Chapter 8 - Back to the Start
She ran, as she always did, to the library. She crouched over a book at a table as always. As she scanned the pages of her book she realised that she hadn’t read properly in a long time. For her, reading had recently only been a distraction from her sadness, and the words never really went in. They did not now. All she could see was Anwen’s face nearing Scorpius’. That image tore at her insides and evoked a fury that she had not known before. But most of all it stung, deep in her chest. She allowed herself to gasp as tears cascaded down her cheeks. Anwen and Scorpius were probably together now, so they’d hang out all the time. He wouldn’t need Rose anymore. Her cousins all hated her so now she was alone. Forever. Or at least the forever that is visible to a heartbroken 16 year old girl.
She stood to return her book to the shelf, giving up on her attempt to read. However, the space left by the sizeable book on the shelf allowed her to peek through to the other side, and see James sitting at a table, his head despairingly in his hands. She couldn’t decide what was more bizarre: to see James anything other than buoyant and cocky, or to see him in the library. Though embarrassed with her display on their previous meeting, her cousinly affection led her round the shelf and to stand nervously beside where he sat.
‘James?’ she said quietly and he did not look up. ‘Are you ok?’ Without a word or even a look he pushed his chair back and walked away. ‘I’m sorry, James, don’t go.’ He turned round and glared.
‘No, I’m not ok. I’ve just had a row with Frankie. Pretty bad one actually. Not that you care, too wrapped up in all your little issues aren’t you?’ He tried to walk away again but she protested.
‘It’s not like that – it’s just hard-‘
‘No it’s not! What you never seemed to understand is that no one ever pushed you away. When you were sorted into Ravenclaw it didn’t matter to us – we were all proud of you. Albus still hung around with you as normal, Fred and I still teased you as normal, but you were so convinced that you were an outsider that you made yourself one.
‘We were all so close before, but now apart from a quick hello when you don’t have Scorpius to talk to your just cut yourself off. You barely even acknowledge Hugo, your own brother.’
She bowed her head under his stern gaze. ‘I know James, I was just scared.’
‘You’re always scared. You never used to be like this. And the worst bit is that I don’t even know whether this is the real you or not. Is all your paranoia and self-pity making you like this, or have you just grown up and this is who you are now? I really hope that’s not the case.’ He sighed and his anger eased, now an expression more like resolute disappointment overcame him. Rose felt sick.
‘It was just seeing you all together – happy and laughing all the time. I was jealous.’
‘Then you should have joined in. We missed you. Houses mean a lot less than you think, Rose. It’s just where you sleep. You believe all that school nonsense about your house being your family way too easily. We’re your family, Rose. You shouldn’t have let anything change that.’
Rose nodded and tried to supress the tears in her eyes. James pulled her into a hug. She tucked her head over his shoulder and allowed a tear or two free.
His voice was quieter now, and gentle. ‘You’re like a little sister to me, Rose,’ he said, ‘and I’m worried about you. Maybe talk to Albus, you two used to be best mates. I know he’s missed you.’ He released her and Rose wiped her eyes.
‘I’ve missed him too – and all of you. Maybe we should have a kind of family party over Easter. We haven’t had one in a while.’
James smiled down at her. ‘Knowing Grandma Weasley it’s already planned.’ He patted her curly auburn hair and turned to leave. ‘Thanks for cheering me up a bit.’
‘You too,’ she answered, ‘bye, James.’
He left and she sat for a moment where he had. She felt calmer now, and more ready to mend her waning relationship with her family than ever. James’ forgiveness had given her what she needed. Though her memories of Scorpius and Anwen stung her chest, there was hope now.
She glanced to the clock on the wall and saw that she had nearly missed an entire lesson. Rose felt a small thrill of nerves at the punishment that might await her. Her next lesson was Herbology with Professor Longbottom, or Neville as she knew him outside school. Though Professor Sprout remained Deputy Head and Head of Hufflepuff, her advanced years had led her to giving up the actual teaching for 10 years now to focus on her responsibilities and Head of House and Deputy. This allowed Neville to take the position of Herbology teacher.
Rose set off for the greenhouses presently. Seeing as the Ravenclaws shared this lesson with the Gryffindors, she could think of no better opportunity to renew her friendship with Albus. The sun was pouring over the grounds and the scenery was one of bright colour. She felt refreshed and contented. Looking over to Hagrid’s house, she saw the gamekeeper’s private collection of Augurey’s flying around near-by trees in their slow, regretful way. But then, in this brilliant sunlight even their dull, greenish-black feathers looked an enthralling glitter of colour.
Approaching the greenhouse Rose saw that she was not quite late for the lesson, with stragglers still behind her. She entered quietly and took a place next to Albus and Jason, smiling tentatively at the former. He returned it heartily, though his surprise was evident. Neville stood at the front of the class chatting enthusiastically to the small Jessica Creevey, who appeared genuinely interested in the properties of a Fanged Geranium. Rose turned again to Albus and saw him vaguely jabbing at the root of his geranium with his wand, attempting half-heartedly to placate it.
‘Sorry if I haven’t spoken much for a while,’ she said. He looked to her and she saw no malice in his emerald eyes.
‘It’s fine Rose. I know you’ve had a lot on, but it’s good to have you back.’ His smile was warm and pure.
‘It’s no excuse, Al. I’ve missed hanging out with you,’ perhaps she had not noticed quite how much she truly had until the words had left her mouth.
‘I’ve missed it too. Actually, me and Lily were going to go and see Hagrid after lessons. Do you want to come along?’ She gratefully accepted his invitation.
Inside her she felt the echoes of bygone years, when she and Albus had whiled away their childhood summers at the Burrow, or the beaches around Tinworth, where Rose lived. The lesson passed quickly and painlessly, with Rose managing to keep her Geranium under control with relative ease, though Albus got a few stings and Jason McLaggen ended up with a swollen hand. Jessica Creevey had excelled the others, with her Geranium flopped over calmly as if sleeping. Neville announced the end of the class and smiled at Albus and Rose as they walked past. She and Albus talked animatedly as they walked slowly towards the castle, reminiscing about their shared childhoods and discussing their approaching OWLs. At this moment in time, Rose felt incredibly happy as she watched the sun illuminate the Black Lake and the students walking carelessly about over the soft, bright grass.