Happy 2014! This chapter is for pinkpunzel too just because they thought it was unfathomable their name would appear at the top of a chapter. Believe it.
My brother is currently downstairs with a girl. I have no idea what’s happening and frankly, I don’t want to know. Please entertain me.
It only took ten minutes, which was surprising considering we lived a much greater distance away than we did in the mountains.
I wasn’t aware your brother knew how to talk to women, let alone spend time with one. Kudos to him. Is that pride I feel?
Right now I’m doing the same thing I was when you left this morning. I am lying in bed staring at the ceiling daydreaming. Wishing I was back in the States. I’m kind of sad we didn’t get to do more, you know? I wanted to explore the forest. And stay away from bears. Very far away from bears.
Maybe I just wanted to get away.
I think I did a rather good job of that, don’t you?
Try not to think about it. Pretend your room is the mountains, but please don’t climb on anything as I don’t want to have to explain your re-admittance to the hospital to your parents.
I do wish we were back there. I would give just about anything to be back in that creek with no damn fish anywhere around.
Maybe we should plan some new adventures before Hogwarts, don’t you think? It’s our seventh year. Maybe Diagon Alley? I don’t have my books yet. I don’t think you could handle book shopping with me. We should settle for something like new robes or potions ingredients. Are you doing Potions this year? Scratch that question. We are not using our summer to buy ingredients.
I do know something we can do in Diagon Alley.
Buy a drink at the pub and snog in the corner.
What do you think?
How convenient your thoughts mirror my own.
I wish you were here right now. Tell me if it gets too clingy, as I have precious little else to occupy my mind. Just the last twenty-some-odd days of climbing mountains and going swimming. I miss swimming. Do you think we could recreate that in a ditch somewhere? Bring your swimsuit. I’ll bring mine. Do you have a shed we can escape into?
My parents are probably going to wonder why I’m laughing when I’m supposed to be relaxing. I hope they don’t catch me writing romantic notes to my girlfriend.
How do you feel about that anyway? Have you been apart from me long enough to regret it?
I’ll let you know if you get too clingy. I’m still getting used to you actually telling me how you feel.
I haven’t broken up with you yet, have I?
When can I see you?
The sooner the better.
We wrote late into the night. Around nine I turned up the radio to drown out the laughing girl downstairs. For minutes on end I waited by the window while sketching out a design on my canvas.
I couldn’t believe I’d be going back to Hogwarts so soon. Less than a month away. It made me think about the last six years of classes, friends, laughter, and tears. And then this summer. This strange summer. I kind of wished Dom was around for me to talk to. I definitely didn’t want to talk to Albus about this. He was still bitter about Scorpius being the favorite in third year Charms.
I wrote until I drifted in and out of sleep somewhere around midnight. Eventually I got up to turn off the lights and write Scorpius one last note telling him good-night. I blushed while writing it.
When we went home early because of Scorpius being in the hospital, I didn’t expect anyone to know about it. Actually, I didn’t expect to be bothered for another two days. However, when I woke the house wasn’t only occupied by my family. And unlike in the States, it didn’t have an attractive blond visitor.
Instead, my door was violently kicked open and several of my cousins filed in unceremoniously.
“GET UP!” Albus launched himself onto my bed, throwing away the covers and plopping on top of me. He was a little taller, though thin like Uncle Harry. “You’re home early! Why didn’t you write and say you’d be home early?”
I had a few other things on my mind.
James, Louis, Lily, and Roxanne were at the door looking like they’d rather be anywhere else in the world. I didn’t blame them. My room wasn’t thrilling and the garden didn’t offer gnome-throwing like the Burrow. It was clear their parents dragged them here. They were easy to ignore.
“Slipped my mind,” I replied after a minute, shoving Albus off me and sitting up. “What’re you lot doing here?”
“Visiting,” James said dryly.
“And what a visit it is.” I leaned over the side of the bed and quickly shoved my letters from Scorpius under. That was something I didn’t want to advertise.
“Did you have fun?” Albus asked. For as long as we’d been doing family vacations he had wanted to go. My parents always invited him, but Uncle Harry told him to stay home so we could have family time. Our relay teams would have been uneven anyway.
Then again, I would have just let him play for me.
That was the kind of nice person I was.
“It was fun,” I said with a nod.
“Hugo drive you crazy?”
“Something like that.” I threw my pillow at James, who was nosing through the paintings. His hand was on the one I liked. Of the forest. With the sunset. I didn’t know why I had such an attachment to it, other than it was beautiful. “But we’re back now.”
