Chapter Eight: Sixth Year, Part Two
:in which Rose and Scorpius exchange birthday presents:
It was the ninth of October, and Rose awoke with a start to the sound of something tapping on the dormitory window closest to her bed. She looked over, and there was an owl looking expectantly at her, a package in its mouth.
It's my birthday, she thought, realizing what day it was. I'm finally seventeen!
Rose bounded out of bed and over to the window, where another owl had joined the first. Soon, all sorts of owls had come bearing presents for Rose.
Her cousins, brother and friends always threw a party for her in the Room of Requirement on the night of her birthday, but everyone always sent her presents (or a note, if the present was too large to deliver via owl) first thing on her birthday so she began the day surrounded by presents and well-wishes.
She went through the packages, opening them as quietly as she could, trying not to wake any of her dorm mates. Alice, however, woke about twenty minutes after Rose started opening presents and gave Rose her present—a warmly knitted scarf and hat in Gryffindor colors, of course.
Rose's parents had sent her a few gifts: a pair of pearl earrings that had belonged to Hermione's mother, who had instructed Hermione to send the gift along; a set of new quills; and four tickets to go see the Weird Sisters in concert on their farewell tour over the Christmas holidays.
Al and Hugo had sent Rose two books that she had wanted for ages—she couldn't decide which one to read first. Lily had sent a huge bottle of Rose's favorite lotion. Rose's various aunts and uncles had sent her money—she could buy whatever she wanted on her next Hogsmeade trip. The rest of her cousins and friends had sent her various kinds of candy, especially her favorite, sugar quills. Her Weasley grandparents had sent her a beautiful hair clip with a purple stone set in the center as well as a notebook to "begin her investigative reporting," as the small note with the gift explained.
Rose had told her parents and then the rest of her family about her chosen career soon after her talk with Scorpius, and, like Scorpius had said, they had all been very supportive. Rose had not thought that they would be disappointed in her choice, but she wanted to make sure that she had their full support.
After looking through Rose's presents and discussing the upcoming party, Alice had left to eat some breakfast. Since it was a Sunday, Rose didn't have classes and felt like she could spend a couple of more hours in bed reading—just as soon as she figured out which book to start reading first.
She had just decided to start reading the book Al had gotten for her when she heard another tap at the window. A bird she thought was faintly familiar was rapping impatiently, a small package next to it. She opened the window, letting the bird in and picking up the package. It was obviously book-shaped, but felt a little heavier than the usual fiction books she read. She tried to think of who the gift could be from—everyone who usually got her gifts had sent her one. Except…
She looked at the note attached to the packet. Her name was written on the outside of the note in large, flowing script. She knew that handwriting…
She tore open the note—it was actually a few pages folded together. She was puzzled at why a birthday present would require a mini-novel—wouldn't a simple "happy birthday, hope you like this" do—but then again, the sender of this present had never taken the normal approach to things, especially with her.
She began to read:
Since this is your seventeenth birthday, I thought that such an occasion warranted something more than my usual gifts. Don't start getting paranoid, now; I assure you that my gift is useful and practical.
Rose had to stop reading and snort at that. Scorpius had been getting her prank gifts since third year—his birthday present for her that year had been a book entitled The Care and Keeping of Birds. It was obviously a reference to the flock of birds he had charmed to chase after her in their second year—clearly he hadn't learned his lesson about messing with her. He had laughed at her face when she had opened the present when he had given it to her at her party and had actually had the gall to ask her a few days later if she had any prospective tenants yet.
The so-called "gifts" hadn't stopped there, though. Over the years she had been gifted with many bottles of Sleek-Easy hair potion and, once, even a purported "cure" for Spattergroit—Scorpius' jibing reference to her freckles.
However, she and Scorpius were friends now, and so she was curious to see what in the world he had bought her this year. She resumed reading:
(Don't deny it, though, Rosie—you always look forward to my gifts, especially because I went to such trouble to make them special—I even would pick out all the green Bertie Bott's beans because I know you hate them. Honestly, it's just a coincidence that the green ones happen to be my favorites—although I freely admit to eating all the green ones. I deserved compensation for all of that work—do you realize how many green pieces are inside every bag? Don't say I never did anything for you, Rosie.)
