Rose Weasley watched as the group of first years blinked in the candlelight, their black robes unadorned with the colours of their future houses, their faces pink and raw from the wind that had pummeled their little boats across the lake.
She watched the observant eyes of the teachers and the older students as they silently assessed the young ones for the year ahead: the new Slytherins could be identified from their poorly concealed smirks of disdain, their sunken eyes and sallow skin, their general disregard for the others around them whereas the Hufflepuffs were bright and cheery, faces plastered with wide grins and giggles, attempting to talk and make conversation. The Ravenclaws were quiet and secluded; each one beautiful in their own way and Rose predicted that they would look more at home in the library or the classroom.
The Gryffindors were different. Rose smiled nostalgically at their barely concealed whoops of pleasure at the sight of the Great Hall, the curiosity abundant in their eyes, at their loud and brash conversations. She remembered this moment well, and revisited the memory every year. Rose had been surrounded by her cousins, surrounded by a cloud of buzzing excitement and glory that had made her yearn for the days and lessons to come. People all around her had been whispering about the daughter of Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, the daughter of two of the most powerful people in Britain, and she had felt more at home than ever.
The moment when the hat told her she was in Gryffindor was one of her most prized in a memory already filled with Quidditch wins, prefect badges, exam results and a perfect ‘I love you’. Her parents had been thrilled – the letter had been littered with congratulations from the entire family, even a curt note at the bottom from her Uncle Percy about positions of responsibility and how to gain them – and Rose hadn’t been able to suppress her smile for the rest of the week. Even news that her reclusive cousin Albus had been sorted into Slytherin didn’t dampen her mood.
Looking over at him now, alone and silent at one end of the Slytherin table, Rose bit her lip in worry. He had changed, definitely, and she thought that the dastardly demeanors of his fellow housemates must have influenced him, that his charm and character she knew he must have and that he kept hidden had been sucked out of him by their dark magic and cruel jokes. She had heard rumours of the Slytherins in her year – led by the single entity that was Scorpius Malfoy and Elodie Desmarais – that had made her grind her teeth.
And now the news of Dominique’s association with them had sent Rose reeling. A small, very miniscule part of her was gleeful that she had discovered the news, that she finally had something on her wild, uncontrollable cousin. She produced the greatest threat to Rose’s reign. Her ability to charm her way into any boy’s bed (even rumours of several professors) would surely have it’s consequences and Rose knew she did not want to be involved. The rest of her felt queasy at the revelation that there was something going on between Dominique Weasley and Scorpius Malfoy, whose father had attempted to kill Dumbledore, the greatest wizard of the age, and who had been secluded from society after the fall of pureblood families. The idea of them together put her off her food.
Rose looked over to the table on the far side of the room, decorated with green flags and silver snakes and shuddered slightly. Albus had pulled a book from his pocket and was reading it, ignoring the clapping of his housemates as another student joined their ranks. She spotted Elodie Desmarais as she smiled at the first years, and she couldn’t help but notice the similarity between her and Dominique. French, blonde and beautiful seemed to be Scorpius Malfoy’s type. He was seated closer to the teacher’s table.
Rose had never really looked at him before. She had acknowledged his presence only once or twice during their school years together. She had tittered condescendingly when he had answered a question wrong or walked in late, or perhaps apologised half-heartedly if she knocked into him in the library or the corridor. When her father had told her about him, all those years ago on a train platform, she had recognized him as a rival, someone to beat in every test and in every way. Rose had watched as he had been sorted into Slytherin. She had laughed when he found out he got a P on his very first piece of homework. Rose had realised he was not worth her time or effort, and that her attention could be put to better use making every teacher and every student adore and admire her.
