Chapter 2 : II
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He couldn't sleep.
His bedroom was the room next to his mother's, and he couldn't stand the constant sounds of coughing from the other side of the wall. He knew she wouldn't be able to sleep because of it. She never slept. She spent all night wandering her room and the rest of the house, looking sorrowfully out of the windows, waiting for her husband. She was a ghost: rarely seen, pale, transparent and dead.
The old manor creaked loudly, the windows rattled their panes and the ancient stonework groaned against the wind. It could not sleep either.
Scorpius twisted and turned in his bed until the sheets began strangling him. It was too cold in the house and the fire would not light. His thoughts flitted between Elodie and his mother; his father and school. His hands bunched the material of the blankets, his knuckles turned white. His jaw clenched. He squeezed his eyes together tighter, trying to block out the moonlight so that sleep could finally engulf him. It would not. It would not be that merciful.
Ripping the tangled covers off his body, Scorpius swung his legs over the side of his bed. He held his head in his hands and listened to the dainty footsteps from the other side of the wall. Scorpius did not want to listen. It was as if he was intruding on her, eavesdropping, invading her privacy. He rubbed his eyes tiredly, ridding them of sleep.
He stood up, stretched his arms and walked over towards the window. Scorpius opened it, the cool breeze felt pleasant on his skin. An owl’s silhouette was against the moon, as he watched it swoop and dive in the night sky, carefree and relaxed. Scorpius was jealous.
The storm had calmed by now, brown and murky puddles branded the courtyard. There was a fresh scent, and Scorpius inhaled deeply, closing his eyes. Goosebumps erupted on his pale skin and he returned to his bed, the cold night finally getting to him. He laid still and shut his eyes firmly, trying once again to shut his brain down, trying once again to lose the battle against consciousness. It wouldn't work. Nothing would work.
He stood up again and paced around the room. He sat down on the bed again. He stood up again. He tried to relight the fire, but with his lack of wand, his efforts were futile. Scorpius Malfoy tried and tried and tried to sleep. He just wanted it all to shut down and for everything that happened that night to be a dream. That he could just wake up in the morning having found his father in London and his mother would be proud of him for returning Draco to his rightful place as head of the Malfoy household. Scorpius wished that when he woke up the incessant rain would stop falling and leaking its way into the ageing stonework of the manor, leaving it with a slight stench of damp and decay.
He flung the sheets away from him, sick with his inability to sleep. Pulling on a t-shirt, Scorpius stepped out into the dark corridor and crept down the paneled hallway. His door was opposite the grand staircase, and the landing outside overlooked the large entrance hall. The fire was dying down in the marble fireplace by the front door, the coals glowing orange in the darkness. The moonlight glinted off the crystal chandelier. The wind whispered.
Scorpius crept silently through the house, his footsteps light. Usually, he could have jumped, yelled and screamed and not worry about waking anyone up. His father was not here, his mother was physically unable to sleep and Scorpius himself had not slept properly since that night last Christmas.
Elodie was the only thing stopping him tearing down the hideous portraits from the walls, and pulling over the old suits of amour in his anger.
Scorpius paused at the door to her room, his knuckles resting close to the wood in preparation to knock. He tried to wonder why he was here, why he being drawn to her when all he needed was to be alone with his thoughts and possibly... possibly his own mother. He didn't know why he was there, standing so close to Elodie's door, why he was standing so close to the door of the girl who refused him so cruelly. He supposed the strange mixture of pain and pleasure he now associated with Elodie drew him here unconsciously, and now he was so near to her, he could feel it - that same agonizing pull that would always bring him back to her. It was that same pull that made Scorpius take her on his search for his father.
He lowered his hand, instead resting it against the cold brass of the door handle. He wasn't going to knock. It would be better it she wasn't awake, if she wasn't speaking, because then her voice wouldn't remind him of the time last Christmas as it did every time she spoke.
The moonlight was bright in the room, and it was much warmer, the dying embers of a fire apparent in the grate. Elodie was lying asleep in the bed, her pale skin luminescent in the dark and her blonde hair fanned out over the pillow.
Scorpius watched her sleep, perched on the ornate window seat.
He remembered the first time they met. It had been at a function that Scorpius' father had been required to go to. Scorpius had been six, and had been forced to wear a pair of dress robes. He remembered how they had cut into his neck, and how heavy and uncomfortable they were. Elodie was there too, but she looked radiant in her little blue gown and perfect blonde ringlets. Forced to 'play' together by their parents, the two children had sat down in a corner of the ballroom; surrounded by all the sweets they could lay their hands on. Together they had stuffed their faces until there was one left: a tiny little liquorice ring.
