A/N: As told previously, this will be from Scorpius' POV. Enjoy
My reflection stared back at me, mocking as ever. I straightened my black bow tie for what must’ve been the fortieth time. Tonight was no big deal- just another stuffy party mother forced me to attend. I wish she would spend half as much time trying to convince father to come than she did working her wiles on me.
Not that she had to work very hard for this particular event.
It was enough that Bertram’s parents were throwing the little soirée but, add to it, a certain red head’s attendance and there was no chance of my not going. Of course, I couldn’t let mother know that- it really was exhausting putting on the old song and dance for her.
As it was, I couldn’t get my hopes up about Rose. Years of disappointment had already taught me not to, though I’d certainly changed since my innocent, third year days. Honestly, I was content with just spending time with her- anything after that was a bonus. Not that there would be anything after that. Well, maybe some talking…and I might be able to get a dance. No, I wouldn’t hold my breath, especially now that Seven was back on the market and would likely be in attendance. It really is too bad Uncle Ernie feels the need to do business with that Deciles wanker…
“Scorpius!” Mother’s dulcet tones rang through the manner. “Hurry up! We’re going to be late!”
Not bloody likely, we were sure to be the first one’s there! Mother always liked getting places early, that way she could size everyone up as they walked through the door. I also thought a lot of it had to do with being announced without father- not that she would ever admit to it.
So, I didn’t deign to respond. Instead, I walked through the long hallway and down the marble staircase to the front hall of our prestigious home. Mother stood with her back to me, wiping her fingers across the front of her teeth as she scrutinized her reflection in the hall mirror.
She turned as I appeared behind her, her face fixed in a tight smile. “Don’t you look nice.”
“Thanks.” I adjusted my bow tie again.
Mother stood there expectantly.
“Oh, er…you look stunning as well mother.”
“Yes, well,” she grabbed my arm, “we should be off- don’t want to be late for the festivities.”
I escorted us out of the manor and onto the lawn where we would apparate to Aunt Daphne’s. We passed father on our way- he sat in the library reading and did not even bother to look up or say good bye.
Aunt Daphne’s home was ablaze with fairy lights, floating lanterns, and torches that hung all along the front of the house. As expected, no one was there yet and our footsteps fell hollowly on the large, front porch. The door opened before we could even knock and a little elf clad in a clean white dress led us into the foyer. We were greeted by Aunt Daphne and Bertram, apparently Uncle Ernie was off dealing with the musicians and Ade was still getting ready.
The party was being held in the grand ballroom at the back of the manor. It was fitted up with a large Christmas tree that sparkled in shades of silver and gold. Everything looked very tasteful- all Aunt Daphne’s doing, I was sure.
Making a beeline for the punch bowl- anything to keep myself occupied- I glanced at my pocket watch. Only twenty minutes or so before anyone normal would arrive.
Okay, so I know I ridicule mother for her obsessive need to be ‘on time’ but, she might be on to something…after all, watching Thadius’ oaf friend trip over his own feet while entering the ballroom was definitely satisfying. It was also quite fun to watch Mr. Nott adjust his toupee when he thought no one was looking. The best, though, was when she entered the room. I think my heart stopped beating for a couple of minutes there- I had never seen black dress robes look anything like that before.
Standing back against a pillar, I used my covert position to watch her a little longer. Regardless of what she says, I am not a stalker. I just like to observe. It’s less painful.
“Hey Scorpius, what are you looking at?”
If I weren’t so practiced in not showing surprise – a skill I’d mastered from years of monitoring father - I would probably have pissed myself. Instead, I turned towards Bertram and gave him a wry smile. “Oh, nothing…just old Mr. Nott trying to keep his toupee from sliding off to the left.”
“Yeah, who does he think he’s fooling?”
Bertram led me away from my secluded spot behind the punch bowl and we made our way over to her. She was surrounded by that Ravenclaw cousin of hers and that Ravenclaw cousin of mine.
