The Trials and Tribulations of Hogwarts

The daughter of two-thirds of the Golden Trio and the son of a Death Eater. Even though her father warned her off him, Rose can't help but feel sorry for Scorpius Malfoy. So this is the progression of their school career.

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2. Part 2

The final part of Trials and Tribulations of Hogwarts.

Scorpius kept a close eye on Rose throughout the next couple of months. Thankfully, she hadn’t stopped Quidditch, so that wasn’t the reason she was being a complete and utter lunatic. She spent as much time as before with him and Albus (though always with a spellbook in her hand and practicing spells and enchantments and such), but much less time alone with him. Maybe because every time she did, he would try to drag out of her the exact reason for her self-harming tendencies.

Okay, it wasn’t really self-harming as such, but she still winced every time that damned rubber band snapped across her skin. Also, she’d said that she wanted to be a better person, and she seemed to do it more often than not when they were talking.

What exactly was she thinking about him?

The one person he believed would know was Albus, so one day during the Christmas holidays when Rose was at home and he was at Albus’s, he asked.

“Al, do you know why Rose does the rubber band thing?”

His cheeks tinged pink. “I don’t know.”

“I know when you’re lying, Albus.”

“Obviously not,” he said, leaning back and widening his eyes (a sure sign that he was lying, ironically enough).

“I’m worried about her, Al.”

“So am I,” he muttered. “But even if I wanted to tell you, I couldn’t.”

“And you don’t want to tell me?”

He puffed his cheeks out like a chipmunk and shook his head slowly.

“Urgh,” Scorpius grumbled. “I guess I’ll have to go on like I have been.”

“You… probably don’t want to do that, Scorp. Really. I’m thinking of you here,” Albus said quickly.

“Just for my peace of mind!”

“It won’t give you peace of mind.”

Scorpius narrowed his eyes at the new titbit of information. “Really…” he said wonderingly. Something that directly involved him, and he wouldn’t want to know… “That’s interesting,” he said.

“I shouldn’t have said that,” Albus muttered.

Scorpius grinned. “Too late!”

He kept a close eye on Rose, but nothing gave him any clues. For the most part… she was acting pretty normal (for her, at least). And then, with a suddenness which surprised him, she was acting normal again.

This was just after the Easter holidays. He hadn’t seen her for the entire two weeks because she stayed at Hogwarts whilst he went home. And then, when he saw her again there was no elastic band on her wrist and she grinned at him. Everything was back to how it should be. But, of course, he didn’t remark on this fact lest she regress back into how she was before.

It was obvious to Scorpius that she was happiest when she was playing Quidditch - she always had been - although he wished she didn’t drag him out to help her practice. She claimed it was good for the two of them, but Scorpius believed she felt the need to torture him a bit. Why she felt this, however, was still a mystery to him. But who on earth knew the workings of the female mind?

Rose went half-mental during the exam period. Scorpius didn’t blame her; he would have if he hadn’t been a little concerned about keeping up appearances. She kept up the state of mind all throughout the beginning of the holidays, and it hit its climax when she was actually holding the letter, frozen and unable to open it.

“Oh, for goodness sake, Rose…” Scorpius said, leaning over to take the letter from her hand.

“No!” she shrieked, whipping it behind her back.

They were all at Rose’s house at this point, having breakfast (so obviously Rose was still in her pyjamas).

Scorpius rolled his eyes and opened his own letter, feigning disinterest. Rose glared at him. “I know you’re nervous, Scorpi. You can’t hide anything from me.”

He smirked at her before running an eye over the list, and was… pleasantly surprised.

“What did you get?” Albus asked, trying to wrestle his letter from Rudy, who seemed to have decided to not let him get it easily. “Oh, you stupid bird,” he muttered, earning a peck on the ear.

“An A in History of Magic and all the rest are Os,” he said. Rose snatched it out of his hand.

“That’s brilliant, Scorpius,” Mrs Weasley said. Rose muttered something incomprehensible. “Isn’t it, Rose?” she continued, glaring at her daughter.

Rose threw the letter back to Scorpius with a disgusted look on her face. “Yeah,” she said simply.

Albus finally managed to get the letter off Rudy and tore into it, shouting, “Mum, Dad! I have results!” through the door. The Potters came in.

Meanwhile, Rose was still sitting at the table with a catatonic look on her face. Scorpius went next to her and took the letter from her hand. This time she let him. “Do you want me to open it?” he asked.

She shook herself and took it back. “I can do it,” she said, taking a deep breath before opening the envelope. Her father came behind her and put a hand on her shoulder.

She relaxed when she saw it and smirked, almost guiltily, at Scorpius. “An E in History of Magic and O in the rest,” she said.

Her dad grinned. “Results like this merit some fine dining, I say… Shall we go out for dinner? Scorpius, you’re welcome to join us.” Scorpius agreed to go. “And fine dining means you have to wear a dress, Rose.”

Scorpius burst out laughing as Rose gaped at her father. “A dress?” she said, as disgusted as if he’d told her she’d have to wear dead eels in her hair.

“And you’ll have to wear black tie, Scorpius. We’ll leave tonight. I’ll make some reservations.”

Rose was still gaping when her dad left. “I’m going to have to wear a dress,” she finally choked out. “Damn him. I thought he was going to be nice.”

Scorpius ruffled her hair. “Don’t worry about it. It’s only one evening.”

“One evening too many,” she muttered.

~[*]~

Rose couldn’t recognise herself once her aunt Ginny had finished the makeover. Sure she looked good, but it didn’t look like her. Everything made her uncomfortable - the delicate shoes, the knee-length dress and the hairstyle heavy on her head. The makeup made her feel like she was suffocating.

But Ginny looked pleased as Rose’s mother came in and they both smiled at her, so she resisted the urge to put a pair of jeans on and scrub the makeup off her face.

“You look beautiful, Rosie,” her mum said.

Honestly. The two of them never wore makeup or dressed up themselves; Rose thought she’d be safe. But apparently not. Someone must really hate her.

“We have to leave now,” Ginny said, checking her watch. “Come on. The boys are ready.”

Rose felt ridiculous as she went down the stairs (honestly, whoever had thought up of those shoes…) and tried very hard not to draw attention to herself.

Which, of course, was very difficult when Albus looked up at her and stifled a laugh with a cough (rather unsuccessfully). Scorpius turned to look at her and seemed to freeze, eyes slightly wider than usual.

The thoughts that passed through Rose’s head when she saw him standing there, looking so beautiful in black dress robes made her wish that she had the elastic band still. She needed something… anything… to distract her.

“Rosie! You look beautiful!” her dad suddenly said. Both Rose and Scorpius jumped, and Rose was relieved when her dad came to hug her and obscured her vision. Because if she couldn’t see him, then she wouldn’t think about him in that way… She cursed in her head. She really had hoped that she’d gotten past the stupidity.

But her dad had to let go at some point, and she had to walk to the door, passing so close by Scorpius she accidently brushed by him. There was a shot of static electricity and Scorpius smiled sheepishly when she frowned at him.

At least Albus would distract her. He took one look at her, smirked and then said something about a pig dressing as a flower - which earned him a smack across the head by his mother and by Rose when she reached him. James - who was celebrating his passing NEWT grades - smiled at her. “Aw, Rosie, you look all grown up!”

She smiled, ignoring that she was hyperaware of Scorpius standing just a few centimetres away from her. Was it her imagination or was he standing closer than usual…? No. It had to be her imagination. Because if he was standing closer that would mean… something different. And she didn’t want to consider that. What she had achieved was delicate, and would be easily shattered.

They stayed out late, and Rose was driven half-crazy whenever Scorpius accidently brushed her. She wished she had her elastic band, though she knew that if she started using it again she would have a welt the size of Canada on her wrist.

But, even as she considered this, she knew it wasn’t as if she had real feelings for him. It was something to do with hormones, and the romantic setting, and the fact that they were sitting at the end of the table and if she turned her head around just a bit, it would feel like it was only the two of them.

She kicked herself in the ankle instead and Scorpius frowned at her, seeing the movement of the table cloth. “What on earth are you doing?”

Rose blushed and stood on his foot (not hard enough to hurt him; he merely raised his eyebrows). “I don’t know whether that’s any of your business, really,” she said primly. She squared her shoulders defiantly.

He sighed. “You’re getting more and more difficult to understand. You know that, right, Rosie?”

“I’m trying to change back, Scorpi. Trust me. I am.”

He made as if to ruffle her hair but restrained himself, furrowing his eyebrows, and squeezed her shoulders instead. “Don’t worry,” he said playfully. “I still love you.”

Obviously, that played havoc with her heart.

