Chapter 10 : The Lake
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As Rose crawled into bed that night, she decided to take the advice James had given her. Maybe it was just the arrogance talking, but she didn’t much like the idea of running after anyone.
She didn’t know why she’d bothered to actually go to the library to eavesdrop in the first place. It wasn’t as though someone being interested in her was a completely novel experience – she’d briefly gone out with both Damien and Julian the year before – but the idea of Scorpius Malfoy liking her was just odd, and she couldn’t quite get a handle on how she felt about it.
He’d always given every sign of disliking her, and maybe on some level he did, but between his conversation with Albus and the conversation she’d overheard last night, there was clearly something else going on.
And it was very, very strange.
She put it out of her head as she rolled over and closed her eyes. If she kept thinking like this, she was never going to get any sleep.
When Rose woke up the next morning, the sun hadn’t even peeked over the horizon yet. There was only so much a person could sleep, and her body had clearly reached its limit.
She took her time in the bath, and when she started to comb out her hair, she was very glad she had woken up as early as she had. By the time she was done, the sun had started to rise, though no one else had made their way down to the common room yet.
Rose hated missing class because she was in the hospital wing. This was not the first time it had happened, and she was sure it wouldn’t be the last, but she always ended up feeling like it took days to catch up with what she’d missed. Thankfully, her bowtruckle drawing was finished, but she’d been too tired the night before to work on Defense Against the Dark Arts. She’d gone to bed intending to finish it in her free period after Care of Magical Creatures, but while she was up, she might as well do it now.
It wasn’t especially difficult—Goldstein was mostly asking them to review what he’d taught them about dementors the year before—but it was time-consuming to do it thoroughly, so by the time she was scratching out the last sentence, several Gryffindors had already gone down to breakfast.
Rose went up to her dormitory to grab the books she needed for the day, and was on her way back down the stairs when she bumped in Roxanne.
“Morning,” she said cheerfully.
Roxanne smiled back. “Wish it wasn’t,” she replied, but she looked far more awake than she had on Wednesday. “When did you get up?”
“Early,” Rose said. “There’s only so much a person can sleep.” They climbed out of the portrait hole and headed down to breakfast together.
“Hey, where did you go last night?” Roxanne asked quietly, as they headed down the hallway.
Rose hesitated, but decided to come clean. Nott had been right about James, but having opened up to him and after he’d helped her sort it all out in her head, she felt she could talk to Roxanne about it, too. “The library.”
“With the cloak?” Roxanne asked when Rose paused, not sure how to continue.
“Well, yes.” Rose looked around, but didn’t see anyone. “I haven’t mentioned it to you, but I overheard Malfoy and Albus talking earlier in the week. He…” she trailed off, not sure how to say it.
“Does he fancy you?”
Roxanne had a tendency to skip right to the chase.
Rose actually stopped in her tracks. “Yeah,” she answered, feeling flabbergasted. “How did you know?”
“I’m hungry. Keep walking.” As Rose fell back into step with her, Roxanne swept her hair back, and Rose caught herself admiring it. She was perfectly happy with her red curls, but she’d always loved Roxanne’s braids. “Because I can’t think of anything else that you could overhear that’s awkward enough that you wouldn’t come out and say it.”
“Oh.” Rose sighed. Was she really the only one who’d been completely thrown by all of this? “James said it wasn’t my problem unless I wanted it to be and that in whatever case I shouldn’t chase after him.”
Roxanne grinned. “James was right. C’mon. Let’s get some breakfast.”
By the time she got to Care of Magical Creatures, she had nearly forgotten about the conversation she’d overheard. Her head was full with the anticipation of Quidditch practice that afternoon.
Once there, however, she caught sight of Albus standing with Scorpius, and it all came flooding back. She steeled herself and went over to them, reminding herself that Malfoy had no idea she’d been eavesdropping the night before.
This time, she had no intention of tipping him off.
“Morning,” Albus said.
“Morning,” she replied.
“How are you feeling today?” Malfoy asked, a glint in his eyes. “Did Madam Pomfrey let you out of the hospital wing too soon?”
She smiled sweetly. “No. I was all for waiting for a kiss from Prince Charming, but she told me I’d better get going, I wasn’t going to get any better than a frog.”
He stared at her for a moment, and then said, “Oh, don’t worry, Red. I’m sure there’s someone out there even for you.”
“Thanks,” Rose replied. “Not sure I can say the same for you, but I guess time will tell.” Albus looked at her suspiciously, but after a moment he turned away, shaking his head.
She caught Malfoy’s eye and winked. He flushed, but as he opened his mouth to retort, Woodmore starting talking. He shut his mouth and looked away from her, and she allowed herself to feel a small sense of victory.
After the lesson, rather than follow the rest of the students up to the castle, Rose took advantage of her free period and went to sit by the lake. She knew that she should be catching up on the work she’d missed, but she was craving some time to herself and knew that she wasn’t going to get it at any other point.