“Why’d you come back early?”
“Emergency,” I said, though wished I hadn’t.
Everyone looked at me.
“What kind?” Albus asked, his dark brow arching.
Oh hell. Umm.
Lucky for me, the doorbell rang and everyone looked around at each other. Then James went for the window.
“Can’t see,” he grumbled. “Dad didn’t say anyone else was coming.”
“I didn’t get word anyone else was home early from their wicked vacation,” Albus shot me a look. He was still trying to get his parents to take them to New Zealand.
“ROSE.” Dad was at the bottom of the stairs.
Everyone then turned to look at me. Again.
“Who’s here for you?” Albus asked. “I’m already here. Aren’t I all you need?” He shot me a cheeky smile and ran for the door.
I pulled myself out of bed and hurriedly put on a sweatshirt over my tank top.
“ROSE.” That one was Albus. He had turned in the hall and come to a stop at the top of the staircase. “Can you answer a question.”
“Yeah?” I pulled my hair up and secured it in a hideous knot on the top of my head.
“Can you tell me why Scorpius Malfoy is in your living room?”
I hurried to pull my hair from the knot, heart immediately racing. Shit. Hell. Godric. “Uh!” I said. “Well, it’s a funny story.”
“I have time.” Albus was still in the hallway. He was by no means protective of me (That role was all Hugo’s when he cared), but when he was shocked it was no surprise to anyone what his reactions would be. Disbelief. Mild anger. Stuttering over certain phrases.
“For another time,” I added quickly, glancing around the room. Lily and Roxanne were snickering at me behind their hands. Little bloody princesses. They were great to have as cousins, but I had a hard time seeing eye-to-eye with them with as much time as they spent around Hugo. They probably heard all the dirt on me and that was why they rarely looked me in the eye. I wondered why they weren’t off bugging Hugo and then realized he was intelligent enough to bolt his door in the morning.
Albus appeared in the doorway again as James shoved past him to see if it was really true. Louis started to laugh. Yeah. Scorpius was definitely there. I had no idea how many of my relatives were in the living room, but I groaned as I heard James barrel down the stairs. “A story for right now,” Albus noted, his tone littered with annoyance.
“He was in the Smoky Mountains,” I said dryly, glancing at the mirror to make sure my hair looked okay. It was a mess. Damn.
“In the mountains?” Albus pressed, staring. “You mean the place you went on vacation?”
“The very same mountains.” I grabbed a glittery clip and pulled back part of my hair, snapping it into place. Maybe that would distract him from the frizz. James was laughing downstairs. “He was there. We hung out. Talked.”
“Ah.” Albus cleared his throat. “And he’s visiting you now. Since you hung out.”
“Right.” I looked in the mirror again. Presentable. Someone was calling for me downstairs.
“Did you two even talk in school?”
“We just talked for a month,” I countered. Well, almost.
“I heard he was seeing someone,” Albus said as I moved toward the doorway.
I glanced over my shoulder at him. I could have gone into the long-winded explanation of Danielle and the ordeal that took place in the mountains. I could have told him all about the shed and the scaling rooftops and the kissing after painting each other. But instead I smirked a little.
“Yeah,” I said casually, disappearing into the hall. “That would be me.”
Scorpius was by the door and I was pleased to see he looked a little nervous. James was to his left, practically drilling him with questions about his hobbies, spare time, and what color he thought was better out of red and gold. Louis and the two princesses were giggling, all pressed together on the chair. Thankfully, my parents had ushered any of our relatives in the kitchen, though I could see Dad’s head poking out from the far hallway. Of course.
“Rose!” James called when I made it to the bottom of the stairs. “He’s saying red, but I really think he’s wrong.”
“Everyone has flaws,” I said with a smirky smile, finally meeting Scorpius’ eyes. My cheeks reddened as I saw the grin light up his face. He didn’t seem to mind my hair looked like a bird’s nest. “Nice of you to visit while my family invades my privacy.”
“Can you think of a better time?” Scorpius asked. He looked a lot better than he had the day before. He wasn’t as pale and he didn’t seem as tired. “I came to ask if you’d fancy a walk.”
“I’d fancy a walk,” Roxanne piped up with a shrill laugh.
I’d almost forgotten Scorpius had a few fans in the younger years. It wasn’t just teachers he won over.
I shot Roxanne a look. “Yeah, that would be preferable.” I could hear Albus coming down the stairs behind me.
Scorpius pulled open the door and closed it behind me as we began a very fast-paced walk down the drive and onto the rural street. Once we were out of sight of the house, I grabbed his hand.