~[*]~

Rose was leaning on him half asleep on the drive back (the restaurant was muggle, so they had decided to use muggle transport). It wasn’t particularly late, only eleven or so, but Rose enjoyed sleeping. Strangely enough. He offered to carry her up to her room, seeing as her family had just given him dinner. She did – sort of – walk down the long corridor to her room before completely falling asleep and forcing Scorpius to carry her over the threshold and drop her onto the bed. Carefully, of course.

He had never seen her look more beautiful. It was almost strange; he had half-noticed that she had been growing up and her features fining out as she got older, but she was always wearing the same kind of thing, and her hair was never exactly neat. But having everything accentuated made him realise that she was going to be someone extraordinary.

And for a moment, he’d wanted to be a part of that.

He’d dated one or two girls before; since the beginning of the year girls seemed to be more interested in him (of course, being a guy, he took advantage of that), but when he saw Rose like that, he got a glimpse at another kind of relationship, one that possibly could last.

“Scorpi,” Rose mumbled. “Can you pass me the pillows over there?” Apparently she’d woken up.

He got the pillows, and just to be closer to her put them under her head himself. She just looked at him, in a searching way, and he took the leap.

He knew he would regret it in the morning, that it would be the worst thing he could ever do to one of the best friendships he would ever have, but he couldn’t stop it. His own body was completely out of control.

So he kissed her.

It was short, almost as if he’d been with her his entire life. Something about it didn’t even seem romantic, just as if it was routine. And something about it made it perfect. There weren’t any sparks, or bolts of electricity, just a feeling of belonging and comfort.

And then it was over, and a part of Scorpius missed it, but another didn’t. Some part of him wanted to stay, to just lie next to her, but another part told him to leave, because their friendship wouldn’t change whether he stayed or left.

Before he realised it, she’d fallen asleep, her arm curled under her head, and he left. He didn’t feel like anything momentous had happened, just something that was bound to happen at one point.

He thanked the Weasleys for the dinner, but didn’t mention anything about him and Rose. Though something about the way Mrs Weasley looked at him made him think she knew. The intuition of women; he didn’t even pretend to understand it.

He decided not to mention anything to his parents when he travelled back (by Floo Powder), but again, his mother was looking at him in a way which made him wonder.

She came into his room afterwards, and asked one simple question. “How are you and Rose?”

He narrowed his eyes and looked away. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

She smiled. “You look the happiest I’ve ever seen you.”

“Dad didn’t notice. Neither did Mr Weasley.”

“Mrs Weasley did?”

“I don’t know. She was looking at me strangely.” He shrugged. “How did you realise?”

“I realised because you’re my son. As for Mrs Weasley… she’s clever. She probably noticed that you were happier than usual.”

“Nothing really happened. And it probably won’t change anything, anyway.”

“Rose is good for you, Scorpius.”

“I know. I’m just not sure whether I even want things to change.”

She nodded. “Do what you feel is right.”

So Scorpius decided to take his cue from Rose. And when she didn’t mention anything the next day, he left it alone. He did catch her looking at him quite a bit over the next couple of weeks, but otherwise she didn’t act any differently. Even when they walked through Diagon Alley alone, she was completely normal, to the point when he almost started questioning whether the kiss really happened. If he hadn’t been positive in the accuracy of his memory, he would have started believing it.

Her strangely blasé mannerisms continued until they were on the train on their way to Hogwarts. Rose was quiet, stroking Pye’s dark fur with a frown on her face. The only sound in the carriage was Pye’s contented purring until Albus coughed and glared at them both.

“Okay, what happened? Did you two do something bad?”

“Of course not!” Rose exclaimed indignantly. She stopped stroking Pye and crossed her legs. The cat wandered off and started licking its fur.

“Well, it sure seems like you have,” Albus replied, turning his glare onto Scorpius.

Scorpius held his hands up. “I’ve done nothing.”

“Then why are you both so quiet?”

“Not everyone feels the need to fill every single silence with mundane conversation, Al,” Rose said.

“You find our conversations mundane?”

“Hey, you’re both guys,” she said, shrugging. “I’m surprised you can keep up with my superior intellect.”

“I’ve beaten you a lot of times on tests, Rose--” Scorpius interjected.

“Flukes.”

“What, all ten of them?”

“You’ve been keeping count?”

Scorpius laughed. “Of course I have.”

She set her shoulders stubbornly before standing up. “I’m going to take a walk around.”

“What?” Albus said.

“I’m going to take a walk. I’ll be back in a few,” she repeated, opening the glass door with perhaps a bit more force than was necessary and turning left, out of sight.

Albus looked at Scorpius blankly. “What was that about?”

Scorpius shrugged.

“Well, no matter. I finally have a chance… that stupid cat hasn’t followed her.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I’ve been wanting to do this for years…” he stood up and got his bag from the rack, tugging his Slytherin scarf out.

“Al…”

“Hold it for me, will you?”

“Hold what?”

“The cat!”

Scorpius didn’t move, still confused as to what exactly was going on.

“Oh, fine,” Albus grumbled. He jumped forwards and grabbed hold of the cat, somehow managing to wrap the scarf around him and mostly avoid being scratched. Once he’d done (the cat yowling and hissing the entire time) the cat was wrapped with his paws sticking out, the edges of the scarf tied in a haphazard bow on the top of his head. Albus sat back down, grinning and looking mightily pleased with himself.

Scorpius looked at Albus, then at the cat (who seemed to be in a state of shock) and burst out laughing. Albus joined in not long afterwards.

And that was how Rose found them, gasping for breath with a rather neatly wrapped-up cat yowling and struggling on the ground between them.

“Albus!” she shrieked, bending over to undo the bow. As soon as the cat could, he shot under the chairs (doing a roly-poly when his claws caught in the scarf, which only made the boys laugh louder). “How could you do that to him?” Albus continued laughing. “Look at the poor animal; he’s traumatised!” She turned furiously to Scorpius when Albus refused to stop laughing. “Why didn’t you stop him? I trusted you with my cat!”

Her expression was so full of betrayal that Scorpius felt a hint of remorse… until he remembered Pye’s face sticking out from under the green and silver bow and burst into laughter again. “I’m sorry, Rosie. I really am. But it was just… too funny. You saw!” He gestured to the cat.

Rose gave him a disparaging look and ventured under the chair to pick up the cat, whose hair was still standing on end as it clutched at her, eyes wide (of course, this only set Albus and Scorpius off even more). “It’s okay, Pye,” she murmured comfortingly at it. “I’ll make the nasty boys pay. They’ll have to clean your litter tray for the next year.” She kissed it between the ears, and it let out a pathetic little ‘mew’.

Albus’s face went red as he tried not to laugh again. “Oh, really?” he spluttered. “What makes you think we’ll clean out his litter tray?”

Rose responded by taking out her wand and pointing it at Albus. His face went so swiftly from red to pale white that Scorpius thought he might faint. But, then again, no one wanted to be facing an angry Rose who had a wand in her hand.

“Okay. I’ll clean it out.”

“You too, Scorpius.”

He raised his eyebrows and crossed his ankles in front of him. “I know as many curses and hexes as you do, Rose--”

“I doubt that.”

“--and I won’t be cleaning that animal’s litter tray.”

“You are as guilty as Albus is--”

“Are you kidding? I didn’t wrap the cat in a scarf!”

“But you didn’t stop him!” Her voice quavered a little, and Scorpius could see her hand shaking slightly.

She noticed his perusal and set her jaw. “You will help Albus, Scorpius.”

He stood up and felt himself smirk, which made her fall back a step. “I think not.”

“Hey, we’re starting to slow down!” Albus interjected with an uneasy laugh. “I think you should put the wand away now,” he said, more seriously, to Rose.

She shot a glare at Scorpius. “You will be cleaning out Pye’s litter tray, Scorpius.”

He grinned and ruffled her hair. “You just keep on telling yourself that, Rosie.”

~[*]~

Rose felt uneasy when they got off the train and piled into a horse-less carriage. The feelings were starting to come back again, as strong as ever. A few more days like today and she would invest in another elastic band.

Instead, she held Pye closer and buried her face in his soft fur. When she’d had that miniscule tiff with Scorpius, all she could think about was how mockingly beautiful he was and how she kind of wanted to… well… throw herself onto him.

But of course that would be an incredibly stupid thing to do. She wasn’t even sure if… The Kiss had actually happened (she’d been half asleep and he hadn’t mentioned it. At all), and Albus had been right there. He didn’t approve of any kind of romantic relationship between two of his best friends.

Not to mention her father wouldn’t really agree. Rose knew that he still would never completely forgive the Malfoy family, even if Scorpius were the nicest person in the world (which he wasn’t. He was starting to become quite cocky and arrogant, actually).