Rose wondered why Dominique would sink that low. She supposed her rebellious and free-spirited cousin had liked the idea of a challenge, going against the natural order of Hogwarts where your popularity and your relevance mirrored how much your family did in the war and what side they were on. Rose assumed that Dominique liked the mystery of him: his dark side, the enigmatic qualities to him, and the no doubt unfathomable depths to his family’s secrets. Most children get a tattoo or a piercing or run away with a dragon tamer to Peru when they want to rebel (Rose cringed slightly as she remembered Molly’s various misadventures against her controlling and overbearing father), but Dominique’s obviously had to insult her family in every way possible. Her threatening to disappear to Beauxbatons had been miniscule in comparison to this.
Rose supposed he was handsome, if sullen and brooding were qualities she found attractive. He looked cold and indifferent, sitting in the middle of a large group who were talking and laughing all around him. She saw the glances he sent in Desmarais’ direction – almost of longing – and she wondered whether Dominique was getting involved in something she didn’t understand. The rumours of the two Slytherins tempestuous relationship and their destructive end had flown through the school like wildfire, and talking and whispering and bitching about them had almost made the pain of her grandfather’s death almost bearable. It had been something to distract her.
Clapping enthusiastically to welcome in the new first year, Rose smiled. The whole thing was all very stupid. She had heard of Malfoy’s family problems: of his father’s disappearance, his mother’s illness and general loss of land and money and respect. Dominique would grow bored of listening to him whine and cry and she would soon move onto to someone better: hopefully someone from Gryffindor or Ravenclaw, even a Hufflepuff would be better than Scorpius Malfoy.
“Have I missed anything?”
Rose slid down the bench to allow her cousin to sit down beside her. Dominique Weasley had arrived late, as usual, but she bore no evidence of being flustered. Her perfect porcelain skin was still the colour of ice, the bright blue eyes shining, and her silver blonde flowing down her back like some ethereal waterfall. Rose felt that familiar swell of self-consciousness at the sight of her cousin – her uniform suddenly felt too tight for her, her thighs too large, her hair too bushy, her nose too long – but it was over in flash and she rearranged her tie before replying.
“Just the sorting, Dominique, you miss it every year and I could give you a detention for being late.”
“You wouldn’t. I’m a prefect, remember?” Her tone was lighthearted and carefree and Rose knew she was speaking the truth. Taking points from family members – from basically the entirety of your house – was strictly forbidden in Weasley law. “Besides, I haven’t said hello to Oscar yet, have I?”
Rose’s jaw tightened as her beautiful cousin waved and smiled at her boyfriend. She relaxed a little when he replied half-heartedly. There was no trace of the blush that seemed to brighten up boys’ faces when Dominique talked to them, so she sighed with relief and resumed her pretense of watching the Sorting.
“So,” Dominique began, flipping her hair over her shoulder and Rose ignored how a boy’s eyes became unfocused as infatuation set in, “don’t you want to know what I’ve been doing?”
“I know who, but not what,” Rose replied primly, “and I’m not sure I want to know.”
“I wish you would have told me when you decided to start sleeping around with Scorpius Malfoy. We could have talked about it, and I could have convinced you out of it.”
Rose clapped merrily as another first year joined the table. She smirked at Dominique’s sour expression, and her heart gave a little flutter as she regained a sense of power over her defiant cousin, and when Oscar sent her a flirtatious wink, she felt completely in control.
“How did you know?”
“I won’t tell anyone, obviously, I don’t want it to get back to me,” Rose said, “but I’m not the only one who knows.”
“Our favourite cousin.” The two girls looked over at the Slytherin table, at Albus, who was now being accosted by a first year who was pointing at his green eyes and dark hair. Everyone knew the resemblance was uncanny, but nobody knew why Albus had been sorted into Slytherin, but apparently he was cunning enough to discover this secret and sly enough to keep it hidden. Rose had doubted him.
“How does he know?”
“I don’t want to delve into the details, Dominique,” Rose snapped, “I just want to know whether this will get back to me. I want to know whether it will affect me in any way.”
“No, Rosie,” Dominique said, bored and bad-tempered and sarcastic, “this won’t affect you. You can continue to rule the school in peace and...”