Of course, she’d reckoned that without Scorpius Malfoy. After she’d been sitting there for about ten minutes, enjoying the breeze and the solitude, she heard a voice behind her.
“Nice day, isn’t it?”
She jumped up, pulling her wand out and pointing it in the direction of the voice. When she saw that it was Malfoy, she sighed and put her wand away. “Oh. It’s just you.”
“I’m hurt,” he said, stopping a couple of feet away from her. “I’m a ‘just you’ now?”
She slumped back onto the ground and leaned back against the tree. “What do you want?”
He put on an expression of deepest hurt that she was sure was not genuine. “How do you know I’m not just here to enjoy the scenery with you?”
“Are you?” Rose was not expecting a yes, and sure enough, he shrugged.
“So what do you want?” she repeated.
He smiled. “I’m going to turn your hair green.” Her hand flew up to her throat, and she realised that she’d forgotten to put the necklace on that morning. She was going for her wand when he started laughing, and she noticed his wand sticking out of his bag. “I’m joking. Calm down. I don’t have a death wish.”
Rose smiled despite herself. “Good to hear. Don’t you have class now?”
“Yes,” he said unconcernedly, sitting down next to her. “I used a snackbox to get out of it. Going to give me detention?”
“Not unless you irritate me,” she told him. They sat in silence for a few minutes. “Can I ask you a question?”
“Sure,” he said, staring across the lake.
“I thought you hated me.”
Malfoy looked at her. “That isn’t a question.” She rolled her eyes, and he seemed to take the hint. “How do you know I don’t?”
Rose laughed. “Well, you’d hardly have chosen to use your free period sitting here with me if you did,” she said. “And you avoid James and Roxanne like the plague, and it’s occurred to me recently that you don’t seem to avoid me.”
“It’s easier to avoid them. They’re not in my year.” Rose gave a disgusted snort, and he sighed. “Have it your way, then. No, I don’t hate you. Not really.” He paused. “Not exactly.” She gave him a moment to mull it over. “You made a terrible first impression, you know.”
She didn’t know. “What do you mean?”
He stared at her. “On the train. First year.” She was still drawing a blank. It must have showed on her face, because he laughed. “I really have been giving you way too much credit.”
Rose felt her cheeks begin to burn. “What’s that supposed to mean?” she asked indignantly.
He shrugged. “Well, I’ve been figuring you for being intentionally nasty, but now I’m not convinced that you have the self-awareness and self-control for that.”
There was some truth in that. “Does it much matter?”
“Yes,” Malfoy said immediately. “It does. Being dense and having poor judgment bothers me a lot less than maliciousness.”
She stared at him. “Are you sure you’re in the right house?” she asked, wondering that for the first time in the four years that she’d known him.
He considered that while examining the stones strewn around where they were sitting. “Well, I’m manipulative, cunning, resourceful, and incredibly results-oriented.” He chose one and threw it at the water. It skipped four times before sinking to the bottom. “Yeah, Rose. I think I’m in the right house. Your mistaken opinions aside, being a Slytherin doesn’t have anything to do with being a cruel person, and I’m not a cruel person.”
When Rose thought about it, she realized that there was some truth in that. While Malfoy had frequently come across as unpleasant during their acquaintance, he’d never seemed cruel.
And Albus probably wouldn't be friends with someone who was.
It was a different view into Slytherin that she was not at all sure she was able to accept, but she knew that she should say something, especially given that he was offering an olive branch. “No, you’re not, are you?”
He smiled. “No.” She noticed how close together their hands were now that he’d dropped his back to the ground, and pulled her hand away quickly. He glanced at her. “What, afraid I’m going to bite?”
“I still don’t understand,” Rose said, ignoring the question. “Why are you trying to be friendly now?”
A cool breeze hit them, and she felt her hair blow back. She wished she’d had the presence of mind to braid it; there would be a lot more knots to comb out tonight.
Scorpius cocked his head to the side and looked at her. “Exactly how much of that conversation did you overhear?”
Rose hesitated for a moment, and he raised his eyebrows. “All of it,” she admitted.
“Brilliant.” He sighed. “I think that at first, I found you interesting because you came across as so incredibly unpleasant, but Albus – who I have always liked very much – seemed to genuinely enjoy spending time with you. You’re not his sibling. He didn’t have to. You could have easily grown apart. But you didn’t.”
That was a take on their mutual animosity she’d never thought of. “Of course not. Al is one of my best friends.”
“That’s my point.” He frowned. “If you make fun of me for any of this, I’m going to hex you into oblivion.”
“Wasn’t planning on it,” she told him. “But can’t I tease you just a little?”
The corners of his mouth turned up. “Depends on what you mean by tease.” She felt her face get hot, and he glanced at her. “I have to say, I’m enjoying making you feel embarrassed for a change. You deserve it.”
