Chapter 6 : In Other News
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Scorpius caught Rose’s wrists as she punched every inch of him she could reach, pummeling her fists furiously and ineffectually against his chest.
“NO! You don’t get to say anything!”
“I WILL NOT CALM DOWN!” Rose heaved a shuddering breath, breathing in deeply. When she spoke again, her voice was very low. “Leave. Just please, leave.”
“You know I can’t do that.” He said, his voice as low as hers.
“I liked him Scorpius.” Rose’s shoulders slumped with defeat. “I really did. This, this stupid, whatever the fuck this weird thing we have going on here- It’s not working.”
Scorpius’ grip on her wrists tightened. “I’m sorry about Bill-“
“-His name is Will.”
“-but it really can’t be helped. You have to choose between your safety and a good time, Rose. You can’t expect life to go on just the same after what you witnessed.”
Rose clenched her teeth in frustration. Why did nobody get it? “I don’t bloody well care about what I saw or what happened, okay? As far as I’m concerned, nothing happened and this is all just a huge mistake and everybody is just overreacting to a stupid situation.”
Scorpius let go of her hands with a disgusted look. “This is all just a joke to you, isn’t it? You really don’t care what happens, do you?” He laughed mirthlessly, running an unsteady hand through his hair.
He stared her down, and she met his gaze, head on. He clenched his fists slowly. “Fine,” he said finally. “Have it your way. Let’s see how long you can manage on your own, Weasley.”
Rose flinched at the venom in his voice. “Just go.” She said, hoarsely.
Without another word, he pushed past her, heading in the opposite direction, leaving Rose alone to slump against the wall for a moment. She stood there for a full two minutes, staring blankly at the brick surface before her. Then pulling out her wand and wiping her eyes, she went back home.
Scorpius didn’t go very far. He leaned against a wall nearby, waiting for Rose to leave. He watched as she stared blankly at the wall in front of her; it was quite worrying. She seemed to wipe her eyes, before turning on the spot and vanishing with a crack.
He sighed and rested his head against the surface behind him. He wouldn’t be leaving her alone, that much was for sure. He knew she needed her space right now but human considerations like that simply didn’t matter when it came to life and death.
And this was definitely life and death. Scorpius, unlike Rose, had read the case notes and followed up on each murder. That’s what he had been assigned to before accepting this job and he knew exactly how dangerous the killer was. If it was indeed, the same psycho after Rose, he didn’t really know how she stood a chance. And for reasons he was not willing to admit to himself, that scared him. It scared him a lot.
Pulling out his wand, he apparated back to her flat and prepared himself for an uncomfortable night on her doorstep.
Rose turned the hot water knob to its limit. Maybe if the water was hot enough, it would somehow wash away last night’s memories. It didn’t really make any sense, as far as solutions went, but nothing else made much sense either so she supposed that was alright.
She recalled the way she’d treated Scorpius with a grimace. It hadn’t been his fault- well, not entirely, anyway- that she’d been so utterly humiliated. It would have happened regardless of who her bodyguard was. Bodyguard- that was a term that took some getting used to. It just sounded so….well, kinky.
Rose shivered and tried to yank the hot water knob to the right; it didn’t budge. Cursing, she reached for her wand and waved it, without really thinking. The water gushed out, scalding and she yelped, jumping backwards. Her foot slipped from under her and she crashed into the curtain behind her, the rod holding it up tumbling down, knocking the contents of the shelves down with a massive clatter and clanging. Rose shrieked as a mountain of shower products toppled on top of her, closely followed by the curtain and its rod.
Scorpius jerked awake, his neck aching from the awkward position he’d left it in. He looked around blearily. Scorpius Malfoy- reduced to sleeping on doorsteps like a homeless vagrant. He’d heard something though, he was fairly sure of that. Just as this thought crossed his mind, a clanging sound resounded from inside the flat.
Pulling out his wand in a panic, he blasted the door open and ran in, screeching to a halt in the middle of the living room. “ROSE?” He called out.
There was a horrible clattering sound from her bedroom, as if multiple objects were falling from their places and a loud shriek followed by an exclamation.
Barging into her empty bedroom, he spotted another door and rammed it down. And stopped.
Of course. It was the bathroom.
He stared down at the scene in front of him, trying his hardest not to laugh: Rose lay buried under a mound of bottles and soap dishes, and if he was right, she was wearing only a shower curtain.
“Fucking bitching ruddy HELL! How bloody perfect-“Her eyes swiveled towards the door, spitting fire. “MALFOY!”
Damn. He’d been spotted.
“Get out of here! OUT!”
