Chapter 1 : It Began with a Push
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“Wait,” she whispered and then nodded towards the end of the row of swings where a boy of polished white-blond hair sat sulking.
“Ohh – there he is,” the man said softly, giving the woman a grin.
The little girl had given up on hoisting herself up with an angry huff, crossing her tiny arms across her orange sundress. She looked around for something she might be able to drag over and stand on, not wanting to surrender this moment of long awaited freedom. She noticed the boy.
“Oi!” she yelled at him, and he turned to look at her.
The woman giggled at the incredulous look of surprise that crossed the boy’s face, and she squeezed the man’s hand.
“What?” the boy yelled back, reluctant to move.
“Come help me onto this swing!”
“Because if you don’t, I’ll come over there and bop you on the nose!” Her high-pitched shout made her sound about as intimidating as a chipmunk, and the way her eyebrows scrunched together indignantly made the man burst out laughing.
“Shhh!” the woman shushed him through her own stifled laughter.
“Fine,” the boy muttered with a glance towards the park benches. Tilly still had her wide, pug-nose deeply buried into her book.
“Where are your play clothes?” The girl eyed him as he approached, judging his appearance as children often do.
The boy pulled at the stiff collar of his button-down shirt, shifting his weight uncomfortably from shoe to sand-filled shoe.
“My father always makes me wear nice clothes,” he said, his gray eyes narrowing.
“To the park?” she snickered, shifting into position and raising her foot to allow him to boost her up.
He moved his interlaced hands beneath the sole of her white sandal and then lifted her into the swing.
“My governess brought me here. Father would never have allowed it, and he would sack her for sure if he knew. Says there’s too many Mug–” he cut himself off, his pale face growing bright red.
Looking down on him from her perch in the swing, the girl raised one of her ginger eyebrows, pursing her lips.
“Muggles?” she asked shyly.
He evaluated her with apprehension.
“You know about Muggles?”
“Sure I do,” she answered with a smile, beginning to pump her legs back and forth as she had seen the older children do. “My mum is Muggle-born, so she’s taught me all about them.”
The boy watched her progress as she climbed higher with each swing. It looked like fun. Climbing into the swing next to her with some difficulty and very little grace, he too began swinging his legs in an attempt to gain some altitude. She laughed at his struggle.
“Don’t you know how to swing?” she giggled as she whooshed past, her hair flying over her shoulders.
Ignoring her, he huffed with the effort of moving his legs to and fro, but he couldn’t seem to go anywhere.
“Weeee!” the little girl squealed as she let herself soar from her seat at the peak of a particularly high swing, landing on her bare knees and burying her hands in the warm sand. She looked over her shoulder to find him staring at her with awe. She giggled again as she jumped to her feet and ran back to him.
“Here, I’ll show you!”
As soon as she had rounded behind him and disappeared from his view, he felt her small hands push against his back.
“Now, put your feet up when you go forward, then put your feet back as you start to go backwards,” she instructed, and he moved his feet accordingly as she helped him along with her pushes.
He was soon swinging as high as she had been. The man watched the elation spread across the little boy’s face as the memory of his own first swing came back to him.
When the boy had swung as high as he could, he let go. The wind lifted the hair from his sweaty face, and the sensation of flying through the air made his stomach feel as if it were floating around in his belly. He kept his eyes closed because if he opened them, he’d see the ground coming and he’d be scared; he didn’t want to be scared in front of this fearless girl. Besides, keeping his eyes closed made him feel like he really was flying.
He landed face first, and not having realised that his mouth had been hanging open as he flew, he received a mouthful of sand for his neglect. He straightened up quickly, spitting clumps of grains as he swiped at the sand adorning his shirt.
“Uh-oh, now you’ve done it,” the girl guffawed from behind him, and he turned to see her pointing at one of his knees, her shoulders shaking with mirth.
He looked down to see a neat rip along the top of his left knee. With a smile, he imagined the telling off Tilly would receive once he’d shown his father that he had ripped his nice trousers at the park. Maybe she’ll finally get the sack. Shrugging off his carelessness, he walked with the red-haired girl back to the swings. After helping her up again, he climbed onto the swing next to her, and they swung to and fro in a more tranquil manner.
