Chapter 9 : Rose Colored Denial
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It's not denial. I'm just selective about the reality I accept. ~Bill Watterson.
Scorpius opened the letter that had arrived from him. It was an owl he recognized. It was the same owl that had brought him correspondence for his and Rose's weekly meetings. He tried not to get his hopes up, told himself again and again it was just some missive about-
Hello! I know we haven't been in contact much since Al and Cely left a couple of weeks ago, but I've got only a couple events in November which gives me more time to concentrate on the disaster that is to be the wedding.
I would really appreciate it if you could meet me in the Leaky Cauldron at one pm this Sunday afternoon so we can go get your clothes for the wedding. James and Lily are coming along too as the other groom's man and bride's maid.
Hope you can make it.
Hope he could make it? Was she kidding? Was there a chance he wouldn't?
Scorpius ran a hand through his hair, taking deep steadying breath. So yes, maybe this was the first letter Rose had sent to him since their meeting two weeks ago. And alright, he was a bit anxious to see her. But it was not a date under any circumstances. James and Lily would be there, and Scorpius would keep his thoughts from wandering too much-no matter how flattering her top may be. Which happened to be very.
Scorpius folded up the letter, pulled a separate piece of parchment out to scribble back a reply, and fidgeted around his flat until it was time for him to go visit his parents. He wasn't particularly looking forward to that visit either. His parents had taken up a nasty habit of asking Scorpius about Rose every time he went to visit them. His mother had made it her personal mission to have Rose Weasley over for dinner sometime in the foreseeable future.
Rose, luckily stuck to her word. When she said they shouldn't meet, she had meant it. Rose had tactfully rescheduled giving legitimate excuses and her mother couldn't refute because the meetings were rescheduled to a date and time Rose knew the older woman would be available. Scorpius didn't know how Rose knew his mother's free times, but miraculously, she did. She never accepted dinner. She agreed to lunch, but only outside in public at a time she knew Scorpius would be in the ministry.
So maybe that was it. Rose knew his ministry hours and she was constructing the meetings around.
That's assuming she gives a damn about you one way or another, Scorpius told himself bitterly.
His grandfather clock-the only antique in this very modern flat- chimed one. It was time to meet the Malfoys for lunch.
Scorpius Apparated to the front porch just as the Malfoy Manor clock hit the last chime and rang the gong-like doorbell. As a child, he had always hated the loud sound resounding through the manor walls, but now he found it...soothing. An assurance that he was returning home. No matter it's dark history, the manor would always be his home just as it had been for generations of Malfoys before him. It had been made clear to him that when he was married, he would move into the manor with his wife, and Astoria and Draco would move to one of the other Malfoy properties in the country or on the continent just as Lucius and Narcissa had.
Although, now he was beginning to wonder if he would ever get married and settle into the manor. It seemed too unlikely and...far away into the future.
Jemma opened the door on the fifth gong, and primly escorted Scorpius to the parlor even though he had grown up in this house and knew the ritual. But it was only proper to be escorted. Scorpius never put much store to the old pure-blood traditions and rituals, but he endured them for the sake of his parents who had grown up with them.
Draco and Astoria looked flushed, as though they had been laughing before he came in, but their faces looked sombre. Scorpius saw the reason soon enough. Lucius and Narcissa sat in the parlor along with his parents looking regal and utterly straight-faced. Scorpius winced mentally. If he had known his grandparents were coming he would have dressed more sharply and in Wizarding attire. As it were, he was dressed in his regular trousers and button down pale blue shirt that complimented his eyes. Draco and Astoria never gave a rat's fart about what he wore as long as he wore something that covered everything.
Narcissa, and Lucius especially set much store to dress-robes unfortunately, and they were quick to point out their disdain for everything Scorpius represented. From his Gryffindor sorting to his association with the Potters and Weasleys, to his staunch refusal to marry for the sake of producing a blonde, prim and proper male heir, and his disdain for pure-blood philosophy. The only minuscule part they did approve of was his career in the finances, and adviser to the Minister, no less. Even then, it was only to a certain degree since the Minister happened to be Harry Potter.
