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Chapter 12 : The Green Monster
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Unfortunately, Rose’s life seemed to have taken a turn, and boring was no longer an option.
She was in the library the next day trying to find a book when she heard Scorpius’s voice behind her. “Hey.”
Ignoring the part of her that was a little disgusted with her ability to reliably recognize his voice from one short word, she shot a glance over her shoulder. “Are you following me around now?”
He looked a little bemused. “Rose, I’ve been over by the windows with Claire since after breakfast. I saw you come in.”
Embarrassment that she’d somehow managed to not notice him warred with a sudden strike of jealousy. That was the second time in as many days that she’d found herself feeling that way about Scorpius Malfoy, and she was finding it very disturbing. “Oh.”
He eyed her. “Are you all right? You look a little red.” A small smile was playing around his mouth, and she fought the urge to groan.
“I’m fine. I just got hit by a bludger during practice this morning. It’s still sore.” She was seized with a sudden inspiration and pulled down the neck of her shirt to show him the blossoming bruise on her shoulder. When she looked up, Scorpius had a little frown on his face. “What’s wrong?”
Scorpius looked up at the ceiling for a moment before looking back at her. “That’s your idea of fun?”
Rose had to work to keep herself from smirking at her success in distracting him. “Yep,” she said blithely. “Want to kiss it to make it all better?” As soon as she said that, she wanted to kick herself, and when he opened his mouth, she added quickly, “I was joking.”
“Too bad,” he said.
Rose immediately felt her face get hotter, and she yanked the neck of her shirt back up, inadvertently smacking the bruise in the process. Her eyes watered at the sharp pain, and she bit her lip to keep from cursing.
‘You should go to the hospital wing,” she heard Scorpius say, and she looked up at him. Through the tears, she could see that the frown on his face had deepened.
“I’m fine,” she said through gritted teeth. “It’s just a bruise.” He opened his mouth, and she snapped, “Do you want something?” She dragged her sleeve across her eyes. When she looked back at him, he’d turned away from her and started scanning the shelves. He didn’t answer her, and she added waspishly, “I didn’t know you took Ancient Runes.”
He glanced back at her. “I don’t. Noah asked me to pick up a book for him,” he said.
“Oh.” Rose sighed. She wasn’t sure what she wanted just now, but she did know that she didn’t really want to fall back to their old antagonism. “Look, I’m sorry. I just…” She trailed off and looked up at the ceiling. “I had a rough night, and practice this morning was hard.”
After cornering her to ask her a few more questions before they’d gone down to breakfast, Albus had kept his distance from her all day, choosing to sit with Holly and Caitlin, two Gryffindor girls in their year that he knew Rose generally tried to avoid whenever possible. She’d taken her cue from him and left him alone, but it had hurt even more than she’d expected it to.
As a result, she hadn’t been quite as focused at Quidditch practice as she’d really needed to be, which had led to several painful encounters with bludgers that under normal circumstances she’d have had no trouble dodging and enough dropped quaffles that James had eventually lost his patience and yelled at her.
Rose really, really hated fighting with Albus. It didn’t happen often, but when it did, her concentration went to hell, and so did everything else.
Scorpius was studying her carefully. For a moment, she thought he was going to make a smart comment, but instead he said, a little awkwardly, “Er— do you want a hug, or something?”
Her eyebrows shot up in surprise and she actually took an involuntary step back, catching her foot in the strap of her bag. “Oh, hell,” she muttered as she felt herself fall backwards. Her initial instinct was to grab a shelf to catch herself, but she managed to stop herself; she knew that the shelves were not quite as sturdy as the appeared, and the very last thing she needed was old, heavy books cascading down on top of her.
Hitting the ground hurt exactly as much as she’d thought it would, given the bruise on her leg, and she felt her eyes water again. She quickly wiped her sleeve across them as Scorpius knelt down.
“Sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to surprise you into falling down. That’s just always what my cousin Johanna says when somebody’s feeling stressed out.” He offered her a hand. “Don’t worry. I won’t offer again.”
Rose stared at him for a few heartbeats before placing her hand in his and allowing him to help her up. “You’re very strange,” she told him for the second time in as many days.
His cheeks went a little red, but he shrugged as he let go of her hand. “You’ve said.”
She studied his face, and he shifted uncomfortably. “Yes,” she said, making up her mind.
Scorpius shook his head uncomprehendingly. “Yes, what?”