“Look who I found sulking by the punch.” Bertram broke in.
The girls stopped talking and I raised a brow. There had definitely been an interesting conversation going on before we walked up. I wonder what it was…
“I prefer to call it observing random oddities.” I smirked and caught her eye. Rose blushed, smiled back, and then quickly turned away. Weird, I had never elicited that reaction before.
The room started filling up quickly and I recognized a number of our fellow Hogwartians among friends and enemies of my parents, or rather, enemies of father. I didn’t think mother had any true enemies. I’m sure there were people who didn’t like her but, no actual foes.
Six and Seven came into the room followed shortly by One, Three and Four. Four gave me a nod, which I returned. Other than Six, I was pretty sure Four was the only Deciles I could stand, though that Ten was turning out to be a pretty okay kid.
But it was still early.
By half past nine, the party was in full swing. People were everywhere- eating from the buffet, drinking from the copious bar and spiked punch bowl, dancing all around the glittering room… Truth be told, it was getting rather hot, not to mention loud and annoying. I much preferred a small, intimate gathering as opposed to the grandiose soirée. It was always about what someone was wearing, who they were talking to, or more likely who they were talking about. It could get pretty tiresome.
The only light at the end of the tunnel was Rose. Granted, other than our introductory conversation, I’d hardly had the chance to talk to her. She was scooped up by a gaggle of Weasley’s shortly thereafter, all who, for some inane reason, needed her undivided attention.
To be quite honest, I thought most of her family was rather mental. Her cousin Albus wasn’t too terrible, when he wasn’t going on about the latest gossip, that is. I don’t think the bloke even realized how much he sounded like a tweenage girl. Then there was his older brother who, as far as I could tell, was utterly useless. James Potter was a tosser squared. Anyone with eyes could see that he was mad for my cousin Adrianna but, as was typical with prats like him, he did nothing about it. If the poor bastard took the time, he’d see that Ade is deranged for him, too. Circe only knows why…
Rose’s other cousin, Dominique, was quite possibly the worst influence, ever. She was always dating some new bloke or three and I wished there was some way to convince Rose that that cousin of hers was no good. We didn’t need any of Dominique’s romantic ideas drifting into her cousin’s innocent head.
The list could go on and on, as it always did where the Weasley’s were concerned. But I decided not to occupy my thoughts with them any longer. Besides, they all seemed to be on their best behavior tonight…not that that was saying much.
Circe, can’t a man just sit and drink some punch in peace?
“No, Bertie. Not sulking, just observing.” Ha! That got to him. I really loved the sour look on Bertram’s face whenever someone dared shorten his name. Of course, the resulting punch didn’t feel too good.
I rubbed my left bicep with care. “No need to get your knickers in a twist.”
He scowled but it segued to a smile when I charmed him with my own dapper grin.
“So…who are you observing, anyway?”
“I was watching that Weasley girl flirt with Oliver Wood. Hey, don’t you fancy her?” I smirked and got punched in the arm again. Merlin, for a puny prefect he certainly has one hell of a jab...
“I do not fancy Dominique. I think she’s nice, is all.”
“She’s nice all right. There doesn’t seem to be a bloke she won’t be nice to.”
“That’s not true!” Bertram argued, but with no real feeling behind it. “Anyway, what do you care who she’s nice to? Could it be that you’ve taken a shine to her yourself?”
Silly Bertram, always trying to find out who I’m interested in… If the poor sod only knew, hell, I’d never hear the end of it!
“You’re right. I always thought I’d look good in a harem,” I teased. “No, I think I’ll pass on the effervescent Miss Dominique. Besides, who can compete with keeper extraordinaire, Oliver Wood? I hear he just got a divorce from his third wife.”
“Shut up.” Bertram mumbled, looking rather cross. Woops, that wasn’t my intention.
“Sorry mate. I’m sure she’s not after Wood. She’s probably just being friendly.”
