Chapter 10 : Meet Me in the Middle of the Air
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Meet me in the middle of the air
Draco, Scorpius and Astoria were absent from dinner. There was only Roxanne, Raven and Lucinda remaining, and they knew Rose and Hugo had been involved in whatever had taken place earlier that day. Rose was worried about Raven – the girl was pale, her skin and eyes listless and she was continually murmuring to herself. It was odd, and Rose hoped it was nothing more than stress. Lucinda was as poised as always, her face serene, but her eyes were worried.
Roxanne seemed completely unaffected by everything. She continually pressed for information until Rose stood up and pushed her plate across the table, loosing her temper.
“You’re like a bloody vulture,” she snapped at her cousin. “Dreadful things have happened and all you care about is whether Scorpius likes you? Come on, Roxanne, this is serious – it isn’t a game. It’s not about you and what you want any more.”
Roxanne folded her arms. “So who is it about then, Rose? Is it about you?”
Rose felt her mouth fall open. “What are you talking about?”
“Why are you still here?” her cousin asked rather venomously. “I’m sure your little job is over. Why don’t you go home?”
“Why don’t you?” Hugo bristled. “All of you. The contest is over, finished; none of you get to be his blushing bride so deal with it and leave.”
Roxanne’s scowled. “Grow a spine, Hugo – you’ve spent half your life in your sister’s shadow and now you’re going to defend her? It doesn’t change the fact that she,” Roxanne pointed at Rose, “lied to me!”
“When did I ever lie?”
Lucinda and Raven, recognising this was a family matter, stood up to leave, and Roxanne rounded on them. “This concerns you too,” she said passionately.
“Actually,” Raven said quietly; it was only the second time Rose had heard her speak on her own and not as part of the mob and she was surprised by how deep and melodic her voice was. “I’ve asked my mother to come and collect me, tomorrow. Hugo is right – the contest is over. I’m going home. This has gotten too scary.”
“No,” Roxanne began desperately, wanting back-up.
“If your name was something other than Weasley, like Lestrange, you’d probably think it was frightening, Roxanne. I know things I shouldn’t, have been told things a child should not know.”
The wind went out of Roxanne’s sails as Lucinda nodded in agreement. “I’m leaving too – tomorrow, or as soon as I can. I’m waiting for my mother to contact me. Sorry, Roxanne, but I know when to bow out,” she added, her eyes seeking Rose across the table. Rose felt her mouth go dry as Lucinda gave her a tiny, knowing smile. She turned and followed Raven, closing the door behind her.
“So that just leaves poor pathetic you,” Hugo smiled, lifting his glass in a mockery of a toast to his cousin. Roxanne pursed her lips, strode across the floor and slapped Hugo with such force the sound echoed through the room and he fell off his chair. Rose pulled her wand, sticking it in her cousin’s furious face. They glared at one another over the narrow stick of wood.
“Go on then,” Roxanne muttered mutionously. “That will leave no one in your way.”
“What is wrong with you?” Rose asked in a low voice. “If you like him as much as you say you do, why don’t you do something real about it? Something honest? But I don’t think you do like him, Roxanne, and he knows you don’t want him for the right reasons.”
Roxanne curled her lip. “Oh how sweet; he’s poured his heart out. Was that pillow talk then, Rose? I’m surprised you let him touch you, considering how uptight you are.”
“It isn’t like that!”
Her cousin laughed, tossing her head. “Did he tell you he slept with me? Yes, that was one aspect of our relationship that did work. Does it annoy you to know that I had him first?”
“I don’t know you anymore,” Rose whispered in disbelief. Her wand hand faltered, and slowly, she let it drop. “What happened to you? You used to be nice, Roxanne. A pleasant person and now...I don’t know if it’s the contest or the things that have happened but...”
“You’re a right royal bitch,” Hugo put in, rubbing at his face. “And I happen to know he didn’t sleep with you, so quit lying about it. Your relationship with Scorpius is over, and you’ve got no one to blame for that but yourself because if I remember correctly, you dumped him. Anyway, if you wanted a boy-toy you should have picked someone a little younger – I think Lorcan is still single.”