She felt Pye start to bristle and hiss, so she took her face out of his fur to see Scorpius moving to sit next to her. “Are you alright?” he asked.

Urgh. Why exactly did he have to look like that? Until she’d started to have this completely physical crush on Scorpius, she would never have thought she was the kind of person to watch how the moonlight shone off his hair and how he was so close to her she thought she would hyperventilate… these feelings were weak.

“I’m fine,” she muttered, turning away from him.

“Rose!” he said, shocked. “Seriously, what’s up?”

She met his eyes and glared at him, snapping, “What do you think?” before she had a chance to control her mouth. She bit her tongue furiously, unable to look away.

And he seemed the same. He blinked and leaned back a few inches, furrows appearing in his brow. “Can we talk later?” he said under his breath, looking for the shortest moment at Albus.

Rose blanched but nodded.

If there was one thing she was sure of, it was that she didn’t want to talk to him about anything like that. A part of her didn’t want to change how their relationship was; it seemed perfect now.

So, once again, she avoided talking about it, and tried to avoid being alone with him (which was difficult, as she had most of her free periods the same time as his). Albus cornered her at one time, a few weeks after term started.

“What are you going to do about Scorpius?”

Rose feigned innocence. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said, widening her eyes.

He glared at her. “Yes you do. Just talk to him, will you?”

Rose crossed her fingers behind her back. “I will. But there’s nothing to talk about, really.”

Albus still glared at her every time he saw her, but didn’t mention it again.

There was a surprise the week before they broke up for the Christmas holidays. The three of them went into their Defence Against the Dark Arts class expecting to see Professor Fairbairn levitating random objects as they usually did, but instead Rose’s uncle Harry was there. He’d come a couple of times before to talk about being an Auror, but had always told them. Albus sighed but smiled at his dad. Rose was particularly happy; she loved talking about being an Auror (not that she would do it herself). The rest of the class whispered excitedly (as they always did when Harry Potter was there).

He grinned at Albus, Rose and Scorpius and waited until the class had settled down before starting to talk about why he was there.

“The Patronus Charm,” he said. He looked around as if expecting a big reaction (Rose knew it was his favourite spell). “It’s not easy to do; takes a lot of concentration. But a corporeal Patronus will guard you from Dementors. It will take the form of an animal – one which represents your soul. For instance…” he took out his wand and looked at Albus before saying, “Expecto Patronum!” A stag leapt from his wand and cantered around the room, seeming to enjoy the gasps from the students.

It dissipated somewhere near the door and Rose turned back to the front to see Harry grinning happily. “What you have to do is think of a memory. The happiest one you can think of, the most powerful. If it’s potent enough, you can even focus on a particular feeling. Then say the incantation and see what happens.”

The students all stood up, and with a wave of his wand the chairs and tables stacked themselves at the sides of the room, leaving a considerable amount of space.

It was surprisingly difficult, Rose thought, to think of a feeling or memory potent enough to summon her guardian. She ran through a few memories but discarded them all. What exactly would work?

She remembered her first Quidditch match. The feeling when she saved a goal, the lap around the pitch afterwards, colours blurring into one and the wind flapping against her face, her hair flung back.

Expecto Patronum!”

A faint, silvery smoke started coming out of her wand, but faded into nothing after just a couple of seconds. Rose bit her lip. What now?

Her cat. Pye snuggling up to her, calming her down. The one white paw. The thick tail and soft fur.

Even weaker this time. It was frustrating; she’d never taken this long to understand a spell. Usually, it came so naturally.

But what else could be strong enough? Something about this spell really put things into focus. She’d never been completely happy…

Her thoughts trailed off when she spotted Scorpius, a couple of meters in front of her, facing the same way she was. And she was plunged into a memory so tangible she could almost taste it. She raised her wand, hardly remembering what she was doing in this room. “Expecto Patronum,” she said, focussing on how she’d felt when he’d kissed her. The feeling of belonging, of contentment, of complete purity.

And it happened. A horse burst out from her wand, echoing a ghostly whinny and cantering around the room playfully, bucking and jumping and tossing his magnificent head.

Rose had seen her aunt Ginny’s Patronus, but it was different. Whilst Ginny’s Patronus was delicate and fast and elegant, Rose’s was majestic and strong and powerful, almost twice the size of Rose herself.

“Perfect!” Harry shouted. The horse disappeared when she turned, startled. She felt a quick longing, wishing the horse could stay with her, and maybe protect her from her own heart, but grinned at Harry’s ecstatic face. “You did it, Rose! I knew you could.” He put an arm around her shoulder. “Great work. Really great work.”

By the end of the lesson, the only other person who had managed to cast anything close to a corporeal Patronus was (of course) Scorpius. It dissipated quickly – too quick to work out what animal it was, apart from the wings. As she walked out of the class with Scorpius (Albus was staying for a bit longer with his dad as he had a free period) she couldn’t help the smug grin.

“Seriously, Rose?” Scorpius said. “Just because you managed to do a charm--”

“Which you couldn’t, yes--”

“--you’re going to look at me as if I’m a stupid little boy that can’t do anything right?”

“I just like knowing I’m cleverer than you, is all.”

He nudged her with his elbow. “Yeah. That’s evil.”

She grinned again.

Time was passing quicker and quicker, and before they even had time to sit back and think about how difficult school life would be it was already Christmas and the three of them were heading back home. This time, she made sure Pye stayed next to her at all times (he was still terrified whenever a scarf came anywhere near him, the poor animal).

Scorpius spent most of the holidays at the Burrow instead of at the Potter’s house (which didn’t matter; Albus spent all of his waking hours there too), and even stayed over Christmas day as his parents were going to see his grandparents. (“They’re still prejudiced. Haven’t forgiven me for spending so much time with blood traitors,” he said to Rose with a grin.)

He decided to wake her up at about six in the morning Christmas day, coming into her room and sitting down as heavily as he could on the bed.

“Scorpi…” she whined. “It’s six in the morning. Do you have to do that?”

He ruffled her hair. “Yeah, it’s Christmas day! Come on, Rosie.”

“Come on what?” she mumbled, rolling over to press her face into the pillow.

He tugged her duvet away from her. “We’re going for a walk before we open presents. You, me and Al.”

“No. I’m not getting dressed. I’m staying in bed.”

“Al’ll give Pye a makeover again.”

Rose propped herself up on her elbows and glared at him. “Fine. But you owe me. So bad.”

His expression was really way too happy and cute for a Malfoy. Seriously, he was just too hyper in the morning. He tucked some hair behind her ear (making her heart jump erratically, but she ignored that) and grinned at her mutinous expression before practically bouncing off down the hallway.

Rose just about managed to drag herself off the bed and get to her feet when she landed in a heap on the floor. Yawning widely, she threw on the warmest clothes she could find and made her way slowly down the stairs into the freezing weather, where Albus and Scorpius were throwing snowballs at some half-frozen gnomes. Rose exchanged a sardonic look with Pye, who was curled up amongst some cushions on the sofa and braced herself before trekking outdoors.

They stopped throwing snowballs when she got out, thankfully. Scorpius was easily the happiest on the short walk. He managed to drag them round a couple of fields before they begged him to be allowed to go back into the warmth, and after some (mostly harmless) threatening and torturing, he let them. Correction: he let Albus go in, but held onto Rose’s arm and pulled her to one side.

Rose didn’t think Albus even noticed as he hurried indoors into the warmth.

“Just part of my present to you. I figured Albus wouldn’t be happy,” he said. Rose’s heart dropped to the floor, but he merely took a toy mouse with a long string and handed it to her. “It’s mostly for Pye. Just to say sorry about the whole scarf thing. I think we really traumatised him.” One side of his mouth quirked up.

Rose laughed, but it was kind of breathless. “Yeah, you did. But he’ll forgive you. Thanks, Scorpi.”

“No worries.” He looked towards the door. “You can go in now,” he said. Rose fled inside and took off the massive snow boots.

Somehow, all of her family had turned up during the time she was gone. They gaped at her for a second, before Teddy said, “Dressed? At this hour? Who cast what spell on you?”

Rose rolled her eyes. “Blame Scorpius. He dragged me out of bed at the crack of dawn to go for a walk.” Pye came up to her and yowled before jumping into her arms. “Merry Christmas to you too,” she told him, scratching him between his ears.

“Presents?” Albus said, coming up next to her. Scorpius came in through the door.

“Yes, yes,” Rose’s dad said. “You three go ahead, if you want.”