Narrowly dodging a flying shampoo bottle, he ducked out of the washroom, unable to hold in his laughter.
Scorpius was smirking when she finally stepped out of the washroom, wrapped in a towel.
“Do you mind?” She demanded rudely.
“Not at all.” He said smoothly. “By all means, continue.”
She glared at him and he simply smirked back at her.
Deep breath, Rose. Deep breath. She walked stiffly to her cupboard and clutching a pair of clothes to her chest as if they were a lifeline, she sidled back into the bathroom, glaring at him suspiciously the whole way.
“Don’t. Say. A. Word.”
“Come on, Rosie. It wasn’t that bad. It was quite-“
Rose shot him an evil glare and Scorpius promptly shut up. Some things were just not worth risking. In any case, he didn’t really have to do much. Every time he so much as glanced at her, she would turn beet red and begin flipping through the book spread open on her desk. He didn’t have to be a legilimens to know that she was embarrassed. Embarrassed was an understatement, of course, but Scorpius wasn’t a thesaurus either.
Amused, he flipped through his own book. The notable difference between the two was that while he was reading a thriller novel, Rose’s tome went by the cumbersome title of Runic translations in the 16th century: A study, guide and thorough analysis.
She didn’t seem to do much at work, he noted idly. She had been sent into the underground chambers once to reconfigure the Thief’s Downfall and he’d followed of course, but that had been it. She seemed to spend most of her time translating runes which probably weren’t even curses in the first place, as a sort of freelance activity.
Scorpius knew a fair bit about cursebreaking and he was pretty sure it didn’t involve sitting at desks, doing ancient runes homework. The Rose he’d known would have scoffed at the very idea of a desk job. But he, like any other person, had read the papers last year, with detailed articles following the discovery of that Egyptian pyramid-whatever it was called- and Rose’s part in it. If there was one thing the Potter-Weasley clan tended to attract, it was media attention. And he hadn’t been the only one to notice how she’d been brushed off to the side. It was quite surprising actually, considering she probably held more strings than most people in wizarding Britain and could pull them at any time.
Looking at her now, he observed the way she twitched her quill irritably every few seconds. Her free hand was drumming a beat against the table and every so often a nearby goblin would shoot her an exasperated glare. She hissed in frustration, puffing out her cheeks slightly. Scorpius was struck for the millionth time that morning, by the image of her half-covered form in the shower and he was seized again with a strange urge to both laugh at and kiss her.
Scorpius actually grimaced as this thought crossed his mind, and he pushed it away hastily. He’d managed perfectly well so far by simply refusing to acknowledge that she still, somehow, managed to hold a certain fascination for him. It had been five years since they’d been ‘in love’ and when you were only just starting out in life, that was a pretty long time.
After she’d broken up with him, accusing him unjustly-for the most part-, he’d been flat out confused for days. And then he’d been mad. He had tried, multiple times, to bring up the topic with her but it seemed that every time he managed to corner her in an empty classroom or a deserted hallway, she suddenly had a detention she was late for or a friend who was in dire need of her assistance.
He’d given up after a while. He wasn’t used to chasing things which clearly did not wish to be pursued. If there was one thing he’d picked up early on in life, it was the ability to write things off with a heavy heart but clear conscience.
It hadn’t been easy- the hostile silences had gradually developed into severe dislike and then a mutual hate and lack of tolerance for the other party. It hadn’t ended with their Hogwarts careers, though. For a year after, the merest mention of anything to do with Roses, of the human or botanical variety, had induced an intense mix of hatred and desire in him.
But in the intervening four years, the sharp edge of his anger had dulled to a sore spot and then eventually, indifference. Seeing her now though, was bringing back some of his old emotions, and for reasons Scorpius couldn’t fathom, anger wasn’t one of them.
“What? Is there something on my face?”
Scorpius blinked and pulled himself back to the present. Rose was looking at him oddly, quill poised over parchment.
“Oh yeah,” he said casually, waving his hand in her general direction. “Right there, see? It’s huge actually, looks like a monkey hanging off your face. Can’t believe you didn’t notice. Let’s ask Nigbit. Hey, Nigbit!”
“What? No way! What are you talking about…-“
“Foolish humans. Wasting my time with your childish play-“
“But you do agree, right? I mean it’s huge-“
“-never have allowed wizards at a goblin-run institution-“
“You’re a wanker.”
“Yes, you may have mentioned that a few times on the way over.”
“Well that’s because you’re a wanker.”
“I had no idea.”
Rose muttered intelligibly under hear breath but Scorpius was pretty sure he caught the word wanker twice more.
She shouldered the door open, moving into the hallway and chucking her keys on the table.