Roxanne huffed, turned on her heel and strode from the room, slamming the doors on her way out. Rose sighed, sliding her wand away and sitting down. Hugo mirrored her action, conjuring a fresh glass of firewhiskey for her and one for himself. “Cheers,” he said, raising the glass and with a wry smile, Rose followed suit, still worried about Roxanne. It was unlike her cousin to behave so nastily.
“Thank you,” she told her brother quietly. Hugo only smiled and shrugged.
She did not see Scorpius before she went to bed. She had wanted to ask him about the interview, about how his father was, his grandmother and his mother. She wanted to know why he had kissed her. She wanted to ask how he was and she lingered downstairs for a while, spending some time sitting by the pool, her wand clutched tightly just in case, but he did not appear. Her only company was the hit wizard who lurked by the door to the house, watching her. Sighing, Rose took herself off to bed, falling into a fitful sleep.
When someone shook her awake, the images floating through her head were so vivid, the dream so real that she was sweating with fear, her stomach clenched and her throat tight. She wanted to scream, but nothing came out but a strangled sound.
“Woah, Rose,” Hugo whispered as she clung to him, gasping, clawing at his arm.
“Where’s Scorpius?” she whispered back. “Where is he?”
“Here.” Scorpius was standing by the window, his silhouette just visible in the tiny slice of light sneaking through the curtain. His voice was puzzled, low and husky and Rose swallowed, her heart still pounding furiously. “We’re going spying; thought you might like to come.”
“Get dressed,” Hugo ordered. He and Scorpius slipped into the hall to wait while Rose clambered out and found some clothes, not knowing what she was throwing on in the darkness. All she could think of was the horrible dream she had been in when Hugo woke her, the terrible sense of doom and the festering, foreboding darkness that filled her mind. It had been another dream of Scorpius and this one was clear as day. Rose pushed it aside, flinging open the door, finding the boys in the hall outside. She would think about it later.
“Nice shirt,” Hugo winked. Rose looked down at herself, realising her t-shirt was inside out and back to front.
“Nice face,” she hissed at her brother. “What are we doing exactly?”
“We’re raiding dad’s study,” Scorpius said quietly. “There are things I want to know, like what the hell is going on with my head and how to fix it. There are that many books and scrolls and piles of parchment that surely there must be something in there that would help.”
The Manor was as still and quiet as a grave as they crept along the hall and down the stairs, encountering no hit wizards on the way. Scorpius eased the great wooden doors of the study open, avoiding the usual creak and groan, and it had Rose wondering if he’d done this sort of thing before. Hugo started whispering about some spy movie he and Scorpius had seen.
“Shut the door 007’s,” Rose smiled, taking out her wand and muttering a quick ‘lumos’. The room filled with soft, dim light.
“You can be Moneypenny, Rose,” Hugo said.
“Or the intelligent and beautiful but totally out-of-luck woman who gets herself in a dangerous situation,” Scorpius rejoined. “Then we can rescue you. You’ve got the bikini for the role.”
“I’d rather not think about that,” Hugo whispered.
“I’ll be Bond then,” Scorpius said. “You can be Q.”
“Why can’t I be M? I’m obviously the one in control of this operation,” Rose said quietly, moving to the bookshelves closest to the grand mahogany desk. She heard Scorpius mutter an ‘I don’t think so,’ and smirked. She scanned the titles she could easily see; nothing. Glancing up, Rose saw the shelves disappearing into the darkness. Ever one to do things the hard way, and not wanting to use too much magic lest they were caught, she dragged a chair over and climbed up, attempting to reach the books on the top shelf.
“I doubt you’ll find anything up there; those books belong to mother,” Scorpius mused, startling her. Rose lost her balance, falling sideways into nothingness. She bit down on her scream, braced herself, and the floor when she landed was not as hard as it should have been. It took her a moment to realise she was lying face down on top of Scorpius, who groaned as she shifted her weight.
“I’m sorry,” Rose gasped, attempting to sit up. His arms went around her suddenly, holding her immobile and against her better judgement, she felt her limbs relax.
“This is such a terrible cliché, don’t you think? If you wanted to get me on my back, Weasley, all you had to do was ask,” he said in a low, deep voice. Rose did not like how close their faces were and she did not like being pressed against him, not like this. He raised his eyebrows suggestively and she hit him.
