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Chapter 24: chapter.twentyfour - Checkmate.
“IT’S THE MOOOST WONDERFUUUL TIIIME OF THE YEEEEEEEEEEEAR!”
“I am going to hex you if you don’t shut up.”
“DASHING THROUGH THE SNOOOOW –”
Rose pointed her wand at me and my voice immediately died. I glared incredulously at her. She just cut off my Christmas Carols! WHAT IS THIS BLASPHEMY.
“Merlin, what was that?” Al asked as he walked down the stairs, closely followed by Burly, Blondie and Blue Eyes. They’d apparently managed to restore themselves back to normal after Rose hexed their arses. But that was okay. Rose had pictures. Al had pictures. I had pictures. We were going to make copies and give them to everyone for Christmas.
“That was Ariadne singing,” Rose said flatly, rubbing her fingers into her temples, “she’s been at it since four this morning.”
I pointed my wand at myself and nonverbally reversed her Silencio.
“I love December,” I said happily, “and as soon as it hits the fifteenth, the Christmas Carols come out! Who wants to join me?!”
Blue opened his mouth eagerly, but Al hexed us both to silence.
Well bah, humbug to you too. Haters.
The Christmas Tradition was that Rose and I split up as soon as we got to Hogsmeade. Shopping together was such a nuisance because we both knew that we were here to shop for presents before the train arrived to take us home, and the entire time we shopped with one eye on the other just to catch a glimpse of the present. And then we’d repeatedly drop hints. So we avoided it altogether. Shopping alone is what the cool kids do, anyway.
I jumped slightly, dropping the Chaser gloves I was holding back into the bucket where I’d found them at Quality Quidditch Supplies.
Al appeared next to me, grinning.
“Hi yourself,” I replied airily.
“I really hope you weren’t looking at those for me,” he said, leaning against a conveniently located pillar with his arms crossed, shooting me a little smirk as I scowled at him.
“I am way more creative than Chaser’s Gloves.”
“If you say so.”
I glared at him. “Did you want something?”
He shrugged, pushing himself off the pillar so he could trail after me as I made my way to another section. “Sure, lots of things. Most of them revolve around you in my bed again, but maybe this time –” I elbowed him roughly in the ribs before he could finish, and he doubled over with a breathless ‘oof’.
“Finish that sentence and you will be losing a lot more than just your ability to breathe,” I informed him pleasantly, flicking my eyes down pointedly. He paled slightly, but didn’t seem otherwise fazed.
“Now, love, you’d never do that to your favorite body part –”
I let out a disgusted noise and whirled towards the door. “I’m leaving.”
Al laughed loudly as he followed me out, draping his arm around my waist as I crossed my arms to ward off the sudden rush of cold. “Too much?” he asked.
“Go verbally harass someone else, Al.”
“Aw, come on,” he nudged me playfully, tickling his fingers against the side of my stomach. I squirmed and used all of my efforts not to let loose a shrill giggle and/or shriek. I don’t like to be tickled. My limbs turn into crazy freaks and start flailing all over the place and it is both unattractive and highly dangerous. Not a nice combination under any circumstances.
“Stop that!” I finally got out. I pushed him away before he could tickle me again, and he stumbled back slightly before shoving his hands in his pocket and ruffling his hair with an uncertain grin on his face.
“Figured it was my turn to tickle you,” he said. I rolled my eyes and crossed my arms, hoping he wouldn’t notice the smile playing against the edges of my lips. “Anyway,” he continued, “I heard you’re staying over Rose’s house this Christmas.”
“Stalking me, Potter?”
He flashed another grin. “You caught me. I suppose I’ll have to give back the naked pictures and stop coming into your room at night to watch you sleep. But I won’t, so, let’s get back to the topic at hand here before you incarcerate me for distracting you.”
I laughed, “You are so strange.”
“Think you could spare some time for strange old me while you’re over at Rose’s?” he asked. He kept rolling back on the heels of his feet, his hand constantly shifting through the mass of hair on his head.
“Maybe,” I said slowly, cocking my head to the side, “depends on what for, really. I’ll be quite busy at Rose’s house, what with all that food and her Telly and the constant snogging she’ll be doing with Scorpius in her room.”
