‘For the last time, Veronika, I am not “infatuated” by Scorpius Malfoy.’
It was the next day, and Rose sat with Veronika Brown in the Gryffindor common-room, pouring over an immense amount of very large, thick textbooks, quill in hand and parchment sprawled out all over the mahogany table. For the last ten minutes, due to boredom and annoyance, Veronika had been pestering Rose about the “awful lot of time” she had been spending with Scorpius lately. She had even gone as far as insisting that Rose enjoyed his attention, even craved the conversations they shared each day. Rose, very used to her best friend trying to play matchmaker, had done an excellent job of ignoring her attempts for the past three years, yet lately Veronika had become more annoying about it than usual. Rose could not tell whether this was because she was just sick of being told how she supposedly felt, or whether her recent encounters with Scorpius had altered her tolerance.
The blonde girl opposite her flashed a shrewd grin. ‘Come on, Rosie, you know full well you aren’t entirely fed up with him.’
Rose rolled her eyes, in her mind counting just how many times she had said this to her. ‘Vee, the only reason you’re saying that is because it’s what you want. Everyone in the castle knows of your “secret” obsession with that arrogant git.’
Veronika feigned looking taken aback. ‘Don’t be so harsh, Rose. I can’t help that he is a hunk of heaven, with that lean, muscular body, and those beautiful blue eyes that sparkle in the sunlight, and –’
‘All right, I get it,’ Rose mumbled, turning her nose up in disgust at the dreamy look on her best friends face.
Veronika giggled. ‘All I’m saying is that if he has enough guts to say that he likes you, and then chase after you even after you reject him, then he must be worth something.’
‘Yeah, a bag of rotten tomatoes,’ Rose muttered under her breath. ‘Vee, you know I loathe him, you know I can’t stand him. Why do you push this every time?’
‘Because I can see there is something there,’ she paused, and continued before Rose could protest, ‘and don’t try to deny it, Rose Weasley, because under that defiant exterior of yours, you love Scorpius’… frivolity.’
Rose’s mouth dropped open and she couldn’t help but let a laugh escape her lips. ‘I can’t believe you just said “Scorpius” and “frivolity” in the same sentence!’ She exclaimed, playfully hitting Veronika across the arm. The two shared a fit of giggles, met by the irritated glances of the group of seventh years huddled around the fireplace as they quizzed each other on Potions questions. Rose hid behind her book, attempting to cease the laughter.
Veronika began to hum cheerily, and Rose leaned back in her chair, watching the blonde with an expression of compassion and guilt. It was old news around the castle that Veronika had been crushing on Scorpius since she first laid eyes on him when she was thirteen. Scorpius, much to Veronika’s dismay, paid absolutely no attention to her whatsoever, and it had even caused a bit of conflict between the inseparable Gryffindor girls when Scorpius started lusting after Rose. Rose had felt so guilty that Scorpius’ attentions were completely on her, when Veronika so desperately wanted him to notice her. Though Veronika had never blamed Rose for it, it had been obvious for a few months in their fourth year, when Scorpius trailed after Rose more often, that Veronika felt jealous. It had been sorted out when Rose had assured her best friend that she would never fall for Scorpius Malfoy, never in a million years, but Rose still had the feeling that Veronika despised her slightly whenever Scorpius so much as glanced in Rose’s direction.
But what Rose didn’t understand the most was the fact that if Veronika liked him so much, why was she forcing Rose to admit she was in love with him? Rose sighed. She would never be able to fully figure out the complicated mind of Veronika Brown.
Veronika exhaled in relief when it was finally time for dinner. ‘Honestly,’ she said as Rose packed up her books, ‘I don’t understand how you can do so much homework and not complain.’ Rose rolled her eyes as the two exited the common-room and made their way down to the Great Hall with the rest of the students. Veronika was an intelligent witch, it was just that she, like most other Sixth years, didn’t really seem to apply herself, and wondered how people like Rose actually liked school.
‘It’s all about tolerance.’ Rose offered for what seemed like the hundredth time since the two had started at Hogwarts together, almost six years ago.
‘Which you clearly seem to lack in some departments,’ Veronika mumbled under her breath as they took their usual seats at the Gryffindor table.
‘What is that supposed to mean?’ Rose asked as she piled some roast vegetables onto her golden plate. Veronika did not reply as she poured pumpkin juice into her goblet and hid behind a sip. Rose turned on her, her eyes narrow. ‘Please don’t go into the Scorpius thing again. I’ve told you I’m not interested.’ And, she wanted to add, sometimes it annoys me that it’s hard to tell whether you still are really in lust with him.