“Why does everything that comes out of your mouth have to be so bloody sexual?”
“I can’t help it if you’ve got a dirty mind.” In the semi-darkness, she watched as his eyes darkened and his lips curled into a smile.
“Scorpius, let me go.” Rose struggled and he gripped her hips so tightly she was certain he’d leave bruises.
“This is rather nice,” he whispered, lifting his head a little, bringing their faces even closer together. Rose closed her eyes. “You know, I have a bed that is much more comfortable than the floor.”
Rose’s eyes snapped open; his mouth was centimetres from hers and she watched, something turning over deep in her stomach, as he licked his lips. She broke out of his arms with more strength than she knew she had, scrambling away from him until her back hit the bookshelf.
“You’re a pig, Scorpius,” she whispered, only because she didn’t know what else to say.
“The body wants what the body wants,” he drawled, sitting up and facing her with burning eyes. “I can’t help it if it wants you.”
“That’s such a typically male thing to say,” Rose growled, climbing to her feet. “I’m out of here,” she announced loudly, heading for the door. Let Draco catch his son, her brother too; let him curse them to Hell where they both belonged. Hugo caught her before she could throw the doors open, dramatically, like she had planned. She fought him, but he was too strong and he dragged her back into the centre of the room, where she huffed and folded her arms.
“I’m telling Draco,” she threatened under her breath. “And mum and dad.”
“Rose, Rose, Rose, please, don’t. We need you,” Hugo begged. “Scorpius, mate, tell her we need her.”
Scorpius was now leaning against his father’s desk; he caught her eye across the room, his expression hot and intense. Shadows coated his face, interspersed with the light from the wand Rose had left lying on the desk. It gave him a sinister appearance, that was, at the same time, intriguing and mysterious. Her muscles clenched.
“I need you,” he said quietly. His words reached over the space between them and slapped Rose in the face, making her tremble. She bit her lip, looked away from him and curled her fists.
I hate him, she told herself, loathe him, and think he’s irritating, arrogant, ridiculous, gorgeous...She took a deep breath and sighed, knowing it was too late to deny it. “Fine; but only because I know you two don’t have half a brain to share.”
She made sure she stayed away from him, as far as the dark room would allow. Twenty minutes later, Hugo called her to the desk where Scorpius was sitting, a piece of parchment between his long fingers. He looked up and wordlessly passed it to her. Rose read it quickly, frowning.
“It’s a list...”
“Of Lucius’ Dark objects, things the Ministry was supposed to take and things dad was supposed to hand over,” Scorpius said bitterly. “I found it under the rug, magicked to the floor.”
“Maybe he just forgot,” Hugo suggested. “Does it say where they are?”
Rose looked at her brother sharply. “Why? You aren’t thinking we should find this stuff, Hugo?”
He shrugged. “Why not? There might be some clues...listen,” he said quickly at Rose’s sceptical look. “We saw Dark Magic today, someone has been injured, people are missing, Scorpius is dreaming the past and future combined and...”
“You’re dreaming too,” Scorpius said, looking at Rose.
“What?” Hugo asked in disbelief. “Rose?”
She sighed, and told her brother the same thing she had told Scorpius. The dream she had experienced before Hugo came to wake her still swirled through her head but she said nothing of it, needing to think about it some more before putting voice to the darkness.
“This is nuts,” Hugo whispered at last. “You should have told mum.”
“She’d have made me go home,” Rose whispered back, “or forced me to go to St Mungo’s.”
“Ssssh,” Scorpius put a finger to his lips, listening. Rose held her breath, ears straining and sure enough, in the hall outside there were footsteps. “Damn, it’s my father,” Scorpius whispered. Rose extinguished her wand, heart thundering. “Get out of here; my room. I’ll bring the...stuff,” he added. Before Rose could say anything, Hugo grabbed her and spun them around and moments later, they were standing in the middle of Scorpius’ bedroom.
Scorpius apparated in half an hour later, looking frazzled. In his hands, he held an ornate wooden box. “I told dad I was looking for a book to read,” he smiled. “I don’t think he brought it, but he left me alone; he’s distracted, and worried...here,” he set the box down on the floor.
“Where was it?”