His grandmother wasn't as blatantly obvious about her disapproval. She spoiled Scorpius as any grandparent would spoil their grandchild, but never any outwardly affection as his mother showed him from a young age. Scorpius had often noticed Narcissa silently cluck her tongue in disapproval as Astoria cooed and fumbled over her son.
“Grandmother, grandfather. Hello.” Scorpius dutifully pecked his grandmother's cheek and shook Lucius' hand. He would not say it was nice to see them, because frankly, it wasn't. Scorpius forgave his father for the acts he committed during the war: he had been young, and left to protect his mother from a lunatic.
But Lucius had no such excuse. He had stomped the Malfoy name in the mud with his own two feet, and his fierce refusal to acknowledge that made it difficult for Scorpius to respect the man.
“Hello Scorpius. Hope you are well,” Narcissa gave a small, but genuine smile. It was in these moments Scorpius saw her resemblance to Teddy Lupin's grandmother whom he had met on several occasions during Weasley gatherings. Scorpius liked the woman and didn't blame her one bit for not associating with her sister and brother-in-law.
“Indeed, I am,” Scorpius assured her, taking his customary seat with his back to the fire. “And you?”
“What is it that you are wearing?” Lucius' steely gaze was fixed on him like a wolf fixated on a deer.
And so it begins.
Scorpius gave a half-smirk, obvious only to his mother and father who knew him well enough.“Muggle clothes, grandfather. Much more comfortable than robes. Pardon me, but I would have dressed more suitably to your tastes had I known you were coming. However, I have to stop by in Muggle London after lunch for an appointment and cannot afford to go back home to change.” Scorpius chanced a glare at his parents who had thought it was perfectly alright to keep Scorpius in the dark about his grandparents' visit.
“An appointment? With a Muggle?” Lucius asked, leaning forward on his staff with that disgusting snake head.
There was no such appointment, but Scorpius didn't care. He was an excellent liar, and lie he would just because he could. “Muggleborn. He lives in Muggle London. He's a fellow cabinet member and Gryffindor.” Scorpius said the last word with the slightest of stresses. He enjoyed detaching himself from Lucius in all ways. Being a proud red and gold wearing lion was just one of the many ways.
He was sure if Lucius could, the older man would have snorted. But since it was considered undignified to snort, he contented himself with a stiff glare at Draco as if it were Draco's fault Scorpius was meeting a Muggleborn. Draco was determinedly looking straight ahead at a painting of Abraxas Malfoy sneering haughtily at the neighboring portrait of Severus Snape who looked thoroughly bored by the proceedings.
Jemma bobbed into the room right that moment and announced lunch was ready. Scorpius was relieved. Lunch meant utilizing his mouth for something other than talking.
It was a quiet affair with the occasional clink of silverware on china, or rustling of the ivory tablecloth as a crystal goblet was raised to drink from.
When the whole ordeal was over, Scorpius stayed for another twenty minutes before declaring that he had to depart.
“So you intend to keep your appointment with this Mud-”
“Muggleborn, grandfather. And yes, I do.” Scorpius spoke over his grandfather for the first time in years. The last time had been when he refused to marry Blaise and Pansy Zabini's daughter because she had blonde hair and gray eyes as many Malfoy wives tended to have. Vervain Zabini was a cold, poisonous bitch who had never liked Scorpius for anything other than his surname. Scorpius would go to hell and back before even considering marrying a hard icicle.
Lucius locked his jaw before speaking. “You do not speak to me like that. You will respect me as your elder.”
“You are lucky I do not speak to you like this every visit Grandfather. Believe me, the only reason I have any semblance of respect for you is only because you are the father of my father and that is all.” Scorpius gave a quick peck to both his mother and grandmother, nodded to Draco and left without another glance at his grandfather. Let him seethe to his wife and son and daughter-in-law over Scorpius' lack of respect. He had no wish in hearing about it.
Scorpius Apparated to the Leaky Cauldron just thirty seconds before the allotted meeting time on Sunday. Draco and Astoria took turns the entire morning reprimanding Scorpius for his behavior at lunch the day before as if he was still the young boy who had blown up the stuffing from all the chairs and sofas in the Slytherin common room back in fourth year.