They didn’t need much more prodding than that. They exchanged presents with each other once they were in the sitting room and all three opened their presents as Pye came to bat the toy mouse around the room (and pounce on the wrapping paper).

“Rose!” Scorpius said with a laugh. “My dad really wouldn’t approve.” His blue eyes sparked as he grinned at her. “Thank you,” he said, looking through the pile of Muggle books.

“I thought you would appreciate that,” Rose said, trying to distract Pye enough to get to her presents. “Oh, and I’m going to give you some flying lessons.”

His eyes widened. “What?”

“A wizard being afraid of heights is a bit odd--”

“I’m not afraid!”

“--yes you are. I’ll help you.”

He grumbled something incoherent under his breath but nodded. “When do we start?”

“Tonight.”

“Aw, this is awesome!” Albus interjected, tearing into the broomstick servicing kit that Scorpius had gotten him. Rose reached for her presents, which was a large box and two smaller presents.

The large box was full of sugar quills (from both Albus and Scorpius) and the two smaller ones were a collection of leather bracelets (from Albus) and a photo album (from Scorpius). It was filled with various pictures of her with her family, and of course lots of her, Albus and Scorpius. He was watching her carefully when she looked up. “Thank you. It’s beautiful,” she said, feeling genuinely touched that he thought of it.

His eyes lit up as he smiled. “Glad you like it,” he said softly.

~[*]~

Scorpius couldn’t have brought himself to admit it, but he was scared.

It wasn’t entirely about the flying. He knew that Rose could be a tough teacher, and he never particularly liked being shouted at.

But, regardless, he was on his way out to the fields behind the house, being dragged out by a rather happy Rose. She passed him an old, slower broomstick and got her own out. Scorpius mounted it awkwardly, glaring at Rose the entire time. “Why you’re forcing me to do this I have no--”

“Kick off gently,” she interrupted, watching him with one eyebrow raised.

Scorpius muttered curses under his breath and kicked off, hovering a few feet above the ground, holding on tightly. Rose followed him gracefully. “Relax. Let your shoulders drop. The harder you squeeze the handle, the quicker it will move.”

Scorpius blanched and relaxed his hold immediately, and simultaneously the broom almost seemed to relax and be easier to sit on. “There you go,” Rose said triumphantly. “And now, lean forward and allow the broom to drop down. We’ll take it slowly.”

Scorpius obliged, giving her a strange look once he touched down. “What?” she said, kicking at the ground the way she did when she felt self-conscious.

“You’re a better teacher than I thought.”

“What’s that meant to mean?”

He smirked. “I would have thought it was obvious. Red hair, volatile personality…” he trailed off when she hit his arm. “And now you’re proving my point…”

“Scorpius! Here I am, trying to help you--”

“I know you are. But what kind of best friend would I be if I was actually kind to you?”

“A good best friend.”

He winked and chucked her under her chin, ignoring the fact that her eyes were blazing with anger. “You know I’m an amazing best friend, Rosie. What are we doing next, then?”

She rolled her eyes at him. “Actually moving.”

“Sounds scary.”

“Sure it is. Kick off again.”

He complied, almost enjoying the butterflies in his stomach. Before he’d even fully realised, he was twenty metres off the ground, slowly floating upwards. Rose kept one hand on the broom to help steady it as she explained. “You’ve got to feel as if the broom is going to move forward. Lean towards the way you want it to go, but make sure you don’t squeeze the handle to hard or it’ll go too quickly.” She let go and moved sideways to give him space.

Scorpius took a deep breath and relaxed his shoulders before leaning forward and willing the broom to move. It obeyed and moved forwards, seamlessly smooth.

“Brilliant!” he heard Rose call from behind him, but he put her out of his mind. There was no way that he could focus on the broom if he thought about her. So he did a few laps of the field before dropping down to the ground. Rose shot off after him and landed a few inches away. “That was fantastic! I knew you could do it,” she said, launching herself into his arms.

He caught her, laughing breathlessly. “Thanks. You were right.”

“Of course,” she said, pulling back slightly to smile at him, though Scorpius didn’t let go of her.

“Of course,” he repeated.

And then her expression changed slightly. Her eyes softened and the sarcastic quirk of her lip straightened. Scorpius felt himself leaning closer, though he didn’t understand entirely what was going to happen. His forehead was against hers before long, and he took comfort in the sound of her breathing and the apple scent coming from her hair. Something about Rose made him perfectly content, gave him a sense of belonging in a world that would otherwise cast him out. After all, she’d been the one to take him under her wing.

“Rose! Scorp! Where have you got to?”

They sprang apart, just in time, as Albus rounded the corner and entered into the field.

“I thought you were going to have a flying lesson?” he asked, confusion colouring his voice.

“We just finished,” Rose said abruptly. She took the broom from Scorpius and dragged them both back up the path to the broom cupboard. Scorpius watched her (whilst obviously making it seem like he very definitely wasn’t).

“What was that about?” Albus asked Scorpius, bewildered.

Scorpius shrugged. “Beats me.”

The three of them had a surprise when they finally got back to Hogwarts. On the notice board was a sign saying that sixth years would be learning how to Apparate and Disapparate, first lesson the Tuesday afterwards.

“Can you imagine how useful that would be?” Rose said excitedly when she caught up with the boys after breakfast. “Being able to go just about anywhere in the world, whenever you want to. Muggles have it so hard; I mean… they can’t even fly on broomsticks! Their machines are all so clumsy.”

Scorpius turned the page in his textbook, letting Rose chatter a bit longer (not even realising that he and Albus weren’t listening). He knew what Apparating felt like, and was actually dreading the lesson.

And by the time the lesson finished, Rose was, of course, the only one who managed to move at all.

Easter came and passed with Scorpius gaining confidence at flying. By the end of the Easter holidays he was racing Rose around the school grounds and he even beat her once (though he was still thinking that she let him to make him feel better), but all the confidence in the world didn’t prepare him for when she threw a Quaffle in his direction.

He batted it back immediately. “Oh, no. I’m not going to be playing Quidditch, Rose. All I want is to fly.”

“It would really help me out,” she said, flying closer and putting her hand on his arm. Which was really unfair. He couldn’t bear to disappoint her.

“Fine. But you owe me big.”

She kissed his cheek, so quickly that Scorpius didn’t realise what was happening. “Thanks, Scorpi! You won’t regret it,” she said. She flew about eight feet away and threw the Quaffle back to him. “Just throw it back and forth for a bit.”

Scorpius wasn’t sure if he could even stay on his broom after what she’d just done, but he threw it in her direction. She caught it easily.

“I was right, huh?” she said after about half-an-hour. They dropped down to the ground.

“Halfway,” Scorpius admitted.

She grinned. “Sure, sure. You just keep on telling yourself that.”

Scorpius decided to stay with his parents over the summer holidays instead of going to the Burrow or the Potter’s household that year, although he regretted it within the first week.

Granted, if his grandparents hadn’t come he wouldn’t have regretted it half as much – his parents had accepted long ago that he was friends with Albus and Rose – but his grandparents were an entirely different story. He got the nasty surprise when he overheard his dad instructing the various houselves (all much better treated than they had been before, he might add) to cook fried dragon hearts and powdered unicorn horns for dinner.

“Grandfather’s coming?” he choked. The monstrosity was Lucius Malfoy’s favourite.

His dad gave him an apologetic look. “He hasn’t seen you in months, Scorpius.”

“I know! Because whenever we do see him, he insults the Potters and the Weasleys!”

Pause. “You could invite them--”

“No.”

His dad grimaced. “Fine. But it would shut him up.”

“I’m not having him insulting them. As soon as he starts, I’ll leave.”

“No, Scorpius. You’re staying here. You can invite Albus and Rose round, but you aren’t leaving.”

“Why not?”

“Because we hardly ever see you! All your mother and I want is to see you during the holidays, but you’re always in another house!”

Scorpius looked away furiously. “Fine,” he said curtly. “I’ll invite them round at some point.”

“Preferably when my parents are here.”

They exchanged a grin before parting ways.

~[*]~

Rose checked her reflection one more time before Albus smacked her across the head. “For goodness sake, it’s only Scorpius.”

“It’s only Scorpius and the Malfoy manor.”

“We’ve been there before!”

“I know, but not much. I always feel like I should be wearing a dress and looking perfect when I go there.”

“Scorpius won’t mind. He thinks you’re beautiful anyway.”

Rose gasped and whirled to look at him. Albus was standing with his eyes wide, hands pressed against his mouth. “What did you just say?” she choked out.

“You didn’t hear it from me,” he said, voice muffled by his hands.

“Who else would I have heard it from?”

“Just don’t say it was me!”

“Fine. But you’ll talk to me later, right?”

