Chapter Eighteen: Umbrella
"You don't understand Rose. He isn't acting right." Lily spoke as she paced back and forth in Hugo's spacious living room.
I frowned and adjusted my position on Hugo's couch. "He's grieving, anything he does is going to not be normal James."
"That's just it!" She exclaimed frantically, as her heels clicked on Hugo's wood floor. "He's not DEALING with anything! He's going to work; he's going on dates, HE'S CLEANING HIS FLAT EVERYDAY ROSE! THAT'S NOT NORMAL!"
Letting out a sigh of disbelief, I ran my hands through my hair wearingly. "Maybe he's just in denial."
Lily stopped her rapid swirl of movement to look at me and for once I wished I had said nothing at all. Her brown eyes locked on me and I had to fight a wave of panic. She looked so extraordinarily like her mother in that moment that I almost believed for a second that she was her. Once I saw her make-up and clothing choices though it all came flooding back. Chewing the side of my lip, I let out a sigh another sigh.
"I will go see him, okay?"
Lily's face dropped and she looked guilty. "I mean if you don't feel good enough-"
"I'm fine." I sighed in frustration. "I've rested enough with you Scorpius and Hugo stalking me I've barely left this flat."
"As it should be." Lily snapped authoritatively. "You should learn to take orders for once."
A small ball of anger rose in my stomach as I looked at her. Now she sounded just like her father. Uncle Harry hadn't spoken to me since my probationary hearing when I was suspended for a month without pay for, 'going rogue.' Of course I didn't really care about that. At least I still had a job, and I was given the time I needed to recuperate. My physical injuries were the perfect excuse to stay away from everyone. When really it took me awhile to get away from the guilt I felt.
It was all consuming, I just couldn't help thinking that there was something I could have done differently. Something I could have done better. But after visiting Albus's grave I couldn't ignore his words any longer. He meant it when he said I should let him go and he meant it when he said he was at peace. Albus would have wanted me to heal and live my life to the fullest, not cry and hate myself.
Looking at Lily I could see sincere concern floating around her eyes. James, despite how he was acting, was hurting badly. Lily had handled her mourning well considering that not much time had passed. Their mother still hadn't left the house and their father was putting all of his energy into hating and despising me. Everyone was putting his or her grief somewhere. Everyone except James it seemed.
With three weeks left on my suspension, and 6 of the Death Eater's in Azkaban, including Nicolas Yaxley, I supposed checking on James was a good use of time. I was supposed to be on bed rest and I have been, but I was having a hard time. They were giving me so many potions that I was having a hard time getting motivation to do anything. It was like these medications were flushing any energy I had out of my system. Sometimes I'd sit on the couch and then three hours I'd wake up from a coma like nap. Now would be a good time to get out of the house and avoid wasting my day with another nap.
"Okay," I inhaled, pushing myself up to a sitting position, and feeling a familiar stiffness in my joints. "Here's the deal. You go on and get to work. I will see you at Hugo's game on Thursday-"
Her eyebrows furrowed. "What game?"
"Did you hear?" I asked with a proud smile. "The Cannon's picked him up for this season. He's been training with them all month…he's playing first string on Thursday."
"You know if they weren't notoriously shitty I'd actually be happy for him…But at least he has a job."
I snorted. "Wow Lily, you are just the most supportive person aren't you?"
"Have you seen this?"
Lily held up the Daily Prophet and I let out a low laugh as I saw Scorpius and I on the cover. "Yeah, I have. Apparently Rita Skeeter is back, although she has to be pushing sixty by now…Anyway, they're trying to raise their sales by adding more gossip and less government."
"It doesn't bother you that she says," Lily paused to read the line, "The star-crossed pair, who have been on-again off-again for years, are the leaders of the Auror community and a source tells the Daily Prophet that wedding bells aren't too far in the distance though some sources have reported that they aren't sure if Ms. Weasley can make the commit. She has been linked to several men over the years and has always been the one to plug on their relationship in the past."
A laugh escaped my lips as I pocketed my wallet and wand. "No, it doesn't. I used to freak out, and then Scorpius used to freak out, and then I'd lecture him, and he'd lecture me, but at this point who cares? In a few weeks they'll forget my name and be talking about some pureblood teenage pregnancy somewhere."
Lily followed me to the hallway and frowned thoughtfully as I locked up Hugo's flat. "I hope you're right."
"You worry too much," I told her as I gently pulled her into a hug. "I'm going to go see James."