Veronika stuck out her tongue, all frostiness gone. ‘Yeah, whatever, Rosie.’
The two remained in silence for the rest of dinner as loud chatter from across the Hall allowed them to slip into their own minds. Rose immediately thought of the upcoming exams. Just one month away. Just one month until it was decided whether or not she was really cut out for being smart. Veronika had told her several times, with annoyance that Rose so easily noted, that it was a given Rose would pass the N.E.W.Ts with flying colours. It was Rose, after all, that took after her mother. No one in their year could match her intelligence.
Rose was snapped out of her familiar worrying when her eyes absently flickered over to the Slytherin table. She was immediately met with a pair of blue eyes, which she instantly shied away from, her own eyes narrowing into a glare, her mouth set in a hard line as she stared at her half empty plate. She could still see his face clearly in her mind’s eye, his barely visible but obvious smirk, and the expectant expression that so often haunted her when she was most irritated.
Veronika seemed to notice her friend’s sudden change of expression, and her eyes immediately switched onto Scorpius’. Rose, however, could sense that the Slytherin’s eyes were still on her, boring holes into her forehead, which caused a sudden change in Veronika’s own expression. Her brows furrowed together, clouding over her lids in the way they only did when she was troubled about something. Rose couldn’t stand to see her like that, especially when it was over Scorpius.
‘Are you finished?’ She asked quickly, placing her knife and fork carelessly on her plate, which still played host to an unfinished chicken leg and mint peas. Veronika quickly wiped the envy off her face and glanced at her plate. When she nodded, Rose grabbed her hand and pulled her up. ‘Come on, we’re going for a walk.’ Veronika let her lead her outside onto the lawns. The sun was just about below the horizon now, and it cast a lovely orange glow across the grounds. The two would often walk together at this time of night. They both shared the same love for sunsets.
They made a round of the lake before dropping onto the soft, damp grass on its bank. Tucking her hands under her head, Rose gazed at the shapeless clouds, watching them as they moved slowly across the golden sky, carefree, merging with other clouds without hesitation. She sighed, causing Veronika to angle her head so her eyes were on the girl’s face. ‘What are you thinking?’
Besides the obvious? Rose thought to herself. ‘Mum and Dad. I hope they made it to Germany all right, and whether I’ll get a letter from them tomorrow.’ Hermione and Ron Weasley had planned their trip to Germany the previous year. Their intent was to visit Molly and Arthur Weasley, Rose’s grandparents, whom both had retired there the same year Rose began her first year at Hogwarts. Rose’s mother had been so excited to go, but their plans had been postponed when Hugo sank into a state of depression. They had been hesitant to send him to school, but he himself had insisted, though Rose had noticed his half-hearted plea. Hermione had reluctantly allowed him to go, and they had only just rescheduled their trip to halfway through the school year. Rose was glad they were able to go. They had been looking forward to it for so long.
Veronika murmured in agreement. ‘They’ll write. You know they always do.’
Rose nodded. The subject was lost immediately, not because the girls were awkward, but because they felt they didn’t need to fill their time with petty conversation. They were quite content to just be in each others’ company. No words were needed. Their connection was strong that way.
‘Vee?’ Rose asked after several moments of comfortable silence.
‘Do you think he will ever leave me alone?’ She did not like bringing up the subject, knowing just how much it touched Veronika’s emotions, but she couldn’t help but wonder whether her friend might know the answer, whether she wanted to or not.
Veronika looked away for a moment, and Rose waited patiently, her green eyes fixated on the sky above. ‘You want the truth?’ Veronika asked after what seemed like hours, but was only a minute. Rose nodded, an action which was obviously seen through Veronika’s peripheral vision. She sighed. ‘I don’t think he will. The way he looks at you. Rose . . .’ The blonde suddenly propped herself up on her elbow, looking down at Rose with sad eyes. ‘He’s as crazy about you as a masochistic prick can be for a girl. And I don’t think he’s going to give up on you anytime soon.’ Her mouth was a hard line. She said no more.
Rose closed her eyes. ‘Sometimes I hate that you’re so wise.’
Veronika let out a laugh. ‘You’re calling me the wise one. I think I should have that in writing.’
The two girls chuckled together again, the intense moment gone as quick as it had come. That was the good thing about Veronika; she got over things quickly, she didn’t hold a grudge. And she knew exactly when to change the subject. Rose rolled onto her stomach, and the two filled the rest of the sunset with mindless chatter over who they would take to the upcoming ball, leaving Scorpius Malfoy clean out of the conversation.