“Under the drawing room floor – there’s a secret compartment,” he explained. “Dad thinks I don’t know about it, but I found it one day while I was messing about. Clara caught me so I didn’t get a chance to see what was in there. Now I know, I guess.”
Hugo dropped to the floor beside Scorpius, but Rose remained standing. There was something about that box that screamed danger and she didn’t want to go near it. Before she could warn anyone else, Scorpius had used his wand to break the lock and lifted the lid. From where she was standing, Rose could see nothing except the backs of the boy’s heads. Scorpius sat back on his heels.
“Huh.” He slid a hand in and Rose jumped.
“Don’t,” she said quickly. “It could be cursed, or something.”
Scorpius ignored her; Rose strode forward and pulled on his arm, kicking the box out of reach at the same time. Hugo protested but she glared at him, turning her attention to Scorpius. His expression was glazed, his lips slightly parted. She shook him and he blinled. “What the...”
“Dark magic,” Rose reminded him. “Those objects...can’t you feel it, Scorpius? They’re evil. You shouldn’t touch them.”
Scorpius nodded, still dazed and Rose left him to snap the lid shut on the box. Before she did so, she peered inside, unable to prevent herself from doing so. She frowned. “Something is missing.”
“What?” Hugo’s voice rose from behind her. “How do you know?”
“Just a guess; the box looks too empty for its size,” Rose improvised, not knowing how to explain what she had seen in her dream.
Hugo pacing the floor, frowning. “This is all very weird,” he muttered as Scorpius slid the box under his bed.
“Take that thing back,” Rose ordered and Scorpius shook his head.
“I won’t look in there, Rose, I promise. I can’t go back there now – dad is still downstairs.”
Rose elbowed her way past him and slid the box out, spelling it locked with the most complicated charms she could think of. She gave Scorpius a smug look, which he returned with a scowl as she pushed the box back into the dark under the bed.
“You don’t trust me, do you?”
“Not really,” she replied quietly. “But I wouldn’t trust anybody with that.”
“I need sleep,” Hugo announced and before anyone could say anything, he’d disapparated.
“Me too,” Rose said, reaching for her wand. Scorpius caught her arm.
“Rose, I need to talk to you.”
“Later; I really do need to sleep and so do you.”
He sighed dejectedly and let her go.
Rose woke in darkness; someone was tapping on her door. Before she had the chance to answer it, she heard someone disapparate, and then apparate, and Clara the house elf was standing in her room.
“Clara, what is it?” Rose threw back the covers; the elf was distressed, wringing her hands and moaning to herself.
“Miss, you must go with Clara!”
“Okay,” Rose said, climbing out of bed. “But go where?”
“Master Scorpius needs you, miss.”
Rose frowned; her heart began pounding. “Scorpius needs...okay, let me get dressed.”
“No. It is of the utmost importance that you come now.” In her distress, Clara’s voice became shrill and she started rocking back and forth on her heels. Rose chewed her lip, concerned for the little elf.
“Clara, what is...”
“Now, please!” the elf shrieked, reaching forward and grasping Rose’s arm. She felt a dislocation of her senses as she was wrenched away, finding herself standing seconds later in Scorpius’ bedroom, in her pyjamas once again.
The room was dark, but the curtains were flung wide, the moon sneaking in and painting the bed and carpet silver. Scorpius was sitting on his bed, his back to them and she heard him mumble a thank you to Clara, who nodded in relief and vanished with a loud snap. Rose figured he must have ordered rather than asked the little elf to collect her and she was momentarily annoyed. She stood awkwardly, wishing Clara had let her grab a robe, or something. She felt naked and suddenly very shy.
That was forgotten as Scorpius turned to look at her. His face was drawn and pinched and he looked worse than he had earlier. Rose knew he hadn’t slept; she knew he was forcing himself to stay awake. He sighed and looked down at the bedspread, stretching out a long finger and tracing the pattern Rose could see gleaming in the moonlight.
“I...” she began; his head shot up and he beckoned her forward. Drawn like a sleepwalker, Rose went, sinking down beside him, his bed as soft and inviting as the one in her room.
“Do you think someone can do something and not remember it?”
“What do you mean?”
She heard him swallow. “I mean...the Dark Mark, and Heidi.”