Scorpius smiled as he remembered holding it up to Elodie and through a mouthful of pumpkin pasty, asked her to marry him. She had giggled politely and then refused him. She had popped the ring into her mouth and got up to dance. Scorpius trailed his fingers through his hair. It's funny how history tends to repeat itself.
Will you marry me?
Looking at her now, asleep and dreaming, Scorpius could hardly believe that it was the same girl who had refused him all those years ago. She had grown into a beautiful young woman, with a slim frame, long blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes. She was kind and she was clever. She was perfect.
Elodie moved gently in her sleep, the sheets and blankets around her rustling slightly with the movement.
Scorpius had imagined what it would be like when they would be married. His father and mother had always pushed it upon him to do the right thing, to propose to her when they left school. Astoria had given him the family jewel. He remembered getting down on one knee, the box grasped desperately in his hands, his voice cold and croaking. The ring had glinted, but it had never made her accept. It was too large and imposing, far too vulgar to sit upon a hand as dainty and soft as Elodie's. Scorpius had run from the room and from her house, and with the snow falling on the ground, he catapulted the small black box into the night.
But what if she had accepted? What if they had promised to spend the rest of their lives together?
Scorpius asked himself whether he would be able to leave her, just like his father did to his mother. Perhaps Draco's cowardliness was something he had inherited, like the Malfoy engagement ring or a receding hairline.
Scorpius jumped, startled at the sound the fire made as the wood crackled and splattered.
Elodie's eyes fluttered open. She took in the dwindling fire, the grand velvet curtains and the sullen boy sitting on the window seat, his eyes downcast and heavy and his gaze unfocused. Elodie sat up, pulling the blankets up to her chin, so as to cover herself and retain her modesty. The rustling of the sheets made the young man turn his head to face her. He startled her. He was still beautiful.
"What are you doing here?"
"I didn't talk to you yesterday."
Elodie remembered the crunching of gravel and the rustling of leaves as she chased him through the garden, calling his name, the rain falling all around and him impermeable to her shouts.
"So you want to talk now?" Elodie said sarcastically, glancing at the grandfather clock, “it’s the middle of the night.”
“I know how much you enjoy your beauty sleep, but I couldn’t sleep and…”
“And what? The need to talk to me suddenly overcame you?”
“Yes.” His voice was quiet and soft, but laced with firmness: the prospect of a challenge.
The couple sat still: Scorpius cramped and uncomfortable on the small, ornate window seat and Elodie’s tiny frame was stranded in the centre of the majestic four-poster. The fire spat. A tiny gold ember flew from the flames and left a small dark hole on the rich oak flooring.
“Why?” Elodie asked him.
“I know you don’t want to talk to me.”
“So you want to know why? Because being back in the family home makes me family nostalgic.”
Elodie laughed. It was short and spiteful and made Scorpius’ stomach shrink into non-existence. He suddenly felt the desire – an animalistic need – to hold her, to feel her skin beneath his fingers, to make her smile and make her laugh properly and wholly.
He also wanted to hurt her, to make her feel some of the ache like of that she had caused him. The painful, pleasurable pull was drawing him towards her yet again, and he didn’t know what it made him: a sadist or a masochist.
“You’re funny,” she said monotonously, her mouth stretched in a wide, unfriendly grimace.
“You love it.”
Neither of them spoke for a moment. Elodie shifted uncomfortably in the bed, and Scorpius tapped his fingernails against the wood. Both their minds flitted back to a time before that Christmas, before that night, before everything went wrong.
It had been a perfect day, Elodie remembered, her hair had looked just right, and she had been wearing her favorite dress. The sun was shining, making the Hogwarts grounds seem even more serene. She had been reading on a stone bench near the lake when he had appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, and whispered those three little words in her ear. It was like something out of a fairytale.
"I used to," she said.
It had been the day, Scorpius remembered, that he had never felt more exposed. He wished now that he could somehow turn back time and reel in the words that changed everything, and made everything that happened last Christmas hurt even more.
“Likewise,” he said.
As they both filtered back to the present and to the dark room in which they both sat, apart, they both noted that their situation couldn't have changed much more. Now there were no whispering sweet nothings or making wild declarations of love in the school grounds. There was, of course, the constant overhanging weight of the proposal and the rejection that followed, and in every single exchange the couple shared since that Christmas, its vast looming presence seemed to settle on their mind so that any conversation was riddled with anger and pain.
"Yes, well," Elodie continued, with a vague attempt at a smile, “like that wasn’t obvious enough already.”
“Catch on quick, don’t you?”
“Apparently not seeing as I still don’t know why you are creeping around my room in the early hours of the morning.”
“Like I said,” Scorpius replied, “I was feeling nostalgic.”
“If you really felt like reliving old memories then you wouldn’t be sitting there, would you?”
