For everyone who loves Ron just as much as I do.
I was much happier than I had been. I slept in since nobody bothered to come shake me awake for dish duty and curled up with a book for a few hours. When I eventually crawled out of bed, I padded down the hall in my pajamas and noticed my parents weren’t there. The car was also gone.
“Hugo?” I called. No answer. Either he was upstairs with headphones on, or he’d gone with them. Bugger. I could have asked them to pick up ice cream or something.
I sat in the kitchen after grabbing a bowl of cereal and stared out the back door.
It was a relatively nice day, though I couldn’t see the lake from the fog. They didn’t improperly name these mountains, that was for sure. I glanced at the painting, which my parents had propped against the windowsill so they could eat breakfast.
That may have been what was missing.
I abandoned the cereal and grabbed the supplies, rushing to the back deck. I quickly positioned the easel and canvas and started mixing blacks, whites, and blues. After repeatedly shoving my hair behind my ears, I began pressing misty fog onto the painting with the dry brush. Tiny flakes here and there. Thicker in some places between trees.
Already I felt relaxed. The breeze was warm and the humidity was starting to make the sweat on my neck all the more obvious. But I couldn’t stop. Not yet.
I turned. Dad was smiling from the door with a container of ice cream.
“Good mind-reading abilities,” I said. “What do you think?”
“Did you paint that?” Dad said, his jaw falling.
“No. I found it this way.” I rolled my eyes.
“I thought you bought it at that gallery thing or something.” Dad moved closer, his eyes on the canvas. “Godric, Rose, this is brilliant. Can I buy it?”
I stared. “What? It’s practice, Dad. It’s not even that good. The proportion of the foreground trees aren’t right.”
“Hundred galleons?” he offered.
“What? You’ve gone mad!”
“I’ll throw in some ice cream.” Dad smirked. “Oh. I should probably mention...” His nose scrunched so that some of the freckles were touching each other. I got nervous. “We saw Malfoy – well, Mr. Malfoy to you – in town today.”
“Oh?” I tried to make my voice sound as indifferent as possible.
“He said they were taking off,” Dad said. “Did you know about that? I thought you mentioned Scorpius was here the same time we were.”
I stared. Awkwardly. “What do you mean taking off? Why? To where? Home?”
He nodded. “Yeah. He mentioned something about Astoria and them leaving.”
Why did it feel like I’d just been hit by a truck?
“I need to...” My heart was beating painfully fast. “I’ll be right back.” I brushed past him and into the house, tearing down the hallway, and threw myself down on the floor. Rather dramatically, might I add. I crawled about halfway under before my fingers clutched the discarded letter.
I took a very deep breath after I unfolded it and began to read.
I realize I am the last person you want to receive a letter from right now and I know there is little chance of you forgiving me, but I needed a chance to explain things to you. I need to set this right because it is the right thing to do.
I know you’re unhappy and I know I caused that. I feel terrible.
I promise it was unintentional. I would never want to do anything to hurt you. Maybe that’s why I didn’t mention it sooner. The more time we spent together, the harder it became to tarnish the friendship we had built. The more difficult it became to come clean. I realize now that I should have sat you down almost instantly and explained. So allow me to take time now to explain.
Danielle Miller is a Muggle girl who lives a few blocks away back in England. I met her last summer and took her to a jazz concert. We got along well, but then I disappeared back to Hogwarts and spun a web of lies about a preparatory school in Russia which ended in me having to learn some Russian phrases. When I arrived back this summer, I took her out on a few dates. We went to a restaurant. Spent another date dancing. I kissed her goodnight once. I brought her flowers. I think I felt so guilty for leaving abruptly that I wanted to make up for it. For everything. I wanted to be happy.
She told me before I left to come here that she wanted to be with me. I told her I wasn’t in the correct place of my life to give my heart to someone, as it was currently with my mother. Danielle told me that she understood, and that she would wait until I returned to discuss it further. I felt horribly guilty for not being able to give her what she wanted. She waited all that time while I was at Hogwarts, and I was still eluding her. She is a nice girl. I have nothing ill to say of her.