Bertram shook his head, “S’alright, I don’t care…really.” Though, it sounded like he was trying to convince himself more than me.
I patted the poor sod on the back and decided he would best be left to his own misery. As it was, I had misplaced Rose.
I found her by the Christmas tree. She was talking to Six and thankfully no other Weasley’s were present. I decided it was an opportune moment to join them, perhaps even get a dance with her.
“I can’t believe he said that!” Rose said as I approached.
“I know, now what am I supposed to do?” Six whined. “It’s not like I can jump for joy at a request like that! But, then again…”
They both took notice of me at the same time and fell silent.
“Now girls, you can tell ol’ Scorpius what happened, you know. I can probably tell you what to do.” Circe, I sounded like a cheeky git.
Six blushed but Rose spoke up. “It’s Gordie. He’s gone and asked our little Sixers out.”
“Well that’s good right? Isn’t that what you’ve wanted all year?” Did girls really have to make such a big deal out of everything?
“It’s not that he asked her, it was the way he did it. He said, and I quote. ‘S’bout time you and I got together. I mean, there aren’t really any other eligible girls left.’”
“Ouch.” I grimaced. Why in the world would this girl be head over heels for such a blatant tosser?
“Exactly- not the proposition every girl dreams of.”
Six was still blushing, only now she had tears in her eyes.
“Well it’s obvious what you should do.”
She looked up at me in expectation. How did she not already know the answer? It was like talking to a six year old! Ha! Now that’s funny. You know, ‘cause her name is Six and…oh never mind, you get it.
“Turn him down,” I stated.
“Really?” Her voice was small and hesitant. “You think I should?”
“Of course I do,” I shot back, “unless you want to be a doormat for this jerk.” How the hell did I get stuck giving women advice? My irritation faded when Rose smiled at me.
“But what if he never asks me out again?”
“Listen, Six, you’re a smart, attractive girl. If this joker can’t see that then he isn’t worth dating. And if he’s going to ask you out in such an asinine way, the only answer any self respecting person should give is ‘NO’,” I replied in a pointed tone. “Now, if he’s worth his salt he’ll realize what an ass he’s made of himself and correct his position and offer. Otherwise, you’ll just have to forget the loser and start looking elsewhere. In my opinion, you’re much better off with a Slytherin anyway.”
“Any particular Slytherin in mind?” Rose interjected, her face contorted by a look I had never seen before. Was it anger? No, I’ve definitely seen angry. Anyway, why in the world would she be angry at me? I just gave her friend extremely sound advice.
I shook my head, gaping at her in bewilderment. “No, but I’m sure she wouldn’t have to look too far.”
“Oh, right. I see. Perhaps I should leave you two alone then, shall I?” Spinning around, Rose whipped towards the veranda.
Was I going mental, or did she just assume that I was hitting on her best friend? And then…she got mad about it. Was that even possible? I stood there in stunned astonishment as the girl I adored walked away. It took me a minute to get my voice back and my feet moving.
“Sorry Six, I wasn’t implying that I…I mean you’re sweet and all, but I…”
Six smiled at me and started looking around the room, probably to find the wanker. Women never learn. I left her to search for her knight in rusted armor while I followed Rose out onto the veranda. It took a moment to find her in the crush of people outside. Once I spotted her wavy red hair, I made a beeline straight for it, oblivious to the trod on feet I left in my wake.
Grabbing her by the arm, I twirled her around to face me. Crap! It wasn’t Rose- it was one of her cousins. Shite…
“Sorry,” I muttered, turning away to recommence my search.
“Gonna hit on all my cousins now too?” Her voice rang out behind me.
“Wha- No. I wasn’t hitting on Six, ya’ know.”
“Sure sounded like it to me,” she mumbled with a look of…was that relief?
“Well, you obviously need a good hearing charm,” I ribbed. “Besides, what would it matter if I were? I’m a free agent and so is she, from what I gather.”
