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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.










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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.

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