When arrived at James's flat I was surprised to find it open, and I was even more surprised to find that Lily was right. Upon first glance I could tell that James was deep in repression. It was written all over his broken face. I sat down at his kitchen table in my shorts, tank top and worn tennis shoes with a frown. James was always the one that had it together. He was the one that held the rest of the together when we were barely hanging on. He was the one that believed in all of us, even when we felt like there was nothing of us left. With his optimism and upbeat attitude he always turned a situation around. How was I supposed to take his methods and use them against him? The simple answer was, I couldn't.
"James." I whispered, easing back in my chair carefully. "Can you come here for a second?"
He shook his head as he straightened up his pristinely clean kitchen. "Can't Rose. I have to finish cleaning, then I have to get to the owlery, and after that I-"
"James," I repeated, this time a bit louder as I struggled to make my voice sound firm. "Come here."
His black eyebrows furrowed together in confusion, and he slowed down to come over to me. James's entire body was tensed as if he were waiting for a fight, but his tone, his walk and everything else he did suggested he wanted nothing of the sort. He was holding it all in, and it was killing him. I needed to make him see what he was doing.
"I need you to come with me."
My jaw clenched, and my face became serious. "Now, James."
Rising to my face, I used my momentum to move forward. I took his hand, pocketed his wand and took him past his flat's apparation point. "Hold on."
"Rose-" He began again, but I didn't listen.
He was stuck in haze, a deep haze where he had convinced himself that his brother was off on vacation. And as much as I didn't want to see him in pain, I didn't want him live a lie even more. He could hate me. He could hate everyone just as long as he felt something that was real. But when we arrived at our destination, he froze. The grass ruffled in the light wind that carried across the cemetery. I leaned against the tree next to me completely winded. I hadn't been cleared for apparating yet, but it didn't matter. I would be okay. If I didn't do anything soon though James might not be.
"What are we doing here?" He demanded.
"You didn't cry at the funeral." I remembered aloud. "I thought it was odd, but I thought you were trying to hold it together for Lily and your mum."
James's adam's apple bobbled as his face became uncomfortably white. "Rose-"
Flicking my wand, new flowers appeared on Albus's tombstone, which was right across from my father's. "But then I heard that you haven't cried since…you have to face it James."
"I don't…I don't know what you're talking about."
"Yes, you do. That's why you can't look at me." I told him in a quiet voice. "I miss him too, and if you're mad at me I deserve it. But Albus please…please don't bottle it up. He wouldn't want that."
James's face tightened. "Don't say what he would or wouldn't like!" Then he tried to control himself as he tried to go back to acting like everything was fine. "I just…I don't want to be here."
"I know you don't. But James, you can't hide from this."
"I have to go." He announced turning away from Albus's tombstone swiftly and apparating without another word.
Frowning, I slid down the tree and sat on the freshly cut grass. "Well, that went well."
An hour later I was in St. Mungos and still hadn't heard from James. I decided if I hadn't heard from him by dinnertime I'd go look for him or send someone else to do for me. If I thought what he needed was space I'd give it to him, but if Lily was worried that meant that it was bigger than. Lily rarely worried about other people. If she did that meant it was big enough to freak out about. Shaking my head I sat down in a chair as Kelly helped a bitter Lauren into her wheelchair.
"This is ridiculous," Lauren growled.
I shrugged with a smirk. "The healer said you can't go home by yourself and I have a whole two weeks off to help you recuperate."
"Oh god…you're going to mock the shit out of me aren't you?"
"Me?" I pointed at myself innocently. "Why would I do such a thing to one of my oldest and dearest friends?"
"Because you are evil." She groaned and looked at Kelly. "Save me!"
I laughed. "I'm your best friend. How could I be evil?"
Kelly laughed at me as I stood to follow them out of the room. "I'm not answering that question."
It took us about two hours to get Lauren settled in at Kelly's guest room. I'd love to say I did a lot, but I really didn't. Little Kelly kicked into mother mode instantly and started nitpicking at the pillows, blankets and anything else she could arrange, which of course drove Lauren crazy. She wouldn't be here long, but I could already tell I was going to get Owl after Owl of Lauren complaining about Kelly hovering over her all the time. It was mostly Kelly worrying about Lauren and Lauren overreacting, but once Lauren's potions faded out I was sure her irritation would fade.
"I'll see you tomorrow." I told Lauren.
Her arms clamped onto me in a death grip. "Where are you going?"
"I have a Healer appointment in ten minutes…Why are you holding me this tightly?"
"Don't-leave-me-with-her." She breathed furiously. "I'll kill her."