Needless to say, he was not in a good mood when he arrived to find James, Lily, and Rose already seated at table. He gave them a tentative smile as he approached.
“Wotcher, Scorpius,” Lily grinned widely.
Scorpius grunted, taking a seat next to James and across from Rose.
“What's got your wand up your arse?” James questioned, nudging him gently.
“Two words: Lucius Malfoy,” Scorpius said grimly.
“Ah,” James nodded solemnly. “That explains everything.”
It was no secret Scorpius had no love for Lucius Malfoy.
“I feel your pain,” Rose grinned, patting the back of his palm gently, but took it back much too soon for Scorpius' liking. James and Lily exchanged a grin. “Anyway, we decided to get lunch before we went on the impossible mission that is clothes shopping. I invited Marissa since she has a knack for this sort of thing.” Rose frowned, “But she's-”
“Not late, Rose,” Marissa Apparated a few feet away from them. “When has your dutiful assistant ever failed you?”
“Never,” Rose smiled, making space for the perky blonde at their table.
“Never is right. Hello, Marrisa Holland,” she introduced herself to James and Lily and nodded to the other blonde, “Scorpius.”
Scorpius noticed James' eyes lock onto Marissa with predatory gaze.
Lily giggled, “We know who you are, Mar. We went to school with you.”
“Doesn't hurt though, does it?” Marissa winked. “Creature of habit, I'm afraid. Rose, I've got a list of all the muggle shops and boutiques we can hit. And I have to warn you, it most likely won't be done in one day.”
Rose groaned, “I have resigned myself to the fact that nothing about this wedding is going to be done in one day. Honestly, if I had it my way-”
Lily waved a dismissive hand, “-then you would have Al and Cely swear before a Wizengamot Warlock and be done with it. We know.”
Rose narrowed her eyes. “Actually, I was going to say I would make them elope and save everyone the trouble.”
“Sure you were, Flower One. Sure you were.” James smirked, but his eyes were still fixated on Marissa. “So, Marissa, what year were you in?”
Marissa gave a smirk of her own as Lily giggled, “Same as Rose. We were dorm-mates. Not that I expect you to remember.” She and Rose shared a glance, and a small, private smile. It was obviously an inside joke.
Before James could comment on the somewhat presumptuous statement, Hannah sidled up to them smilingly to take their orders.
“The usual for me and Rose,” Marissa ordered. Scorpius was surprised Rose let someone else speak for her, but when Rose only smiled he realized that perhaps Marissa was the only one allowed to do so.
Scorpius didn't remember them being so close during Hogwarts. Hell, if they had, she would have recognized him the first day he went to Rose's office. But now they shared an almost fond sisterly relationship, it seemed. Not as strong as Cely's was, but it was on a level of its own.
“Mhmm, and what about you three?”
“Soup and bread,” Lily answered.
“Just a Cauldron Special Sandwich,” James said, not taking his eyes off Marissa who was most definitely not looking his way.
“Er...” Scorpius thought about what he liked for a second. “I suppose I'll get clam chowder.”
Hannah smiled, Banishing the parchment of orders to the kitchen. “What are you lot up to today?”
“Clothes fitting for Albus and Cely's wedding.” Rose answered, smiling at the older woman.
“Oh yes, of course. I can't believe they're getting married.” Rose stiffened at the word, but said nothing else. “It literally seems like yesterday that they were yelling at each other.”
Rose coughed, covering up a small laugh, “Cely didn't always hate Al, you know.”
“What?” Lily shrieked, clutching Rose's hand.
The other redhead grinned, enjoying the fact that she knew something Lily desperately wanted to hear.
“You heard me.”
Marissa nodded emphatically, “Half of it was put on. Not all the time, mind you. There was times when Potter could be really annoying. Even I knew that.” Marissa's eyes rested on James as she said Potter, but then her eyes shifted to Lily, so Scorpius wasn't sure if the use of the last name held a double meaning or not. “But sometimes, he didn't bother her too much.”
“She secretly enjoyed the attention, we were all sure of it,” Rose added.
“We?” Scorpius asked eagerly.
“Girls in the dormitory.” Rose shrugged. “We used to tease her about it.”
