Chapter 15 : Secrets
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When she and Albus joined James and Tyler for dinner, Rose filled her plate, but rather than eat the food, she pushed it around her plate with her fork. After about ten minutes, her meal was reduced to an unappetizing meld of potatoes, bread, and apple slices.
“Hey, Rose,” Tyler said. She glanced up. “Are you okay?”
She tossed her fork down onto her plate. “I’m just frustrated,” she said. “We were supposed to be learning the Patronus Charm in class today, and I couldn’t even make vapor.”
“I’ll help you tonight, if you like,” James offered immediately.
“I will, too, if you like,” Tyler added. “Forget vapor, we’ll have you casting a corporeal Patronus in no time.” He grinned. “Without Malfoy slipping something into your tea.”
The mention of Scorpius brought everything she’d been trying to put out of her mind into focus, which she knew wasn’t going to help her concentration. “Thanks.”
She glanced over her shoulder at the Slytherin table. Scorpius was sitting there with Noah. He looked perfectly at ease. Before he could catch her staring at him, she looked away. Albus and Tyler had gone back to talking about Quidditch, but James was staring at her in a way she really didn’t like. When Albus and Tyler got up to leave, James kicked her under the table, and she sighed.
“I’ll be there in a few minutes,” she told Albus. “I just want to finish my apple.”
He shrugged and departed.
James waited for his brother to leave the Great Hall before saying, “Anything you want to tell me about?”
Rose glared at her plate. “I hate you,” she told him.
“No, you don’t. What’s with you and Malfoy?” he asked, refusing to be deterred. “You got all uncomfortable when Tyler mentioned him, and he’s been staring at you all through dinner.”
She allowed herself to feel a quick moment of triumph - at least she hadn’t been the only one - before saying sheepishly, “We were by the lake during lunch, and I kind of… well, kissed him.”
She snuck a look at James in time to see him roll his eyes. “Oh, Rose. That was nice. Have you even figured out if you like him?”
“I don’t know. He’s kind of handsome, don’t you think?” James raised his eyebrows, and Rose felt her face get hot. “Do you really think it was unfair?”
“I take it he kissed you back, so not really. But you know, at this point, you really should be thinking about telling Albus something.”
“What’s to tell?” Rose asked. “He was teasing me, I kissed him, he… enjoyed it, and I told him maybe we’d do it again sometime and walked away.”
“Well,” her cousin said after a moment, “I probably wouldn’t present it like that. You know, I don’t get it. He’s a git. Why?”
She frowned. “I don’t really know. He’s kind of amusing, and he’s not bad-looking.” In all honesty, she thought that Scorpius was significantly better than “not bad-looking,” though it had never really had much of an effect before this year. Blonds had never been her type.
“If you say so,” James said skeptically. “I still think he’s a git.”
“I thought you felt bad for him.”
“I do. Doesn’t stop me thinking he’s a git.”
When Rose got back to the Common Room that evening after practicing her Patronus in an empty classroom with James and Tyler for an hour - now she was managing vapor - she was surprised to find Albus there; he generally preferred to work in the library on Mondays, because he didn’t trust his brother and Roxanne not to get the week off to a more explosive start than he found conducive for actually getting work done. When she sat down across from him, he smiled.
“Hey. I was going to go to the library, but you seemed a little off, so I thought I’d stay in.”
Rose reached over and squeezed his hand. She was genuinely touched. “Oh, Al, that’s really not necessary.”
“Yeah, well, I’m still kind of pissed off at Scorpius for putting you in the Hospital Wing, anyway. Git.”
“He admitted it?”
“Over the weekend, yeah, though he didn’t really have to - it was obviously him.”
Rose began to toy with one her red curls. “I don’t think it was intentional. In fairness to him.”
Her cousin’s eyebrows shot up. “Since when do you care about being fair to Scorpius?”
‘Since I discovered he was actually a really good kisser’ did not seem like a good answer just now, so Rose just shrugged.
“Rose, really, are you okay?”
She forced a smile. “I just haven’t been sleeping well. Don’t worry.”
Albus let out a snort and turned back to his essay. “Yeah, there seems to be a lot of that going around. Scorpius was walking around like a zombie all afternoon.”
Rose managed to keep her reaction to that particular revelation to herself, though with some difficulty.
By the time Rose got to Transfiguration the next morning, she’d had to deflect or dodge several more questions or comments for which a real answer would have immediately led Albus, Roxanne, or Damien back to her encounter with Scorpius by the lake. Consequently, all efforts to push the kiss toward the back of her mind had fallen utterly short; her only real gratification was that Scorpius looked even more exhausted and short-tempered than she did.
At the sight of him, Rose was suddenly seized by a very mischievous impulse. She slid into the chair directly in front of him and rummaged in her bag until she found her last chocolate frog. She unwrapped it and bit off the head, turning so Scorpius could see her savoring the taste.
As Professor Hanley stepped to the front of the class and called it to order, she glanced back at him. Scorpius had clearly just looked away from her, and she turned back to the front of the room with a smirk on her face.
If she was going to start noticing the way he looked and feel jealous over stupid things, he’d better be feeling it, too.
