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The first thing I had to admit about casts was that they were itchy. It seemed to me at times that the incessant painful tickle was almost worse than the throbbing pain of a broken bone. The throbbing pain could be eliminated by a quick potion. The itching on the other hand never went away.

“I hate this,” I grumbled to James as I sat on the end of a cot, waiting for the plaster to dry.

“Maybe that will teach you to control your temper next time,” he chuckled, grinning up at me from where he sat on the floor. I glowered down at him, but that only made him laugh more.

“I’m glad my misfortune amuses you,” I spat, aiming a kick at his head, which he quickly dodged.

“It’s not my fault that Burch is a sadist and that you get yourself into stupid situations,” he reminded me and I let out an angry sigh. “Why did you decide to attack the wall anyway?”

I sighed wearily this time as the contents of my mother’s letter came flooding back to me. “So you know how my parents have split up, right?” I asked and he nodded, pity and sympathy apparent on his face. “Well things are quickly going to hell and I am so sick and tired of my parents acting like selfish children.”

James nodded and patted my foot comfortingly, considering it was the only part of my body he could reach.

Suddenly, the infirmary doors burst open and a flood of green robe clad figures thundered into the room, carrying a limp, dark-haired form. James instantly jumped up off the ground with an audible hiss. Madame Burch came waddling out of her office, a scowl already on her large, square face.

“What in the name of Merlin is going on here?” she yelled, her extra chins wobbling dangerously.

“Sam took a bludger to the head and fell off her broom,” a voice from the group said, and I instantly recognized it as Marcus Flint’s. 

“Lay her down here,” the matron commanded. “I don’t need all of you to stay and be a distraction. Weasley, Potter, get your arses out of here as well. You’re not dying.”

At the sounds of our last names, I heard and saw the entire Slytherin team turn and glower at us. James’ chest puffed up proudly and his hands clenched into fists automatically. I saw Marcus grin at James smugly and step forward out of his pack of teammates, but before anything could happen, Madame Burch yelled, “GET OUT!”

Whatever macho spell the two boys had been under instantly broke and the Slytherin team all exited silently, save for one.

“Rose?” Scorpius asked, stepping forward, confusion and worry making his brow wrinkle. “What happened?”

“I don’t see how that’s any concern of yours, Malfoy,” James snarled, wrapping his arm protectively around me and pulling me towards the door.

“Anything that happens to Rose is my business, Potter,” Scorpius shot back coldly.

I could see Madame Burch glaring at us as she continued her ministrations over Sam and I tugged James’ arm.

“Stop it. Let’s get outside before Burch kills us and I’ll explain everything,” I commanded.

James and Scorpius both glared at each other but nodded and I pulled them both towards the doors. As soon as we were safely in the hallway, James rounded on me.

“What the hell is going on?”

“Look,” I snapped, frustrated with the two of them and their stupid prejudices. “James, Scorpius is part of my life now. I love him, and he’s not going to go away.” Scorpius shot me a broad smile. “And Scorpius, James is my cousin and one of my best friends. Yes, he may have a short fuse and yes he may act like a royal arse sometimes, but he is family. I love you both and would like to keep both of you in my life. But if you are going to keep acting like this, then we’re going to have some serious problems. Do you understand?”

“In love with a Slytherin?” James croaked, apparently not having listened to much else past that point.

“Yes, James,” I sighed wearily, feeling my cheeks go a little bit red. I couldn’t help it. I was talking about my boyfriend to James – the boy who’d teased me for years just for even being a girl.

“In love with Malfoy,” he repeated and I nodded. 

He stared at me in horror for one second and then slumped against the wall, burying his face in his hands. I heard him mumble over and over again something that sounded suspiciously like “where did I go wrong?” 

“Oh, stop being so melodramatic,” I snapped at him and he looked up from between his fingers, a mischievous look in his eyes.

“Says the girl who punched a brick wall and broke her hand,” he shot back, grinning.

“You did this to yourself?” Scorpius asked, and I turned to him, feeling my cheeks burn with embarrassment.

“It’s possible?” 

Scorpius let out something that sounded like a strangled chuckle and grabbed my casted hand gently, turning it over and over as if inspecting the damage.

“You sure do know how to get yourself into trouble, don’t you?” he asked finally, laughing probably at the irony of it all and I couldn’t help but grin.

“She’s always been exceptionally good at that,” James interjected, he too laughing at me.

“It’s not like I mean to,” I pointed out. “It’s all accidental.” This only seemed to make them laugh harder and James pushed himself away from the wall. 

“Well, I don’t mean to be rude, but I’ve got to go find my team and tell them that practice has been rescheduled,” James said, sauntering slowly over to where Scorpius and I were standing.  

“I’ll see you later?” I asked him, and he nodded, tugging at my hair playfully. Then he turned to Scorpius and I automatically tensed.

Gingerly, James held out his hand. I stared at him in shock, looking between him and Scorpius. While I had hoped that Scorpius and James would be able to get along, I had never imagined that James would be the first to act really civilly towards Scorpius. In fact, I had really expected those few words they had previously exchanged after my lecture to be the only civil talk between the two.

Scorpius stared at James’ outstretched hand warily for a moment, but then extended his own hand and shook it. Almost the same second their hands had touched they instantly dropped back down to their sides again.

“I still don’t like you,” James reminded him, his voice taking on an edge. “And if you hurt my cousin, death will seem merciful compared to what I’d do to you.”