And I was honest. My heart was and is with my mother. I worry about her constantly. Every time I hear her coughing I start to tense up, panicking that maybe that will be the moment it all ends. When the temporary medication stops working and she is lost to me forever. I make a note to tell her how much I care about her every day before I leave. I do not want me last words to her to be filled with anything but love.
As I’m not sure if you’ll ever speak to me again, I should apologize for my behavior over the last couple weeks. I shouldn’t have kissed you. In truth, I first thought about it when I saw you walk away with my clothes that day. But I shouldn’t have. I’m horrible at this, Rose. I want to take risks and I end up hurting people because I can’t control my emotions. My temptations.
I can’t control my behavior when I’m around you.
And for that I’m sorry. Because my own inabilities are the reason you were hurt.
Lastly, I wanted to share that my family thinks it will be wise to leave early. I’m hoping to catch you tomorrow in town, but I don’t know if you’ll be there or not. There’s a really great gallery I visited today that I think you may be interested in. Maybe we could talk there, though I’m sure you don’t want anything to do with me. I can’t blame you.
Mother hasn’t made any real recovery here, other than relaxing, which has been good for her. It’s been better for Father, who stresses in hospitals. He insists she be better taken care of by nurses, though. She disagrees. We’ll probably leave in the next day or two. Perhaps Father is anxious to get back to the house.
She coughed up blood again last night. You’re the only one I’ve told about how deep this really is. And if I’m in the business of confessing, it terrifies me. Everything terrifies me right now. My mother. My father’s reaction. Losing you.
I hope now you realize why you will always be far braver than I am.
Maybe it is not my entire heart that belongs to my mother.
Everything hurt. My fingers, my legs, my heart. The paper was ripping. I was holding it too tight. I swallowed hard. I had no idea if I regretted reading the letter altogether or if I regretted not reading it sooner.
I reread it. I paused at the last line.
No. He couldn’t just do that. He could just casually throw in a line like that and expect everything to be fine. It wasn’t fine.
But what was he thinking?
Hell, what was I thinking?
I was thinking that Scorpius Malfoy was probably long gone by now. Back to England. Back to his house. Back to Danielle Miller.
I didn’t know how I felt about Scorpius. I knew I was mad. I knew I wanted to hit him again, even if it meant I had to buy another bag of frozen peas. But I there was something I did know.
I didn’t want him to leave.
I hurried to change out of the kittens and into shorts and a plain t-shirt. I grabbed a bag and shoved a few things into it before tearing back into the kitchen.
“Have you thought about my offer?” Dad asked, nodding to the painting on the back deck.
Double shit. The clouds were darkening.
“If you bring it in I’ll consider it.” I took a breath. “I’ll be back.”
He looked positively smug. “Care to share where you’re off to? It looks like rain.”
I shot him a look. “I think you’re pretty sure of where I’m going.”
“Hardly.” I leaned down and kissed the top of his head. “Have some peas in the freezer just in case.”
“That’s my girl,” Dad said as I exited the house and down the deck stairs.
I glanced at the road, but knew I’d never make it in time. It took an extra forty-five minutes that way. I’d just have to brave the forest, but I was used to it by now. I’d been through it plenty of times alone, though part of my had always assumed Scorpius was there too. At least on most occasions.
I hurried past trees and bushes, getting scraped a few times by stray branches and sharp leaves. Everything was getting darker and cooler, but I tried not to think about it. Scorpius’ rental wasn’t far away. I just needed to speak with him before he left anyway.
And say what?
What was I going to say?
Hello, Scorpius. Got your letter? What the fuck did that mean? It’s okay. I’ll wait patiently while you explain.
How was I far braver than him? That was stupid. His mother was practically dying. I was pretty sure nothing I did constituted as anywhere near that amount he had gone through. I wasn’t brave. I walked away when I should have screamed at him.
Why did I always walk away?
The easier way. I always took the easier way.
I found my way to the spot we’d first spoken at the creek and began my trip north along its bank. It was still soggy from last night’s rain.
It wasn’t that I didn’t care for Scorpius. Of course I did. He meant a great deal to me. That was why we spent so much time together. He listened when I spoke. I listened when he spoke. He’d gotten me to try new things. I’d gotten him to try on clothes that wouldn’t have looked out of play in a Muggle frat house.