She had to laugh at the memory of the bags of Bertie Bott's beans he had given her quite a few different times. He was right—she did hate the green ones. And of course he would take advantage of the fact that he loved the beans she hated by eating them after picking them all out—and there were a lot of them. She wondered how long it had taken him to go through the different bags and pick the green ones out for her…
She shook her head, not wanting to go down that line of thought. She wanted to know what was in that package, darn it. He better tell her soon.
Anyway, before you get too mad about my previous presents to even register that I have managed to find a mature gift for you this time, let me explain my reasoning behind the gift. (Go ahead and look at it, if you haven't already.)
She set the note down and turned to the package, tearing the wrapping open. It was a book, and a well-made one at that. It was sturdy and hardbound, but she couldn't tell what kind of book it was. Over the place where the title usually was, a note had been stuck: Hit me with a growing spell, it read. She grabbed her wand and mumbled "Engorgio" at the book. Immediately it grew to what she realized was its normal size—the size of a textbook and about the same thickness as Hogwarts: A Revised History. The small note had flown off when she had sent the spell at the book, and now she saw the title: Thesaurus, it read in gilded letters. She noticed her name had been imprinted in the top right hand corner. She flipped through it, noting all the words this book contained—some of them had been highlighted, although she wasn't sure why. She was too stunned at the gift to check.
He'd gotten her a thesaurus, of all things? And a very well-made thesaurus at that. No cheaply made, mass-produced thesaurus for her—the binding was thick and would last for years, a good thing since the books she used the most always ended up in a state of disrepair. She wouldn't have to worry about this book wearing out for a good, long time. She didn't even want to guess how much he had spent on it—it was obvious it was way too much, especially for her, even if it was her seventeenth birthday.
She returned to the note, hoping he would explain his intentions.
Yes, I got you a thesaurus. I remembered our conversation about our future plans and how you said you wanted to be a crime reporter. I know it is important to you to stick to the facts when reporting so you don't fall into the sensationalized style that has run rampant through the press since our parents' days at Hogwarts, but there is nothing wrong with writing a compelling account based on facts to ensure the reader's attention. No one wants to read an article that sounds like it was lifted straight out of one of Binns' lectures. You're capable of writing well and holding your audience's attention; use your talent, Rose.
She was stunned even more. He had put a lot of effort into getting her a gift that she could actually use—and he had remembered almost exactly what she had said about her reasons for being a crime reporter. She was honestly touched at his kindness.
This thesaurus is meant to help you; it is not a slight to your intelligence at all. All good writers use the tools at their disposal. I'm sure you know many of the words in here already, but there may be a few you haven't seen yet.
Honestly, she hadn't even considered the thought that he might be intending the gift as a slight to her. It was too much of a thoughtful gift for that.
To get you started, I've taken the liberty of marking a few words that might prove useful. Feel free to try them and their variants out during our next argument.
Curious, she flipped the book open again. There was a piece of paper sticking out of the middle; she turned to that page and saw that he had marked the crime section. The thesaurus was evidently split into sections and categories, with sections like crime, behavior, feelings, occupations, and values. She noted the various categories dealing with crime and decided that they would definitely be helpful. But why would Scorpius say to use them during their next argument?
Perusing some more, she started to notice more words that had been highlighted: handsome, intelligent, cunning, enticing, charming. She groaned at his obvious implication—he wanted her to use such words and their variants when arguing with him. She knew he couldn't have gotten her such a gift without putting something teasing in there to offset his kindness.
She did notice, however, that other words were highlighted: banter, wit, aggravation, obstinate, dissent—all words that described their relationship over the years, at least until recently. He'd even highlighted curse and incorrigible, which made her laugh.
(He'd also highlighted the words beautiful and passionate, although the reasons for those words were less clear.)
Confused, but nevertheless pleased with her gift, she returned to the note. There were only a few lines left:
Happy birthday, Rosie. I hope you enjoy your gift and put it to good use.
I expect one of the first copies of your first crime report.