I watched as Scorpius just smirked back. “Don’t worry, Potter. I’ve already gotten the message. You’re younger brother handled that one quite well at breakfast this morning.”

“Damnit!” James grumbled. “Albus always steals my thunder.”

At this both Scorpius and I laughed and James ran his hand through his already unruly dark hair.

“Okay, I’m really leaving now,” James said, clapping me on the shoulder and ruffling my hair. I swatted at him and he chuckled, making a face at me before sauntering off down the hallway. Scorpius and I watched in silence until he made it around the curve that lead to the stairs and then Scorpius let out a loud huff.

“What? That wasn’t so bad, was it?” I asked playfully, bumping his shoulder with mine.

“It could have been worse,” he admitted, bumping me back. I stumbled a little bit and he instantly caught me around the waist, pulling me to him.

“Why must you always be so clumsy?” he asked quietly, and I gazed up at him, surprised a little at how worried he looked. His eyes weren’t on my face, but on my enormous plastered hand. The hand on his free arm inched forward and he laced his fingers gingerly through mine, as if he didn’t want to hurt me.

“I can’t help it,” I replied, trying to place my whole hand in his, but unfortunately the stupid cast made it impossible. I bit my lip in frustration, knowing that this stupid thing on my wrist was going to be the bane of my existence for weeks. “I’m just naturally unstable.”

“You’ve got that right,” he teased and I scoffed, trying to twist away from him but he held me tight. “So what exactly did you do to earn yourself this lovely badge of stupidity?”  

“I punched a stone wall,” I mumbled quietly, but from the silence afterwards, I knew he had heard. I felt my cheeks go beet red and I wanted to run and hide in shame. That had definitely not be one of my finest moments.

After a few more moments of silence I glanced up at Scorpius, dreading his reaction and in instant I saw his face I wished I hadn’t looked. The expression on his face seemed to be slight anger, mixed with the urge to laugh, mixed with disappointment.

“And why did you do that?” he asked, his voice sounding somewhat strangled.

I could tell that he was trying to be nonchalant about asking but from the way his eyes kept darting from my face back to my hand I knew he really wanted to know. I tried to smile to let him know that it really was just a brief moment of stupidity, but as I thought about that moment, all of the anger I had been feeling flooded back into me and I felt like I was going to be sick.

“I heard back from my Mum,” I managed to say, although my tongue felt like it was made of cotton and my voice seemed to trail off at the end. I couldn’t bring myself to say it. I could barely even bring myself to think it.

The thought that my mum may have been cheating on my father for Merlin knows how long was too much to bear. If she had been cheating on him, then he would have a good reason for being how horrible he was for these past few years. Not that I would ever think what he put me through was all right, but it made sense. It made more sense than that he was just dissatisfied with his career and life. 

Plus, if my mum had been cheating on him, then that meant that she was dishonest and untrustworthy. I had always thought that my relationship with my Mum was one thing I could count on to always remain the same. Even now that my parents were getting a divorce, nothing had really changed between us. She was still my mum, and I was still Rose. Nothing could have changed my opinion on her. I trusted her explicitly. I had chosen to live with her.

And now, it was if all of those years had meant nothing. Why couldn’t she have told me herself what was going on? If it really was innocent, what was the big deal in letting me know so that I wasn’t mortified in front of all of my friends when his son had to tell me? Did she not think she could trust me? Did she know what she was doing was wrong?

Whatever the case, I found myself still seething. Seething that I had been so blind. Seething that she could do something like this. And seething because just when one part of my life had finally started to calm down, it became infinitely worse.

Could I never catch a break? 

“Oh,” Scorpius said softly and I felt more of my resolve break. “I don’t want to say I told you so, but did you really expect something different?”

“I guess not,” I muttered, knowing he was right and not liking it at all. He had told me not to get my hopes up. “But I couldn’t help it, Scorpius. I want so badly to believe that she is the person I thought. I want to believe that that stupid Jaden or Jason or whatever his name was, was lying and just trying to make me angry.”

I felt the first of my angry tears slip down my cheeks and I wiped them furiously away. I was so sick and tired of crying all the time. That was really why I had punched the wall. Crying did nothing but make me feel worse. I needed a quick, instant outlet for my emotions. Sure, punching the wall had made me feel a hell of a lot worse in the end. But I would do it again. 

“I’m so sorry, love,” he murmured, pulling me closer to him. I wrapped my arms around my neck and sniffled, forcing myself to stop crying. When I had fully stopped crying I pulled away from him slightly so that I could look up at him. His brow was wrinkled with worry and his cloudy eyes were roaming over my face, as if looking for cracks in the façade we both knew I was putting up.

“I’m okay,” I told him, but even to myself I knew I sounded weak.

He shook his head and moved a piece of my hair that had fallen into my face behind my ear. “No you’re not,” he replied, shaking his head sadly. “What can I do to make it better?” 

I grinned mischievously to myself before pressing both of my hands hard against his chest so he stumbled back into the wall. I stepped forward, still grinning and he smirked down at me, catching on. “Just help me forget for a while,” I whispered, wrapping one of my arms around his neck and letting the other rest against his chest. I leaned up on my toes and pressed my lips lightly to his, gasping slightly when his arm pulled me around the waist closer to him. I felt him chuckle slightly and traced his bottom lip with my tongue. My head was spinning and my heart was beating erratically as he pushed away from the wall but maintained his grip on me, spinning us around so that it was I who had my back pressed against the cold stone. After a few moments we broke apart, both panting for air, and I looked up at him, not able to help the smile that played at the corner of my lips. 

