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Chapter 6: Rose Thorns and Pigeon Holes
Rose continued to stare at the piece of paper. She quickly cast a glance at Albus from the corner of her eye and noticed that he was trying to read the words in the letter in her hands. She quickly folded it in half and stowed it in her bag, shooting Albus a furtive look.
“Who’s that from?” Albus mouthed.
Rose just shrugged.
Her thoughts were racing through her head. She wanted to turn in her seat and look at Scorpius’s face and see the expression there, but she didn’t dare to incase Albus’s eyes traveled to where she was looking. She let a big gust of air out of her lungs when she realized she was holding her breath. She didn’t know whether to talk to Scorpius after class or not. She was, at times, a self-righteous person and knew she should still be mad about what happened. But she also knew that Scorpius would feel awful about her landing in detention. What she didn’t know is whether Scorpius would talk about what had happened the night before. She guessed that he was a fairly private person, what with not even mentioning his sisters before, and she did not know whether she even wanted to have that conversation. She was tired and annoyed and wanted nothing more than to sleep. This whole situation was getting out of hand.
Scorpius didn’t know what to expect when he had sent the letter magically fluttering to sit on Rose’s desk. Did he expect her to turn around and send him a reassuring smile? Did he expect her to send him a note back? He hadn’t a single clue. But what he did realize was that he didn’t expect her not to do anything but continue to stare at the board in front of her. He felt his heart drop at her lack of response. He couldn’t sleep all of last night. After he had dragged Aria to her room and stalked over to his own dorm, seething at the idiocy of his sister, his mind quickly wandered to thoughts of Rose and how he had treated her. He felt like utter shit, to put it lightly, and felt too guilty to go drift off to sleep. That whole day had been so amazing until Aria literally stumbled into the picture. He could only barely contain his temper whenever he got really mad and last night he had all but exploded.
“God damn it, Aria” he growled under his breath, snapping his quill in half. Splatters of ink flew in all directions and Esmeralda Finnigan jump in her seat next to him. He ignored her. Out of the corner of his eye he saw her slide a piece of paper to him. He looked down at it and sighed. What bit you in the ass today, mate? He smirked and shook his head. Esmeralda rolled her big green eyes and flipped her glossy black hair over her shoulder. As a Slytherin she was fairly conniving and intimidating, but Scorpius knew she was first and foremost a sweetheart. She was his first crush when he was a little boy and remembered the number of times he tried counting the freckles on her nose. He gave up after realizing it was impossible. Her twin brother Enzo, the Gryffindor in the family, was sitting in the row behind them. He was like a brother to Scorpius all of his life. Esmeralda and Enzo Finnigan were really close family friends to the Malfoys, and Scorpius had grown up with both of them. They were Pansy Parkinson Finnigan’s children. After Hogwarts Pansy had married Seamus Finnigan. Hence, the last name…
Meet me after class so we can talk. Esmeralda scribbled across the paper again.
There’s nothing to talk about. Scorpius wrote back. I’m fine.
Esmeralda shook her head in frustration. A rolled up piece of parchment hit Scorpius in the back of the head, and he turn in his seat to see who threw it. Enzo was grinning at him. Esmeralda uncrumpled the note and read it quickly, passing it to Scorpius.
What’s going on? I want to know, too.Scorpius had to stop himself from sighing from aggravation. He turned back to Enzo. “Nothing is going on,” he whispered.
Enzo smirked back at him. Scorpius narrowed his eyes and happily remembered all the times he had punched Enzo in the face as a child. The urge to do so again was pretty strong.
“Mr. Malfoy,” Professor Leonard began, “care to give it a go?”
Scorpius turned back toward the front of the class. He vaguely noticed the mess of auburn curls a few rows ahead of him. “Give what a go?”
Professor Leonard smiled good-naturedly. “The Patronus charm.”
Scorpius cleared his throat. He wasn’t paying the slightest bit of attention, but he knew the gist of the charm. It required happiness. That was something he had none of at the moment. Scorpius sighed and stood up when the professor motioned for him to get up and move to the front of the class. He slowly trudged to the front, anxious about standing up in front of Rose. He hadn’t seen anything but the back of her head since last night. Once he got to the front of the class he quickly looked her way. She was avoiding eye contact at all costs, yet Albus was glaring daggers at him, smirking slightly. It annoyed the shit out of Scorpius.
Scorpius raised his wand in front of him. Images of Rose being miserable for the past three weeks as she glanced at his and Lily’s intertwined hands, Rose’s pleading face as she tried to drag him from the library the night before, Rose stepping away from him every time someone walked past them, flashed before his eyes. “Expecto petronum…” Scorpius mumbled. Nothing happened.
Rose looked up expecting at least a small burst of light to emit from his wand. When not even the air stirred around him, she frowned. Scorpius was a fairly powerful wizard. Lack of magic was odd on his part.
Just then Scorpius glanced toward Rose, and their eyes locked. She gave him a curious look. Scorpius sighed and stowed his wand back in his pocket, turning to Professor Leonard. “I can’t do it,” Scorpius said. He walked to his seat, grabbed his bag, and walked out just as the bell rang.
