?” Scorpius laughed as he hugged her. “What are you doing here?”

“I was on my way into town when I thought of dropping by first to see how you’ve settled. This is Simon by the way. A new friend of mine. Simon, this is Scorpius, an old friend of mine.”

Simon gave a little wave before hugging Rose’s leg. Scorpius was a good sport about it and made a funny face to try and break the ice.

Once the pleasantries were done, Scorpius ushered them inside, out of the cold and into a warm, cozy kitchen.

“Healer Tichy and his wife went into town a little before you came. Bringing some pies to patients.”

“Sounds like an absolute saint.”

“Certainly is. Always told me patient care cured better than medicine. Wise old goat, he was.”

After a whisper from Rose, Scorpius got a mischievous look on his face as he conjured up three mugs of steaming hot chocolate. And as promised no one had marshmallows on them except for Simon. He had all of their shares floating like puffy white clouds in his mug.

Rose mouthed a thank you and Scorpius brushed it off. He was quite a nice guy when he chose to be so. She’d never forgotten that.

So while Simon happily drank his hot chocolate, taking small sips in between blows so not to burn his tongue, Rose and Scorpius caught up on old times. About old classmates and where the buggers were now. Professors, acquaintances. But it was not much use as both were equally clueless about the world around them.

“I can’t believe how out of touch we’ve been. You in your little slice of paradise, me in Prague. Seems like everything passed us by.”

“I know what you mean. I feel guilty about it though, not keeping in touch. But, I don’t know. After I left for Hewertt’s, I always felt busy, knackered or lazy. It’s my fault really. Should have picked up the phone. Or at least sent an owl. How hard is it to write a ‘how are you’ on a small piece of paper?”

“Slow down now. It’s not all you fault. It was a two way street. You didn’t call, I didn’t call. You didn’t write, I didn’t write. Not our style I suppose. Besides, I prefer talking. I was always better at oral exams than written ones.”

“That’s because you can talk anyone into anything.”

“I’m not denying it,” Scorpius joked. “God I missed you old girl. Almost forgot what fun we used to have.”

Rose nodded. “Same here. I really should have called. Really. I’m sorry about that.”

“Hey, I’m sorry too. Now we’re both even.”

For a while it was quiet. They both took sips of their hot chocolate and Simon went off wandering around the room. Rose didn’t quite know what to say to Scorpius. Why hadn’t she kept in touch? It was simple, she got too caught up in being in love, in being with Chris. And for Scorpius’s part, she really couldn’t blame him for not having the energy to call. After all, he did have two children to deal with in his mother and father. Neither of them seemed truly at fault. The only thing Rose did feel guilty about was not having introduced him to Chris. They would have liked each other. Scorpius was a wanker, but Chris would have gotten on well with him. They would have watched Quidditch games together. Gone out to pubs together. Shared embarrassing stories about Rose. They would have to. After all, Scorpius had been her best mate. Rose would have badgered Chris into liking him. He always let her get her way in the end.

Rose shook her head. No. She didn’t want to think about all that right now. Setting down her mug, she tried to hide away a small smile as she looked at Scorpius.

“What? Chocolate stuck to my teeth?”

“No. No. Nothing like that. It’s just…well, you’re rather good with children aren’t you? Who would have thought? Scorpius Malfoy: child whisperer.” Rose tried to keep her earlier thoughts to herself.

Still, there was a look on Scorpius’s face, a suppressed sense of realization, that disappeared almost as soon as it came. He didn’t even mention it and he went on to the topic Rose had started. “What? Simon is a good kid. A bit shy, but I’ve seen worse.”

“You should have seen him in the house. Poor boy was pushed to the corner by my nieces’ more than dazzling personalities.”

“A family trait, no doubt,” Scorpius tipped an imaginary hat.

Rose swatted him on the arm even though she knew it was true. “He seems to like you rather well. Warmed to you quicker than he did to me.”

“Well that’s understandable. I am rather fun, or have you forgotten?”

“You even got my mum to like you and that’s no easy feat!”

“How is the old battle ax anyway?” Scorpius took a sip of his chocolate.

Rose wanted to lie. She wanted to pretend that she had seen her parents and that would be the end of it. But she couldn’t find it in herself to lie to him. Not when she knew he could tell. But it had been so long. Eight years. Dare she think the skill went dull due to lack of practice?

Rose didn’t want to take the chance. Pushing her mug away, she sat back and gave a small groan as she ran her hand nervously through her hair. “I haven’t exactly seen my parents yet. I think I’ve been avoiding it. In fact, I don’t think I’m quite ready just yet. I just---”

“Hey, hey,” Scorpius interrupted. “No need to explain. I’m sure you have your reasons. Besides, when have I ever looked down on avoiding parents? I’m doing it right now,” he tried to make her laugh. Rose appreciated it. “Now, come on. I’m running out of catch-up topics here. How about we talk about me now? Your life is getting boring and you know I always have loads to say about myself.”

How could he do that? Not ask, or prod or insist but nevertheless, Rose felt the urge to divulge everything to him. She hadn’t seen Scorpius in eight years for goodness sake and already she was ready to spill out her secrets and just tell him what he didn’t even want to know. It was uncanny, but it had always been like this. Chris had always said that Rose always had to get what she wanted. Well Scorpius was the same, only that he always got more than that.

This time though, Rose would try to deny him.

“Let’s talk about you then. I think I’d like that topic better,” she smiled.

“Right. Settled,” Scorpius cleared his throat as he eased in his chair, waiting for the onslaught of questions to follow. “What do you want to know? My life is an open book. Go on then. Twenty questions like the old days, only I won’t ask back.”

“Why are you doing this? Not asking.”

“Because it’s what you need. That counts as one. Are you really going to waste your questions like that?”

A smile tugged on her lips. Why did she never call? Rose nodded, silently thanking any higher power giving her this particular friend just when she needed him. “Which of Asteria’s husbands do you like the most, your dad excluded.”

“Simon! I think Rose is ready to leave now!” he laughed.

“Answer the question!”
 







 
Translations:

Mes enfants - my children
Ces Magnifique - Splendid!

 


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