“Well,” he said, his voice still somewhat breathless, “I’ll be happy to oblige you any time you need that.”

I laughed and tucked my hair behind my ears in a little bit of embarrassment. I still felt incredibly new to this whole thing. I tried to think of something witty to counter back with, but my mind still felt like mush. 

“Thank you,” was what I came up with.

He just laughed again and wrapped his arm around my shoulders, pulling me down the hall. We walked around in silence for a long while. I didn’t know where we were going or why we were walking even, but I figured it was just for the sake of doing something. Finally, I felt my eyelids begin to droop as the events of the day started to catch up with me despite the long nap I had taken in the Owlery. I tried to stifle my yawn, but of course it just came out sounding extremely loud in the empty corridor.

“It’s late, isn’t it?” Scorpius asked rhetorically, glancing down at his watch. “Ten o’clock.”

“It’s not late yet,” I tried to mumble, but the second I opened my mouth another yawn escaped me. 

“You need to go to bed,” he reasoned and I shook my head frantically. I did not want to go to bed. I didn’t want to go anywhere. I didn’t want to move. And I really wasn’t looking forward to more questions as to how I had hurt myself.  

“We were supposed to do something,” I reminded him, feeling slightly stupid for saying that. We had spent all night together, wandering aimlessly and talking about my accident. It’s not as if we hadn’t had time together.

“We’ll do something this weekend,” he assured me, coming to a stop and pulling me to him, resting his forehead against mine. “Saturday’s Valentine’s Day you know?”

“Is it really?” I asked, cocking an eyebrow. 

“Yes, it is,” he assured me, arching his brow in the same manner. “It’s also a Hogsmeade day. I figured we could go out and spend the day together. If you really wanted, we could even go to that horrible little café Madame Puddifoot’s.”

I felt my nose wrinkle in disgust at the mention of Madame Puddifoot’s. “No thank you,” I replied and I heard Scorpius exhale a sigh of relief. “Just getting to have you all to myself for a day is enough.”

“Then I’m all yours,” he replied, nuzzling his face into my neck. I sighed, trying to calm the quivers that had suddenly started up in my stomach. “No horrible little pink cafes,” he joked. “I hope the Three Broomsticks is okay then, because the only other pub is the Hog’s Head, and you know what they say about that place-“

I never did hear what they say about that place, because I stopped listening as horror overtook me at the mention of the Three Broomsticks.

“Oh no,” I groaned, feeling like slapping myself in the face. How could I have forgotten?

“Oh, don’t worry,” Scorpius said, not realizing that I had not in fact been listening to his story. “They only thought it was dysentery. There’s no real evidence to prove it.”

“While that all sounds very horrible,” I replied, guilt already twisting itself into a hard knot in my stomach, “I wasn’t moaning about medieval diseases. I just remembered that I said I would meet my Mum on Saturday afternoon to talk.” 

“What?” Scorpius asked, looking shocked and hurt.

“Scor, I’m so sorry,” I quickly apologized, feeling horrible. “In her letter she said that she wanted to meet face to face and talk and she mentioned this Saturday and I didn’t think anything of it because I could barely remember Noel and Ashley’s names at the beginning of the year, so obviously how could I be expected to remember what the date is today let alone this Saturday and-“

I was cut off from my insane ramblings as Scorpius clapped his palm over my mouth, muffling out the rest of my quickly spewed run on.

“Stop,” he commanded softly, his eyes not hard and hurt like I expected, but rather excited and playful. “It’s okay.”

“Really?” I tried to ask, but then I realized his hand was still covering my mouth. He seemed to realize that too and quickly removed his hand.

“Really?” I asked again.

“Yes, really,” he sighed, running his hand through his blonde hair. “While I’m slightly disappointed, this is important. I get to see you practically every day. She doesn’t.”

I smiled up at him and once again wondered how I’d gotten so lucky. 

“I’ll make it up to you,” I promised, kissing the side of his jaw, the first thing I could reach.  “But for now, I’m going to bed.”

He seemed disappointed as I pushed away from him but he didn’t say or do anything to stop me.

“Good night, Rose,” he called as I turned on my heel, heading back towards the Gryffindor dormitories.

“Good night, Scorpius,” I called back, stopping and turning to see him starting at me from the opposite end of the hallway.  I could picture his smile, and then he was turning and walking in the opposite direction, towards the dungeons. I waited until he was out of sight and then continued on my way towards my dorm.

I was happy not to see anyone in the halls and even happier when the only people in the Common Room were a few fifth and seventh years who all had their noses buried in books, desperately studying for the O.W.L.S. and N.E.W.T.S.

By the time I got the stairs to the girl’s dorms I was debating just calling it quits and curling up in a ball on the floor and sleeping there. But the thought of my warm bed was too alluring, so I dragged myself up the stone steps, practically crying out in relief when I reached the right door.

When I stumbled into the room, it was dark and all of my roommates’ bed curtains were drawn. I had to admit, I was glad Noel and Ashley were asleep. I did not feel like explaining my entire day to them now. 