I rolled my eyes and tried pried her fingers off of me, but I couldn't she had a freakish grip on me. "Lauren, calm down. You won't be here long. You just need to rest okay? Let Kelly take care of you."
"I don't know how!"
"Lauren, I get it. You raised your little sister and your dad never bothered you when you were sick, but Kelly was raised to stalk people when they were sick to make sure they are still alive. So take the intensity down a notch. Okay?"
She scowled and released me with a pout. "Fine…but if you leave me here…" Lauren let the threat hang in the air.
"I understand Lauren. Now I have to go. Take care alright?"
As I left I hugged Kelly. "Good luck."
"With what?" Kelly asked clueless to what I was talking about.
I smiled and walked away, "Never mind."
Walking back through St. Mungos I felt drained. Hopefully I could convince the healer to take me off a few potions so I wouldn't feel so sluggish all the time. But as soon as I walked in and saw the look on his face I knew that wasn't going to happen.
"Ms. Weasley," My healer, an older African male with a heavy accent started in a furious tone. "Who let you wheel yourself into the waiting room and run around this hospital with massive internal bleeding?"
I shrank back in my chair feeling like I was ten-year-old child instead of a 24-year-old adult. "No one did…I signed a waver. I wasn't exactly in the state to listen to anyone..."
"So you," His voice grew disappointed. "Thought it was a good idea to endanger your life and my reputation by going against my orders and leaving your hospital bed."
Normally I would never have put up with this. I would have said that I'm an adult, it's my life and frankly I signed the forms so why was he so upset? But Healer Clark had this fatherly tone in his voice that just injected me with such guilt and remorse. He'd been my Healer for years and was the one who set up and orchestrated my surgery. Afterwards he had a two-week vacation and didn't know about my disobedience, but apparently one of his assistants ratted me out when he asked why my recovery was taking so long. It was true, this was my fault. I shouldn't have gone off without permission. I shouldn't have been so careless with my health, but I couldn't take it back. So I frowned, unable to say much in my defense.
"My cousin was in the hospital." I whispered, "He …died…soon after, but I couldn't handle being away from my family."
His warm dark eyes sprinkled with sympathy.
I continued. "And since then I have followed every medical instruction given to me."
"How are you feeling?"
"I'm okay." I breathed carefully as I scratched my chin. "I'm running slower than I'm used to, but I'm suspended from work for another month so I don't really have anywhere to run to."
He put the tips of his finger to raise me chin to examine my face. "Have you been taking all your potions?"
"Yes," I rolled my eyes. "I've been staying at my brother's and he has been enforcing them on me."
"Good. I'm glad someone is watching over you."
My face turned sour. "I'm perfectly capable-"
"You are capable of taking care of other people, but you do a poor job of taking care of yourself." He told me in his no nonsense tone as he filled out a prescription. "Now I expect to see you in two weeks for another check up."
I nodded. "I'll be here."
"Yes," He told me as he handed me the paper. "You will."
Leaving the room, I found Scorpius smirking against the doorframe. My eyes narrowed at him as I crossed my arms. "What?"
"I didn't say anything."
"Yeah, but your smarmy pompous face did it for you." I snapped suspiciously. "You heard him scold me didn't you?"
He shrugged, his grin still present on his face. "Maybe."
"You liked that didn't you?" I accused him. "You like me getting yelled at."
"A little bit." He admitted, wrapping his arm around my shoulder as he kissed my forehead mockingly.
"Ugh. Come on, you smug jerk. I have to get to Victoire's."
Scorpius nodded. "I know Teddy asked I come with so they tackle me and not you."
I stopped in the middle of the hallway and starred at him in shock. Somehow in the past two weeks Scorpius had managed to befriend every male in my family and never ceased to amaze me. All of them seemed to sense his earnest need to be accepted and took him in. I smiled up at him and he cradled my body delicately into his. He still was taking it easy with me and had yet to do anything more than kiss me gently. But I didn't mind. When I was strong enough we'd take it further, but for now just being together was enough.
We arrived at Victoire and Scorpius took the hits for me as promised. He even played dinosaur with them, which worked better because they could both fit on his back as he pretended to roar on the carpet. I could barely handle it, Victoire and I were laughing so hard we were crying. I'd never thought I'd see the day that Scorpius would sink to the carpet on all fours and let two little girls crawl over his back.
"Okay we're going to go." Victoire announced after visiting with us for an hour, her belly protruding significantly.
"Before you do," I stopped Teddy and Victoire hesitantly. "Have either of you heard from James?"