“It doesn’t, I suppose.” Rose shrugged. “I just don’t think she needs any more boy drama and the idea of you hitting on her while she’s vulnerable. Well, it made me a bit sick.”
Crap…I had come to the wrong conclusion again. See, that’s what happens when I get my hopes up. I really should know better by now.
“Ah, well…I wasn’t,” I assured her. Had to keep a cool attitude, couldn’t let Rose know that my hopes were dashed.
She looked at me skeptically but nodded.
“Nice to see you’re no longer avoiding me.” I smirked, knowing full well that a blush would ensue. Sure enough, as soon as the words left my lips, Rose’s cheeks turned a nice rose red. I really loved making her color.
“I wasn’t…” she began.
“Yes you were, but don’t worry, I forgive you.” I plastered on my impish grin that always got a rise out of her. She really did look bleeding terrific.
“Prat!” She shoved my arm playfully. It took all of my will power not to grab her hand.
Thankfully, I had a lot of will power.
I changed the subject and we bantered for a while about the party. It was idle chatter and I hardly focused on the content. My mind was otherwise occupied, watching how she worried the left corner of her lip, how the pink in her cheeks looked against the freckles scattered across her nose and cheeks, or how her fingers kept itching to get out of the gloves she was wearing.
“Why not take them off?” I asked after watching her fidget with them for the tenth time.
“Take what off?” She looked scandalized.
I chuckled at her expression. “Your gloves, obviously…you are a dirty little bird, aren’t you Rose?”
She turned even redder. You’d think I had asked her to take off her dress robes or something.
“No, I can’t.” Her voice was defiant, as if I had issued a challenge.
I held my hands up in submission. “Okay, you can’t. Mind if I ask why?”
“Promise not to tell?” she whispered after thinking it over a bit.
She was leaning forward and her breath tickled my skin. The hairs on my neck stood on end and I swallowed…hard.
“I promise,” I managed to choke out.
She removed the glove slowly on her left hand and revealed… Was that a maroon hand?
“What in blazes?”
“I know. It’s dreadful,” she admitted. “Uncle George tricked me over Christmas to try on one of his new products. I was preoccupied and wasn’t thinking and put this damned glove on my hand. I can’t get the bleeding stain to come off.”
I couldn’t help it- I let out a loud laugh.
She worked the glove back onto her hand. “Not Funny,” Rose griped, shoving my shoulder once more.
I didn’t stop myself this time- I grabbed for her hand. She blinked up at me in question. Think Scorpius, think.
“Dance?” I asked, hoping to sound nonchalant.
Rose hesitated for just a moment then nodded her assent. I led her onto the dance floor and curled a hand around her waist. The other laced through her gloved fingers and I tugged her forward. Sweet Circe, did she smell good.
We coasted across the floor. Well, I coasted and Rose stumbled, stepping on my feet a few times in the process. It was the best dance of my life. Eventually, she seemed to pick up the steps and we flew around the room. Rose’s color was up and a smile lit her face, a smile I hadn’t seen all year and, certainly not one she’d ever directed at me.
We danced four more songs before staggering off the floor, exhausted. Breathless, I led Rose out onto the veranda, my hand still clutching hers. I hoped she wouldn’t pull away. I looked around- besides a couple on the far end, the veranda was empty.
“That…” she paused to breathe, “was wonderful! Where did you learn to dance like that?”
“Mother has had me taking lessons since I was four.” I sent up a silent ‘thank you’ for all the hours of torment. They were well worth it, just for the half hour spent with Rose in my arms.
I stood facing her and watched the tiny beads of sweat trickle across her fore head. “Sounds dreadful…”
I laughed. “It was.”
A stray curl fell into her eyes. Without thinking I brushed it aside, a motion that brought me closer to her. I could feel the heat radiating off of her and it drew me in. Sooner than I would have thought, we were nose to nose. I could feel her breath on my lips and my mind was reeling. Was this really happening to me? Was I really about to kiss Rose? I would only have to bend my head ever so slightly and our lips would touch. Holding still for a moment, I waited to see if she pulled away. She didn’t- her eyes were locked firmly on mine, wide in surprised anticipation. I leaned forward to close the gap between us.