I dragged myself over to my bed and pulled my clothes off quickly, letting them drop carelessly to the floor and grabbing the first pair of sweat pants and the first t-shirt I saw out of my trunk and throwing them on.

I threw myself onto my bed, not bothering to crawl under the sheets. My head hit my pillow and I felt my body go completely limp as sleep’s first waves overtook me. That’s when I felt it.

That horrible, horrible itching.

I grabbed my wand off of my nightstand and instantly stuck it down the small hole between my thumb and first knuckle, scratching at the offending skin irritably.

Stupid cast.  

 







The rest of the week passed relatively quickly, much to my surprise. As exams drew ever closer, a palpable air of tension permeated every corner of the castle. Despite the fact that I was only a sixth year and wouldn’t be taking any major exams this year, all of my professors saw fit to treat us like we were taking our N.E.W.T.S. in what they called “practice and preparation”. With all the skiving off class that I’d done since the beginning of the year, my homework load was beginning to catch up with me.

On top of everything else, I’d had a horrible time trying to figure out what in the world I’d do for Scorpius on Valentine’s Day. And not only for Valentine’s day, but as I’d soon realized from various discussions with Tony, Scorpius’ seventeenth birthday was the following Monday. I needed two gifts, and thankfully, I already had one, considering I’d forgotten to give him his Christmas present from all those months ago.  

For his birthday, Tony had convinced me to help him plan a surprise party. I’d been reluctant at first – remembering the enormous blow out that Scorpius had thrown Tony, but after much groveling and promising me that it would be smaller, I’d conceded. Party planning had taken up what little time I had had in between studying, prefect rounds, and worrying about present shopping. 

To say I was exhausted was an understatement. I was zombie-esque. I was dead to the world. Was it really too much to ask for a little bit of sleep?

“Rose! Rose! Wake up! Wake up!”

Apparently, it was.

I grumbled loudly and pulled my pillow over my ears, clamping my eyes shut tighter.  Someone shook my shoulders and I groaned, swatting at them to go away. I knew it was probably Ashley, considering Noel would have more sense than to wake me up when we all knew how dead tired I was.

“Rosie, please! You need to see! It’s important! Wake up!” 

I groaned again but rolled over, squinting against the bright light that attacked my eyes the second I opened them.

“Good morning!” Noel sang from where she sat at the foot of my bed.

“Good morning,” I mumbled, sitting up and wincing as my spine cracked. “What’s all the ruckus about?”

“Look at what I got!” she cried, pointing over to her nightstand. I turned my head slowly, still not fully awake, rubbing at my eyes.

“What was that again?” I asked, looking back at Noel guiltily.

“Look!” she cried, not noticing that I really had not been paying attention. I looked over at where she was pointing, noticing for the first time a large vase of red roses on her nightstand next to her bed.

“Oh,” I said, my eyes widening as I realized what that meant. “They’re beautiful!”

“They’re from Tony,” she said quietly, even though I knew she probably wanted to shout it. 

“Merlin!” I cried, feeling my mouth twist up in a wide smile. “That’s wonderful, Noel! I’m so happy for you!”

“You are?” she asked, her normally large eyes growing even wider.

“Of course I am,” I replied, feeling a little bit perturbed. Why wasn’t she happy? “Why wouldn’t I be?”

Noel looked down at the floor, her pale cheeks turning a bright pink, and she mumbled something that I couldn’t understand.

“What was that?”

She looked back up at me, blowing a strand of her pale blonde hair out of her eyes. “I thought Tony liked you.”

I felt my eyes go wide and I shook my head furiously back and forth. “No. Tony doesn’t like me. We’re just friends. And judging from that beautiful bouquet of roses, he’s crazy about you. Besides, I’m with Scorpius.”

“Yeah,” she smiled, revealing a set of dimples. “You’re right.”

I smiled back at her and she leaned over and pulled me into a hug which I happily returned.

“So what did you get?” she asked as she pulled away from me.

“I don’t know,” I answered, smirking slightly. “I haven’t had a chance to check yet.”

“Oh, right,” Noel said, chuckling and standing up. “Well I’ll let you get on that.”

She waved and then practically skipped over to her own bed. I felt a smile tug at the corners of my lips despite the fact that I was feeling rather grumpy from having been woken up. I pushed the rest of the covers off of me, shivering slightly as the February air attacked my exposed skin and hopping down off my bed. I shivered again and wrapped my arms around my chest in a futile effort to keep warm. You’d think that with all of the magic in this castle they’d learn how to heat it in the winter.

“Merlin’s pants,” I said as I looked over at the stack of gifts I had waiting for me by my nightstand. “I am the worst girlfriend ever.”

“What’s wrong?” Noel asked, coming back around to stand behind me. I could almost hear her jaw hit the floor.

“Worst girlfriend ever,” I croaked again, feeling horrible again at having only given him that one measly envelope with his gift certificate in it that was supposed to have been for Christmas. 

“No, you’re not,” Noel assured me, but she didn’t sound very confident. “He just spoils you.”

I nodded and stepped forward, reaching a hand gingerly towards the large vase of what looked like daisies on my nightstand. I pulled the little card  out from where it was nestled and quickly read over the fancy printed scrawl there.

I figured getting roses for someone named Rose would be cliché. I hope you don’t mind daisies.

-Love, Scorpius

I bit my lip and felt myself blush despite the fact that only Noel was here and she hadn’t read the note. He was too sweet. 