They both shared a look and shook their heads. "No why?" Victoire asked.
I sighed. "I tried to talk to him earlier…but he ran away. I don't think he's handling his grief well. Even Lily was worried."
"I'll go look for him." Scorpius volunteered getting up off the floor.
"You don-" I began immediately.
He grabbed his cloak. "It's fine. I'll be back, if it takes long I'll just meet you back in my flat." He promised kissing me lightly on the lips.
I nodded after I saw that he wasn't bothered to do this in the slightest. Then I smiled and said, "I'll grab dinner for us. What do you want?"
"I'll meet you at your flat."
Victoire, Teddy and Scorpius all left Chloe, Charlotte and I. Thankfully Scorpius had played with them long enough for them to be tired. So I just sat on the carpeted floor and read them stories about princesses, pirates and thieves. They both swore they would stay awake this time, but by 8:00 they were both passed out on the couch with their pink princess hats on. I cleaned up the living room and tucked them in.
Teddy and Victoire came in around 9:49. They seemed to have a good time and were in good spirits. I was glad, with the third Lupin on the way I knew it would be a long time before they would get to spend time alone together. Leaving, I picked up food for Scorpius and I and waited at his flat as I said I would. After waiting there for only ten minutes I heard a knock on the door. It struck me as odd since this was Scorpius's flat, but I figured maybe he forgot his key.
"Coming!" I called rushing to the doorway. "So I ordered-" I stopped dead in my tracks as I saw I wasn't talking to Scorpius, but someone who looked a hell of a lot like him. I cleared my voice. "Uh…Hi Mr. Malfoy. I thought you were Scorpius."
It was then I noticed he didn't look right. His clothes, much like his son, were always perfectly straight and put together, but as I looked at him I noticed his tie was crooked, and his shirt was untucked. But more importantly, I knew for a fact that Scorpius Malfoy never visited his son anywhere.
"...What is it?" I asked quietly.
"An owl just delivered this." He handed me a piece of parchment.
Dear Draco Malfoy,
Although we've never met we feel we have a lot to owe you and therefore we offer you the gift. This gift is the gift of knowledge and the knowledge we are delighted to give you is the fact that we have your son. And unlike Mr. Yaxley we have everything under control. So I hope you have enjoyed your relationship with your son and that your memories with him don't haunt you when you attempt to sleep at night.
Your friendly neighborhood Death Eaters
Ps: The box included was found in your son's pocket. We have reason to believe it belongs to Rose Weasley. I trust you will return it to her.
My heart squeezed as all the blood drained out of it and I had to clamp onto the doorframe to support myself. This couldn't be happening. He just went to find James. Why would they take him? How could they have? He's stronger, smarter and faster than all of them. This was impossible. I was fantastic and adapting to a new problem and changing my expectations to fit a difficult situation, but I refused to accept this. Scorpius was going to run over any minute now and make us feel like idiots for ever worrying about him in the first place.
Mr. Malfoy dug into his black pants pocket to hand me the box the note mentioned. I thought it was… I don't know what I thought it would be, but as soon as I saw it I knew exactly what it was by the velvet covering on the jewelry box. All the color left my face, as my eyes widened and my grip on the doorway tightened almost painfully.
"An…engagement ring? But why would they think…He never…" I breathed unable to look anywhere but at the box.
"He was probably going to propose." He said in a strained voice.
I let out slow breaths and then looked up at Mr. Malfoy.
I was doing everything in my power to understand and adapt to this, but I couldn't. From the moment I opened the door to now I didn't understand a single thing. I was stunned. But my polite upbringing sprung out of me as everything else failed me.
"Would you like to come in?" I asked expecting him to decline.
"If it's not an imposition. We should make our case clear before we bring this to the Auror office."
I moved out of the way and shut the door behind him. My whole body was numb from the drugs, but now my mind was joining it as I tried to get a grip on what was happening.
"Um…I'll get some parchment."
"And…Rose?" He breathed in a stressed voice, his mouth tightening awkwardly at using my first name, something he had never done before.
"Yeah?" I paused, my eyes filling with hot furious tears as I fought to push my emotions down to control myself.
Mr. Malfoy said, "Don't say anything to Astoria until we have information. I don't want her to freak out until we know the facts."
His steel eyes bore into me, and I felt a stab of emotion jolt through me. "We'll find him."
My lip trembled as I nodded and forced myself to keep moving. "We have to."
The next part of this saga will be called, 'Make You Feel My Love,' and I will start it as soon as possible. This is the last chapter though of, 'Don't You Remember?'