After dropping Rose off at their dorm an hour later and deciding she was not yet ready to sleep, Rose exited the common-room and absently wandered the corridors. It was completely dark outside now, and the only light was given from dimly lit torches on the walls. The Gryffindor kept her arms folded across her chest as she strolled along, studying the portraits as she passed them by. She liked the castle at night. Others would fear its dark eeriness, but Rose knew better than to fear what was not there.
She hummed a tune to herself as her feet carried her to the usual part of the castle she visited at night. She was in the Astronomy tower before she even realised it, and immediately went over and sat herself in the ring of white light the moon cast through the large, intentional hole in the ceiling. She gazed up at the stars. If there was anything she loved more than the sunset, it was the stars. She pressed her lips together, a faint smile playing at them as she pointed out the major constellations that she knew like the back of her hand.
She was so caught up in her own little world that she did not notice the quiet snapping of the door as another figure entered her moment of peace. He watched her in the shadows, his face set into stone, his arms folded across his chest, his body rigid. His blue eyes were illuminated by the soft glow of the moon, and all that could be seen in his half-concealed expression was indecision.
Rose hummed her favourite tune again, running a hand through her soft, dark hair. Scorpius stepped out of the shadows, his face rid of all emotion. This time, Rose heard the light clink of his shoe as it came in contact with the stone floor. She was instantly on her feet, her wand at the ready, facing into the probable danger.
She squinted. ‘Scorpius?’ She was so surprised that she momentarily forgot to be angry for him sneaking up on her like that.
The Slytherin nodded, his arms still folded across his hard chest, as if the question was not rhetorical.
Rose let out a small sight of relief at the confirmation that her “stalker” was only someone as physically harmless as Scorpius Malfoy. Emotionally, on the other hand . . . ‘What are you doing up here?’
‘The same reason you are up here.’ He replied coolly, and Rose couldn’t help but notice he seemed unlike himself, less cocky and more uncertain. This took her off guard for a moment, but she quickly regained her composure and glared at him through narrow eyes.
‘Sure,’ she muttered in reply.
‘Just coincidence, Rose, just coincidence.’ There was something about his voice that sent a shiver down her spine.
‘I find the fact that you decided to be up here on the night I was hardly coincidental, Scorpius.’
He merely murmured, no sound escaping his lips. The two “enemies” stared at each other, and after what seemed like an immeasurable amount of time, Scorpius took a step toward her. Rose’s eyes never left his for one second, apart from the times when she forced herself to blink when her eyes began to sting. Scorpius’ expression was still different. ‘Are you afraid, Rose?’
‘Why would I be?’ She only just managed to keep the uncertainty out of her voice.
He arched a golden eyebrow, though the action was not arrogant, but more concerned. It gave Rose the impression that maybe Scorpius thought she should be afraid. She snorted inwardly. Fat chance.
Scorpius took another step toward her. ‘Does Veronika know where you are right now?’
Rose thought for a moment. Only after she answered did the question strike her as odd. ‘No, I didn’t tell her, but she knows I come here sometimes.’
He regarded her carefully, and another set of shivers ran the length of Rose’s spine. ‘What do you want, Scorpius?’ She asked, a miniscule edge of fear finally edging its way into her voice. There was something about his posture and expression that scared her. It was unlike him to look so uncertain, so troubled. It almost reminded her of Hugo after Elspeth had ended it between them. She felt a stab of pain as she remembered her brother’s face the day he told her about it; Scorpius’ face was no different. And it almost seemed as if he was . . . pursuing her, somehow. She took an instinctive step back.
Scorpius’ expression changed then, and his eyes were suddenly dark, remorseful. Rose allowed a small gasp to escape her mouth. ‘A-are you okay?’ She dared herself to ask.
But her question was lost in the air around him as Scorpius suddenly took the remaining two steps toward her. She was knocked back slightly, but his arm snaked around her waist and pulled her body into his. She gasped again, the breath knocked out of her. His mouth was suddenly at her ear. ‘Rose,’ he whispered, his hot breath tickling her skin, the hairs on the back of her neck standing on end.
And then his lips covered hers, and she felt her heart jump in her throat. But he was not kissing her in the way that she had watched on movies, but in a way that made her feel as if he was defying everything he was just by holding her in his strong grip. She was limp against his arms, and as his urgent mouth worked its way along her jaw line and down to her neck, she felt she might faint.