Perhaps it would be clearer when I saw him. I’d know what to say. Or do. Maybe I’d hit him again. Everything still ached from reading his journal. Like a horrible sense of betrayal, though I knew I had no right to. He could see as many girls as he pleased. I had no attachment to him. Other than a few kisses. Holding hands. Having adventures.
Who was I kidding?
It was a stupid summer fling.
I stopped, staring at a fallen tree before me. Moss had begun to grow. We were supposed to be here for a month. Like a poorly written Muggle movie. A beachy summer of hormones and teenage lust and tension I couldn’t explain. Then it would be over.
Except this time it was over ten days early.
My fingers trailed over the bark. It was rough. I considered turning back. He was probably gone by now and what would it achieve if I went there anyway? I could accept his apology so he could sleep at night. Or I could hit him for hurting me. Either way we were each going back to England alone.
What difference did it make?
I did not get shoved off the side of a cliff so I could turn back now.
Mud began to cake onto my shoes as I moved alongside the creek. I could do this. I could definitely do this.
Then the thunder rumbled in the distance.
Yeah, I couldn’t do this.
My body froze. The breeze had gotten chilly and it looked far later than it actually was. And of course it was going to storm.
The rain began in icy sheets, soaking me in seconds as I stood, rooted to the spot. I watched each pellet slam into the creek. The sound they made against the leaves was an erie wash I wanted absolutely nothing to do with.
I glanced over my shoulder. Nothing but rain for days. I could barely see the path I’d cleared. I’d have to go back. There was no way I could keep going. Not like this. Not in this weather.
This was probably some kind of stupid sign anyway. To just leave it alone.
Then I spotted one of the berry bushes and my lips parted. I was closer to Scorpius’ place than my own. I lifted one foot out of the building mud and put it in front of the other.
Slowly, I made my way forward, body trembling in the cold.
Each step was its own battle. My feet sank into the ground. The shirt stuck to my skin. My shorts weighed heavy on my hips and I could barely see as my eyelashes were caked with rain.
The lightning almost caused me to stumble, but I grabbed for a tree, taking a deep breath. I could do this. I was already out in it. I was not stuck under a tree waiting for it to stop. I did not have Albus with me. If I wanted to get somewhere, I had to do it myself.
I moved to the next tree as thunder echoed through the mountains. The ground moved beneath me.
I could do this.
More thunder. Lightning. The creek was rising.
Another step. To another tree. My fingers grabbed for the bark, but they were slipping now. Everything was too wet to touch.
I made a run for it, immediately regretting it as my face burned with cold and my arms were slashed by branches as I tore through them. I couldn’t see much of anything and hoped I was going the right way. Thunder was at my heels. I shrieked each time lightning illuminated the patches of trees around me.
I could beat this.
I didn’t have to fear this.
I crashed to my knees after tripping on a root, palms splayed on a patch of grass. My tangled, wet hair flew into my face like a whip. And I also probably smelled like a damp dog. Great.
I looked up. There it was. The front of Scorpius’ rental house with its dark wood door and intimidating knocker. There was no vehicle in the drive. All of the curtains were drawn.
I stumbled to my feet, using a nearby tree to balance as the thunder startled me again.
“I will be damned,” I began, marching across the grassy puddles, “If I just walked all the way here in a fucking storm and you are GONE.” I ignored the knocker and pounded on the door with the side of my fist.
Nothing. I moved closer to the door so I wouldn’t get anymore soaked than I already was. I knocked again. Still nothing.
Great. Scorpius had left. He’d gone home and I’d braved this stupid sodding storm for no reason other than for a natural soapless shower.
I moved onto the front steps, not even caring that it was raining anymore. I let it slam onto my shoulders as I brought my legs up to hug them. Well, I could wait it out and walk back down the gravel road considering I had enough cuts on my arms and legs to not walk back through the woods. Dad was going to murder me.
I stuck out my left leg. It was bleeding. As was my arm. And the back of my hand. Great.
Today was clearly my day.
I groaned and put my face on my knee. Just let me die.