“Yes, I want a hug.” Rose could feel her ears starting to burn, but thankfully, her very messy windswept hair was concealing them from view.
“Oh.” Scorpius stepped forward and gingerly placed his arms around her, as though he was half-expecting her to pull out her wand and jinx him instead. She rested her head on his shoulder, and after a moment, his grip tightened.
When they parted, Rose was very sure that more than her ears were red, though she could take solace in the fact that Scorpius was blushing so furiously it looked almost as though he had a sunburn. Before she could stop herself, she let out a loud giggle.
He looked rather insulted, and she hastened to say, “Sorry. It’s just your hair.” The orange it had faded to was practically glowing in the sunlight streaming through the window.
He made a face. “So next time, don’t turn it red. When is it going to get back to my normal colour?”
Rose shrugged. “I don’t know, I didn’t have anything to do with it, remember?” He rolled his eyes, and she smiled. “Is there anything in particular you wanted, or did you just come over here to make me trip over myself so you could hug me while my defenses were down?”
Scorpius let out a snort and leaned against a bookshelf. It shook slightly before stabilizing. “Yeah, that’s it. Genius plan, right?” She laughed, and he shook his head, a slight smile on his face. “No, I did have something to ask you.” She looked at him expectantly, and he asked, “What exactly did you tell Al last night?”
She groaned. “Oh. That.”
Scorpius raised his eyebrows. “Yes. That. He informed me today before breakfast that he was highly annoyed with both of us.”
She sighed and stepped backwards a few paces to slump against the wall. “In my defense, I was really flustered.” He continued to look at her, and she wrinkled her nose. “Let’s not talk about it. Do you want to snog instead?”
She wasn’t sure if it was a mark of self-control or simple irritation that made him ignore the offer, but ignore it he did. “You got me into hot water with my best friend. Tell me what you said, then we’ll snog.”
“One or the other,” she said quickly, and he crossed his arms. “Oh, fine. Have it your way.” She knew that he wasn’t going to like this, though in fairness, he had started it by talking to Albus about her.
She decided not to point that out. Albus really had needed to be told something at some point, and at the rate she’d been going, it could have been months before she said anything.
“I might have mentioned you kissing me in the hospital wing,” she said. Scorpius made a face, and Rose sighed. “And when he cornered me first thing this morning, I might have let it slip that I’d caught you looking down my shirt.”
He stared at her incredulously. “What on earth possessed you to tell him that?”
“I was flustered,” she said again, starting to feel a little defensive. “And not all of us have lots of practice at lying.”
Scorpius ignored the jab at his house and said instead, “God, Rose, that is the worst possible thing you could have said.”
“I also told him that I’d caught you out at it when we were looking at the map during lunch the other day,” she muttered. She wasn’t about to admit it to Scorpius, but she was feeling exceedingly unhappy with how she’d handled Albus cornering her that morning.
Scorpius groaned and put his face in his hand. “All right, no, that was the worst possible thing you could have said.”
Rose grimaced. “I know. Sorry.” She slid down the wall to sit on the floor. “I was flustered,” she said for what felt like the tenth time. After a minute, Scorpius followed her down the aisle and made to sit next to her. She moved over a little, and he slid into the area she’d vacated.
“In the future, please don’t tell your cousin things like that,” he said. “It’s just going to get him pissed off.”
“Well, you were looking down my shirt,” she pointed out fairly, and when she looked at him, his face was red again. “Admit it.”
He heaved a sigh and said, “Fine. Yes, I was. In my defense, you were leaning over that map thing right in front of me. It was a little hard not to look, and I have never claimed to be a saint.” He glanced over at her. “So, how about that snog?”
She elbowed him, and he laughed.
It was really very strange. The more time she actually spent talking to Scorpius, rather than just sniping at him, the more she was discovering that he actually wasn’t a terrible person to spend time with. In fact, sometimes he was downright fun.
How she’d gone four years without realizing that was beyond her, although at this point she was really beginning to think that he was so strange and complicated that it had to be his fault.
A girl appeared at the end of the aisle. “Scorpius, I’m done working,” she said in a rather irritated tone. “I’m going back down to the Common Room. I left your books on the table.” She stared down at them for another moment and spat, “Have a great time,” before turning on her heel and disappearing from view.
Rose stared after her, not sure what had just happened. Scorpius, on the other hand, let his head fall back against the wall and groaned.