I glanced down at the stack of gifts in front of my nightstand and grabbed the one off of the top, pulling the red bow off of the teddy bear’s head. He was a light brown color and held in his hands a red heart pillow, embroidered with the words “I love you beary much”. I chuckled at the corniness of the line but hugged the bear to my chest anyway. It was so soft.

“That’s so cute!” Ashley squealed as she stepped out from the bathroom, a white fluffy towel wrapped around her and her short hair dripping down onto her shoulders. “Is it from Scorpius?”

“Yeah,” I nodded, still not able to believe how incredible this was.

For years I had sworn that Valentine’s Day was my least favorite holiday and that I would never turn into one of those sappy girls who swooned over their boyfriends and was obnoxiously in love. It was too late for that now though. I had crossed that bridge and burned it behind me in a matter of seconds. Valentine’s Day was wonderful! 

“Open more,” Noel urged and I put my bear down on my bed, reaching for a box wrapped in light pink paper. 

I sat down on the edge of my bed and slid my finger beneath the paper carefully opening it like always. I could tell that my friends were getting impatient waiting for me to open it but I ignored them, folding back the paper neatly and lifting the plain white box out. I pulled the top off the box slowly and I instantly felt my breath hitch in my throat.

Laying in the box, surrounded by soft, light pink crepe paper was a beautiful, black sweater, adorned with light silver and gold stars that really seemed to twinkle like the night sky. 

“Wow,” I breathed as I picked it up out of the box and held it up so that Noel and Ashley could see and I heard them both murmur comments of appreciation. “It’s gorgeous!”

“That’s a Lavender Brown original, you know?” Noel, commented incredulously, looking at the tag in the back. “I read about her line in Witch Weekly. This is not cheap you know. Anything from her line is supposed to cost a fortune.” 

I just nodded, feeling guilt twist in my gut but also breathless, as I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. This was really too much.

“I’ve got to give it back,” I said, shaking my head slowly. “I can’t accept this.”

“Are you crazy?” Ashley asked, her eye practically bugging out of her head. “You can’t give it back!”

“He’d be hurt,” Noel added, and I knew she was trying to guilt me into taking it.  

“Yeah,” Ashley agreed. “He bought it for you because he wants you to have it.”

“You have to keep it-“

“He’ll love you in it-“

“So pretty-“

“Expensive-“

“One of a kind-“

“Okay, okay!” I cried, holding both my hands up to stop them from talking over one another. “I’ll keep it.”

They both grinned and then squealed and I felt very tempted to do the same. 

“Are you going to wear it today?” Ashley asked. I looked up from where I had been admiring my gift and smiled. “I think Scorpius would appreciate it.”

“I think I will,” I grinned, knowing they were right, but wanting to switch the subject before I could change my mind again. “What are your guys’ plans for the day?”

“Jack and I are going to spend some time shopping together and then we’re meeting Noel and Tony for lunch,” Ashley replied, glancing up at Noel as if for confirmation.

“Yeah, pretty much the same,” Noel agreed. “Do you and Scorpius want to join us for lunch?”

“I don’t know about Scorpius,” I said, feeling the small ball of guilt in my stomach twist into a hard knot and my throat tighten, “but I can’t.”

“What?” Noel asked, confusion clearly written on her face. “Why not?”

“I have to meet with my Mum,” I replied, not looking at either of them but down at the floor. With everything that had been going on this week, I’d nearly forgotten about my meeting with my Mum. Well, not exactly forgotten. But it had sure been moved far down onto the bottom of my “Things-to-Worry-and-Stress-About” list.

“Oh,” Ashley said, and then the room went very quiet. 

“Yeah,” I agreed, feeling extremely awkward and if possible even more guilty. I felt my cheeks flush and I knew I had to get out of there. “Well, I’m going to go get ready.”

Neither of them said anything as I walked over towards the bathroom and closed the door behind me, the sound extremely loud in the silence. I leaned against the door and sighed loudly, feeling slightly sick to my stomach. 

How was it possible to be ecstatic and yet disappointed at the same time?

 

 





 

Forty-five minutes later I was leaning on a pillar in the Entrance Hall, waiting for Scorpius, as usual. All around me happy looking couples were meeting up before going to the village and I’d already seen Tony and Noel meet by the doors. They had both smiled awkwardly at each other and then Tony, being the bolder of the two had taken her hand and pulled her out the door. Jack and Ashley had left shortly afterwards, although their greeting had been a little bit more enthusiastic and a lot more awkward for the rest of the people in the Entrance Hall.  

Now I was all alone and waiting and had earned quite a few stares in the process. I checked my watch again impatiently and shook my hair back out of my face. Where was he? 

I glanced over at the flight of the stairs that lead to the dungeons by rote, as I had every few seconds and was delighted to see a head of platinum hair appear at the top. I pushed away from the pillar and started towards Scorpius, feeling my mouth automatically smile when he saw me. We met in the middle, and he instantly picked me up and swung me around.

“Well hello to you too,” I laughed as he set me down and kissed me full on the lips. 

“You are the best,” he replied, grinning mischievously. “I can’t believe you remembered.”

I stared at him in confusion for a second, having no idea what he was talking about but then it dawned on me. “You liked your gift?”

“I loved it,” he replied, wrapping his arm around my shoulders and pulling me towards the open doors.  “I really can’t believe you remembered.”