Lily whistled, “I always suspected but...wow. Interesting tidbit there, Ro.”
“Tease her about it, Lily, and you die.” Rose narrowed her eyes playfully.
“Oooh, I'm so scared.” Lily feigned cowering.
Hannah laughed at them. “Alright, well, I'll go get you drinks. What would you like?”
They all ordered Butterbeer, and Hannah left, chuckling softly as Lily and Rose continued their fake dispute.
Scorpius was just about to dig into his lunch when a small hand rested on his shoulder. “Scorpius?”
He looked up to find a vaguely familiar woman. She was more on the petite side with long brown hair and dark green eyes on a heart shaped face.
“Er...pardon?” Scorpius stared at her, wondering where he had seen this young woman. She couldn't look more than twenty.
“We met at the Gladrags Fashion show?” She smiled tentatively.
Scorpius frowned, trying to remember the night. He had gone because Albus had made him promise before he left for the Auror conference. Scorpius had mostly spent the night at the open bar sipping...something. Then, a light went off in his head. He felt his face flush as he remembered exactly what- or who- he had done that night. He had delivered on his other promise to Albus as well: To be a real man. “Ah...er...Sheila?”
“Shana,” She reminded him with a small smile.
“Uhm...yeah.” He avoided James' knowing smirk, Lily's half hidden giggle, Marissa's amused expression. But what he could not ignore were Rose' cool, indifferent eyes.
Rose looked at the wom- girl- talking to Scorpius critically. She looked barely our of Hogwarts, and she was staring at Scorpius as if...as if...
As if her were the best fuck of her life, she told herself bluntly.
She wanted to cringe away from the thought, but she didn't. For some insane second, Rose wanted to strangle the girl. But the urge was soon overcome with a cold blank look. She couldn't let the others glimpse what she was feeling. Her eyes dropped into the cool facade she knew she could fool even her mother with, and observed Scorpius' embarrassed mutterings.
Yes, definitely the best fuck of her life if the stupid girl's adoring expression was anything to go by.
The girl finally looked up around the table at the others, and positively lost it.
“Oh. My. God! You're-you-I-” Most of her incoherent fawning was indicated toward Lily and James who were not only Harry Potter's children, but famous Quidditch players. “James and Lily Potter! I am such a big fan. Of the Harpies, I mean. Not that your Chasing isn't brilliant, but I've always loved the Harpies since I was a girl. And you must be Rose Weasley. I saw you on MagikVision couple of months ago. You're hair looks even more red in real life.”
Rose blinked. She wasn't sure if that was a compliment or not. “Er...thank you?”
“Such a big fan of your mother's work to. I'm an intern in her office. Just started last year...” she went on talking about Hermione and all he achievements in the regards to house-elves and how she, Shana, hoped to be just as dedicated and passionate. And wasn't it such a shame how some families treated their house-elves like they were dirt even after almost thirty years of Hermione Granger-Weasley's campaigns?
The arrival of their bill finally paused Shana's tirade on elven rights, and she left with the promise to contact Scorpius with a sultry wink. Rose bit down on her tongue hard enough to draw blood to stop from saying something scathing to the brunette's retreating back.
“Well,” Lily laughed “At least she didn't ask for autographs.”
“At least you didn't have to hear her go on about your mother's commendable work. If I didn't know any better, I'd think she had a crush on her.” Rose grinned, putting her money on the table. “Then again,” she glanced bemusedly at Scorpius, “We all know that's not true.”
Hmm...maybe I should visit Mum one of these days at the office.
Scorpius mumbled something akin to shut up as the table erupted in laughter.
“Well, not that Malfoy's sexual exploits aren't interesting, but we need to get going. This is going to take a few trips. The men's should be easy. Since Cely told Rose she wants strict Muggle attire, Muggle attire she will get. Which means tuxedos for you boys, which won't take long. It's you and Lily that will take longer, although not too long since you're both the same hair and skin color so finding something for both of you won't be too difficult.”
Marissa marched out of the Leaky Cauldron and continued talking even though Rose was sure no one except her understood what the blonde woman was saying since she spoke as fast as Rose when set on a target. Rose nodded at all the right points and smiled whenever Marissa made a point to ignore James.