He nodded as his mother’s voice drifted down the stairs. “Albus! Stay right where you are!”

Albus blanched. “Let’s go.” He hurriedly started pushing Rose out of the door.

“Albus Severus Potter! You stay right there!”

Albus cursed under his breath, then turned to give his best smile to his mother. Rose crossed her arms and leaned against the door frame.

“I told you, Albus. If your room wasn’t clean, you couldn’t go to Scorpius’s,” she said, putting her hands on her hips.

“Aw, come on, mum. Just one wave of your wand…”

“No. You’re cleaning it.”

“But I won’t ever need to clean it by hand once I’m seventeen!”

“I don’t care. You’re cleaning it by hand.”

Rose started ducking out of the door, hearing Albus grumbling, “Yeah, thanks a lot for having me in August. That was poor planning on your part.” She chuckled as she got her wand out and Disapparated, right into the Malfoy’s driveway.

The manor always unnerved her. It was definitely beautiful - ornate and almost delicate in its hugeness - but cold. Not a home. So, as always, she was walking up to the manor front door with a slight sense of trepidation, and knocking on it timidly.

As always, the massive door was opened by one of the houselves, who bowed and squeaked a greeting before leading her to the living room.

The posh living room. Even compared to the rest of the manor.

And she knew exactly why Scorpius had invited her. That evil bastard.

She very nearly turned and ran, but the houself opened the mahogany door and introduced her as she forced herself to step over the threshold. And, obviously, there were the senior Malfoys. Scopius’s grandparents who came maybe once a year.

His grandmother was fine. An angel, in fact, compared to Lucius, who was right now watching her distastefully (not even thinking of hiding his perusal) as if she’d been brought in on the sole of someone’s shoe.

She fought the urge to curtsey (which would have just been embarrassing) and smiled at them instead, wishing she’d gone with her instincts and worn a dress instead. “Mr Malfoy. Mrs--”

She was interrupted - rather rudely - when Scorpius shot up to her like a cork out of a champagne bottle and kissed her full on the lips. It was quick, granted, but silenced her completely and quite effectively. When he pulled away, she blinked and stepped back uncertainly, hearing Albus’s voice in her head; “He thinks you’re beautiful anyway.”

“Albus isn’t here?” Scorpius said, perfectly innocently.

She shook her head, not trusting herself to speak and shot a glance behind him at the humoured expressions of his parents, the shock belonging to his grandmother, and the disgust belonging to his grandfather. Then it clicked.

“Um, Scorpius, I have something to discuss with you. Do you mind if we talk in the kitchen?”

“I thought you might,” he muttered, smiling sheepishly.

“Excuse us,” she said to the others in the room before grabbing Scorpius’s arm and dragging him forcibly to the kitchen. “Are you freaking kidding me?” she raged - quietly - when they were there.

“I know. I’m sorry. I can explain--”

“Using me to make your grandfather uncomfortable? I don’t want to be used like that!”

He paused. “You got that?”

“Of course I did! I’m not an idiot!”

He laughed. “Apparently not.”

Rose buried her face in her hands. “You’re impossible, Scorpius. I’m going home.”

“No!” he said, catching her wrist. “Don’t go. You can’t leave me alone with them.”

“I think you deserve it.”

“That may be, but come on, Rosie. It’s just one day.”

“Why would you even want to lie to your grandparents?”

“Because they’re prejudiced. And I want to show them that I won’t be influenced by their archaic beliefs.”

“You know what--” She was cut off - again - when he kissed her - yet again. Her body took over, and she almost reached up to pull him closer, but just about checked herself and pushed him back. “No. No… kissing. That’s just too weird.”

He smirked and touched her cheek. “Really, Rosie?”

She stepped back. “Really, Scorpi.”

He grinned. “But you’ll still go along with it, right?”

She sighed. “Sure. But you’ll owe me.”

His grandfather looked almost grief-stricken when they went back into the living room. Meanwhile, Rose was trying her best to concentrate when Scorpius was sitting so close with an arm around her shoulder. Really, getting distracted when it was merely a tactic to annoy his grandfather was stupid. Might even get crowned the most stupid feeling she’d had all year.

But, towards the end of the day, she started enjoying herself. Really, Lucius’s expression was pretty funny, and Rose had wondered for a while what it would be like to be Scorpius’s girlfriend.

And he definitely wasn’t a bad kisser. She was sure of that now that she wasn’t half-asleep. So - just to keep up appearances, mind - when it was time for her to go, she kissed Scorpius herself. It wasn’t as if she could let him have all the power, right?

He looked a bit shell-shocked when she pulled away. She winked before leaving, but she knew that everything that had happened would play havoc on her heart.

~[*]~

Scorpius’s grandfather still had the sour expression on his face when Scorpius sat back down. Scorpius and his father exchanged an amused expression, whilst his mother observed the ceiling with a long-suffering look in her eye.

“Draco…”

“What now, father?”

Lucius shot Scorpius a distasteful look. “After everything that happened to us… because of that girl’s family--”

“Here it comes,” Scorpius muttered.

“If Scorpius is happy, then I’m fine with whatever he chooses,” his father said.

“Still…”

“He’s happier than I was at his age.”

Scorpius rolled his eyes before bolting to his room. Really… couldn’t have a better family than the Malfoys, that was for sure.

He and Rose didn’t see each other until they met in Diagon Alley about a week before term started. His father left after a short, painfully polite greeting, but his mother stayed a bit longer (she was trying a lot harder to be on good terms with Rose and Albus’s families). He smirked when he saw Rose, and instead she set her jaw and glared at him. “I hope you know how tempted I am to hex you,” she muttered once he caught up to them.

“That’s not very nice, Rosie.”

She batted his arm, so he very obviously turned his back to her and started talking with Albus.

“She’s gone with her mum,” Albus said after a short moment. “Seriously, what happened when she went round yours?”

“What has she said?”

“That’s just it. She said nothing. Just locked herself in her room and refused to come out. Well, until the owls came and told her that she’d been made Head Girl and Quidditch Captain--”

“What?”

“Head Girl and Quidditch Captain.”

Scorpius groaned and slapped his palm to his forehead. “And I’ve been made Head Boy.”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah. My parents were pleased.”

Albus burst out laughing. “Oh, that’ll be fun; sharing a common room. I mean, sure you’re best friends, but having to live together for an entire year… Kind of makes you dream about the old days when there was nothing to think about, huh?”

Scorpius rolled his eyes. “I’m just going to go kill myself or something.”

“Okay,” Albus replied distractedly, watching a group of sixth year girls standing by Florish and Botts. “Hey, do you think one of those girls would want to date the son of the Chosen One and Slytherin’s Quidditch Captain?”

Scorpius turned to look at them. “Um… sure. You go ahead; I’ll just catch up with Rose.” Albus nodded as he left in the direction of the group.

“Hey, heard you got made Head Girl,” Scorpius said with a grin as he caught up to her.

Rose nodded, ducking into a shop and looking through the quills.

“Rose!”

She sighed and turned to him, an eagle feather quill in her hand. “Yes?” she said patiently.

He rolled his eyes. “I got made Head Boy.”

Her mouth dropped open and the quill fell through her fingers to the ground. “What? Are you freaking kidding me?”

Scorpius raised his eyebrows and shook his head.

“I have to live with you now?” she frowned into the distance and shrugged. “Could be worse.”

“Flattering.”

She grinned. “I’m sorry. It’ll be fun.”

Rose jumped when Albus came almost careening round the corner and ducked behind Scorpius. “Hide me. Please just hide me.”

“What happened?” Rose said.

“Keep a look-out, Rose. I made the biggest fool of myself.”

Rose smirked. “What, did you do your whole son of the Chosen One thing? I told you that doesn’t work.”

“Well, you weren’t there to tell me that! Scorpius is useless!”

“Hey!”

“No offense… but Rose tells me what to do when it comes to girls.”

“What? It’s not as if I have no experience,” Scorpius said indignantly.

Rose coughed and bent down to pick up the quill she’d dropped. Albus rolled his eyes.

~[*]~

Albus seemed slightly annoyed when Scorpius and Rose had to go to the Prefects’ carriage for their duties. And, predictably the girls almost swooned when Scorpius was in. Rose shot a glance to him, seeing him through their eyes. Of course, he was naturally handsome, but something about the way he carried himself, the slight smirk which was always playing around his lips made him charismatic. The combination was pretty deadly.

“What exactly are we doing here?” Scorpius muttered out of the corner of his mouth.

Rose elbowed him. “Organising when they’re doing their patrols.”

He shrugged. “I think you should talk to them.”

