Chapter 6 - The Dark Mark
The next morning Rose’s shame had led her to hide again in the library away from the eyes of the Gryffindor table, away from Violet’s concerned questions, and away from perfect Lily’s advice. She had slept poorly, sneaking up to the Tower when everyone else was in bed and rising before they had awoken. Now the sun streamed through the windows and hurt the eyes that were red from crying. She tried to read but the words did not go in; they could no longer distract her. Instead she laid her head on the table, closed her eyes tight and tried desperately to think of nothing. She failed, but this time managed to supress the tears. Her cousins all hated her now, thought she was mad. Scorpius would hear about it and think the same; be embarrassed to be her friend. That she knew.
Then she heard footsteps behind her and the seat beside her was drawn and on it he sat. She turned her head weakly to see Scorpius, sitting there glimmering and glorious in the morning light, with a small plaster on his forehead the only sign of injury. He smiled at her, and she bowed her head again.
‘Rose, what’s wrong?’ he asked
‘Oh Scorpius, why are you even here? You must think I’m an idiot,’ tears threatened to form in her eyes again.
‘What are you talking about? I heard that you came to see me at the hospital wing.’ Rose tried not to blush at the memory. ‘It was nice of you to think of me,’ he said, slightly shakily and perhaps a tad embarrassed.
‘Why wouldn’t I? Sometimes it feels like you’re the only one who doesn’t have it in for me,’ she sighed.
‘Rose, you’re straying into self-pity. That won’t help,’ he said, and his voice was strong but not harsh. ‘I don’t know what you’re so down about but just forget about it – being like this won’t do you any good,’ he raised her chin with his index finger. ‘Chin up, Weasley.’
She laughed and smiled, before seriousness resumed in her blue eyes. ‘Thank you, Scorpius.’
‘Anytime,’ he said and winked.
‘Don’t do that,’ she laughed, ‘You’re terrible at winking; you look ridiculous.’
‘Not as ridiculous as you after crying,’ he teased and her cheeks turned rose. He hugged her tight and she closed her eyes as her chin rested on his shoulder. ‘It’ll be alright, yeah?’
‘Yeah,’ she agreed, and they looked at each other for a moment. ‘What’s that on your arm?’ she asked, noticing a dark line going down his left forearm.
‘Nothing,’ he said, trying to look genial while obviously uneasy, and shook the sleeve to cover his arm.
‘It’s not nothing!’ she said, and pulled back the sleeve to reveal an image in black ink of a skull with a snake protruding from its mouth. Rose gasped. ‘Scorpius, what is that doing there? The dark mark!’
His pale cheeks when red slightly and he frowned. ‘Look, it’s nothing. A few people just drew it on, thought it was funny, I guess.’
‘And you went along with it? Do you think it’s funny?’ she demanded, standing.
He pulled her back down to her chair and lowered his voice to a whisper. ‘Of course I don’t! Just like everyone else are you? Think I’m taking after father?’
‘You’ve got the dark mark on your arm!’
‘Keep it down!’ he warned. ‘They used petrificus totalus – I couldn’t stop them doing it. They wanted to remind me that I’m nothing but a Death Eater’s son. But then again, I should be used to it by now, shouldn’t I? Even you thought it for a second.’
‘No I didn’t,’ she protested, ‘I just freaked out. I’m sorry; you know that I know you’re not like that. You know I-’ she stopped and blushed, ‘that you’re my best friend.’
‘I know. I just hate it, y’know? It’s constant,’ he sighed and sat back in his chair.
‘Who did it anyway? You need to tell a teacher about this. It’s totally unacceptable. They’ve got away with calling you names for years but this is too far, Scorpius.’
‘No, I don’t need anyone to look after me, Rose, just leave it,’ she drew away again, wounded, ‘Sorry; I’m just stressed. And it was that McLaggen kid again, Callum isn’t it? The Seventh Year?’
‘McLaggen? He’s a nasty piece of work from what I gather,’ she said, ‘even James and all the Gryffindors can’t stand him. If you insist on not telling anyone then fine, but seriously Scorpius, this is bad. Give me your arm.’ Without reluctance, for he trusted her magical competence thoroughly, he held out his arm to her.
‘Scourgify,’ she muttered, tapping his arm with her wand, and the ink was siphoned off, leaving it clear.
‘Thanks Rose,’ he said, pulling his sleeve back over his arm.
‘Anytime,’ she smiled and he returned it. There was a moment of quiet and that incredible urge to hold Scorpius’ hand seized her again. Before she could even think of putting his into action, Scorpius stood up.
‘To breakfast!’ he declared, ‘you need feeding up, and so do I after yesterday.’
‘The Great Hall,’ she sighed, ‘Really?’ Her thoughts were filled with a hostile Gryffindors and a patronising Lily.
‘Yep, c’mon,’ and when she hesitated he grabbed her hand and pulled her up. She felt a thrill run through her and he pulled her from the library and down to the Great Hall. Scorpius dropped her hand as they approached the oak doors and Rose drew back slightly, unwilling to expose herself to the opinions of those within. Scorpius rolled his eyes and nodded towards the doors and she reluctantly followed.
The hall was fairly empty, but she caught sight instantly of James’ messy black hair and soon saw that it was surrounded in the red heads of Fred, Lily and Hugo, and the blonde of Louis. Lily looked up and their eyes met across the hall. She leaned over the table to the others and indicated Rose to them. James’ head turned and Rose quickly followed Scorpius in the other direction to the Slytherin table, though she was sure she saw James’ roll his eyes.
‘How’s the head?’ Rose asked as they sat down and Scorpius began scooping breakfast onto his plate.
‘Alright, I think. I’ve just got a bit of a bump. Did you write to tell your folks about the 100% you got in the Charms mock?’ he smiled.
I mentioned it, she smiled back, ‘Dad was over the moon; he always get excited when I do well in tests. Have you heard from yours lately?’ Scorpius’ face darkened and he broke eye contact.
‘No.’ Rose knew that was the extent of conversation on his family.
Rose looked at him, happily tucking into his food and envied his apparent peace of mind. How could he so easily accept the trials of his life, the stress of the OWL exams, his strained relationship with his father, the cruelty of his peers and their widespread and open hostility towards him? How did he cope with this when Rose couldn’t even cope with her growing feelings for him and a few disagreements with her cousins?
She sighed and turned back to her omelette, before feeling a tap on her shoulder. She looked round to see Hugo standing there, his red hair level to her head as she sat. His large brown eyes looked to her with concern and Rose felt her insides twist.
‘Lily told me about you and James having a row.’
‘Did she?’ said Rose and felt a squirm of annoyance.
‘Yeah, are you ok? What’s going on? Are you friends again now?’ the questions rushed from his mouth quickly. Rose turned her back to him.
‘Hugo, go away, will you? I’m fine. Don’t you have some second years to play flying Ford Anglia cars with?’
Rose only caught a glimpse of Hugo’s hurt expression as he turned back towards the Gryffindor table, and she only felt a small rush of guilt, which was dwarfed by the despairing knowledge that she was floating away from her family, and fast.