I spun around and toppled backward off the stairs, hitting my arse hard on the cement below. I shoved the hair out of my eyes.
“What’re you doing here?” Scorpius moved swiftly down the stairs and into the rain, bending down to scoop me up immediately. He didn’t wait for a reply before kneeing the door the rest of the way open and carrying me inside.
At this moment I didn’t particularly want to hit him.
Scorpius wasn’t looking at me. He walked up the staircase to the right and straight into his room. “At least wait to hit me again,” he said, placing me on his bed and hurrying to the wardrobe, yanking it open.
I couldn’t hit him if I wanted to. I was trembling. Everything was shaking and in turn I was shaking the bed. It tapped the wall gingerly behind me.
“I thought you were gone,” I said.
“I’m not,” he replied, grabbing a thick sweatshirt and tossing it to me. He paused and then grabbed his wand, performing a quick drying spell on my clothes. “Put it on.”
Though the clothes were dry, I was still freezing so I tugged his sweatshirt over my wet hair and grabbed his blankets, but then stopped.
“What?” he said.
My leg was still bleeding. “Could I have a bandage?”
“Shit, Rose,” Scorpius said, moving to the bed. “What happened to you?” His eyes met mine for the first time, brows creased in concern.
“How do I know you were telling the truth?” I demanded. Apparently that was what I was going to say when I saw Scorpius Malfoy.
“You read the letter?” He moved away from me and opened his bedroom door. “I’ll be right back.” Then he disappeared into the hall.
“Yes, I read the letter!” I called to him. “Was it true? I’m not fucking around, Scorpius. I will hit you. Hard.”
“I do not doubt that!” he shouted from a different room.
“I am dead serious!” I cried. I felt a little tired, though. Not exactly threatening. I grabbed the bag from beside me and pulled out the sopping wet letter. “Are you going to go home and take this Danielle girl out again?”
To my surprise, Scorpius’ face poked into the room immediately. “I can’t even get you a bandage in peace, can I?” he said, that teasing tone back in his voice. I had no idea why, as I was still mad at him.
Maybe it was because I was lying injured in his bed.
“Answer me,” I said seriously, matching his gaze.
He frowned. “All right,” he said. He peeled the packaging off a bandage and placed it on my leg once he wiped off the extra blood. “First let me clean you up.” He was silent, grabbing my arm and running a damp cloth over the cuts.
It would have been more relaxing if my heart wasn’t beating so hard.
Scorpius sat beside me on the bed and made sure each cut was properly cleaned before he placed a bandage over it. He didn’t talk. He didn’t so much as glance at me. Instead, he concentrated. I could hear the rain slamming against the windows.
“You really walked all the way here in the storm?” he asked quietly, applying a thin bandage to the back of my right hand.
His thumb brushed over my skin. “You’re quite the Gryffindor,” he said. I could see the red in his eyes.
“Clearly.” I took a breath and watched as he folded the cloth neatly, placing it on his bedside stand. “Scorpius, I don’t know why I’m here.”
His eyes moved to mine. “Probably for the same reason I’m still here,” he said.
I could feel my heart begin to beat faster, so I busied myself with pulling the blanket over my legs. “Where are your parents?”
“They went to the village,” he replied.
“She insisted,” Scorpius said. “I told her about the diner and she wanted to try it. Father was very reluctant, but he always caves with her.” His lips tugged into a small smile.
“My dad said you were leaving today,” I explained. “He said he ran into your father.”
“We were going to.” He shrugged. “Mum hates the hospital though. She wanted to stay for a bit longer. She said she wants to sit on the back deck with a mug of hot tea.”
I began to relax. “So what of Danielle Miller?”
“What of her?” Scorpius asked. He busied himself with straightening some clutter, even though it wasn’t a mess.
“What becomes of her when you go home?” I asked.
“Do you have an opinion?”
I swallowed hard. “If I hit you and left angry, what would become of her?”
Scorpius paused, running his finger over the dresser. He clicked his tongue briefly and turned, leaning against the furniture as he surveyed me. “The same thing that would happen if you forgave me. Nothing.”
