THE LAST CHAPTER HAS ARRIVED, DEAR READERS. And it's officially the longest one of the entire story. Which is only fair as you had to wait longer than a week... Whoa, I can't believe it has actually come to an end! I've been so into Chronicles for months, and now suddenly it's OVER. I hope I at least made you enjoy it as much as I did!
I WANT TO THANK ALL OF YOU FOR REVIEWING AS MUCH AS YOU HAVE! Honestly, I may not have responded much, but I appreciated EVERY SINGLE COMMENT. Without them I probably wouldn't even have continued! The support was awesome! I'll hand out some free cookies, or Stephano's, while I'm at it xD
Disclaimer: do not own, JK Rowling does.
I must say, I'm proud of what we've achieved.
Linked to Raphael's arm, I walk into the Great Hall, trying my hardest not to stumble. The entrance consists of a long red carpet, with golden stars on the floor next to them – an allusion to the Hollywood touches in a Muggle casino. After we've strolled down the path, a photographer instructs us to stand still and give a big smile. Raphael's hand slips over my waist, pressing me against him slightly. I'm not exactly fond of the contact, but show some teeth all the same.
Only then the camera has to flash.
And remind me of that day in Muggle London with Malfoy.
I quickly shake those memories from my mind and order myself not to think about the fact that I'd look so much better with him next to me. Speaking of which – I wonder whom he brought as his date. Probably someone extremely attractive. With long legs and straight hair and a flat stomach and a filled chest… She'll have to look amazing. It's Malfoy we're talking about. He has high standards for public appearances. Perhaps he even took someone from those fancy balls they have at his home…
"What's on your mind, love?"
Raphael squeezes my upper arm slightly while we go further into the Great Hall – the Great Hall that doesn't even remotely looks like the Great Hall anymore, with its marble floors, the golden ceilings and walls, the classic decoration, the fancy lamps hanging above countless green tables... Sure, I've seen the most part of it before, but I still look around in awe, and the expression on many of my fellow students' face tells me they feel the same way.
"Just... don't you reckon this will be a success?"
Raphael smiles. "Everything you initiate is a success, so I don't see how this could possibly go wrong."
Yeah, and you would know, wouldn't you? Given that you know about everything I've ever tried to accomplish? Given that we know one another inside out?
"Thank you," I say out loud, tampering down the sarcasm inside my head. "Want to play poker?"
"Yeah, great! I love poker!" Raphael grins broadly.
While leading me to the nearest table, he takes my hand. His is sweaty, and instead of feeling cherished, an annoyance comes over me. Pushing him away would be a bit too rough though, so I merely try not to get too close to him. I'm about to take a seat, when –
I turn around to see Lily standing behind me. With her spicy blue dress, and her straight red hair hanging loosely down her back, she looks stunning as ever.
"Hey Lily – "
But before I can continue, she bows down next to my ear and whispers, "Malfoy hasn't brought a date!"
My eyes widen. When I want to answer her, however, she's twirled off already. Raphael, luckily, hasn't noticed anything, and now has his attention fixed on the game. Before surprise gets the best of me, the boy on the other side of the table calls out my name and asks me if I'm playing.
"I'm in," I say, to which Raphael reacts by patting me on the back.
Well. I didn't realize I served as your personal cat?
The dealer distributes the chips and the cards. Just when I'm about to flip mine, a very familiar face appears in my vision. Stephano – looking more handsome and put together than I've ever seen him – is waving at me from one of the other tables. I see he's engrossed in a game of poker as well, and by the looks of it, he's winning. I want to stand up to go and say hello, but then a waiter arrives at our little group and offers us all a glass of champagne.
Champagne that, of course, is charmed so none of the students are able to get properly drunk.
Everyone, including me, gracefully takes a glass from his plate. When the waiter continues on his way, all heads turn back to their cards. I finally check out mine, and it seems that luck is on my side tonight. With an ace and a king, my chances are pretty high. I decide to take chances this evening, and I immediately raise the stakes.