Rose caught herself smiling. The gift was such a Scorpius thing to do—only he would send her such a considerate gift that he had apparently spent a lot of time putting together and then wrap it up with a bit of mischievousness. It was exactly the mix of sweet and sour that she had come to expect from him.
(She was pretty sure that this was going to be her favorite gift, but she wasn't about to tell him that.)
didn't see Scorpius—or many members of her family—until the party that
night. She had been stolen away by Lily and Alice, who had wanted to
make it a girl's day while the rest of the crew prepared for the party.
The two had asked Rose where the thesaurus had come from, and she told them Scorpius had sent it to her, but didn't elaborate. Lily and Alice exchanged knowing glances but didn't press the matter. The three girls talked, ate Rose's birthday candy, and discussed what Rose could buy with her birthday money for most of the day, only leaving to grab a quick bite to eat in the kitchens.
Then it was time for the party, and Lily and Alice had somehow gotten Rose to put on a cute, party-ready outfit instead of her usual weekend ensemble of t-shirts and sweatpants or jeans. Rose was still wearing jeans—she couldn't quite be talked into wearing a dress—but they were dark and form-fitting, making them look elegant and classy on her. She'd paired the jeans with a fitted, V-neck purple sweater and wore black boots to finish off the outfit. Lily had pulled some of Rose's hair back with the clip that her grandparents had gotten her, and so Rose's hair, not quite so bushy anymore but still curly and fairly wild, looked much better than the disheveled state it had been in after rolling around all afternoon on her bed laughing with her friends.
Rose had no idea why her friends were making such a big deal about what she was wearing to the party—only her family and friends would be in attendance, and there wasn't anyone there she needed to impress. She had planned on changing, yes, but she thought that Lily and Alice were going a little bit overboard. At least she had talked them out of wearing a dress—she might be turning seventeen but that wasn't a good enough excuse for Rose, who just wanted to be comfortable while spending time with her family and friends.
When the three arrived at the Room of Requirement, Al noticed Rose's arrival first and practically bolted to her, hugging her. "Happy birthday, Rosie!" he exclaimed.
"Thanks, Al," she said, laughing, "But why are you so happy to see me? Are you drunk?"
"No," Al said. "Now that you're here, we can get the party started and maybe James will quit setting off new pieces for Exploding Snap by my head, trying to see which one gets the best reaction. Now that you're here, I can't kill him. He was driving me barking mad."
Rose laughed again at her favorite cousin, making everyone else turn and notice her. They all wished her a very loud happy birthday, James setting off yet another piece for Exploding Snap in a kind of mini "celebration".
Rose went around and hugged all her cousins and a couple of other friends, thanking them for their gifts. She even hugged a surprised—but pleased—Scorpius.
"Careful, Weasley," he mumbled close to her ear while holding her tight. "Everyone might think you don't hate me anymore."
Rose blushed a little but chuckled quietly, moving slightly away from him. "Thanks, Scorpius, for my present. You really outdid yourself this year. I don't know how I'm going to follow up that in a couple of weeks for your birthday."
"Oh, I'm sure you'll think of something. You always do," he said, his mouth turning upwards a little and squeezing her arm before letting go of her entirely.
"Time for cupcakes and cookies!" Lily yelled. For the past couple of years, Lily had always made the treats for Rose's party as part of her present for Rose. The house elves were glad to let Lily Potter take over their kitchen for a bit every year; she always let them have first choice of whatever treat she had decided to make.
Everyone headed to the table where the snacks and drinks were set up. "Careful, Al," James said around a mouthful of cookie. "Don't eat too much—you don't want a repeat of last year!"
"Don't remind me," Al said. "I didn't want to look at cookies for months."
"What happened last year?" asked Rose's former patrol partner and friend Nicholas, who had started dating Molly soon after the failed date to Hogsmeade with Rose the previous year.
"Al ate way too many cookies and got a major stomachache. I was just glad he left before he vomited all over everything," Rose said.
"Yeah, Albie here was fit to explode," said James, laughing. Al glared at his older brother, who grinned, showcasing a mouthful of sugar cookie.