“Good,” Rose said, smiling, her voice patronizingly chirpy and bright, “we won’t have to talk about this again, will we?”
“Don’t talk to me like I’m one of your prefects.”
“You are one of my prefects, Dominique,” Rose replied sharply, “and I’ll talk to you however I please. I’m not the one having an illicit relationship with a Slytherin.”
Rose could feel Dominique’s rancorous gaze in the back of her head as she turned to welcome more students into the house. She knew her cold, manipulating cousin would be conducting a plan to get revenge – she had the entirety of the male community on her side – but Rose knew she could do no harm. Dominique was clever; a searing knowledge of people rather than facts earned her a begrudging respect from students and teachers, but that didn’t mean she could take down the Head Girl and everything Rose had worked for.
The two cousins watched as a first year scurried towards the Slytherin table. They both spotted Scorpius clapping, his expression bored. They saw his gaze flicker towards Desmarais again, and Rose heard Dominique’s sudden intake of breath. They watched as a man – in a long travelling cloak and carrying a briefcase – leant down by the boy’s shoulder and whispered into his ear. They both left hurriedly after that.
Rose recognized the man. He had been over for dinner once or twice, a colleague of her father’s at the Auror office. They must be here to question the youngest Malfoy about his father and his disappearance.
“What do you think that’s about?” Dominique asked, and Rose was scandalized at the hint of warmth and caring in her tone.
“I couldn’t care less,” Rose snapped and her cousin recoiled.
“I’m sorry if this has ruined your evening,” she replied.
“Oh Dominique,” Rose replied, clapping her hands together as the last few names were called out and food suddenly began filling the dishes in front of her, “I know what this is. It’s a rebellion, just something to relieve tension. It’ll be over before you know it and you’ll move on to more eligible men.”
“Has anyone told you how patronising you are?”
“Oh no, they wouldn’t dare.” Rose turned to face her cousin, sipping victoriously from her goblet. “I could ruin you with this, you know that, don’t you? If you so much as associate this whole… thing… with me, I’ll ruin you.”
“Don’t be so melodramatic, Rosie.”
“The situation demands it. I want you to understand.”
For a moment, Dominique looked anxious and Rose smirked. When she had become Head Girl, in the exact moment she had received the letter and the badge, Rose had decided on three things that would define her career: one, that heavy petting should not be allowed in the library, two, that Quidditch practices should always end promptly at nine and three, that Dominique Weasley would one day be controlled. She had found her way of doing so. It had fallen into her lap and Albus Potter had been the one who pushed it there.
“You’re funny, Dominique.” Rose laughed, tinkling and high-pitched and perfectly perfect. She pierced a piece of chicken on her fork and lifted it towards her mouth. “I’m sure someone more worthy would appreciate your sense of humour.”
Rose took a careful bite, chewing slowly as she relished the slow reddening of her cousin’s face. She looked less beautiful now, and for a moment, Rose felt more superior than she ever had done. She breathed in and out, delighting in the sense of nostalgia and tradition that had surrounded her. She was ignoring the whispered insults from Dominique, she was back at Hogwarts, she was Head Girl and everything was perfect.
Scorpius Malfoy lingered outside of the abandoned classroom, waiting impatiently for something to happen. He should have expected this. He should have realised that they would target him when he returned to school. A man in a long travelling cloak and a briefcase had sidled up to him while he was watching the Sorting and asked him to come with him, that he just needed to ask him some questions.
Trying to ignore Elodie’s lingering gaze and the cruel hard stare of Dominique and her cousin, Scorpius had left the room. He didn’t really understand what had happened with the beautiful Gryffindor, why they had started whatever it was they had.
Scorpius recalled the first time he had seen Dominique Weasley: he remembered that her slender frame, her enchanting looks and her cold, controlling demeanor had captivated him - and the other boys - from the first train ride. She enraptured people from the first look, the first laugh or the first haughty smirk. Scorpius knew that this was just her, and the magical blood that flowed through her veins and her family's generations enhanced her looks and her control over poor, unassuming boys. This was just some otherworldly force that drew him towards the young woman, and her perfect pale skin and enchanting smile...