“Did you see that?!” Albus laughed, walking alongside Rose. “He totally flaked!”
Rose wanted nothing more than to go to her dorm and pass out from exhaustion. The look on Scorpius’s face at the end of class kept playing over and over again in her mind. She was surprised her legs were still functioning properly. She’d never been so physically and emotionally exhausted before in her life.
“I can’t believe nothing came out of his wand. Not even a spark! Like not even a puff of smoke…wow he is a bigger loser than I thought he was.”
Rose groaned and ran her fingers through her hair. She was not in the mood to hear Albus bash Scorpius. On the stairwell that lead to the Gryffindor tower they ran into Lily.
“Have you seen Scorpius, Rose?”
Rose looked up at Lily, ready to snap. “No Lily I haven’t. He’s your boyfriend, remember?”
Lily blanched. “Right, sorry.”
Albus butt in, looking smug. “He actually walked out of class looking pretty mad. So, are you guys finally going to break up?”
Lily glanced cautiously at Rose. “No, Al, we’re actually great. I’m going to go get some lunch. Hopefully I’ll see Scorpius there. See you later,” she said, brushing past them.
Rose wanted to scream. She adjusted her bag on her shoulder and trudged back up the stairs. Al had to jog a little to keep up with her. He dismissed her anger for exhaustion, which it partially was, and kept silent. Once they reached the portrait of the fat lady, Rose grumbled the password and climbed through the hole. She continued her way to the girls dorm, threw her things on the floor and flung herself on the bed and fell asleep.
Downstairs in the Great Hall, Lily was scanning the Slytherin table for Scorpius. Out of the corner of her eye she saw him enter through the heavy oak doors. She wasn’t going to let him sit without her again. People were already beginning to talk about them breaking up, and she wasn’t having any of that. She stood up from the bench and waved. “Over here sweetie!”
Scorpius wanted to ignore Lily but knew he shouldn’t. He repressed a heavy sigh and walked over to her. Once he reached her she slid over in her seat and motioned for him to sit down. “I was just going to grab something quick to eat and head over to the library,” he said, low in her ear so that only she could hear.
Lily looked up at him and glanced around the table. All eyes were on them. She tugged on his arm so that he fell into the seat. “She’s not there,” Lily muttered, grabbing an extra plate and filling it for Scorpius.
Scorpius looked at her.
“She was heading to the Gryffindor tower last I saw her.”
Scorpius nodded and began picking at his food. He looked up in alarm when a stack of books hit the table in front of him with a loud smack. Albus stood there glaring down at them. Lily smiled sweetly, putting her arm around Scorpius and kissing him lightly on the cheek. Scorpius wanted to punch Albus in the face. Lily only ever physically touched him when Albus was around to prove that they were legitimately together. He didn’t want her touching him at all.
“Told you we’re not breaking up, Al,” Lily said, petting the side of Scorpius’s head. Scorpius resisted the urge to roll his eyes or smack her hand away. “Where’s Rose?”
“Sleeping,” Albus said simply.
“Is she going to come down and grab lunch?” Scorpius asked, alarmed. Both Lily and Albus looked at him. “I mean, she missed breakfast, didn’t she?”
Albus gave him a calculating look.
“That’s right,” Lily cut in. “She did. And now she’s missing lunch?”
“I guess,” Albus muttered, rolling his eyes. “What’s it to you, Malfoy?”
“Nothing,” Scorpius mumbled, pushing himself off of the bench. “I have homework to catch up on from yesterday. I have to go.”
He bent down to give Lily a peck on the cheek and was surprised when their lips collided. Scorpius pulled back, shocked, but tried not to show it. Lily only smiled sweetly at him and told him to have fun studying. Albus was glaring at the both of them.
When Scorpius pushed the doors open into the entrance hall, he slowly brought his hand up to his mouth. What the hell was that? he thought wildly. He could still feel Lily’s lips on his. He didn’t know whether the feeling was pleasant or not.
Scorpius burst through the entrance hall doors and out into the crisp afternoon air. He took a deep breath and the chilled wind filled his lungs and cleared his mind. It felt as though his world was crumbling beneath him. First Aria, then Rose, and now Lily? And what exactly was that all about? Scorpius ran both hands through his hair as he walked to his favorite tree that he had sat under with Rose before Lily ever entered his life. He hadn’t even known her before that day.
When he finally reached the willow, he lowered himself down and put his head in his hands. He was too overwhelmed. Nothing was going right. He just wanted to see Rose and be with her. He didn’t want last night to have ended the way it did with Aria being drunk and stupid and ruining everything. He leaned his head back hard against the tree trunk and sighed heavily.
“So what the hell is up your ass, mate?”
Scorpius practically jumped a foot in the air in surprise. He spun his head around and looked up at Enzo. “You scared the bloody shit out of me, Enz.”
Enzo looked out at the water and sank to the ground next to Scorpius. He began ripping up the blades of grass around him before tossing them towards the lake. “Are you going to break up with Lily?”
Scorpius never really talked much about Lily with Enzo, or anyone for that matter. But people understood that they were “together”. Scorpius didn’t say anything.