"Now that's an idea," said Fred. "Exploding cupcakes!"
"We are not having exploding cupcakes. Do you know how long that would take to clean up?!" Rose countered. "Sometimes, I swear you two just want to ruin my birthday."
"Aww, Rosie, you can be such a party pooper. But don't worry, you're our favorite cousin. We'll save the exploding cupcakes for Al's birthday," James replied.
"Sometimes I think I need a new family," mumbled Al. "Or at least a new brother."
After that, things calmed down enough for everyone to go back to enjoying the party. James, predictably, grew bored again, and began setting off Exploding Snap pieces in Rose's ear.
Rose kept batting him away, but he kept messing with her. She was about to blow up and dump her drink on him when Scorpius came over. "Come here, I want to show you something."
"What?" she said loudly. "I can't hear you! James may have permanently damaged my hearing…"
Scorpius just shook his head, grabbing Rose's wrist and dragging her over to one of the cookie tables.
"I want to show you something," he repeated as Rose shook her head to return her hearing to normal.
"What?" she asked.
"Look at this," he said, grabbing two sugar cookies and a small can of frosting that was sitting on the table. He took a plastic knife and spread some frosting on one cookie, then topped it with the other. "Cookie sandwich!"
"Looks like sugar overload to me," Rose said, although her eyes had brightened at the sweet treat.
"Oh please, Rose. It's your birthday. Live a little. You're not going to end up like Al," he said.
"I don't know," she replied. "I ate most of my birthday candy already—Lily and Alice helped me eat it, but I still had quite a bit." She eyed the cookie again and suddenly grabbed it from Scorpius' hand, taking a bite.
"Maybe you should have been a Seeker, with that quick move," Scorpius said, making himself a cookie sandwich.
"Oh Merlin," Rose gasped at the sugary confection. "This is wonderful." Her eyes widened even more and she smiled in bliss.
"Rose," said Scorpius, who was watching her enraptured face, completely forgetting about the cookies in his hand. "Do you and the cookies need to get a room, or will you be staying with your guests?"
She swallowed the last of the cookie. "Sorry," she said sheepishly.
He chuckled at her. "You and your insatiable sweet tooth," he said, swiping gently at her nose to get some frosting off.
"Surely you didn't just bring me over here to get me all sugared up," Rose said.
"No, not exactly. Although your reaction was very amusing," Scorpius said. "I just wanted to make sure you really did like my present." It was his turn to look sheepish—apparently he really cared about her reaction to his gift.
"I already told you, you outdid yourself," said Rose.
"I know. I just didn't know if you were just saying that for everyone else's benefit."
"Scorp," said Rose softly, touching his arm. "It was a wonderful present. I absolutely loved it. It will definitely be useful—and not just after Hogwarts. I may even need to use it this year and next year—writing so many papers may just fry my brain."
"I don't think anything could ever fry your brain, Rosie," Scorpius said. "But I'm glad you like it and that you'll be able to use it soon."
Scorpius grinned cheekily. "Did you see all the highlighted words?"
Rose rolled her eyes. "How could I miss them? They practically had arrows pointing to them screaming "look at me!" It's a wonder you didn't highlight arrogance or irritation or words along those lines, if you want me to use them in our arguments."
Scorpius grinned again, though not as cheekily. "You know, some of those words I highlighted could be used to describe you as well."
Rose blushed, remembering that beautiful and passionate had been among the highlighted words.
"You really, truly like it, though?"
She sighed, growing exasperated with the fact that he just couldn't seem to understand that she really valued his gift. "Of course I do," she said. "It's the best gift you've ever gotten me."
He chuckled. "I think, from your perspective at least, it wouldn't be hard to judge the thesaurus as the best gift I've ever gotten you."
She couldn't help but smile. "You truly outdid yourself this time, Scorpius. I had no idea what you had gotten me when I realized the package was from you, but I definitely wasn't expecting a thesaurus—or for you to remember my reasoning for wanting to be a crime reporter."
He shrugged but she could detect a rising color in his cheeks. "Of course I remember," he said simply.