Scorpius had heard rumours of Dominique’s coldness, the ruthless way in which she would throw boys at her feet and trample on them before tossing them away without a second glance. His dorm-mates had talked of how she couldn’t be with one boy for more than a month, that they would start to fall for her and her beauty and her charm.
He supposed that she had targeted him as her next conquest, but the way she had spoken to him – it had reminded him too much of his time spent with Elodie. She had whispered sweet nothings into his ear while they kissed, and in the morning he would find himself wrapped up in her arms, her blonde hair and her perfume clouding his senses and he felt the strong need to disappear.
He had looked at her, sleeping and peaceful, the remnants of last night’s kisses and promises plastered on her lips. With Dominique, there was the animalistic way she grabbed and scratched at him and while at the beginning he had enjoyed the way she snarled and growled, it had grown tiresome. She had become attached to him and soon he knew he wouldn’t be able to stand her any longer.
He should end it. It was completely stupid anyway, just something to relieve tension and hopefully, possibly, maybe get rid of the sound of Elodie telling him she loved him that repeated and replayed over and over in his ear.
Upon hearing two voices in the classroom discussing loudly about his father and mother, Scorpius started to pace up and down. The sounds of chatter and laughter and food being eaten echoed up the staircase to where he was standing. He could hear footsteps.
Scorpius couldn’t move as she stepped towards him, her steps small and cautious. The sun was setting behind the mountains and the red and pink light gave her a youthful glow, like she was blushing. It reminded him of the first days of their relationship. It reminded him of when they had been happy.
“What’s going on?”
Scorpius glanced at her. He pulled at his tie, undoing his top button, lifting his heavy robes off his shoulders. He felt hot and the boiling anger pumping through his veins did not help matters. Just looking at her made him uncomfortable.
“I recognized those men,” she continued, and he felt his throat constrict and bile rise up in his chest, “I thought it’d be something about Draco.”
Silence followed her statement and they both waited for the other to speak.
Elodie broke it. “I know I shouldn’t be here, but…”
“You shouldn’t.” If Potter hadn’t have talked of Dominique, and if their relationship (or fling or affair or dalliance? He wasn’t really sure what to call it) wasn’t fresh on the top of his mind, he might have been harsher towards Elodie. Scorpius tried desperately to think of other things – the look on her face when she had refused him, the condescending looks of her parents, the conversation shared between them the night before – to remind of how much she had hurt him.
“I wanted to be here.”
“I asked you not to talk to me. I thought that was what you wanted.”
“I’ve changed my mind.”
There was a lone wooden chair by the door to the classroom and she sat down, smoothing the creases of her uniform as she crossed her legs. Scorpius resumed his pacing, stopping every once in a while to glance at Elodie – stock still but impatient – and at the door to the classroom, where the voices and the argument inside were growing more heated. Before long, Scorpius had grown bored, tired of the waiting, of the ticking of the antique clock and the staring gaze of Elodie.
He sensed her resentment and her affection. At the Sorting, he had watched her, scrutinizing her beautiful features, and waited for the feelings to abate – for the sight of her to cease eliciting so many different things (resentment, protectiveness, fearfulness, distress, anger, regret, excitement, desire). Scorpius continued to compare her to the plain and pitiful girls, even the proud and haughty features of Madeleine and Genevieve, and found fault with everyone. No one looked or laughed or loved like her, and it was with the same swooping sense of regret and resentment that he remembered he hated her and they could never be.
The picture of Dominique, curled up in the bed next to him with her heavy breathing fluttering her strands of blonde hair, rushed to the front of his mind, and suddenly he felt like screaming. The sound would echo down the corridor, down in the Great Hall, into the ears of the waiting students and teachers. He had been reckless, stupid even.
They were the same: blonde, beautiful, elegant as the French always are, and both so cold to the touch. Scorpius had found himself another Elodie and he should have realised. He could never let her go.