When Professor Hanley dismissed them, Rose got to her feet and slung her bag over her shoulder. “Ah, sweet freedom!” she said happily. “Nothing to do for three and a half hours!”
Albus made a face at her - after lunch, his afternoon was completely full - but Scorpius looked curious. “Have any exciting plans?” he asked.
“Read. Relax. Maybe take a nap. It’s nice to have so many options.”
He smiled. “That sounds nice,” he said wistfully. “Maybe I should skip my afternoon classes.”
“Oh, no you don’t.” Noah had overheard them. “You’ve already gotten one detention for skipping class last week. You don’t need a second.”
Scorpius made a face. “You’re no fun.”
“I’m not looking forward to Defense Against the Dark Arts,” Albus told Rose. “I know I got a P on the essay we gave him last class, and I probably deserved a D. It was awful.”
Scorpius snorted as he and Noah followed them to the door. “Al, if your work can be bad enough to get a D, I have no hope in hell of passing my O.W.L.”
“You’re not that bad,” Noah said as they exited the room. “You just need to apply yourself.”
“Thanks, Mum.” Noah rolled his eyes, and Scorpius looked over at Rose and Albus. “I’ll see you later, Al.” He hesitated, and as Albus and Rose turned away, he said in a strangled sort of voice, “Bye, Rose.”
She waved at them as she and Albus made their way down the hallway. When she looked over at him, he looked completely perplexed. “What was that about?”
Rose didn’t bother to ask what he meant. “No idea,” she said smoothly. “I always told you he was strange.”
After a minute, Albus let the subject drop, but a crease in his forehead told Rose that sooner or later - and she was banking on it probably being sooner - the pieces were going to fall into place. She’d have to tell him before that happened.
Rose’s afternoon was relaxing, though unfortunately, the peace and quiet left her plenty of time to think, which just now, she didn’t really appreciate. Her thoughts kept coming back to Albus; she’d enjoyed kissing Scorpius enough that she actively wanted to do it again, but it felt disloyal to be snogging Albus’s best friend behind his back. He’d be pissed off and angry if he found out without them telling him, and she wouldn’t put it past Scorpius to break soon; he was turning out to be very annoying that way.
Annoying or not, though, she really did want to kiss him again. He was good at it.
James had some free time that afternoon before the sixth years’ NEWT Transfiguration class, and she was lucky enough to find him in time to borrow the map. He hadn’t bothered to hide a chuckle as her handed it over, and from his “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do” comment, she suspected he knew exactly what she wanted it for.
She fidgeted through Defense Against the Dark Arts. Even her continued inability to move from vapor to a corpoeal Patronus didn’t break through her impatience to be done with class.
When Albus and Colleen asked Rose whether she wanted to go play a game of exploding snap in the Common Room, she told him she needed to stop by the library but would be up soon. She wasn’t sure whether that was really going to wind up being true, but it seemed to appease them, and she headed down the corridor alone.
As soon as she’d ducked into a passage, she pulled out the map to check Scorpius’s location. To her faint surprise, he was alone and already heading upstairs toward her; a turn down another corridor and down a short flight of stairs brought them face to face.
“Hey,” she said brightly. “What are you doing here?”
He studied her. “I - um - wait, what are you doing here?” When she didn’t answer, a smirk spread across his face. “You have that map, don’t you? You were looking for me.”
Rose grinned back at him. “What possible reason would I have to do that?”
He took another step toward her, and she could feel her heart start to hammer in her chest. “You tell me.”
“Oh, have it your way, then.” She closed the distance between them, wrapped her arms around his neck, and kissed him.
As with the previous morning, Scorpius Malfoy did not hesitate to respond. His arms immediately encircled her, and they stumbled into a wall. When he felt her tongue slip past his lips, he was more than happy to reciprocate. By the time they broke apart, they were both panting and Scorpius’s eyes were glazed over. Rose suspected that she didn’t look much better.
He glanced around the hallway and seemed to recover some of his wits. “We probably shouldn’t do this right here.”
She swallowed hard, trying to regain some of her composure. It was difficult; right now, most of her attention was on his lips and his chest. “Right. Um, there’s a passage up there.”
“Of course there is.” She grabbed his hand and yanked him through the doorway and up the stairs. “Wow, you must find me really irresistible.”
“Oh, shut up.” She pulled him behind the tapestry and pushed him against the wall again. “But yeah, maybe a little.”
He grinned, but before he could respond, she pressed her lips against his again. He whimpered into her mouth and put both hands on her waist, pulling her closer. This time he was the one who broke away, but before she could protest, his lips were on her neck. Rose felt her legs start to quiver, and she had to hold back a gasp.
He was very, very good at this.
When Scorpius pulled back from her neck, she kissed him again before he had the chance to say anything. They were so close that she could feel his heart start to speed up as she slipped a hand under the bottom of his shirt and began to slowly run a hand up toward his chest.
Then, light flooded the passage, and she heard a very, very familiar voice. “What the hell are you doing?”
A/N: This is another chapter that's been pretty significantly altered, so I'd particularly love to hear how this came off to you. I had a lot of fun writing the last scene in particular, which is new - I hope you enjoyed it. Thank you so much for reading!
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