“I can’t believe you got me in trouble with my boss!” She muttered angrily, shrugging off her jacket.
“Whatever, it’s not as if he can assign you lines or something. Haven’t you ever been scolded by a supervisor before? Merlin…”
Rose sniffed haughtily. “I, unlike your royal pratness, never get into work related quarrels. I find it makes for an unhealthy work environment.”
Scorpius rolled his eyes and moved into his room, shoving the door open.
He paused with his hand on the door, then took a few steps back, pulling the door with him. When he’d left, he had closed the bedroom door fully but it was ajar now; he hadn’t needed to twist the handle to open it.
Drawing his wand, he stepped cautiously into the room again. Everything seemed to be in place and pulling open drawers and cabinets, nothing seemed to be missing. If he hadn’t been trained to be paranoid, he would have assumed nothing was wrong and gone on his merry way. But he was an auror and paranoia was something that could save one’s life on the field. He’d learned many times over not to disregard his overtly suspicious nature.
“Scorpius!” He spun around at the sound of Rose’s voice, immediately returning to the main room.
She was standing over the dining table, looking down intently at what seemed to be the day’s edition of the daily prophet.
“What is it?”
“This…Look at this.” She gestured toward the spread out section of the paper, her posture unusually tense. Scorpius felt a grim sense of foreboding as he edged forward to look at the article.
The headline immediately caught his eye:
Former Death Eater dead- toll reaches 11
He snatched up the paper, reading through the article quickly.
Below the headline was a picture of a scowling Theodore Nott- Scorpius recognized him with a lurch in the pit of his stomach. He’d know the Nott’s- they were close acquaintances of the Malfoys.
The mystery killer has struck again. Theodore Nott of ‘Nott’s and Crosses’ fame was found dead by his wife Elaine Nott on Friday night at 11:05 pm. The panicked woman contacted emergency services but the team of aurors pronounced him dead at the scene.
The wizarding world is outraged as the death toll continues to rise with the authorities no closer to apprehending the elusive murderer than they were six months ago. Head of the Auror department, Harry Potter, had this to say when questioned about the ministry’s progress: “We’re working on it. We have a few substantial leads and it may culminate in a breakthrough very soon. We ask the wizards of Britain for their patience and cooperation and once again remind them to abide by the safety precautions issued by the Ministry of Magic. Pureblooded families are in particular, advised to be cautious and set up basic wards around their residences. If witness to an attack, you are urged to alert the ministry and seek our protection immediately.”
While Mr. Potter’s words may offer reassurance to some, many others remain unconvinced. Says one Mrs. Gertrude Trimble, “It’s all tosh, the ministry is absolutely useless. We’ll all be dead in another month, you mark my words.”
Mrs. Trimble’s sentiments while extreme are substantiated by the fact that the minister, Oswald Beamish, had only this to say to our reporter: “Eh? Another one? Very well, very well. Now, be off with you, I’m a busy man. Betty, what’s keeping that dratted tea?!”
Amos Diggory however, is of the opinion that the former death eaters deserve their ‘comeuppance’ and the world could do without these ‘shameful blemishes’ on the face of democracy and justice-
Scorpius stopped reading and set the paper back down. Rose was watching him, nervously biting her bottom lip; No sooner had he looked up then she launched into a torrent of words. “Scorp, I didn’t put this paper here, I don’t even subscribe to the bloody prophet- not since they started publishing that junk about my personal life- did you notice anything weird around the house?”
Scorpius hesitated. If he told her that he suspected someone had indeed been in the flat, he would scare her unnecessarily. On the other hand, if he didn’t tell her, she would kill him when- if- she did find out and perhaps it wasn’t exactly an ‘unnecessary’ scare. She wasn’t exactly taking this whole killer business seriously anyway. He was left with two options: deal with the problem himself, making sure it didn’t happen again or just tell her and achieve nothing while she panicked and convinced herself there wasn’t really much point of his being there if the man continued to traipse in and out of her apartment as he pleased.
He settled on shaking his head. “Nope, nothing. I left the paper on the table in the morning, completely forgot about it.”
He shrugged apologetically and Rose frowned at him suspiciously. “Well, okay. If you say so. Anyway, what do you think of this? Do you know what lead Uncle Harry is talking about? You were on that case before right…-”
Scorpius only half-listened as he mentally berated himself for letting the man past him. What kind of auror was he? He had allowed Rose to distract him from his duties but this was the wake-up call he’d needed. He reminded himself again of the reason he had taken this assignment in the first place. This wouldn’t happen again, he thought grimly. He’d make sure of that.
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