Chapter 14 : Flirting by the Lake
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Herbology was sufficiently distracting, though, and she even managed to largely ignore his presence at Care of Magical Creatures. After the lesson, though, she found herself needing to clear her head far more than she wanted lunch, so rather than follow the rest of the students up to the castle, she headed down to the lake.
Of course, she’d hadn’t counted on Scorpius. 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 and twisted around. “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.
“No,” he admitted, sitting down near her. She resisted the move, in part because she wasn’t sure whether she wanted to inch away from him or toward him.
“So what do you want?” she repeated.
He smiled. “I’ve decided to call off our truce. I’m going to turn your hair green.” Her hand flew up to her throat, and she realized that she’d forgotten to put the necklace on that morning. She was about to go for her wand when he started laughing, and she realized that his was still sticking out of his bag, which he’d dropped only barely within reach. “Calm down - I’m joking. I meant what I said about wanting a truce.”
Rose felt a smile spread across her face, despite her efforts to control it. “Good to hear. Aren’t you hungry?”
“Not really. Are you going to tell me to leave anyway?”
“Not unless you irritate me,” she told him. “Um - can I ask you a question?” He shrugged, which she took as a yes. “I thought you hated me.”
Scorpius tore his attention away from the lake’s surface to look 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?”
He made a face. “Have it your way, then. No, I don’t hate you. Not really.” She gave him a moment to mull it over. “It’s just - 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?”
Scorpius smiled at her, and she felt her stomach turn over. She was definitely in trouble - a Slytherin who was still sporting the after effects of a jinx cast by her cousin should not be inciting this much of a reaction from her just by smiling. “Well, I’ve been figuring you for being intentionally nasty, but at this point, I’m not convinced that you have the self-awareness and self-control for that.”
Rose couldn’t get indignant at that - there was too much truth in it. “Does it much matter?”
“Yes,” he said without hesitation. “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 pretty 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.”
He was right; while Scorpius 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 another olive branch, and she really did want to know what it would be like to kiss him. “No, you’re not, are you?”
“No.” She noticed how close together their hands had gotten and pulled hers away quickly. He raised an eyebrow at her. “What, afraid I’m going to bite?”
“I still don’t understand,” she 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 than there would be if she had.
Scorpius cocked his head to the side and looked at her. “Exactly how much of that conversation a couple weeks ago did you overhear?”
Rose hesitated for a moment, and he raised his eyebrows. “I’m pretty sure I heard pretty much all of it,” she admitted.
“I thought so. Brilliant.” He sighed. “All right, I guess I might as well own up to it, then. 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 brother, so he didn’t really 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. Albus is one of my best friends.”
“Well, yeah. 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 feeling like the tables have turned a little. You deserve it.”
“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. A lot worse.” Now 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 blithely, though her feelings on the subject weren’t anywhere near as casual as she was making them out to be. “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 - it was started to bring back to mind dreams that she didn’t feel were wise to think about while she was in his presence - 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?”
“Sure.” Rose tucked her hair behind her ears and ran her tongue over her lips. This might turn out to be a terrible idea, but she couldn’t seem to get the idea of kissing him out of her head, and Scorpius really was turning out to be mostly all right.
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, not a yes.
“You know,” she said, leaning toward him and bringing one hand up to touch his hair, “this really is an awful color 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. This was clearly an itch he’d been craving to scratch, too.
“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 instead of red, 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 again. His eyes darted down 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 a finger down the side of his cheek.
A shudder ran through him. “Yes. You are.”
“You seem to like me anyway,” she pointed out, now tracing his jaw line. His body was tenser than she’d ever seen it - he’d curled both hands he was leaning on into tight fists, and other than the rise and fall of his chest, he was barely moving.
“Yes,” he agreed, his voice sounding very strained. She leaned in closer to brush her lips very lightly again his cheek. “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. Really kissed him.
As soon as her lips touched his, she felt an entire colony of butterflies erupt in her stomach. His lips were soft and warm and everything they’d been in her dreams, and he groaned into her mouth. When she didn’t pull back, he didn’t hesitate in responding quite as ardently as she was. Suddenly his fists were no longer clenched - he wound one arm around her waist to pull her closer, and his other hand drifted up to the back of her neck. He began to trail his fingers across it lightly as his tongue passed through her lips to brush against hers.
When she pulled back, her heart was pounding in her ears. To her relief, he looked equally dumbstruck and was also breathing heavily. “I didn’t think you were actually going to do that,” he said after a moment.
“I know you didn’t.”
“Let’s try it again,” he suggested, and lowered his head to hers. When she pulled back, he did the same and frowned at her. “Was that - er - not good?”
Rose choked out a laugh. “No, it was good,” she said quickly, though she left out any number of qualifiers that would have strengthened the statement appropriately. It had been more than good. “I just - um - maybe we ought to stop. For now.”
“Why?” Scorpius asked incredulously. “Tell me if I’m just a bad kisser, but I thought that was a lot more than good.” She shrugged, and he let go of her. “I hate you,” he groaned, though his voice lacked conviction.
She pushed herself up off the ground. “Lunch must be almost over. We should go.”
“Go?” The concept sounded completely foreign to him.
“I’m not skipping Charms.” 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.
“So are you. And you started it.”
Rose couldn’t really argue with that.
A/N: This chapter was so much fun to write (and edit, this time around!). I hope you enjoyed it, and I'd love to hear your thoughts if you have the time to leave a review. Either way, though, thank you so much for reading!
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