And so Rose did. She supposed that none of them actually paid attention to her (the boys were glaring at Scorpius in jealousy and the girls were gazing at him in adoration), but that probably wasn’t her fault.

Rose laughed when they finally got out and rolled her eyes. “What?” Scorpius asked.

“Those girls. Didn’t you see how they were looking at you? I thought they were going to faint.”

Scorpius put an arm around her shoulder. “Yeah. I saw. I ignore it now.”

“Poor Albus. He just wants one girl… and you have a whole herd.”

They reached the carriage Albus was in (glaring at Pye) and slid the door open. Albus looked at Scorpius - whose arm was still around Rose’s shoulders - with a frown, then said, “How was the meeting?”

“Pretty good,” Scorpius said. He collapsed onto the seat next to Albus and Rose sat opposite them, letting Pye come onto her lap. “I’m sure the Prefects will do exactly as we say.”

“Yes, they’ll listen to him avidly. At least, the girls will.”

“And the boys will listen to you avidly.”

“They’re too busy glaring at you because they’re so jealous.”

“We’ve worked it all out, see.”

Albus rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I know. I’m the ugly friend.”

Rose pulled a face at him.

If there was one thing she was dreading about her final year at Hogwarts, it was the fact that she would be actually living with Scorpius. It didn’t really click in her mind until they’d had another talk with the Prefects and made their way to the Head’s common room.

It was better furnished than the other common rooms; smaller with less, but very obviously more expensive furniture. There were fires roaring in the three fireplaces and an empty bookshelf.

“It’s literally like our own home,” Scorpius remarked.

Rose grinned. “I think that was the general idea,” she said.

The next big thing was Rose’s first meet with the candidates for the Quidditch team. By the time the first game rolled around, Rose was confident. It was fantastic; there was a new Seeker - a third year who was very agile called Elsie - and two new Chasers - Robert Bell and Rose’s cousin Lily. Rose was surprised just how good she was.

Scorpius gave her a good luck hug the morning of the game (causing her heart to attempt to jump out of her chest. She pretty much would never get over the slight crush on him), and it started off like any other. Rose shook hands with Albus, smirking when he pulled a face at her. They kicked off and Rose flew closer to the goalposts.

The first few saves were simple and Gryffindor wracked up the scores to forty. Rose let a more difficult save in, and it started going a bit wrong after that.

Impossibly wrong.

The quaffle was just out of her reach, and the broom twisted as she tried to dive for it, refusing to let another quaffle through. And then she was falling, the ground rushing up to meet her. She curled up protectively, and all the breath was forced out of her at the impact. She heard a crack, resounding, seeming to fill the entire stadium. She didn’t feel anything for what seemed like hours, until Albus appeared next to her, touching her shoulder.

That was when she felt the pain. The unbearable pain, as if she was being crammed into a hole filled with spikes. She whimpered and the hand receded. “I’m sorry!” Albus said.

A couple other people came, and all was dark until she was suddenly in a soft, warm bed, Lily, Albus and Scorpius around her. The pain was still there - by God was it still there - but then Scorpius was brushing her hair back, and every stroke seemed to pull away a miniscule portion of the pain.

“How are you feeling?” Lily asked, taking her hand.

Rose grimaced. “Like hell.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” Madame Pomfrey said, appearing at the foot of her bed. “It was a close call. The bones in your right arm and shoulder are shattered, and so is your ankle. It’ll take a couple of days to fully heal.”

Rose groaned. “But I have things to do!”

“You’ll wait,” Scorpius said firmly.

They exchanged a long glance before Rose nodded.

~[*]~

True to Madame Pomfrey’s word, Rose was healed in two days, and fully active within the week. Scorpius was relieved; the way she’d been going on about Quidditch as if she might die if she didn’t manage to play almost tempted Scorpius to lock her outside for a few hours. She got a massive pile of sympathy letters from various family members and friends (even, to Scorpius’s shock, one from his parents), and spent most of her time practicing various spells when she would have been practicing for Quidditch. Some of the spells happened to need a human guinea pig.

Or so she said.

The three of them decided to spend Christmas at Hogwarts. Scorpius thought it was going to be completely normal and harmless, but Albus decided to try something a bit different.

“I’ve got firewhisky,” he said proudly when he came to Rose and Scorpius’s common room a couple of days before Christmas.

Rose blinked and looked up from her book. He had two bottles in his hands and was grinning happily. “Do you want me to confiscate them or what?”

He rolled his eyes. “Of course not. It’s just that we’ve never gotten drunk or done anything that teenagers should do to… develop… a rounded personality…” he trailed off, frowning.

“Well said. But can’t we just teepee the Great Hall or something?” Scorpius said.

Albus shook his head. “I bought the firewhisky. We’re gonna get drunk.”

Scorpius shrugged as Rose turned away. “I’m not joining in.”

“Aw, Rose, come on…”

“I’m not an idiot, unlike you two.”

Scorpius grinned. “What, are you too scared?”

“Intelligent, more like.”

“She’s scared,” Albus muttered to Scorpius.

“Yeah, too scared that she wouldn’t be able to resist me if she was drunk,” Scorpius said back to him. Albus chortled when Rose span round to glare at them.

“Why should I?”

“You owe yourself a bit of fun,” Scorpius said, smirking. He took one of the bottles from Albus and held it out to her.

She looked away furiously. Scorpius could see the indecision and knew that it would work. She was tempted. And he was curious; he wanted to know how she would act when she was drunk.

“Fine. I’ll have a bit.”

She had more than just a bit, and Scorpius was surprised to discover that she was a bit more… flirty when she was drunk. She’d let her hair down and it was falling around her shoulders in curls. She was beautiful.

Which, of course, was mostly the drink talking. Sure, he knew she was attractive, but he was noticing it quite a bit more now. Just the drink.

She leaned on his arm as Albus held his hands up. “I have an idea!” he proclaimed.

“Shoot,” Scorpius said.

“Coins,” Albus muttered. He stood up, holding onto the arm of the sofa when he started swaying alarmingly. He got a jar of Knuts and Sickles from the bookshelf and gave a handful to both Rose and Scorpius. “Right, you have to be completely truthful. You ask me about something I’ve done and I have to put a coin in the middle for each time I’ve done it.” Or at least, that was the general gist of what he was saying. “Ask me something.”

Rose and Scorpius exchanged a glance and Rose shrugged. “I… okay… how many girlfriends have you really had?” Scorpius said.

“That’s not fair, Scorpi. There aren’t any coins in the middle for him to take,” Rose said, her face earnest, but she burst out laughing when Albus threw a cushion at her. He missed by a couple of feet.

“I have not had negative girlfriends,” he grumbled. He threw in three coins and looked at Rose smugly. “More than you.”

“Yes. You’ve had more girlfriends than me,” Rose said. She rolled her eyes. “That’s quite an achievement, Al.” She turned to give Scorpius a sardonic, rather smouldering look.

Scorpius noticed Albus frowning at him, then looking at Rose. Something about his expression made him feel guilty. He slid away from Rose. She ducked her head down, a faint blush on her cheeks.

“Scorp!” Albus exclaimed. Scorpius jumped and smiled sheepishly. “How many times have you been asked out by a girl?”

“How rubbish is that?” Rose muttered.

“It’s embarrassing for a guy to be asked out by a girl.”

“How sexist is that?” she said, louder.

Albus shrugged and looked expectantly at Scorpius, who grimaced and threw two coins into the middle.

“Huh. Not as many as I thought. You should have asked how many girls have fallen off their chair when he walks through the door. That would have been more interesting,” Rose said, laughing.

“And Rose,” Albus said, turning to her.

“Hey! Isn’t it my go to ask her?” Scorpius said indignantly.

“No. I’m asking her,” Albus retorted, sticking his tongue out. He gave Rose a piercing gaze and she quieted. “How many times have you and Scorp kissed?”

She shifted uncomfortably and shot a glance at Scorpius, who looked away from Albus’s accusing gaze. “I really don’t know whether…”

“Put the coins in the middle,” Albus said.

“Is this why…?”

“I brought the firewhisky? Kind of. I want to know where the two of you stand.”

Rose put the four coins in the middle one by one, and Scorpius could almost feel what each coin signified play out in his head. He missed it. Dammit, he missed her.

He looked towards Rose, and finally she met his eyes. She was blushing deeply now, the drunkenness forgotten.

“So where do you stand?”

The voice rattled around in their comforting little world, and Scorpius felt a stab of cold when Rose turned back to Albus and shrugged. “We’re friends,” she said firmly.

Albus dropped off, fast asleep and sprawled out on the floor only a couple of minutes afterwards. Rose stumbled to her feet, and Scorpius automatically held her arm to steady her. “Don’t,” she said, her lip twisting slightly.