I tried to focus. I was not the kind of girl to just get hurt and then fall for a letter from Mr. sodding Darcy. I had legitimate concerns. I was mad. Or something.
“Okay,” I said, nodding. I paused, taking a breath. Okay. Brave face, Rose. “You lied to me.”
“I know.” His jaw tightened.
For some reason I just felt angry at all of it. Him standing there after cleaning my wounds. Being in this bedroom where I’d found his journal. What the hell had I done? I grabbed the pillow and threw it at him and he shot me a confused look.
“I bloody cried!” I shouted at him.
He stared, dumbstruck.
“Do you even understand that?” I asked. “I don’t even know what the hell this is! I don’t even know why I cried because I couldn’t bloody care less who you snog when you’re home!”
Scorpius looked like he wanted to say something, but remained silent. He raked his fingers through his hair nervously.
“You don’t get to be charming and put your stupid feelings into a letter,” I snapped. My eyes were beginning to burn. “You don’t get to make things all right.”
“I wasn’t trying to,” Scorpius finally said. “I was just trying to explain.”
“Then fucking explain what this is,” I shouted, blinking back the tears I hadn’t anticipated. I moved my finger between us. “Because I have absolutely no idea why I feel so foolish right now.”
Scorpius’ grip tightened on the dresser. “Rose,” he began, but stopped.
“I need to leave.” I threw off the blankets, tears blurring my vision as I staggered to his bedroom door.
Everything hurt. Why did everything hurt?
I felt his fingers move around my wrist, spinning me so fast I lost my balance and fell. Into him. My chest pressed against his and I fought to wipe away the tears before looking up at him. His arms tightened around my waist.
“Rose, you know what this is,” Scorpius said gruffly, moving his free hand to wipe a few of the stray tears from my jawline.
“I don’t,” I said, determined.
He cupped my face in his hand and leaned in, kissing me softly. “You do,” he said against my lips.
Did I? Everything was a little fuzzy. The room had that dampness too it from the window being open. My hair was wetting down the back of the sweatshirt. I wanted to comment on all of this, but I found myself kissing Scorpius again.
“You didn’t come here to hit me,” he whispered, his hand moving from my face into my hair.
“Stop being mysterious,” I said absently, kissing him again. “I’ve had enough of mysterious.”
Scorpius moved both his arms around me, pulling me tight to his body. “I’ll be blunt,” he said, tone serious as he looked down at me. His eyes were a different intensity of grey today. He looked more relaxed, yet tired. “Rose, I fancy the hell out of you.” He paused and I could feel his heart beating against my chest. “A lot,” he added breathlessly.
His cheeks were pink.
I couldn’t breathe and my grip tightened on his shirt. I had no idea what to say. Like I was had the wind knocked out of me. I blinked a couple times, my mouth opening and closing like a fish.
“Please say something,” Scorpius blurted, his eyes full of concern.
I felt like my throat had closed up, heart racing.
So I grabbed his chin and pulled him into a kiss, knocking him back into the wall.
“Does this mean you forgive me?”
We were in Scorpius’ bed, his arms around me. My hair was almost dry now and the parts that weren’t were against his skin so I wasn’t cold. Everything smelled like him.
“Don’t get ahead of yourself,” I murmured into his chest. My eyes were closed and I felt sleepy. It was still raining, but it was no longer storming. Just a light, summer rain. We’d been laying there for the better part of a half hour after kissing for a while against the wall. My lips were still a little tingly.
Scorpius kissed the top of my head. “Fair enough,” he said with a brief chuckle. “I may have had a motive when I told my mother about the diner.”
I glanced up. “Did you really think I’d come?”
“I hoped you would,” he replied. “And then if you didn’t, at least I could spend some time alone before going home.”
“What did you do with your alone time anyway? Did you practice your hosting personality?”
“Actually, no.” Scorpius squeezed my shoulders and hopped off the bed, walking over to the dresser. He pulled open the first drawer. “I’ve been working on something.”
“If you wrote me another damn letter I will leave,” I muttered.
He pulled out a small, square canvas. “I painted,” he said with a shy smile, crossing the room to place it in my lap.
It was an abstract painting with what looked to be a house in by the trees. Lots of reds and oranges and yellows. I stared.