Her eyes flicked downwards towards the bed, then returned to him. A small, coy smile spread over her lips. Scorpius felt his knuckles turn white as he gripped the edge of the window seat. Moisture grew at his palms; his heart grew wild and pounded angrily against his chest, his nostrils swore off a scent of vanilla that had swept into the room, until its very essence became all he could sense; the fragrance of her.
“No,” he growled.
“Are you refusing me?”
“Karma’s a bitch, Elodie.”
And this was what they did. They flitted around the subject that pulled and prodded at their minds, never actually mentioning it to one another, but all the same they both knew that they were talking about it. In essence it was all they ever talked about anymore, even when they weren’t speaking, they conveyed it through their eyes, their movements: the meaning of a single glance or a single touch spoke volumes to them. It spoke volumes where words weren’t necessary.
Elodie turned and twisted her fingers over and over on her lap, trying to avoid the beautiful boy and his searing gaze. Even she didn’t understand why she was here, why she had agreed to come with him on his search to find his father, why she had returned to his house, why she was now sleeping under his roof. Elodie remembered the surprised stare Scorpius had given her when she had appeared at the station, a bag swung over her shoulder and a look of grim determination set upon her delicate features. It had only lasted a couple of seconds, obviously, before the two of them plunged into the darkness of the pain that now surrounded them and their faces had returned to a look of proud indifference. Perhaps that was why she had done it: perhaps spending the whole summer together would force them to talk about it, about what would happen next.
They barely spoke at school: she would see him turn quickly around corners when they met in corridors, they would sit at opposite ends of the classroom and ignore each other while in the common room. When they had talked, briefly to discuss some homework or whether they should tell their parents, it had been whispered and angry. She remembered the exact way his eyebrows knitted together, how they had stood so far apart that it was it difficult for her to hear him. They didn’t tell their parents in the end, deciding it was the best option: Scorpius’ parents were waiting for him to make a decent marriage into a well-bred, respected family. Elodie's family had been the same. His father had given him the ring. It was a shame he thought it would save them.
Elodie looked at him. He had stood up and turned his back on her, staring out of the window. His hands were hanging loosely and limply by his sides.
“So, what did you want to talk about?” Elodie asked.
“You were the one who wanted to talk, remember?”
Silence again. He watched the rain thunder upon the window.
“Look, I’m sorry – ” she began, wanting to apologise for refusing him, for running away, for breaking his heart, “I’m sorry about your father.” She finished rather weakly. She couldn’t do it. It was easier to apologise to him when he wasn’t looking at her, when she could focus all her guilt on the back of his head rather than his light grey eyes. He didn’t turn around at her words.
“And your mother,” she continued, “I know she’s sick and if there is anything that I…”
“Anything you could do? I’m pretty sure you’ve done enough, Elodie.”
He still did not face her and instead he gazed out of the window, listening to the rain and to her soft, delicate breathing. His heart and head didn't match.
Elodie pulled herself out of the bed and walked towards Scorpius. She stood dangerously close to him - closer than she knew was right or appropriate. They stood, together but apart, facing the outside world. She reached out to touch him, her hand almost grasping at him - his shirt, his skin, his hair - but she thought better of it and her hand retreated.
"I'm sorry about us."
Scorpius' shoulder tensed. He had not been expecting her to be so close.
"And whose fault is that?"
"Both of ours."
"You rejected me," he spat.
"You asked in the first place," she answered quickly and then watched as Scorpius threaded his fingers desperately through his hair. She walked around to face him, "did you really think that I would've accepted?"
"You said that you loved me," he replied, "I thought that was enough."
Elodie fell silent, her eyes suddenly downcast as she twisted the hem of her nightdress. She felt guilty and, for a second, she wanted to take back her refusal and all the pain she caused him. She wanted to pull him towards her and plant her lips on his. She wanted to repossess him. She wanted to able to walk hand-in-hand with him down the corridor or kiss him in the rain or finally be able to come clean to her parents. These feelings overpowered her momentarily before her heart and her head told her they were foolish. He was angry, she was angry: it would eventually prove too much and the two of them would break.
Elodie paused. He just looked so beautiful standing there, his face bleak and haunting in the moonlight.
"Obviously not," he finished, "great talk, Elodie. I'll see you in the morning."
He walked quickly away from her and towards the door, which he flung open dramatically.
"Scorpius, we haven't finished yet," she replied angrily, following him out onto the dark corridor. It was bitterly cold outside of her room, and she was suddenly horribly aware of her short nightdress and bare legs. She pinched her toes together as her feet met the freezing floor.
"Scorpius... " She pleaded. He was already halfway down the hallway, "please just listen to me."
"Already tried that, El," he replied, opening the door to his room, "and all I got was some sub-par apology about my mother being ill."