“Were they unbearable?” I asked.
“Your cousins?” He made a face. “I have a thick skin. They didn’t bother me.”
“It’s Albus I’m looking forward to,” Scorpius said with a brief laugh. “He’s never forgiven me for getting better scores in Charms for the last four years.”
“I’m not surprised.”
A few cars passed, but mostly we were alone passing house after house with dark fences and shuttered windows. He swung our arms between us.
“Are you supposed to be out?” I asked as we passed the second stop sign.
“Do you want the honest answer or the better answer?”
I rolled my eyes. “Scorpius,” I warned. “I don’t want you getting in trouble or getting worse.”
“I feel fine.” He dropped my hand and draped his arm around my shoulders, pulling me against him. “Really. Don’t worry so much. It’ll wrinkle your face.”
“I’ll wrinkle my face all I please.” I wanted to elbow him, but resisted. I didn’t know what I could do. He seemed so different now. Fragile. Scorpius picked up on my hesitation and stopped, wrapping his other arm around me.
“Stop.” He kissed my hair. “I’m fine.”
“You don’t know that.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Scorpius said, his fingers tightening around my shirt. We stayed there for a moment, standing in the gravel on the side of the empty road. “It doesn’t matter if I am physically fine or not. It matters if I am mentally fine.” He leaned down and found my lips with his own. “So stop worrying.”
How was I even supposed to respond to that? I’d just seen him in the hospital a couple days before. He was unconscious.
But looking at him now … now he was the bravest person I’d ever seen.
When we began to walk again he smiled. “Tell me what I should expect from your cousins.”
I did. I told him every twist and turn he should expect from Albus and Dom and even Victoire. We walked for what felt like ages, but it was nothing compared to the trip into town from my family’s rental or even all the walks we made back and forth to the lake or the creek. I missed the scenery, though. The grassy hills were far less appealing than the thick forest, even if there was less humidity.
We stopped at the park several blocks away and he pushed me on the swings for a while as we talked. We didn’t really talk about anything significant. Not about him in the hospital or Danielle or what my reaction had been to anything. Just laughed about the children nearby and I teased him about the state of his hair.
When my stomach started to make embarrassing noises, we made our way down a crumbling road toward a small village that reminded me a little of the mountains. The only difference was the land around it was strikingly bare compared to the tall trees that gave way to the sunset.
“Shall we?” Scorpius pulled open the door to a small cafe I’d frequented growing up. It had a chocolate ice cream that melted me to my seat.
The cafe hadn’t changed much since last summer. The walls were still a dark wood paneling from decades ago and photographs of how the village had changed lined the walls above the booths. The place wasn’t crowded, just a few scattered people at tables by the window, so we had our pick of seats. I decided on a familiar favorite, a booth in the back corner next to the only painting in the cafe. An oil portrait of a dark-haired man.
Scorpius pulled both menus from behind the salt and pepper shakers and handed me one. “Anything you recommend?”
“Everything,” I replied with a smile. It was true. I’d tested and tried most things on the menu at some point or another.
“This could take a while.” He leaned back against the cushion and propped the menu in front of his face, shielding him from view.
It was strange having him in here. I took Lysander here once, but he complained through lunch about how stifling it was so we left before dessert. Scorpius seemed rather at home, humming after a while as he read. Eventually, he dropped the menu back to the table.
“I’ve decided,” he announced.
The waitress, a slender woman around my mother’s age, smiled. “And what can I get you?”
I decided on a thick turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomatoes. Scorpius favored a grilled ham and cheese. Once the woman left to put in our orders, he leaned over the table and kissed me.
“We should go somewhere,” he said.
“Pretty sure we are somewhere.” I brushed some stray hair away from my cheek and looked at him. “Or somewhere else?”
“Anywhere,” Scorpius said. “More mountains or beaches or skyscrapers.”
“We do have school relatively soon,” I said. How could we possibly visit all those places before school? Let alone before we had to start shopping for school supplies? I needed new robes.
“Let’s just skip school.” He grinned.
I raised a brow. “Relatively certain we can’t do that,” I said with a laugh. “But I admire your thought process. It would be nice, wouldn’t it? Just to get up and go.”
“We could do it.”
“But we won’t,” I said.
“Why not?” Scorpius was twirling the salt and pepper shakers around each other.
I shot him a look. Was it that farfetched? He seemed to think we could just pick up and travel the world without a second thought. I wasn’t exactly hurting for funds, but that didn’t mean my parents would give me the money and it definitely didn’t mean they would allow me to go. After all, I’d rarely spent our vacation with them and I couldn’t trust Hugo to pick out the correct books at Flourish and Blotts.