"Whoa, look who's sure of herself?" One guy muses.
Raphael snorts. "She could be bluffing, guys."
"Whatever – I'm in," another girl.
And then – just when I'm about to smirk at the conversation – he catches my eye.
The platinum of his hair, the scalpel colour of his eyes ever so bright, the pale tone of his skin, the ultimate black of his perfect tuxedo, and the emerald of his tie. The colours of his essence, the colours I've come to know so well, sharpen concretely, making the rest of the room blend into a fuzzy mix of unfamiliar faces in process. My heart brutally stops beating at the sight of him, nearly suffocating me.
And he is staring right back at me.
How is it possible for a person like him to have an effect like this on me?
He is sitting a few seats next to Stephano, which would baffle me if it weren't for the tiny fact that I'm already too busy being baffled by his sickening beauty. And the way he looks at me... as if I'm transparent – an open book for him to read.
"Hello, it's your turn!"
I rip away my gaze when somebody's waving his hand in front of my face.
"Oh, oh, yeah, I see," I say in a dazed state, "I'm in."
I haven't so much as looked at the cards. When I'm about to do so (while forgetting about Malfoy's near presence), something interrupts me and the rest of the room once again. It is Stephano – standing up straight, clearing his throat and ticking his finger against his glass.
"Ladies and gentlemen – "
Is he giving a speech?
But that's... that's so un-Stephano!
"I'd like your attention for a few minutes," he continues while everyone quietens down, "in between the poker an drinking, that is. I simply want to speak in the name of the party committee, otherwise known as the Heads and prefects, who've organised this event."
As on a not-really arranged cue the public starts clapping. Raphael next to me starts rubbing my back, showing off all of his straight teeth in process. I avoid eye-contact and give all my interest to Stephano.
"First of all I want to thank myself.." Some laughter, some cheers. "Then I want to thank the teachers, of course, for making this possible." Applause. "My fellow prefects, since they put so much effort in this..." Some more applause. "But most of all, most of all I want to thank our dear Heads."
I meet Malfoy's eye swiftly, and he seems just as bewildered as I am.
"You might know 'em," he sends a subtle wink my way. "Rose Weasley, my beautiful friend, and Scorpius Malfoy, my very best mate."
Very best mate?
"Let's raise a glass to them both!"
I look around in wonder as everyone does as he says. All the students lift their champagne glasses synchronically, all of them with their eyes on Malfoy and me.
I don't deserve this.
Then things happen fairly quick. Stephano sits down, Malfoy stands up, he speaks to the crowd, the crowds reacts with laughter – and all the while I feel trapped. Because everyone is elated and happy and cheerful, and I'm not. I still feel as horrible as I did the entire week. A few fake champagne glasses and fancy outfits aren't going to cure it. Neither will Raphael's stupid petting. I watch all these idiotic smiles, I watch Malfoy handing out free entertainment. Suddenly I feel like I don't belong anymore –
"Excuse me, Raphael," I say while shoving my chair backwards, "I think I need some fresh air."
Hardly looking up from his game, he rubs my underarm, nods, and mumbles something unintelligible.
At least I can walk outside guilt-free then.
It is raining.
It is bloody raining.
And not just some drizzle either. The second I step out of the gate, no robe on whatsoever, it's as if a bucket of water has been released on my head. It is pouring so badly that it seems like all the rain that has failed to fall during the past months has simply been saved up for this simple moment. Instead of going back inside, however, I feel strangely freed by this unexpected twist of events, and remain frozen on the spot. The sound of raindrops crashing on the ground sooths me, given its outspoken contrast to the enthusiastic cheers in the Great Hall.
"I mean, it always rains here. Especially this time of the year. I never thought I'd say it, but I kind of miss it. "
"I've always liked rain. Sometimes it just... sort of washes things away, you know?"