“How could I forget?” I asked, feeling sort of wistful as I remembered Scorpius telling me that he had always wanted to get a tattoo. That was the first time I had told him about my family. That was also the first time I really remembered having felt that I could trust Scorpius. “That was the day I think I started falling in love with you.”

“Really?” he asked, trading my shoulders for my hand and threading his fingers through mine. I nodded, feeling my cheeks burn bright red. “Well, I think that was the first time I realized that I wanted to be the one to wipe your tears away.”

I smiled up at him and snuggled myself closer, feeling my heart skip a beat and butterflies in my stomach. Who would have ever thought that under his hard exterior, Scorpius Malfoy was a big softie?

“I see you like your gift too,” Scorpius grinned, his eyes raking over my torso and I couldn’t help but flush a little bit and cross my arms over my chest somewhat self-consciously.  I glanced down at the beautiful sweater and nodded.

“It’s wonderful,” I replied, biting my lip. “You really shouldn’t have. Noel told me how expensive it is. I had half a mind to give it back this morning.”

“You deserve it,” he answered, shaking his head. “I haven’t been the greatest to you these past few weeks.”

He looked away from me and down at the packed snow beneath our feet and I stopped walking, feeling a bit exasperated and yet the reminder set off a dull ache in my chest. Would this thing with Anna come between us forever?

“Hey,” I commanded, adjusting his shoulders so that he was facing me. “We all make mistakes. It happens. You’re human. I’m human. We’re bound to mess things up sometimes. Let’s not let this ruin the little time we have together today, okay?”

He nodded and kissed the top of my head, taking my hand again, and together we walked the rest of the way to the village in silence.

“What time are you supposed to meet your Mum?” Scorpius asked as we walked out the door to Honeydukes, our pockets a little heavier but our moneybags a little lighter. Or well, at least Scorpius’s anyway. He had insisted on paying mine despite the fact that I told him he was not to buy me anything more today. 

“Noon,” I replied, glancing down at my watch. It was already ten until noon.

“You should probably get going over to the Three Broomsticks then. You don’t want to be late.” I could detect a hint of bitterness in his voice and I felt my stomach twinge guiltily for what must have been the hundredth time today.

“What are you going to do?” I asked, hoping that he would at least be enjoying himself.

“Tony invited me out to lunch with the rest of them,” he said, scratching the back of his head somewhat uncomfortably. “I guess I’ll join them.”

“You should go,” I told him, looking straight up into his grey eyes. “At least you’ll be having more fun than me then.”

“Are you sure you’re going to be all right?” he asked, ignoring what I’d just said and pulling me into a hug. I rested my head on his chest, savoring in the deep, musky smell of his cologne and nodding.

“I’m a big girl,” I told him, smirking slightly. “I know I don’t act it all the time, but it’s about time I started standing up for myself.”

“I can’t get over how different you are,” Scorpius said suddenly, and I pulled my head away so I could look up at him. “I’m proud of you, Shorty.”

I grinned at his use of my horrible nick name and stood up on my tip toes to kiss him. He pulled away much too quickly for my liking and gave me a gentle shove in the direction of the pub.

“Go,” he commanded. “You don’t want to be late.”

“Okay, Mum,” I grumbled and he laughed.

“Love you,” he called and I beamed, my heart soaring. I swear, I would never ever get used to that.

“Love you too,” I called back.

I turned on my heel and started walking toward the Three Broomsticks. With ever step I took closer I could feel my heart start pounding more and more nervously and I wondered slightly why I was only feeling so worried now. All morning I’d been relatively calm. Maybe it just hadn’t dawned on me that I would probably find out if my mother was cheating on my father today.

Just the idea of it made me cringe.  My mother wasn’t that type of person, was she?

I swallowed nervously and pushed my hair behind my ears by rote. I’d like to think she wasn’t.

Before I really had time to contemplate more than that I was standing in front of the Three Broomsticks, the loud sounds of people enjoying themselves and laughing floating out to me on the cold February breeze. I squared up to the front door, taking a deep breath to calm the butterflies in my stomach. It didn’t really work and I pressed my hand to my stomach, sending a quick prayer up to whatever deity was up there that I wouldn’t lose it in front of everyone.

With that silent hope in mind I pulled open the front door before I could lose my nerve and stepped inside, instantly greeted by the smell of greasy fish and chips and butter beer, along with a pleasantly warm blast of air.  The dull roar of chatter that I could hear from outside grew louder and I heard the loud crash of plates coming from the kitchen. Despite my nerves, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit comforted. Besides Hogwarts and the Burrow, the Three Broomsticks was probably my favorite place in the Wizarding World.

I heard the bell on the door jingle again and  I quickly stepped out of the way as a group of fifth year Ravenclaws hurried inside, bringing with them a gust of frigid air. I shivered and moved farther away from the door, scanning the crowd for my Mum. Finally, I thought I saw what looked like her bushy head of hair situated at large round table near the back.

I fought my way through the crowd of people over there, apologizing profusely under my breath because I was sure that I stepped on a fair amount of feet. Finally I made it over to the table and was surprised to see that it was already full, save for one seat next to Hugo, who was slumped far down in his chair, scowling. I recognized the oh so delightful Jacob sitting on the other side of the empty chair, along with a round faced, dark-haired girl, who looked to be about Hugo’s age. She had small eyes that were lined heavily with dark eyeliner and her hair was cut into a short, layered bob. The most surprising thing to me though, was that next to the girl there was a high chair and in it sat a small, again dark haired girl, her hair long, thin, and curly with bright blue eyes and a cute button nose. She looked maybe about two years old.