“I was thinking,” he said, “maybe I could show you around Godric’s Hollow or something. Maybe get something to eat, and…you know. Hang out.”
I blinked. Then smiled shyly. “Are you asking me out on a date, Potter?”
“Kind of.” He muttered.
My smile grew. “Then I kind of accept.”
He was grinning, half relieved, and my stomach fluttered. “Brilliant.”
I bit my lip so I wouldn’t start smiling like a freak. “Yeah.”
Brief silence whilst we stared at each other grinning for a bit.
“So,” he said suddenly, seemingly jerking out of it, “I’ll leave you to your shopping, then.”
“Oh. Yeah. Shopping – yep. Gonna go do that. Bye.”
Then – get this, people – I twiddled my fingers at him and sort of hopped away.
Twiddled. And then I hopped.
I’m not even going to get into how sad that is. But who cares? Al still likes me, twiddling and hopping included! I’m going on a date with the bloke, aren’t I?!
Yes. Yes I am.
Just – HOLY SHIT I AM GOING ON A DATE WITH AL POTTER. I CAN’T EVEN FUNCTION RIGHT NOW. I NEED TO FIND SOMEWHERE TO SQUEAL IN HAPPINESS.
Instead, I spent the rest of the shopping trip singing Carols under my breath and smiling too widely at anyone I saw. I think I might have scared some people off, but that’s totally okay because I’m going on a date with Al Potter.
“Rose. Stop eating your nails. It’s freaking me out,” I said, pulling her hand away from her mouth.
Rose spit out another chunk of nail, ignoring the general murmur of disgust around the compartment. She looked absolutely miserable. “My dad’s going to disembowel you,” she muttered to Scorpius, then continued gnawing on her nail as though chewing it off was somehow going to prevent my cousin from being de-intestined.
Scorpius wrinkled his nose slightly, but didn’t seem otherwise concerned that the father of his girlfriend was most likely going to go on a murderous rampage around King’s Cross Station once he figured out that his little girl was dating the son of his childhood nemesis. I figured this was either extremely brave or extremely arrogant of him.
And since Scorpius is a Slytherin and doesn’t exactly do brave…we’re really just dealing with mind-boggling arrogance. Nice catch, Rosie.
“Nah, we won’t let him do that,” Al said reassuringly, leaning over to trap her hands between his own. Rose started chewing on her lower lip immediately. “Rosie,” he continued, “you’ve got to give your dad a little more credit. It’ll be fine.”
“Are you kidding me?” Dom laughed, picking her head up from her book, “you’ve seen Uncle Ron with every single one of Lily’s boyfriends. Hell, you’ve seen Uncle Ron with your own parents, and they’ve been married for a very long time.”
“Can we just leave my parents out –”
“It’s like he doesn’t even want to acknowledge the idea that you three even exist. As far as he’s concerned, his little sister is still a virgin and you guys were dropped off by the magical baby fairy,” she continued. She’s clearly given this a lot of thought.
“Yeah, thanks,” Al told her, looking utterly disturbed, “that was lovely, Dom. I really appreciated the help.”
Rose had turned an interesting shade of purple that I didn’t know human skin could achieve. I think it was a combination of intense fear and mental scarring due to the fact that her cousin had just referenced to her Godparents having sex.
“Rose,” Scorpius said quietly, extracting his arm from between them so he could wrap it around her, “hey, I’m not worried. It’ll probably suck a little, but your dad’s not a psychopath. It’ll be okay. Besides, your mum and Ariadne are there for damage control.”
I made a noise of protest – no way in hell am I interested in being Ron Weasley’s damage control. The man broke out of Gringotts Bank on a freaking dragon. I actually value my life, thanks.
But Rose turned to me with her big, hopeful brown eyes and I smiled weakly, “Damage control. Yeah. That’s what I’ll be doing. Totally.”
Damn those Bambi Eyes. She should be fined every time she uses them.