“What?”

“I just don’t… trust you.”

Scorpius blinked and stepped away from her. “What are you talking about?”

“Don’t play with me, okay? You pull me along, and expect me to keep up, and understand… and…” she threw her arms up in exasperation.

“You realise that you’re making no sense at all?”

“I thought I understood you. That’s all.”

“And I kind of wish I could understand you.”

Her nose wrinkled as she glared at him. “That doesn’t matter. I’ve never kept anything from you.”

“I don’t believe that.”

She came closer to him, until she was only a couple of centimetres away. He was still disoriented; he wanted to pull her even closer. Her eyes were bright, completely focussed. She seemed a great deal more aware than him. To be perfectly honest, Scorpius had no idea what was happening. “I’ve never lied to you,” she vowed. Something about the utter sincerity in her eyes made him trust her.

Maybe he should have focussed on that instead of on her lips.

She jumped when he kissed her and stayed perfectly still, but when he insisted she twined her fingers in his hair.

He didn’t fully realise how much he… loved her until she was with him like this.

Love.

Huh. What would he have thought if he knew he would have fallen in love with his best friend? That first day on the train, when his father had told him that the Weasleys and Potters were people he should respect? Would he have believed that he would have fallen in love with Rose Weasley?

She pulled away after a couple of minutes, biting her lip and refusing to talk. Scorpius watched her leave to her dormitory.

~[*]~

Rose had never felt as bad as when she woke up on Christmas morning.

For some unknown reason, the curtains were open and sunlight was stabbing her eyes like hot knives. She closed her eyes tightly, but the light still passed through her eyelids, staining them red. It was very nearly almost as painful than when they were open.

What exactly had happened…?

Oh.

Right.

Albus.

That little prat.

It was his fault after all. Of course, he pressured her. Scorpius may have too, but she didn’t remember that as clearly. Anyway, Albus had brought the firewhisky. Albus had forced her to drink it. It was completely his fault, and she would blame him until the day she died.

Which may have been a bit drastic, but Rose felt like death could come any minute.

She pulled the duvet over her head and put her hands over her eyes. It wasn’t as painful that way. But of course it couldn’t last. No; that would mean that she actually had a good life, and God forbid that she should ever have a good life.

The duvet was pulled off her to reveal Scorpius smirking.

“It’s Christmas,” he said expectantly.

Rose frowned at him, shielding her eyes the best she could from the light. “What?”

“It’s Christmas,” he repeated.

“I know,” she muttered, pulling the duvet back up and propping herself up on her elbows. “How come you aren’t dying like I am? I mean, you did drink, didn’t you?” She frowned at him. “I remember literally nothing of last night but I’m sure you were drinking as well.”

Scorpius’s smile became a bit fixed. He sat down next to her. “Nothing?” he asked.

“Not much, at least. Albus came in with the firewhisky. Things get blurry after that.”

“Seriously?” he looked away, his brow furrowing. “You really can’t hold your drink, huh?”

“Better I find out now. I’m never going to get drunk again. I give you permission to slap me if you ever find me with an alcoholic drink in my hands.”

He smiled and ruffled her hair. “I’ll hold you to that,” he said before getting up. “I can go get you a cup of tea if you like.”

“That would be great,” she mumbled, pulling the duvet over her head again.

Needless to say, that Christmas was the worst of Rose’s existence. It wasn’t difficult; she spent the entire day wishing that she could die and sipping mugs of tea that Scorpius brought her, whilst sort of getting some memory back. She had some feeling that she’d made a fool of herself… but what about?

At eight she staggered down to the common room, where Albus was sprawled out on the floor snoring. Scorpius was sitting near the fireplace holding his head.

Something about that scene was sticking in her head, trying to pull fragments into the open. She frowned at Albus, positive he hadn’t moved since the night before. But what exactly had happened?

“How many times have you and Scorp kissed?”

Oh, for the love of… It was Albus. Everything was Albus’s fault. The balance she had with Scorpius was delicate; it wouldn’t take much to push them over one side or the other. And Rose was finding it perfectly comfortable walking the tightrope.

Well, maybe that wasn’t entirely true. But she was happy. Ish.

She sat next to him, massaging her temples. They had stopped the piercing, burning pain and had now ebbed into a slow ache.

“Are you feeling better?” Scorpius asked her.

Rose nodded. “You don’t look too good, though,” she answered. It was true. He was paler than usual; his skin had a greyish tinge to it.

“Just tired,” he muttered.

Rose fell asleep sometime after that, leaning her head onto his shoulder. He dropped off too.

She woke up earlier the next morning, feeling strangely refreshed (even though she’d just spent the night on the floor). Albus must have left sometime during the night and Rose supposed it was near to breakfast.

She should have known that everything would explode in her face.

Her and Scorpius left their dorm (she was still in her pyjamas) to have breakfast maybe an hour later, and as, of course, Rose’s life had to be filled with calamity, they saw Professor McGonagall soon after they ran into Albus, and she looked furious.

“You three… come with me,” she said.

They shot glances at each other before following her to the Head’s office. She barked out, “Patefio,” and the gargoyles let them pass. They felt self-conscious as they followed her into the office; the portraits all seemed to be awake and watchful.

“Do these remind you of anything?” she said, after glaring at them for a moment. She slid two firewhisky bottles across the table towards them. “The houselves keep me aware of what goes on around here.”

Rose bit her lip and ducked her head down.

“We have stripped Head Girls and Boys of their titles for less than this.”

Still, she said nothing.

McGonagall paused. “But we won’t be doing that with you two,” she finally said.

Relief stabbed through Rose and she took hold of Scorpius’s hand tightly.

“You will be punished. Detention every day for two weeks once term starts and I’ll be writing to your parents--”

“No!” Albus shouted.

McGonagall raised an eyebrow at him. “I beg your pardon?”

Albus cringed. “My mother scares me,” he muttered.

Scorpius gave a short laugh. “Well, when she’s an ex-Death Eater you can complain about that.”

Albus grimaced as McGonagall continued firmly. “I will be writing to your parents. And I’ll tell you what you will spend your detentions doing in Transfiguration on Monday. Leave.”

They left readily.

Sure enough, the punishment was horrible and mind-numbingly boring. Cleaning. Every trophy in the trophy room. Rose would have thought that the Howler her parents sent her would be enough (at least the owl got a bit confused and delivered it when she was in her dorm instead of in the Great Hall), but of course not. So there she was with Scorpius and Albus, having been given some polish that smelt of sulphur and some rags stained grey and brown from the dirt. She rubbed a bit at some Quidditch trophy before sending an SOS look to Scorpius. He merely grinned and started cleaning, as did Albus (though he was grumbling under his breath the entire time, now and then shouting something abusive towards Rose and Scorpius. Rose wasn’t entirely sure why).

“Seriously, Albus, stop being such an idiot,” Rose finally shouted when his death glares reached a new level.

“Why didn’t you get rid of the bottles yourselves?” he said.

“I, for one, don’t remember anything of what happened that night,” Rose said.

“And I was too busy thinking,” Scorpius added. “I’ve found a Potter award!” he suddenly said. His head popped over a cabinet with trophies from the nineteenth century, a large shield-shaped award in his hand. “For special services to the school. 1993.”

“That would have been his second year,” Albus said, picking up a small cup which had fallen to the floor. “The Chamber of Secrets, according to him. He killed a basilisk.”

Scorpius raised his eyebrows. “Okay. How come we haven’t done anything like that?”

“If you want to go find some basilisk to kill, be my guest,” Rose said.

Scorpius disappeared again, after several minutes shouted; “Your dad got one too, Rose!”

“Really?” Rose walked around to see it. “He actually didn’t tell me that. He just talks about being put on a Chocolate Frog card. All the time.” She rolled her eyes.

“There’s Tom Riddle too. Wasn’t that Voldemort?”

“Yeah…” Rose said, picking it up.

Scorpius moved onto the next section of the cabinet. “Inquisitorial Squad…” he said. “Well, at least my dad got something.”

Rose shrugged and patted his arm.

~[*]~

Coming back to school after Easter was a reality check. This was it; their final term at Hogwarts. Scorpius knew that Rose was buckling down; she had that steely look in her eyes that meant that nobody would be able to drag her away from her final destination (acing all of her exams, of course). Even the promise of the end-of-school ball, which was driving all the other girls crazy, was not enough to distract her.

Well, apart from that one time in the beginning.

Professor McGonagall asked all the seventh year students to come to the Great Hall one Saturday afternoon. Scorpius took advantage of the situation and sat next to Rose. Albus joined them a few minutes later.