The comfort vanishes all of a sudden, when in a flash I'm transported back that night I slept in Malfoy's room. It was the first night I actually realized he was a person, a person that intrigued me due to his personality rather than his appearance. It's not even that long ago, and still it feels like a lifetime.
He was just so damn nice.
So damn different.
So fucking deceiving.
So unbelievably –
The hairs on the back of my neck rise as I turn around and find my own wet image reflecting in the light grey of Malfoy's eyes.
"What are you doing here?" I ask in a meek voice, utterly caught off guard by his very sudden presence. "I mean… Aren't you supposed to be inside?"
"Aren't you?" He drawls, with a raised eyebrow for good measure.
My knees already growing weak under his scrutinizing gaze, I mimic his expression. "I didn't feel like it."
"I'm just not in a very cheerful mood," I reply drily, hoping he doesn't put the two and two together.
He raises his hand, and I notice he's holding a glass of champagne. "I brought you a drink?"
"How very thoughtful of you," I say, and then, impulsively, "too bad it isn't going to get me drunk this time."
"I don't even need to get you drunk for... those purposes, Weasley."
That – that bastard.
With an all-too familiar surge of anger racing through my veins, I take a step further away from the gate and him, with rain splashing over me more and more and more.
"You can't just – " I take a deep breath, nearly spit out every word, "come up here and ambush me like you always do, and expect me to let you time and time again!"
He looks a little shocked, and the extra seconds he takes to retaliate, I abuse by walking further and further.
"You're like a fucking broken record, Malfoy," I yell, inwardly cursing myself for wearing heels in this mud, "you repeat all of your useless techniques each time again. But guess what, you stupid prick, I don't need you, nor do I want you, nor do I want anything to do with you!"
And then I break into a run.
Great, Malfoy. Calling after me – what a classic.
I run as hard as my legs can carry me.
"Would you just stop?"
In a very unexpected movement, I do stop and twirl around.
"Leave me alone, Malfoy!"
In a fraction of a second he's back in front of me, in the middle of a gigantic grass field, the water dripping down his face and body and essence.
"Bloody hell, Weasley!" He grabs my shoulders, my bare shoulders that feel so painfully fragile under his strong and demanding hands. "I'm in the fucking pouring rain, ruining this extremely expensive tuxedo, because I needed to talk to you! And all you do is act like an infantile nutcase!"
"Talk to me?" I repeat, pushing a string of curly hair out of my face. "Oh, please go on, Malfoy. Please honour me with your oh so clever words."
And then I wait.
I wait and I wait and I wait – but he simply stares. Stares like he's done so many times before, only... differently. Only with a silent promise.
"Tell me, Malfoy," I say, a whole lot less confident, a whole lot more shaken. "What's so important that it can't wait until – "
That's the furthest I get.
Because that moment he cuts me off by lowering his head and pressing his mouth on mine.
I am so flabbergasted and shocked that I can't find the right way to react at first. At the soft pressure he adds, however, I feel my body answering to his touch, completely involuntarily. My belly tingles, my heart rate increases by a million, I have lost all ability to breathe, my mind snaps shut – because of those lips. So soft, so subtle, so... so very Scorpius Malfoy.
It's really him kissing me.
It's what I dreamt about for the past weeks. It's what I wished for to happen every single time I went to sleep. I woke up hoping for him each morning, and I went through each day the same way. Ridiculously giddy at this thought, I get closer to him, and slowly run my tongue over his lower lip. At the electricity that de deepening of this kiss awakens, however, a paralyzing realization nearly makes me fall backwards.
"What – "
"See?" Still dizzy of our close contact, I look up to him in despair. "You're doing it again! Ambushing me! Expecting me to fall for it!"
He groans loudly, his hands in his hair. "You were enjoying it! You always do!"
"Well, you can't just use me, Malfoy!"
There we go again.
Shout – shout to outmatch the other – have a passionate encounter – shout again – avoid.
Ever the same situation and ever so different.
"I'm not – " he falls dead in his tracks.