“What was that?” Rose asked him, and he made a face.
“That was Claire. She’s…” He paused for a moment, trying to find the words. “She’s not happy that I’m spending time with you.”
Rose spun around. “What, is she—”
Her opinion of him didn’t even have time to plummet before his head snapped back up and he said, very vehemently, “No!” Someone several aisles over made a disgusted sound, and he lowered his voice. “God, no. She’s just annoyed because she really, really doesn’t like you, and…”
He trailed off, and Rose prompted him. “And?” Her heart was thudding in her chest, and she found herself rather surprised at how much she cared about his answer.
Scorpius sighed. “And I was the only one of her friends who felt as strongly about it as she did. Right now, she thinks I’ve gone over to the dark side, and my disappearing on her to come talk to you just now probably didn’t help.”
A feeling of relief that she found deeply disconcerting washed over Rose. “So she’s not…”
“No,” he said feelingly. “Definitely not. Claire can be a real bitch sometimes.”
Rose knew that her entire face was glowing at this point. She wouldn’t have been surprised to find her blush spreading across her body. “And she doesn’t…”
“No,” Scorpius repeated. “Noah actually thinks that she’s got her eyes on Albus. I don’t know if he’s right, but if he is, that’ll be good for a laugh.”
“Albus can’t go out with a Slytherin,” Rose said before she could stop herself, and winced as soon as she’d processed who she’d said that to.
Thankfully, when she looked over at Scorpius, he looked more amused than anything. “Not with any of the ones in our year, anyway,” he said. “The girls are all trolls or way too bitchy for him, and I’m pretty sure that he’s straight, whatever else is wrong with him when it comes to girls.” Rose gave him a curious look, and he grinned. “You never heard about Gretchen Creevey?” She shook her head, and he snorted.
“In February, Gretchen cornered him in the library and asked him out. He stumbled over his words for a bit and ended up deciding on, “Fifteen is too young to be going out.”
Rose stared at him. “You’re joking.”
He shook his head and pointed down the aisle to the shelf closest to the windows. “It was right over there.”
Rose cast her mind around. She couldn’t remember Albus mentioning that to her, but even for something that embarrassed him, that was a bit odd. “When in February?” she asked.
Scorpius screwed his face up as he thought. “The day you started going out with Julian Fairbourne,” he said after a moment.
That explained why Albus hadn’t told her. She hadn’t seen him as much as usual in February, because he was too busy trying to avoid Julian. But… “How do you remember that?” Rose asked suspiciously, and was rewarded by a renewed hint of pink on his cheeks.
“Because Albus was annoyed about it,” he said calmly, but the tinge didn’t disappear. “He did that thing he does with his mouth whenever Julian comes up.”
Rose narrowed her eyes. “You liked me, didn’t you?” she asked, and the pink on his cheeks deepened. “You did!”
“Shut up,” he muttered, pulling his legs up and resting his forehead on his knees.
“Then why were you so nasty to me?”
He looked up. His face was bright scarlet at this point. “Because you’re annoying.”
She leaned in to press her lips against his very warm cheek. “You seem to have forgiven me for it,” she whispered, and a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. The memory of their kiss the previous morning suddenly flooded back into her mind, and put her hand on his other cheek. “Hey, Scorpius.” He turned toward her, and she pressed her lips against his.
This kiss was just as good as the kiss the morning before had been. In some ways, it was even better. Rose felt a lurch in her stomach as he opened his mouth, and had the sudden impression that she was getting in way over her head.
She also knew that right now, she couldn’t be bothered to care.
When they parted, she grinned. “Do I still drive you insane?”
His eyes narrowed slightly, and a moment too late, Rose remembered where she’d heard him use those words. For a minute, she was afraid he was going to call her out on it, but after a minute, he just said, “In a different way,” and leaned in for another kiss.
A/N: Yay! Things got validated super-quickly, so I was able to upload this sooner than I expected!
I'm not totally sure about it - I had a scene with Noah in it at the end, but ended up deciding to include that in the next chapter instead, because it felt too awkward tacked onto the end of this one. But now I'm not sure if this one has enough going on in it. So yes, comments would be appreciated!
Sidenote: In exciting news, over on the forums Gryffindor House voted this story the January Gryffindor Story of the Month! I was very flattered, and I'm really glad that people seem to like it so much!
Happy new year! I hope your holidays were lovely. :)
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