“What do you think this is about?” he asked.

“I say Slytherin did something bad,” Rose said. Albus smirked.

“Well, sure. But there’s no way she would have found out.”

McGonagall started speaking then, and Scorpius couldn’t help smirking at Rose’s disgusted expression when she learned about the ball. She was still reeling as they filed out and went outside. “Can you believe that? It’s ridiculous; I would much rather be revising than worrying about my hair or a stupid dress or whether any boys will ask me.”

“Ask you what?” Scorpius said.

Rose rolled her eyes and exchanged a glance with Albus. “Whether I’ll go with them.”

“It’s a date thing?”

“Well, yeah. It’s a ball, Scorpi.”

“Oh, for the love of…” he glared. Now he was worrying. He was already harassed by girls enough (which wasn’t always as fun as it sounded), he could only imagine how the frenzy would build when there was the possibility of being asked to the ball. Rose was right, it was…

He paused.

Rose.

“Why don’t you go with me, then?”

“Huh?” Rose asked, frowning.

“We’ll go as friends,” he corrected hastily. “Then I won’t be harassed, and you have one less thing to worry about.”

“Hey, what about me? I’ll be harassed too!” Albus interjected.

“You can’t go with your cousin, Al.”

“I know,” he grumbled. “It’s difficult to find dates when half the school is made up of your family.”

Rose grinned at Albus before nodding. “Okay, Scorpi. It’s a good idea.”

And she looked relieved. Which kind of made Scorpius’s heart melt.

~[*]~

Rose felt that she could relax after Scorpius asked her to the ball. She was secure – going with someone she could trust – whilst the rest of the girls were going crazy. A few of her classmates even came up to her to ask her whether Scorpius was going with anyone. (She just shrugged and said, “He mentioned something.”)

Although, it was worse when one of the guys from her Potions class, Ethan, asked whether she was free to go to the ball with him. She felt Scorpius jerk next to her and looked down. “I’m already going with someone,” she said meekly.

Ethan shot a glance at Scorpius and his eyes widened in understanding.

By the next day, everyone in school knew that Rose Weasley was going to the ball with none other than Scorpius Malfoy. And everything went downhill from there.

Lily was the first stage. She came up to Rose’s dorm one Saturday morning and jumped on her bed until she was forced to wake up.

“What…?” Rose said. She sat up and glared at Lily, who was now sitting innocently at the foot of the bed. “How the hell did you get in?”

“Is it true?”

“Is what true?” Rose asked. She shivered and pulled the duvet closer to her. “How did you get in?” she repeated.

“Scorpi told me the password,” she said impatiently, waving her hand dismissively. “ And that you’re going with Scorpi to the ball!”

Rose sighed and said that, yes, she was indeed going to the ball with Scorpius.

Lily grinned. “That’s adorable! How did he ask you?”

“He asked whether we wanted to go as friends. That’s all.”

“Oh.” Lily said, pouting. “It’s a pity. You know, I was thinking…”

“Oh no.”

“Oh yes. I could maybe… you know… to help things along and stuff…” She beamed at Rose, widening her brown eyes. “Help you get ready?”

Rose watched her for a second. “Only if you get out of my dorm and let me sleep.”

She beamed again and jumped forwards, kissing Rose on the cheek before bounding out of the door.

“Well, that was a stupid thing to do,” Rose muttered to herself. Letting Lily help her get ready should set off the same kind of alarm bells as letting the Grinch organise Christmas. Before long, Rose was pretty sure she would be tempted to jump into the lake.

And she was pretty sure nothing could be worse when she looked at herself in the mirror about half-an-hour before Scorpius was due to collect her.

“You have got to be kidding me.”

Lily rolled her eyes. “Trust me.”

“After this?”

“Yes! You look amazing, Rose.”

Rose didn’t agree. The dress was blue, which was fine, but it was a dress, which was not fine (she’d hoped that she could make a statement and go in jeans and a sweatshirt, but Lily had reminded her of her promise). And the shoes. Urgh. High heel. Not so high as to cause her to fall, but high enough that the ground looked quite a bit further away than before. The makeup was understated, which was a relief, and her hair was loose, which was okay.

Just… the dress. The shoes. Such a pain.

“I’m gonna go jump in the lake before anyone sees me,” Rose muttered.

“Okay. Have fun,” Lily retorted. They glared at each other for a while before laughing. “Go downstairs. Scorpi will be waiting for you.”

She had to admit, Scorpius’s face did almost make it worthwhile. He was in his dress robes (so unfair; why didn’t the boys wear dresses?) and had even managed to halfway tame the unruly strands of his hair

He looked pretty nice. Which was pretty distracting, really. He was quiet too, hardly talking to her at all, until about an hour in when she groaned and glared at him. “Seriously, what is wrong? I know I look like an idiot, but that can’t be everything!”

Scorpius had a slight panicked look on his face and refused to meet her eyes. “You don’t look… I mean… it’s just that… urgh.” He sighed. “You look beautiful, Rose. Believe me, you do,” he finally managed to say in a low voice.

Rose blushed and looked away from him. Why was it that as soon as they were dressed nicely, they couldn’t even talk to each other normally? It was ridiculous!

“It’s just that it’s kind of… different to see you like this.” He took a deep breath and took hold of her hand. “Rose--”

“What do you think about this, eh!” Albus suddenly shouted. He sat down in the middle of them and put his arms around their shoulders. “Everything’s over. You two are going away to work for the ministry and I’m… trying not to become destitute. Thank goodness for a massive family I can sponge off of,” he grinned at them both, before frowning. “What exactly were you two talking about?”

“Nothing,” Rose said, laughing airily. “Nothing of consequence.”

Albus puffed out his cheeks and shuffled on the seat, wringing his hands together. “Have you danced yet?” he asked meekly, looking at them innocently.

Rose shook her head. “Scorpi is being a bit of a jackass today,” she said, looking at him meaningfully.

A faint blush coloured his cheeks. “Sorry. Do you want to dance?”

“No,” she retorted.

He rolled his eyes and dragged her to her feet anyway. Rose laughed and let him lead her forward.

It was fun. Almost the perfect ending to her entire school career (it would have absolutely perfect had she been able to control her feelings). It was difficult; being in love with her best friend and not knowing whether he did or didn’t return those feelings. All she knew was that she couldn’t allow those feelings to cloud her judgment and risk their friendship. Stupid etiquette.

But something about him relaxed when they were dancing. She could see how it was before it got complicated, best friends, no more, no less. There was nothing wrong with that. How could there be? Friendship was pure and sweet and easy.

Rose blamed his looks. It may be shallow, but she honestly believed that had he not looked… the way he did… nothing would be different. They would have come together to the dance, it would have been easy. No invisible strings attached or rules that governed her.

The night drew to a close, sending echoing pangs of fear and almost… regret. Fear, she could easily decipher; he school career was over – this was it. But regret? For what? She couldn’t regret not acting on her feelings; that was complete idiocy.

They were the last ones in the Great Hall (of course, being Head Boy and Girl, they couldn’t be allowed to have any kind of unadulterated fun, so they had to help clean up. Personally, Rose thought the houselves should have cleaned it up. It was quite ironic, really, that it was her mother’s progressions in laws about equality that stuck her here right now. Seriously; even with wands it took a good ten minutes). Scorpius was quiet again, but when they finished and she turned to the door, he caught hold of her wrist to keep her there.

She shot him a questioning glance. He merely shrugged and said, “I suppose I don’t really want it to end,” with a slight laugh.

“I know how you feel,” she said, sitting down on one of the chairs. He joined her on the one next to her. “Are you dreading working for the Ministry too?”

He sighed. “Yeah. It was difficult to get into it, though. My dad had to pull quite a few strings.”

“I wonder which of us will have it harder; the son of an ex-Death Eater or the daughter of two of the Golden Trio.”

Scorpius smirked. “I’d rather be underestimated. I doubt many of them will trust me, though. Even with your uncle vouching for me.”

Rose pulled up her legs to rest her chin on her knees. “I can’t believe it’s over,” she said in wonder.

He didn’t respond other than a sad look in her direction. But after a minute or so he seemed to gain in spirits again. “Shall we dance? Just one last time.” His small smile was so beautiful Rose couldn’t have said no even if she’d wanted to.

And it seemed different that time. Maybe because they were alone, maybe because something between them had shifted; as it did every time he allowed her a look at his true self. But the reason for the shift wasn’t important; it was never important.

And when he finally kissed her, she knew that it was the one that would change everything between them. She knew that had she acted on her feelings, it may not have been right, might have blown up in her face, but everything in her was rejoicing that he took that first step.

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