“Um, hi,” I said loudly, causing everyone at the table to turn and look at me. “Sorry if I’m late.”

“Rose,” my mother said, smiling happily and pushing away from the table, standing up and enveloping me in a tight hug. I stood rather woodenly in her arms, not really sure if I wanted to hug her back.  “It’s so good to see you. You look thin, honey. Have you been eating? And it’s okay, I’m sure you’ve had a busy morning.”

“Busy is the right word for it,” I heard Jacob mumble and I shot him my meanest glare but he just laughed and shrugged. I didn’t really even know the kid yet, but already I was sure that we weren’t going to get along.  

“Well, you should go sit down,” my mother said as she finally released me and I happily obliged, slouching down into my seat much like Hugo while making sure that I was as far away from Jacob as our accommodations allowed. 

“It’s good to see you, Rose,” Justin said rather pompously from where he sat next to my mother.

“Nice to see you too,” I replied, trying to sound nice, but I could hear the undertones of frostiness in my voice.

“Have you met my children?” he asked but answered his own question before I could answer him. “Well, obviously you already know Jacob…“ I glared at him. “And this is my daughter, Alice – she’s in Ravenclaw a year younger than Hugo…” I tried to smile over at the girl but she was diligently ignoring me, instead choosing to pick at her chipping black nail polish. “And this sweetheart here is my daughter Dementia – she’s three and we call her Demi.” I smiled over at the baby and for the first time she actually smiled back, clapping her hand together. 

“She’s cute,” I commented lamely.

“Yes, three year olds tend to be cute,” Jacob replied sarcastically and I bit my tongue to stop the angry, curse-filled, and highly objectionable retort that was on the tip of my tongue. I would not stoop to his level. Yet.

“Now you too, don’t start fighting yet,” Justin reprimanded.

“Anyway,” my mother said briskly, in her ‘let’s-change-the-topic’ voice, “now that we’re all here, should we order lunch?”

There was a general mumble of agreement around the table and I saw my mum exchange a worried look and Justin patted her hand comfortingly. 

“Fish and chips all around sound good?” Justin asked, raising his hand and beckoning a man in dark robes over to the table. Justin muttered something unintelligible to the man and then handed him a purse of gold and the man hurried over to the counter.

“I thought Aurors were assigned to my Mum for protection,” Hugo spoke up for the first time since I’d been there. “Not to go around and order us lunch.”

“I have a three person Auror detail, Hugo,” my mum replied. “I’m sure we can spare one for a few minutes.”

Hugo just scowled and then the table went silent. The tension in the air was palpable and I could see my mother and Justin practically squirming in their seats. Obviously, this was not how they wanted things to play out. 

“So Rose,” my mother said finally when she couldn’t stand it anymore. “How’s school? Are you and Scorpius still dating?”

“Hmm?” I asked, looking up at her right as the front door opened. Over her shoulder I saw Noel and Tony, Ashley and Jack, Albus and some girl I didn’t recognize, and Scorpius all pile into the pub. A twist of sadness flooded through me as I looked at my friends, all obviously enjoying themselves and I wished that I could be over there with them instead of sitting here. 

“Rose?” my mother asked and I shook my head, snapping back to attention.

“Oh yeah, sorry,” I replied. “Yeah, school is great. Busy. And yes, Scorpius and I are still together.” 

“How about you Jake?” Justin asked. “School good?”

“Yeah, school is good,” Jacob answered. “I don’t think it’s as busy as Rose though – although I guess when you skip class as much as she does school would seem busy.”

I couldn’t help myself this time, I kicked Jacob as hard as I could in the shin. He howled in pain and my mother glared daggers at me.

“Rose-“ my mother started, her voice shaking with anger.

I was saved by the dark-robed Auror coming back with our food.

He handed each of us a plate and a butter beer silently and I was grateful for the excuse not to say anything as I shoved a few chips into my mouth. I was surprised at how starving I was. Everyone else dug into their food, except Hugo, who picked at his and stabbed his fish with his fork rather violently. 

“So,” Justin said, clearing his throat after everyone had had time to tuck into their food. “I guess it’s no good to beat around the bush any longer. You all know why we called you here. Hermione and I were hoping to tell you in person about our living conditions and about our relationship, but unfortunately, some of you beat us to the punch.”

Jacob grinned smugly to himself.

“I guess what we really have to say, now that you all know, is do any of you have any questions about our relationship?” my mother added, looking pointedly over at Hugo and I, knowing that we probably had all the questions.

Everyone was silent for a long minute, before Hugo finally pipe up. “So you were shacking up with this guy while you were married to Dad?”

I felt my mouth drop open in shock and I quickly closed it again to stop my half-chewed food from falling out. My mother turned bright red and glared at Hugo, clearing her throat.

“Hugo, do you really think that that was an appropriate question?”

“I’ll take that as a yes,” he muttered angrily, stabbing his fish again.

“When did this start?” I asked, jumping in in hopes that I could divert a huge blow up.

My mother took a deep breath and then turned to me, smiling gratefully. “Well, things really started to happen at the beginning of December, after I’d come to Justin requesting help on getting divorce papers together and such. We started spending more time together after he became my lawyer, and well, things just evolved.”