“What?” Scorpius pressed. “Why don’t you like the idea?”
“Scorpius,” I said, frowning and tearing the straw wrapper into confetti. “You know as well as I do it’s not possible. You get your tests results today and we both need to go to school.”
He was bathed in silence. “I don’t think we do,” he replied.
I wasn’t sure how to respond. I knew what this was. I recognized his hesitation. He was scared.
Our drinks came, followed quickly by our food.
“It’s great,” Scorpius commented, though his heart wasn’t in it.
It was like there was a thick wall between us now. He wanted to leave and travel the world. And for once I wanted to stay with reality. Maybe he just didn’t want the vacation to end. But it did. He got sick and it was over.
“What time do you find out?” I said.
He glanced down at his wristwatch and tilted it toward the light. “Two hours.”
“Do your parents know you’re out?”
“They didn’t stop me.”
It was hard to blame them.
I reached across the table and took his hand. “How about we plan a little adventure for the first Hogsmeade weekend, hmm? Walk to the outskirts of the village and have a picnic in the trees? Just the two of us.”
“Albus will probably follow.” I noticed a smirk tugging at his lips. “All right, Rose. As you wish.”
We paid and began the walk back, fingers twisted together until he decided that wasn’t enough and draped his arm over my shoulders. “Would you think less of me if I told you I was nervous?”
“I’d think more of you.”
“Then I’m nervous.”
Scorpius’ house had a somber glow to it when we entered. It smelled like stale air. His parents were in the kitchen, sitting opposite from each other with two cups of steaming tea. Neither glanced up when we entered, probably because they assumed where he had escaped to.
“It came early,” Mrs. Malfoy said, sliding a thick envelope in her son’s direction.
Scorpius froze. He stiffened, staring at the envelope. I squeezed his hand.
“Did you look?” he asked.
They shook their heads. “We thought you’d rather,” Mr. Malfoy replied. It was clear he had wanted to see, but his wife stopped him.
I could feel my throat closing up, stomach exploding with nerves. I didn’t want to be here, but my feet were rooted to the tile. I should have left to give them family time. Or at least tried to get my fingers to stop trembling. Of course I was nervous. I was petrified for him and it only frustrated me further being helpless.
Scorpius slid his finger under the envelope’s closure, tearing it. There were droplets of sweat on his brow and some hair stuck to the back of his neck.
He pulled out a thick packet of paper with a staple in the corner and unfolded it. His jaw clenched as he took a deep breath in through his nose and began to skim the letter on top.
The silence was something I had not witnessed before. It wasn’t a pleasant, calming silence. It was scary. The clock was louder than I remembered clocks ever being. Mrs. Malfoy tapped her index finger against the hard wood of the table. Mr. Malfoy slid his mug to the left and then back to the right. My heart was louder than all of them.
Scorpius inhaled sharply. “It’s positive,” he said, lips parting gingerly. “The results are positive.” His eyes moved to his mother, brows creased in confusion. He looked at a loss for words.
I stepped back, allowing Mrs. Malfoy to slide out of her chair and embrace her son. Even my temples were throbbing now.
What did this mean? Scorpius now had some mystery disease?
It felt like the room was on fire. The stale air had morphed into humid, wet surroundings and made me want to throw open a window and choke.
Scorpius’ fingers clutched his mum’s shirt tight. He wasn’t showing much emotion, but I didn’t expect him to. It was the finality of a diagnosis he’d already assumed.
What an unrelenting word. It wasn’t positive at all. Nothing about this situation was positive.
“I should go,” I blurted, suddenly aware of my sweaty palms and the way my teeth tugged at my bottom lip.
Scorpius pulled away from his mother. I hadn’t seen his eyes look like that before – fearful. Strained. Like he was having a difficult time so much as taking a breath. “Don’t,” he managed to say, reaching out and taking my hand. “Can she stay?” His skin paled and now looked a sickly blue.
“She should.” Mrs. Malfoy pressed her lips tight together. “We’re going to St. Mungos to make sense of this.” She nodded to her husband. “We’ll return shortly.”
Just like that, they were gone. Before they left, Mr. Malfoy ruffled his son’s hair, but didn’t look at him. I almost couldn’t look at him.
The door closed with a sharp snap and Scorpius turned to me, pulling me into his arms. “Rose,” he said, grip tightening. “It’s positive.”
“I know.” I smoothed out his hair with my palm and pressed a few stray kisses to his neck and cheek. I was horrible at comforting people. And awkward. I didn’t think Scorpius minded, though. “It’s going to be fine.”