“We’re back!” Blue Eyes announced, opening the door with a flourish. He was carrying a huge stack of food with one hand, and had Emma tucked under the other arm. She looked like she was trying extremely hard not to run away screaming. “Look who I found,” he continued, jiggling Emma slightly, “she was lurking around the food carriage, so we decided to bring her along.”
“I was looking for food, and I was planning to come back,” she said, clearly annoyed.
“Rescued her from the evil Slytherins, I did,” Blue continued proudly. “Oh hey, mate,” he added nervously, upon spotting Scorpius, who had a dry look on his face. “Did I say evil Slytherins? I meant, er…bee…uh. Shit. Nothing rhymes with that. Don’t hurt me. It’s Christmas.”
Scorpius just rolled his eyes, but he settled back against the window and pulled Rose closer to his chest, so we all just assumed that he wasn’t going to hex anyone at the moment. Rose nuzzled his neck and I looked away quickly, feeling slightly queasy. Al caught my eye and grinned sympathetically. I grinned back. Going on a date with him. A date. Me and Al. Holy shit.
“Russell, move your fat arse out of the way!” Burly called from behind him. Blue flopped down on the closest available seat and Emma hurriedly squished herself between me and Dom, not noticing how his smile faltered. He covered up the moment by swinging his legs up on my lap and demanding for a massage, at which point I smiled so sweetly at him that he put them back on the floor without even waiting to hear my threat. Too bad. I had a good one all picked out.
After that, well…intelligent conversation sort of just flew out the window. We were a bunch of kids that had been given possession of a very large quantity of sweets. Blue and Blondie ate every single flavor of Bertie Bott’s as dares, Al fell asleep after plowing through a sizable number of chocolate frogs, and Emma curled up with Dom’s book, ignoring Blue’s gaze settled resolutely on her as he munched on some fudge. He looked thoughtful. It made me nervous. Dom and Burly were playing ‘throw things at Burly and watch him catch them in his mouth’. Dom was laughing. Burly looked ecstatic. I smiled – seems as though he’s actually got a chance.
And I’ve got a chance, too. With Al. Because I’m going on a date with him. An actual date.
Bloody hell, that’ll never get old.
The first thing Rose did as we pulled into the station was turn around and snog Scorpius. And I don’t mean like, ‘hey, we’re in a compartment full of my closest friends and family members so let’s keep this PG’. I’m talking tongue and noises. And hands, too, I’m sure, but the rest of us cleared out pretty quickly after that blatant disregard for public decorum.
“That’s just wrong,” Al said, occasionally shaking his head roughly as though hoping the memory would fly out of his ears, “seriously, seriously wrong. Don’t ever let me do that to you, Ariadne. At least not in public.”
I raised my eyebrows, but inside I was having an eleven-year-old squeefest. My brain just stopped functioning altogether for a good twenty seconds while I stared at him with my eyebrows dangerously close to my hairline.
“Oh come on,” he finally said uncomfortably, noticing my stony silence (and completely missing the mental celebration and my inability to function when shocked), “a bloke can dream.”
Alright, party’s over. Come on. Start working again, brain.
And…nothing. That’s cool.
“You know I fancy you,” he continued, his voice a low murmur, “you don’t have to get all awkward about it every time I mention – mmppth.”
Yeah, okay – I know what I said about letting him chase me…whatever. I kissed the kid. Sue me. I couldn’t even bring myself to care about all that, because this was incredible. No water, no squid excrements, nothing except the warm softness of his lips on mine and fireworks exploding in my stomach. When I finally pulled away, his lips followed, but he seemed to catch himself just in time. His eyes opened a brilliant green as he looked down at me and if possible, my stomach went into an even stronger frenzy mode. Merlin.
“I’ll see you over break,” I said.
A goofy smile spread over his face. I couldn’t even judge him for it, because I’m pretty sure I had the exact same one plastered over mine, and unlike him, I really can’t work the goofy smile.
“Yeah,” he breathed. His nose touched mine. And again. A light nudge this time, playful and sweet and oh shit I might completely disregard my personal promise not to snog in public and do it anyway.
“Okay, I’m going to leave before I do something indecent,” he said, pulling away and stepping back from me. He ruffled his hair shyly. Why is he so cute?