Rose watched as James walked a little ways behind Marissa, unable to take his eyes off her. She also knew Marissa had noticed, but was ignoring him purposefully. Marissa has a curious sense of romance. While not wary at every turn like Rose, she did tend to pick and choose to an extent. As far as Rose knew, James Womanizer Extraordinaire Potter was not her cup of tea. Marissa stuck to men who wanted long term relationships, but she never deluded herself that the first man to come along would be her Prince Charming.
Rose followed her assistant into the store with a sense of foreboding. Spending hours looking for and being fitted for clothes wasn't really her idea of a perfect Sunday. But, she decided, the company was good. And she hadn't really spent time with Sco- with her friends since Albus and Cely had left for their trip. She had been to busy running around for the upcoming holidays festivities and managing the wedding without going spare that she hadn't found the time to just be with her friends.
Marissa took charge as Rose knew she would, ordering the flustered ladies in the store on the tuxes and ties of Scorpius and James whilst sorting through the suitable colors what would look good on Rose and Lily. Rose was more than happy to let her take charge for once. This was her department, not Rose's. Rose had an artistic flare for themes and décor and what color flower went best with what china collection. But Rose wasn't one to sit back and let people do the thinking for her.
So naturally, when Marissa selected a pale pink floor length number Rose just had to object.
And of course, both Lily and Marissa had to love just that particular color. Lily and Rose wouldn't be wearing the exact same dress of course, but the color would be the same.
“It's absolutely gorgeous, Rose! I love it, and Cely would too,” Lily insisted, holding one of the dresses against her and observing herself in the three-way mirror.
“It's pink,” Rose said plainly in a tone that suggested that she would die before she touched pink.
“Pale pink. It's practically white,” Marissa insisted, holding her selection for Rose against Rose's chest. “And you'll look great.”
“I'll have to change the entire theme,” Rose grimaced, looking at the dress with distaste.
She was already regretting coming so soon. But Cely had been persistent that Rose plan the theme, flower, cake, and everything around her and Lily's dress colors. Marissa didn't know that, and Rose saw no reason to inform the woman now.
“So? You have six more months.” Lily waved a dismissive hand.
Rose bristled. “You can't just change the entire theme with the snap of your fingers.”
“You're a witch. Of course you can.” Lily grinned impishly.
“You know damn well I do things the Muggle way. Which is why people come to me. I refuse to revert to simple magic for the sake of a dress.”
“I think it looks gorgeous,” Scorpius said from behind her. He had been in the adjoining room being fitted into his tux and sweet Merlin- didn't he look gorgeous leaning against the door frame on one shoulder while a hand was tucked into his pocket?
Rose took care not to let her jaw drop. So what if he looked like he belonged in the advert for Men's formal Gladrags Wizardwear? She didn't have to act like a fawning seventeen year old schoolgirl. A month and half away from him should have been enough to squash whatever stupid fluttery feelings she got in his presence. Rose had decided it was just the stale coffee she had this morning.
Yeah. That was it. Stale coffee.
“Huh?” Rose asked stupidly, looking at him in the mirror. He pushed away from the door and stood directly behind her, peering at the dress over her shoulder. They weren't quite touching but Rose could feel his warm breath on the nape of her neck.
“The dress looks nice. It's...” his lips quirked into a smile, “rose colored.”
Rose gulped, shifting her weight from one foot to another, and licked her lips nervously. “Ah...”
There was no space for her to move away from him. Marissa still stood in front of her, holding up the dress and Scorpius stood behind her oh-so-close. Rose's breathing ceased completely when Scorpius plucked the dress out of Marissa's hands, and stepped closer still so now he was the one holding the dress against her chest while his chest touched her back by a small fraction.
His woodsy scent threatened to over-power her senses and her sanity. Moving suddenly, Rose bunched up the gown and shoved it at Marissa, “Sure. Pick this one. I have to go.” And then left the store without a backwards glance.
A/N: Yay! Chapter nine! Can't believe I'm about to hit the double digits with this. So, tell me how you guys felt about this chapter. Favorite parts? Most confusing parts? Any questions at all about any parts?
Let me know in a review :D
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