He knew, but he nodded regardless. “Can we leave?”
I hesitated. “Do you think that’s a good idea?”
“Not at all.” Scorpius kissed me briefly and grabbed my hand again, tugging me out the back door and into the garden. It was worthy of the name, flowers sprouting toward the sky and vines hanging in sheets off trees. It was truly beautiful. He had mentioned his mother tending to it when her health allowed, though clearly someone had been keeping up in her absence.
We moved in silence along a stone walkway and I admired the variety of flowers and the way their colors blended together so it was difficult to tell which was purple and which was pink and how it separated from the green. Everything was wild, but manicured. I had an urge to paint it, but instead focused on Scorpius’ tight grip and where we were going.
He stopped at the base of an old tree. The bark was flaking off near the bottom and a few branches hung low, masked by vines.
“I used to sit up there as a kid.” He pointed about halfway up. I noticed his eyes were glassy and his breathing was short. Hell, so was mine.
“Is that where you’d like to go?” I was wearing the wrong shoes for this.
“If possible.” Scorpius gripped the lowest branch and easily hoisted himself up. He offered his hand.
I swatted it away and clamored onto the branch, though far less gracefully.
I followed him up and onto a few more branches, my fingers protesting against the sharp twigs and pieces of bark. At last Scorpius settled on a thick branch, swinging his legs over each side to face me. He leaned against the base of the tree and took a deep breath.
I did the same, careful to call upon whatever balance I had, and placed my hand on his thigh. We were fairly high up and I knew if I slipped sideways I’d have more damage than I cared for on the way down. It was a great sight, though, looking through the branches at the garden below and the back of Scorpius’ house. Peaceful, almost.
I could see why he spent time up here as a kid.
“How do you think I should feel?” Scorpius asked after a while, head still leaning back against the tree. “Shocked? Angry? Relieved?”
“How do you feel?”
He shrugged. “Not sure.” He groaned a little. “Angry. Angry is definitely it.”
“How so?” I brushed my thumb against his pants, heart rate picking up again.
“At the unfairness of it all,” Scorpius snapped, though not at me. “Isn’t it horrible enough I’ve had to watch my mother suffer for years, only to have it thrust back on me? After taking care of everything and seeing my father the way he was … and now he’ll just have to watch me and take care of me when I’m too weak to get out of bed.” He squeezed his eyes shut. “How can this be the way things turn out?”
“Maybe it’s not,” I offered, though I knew I wasn’t much help. “They’re working hard. Maybe they’ll find something. A medicine. A spell.”
He shot me a look and I shrugged.
“It’s a thought,” I said. “And better than nothing at all.”
“I’d rather have nothing at all than false hope,” he grunted.
“You don’t mean that.” I squeezed his leg. “Scorpius, you are more of a dreamer than anyone I’ve ever met. You are built on hope. Things I don’t understand. You need to believe.” I scooted forward on the tree and leaned in, kissing him. “If not for you, for me.”
He looked tired. Like he’d been awake all night and run a marathon.
“Are you going to leave me?” Scorpius asked.
I stared. “Leave you? What? You’re daft.”
“Answer the question.” His head moved back against the tree and Scorpius closed his eyes, letting out a small sigh.
“No,” I replied, though I thought it was more than obvious. “No, I’m not going to leave you. I was just about to ask you if you’d like to go fishing.” I was happy to see his smirk return. “Come on. Try to stay positive, okay?”
Wrong word choice.
“Just let me know what you need.” I took a chance with the tree and lifted my legs onto the branch spinning so I was facing away from Scorpius. Then I scooted back and he wrapped his arms around me as I leaned into him.
“You’ve already figured it out,” he said softly, kissing my ear before falling into silence again.
A/N: Happy 2014 to everyone and I hope you're all kicking off the year the way you'd hoped!
Thank you for reading this chapter, though I'm sure some unhappy comments are coming my way ;)
I wanted to let you all know to be on the look out for something new from me. As I mentioned on social media, I've been working on a Georgiana Wood / Albus (aka Albus/OC) story about Jane and Oliver's eldest daughter, Georgiana (the Jane and Oliver from Keep Away). So if that sounds like something you'd be interested in, keep an eye out!
"Ah." Dad started to scratch my back a little, which calmed me. "Be brave, Rosey. We'll figure it out."
"Easier said than done," I grumbled.
"No one ever said it was going to be easy." He kissed my forehead.
THEN: Rose decides to go on an adventure.
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