"Scorpius... " she repeated, and this time he turned around and marched back towards her. Elodie gaped. He looked so different now, so different in the somber, dusky light of the corridor rather than in the soft, warm glow of her bedroom. His eyes were dark and powerful.
"I've heard all of what you have to say, Elodie. Maybe you should just leave."
"I am not leaving."
Scorpius reached out and grabbed her arm, his fingers grasping at her skin. The action was possessive and abusive and Elodie flinched, but not from the pain, but at the sudden contact. His skin on hers. They locked eyes for a long, arduous moment as the two of them recalled the last time they had touched. For Scorpius, it was the kiss they shared when he had arrived at Elodie's front door on that fateful winter night. For Elodie, whose memory of that night was patchy after the many times she had tried to force it out of her mind, their last moment was a couple of days before, when they had walked hand and hand down Diagon Alley. Neither of them could remember anything else that was significant: when they pretended in front of their parents, they never touched each other - not even a loose hand-holding or a casual arm around the shoulders. Scorpius' mother had obviously not noticed, being so detached from affection herself. Elodie's parents thought they were merely being reserved and refraining from public displays as a young, perfect pureblood couple should do.
His hand lingered on her arm for longer than it should have.
"Why did you it?" Elodie whispered.
"My father was depressed. My mother was ill," he began, his voice shaking with sarcasm, "I thought that a marriage would be... beneficial."
Elodie stepped away from him, shaking her head.
"You were there. You loved me. You were pureblood," he said, his voice sneering and malicious, “you had everything.”
Scorpius was trying to force some of the pain he felt back on her, to let her feel how he had felt since that night. The pleasure had passed - the briefing touching of her skin that had brought back so many memories - and now it was time for the pain... and she definitely deserved it.
“And now you have nothing,” she argued back, “your father’s gone, your mother’s about to die and now you don’t have me.”
There was a short moment when a dangerous flicker passed over Scorpius’ eyes, his head turning over so slightly towards the door to his mother’s room. His jaw clenched.
“Why did you come with me? If I had lost you then why did you help me look for my father?”
“I thought that… I thought that we could talk,” she said feebly.
“And its turned out so brilliantly,” Scorpius answered sarcastically.
“What; just like your proposal?”
Silence filled the corridor. Elodie turned her head as she heard Scorpius’ mother coughing from behind a closed door. She looked towards him, her gaze flickering between him and the closed wooden door, and his eyes were downcast. He was ashamed.
“Maybe we should go downstairs or something,” she said quietly. Scorpius lifted his eyes to hers, one eyebrow cocked haughtily.
“Just in case my mother hears our little spat?”
“Well she thinks that we are terribly in love.”
“I’d hate to ruin that perfect picture,” he said, but remained where he was, leaning nonchalantly against the hallway railing.
Scorpius laughed: a cruel, mocking laugh that reminded Elodie too much of his father. Draco Malfoy had laughed like that. She could picture it vividly in her mind. It had been one of those dreadful formal occasions, and she remembered having to wear a pristine set of dress robes that were coloured a deep purple. They were heavy, unflattering and itchy. Scorpius had been sitting to her right, her mother to her left. Either someone had told a joke or he was laughing, once again, at some insecurity of Scorpius’. Elodie remembered the desperate way he had grasped at her hand under the table, and the loving way she never let go.
“Merlin, Malfoy… why do you have to be so bloody infuriating?”
“And we’ve returned to surnames, how touching.”
“I was just trying to be nice,” Elodie said bitterly, “I don’t want mummy to be ashamed of ickle Scorpy. Nothing says unworthy son quite like a rejected proposal. In fact,” she continued, “it’s probably why your dad left. He couldn’t live with the humiliation of having a deadbeat son and a dying wife.”
She knew her words hurt him. It was easy to tell. His eyes were nothing more than slits, and his hands gripped at the rail until his knuckles were pale and ghostly in the darkness. For a single, fleeting moment, she was scared. She was scared that she had pushed him too far, and that the reunion she was unconsciously hoping for - filled with roses and kisses in the rain and the shedding of clothes - was once again out of reach.
Elodie looked at him. She really looked at him, until her eyes hurt with the strain of staring at his elegant, defined features and her heart ached with the injustice she had forced upon him. And when the view in front of her changed, as Elodie watched his facial expression change from one of inexplicable rage to one of stoicism and mild amusement, she herself felt anger as she realized that he would never be broken.
Scorpius looked at her. He really looked at her, until he struggled to find anything that he could love anymore.
“I don’t know why I bothered with you,” he said. And then he was gone: both from her life and from the dark and dingy corridor in which they both stood.
And another argument in the second chapter to reveal backstory. I'm apparently making this a habit. Thanks to puffins and Ariellem for being awesome. ♥
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