Anticipation – no answers – run away – avoid.
Ever the same situation and ever so different.
Just... How different will it be this time? What will we learn? What will we decide? What will come out of this confrontation in this endless downpour of rain? Will symbolism stand by us and wash away things? Or will Malfoy once again leave me hanging on his personal question mark?
It's never up to me when it comes to him.
"I'm not using you," he says forcefully, full of clarity.
"Then what is it?"
Million dollar question.
"I don't – " and then, out of the blue, the volume of his words raises, the confusion apparent on his face, and he explodes, "I don't know what this is! I think about you all the time, Weasley. All the fucking time! When I wake up, it's your face I see. When I go to sleep, it's your stupid, bossy voice echoing inside my head!"
I'm speechless, and can't do anything but digest what the boy's trying to say.
"When I read books, I wonder what you think of them. When I'm in a discussion with anyone, I think of what you would say!" He's on a roll, completely out of his usual calm and cool element. "I feel like I'm sick or something. I get nervous when I'm around you and I never, ever get nervous! Do you see this?" He holds out his trembling hand. "See? I'm shaking. And there's nothing I can do about it!"
Is this reality?
"You're in love with me," I state calmly, when he seems to have dropped silent.
All the anger, all the frustration, all the anger – it's magically disappeared.
Have you ever been so happy that you wanted to jump off a building because you're sure you're able to fly anyway? Have you ever been so relieved that you wanted to scream in the middle of a street? Have you ever been so elated that you wanted to dance silly little dances just for the sake of it?
Because now I think I have.
"I suppose so," he replies sheepishly.
I blink, forbidding myself to break into a victory song. "Well, that's... a good thing, right?"
"Weasley, the reason I came to talk to you tonight was to tell you that I want to be with you," he strokes my upper arm kind of sweetly, "but there are reasons for all the things I've done. There is a reason for the way I treated you this week. It's a dumb one, but it's there."
"I'm scared shitless of this," he takes my hand, puts it on his chest. "I've never been in love before. I have no idea whatsoever how to handle these sort of matters. So I'm sorry if I mess things up, alright?"
I feel his skin through the soaked fabric of his shirt. "I'm already used to it."
"No, seriously," he shakes his head a little, never breaks eye-contact. "I spent so much time thinking. Just... thinking. And I think I knew I was in love with you a long time ago, but remember that day in the hospital? When I explained my friendship with Stephano?"
I nod silently.
"Well, that was still the case. Is still the case, even. But when you ran out of the room tonight..." he waits, trails his thumb over my cheek. "I realized it was the moment. And he realized it too, because he came to me and obliged me to make things right."
I can't say anything, because I'm so occupied suppressing my utter euphoria.
"Do you think..." he pulls me closer to him, "we could try?"
"Yes," I answer resolutely. "Yes, yes, yes."
Our embrace is purer than it has ever been before. In fact, I don't think anything we did before is even remotely comparable to this. This is of importance. This time we know we both care, and we don't have to hide it anymore.
"Do you want to go back inside?" He asks. "Or do you want to go sit under that tree and just... watch the rain or something conveniently corny like that?"
"Are you going to shoot me if I go for option B?" I peep, not willing to move away from him at all.
I never thought I'd say it, but I can almost hear the smile shining through his voice when he replies, "No, it's exactly what I wanted."
And so he takes me hand, and leads me to a tree not too far away.
It's quite funny, if you think about it.
Because, you know, in the end, when it comes down to it, things might not end up like you'd expected them to. I mean, take my life, for example. I always thought myself to be the kind of girl who'd end up partnering up with Mr. Nice, since I am nice myself. Someone like Tony, or Stephano, even (although, technically, he was really only that nice to me. For the most part he's just silent. And Malfoy's best friend, which basically means a lot of smirking and sneering and Slytherinness), with whom I would find some flat after Hogwarts, and make some babies, and live happily ever after, without any abuse or rape or whatever.