“I’m sorry,” he said, agitated, pausing his pacing right in front of her chair, “but why are you here again?”
Something on Scorpius' face rippled, as it were a lake that someone had just thrown a huge rock into the centre of. Just saying those words, Elodie felt, could disclose something within her. It was a whimsical thought, but she honestly believed that the words had exposed her.
Elodie had hoped that she had laced them with cold indifference and sarcasm, that Scorpius would be too distracted by the impending questioning to realise that her voice had slipped back into the affectionate tone that had clouded their conversations before last Christmas. Horror seized her as his facial expression changed, as he slumped into the chair on the other side of the doorway, as they both slipped into the uncomfortable silence that had plagued their summer and their search for his father.
His fingers twitched, and Elodie could see the square shaped packet of his cigarettes through his school trousers. She could tell he desperately wanted to be outside in the darkening grounds, the white stick between his lips and the hot, harsh smoke delving into his lungs. He didn’t want to here, with her, waiting for two men to stop arguing so they could pester him with questions about a father he didn’t know or cared about.
"You're right." And with that they were back: lodged together in a mindless ongoing battle that tormented and tortured them but neither could retreat from. Elodie smirked.
"Why are you here?" Scorpius repeated.
"Because I want to know whether I wasted an entire summer with you. I want to know whether it was worth it."
"No one made you come."
"You used to though, didn't you?"
Scorpius felt the breath leave his lungs in a glorious mixture of desire and hatred. He looked over at her - painfully far away - and he felt it, raw and vehement, building up inside of him: attraction, complete and utter infatuation. And suddenly, he didn't care about where his father was, what Dominique was doing, whether his mother was choking on her own blood - he just cared about Elodie, and holding and having her in his arms. Taking her.
He even made to move towards her, his hands aching with the distance but she smirked again, slipping away from him and standing up. Her face was shady from the dwindling light, but Scorpius could make out the curve of her lips and her bright eyes. Even in her frumpy uniform and her black robes, he still desired her.
And then the door opened, and candlelight spilled out onto the cold corridor. Scorpius blinked and stared up into the face of the non-descript Auror before focusing back on Elodie. The light seemed to have cleared his head – she looked harsher and more angular in the light, more sincere and uptight, more like the bitch that had rejected him. He clenched his jaw.
“Yes.” His voice sounded unnatural.
“And who’s this?”
Scorpius felt the pinch of Elodie’s nails on his skin as she gripped his hand and although he couldn’t face her, he could tell she was stretching her lips into a wide, bright smile that fooled no one. The sweat pooled between their palms, uncomfortably hot and clammy. Scorpius tried to escape, but she kept him under her tight control.
“I’m his girlfriend.”
“I’m not sure whether you should be here, missy,” one Auror – burly, wearing heavy grey robes and sporting a wild beard – said kindly, as if talking to a small child, “this only concerns Mr Malfoy.”
Another pinch, harder this time, and it forced Scorpius to relent.
“I want her here.” His lips formed the words before he had time to stop himself. The grip on his fingers loosened. The heat dissipated. Elodie stroked the back of his hand with her thumb.
“Well come on in then. I’m guessing you understand why you’re here?”
“It’s to do with his father, isn’t it?”
“Yes. His disappearance. His possible kidnapping.”
They stepped into the classroom. Elodie was still holding Scorpius’ hand, and he was still gazing ahead, confused by the way she had acted, by the lights, by the impending conversation. Her skin against his.
The door to the classroom shut with a slam, and it echoed briefly around the silent corridor. The voices and laughs of the returning students drifted upwards from the hall: happy to be back, to be with people they loved and looked after, to be together after a long summer full of warm breezes and sunshine and picnics. For some, they were excited for the year ahead: nervous for exams, craving the Quidditch pitch, longing for new gossip and stories.
For others, it would bring much more.
Bit of a filler, I know. Next chapter: Auror questioning and Scorminique.