“Scorpius, Melody poisoned Heidi, she admitted it,” Rose said firmly, immediately catching on. “And as for the Dark Mark, no, I don’t think you conjured that. How could you? Your father said only a Death Eater knows how to do it.”
“But what about Lucius? He was a Death Eater, and he’s in my head,” Scorpius argued. Rose shook her head.
“So? You couldn’t possibly have done it.”
“How do you know?” he said flatly.
“Look,” Rose said, turning to face him. “It wasn’t you. It’s just everything that has happened, playing on your mind. You haven’t slept properly in over a week.”
He sighed. “What do you think was missing from the box of Lucius’ stuff?”
“His mask,” Rose said without thought.
Scorpius gripped her arm, his fingers digging painfully into her skin. “How do you know that?”
“You’re hurting me, Scorpius. Let go!”
He did, quickly, muttering an apology.
“Before you and Hugo came and woke me, I had a dream, a nightmare,” she explained softly. “I saw you, with the mask in your hands, and then, you put it on and there was nothing but blackness and screams. It was terrible, Scorpius. That’s why I didn’t want you touching that box; I was afraid that what I’d seen...”
“Fuck me,” Scorpius swore.
“It was just a dream,” Rose said shakily. “It doesn’t mean it is going to happen.”
Scorpius said nothing for a long moment, looking at her with an intensity that made Rose tremble. “It’s you, you know,” he said quietly. “I just want you to know, before all this stuff gets...out of hand; before something really bad happens.”
“Nothing else is going to happen. The Auror’s will catch whoever is doing this,” Rose answered. She swallowed, her mouth suddenly dry as she addressed the first part of his speech. “What did you mean, it’s me?”
Scorpius gave her a searing look that almost incinerated her. This was far too intimate. When he was messing with her, it was okay; even the constant sexual innuendo was okay but this, this was not. This was something else and Rose found that she was scared, her own feelings brimming to the surface.
“I should go...” She closed her eyes briefly and when she opened them, his face, his lips, were so close she could almost taste him.
“From the moment this stupid competition started, from the moment you arrived on the doorstep with your camera and your little note pad I knew it was you,” he whispered. His breath fanned her face and Rose could not breathe.
“You knew what?” she forced herself to ask. He dropped his eyes and Rose bit her lip. He was so close to her she was finding it difficult to think rationally. She could feel the heat rising from his body. “Scorpius, answer the question, please. If this is just you being stupid again -”
He kissed her, sweetly and without restraint and Rose kissed him back, her body turning to liquid, not thinking of anything but what has happening at that moment. There was nothing outside of him, and her, and it was frightening to feel so lost, so completely swept away by one person.
“I knew it was you that I wanted,” he said finally, pulling away a fraction before resting his forehead against hers. “Rose...”
“If you’re about to tell me you’ve liked me since we were at school, I think I will hex you because we both know it is not the truth,” Rose whispered, watching as his eyes widened in surprise, before his face relaxed into a grin.
“Actually, I couldn’t stand you.”
“I know,” she replied, pushing him away gently; his face collapsed and she reached over and brushed a length of his hair from his face. “Why did you do that?”
“Kiss you? Because I wanted too,” he answered simply.
Unable to prevent it, Rose scowled. “So what Scorpius wants, Scorpius gets, right?”
“It’s not like that and you know it,” he replied, his voice low and filled with anger.
“I don’t know it. How could I? All I’ve ever seen you do is mess around with girls and...”
He put his fingers on her lips. “I’m not messing around.”
She nudged his hand away. “What about Roxanne? What about Lucinda?”
“I don’t care about them, either of them.” His voice was so solemn, so sincere that Rose held her breath, watching him closely for any sign that he was toying with her. When none came, a sense of complete relief washed through her and without further thought, she pressed her lips on his again, kissing him with a passion she didn’t know she had. She needed him and in an instant, had his shirt over his head and tossed onto the floor. Scorpius groaned and pulled her tightly against him, his hands moving over her body, his lips working the length of her throat. Rose was dizzy, gasping, nothing but want and need and lust in his arms as she let him push her back onto the pillows. When his hands slid under her clothes, fingers tasting her flesh, her brain snapped into focus and she slowly pushed him away.