She couldn’t argue with that. “So all of this is just because you find me interesting?”
Scorpius looked at the sky. “Not exactly. I’m not sure what changed when, but something started to at some point, and this summer made it worse.” His face was just as red as she was sure hers was, and she allowed herself a brief feeling of victory.
“Your face is red again,” she pointed out. “It clashes horribly with your hair.”
“Thanks,” he said dryly. “Guess what? Yours does, too.” Rose looked away from him. “Well, that’s my story,” he said. “What’s yours? Figured out why you like rubbing my face in it yet?”
“Not really,” she said after a moment. “Curiosity, I guess.”
He rolled his eyes. “Terrific. So I’m here dealing with conflicted emotions, and you’re just curious.”
“It’s a common motivation for me. Don’t take it personally.” He snorted and looked down at the water. The conversation was getting entirely too serious for Rose’s comfort, so she nudged him. He looked up in surprise, and she grinned. “It’s also just fun to bother you.”
An answering smile spread across his face. “Want to bother me a little more?” he asked playfully.
Rose pushed her hair back and considered that for a moment. “Sure.” This was probably a terrible idea. She knew that. But Scorpius really was turning out to be all right, mostly, and anyway, she was curious.
She knew she’d caught him off-guard when she turned toward him. His eyes had widened slightly, and he looked a little wary. He’d clearly been expecting a witty reply.
“You know,” she said, putting her weight on one hand and bringing the other up to touch his hair, “this really is an awful colour on you.”
In other situations, he probably would have batted her hand away. She wasn’t sure if right now he was too taken aback to do so, or if he simply didn’t want to risk her getting up and walking away.
“It’s your own fault,” he told her. “Next time you want to turn it some strange colour, turn it green.”
Rose frowned. Her fingers were still touching his hair, and his only movement was the rise and fall of his chest. “Say I told you I’d either promise that next time, I’d turn your hair green, or I’d kiss you. What would you say then?”
He swallowed audibly. “I think I’d take the red hair."
“Really?” she asked, licking her lips. His eyes darted to them, and then back up to meet her eyes. “Are you sure?”
“Yes,” he said, his voice barely above a whisper.
“But I’m so irritating and frustrating,” she pointed out, dropping the hand from his hair to trail her fingers down the side of his cheek.
He shuddered. “Yes,” he agreed. “You are.”
“You seem to like me anyway,” she pointed out, tracing his jaw line. He was clearly very tense, which she supposed wasn’t shocking, considering the circumstances.
“Yes,” he agreed, his voice sounding very strained. She leaned a little closer to him. “Rose, I swear to god, if you’re just doing this to tease me after everything I just told you, I’m going to turn you into the giant squid,” he said sharply.
“But you did say it was all right to tease you,” she pointed out smoothly.
“That is not what I—” he started to say, and she kissed him.
She felt as though a colony of butterflies had been suddenly transplanted into her stomach.
He did not hesitate. One of his hands came up to grip the back of her head, and after a moment, he wound his other arm around her waist and pulled her closer.
Rose was pleased to discover that he was actually quite good at kissing.
When she pulled back, she could feel her heart pounding. He looked completely dumbstruck. “I didn’t think you were actually going to do that,” he said after a moment, still breathing heavily.
“I know you didn’t.” She hadn’t been sure that she was actually going to do it, either.
“Let’s try it again,” he suggested, and lowered his head to hers.
She put a finger on his lips. “Maybe,” she told him.
“Maybe?” he asked incredulously.
“Maybe,” she repeated.
He groaned. “I hate you,” he told her, pulling back. His voice lacked conviction.
“You asked me to bother you more, didn’t you?” She pushed herself up off the ground. “The next lesson must be starting soon. We should go.”
“Go?” The concept sounded completely foreign to him.
“I’m not skipping Defense Against the Dark Arts,” she said. “Especially not since I was in the hospital wing yesterday.” Rose turned and walked back up toward the castle. After a moment, she heard Scorpius’s footsteps hurrying after her.
“I really do hate you,” he said when he reached her. When she looked at him, however, he had a broad grin on his face.
“You’re a very strange person,” she told him.
He shrugged. “So are you.”
Rose couldn’t really argue with that.
A/N: Yay, new chapter! Not sure when I'll get the next one up - it might be a few weeks, because I have a James/Lily one-shot and a couple chapters of a fic about Victoire and werewolves to upload, and if the queue keeps being long... argh.
But I hope this was worth the wait. As always, I would really appreciate any reviews. :)
As a note for old readers, after several reviewers pointed it out, I ended up deciding that it really didn't make sense to have Slughorn and Hagrid still teaching classes, so I've tweaked the story a bit. Now, an old student of Slughorn's named Kara Dorny is teaching Potions (and has continued the tradition of the Slug Club), and a magizoologist named Leah Woodmoore is teaching Care of Magical Creatures (though Hagrid still lives in his hut and is often present for the lessons).
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