"Thank you, Scorp," Rose said softly, impulsively hugging him again. They both knew she was talking about more than the gift.
He squeezed her back. "You're welcome, love," he began just as softly, then continued slightly louder. "You really want everyone to think you don't hate me anymore, don't you?"
"What if I don't?" she asked cheekily.
He laughed, reluctantly pulling away from her and heading back toward the rest of the group. "Well, since my present to you went over so well, I guess that means I can get Al the present I was planning on getting him for Christmas," he told her.
"What kind of present would that be?" she asked.
"A dictionary," he said, trying to maintain a straight face, but couldn't help laughing when Rose threw back her head and laughed.
little over two weeks after Rose's seventeenth birthday—October 26, to
be exact—Scorpius woke up to his own deluge of presents. He'd received a
new broom—the latest model, of course—from his parents, a
broom-cleaning kit from Al, a Skiving Snackbox from James and Fred
(though why they thought he needed one was beyond him) and all sorts of
candy from his other friends, including most of the rest of the
Rose's present arrived last. He could tell that the object was a book, and this present also had a note attached to it. Giving Rose's owl a treat before sending it on its way, he sat back on his bed to open Rose's present. He should have been hurrying to get to breakfast and then class, but at that moment he just wanted to know what Rose had gotten him.
He opened up the note, seeing Rose's familiar handwriting:
Somehow, you've made it to being seventeen without being irreparably hexed, for which I suppose I have to congratulate you. You may have now earned the right to perform magic off of Hogwarts grounds, but please respect this bit of advice from your elders and refrain from suddenly Apparating with the sole intention of scaring the heck out of me.
Scorpius chuckled—he had been planning on doing exactly that. He dearly wanted to impulsively Apparate around Rose just to see the hilarious expression her face was bound to make when she was scared witless.
And yes, being two weeks older than you does qualify me to be considered your elder.
Anyway, on to your gift. I must admit for a couple of days, I had no idea how to top or even match your birthday gift to me. I know I've told you before, but it really was a wonderful gift, Scorpius. I didn't know you had it in you. Maybe you actually are maturing? (It's about time.)
Since not everyone has ready access to their Gringotts account, however, I'm afraid I couldn't spend an astronomical amount of money on your gift. Instead, I had Al take a quick peek at your stash of mystery novels (yes, I know you keep quite a few in your trunk), and to my surprise, he said you didn't have a single Sherlock Holmes story anywhere! For shame, Scorpius. All self-respecting mystery lovers must have Sherlock Holmes in their collection.
He opened the package, and sure enough, it was a book with the famous detective's profile imprinted on it. It was a hardbound book as well, but not quite the same quality as the book he had given her. (That didn't matter to him, however—he was just glad she had gotten him a gift, apparently one chosen with the same amount of care with which he had chosen her present.)
And now, thanks to me, you do. I think you said once that you had read one or two stories; this is the omnibus edition. It contains all the stories and novels featuring this classic detective. My mum used to read these stories with me when I was younger. Once I was old enough, she bought me my own copy of the entire collection, just like the copy I'm giving you.
You're lucky that we located this in time for your birthday. It took my mum about a week to track down a copy in a Muggle bookshop in London.
He was surprised at her gift—he knew she knew of his love of mystery novels, but had no idea that she liked reading detective stories as well. It shouldn't have surprised him, given how much she loved to read. He smiled to think of a little Rose sitting alongside a younger Hermione, who was reading Sherlock Holmes stories to her precocious daughter. It struck him that she had chosen to give him something that not only would probably mean a lot to him, but also obviously meant a lot to her as well. Plus, she had gone to the trouble of getting her mum to scour London's many bookshops just to find this copy, apparently identical to the copy she owned herself.
So happy birthday, Scorpius. Enjoy the stories—they're classics, and Merlin knows you could use a little more exposure to classic literature, given your lack of knowledge about Jane Austen. Just please do not go trying to find a deerstalker hat of your own. It would not be attractive.
Honestly, though, I think you'll have fun unraveling these mysteries. Let me know which stories you like the best.
P.S. I really don't hate you anymore. (Most of the time, anyway.)