Chapter 11 - The Library
It rained from the moment Rose opened her eyes. The storm had brewed during the night and now was at its worst. She sat up in bed, to see the other girls asleep spare Violet, who was perched on the windowsill gazing out into the rain. Rose had not got to apologise last night, for Violet had not returned to the Common Room by the time Rose had retired to bed.
'Sorry for being so snappy yesterday,' Rose said, and Violet turned round. Her smile was small.
'It's not just yesterday though, is it? You've been doing this a lot lately,' she replied, her voice still, as ever, gentle.
'I know. I don't know what's wrong with me,' Rose hung her head. Violet slipped from the windowsill and sat next to Rose on the bed, putting her arm around her.
'Everyone's really stressed at the moment, and I know you must be too with all this Scorpius stuff.'
'Oh, Rose,' sighed Violet, 'you don't have to pretend anymore. I know how you feel about him; virtually everyone does now apart from him.'
Rose rested her head on Violet's shoulder and let out a muffled sob.
'I'm a mess and everyone hates me,' she choked.
'No one hates you,' said Violet, hugging her closer, 'you just need to get stuff sorted out with Scorpius. Go and talk to him today. You don't have to tell him – but maybe you should just try and get back to how things were.'
'But how can I after what I've done? And I don't want to go back to that and neglect my cousins and you and everyone else.' Rose sunk into Violet's straight, dark hair.
'It doesn't have to be one or the other, Rose,' said Violet, 'You can have us all, you know, you just need to balance it a bit more.' Rose emerged from Violet's arms, tear-stained but half-smiling.
'I really will this time. I really will.'
Rose did indeed feel a kind of epiphany. When she had focused on building bridges with her cousins she had neglected Scorpius, and when she had focused on her friendship with him she had committed the converse. She needed Violet, perhaps until this moment she had not realised quite how much.
At breakfast she did not see Scorpius, and Rose did not have the heart to ask Anwen if she knew where he was. Instead she followed Violet quietly to the Gryffindor table. James, Tommy, Louis and Fred were there and Frankie's absence was noticeable. Roxanne was sat next to Tommy, evidently making an effort to start conversation with him, though his eyes were trained on Aoife over at the other end of the Gryffindor table with Ella and Lauren. Violet sat down on the other side of Roxanne, as far from Fred as possible. It was only then that Rose recalled Violet's hesitance in discussing Fred yesterday and felt guilty for not paying any attention to it back in the dormitory. Rose watched as Violet made pains to talk to Roxanne and show Fred no attention, though his dark eyes glanced at her every now and then. It seemed everyone was in romantic trouble at the moment.
Rose kept turning to glance at the doors in the hope that Scorpius would appear, but he never did. Lily's arrival led to minor distraction. To her great surprise, Lily perched herself next to Rose with a friendly 'hi.' Rose turned to her, taken aback, and returned the greeting.
'I was probably harsh with you yesterday, sorry,' said Lily, in her smooth but powerful voice. Rose paused for a moment, unsure of what to say.
'It's fine. It was my fault.' Rose looked at Lily and saw her full, pink lips smile. Rose's smile was poorer.
'I heard that Grandma's having a get together next week. Sounds quite big, are you coming?' Lily's voice was again warm and true. She dwelt on arguments far less than Rose, who still felt unsure and looked at the rosy-cheeked, fiery-haired girl with trepidation.
'Yes, I'm coming. I haven't spoken to mum and dad or Hugo about it though, but I presume they'll be there.'
'Yeah, I hope Scorpius is ok facing the family,' Lily laughed and Rose's face fell.
'Scorpius is coming,' said Lily.
'Why? What? Since when?' Rose's cheeks were flushed.
'Well, you invited him over yours next week, yes?' Rose had forgotten about that, but nodded accordingly. 'Then Grandma said she could only have it on Thursday, and I was speaking to Scorpius earlier and that's the same day as Anwen's dinner party that he's avoiding. So he's coming.'