“Bye,” I waved at him, and he took a couple of steps backwards again before lifting his hand off the back of his head in a wave and turning around.
I couldn’t keep the giddy grin off my face so I decided to just leave it there as I turned around as well, hopefully to find Rose and Scorpius before Mr. Weasley did because that would just be –
“Gah!” My nose crashed into Scorpius’ chest. Ow. Al’s nose just touched this nose and now you had to go and break it! FUCK YOU AND YOUR CHEST SCORPIUS.
“What the hell was that?” he demanded, gesturing wildly at the air behind my head as I stepped back away from him and rubbed my nose crossly.
“Why the hell are you standing directly behind me?” I shot back. “That bloody hurt, you prick!”
“You just snogged Al Potter,” he said, “how the hell did that happen?”
“Well, generally, snogging involves two pairs of lips and two tongues. I’m sure you’re familiar with it enough so that you should know the difference between a snog and a kiss. Where’s Rose?” I snapped.
He scowled at me. “I can’t believe you didn’t tell me about this.”
“Hey Scorpius. I’m going on a date with Al. Happy? Now where’s Rose?”
“You tell me everything!”
“Merlin, Scorpius, the kid just asked me about four hours ago. Let it go. And tell me where my best friend is, for god’s sake, I want to go home,” I said tiredly. I don’t even know how this kid got Rose to date him. I mean, she’s clearly out of his league and he’s seriously annoying…I suspect a love potion. That’s the only plausible explanation to this mystery.
“I dunno,” he finally muttered, “I think she’s with her parents. Preparing them or something.”
I finally took a good look at him. No one else would be able to notice past his unaffected demeanor…but hell, the kid was nervous. More nervous than he’d been on his first ever Quidditch Match. His face had whitened slightly, eyes larger than usual – a light, swirling grey – and if you looked carefully, his hands were shaking. Shaking.
Bloody hell, only Rose could do that to him.
…or, well, actually, it was Ron Weasley who’d done that to him but he wouldn’t be shaking about it unless he cared for Rose a lot.
A lot, a lot. As in, if she ever breaks up with him he’ll be a quivering mess, a lot.
“You’re in love with Rose,” I realized blankly.
He shot me a frenzied look. “Is it really obvious?”
My mouth dropped open. He wasn’t even denying it! What has the world come to?! No, seriously! I’m waiting for the apocalypse to start at any given moment because the day Scorpius Malfoy falls in love with a girl is a day when all hell has the potential to break loose.
“Oh my god, we cannot fuck this up,” I murmured.
“You were planning on letting me fuck this up?!” He yelped.
“I thought it would be funny.” I shrugged.
“YOU HAVE AN AWFUL SENSE OF HUMOR.” He looked ready to shit himself. Or cry. Or both. At the same time.
Yeah, this is bad.
“Scorpius,” I said, grabbing his arms, “it’ll be okay. People are staring. Your mojo is literally depleting before our very eyes. Get a grip, it’s just the best mate of the man who defeated Voldemort, right? I mean, yeah, he’s destroyed a Horcrux and he did break out of Gringotts bank on a dragon, and he has been in the Chamber of Secrets multiple times, and you probably have his chocolate frog card but…but other than that, he’s just a regular old bloke, right?”
Scorpius just stared at me, his eyes wider than ever. “You should not be allowed in public,” he finally declared. “Seriously. Were you even trying to make me feel better?”
“You’re rubbish at this! Get away from me!”
“I’m just trying to help – Scorpius! Oh, come on, I really was just trying to – eep!”
Yes. Eep. Because Scorpius had turned around to storm off but had instead walked right into Hermione Weasley. And to prevent her from falling over, he had grabbed her around the waist.
Good work, Casanova.
“Oh!” she said belatedly, staggering slightly as he set her upright. His face was flaming. I thought it was so cute that I didn’t even bother to intervene.
“I’m sorry,” he said, “I wasn’t looking where I was going, my cousin – she’s a psycho – she’s been harassing me and I was –”
“Mrs. Weasley!” I barreled right past Scorpius and jumped at her in a hug.