“Hey! There you are!”
FUCK! Rose sprung away from me as if I were made of fire.
“Heeey…” She stretched it out in an innocent fashion, turning away from me with a casual smile. Matching her expression, I tried to brush off Six’s poorly timed not mention, extremely rude, interruption.
“What are you guys doing out here?” she asked in a naive voice.
“I was just about to get us some punch,” I replied, taking a step away from Rose. “Would you like some?”
“Sure! Thanks.” Six’s cheerful voice grated on my nerves.
I looked over at Rose and she turned her head away from me.
Walking through the crowd, my head was full of thoughts, thoughts centering on what had almost happened. In fact, I was so preoccupied I wasn’t paying attention to anything or anyone. That is, until I passed a column and heard an unfamiliar voice speak up. “Did you see Draco’s son dancing with that dirty half-blood? Good thing he’s not here to see that.”
Incensed, I was about to address the person with some rather choice words when a more familiar voice answered. “Didn’t you know Millie? Draco was married to that chit’s mother.”
I stopped in my tracks. What?
“You’re kidding! Draco married that Granger girl?” The simpering voice replied. “Oh, Pansy, how could you have let that happen?”
“Millie, trust me, I tried to talk him out of it. You know how Draco can be. You left after the war, so you didn’t see how much he’d changed. But I’m telling you Millie, marrying that Granger really did a number on him.”
“So what happened? How did he get out of it?”
“You won’t believe this but, she’s the one who left him. Went back to her old boyfriend Ronald Weasley and never looked back,” Pansy explained. “Broke poor Draco’s heart and that’s how Astoria was able to hook him. Then she went and got herself knocked up so he’d have to marry her. Otherwise…well, let’s just say that Mr. VanStrauss might have had a run for his money.”
“Oh, Pansy you are bad! But how could she get away with that? Leaving Draco, the poor sod. I suppose that’s what he gets for getting involved with a mudblood. At least he learned his lesson. Too bad his son doesn’t seem to have done the same.”
“Oh, I’m sure Astoria will nip that in the bud.”
I didn’t hang around to listen any more. Now, my head was really spinning- Father had married Rose’s mother? Worse, he had only married my mother because she’d gotten pregnant. No wonder he was always so morose. He never really loved my mother and was obviously pining after Mrs. Weasley.
I wondered if Rose knew about this. If not, should I tell her? Or would that ruin any possibility for us? Were ‘we’ even a possibility? It seemed like we were…well, at least before we were interrupted.
When I got to the punch bowl, I mindlessly poured three glasses. I could hear people chattering around me- laughter, excitement- but it all paled to what I’d just overheard. I had to talk to Rose- whatever came of it… Well, it was better to know now before anything…happened.
I threaded through the crowd, my stomach tied in knots. As I made my way towards the veranda doors, I ran into Six and handed her the punch I had poured for her. “Is Rose still out there?” I nodded towards the open French doors.
“Yes, but I don’t think you should…”
I kept walking, unconcerned with what she had to say. I stepped out onto the veranda and stopped dead. Rose was out there all right…
In the arms of Seven.
I didn’t wait for her to spot me- I turned tail and headed straight for the real bar.
Like her mother before her, Rose had ditched a Malfoy for an old flame. Clearly, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. I really shouldn’t expect anything less. It was, after all, my life…
Nothing a bottle of Ogden’s wouldn’t fix right up- at least for tonight.
A/N: So what did you think? Sorry it took me so long, RL has been so crazy these past few weeks.
Do you hate me? What about Seven? Or maybe Rose? How about knowing who Hollace's mother is?
Thanks as always to you wonderful readers and reviewers. And especially to dracosgem for being my ever awesome beta, who had this done way before I had time to post it. Thanks Red.