'You were speaking to Scorpius earlier?' this thought had absorbed the shock that in one week Scorpius Malfoy would be meeting nearly the entire Weasley family.
'Just saw him in a corridor. I think he was going to the library,' she said. Rose instantly stood from the bench and with a quick 'thank you' and 'bye' set off to the library. As she left the Great Hall she saw a blob of red hair turn a corner and bump into her. She looked down to see Hugo. He eyed her coldly and she remembered their last interaction with a blush of shame.
'Hi, Hugo,' she said. He did not reply, but continued to stare. Rose remembered where she was heading and her heart was split. Talk to Hugo, or find Scorpius? She already knew what her choice was before the dilemma even formed in her mind. 'I-I'm sorry, Hugo, really. But I have to go.' As she turned, she saw him roll his eyes and turn back into the Hall. Apart from a small echo of sadness, Rose gave Hugo no other thought as she ascended the stairs and headed down a corridor. Scorpius alone occupied her mind. What would she say? Rose still hadn't thought through an excuse for her behaviour. She couldn't even bring herself to think it through. She just wanted to see him again. After thinking that he and Anwen were together, the thought of it being just the two of them again awoke a warmth in her chest that made everything else other than his presence, whether it be scolding or affectionate, crucial.
She came to the library door and took a deep breath before going in. She surveyed it and did not instantly see him, having to walk through a few rows of bookshelves to see the boy with shimmering hair hunched over the table, his head in his hands.
'Scorpius?' she said quietly, and he raised his head. His face was pale and his gaze dulled, though she could have sworn that his lip twitched to almost a smile upon seeing her. Then his expression resumed stillness and sadness pervaded his features.
'You can't keep doing this, Rose,' came his equally hushed reply. Pain rippled in her throat as she took the chair beside him.
'I know.' She placed her hand on his arm before thinking about it. He did not see her blush.
'I never know what's going on. One moment you seem to only want to hang out with me, and then you're gone,' he hung his head again and she felt her breath begin to catch and her vision obscured.
'I'm so sorry,' she allowed her head to fall to his shoulder.
He said nothing but she didn't expect him to. She closed her eyes and felt his soft robe against her face. From beneath it the warmth of his skin soothed her. Silence took hold. She allowed herself to be lost in the feeling of that single moment. The morning sun tumbled through the window and illuminated her eyelids. There was warmth and calm and the breeze of his breath on her wild hair.
Then the door creaked open and it was over. She raised her head from his shoulder and Scorpius shifted uncomfortably as a pair of chattering fourth years walked over to the nearest shelf. The silence was still there, but it was harsh and their eyes did not meet. Rose felt stupid for thinking he could like her back and cringed at the thought of how awkward he must have felt as she rested on him. She glanced at him and saw that he was looking at the table. This silence was intolerable.
'Yeah, erm- sorry again,' Rose said, stumbling through the sentence, 'Just had a rough time lately, you know?' He looked at her, his face stony.
'Why won't you tell me the real reason? Just say it.' His gaze held hers and her lips shivered on the edge of speech. She broke his gaze and muttered 'it's nothing' under her breath.
'You're coming to Grandma's next week?' she asked, and his eyes looked sad again.
'Apparently,' he said reluctantly. 'I mean, Lily said it would be fine. But I dunno-'
'Yes, it would be fine,' said Rose quickly, and there was a hint of a smile in his pale features again. 'Might be a bit scary though. Some of them are quite loud, mostly Lily and James, to be honest. But me and you can escape-' she paused, worried about the possible implication of her words. 'I mean I'm quite quiet then too, so we can just keep to ourselves.' He seemed amused at all of her jabbering, and she smiled slightly. He smiled back.
'C'mon,' he said, 'we better get to Potions now. Doubt Goldstein's forgiven you for bunking yesterday.'
They stood and wandered off to Potions in amiable conversation, though in Rose's heart lurked a quiet pain for what had been so close to being said, and what had been so close to being done.