Enzo glanced at him from the corner of his eye. “I’m here for you. You’re like a brother to me. Something is bothering you, and I’m here to help you fix it.”
Scorpius just shrugged in response.
“Scorpius,” Enzo began, his voice raising slightly, “I know you. I know that you keep everything to yourself. Have you ever thought that maybe you need an outsider’s perspective on things? I can help whatever it is.”
Scorpius cleared his throat quietly. “Aria was drunk last night. In the library with some friends.”
Enzo nodded slowly, knowing that Aria had a habit of acting out. But he also knew that Scorpius loved his sister more than life and that he should have gotten over it by now. “And this is worse than every other time because…?”
Scorpius blinked. He had hoped that Enzo would have accepted that excuse and moved on. “Because…I have no idea.”
Enzo chuckled and slapped Scorpius lightly on the back. “Mate, we’re like brothers, remember? I know you and your family inside out. What’s the deal?”
“That’s just it,” Scorpius said dully.
“Really?” Enzo asked, still staring out at the stillness of the lake. “It’s not because of Lily?”
“No, everything is great with Lily,” Scorpius said, keeping up the same front for the past three weeks.
“And what about with Rose?”
Scorpius gave Enzo a sharp look without meaning to. He tried to play it off by making it seem as though he was looking back towards the castle. Enzo laughed at the failed attempt.
“What about Rose?” Scorpius asked lightly.
“You know what I mean, Scorpius,” Enzo replied, looking pointedly at Scorpius. “There’s something there with Rose that’s lacking with Lily. I know you. How many times do I have to tell you that?”
Scorpius sighed and shook his head. “It’s complicated.”
Scorpius knew that he could always go to Enzo. He was right, they were practically brothers. They spent holidays together, stayed over each others houses, and even spent a month in France together once. He was his best mate, and his number one confidant.
“I’ve got all day, mate.”
“Skip them,” Enzo replied simply.
Scorpius smirked out of habit more than humor and sighed, preparing to vent. “I’m in love with Rose,” he began, “but she’s too afraid of what people will think so we tried to keep it quiet. About three weeks ago we almost got caught, and Lily came out yelling at us about how someone saw us so we came up with this idea that I’m actually with Lily since Lily doesn’t give a rat’s arse about what people think of her. And ever since then my relationship with Rose has been…strained.”
“There’s more,” Enzo stated.
Scorpius nodded. “And then last night Rose and I finally got to spend some time alone together and it was great. But then on our way out of the library I saw Aria…”
Enzo made a noise of understanding. “And you blew up on everyone within a 20 meter radius.”
“I’ve never yelled at her before,” Scorpius said quietly, shaking his head in shame. “I treated her like shit.”
Enzo clasped Scorpius’s shoulder. “She’ll forgive you, mate.”
“She didn’t even look at me in class this morning!”
“She’s allowed to be angry, Scorpius. She’ll get over it. She seems like a sweet enough girl.”
“She’s amazing,” Scorpius said more to himself than to Enzo.
Enzo looked at him. “Then why are you pretending to be with Lily? I mean, I guess I understand that Rose is scared, blah blah blah, but if you’re in love like you said…”
Scorpius shook his head, confused. “I really don’t know. It’s like we’ve dug ourselves into this hole. Like how in hell am I supposed to ‘leave’ Lily to start going out with Rose all of the sudden?”
Enzo sat quietly and seriously thought that through. Scorpius was right. It would make Scorpius look bad no matter what he did. If he “left” Lily and began dating Rose after then he would look like scum. If he told everyone the truth about what happened then he would look like an idiot. He shook his head, exasperated.
“You messed up with this ‘brilliant’ idea of yours, Scorpius.”
Scorpius frowned at the ground. “Thanks so much,” he replied sarcastically.
“Listen, all I know is that you need to be with Rose. Everyone would be much happier then.”
Scorpius began nodding his assent but then stopped. “Oh, and Lily kissed me on the lips today.”
Enzo raised his eyebrows. “This was not part of the fake couple agreement I presume?”
“I mean, no, I suppose not. Like we didn’t over do the couple thing and snog or whatever. We basically silently agreed to respect Rose’s feelings by keeping it as innocent as possible.”
“So, let’s say Rose saw you guys kiss on the lips, knowing that you’re both keeping up this façade for her, what would happen?”
Scorpius shrugged. “I’m assuming she’d be angry or upset. I know I would be if the tables were turned, and I’m sure Lily knows that.”
“So you’re mad that she kissed you?” Enzo asked, trying to comprehend Scorpius’s emotions.
“I mean…I suppose…”
Enzo put his head in his hands. Scorpius had no idea exactly how big the hole he had dug himself in actually was.
Albus was tired. He was tired of keeping an eye on his sister. He was tired of constantly being the angry big brother. He was tired of hating Scorpius Malfoy. He was tired of everything.
He sighed as he pressed his back against the stone wall in an empty corridor and slid down until his butt hit the floor. He leaned his head back against the wall and listened as heels softly clicked against the marble floor toward him.
Albus didn’t even open his eyes.
“Where are we going tonight?”
Albus smiled lightly, opening his eyes and pushing himself up to his full height. “Wherever your heart desires.”