“Oh no,” Scorpius whimpered softly from behind me, “I just knocked over my girlfriend’s mum. I just knocked over my girlfriend’s extremely famous mum and didn’t realize – I’m dead. Shi –”
“This is my cousin,” I said loudly, pulling him up next to me. Scorpius managed a weak smile, “Scorpius Malfoy.”
He looked terrified, but Mrs. Weasley merely gave him a blinding smile and pulled him into an affectionate hug. The terror on his face intensified. “It’s so nice to finally meet you,” she said warmly, “Rose has told me so much about you.”
“All good things, I hope?” He said nervously.
“Scorpius!” Rose ran up to us, panting slightly, “there you are! You said you’d gone off to find Ariadne and you never showed up again – did you manage to find her? Al says he hasn’t seen her for a bit, and – oh. You’re here.” She pulled me into a bone-crushing hug. She was rambling. That was never a good thing.
“Yeah,” Scorpius said accusingly, “I found her snogging Potter.”
“It was not snogging! It was one kiss! Just one!”
“You kissed Al?! I thought you said you weren’t going to do that anymore!”
“She’s done it more than once?!”
“Well, about time,” Ron Weasley’s voice floated up behind us, and he ruffled my hair affectionately as he came up to stand between Rose and me, “you’ve been mad for him since you were twelve.”
My face burned. “I – it wasn’t twelve, exactly…”
(It was twelve.)
He chuckled, looking around our little circle until his gaze finally fell on Scorpius. And then on his hand, which was curled through Rose’s hand. To our very great surprise, he didn’t seem too fazed about this, but his gaze did sharpen slightly.
“Hello,” he finally said, “I don’t believe we’ve met before.”
Scorpius swallowed visibly, walking forward with his hand extended towards Mr. Weasley, “I’m Scorpius Malfoy, sir. Rose’s boyfriend.”
For the longest time, nothing happened. Mr. Weasley’s face went from normal to slightly red, to very pale, and then back to normal again.
Well, no one’s died yet, right? That’s a good thing.
Then – we all jumped – he laughed. Loudly.
I think Scorpius was actually holding back tears of joy as Mr. Weasley seized him by the hand and clapped him on the back, still laughing exuberantly.
“I owe Harry twenty galleons,” he finally got out, standing back and looking at Rose and Scorpius. “Ah, I knew this would happen. Been building up for years, really. Do your parents know? Can I be there when you tell your dad you’re dating a Weasley?”
My mouth was hanging open somewhere around my knees.
“Er,” Scorpius stuttered, “um. He already knows.”
“And he’s alright with it?” Mr. Weasley asked. He looked slightly disappointed.
“Well, yes. He told me I was dead meat…but other than that, he was alright with it. I mean, he did laugh a lot,” Scorpius said uncomfortably. Mr. Weasley sighed, looking more disappointed than ever.
“If Malfoy’s okay, I’m okay. As long as I don’t catch you snogging my daughter.” The unspoken threat: A Weasley specialty.
“No sir. We won’t let you catch us.” Rose stepped on Scorpius’ foot, but he merely gave her a cheeky grin.
Ah, Arrogant Scorpius. There you are. I was wondering when you’d show up in this conversation.
But Mr. Weasley didn’t seem to mind. His grin slipped straight off his face and he gave Scorpius a chilling look. “Good,” he said. Then he grabbed Rose’s trunk and set off towards the family car. “Oh,” he called over his shoulder, “and I’d like to play a game of Chess with you after dinner. Some time to bond or whatever.”
Rose’s face whitened. “Oh, shit,” she whispered, “tell me you’re good at chess, please.”
Scorpius shrugged. “I’m alright. I can generally cheat my way to winning.”
I patted him on the shoulder and Mrs. Weasley gave him a sympathetic smile.
“Yeah, you can’t out-cheat Ron,” she remarked, “but if you want to impress him, try to not lose for at least twenty minutes into the game.”
Good luck with that, Scorpius.
the lyrics are from christmas carols! the first is "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" (yeah, couldn't have guessed that one) and the second is Jingle Bells. i don't own them. they were created before i was born. at least i'm pretty sure they were. i'm old.