“I used the colors from that sunset,” Scorpius said after a while. “It reminded me of you.”
My eyes flickered to his. “I like you too,” I said breathlessly, fingers moving over the brush strokes.
“Yeah?” His lips immediately exploded into a grin. It looked charming and natural and I wanted to kiss him even more.
“Yeah. This painting is amazing. I can’t believe you used that as your inspiration.” I could see a lot of the colors in it. The ones I’d studied so hard on the roof. While he slept.
“I had a good instructor.” Scorpius shrugged, his cheeks darkening again as he sat beside me on the bed. “Do you like it?”
“It’s brilliant.” I smiled, kissing him.
“You should keep the painting.” Scorpius put his hand over mine. “Just in case I screw up again. You can look at it and get all sappy and forgive me.” He chuckled in a teasing way.
“Are you hiding any other girls?” I said darkly, making a face. “Because I’m going to start dropping my gloves and throwing down with these girls.”
Scorpius laughed, moving the canvas onto his bedside table and tackling me into a hug, pressing his lips against my cheek and chin and jaw. “I’m going to have to hold you back,” he teased, snickering. “But I can’t deny I’d like to watch that.”
I swatted his arm. “You’re making this up to me,” I told him.
“Anything,” Scorpius said, holding me tight. “Can I ask if you’ll have another go with my parents?”
I thought about it for a moment. How nervous I’d been. How I stormed out of the house. I couldn’t imagine what Mr. Malfoy thought when I slammed the door. Great. That would be fun.
“Maybe,” I replied. “Can you escape tomorrow? Or should you be here?”
Scorpius was quiet. His fingers brushed up and down my arm. “I could escape,” he said. “I could use a distraction, you know.” His lips followed his fingers, tracing slow kisses down my arm.
“I could move around my schedule,” I said, though it barely came out because of the chills running through my body.
“Can I take you out?” Scorpius asked.
“Like a date?” I looked at him, eyes wide.
“Sure,” he said. “I’ve been wanting to take you on a date.” He shrugged in a casual way, but there was nothing casual about his expression. “Thought it would be strange to ask when we hadn’t exactly said anything more than we were friends.”
“Who were snogging,” I added.
“Yes. We did that.” Scorpius smirked and kissed me again. “A lot.”
“Didn’t hear you complaining,” I mumbled with a small laugh. I spoke between each kiss and found my hands tangled in his hair.
“Right back at you, Juliet,” he growled into my mouth and holy hell everything melted.
I didn’t know he was capable of that sound.
“I should not be here anymore,” I whispered, kissing him again. And again.
“Clearly you’re making a case to leave.” He smirked, hand on my thigh.
Just as Scorpius’ tongue brushed my lower lip we heard a car door slam shut and jumped apart. I could assume my face was as red as his was. “I’m in your sweatshirt!” I said like it was some sort of indicator that we were making out in his bed.
“Keep it! It’s chilly after it rains!” Scorpius said nervously, leaping off the side of the bed. “My parents are here!”
“Pretty sure I knew that.” I leaned over the window and watched Scorpius’ mum climb out of the passenger side of the car.
It had been a long time since I’d seen her. Mrs. Malfoy looked very little like her son or husband. She was tall with raven-black hair tied up in a loose knot on the back of her head. The kind of woman who wore regular, cotton clothes but could make them look like they were from Rodeo Drive. She was smiling. I noticed how pretty she looked when she smiled.
“I have to warn you,” Scorpius said softly, his arm moving around my waist. “She’s very protective.”
“Like my dad protective?” I asked.
“Oh no. That’s an entirely different beast.” He kissed my forehead. “Want to sneak out the back?”
I nodded. “Dad probably has a bag of peas ready for me.”
A/N: To clarify from Scorpius' letter, Danielle is not and was not his girlfriend. Just to put that out there just in case it was confusing.
Thank you all again for your continued support and comments with this and the other stories I am updating. Thank you for your patience as well. It gets hard to update four stories at once!! But your kind words keep me going.
I hope you all enjoyed this chapter :)
NEXT UP: A Date. And Mr. Malfoy.
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