“Don’t you think it’s a little soon to be living with someone you’ve only been seeing since December?” I asked, not sure if I believed her or not. “I mean, you and Dad are still married, technically.”

“No, they’re actually not,” Justin spoke up before my mother could. “The divorce papers were signed last week and the court hearings were over before the weekend. Your mother is officially a free woman.”

I felt my heart twinge painfully at the words “free woman” and it felt like a little bit of my heart broke in that moment. My parents were officially separated. There was no chance of them getting back together again. Nothing would ever be the same anymore. No family dinners around the kitchen table. No more driving in the car to the train station, singing along to Weird Sisters’ songs at the top of our lungs. No more opening presents together on Christmas mornings. They were selling the house. I was going to have a new bedroom. I was going to have two new houses. I might have two new parents. I was going to have a whole new life.

I bit down on my lip as hard as I could to stop myself from crying, not wanting to give Jacob another reason to make fun of me, and tasted the distinct metallic flavor of blood in my mouth. I swallowed hard, the knot in my throat making it nearly impossible. 

“Oh,” was all I said lamely. My voice sounded weak and scared. I tried to clear my throat, but it didn’t help any.  

“Still though,” Hugo said, coming to my rescue. “Doesn’t it seem a bit early?”

“Hugo, Rose, listen to me,” my mother said, massaging her temples wearily. “Your father and I have been growing apart for a long time. We were both miserable being with each other. For the past year or so, we might as not have been married – we led separate lives, slept in separate rooms, worked at separate jobs. We’ve been trying to make it work a long time for you kids. But neither of us want to go through life being miserable, so we decided splitting up would be the best for all of us. I still love your father. I think a part of me always will. But we’ve both realized that what we had together before isn’t there anymore. The small amount of love we have for each other isn’t what it used to be. It’s not enough anymore. We’re two very different people. You both have seen how your father has changed in recent times since his accident. He’s not the man I married. He’s horrible to me, to all of us. But Justin has been so wonderful to me through all of this. He has helped me both in the decision to leave your father and also in getting through the divorce process. I owe him so much and am in love with him. Can’t you be happy for me?”

“I am Mum,” I said rather tearfully, looking at her from across the table. I couldn’t help myself. She was right. Things had changed. And if she was happy, that was most important, right? Right? “We are.”

Hugo whipped his head around and shot me a glare that said “don’t-include-me-in-this” but I ignored him.    

Suddenly Demi let out a cry and banged her little fist on the table. “What’s wrong, honey?” Justin asked.

“I need to go potty,” she whimpered, squirming in her seat.  

“Will you take her, honey?” Justin asked my mother.

“Of course,” she replied, smiling happily and standing up from her chair, picking up the toddler out of her chair and taking her by the hand to the bathroom.

Justin watched them until they were out of sight, and then he turned back to all of us.

“We’re potty-training her now,” he told us all.

“Oh joy,” a sarcastic, girl’s voice said and I looked over at Alice, startled to see her glaring at her father. Those were the first words I’d heard her say the whole time I’d been here. 

Justin obviously didn’t deem it appropriate to dignify her comment with a response and went back to eating. Jacob had been eating this entire time and hadn’t even looked up while my mother was talking. I had a feeling that both he and Alice had already had this talk with their father and again I could help the wave of bitterness that washed over me at the idea that my mother hadn’t told us.

I pushed my plate away from myself, no longer having any sort of appetite and glanced around the  pub, stopping when my eyes landed on a large table right in the middle of the room. All of my friends were sitting there, and they all looked like they were having a great time. Ashley was feeding Jack what looked like a bit of fish and Al and his date were huddled close together, probably talking in low voices. Noel and Tony looked like they were trying to incorporate Scorpius into the conversation, and the three had their heads thrown back in laughter.  

I wished beyond anything that I could have been over at that table right now.

“So,” Justin said suddenly, breaking me out of my wistful thoughts. “I know it probably seems scandalous to you all that two single parents of five children overall are living together.”

I didn’t say anything and neither did anyone else. I didn’t really think it was all that scandalous – people lived together all the time. But what did I know? Maybe for adults it was scandalous.

“Well, I want you kids to know that you don’t have to worry about awkward questions from the press or trying to explain what our relationship is like any longer.”

What the hell was he talking about? I raised my glass of butter beer to my lips and took a long sip.

“I love Hermione,” he said, staring right at Hugo and I. “And I am going to ask her to marry me.”  

I choked on the drink I had just taken.

“What?!”

 

 





 
A/N: So am I evil? Haha, I figured we haven't had a cliffie in a while and really, I had to stop this chapter there. It's already my longest one ever - 9,000 words is what my Word Processor said before I posted it and wrote this. Next chappie is going to be about the same. 

I hope the length of this chapter makes up for the insane lateness of it. If you've seen my Author's page you'll know I've been crazy busy with exams for the past couple of weeks. But now I'm on summer break so updates will be coming faster. 

Oh, and I've been meaning to ask you guys for a while now - if you were to see missing moments from this story, which ones would you want to see? Cause a lot of you guys have requested seeing things from other characters pov's, and I was toying with the idea of writing some of them once this story is done.  

Okay, I'm going now that this has been the longest author's note ever! PLEASE, PLEASE review!! :) Thanks for reading everyone!

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