Yet, life takes pretty gobsmacking turns at times. Reality shows up right when you least expect it and smacks you right off whatever illusionary cloud you've been floating on – and not very nicely either. Because I don't need nice. I don't want nice. I thought I wanted nice, because it's only sensible to do so, and frankly, I've never really stumbled across anything else. But where did it get me in the end? Lying? Cheating? Letting people down?
Pretty damn messed up, that's what was.
Was. Past tense.
I steal another glance at Malfoy's back. Coincidence has it that he turns his neck at precisely the same time. Ocean blue and metal grey meet – meet, not clash – and even though it probably kills us both to admit it, the connection is another piece of proof of the fact that, no matter how inconvenient, something has fallen into place. I look at my boyfriend, and he looks at his girlfriend, and it feels right.
Especially now our heads have stopped reasoning that it's wrong.
Two months. Nearly seven weeks. 1465 Hours. 87840 minutes. That's how long it has taken us to 'see the light'. And, correct me if I'm wrong, but that sounds fairly okay to me. It's a lot to adjust to, after all... A Weasley and a Malfoy? Rose Weasley and Scorpius Malfoy, more specifically? Yeah. Pretty nuts, if you ask me. I can still remember him as the nauseatingly arrogant snob on the train on our first day to Hogwarts, and I'm sure he can still remember me as the annoying, weird-looking firecracker too. And, to be honest, we're the same people as we were back then. Only there is more to the 'nauseatingly arrogant snob' and 'annoying, weird-looking firecracker'. There's analogue intelligence. There's challenge. There's passion. There's keeping one another on our toes. And after six years and two months full of rows and insults and accusations and jealousy and envy – there's an us.
And that's what counts.
Even though, admittedly, there will be new rows and insults and accusations and jealousy and envy – it's what we do, after all – but we will have a new outlook towards it. And if we're lucky, we'll forgive each other time and time again. Because, in case things get really, really difficult, and we can't remember why we liked each other in the first place, there'll always be rain. Unless you're expecting the end of this world, but then I guess it wouldn't matter anyway, since neither Malfoy nor me would be here anymore. But what I'm trying to say is, I know that statistics aren't on our side, and, according to the numbers, we're most likely to have broken up by the end of the year, and I'm honestly attempting to keep my mirth down to a realistic level, but...
I can't imagine ever losing the fever I get whenever I'm around him.
And I believe it'll be alright.
So screw the statistics and their numbers.
We sit down against the tree trunk, me lying against his arm pit.
Malfoy's voice startles me somewhat, but has me relaxing immediately again. I feel how his fingertips graze from my shoulder to my elbow to my wrist, and then eventually to my fingertips. Our hands clasp together again, softly, with his thumb grazing mine, and an assuring squeeze now and then.
He gives me a crooked, teasing smirk. "You do know I still find you tremendously stuck-up and annoying, right?"
"As long as you do know that I still find you horribly arrogant and vicious too?" I respond with the same kind of teasing undertone.
His smirk then gradually transforms into an honest smile. "I wouldn't want it any other way."
And I mean it.
Because I know now, beyond any shadow of doubt, that I wouldn't want Scorpius Malfoy anything differently. I want the whole package, since it has brought me here. And I'm sort of certain that he wants my whole package too. So what's the point in being cynical? I feel happy. I am happy. Ecstatic, even. And judging from the look in his eyes, and the constant smile tugging at the corners of his lips, the feeling is mutual.
So all in all, I guess that, sometimes, we do get happy endings – or should I say beginnings? That's what this is, if you think about it. The beginning. The beginning of the beginning. And I'll gladly accept this new chapter. It's romantic one – sort of. No, scratch that. It is straight out romantic.
Because the rain has come, and washed away our mistakes.
And so, I simply close my eyes, and wait for the drops to subdue.
Feed me your thoughts! It's the last chance to do so.
Thanks again for all your kind reviews. It has made all the effort worth it.
-Until next time.