“So, you know about Muggles. Do you know about Hogwarts?” he asked.
“Of course I know about Hogwarts, both my parents went there! I’m going in–” she paused to count on her fingers, “five years, and I’ll be sorted into Gryffindor, just like my mum and dad!”
The boy wrinkled his nose, and the man’s eyes crinkled as he smiled widely at the pointed look the woman gave him.
“Sounds like we’ll be there at the same time,” the boy replied, “but I’ll be in a better house than that. Both my parents were in Slytherin, and they said that anyone good enough to get into Slytherin is the right sort to make friends with. So, I guess we won’t be friends when we get there.”
He looked down at the rip on his knee, fingering the loose fabric absentmindedly.
“Rubbish,” she dismissed his assumption, and he looked up to see her stick her tongue out at him, “I would be a perfectly brilliant friend to have, and you should be sad if you had to miss out just because I’m too daring to be in your dumb Slytherin house.”
He smiled at her, glad that she didn’t think that being in different houses mattered like his father seemed to.
“I’m Rosie,” she said, holding tightly to the chain of her swing with her left hand while sticking out her right.
“Er– Scorpius,” he replied, mimicking the gesture.
As they shook hands, a frantic shout was heard from across the park causing Rosie to jump off the swing in a panic.
“ROSE! ROSE! ROSE WEASLEY, WHERE ARE YOU?”
“Bollocks, I have to go. I snuck off while they were tending to my little brother so I could jump off the swing. Mum never lets me. I hope I see you when we get to school!” she called as she ran off to the direction of the yelling.
The man and woman watching were forced to follow the little girl, but the man couldn’t help but sneak a look over his shoulder in time to see the governess jump up from her bench at the sound of the commotion, grab Scorpius’s hand and whisk him off.
“Mummy, Daddy, I’m right here! I was at the swings!” little Rosie cried.
“Oh darling! I was so worried!”
A slender woman with bushy brown hair knelt down to examine the girl’s face.
“What did we tell you about wandering off, Rose?” the tall, lanky man with vibrant red hair to rival his daughter’s scolded, towing a small boy behind him.
The fair-haired man looked over to the woman next to him. He saw the tears leaking out of her eyes, and then pulled her into his arms. She buried her face in his shoulder.
“I’m sorry, Rosie. I know you miss her,” he whispered into her ear.
The sunny day began to dissolve, clouding into a silvery vapour. The mist swirled faster and faster around the couple until they found themselves hurtling out of the stone basin onto the floor of Scorpius’ seventh year dorm room. The darkness was so gloomy after having visited such a bright day. There was no sunlight down here in the Slytherin dungeons to warm her face, something Rose had always hated about being in his room. It was depressing.
“Not bad, huh?” she exclaimed, pulling out of his embrace as she swiped at the tears that had escaped.
Climbing up off the floor, Scorpius held out his hand to pull her up as well.
“I can’t believe how much you remember. I barely remember last week,” he said as he took both of her hands in his.
“It might help to lay off the Firewhiskey every once in awhile,” she teased.
“Ha ha, I’ve just been mad with studying for the N.E.W.T.s, if you please.”
She smiled mischievously. “So I win.”
Scorpius groaned. “Come off it! We were six! That doesn’t even count.”
“I totally made the first move, I spoke to you first; looks like someone is my slave for the entire week!” Rose smirked as she poked a finger into his chest.
“And what are my orders, Miss Weasley?” He leaned forward to whisper into her ear, snaking one hand around her waist to pull her closer and taking the side of her face with the other. His fingers slid expertly into her hair as he cupped her head, and he ran his lips over her earlobe and down her neck in just the way she liked.
She paused, enjoying his touch for a moment. Then she spoke.
“Stay with me, always.”
He pulled away to look into her eyes, amused by her dreamy smile.
And as he kissed her, he silently thanked Tilly for dragging him to that Muggle-ridden park.