“We can’t,” she said gently, voice rough and husky. “There are more important things going on. We have to work out how to free you from these dreams, or how to stop Lucius dreaming – anything, before someone gets seriously injured.”
Scorpius groaned loudly. “You are too practical sometimes, you know that?”
“And you think with your...” she sat up and he raised his eyebrows, smirking. “This is serious.”
He sighed. “I know.”
“I need to get back to my room,” Rose muttered, not wanting to leave him.
“You need sleep, Scorpius; you can’t do that when I’m here. You’re exhausted.”
“What if I said there was nothing worse than a woman who doesn’t finish what she started?” he grinned, but it was a weak grin that did not reach the rest of his face.
“I’d tell you patience is a virtue,” Rose rejoined, making him smile. She climbed off the bed. “I’m sorry, Scorpuis, but I should go.”
“I don’t want to be alone,” he admitted softly. “Once the dreams, nightmares, have hold of me I can’t wake up. It’s like I’m forced to ride them out, all the way to the end, to whatever horrible end there is. I can’t fall asleep – I can’t be alone.” He paused, looking at her, imploring her. “I need you, Rose.”
“Alright,” she whispered. If Scorpius went one more night without sleep he’d start loosing his mind. “I’ll try; if you need waking up, I’ll try, but according to Hugo, you sleep like the dead.”
Scorpius did not smile; he handed her his wand. “Then rennervate me, or something. Just don’t let me sleep through it.”
Rose nodded, grasping the wand tightly. She was prepared to sit vigil, at the foot of the bed or on the chair in the corner, but Scorpius rolled his eyes.
“Weasley, get in.”
“What? No way.”
“Rose, come on, don’t be stupid. I’m tired; I want to sleep. I won’t touch you, I promise.”
Rose sighed as he held the covers back for her. She watched him closely, suspicious and afraid to admit she actually liked the idea of sleeping beside him, but she also knew how much he affected her, how easy it would be to simply give in and just feel. She swallowed, her nerves on fire. “If you dare...”
She saw him smile in the darkness. “Hugo would kill me for doing such things to his sister.”
Before she had the wits to smack him, he’d fallen asleep.
When Rose woke a few hours later, and when her eyes had focused enough to realise she was not in her own bed, she sat up so quickly she felt dizzy. Scorpius’ hand closed around her wrist and she glanced at him almost guiltily.
“I have to go.”
“Good morning to you, too,” he yawned, tugging on her arm until she lay back down beside him. He looked rested, still tired, but not like he had been the day before. There was colour in his cheeks, and the shadows under his eyes were not as prominent.
“I have to go,” Rose repeated, sitting up again. “I’m glad you slept, really, but I can’t stay here.”
“You’re no fun.” Scorpius linked his arms behind his head. Rose looked at him, truly seeing for the first time what all those other girls saw – Scorpius was sexy. She knew it already, had seen it before, but in the honest light of the morning, fresh from sleep, it felt more real and she almost didn’t want to acknowledge it. There was something hypnotic about him, and the more he relaxed around her and stopped playing the silly games she was used to, the more drawn to him she was, and the more that primal, deep part of her pulsed. She scrambled off the bed, feeling that traitorous blush creeping across her skin as she remembered what had almost happened last night.
“Umm, see you at breakfast?” she mumbled, studying the carpet.
“Maybe,” he answered from the bed. Rose stared at him a moment longer, at the lean pale torso, the cheeks rumpled from sleep, at the way his hair fell into his eyes, and at the way the muscles in his arms were exposed. She couldn’t ever remember him turning into a man – he had always been that annoying little boy, worse than any brother, who she wanted to curse into nothingness.
She flung open the door and stepped into the hall before she did something she would come to regret, finding herself face to face with Draco Malfoy. They looked at one another silently; Rose felt her skin scorching, blistering with embarrassment. She swallowed, trying to think of something to say, to explain why she was sneaking out of his son’s room in the early hours of the morning. She opened her mouth and nothing came out.
“Interesting,” Draco murmured, and walked away, leaving Rose dying of shame.
Chapter title from the song In my time of Dying, by Led Zepplin.
There it is, guys, the BIG moment. Hope it was what you were expecting!
Edited 12.12: chapter image added.
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