Chapter 15 : Patrol
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Class that afternoon passed quickly. Rose had gotten an E on her last Charms assignment, and felt confident about the one that she handed in. They didn’t get anything back in Ancient Runes, but she felt good about what she handed in, she’d gotten an O on the dementor assignment they’d handed in Friday, which helped make up for her continued struggles to make a Patronus. She was even alert enough to take good notes in History of Magic, which she hadn’t managed to do in half of their classes that semester.
She was in such a good mood that when she headed to the library once classes had ended, she managed to finish her Potions work and make a dent in Transfiguration before it was time for dinner.
Feeling very pleased with herself, she made her way down to the Great Hall. When she entered, she made a beeline for the Hufflepuff table; she hadn’t really seen Natalia very much lately, and it sidestepped the issues with Albus nicely. On the way, however, a very harassed looking Evelyn Greengrass cornered her.
“Rose, I’m glad you’re here,” she said breathlessly. “Can you do me a favor?”
“Sure,” Rose said, wondering what favor the Head Girl could want from her.
“Pritchard ended up in the hospital wing after they had Herbology today, and Wood somehow managed to land himself in detention,” Evelyn said very quickly. “Would you switch with them and patrol tonight? Noah’s already said he will. It’s only that if you can’t, Ethan and I have to do it, because the other fifth years have clubs or practice this evening, and I have a big Herbology assignment due tomorrow, and Tuesday is always one of my worst days even without that—”
“Evelyn,” Rose interrupted, “it’s fine. I don’t mind.”
Evelyn blew out a sigh of relief and seemed to relax considerably. “I could hug you right now. Thank you. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.”
Rose hoped that she would refrain from doing so. Thankfully, she did. “It’s really not a problem,” she said, rubbing the back of her neck. Gratitude tended to make her feel rather uncomfortable. “Though I’m still not sure why I got made a prefect in the first place.”
“Oh, well, a few of the older prefects recommended you,” Evelyn said distractedly. “Thanks, Rose.”
“No problem,” Rose said, wondering who those other prefect were. She suspected Lucy of being one of them, but she had no idea who the others could be.
She put it out of her mind and continued on to the Hufflepuff table, where she had a very enjoyable dinner. Natalia and Daniel regaled her with the story of how Lindsay Pritchard had ended up passing out after receiving a very nasty bite, and she gave Talia a brief update on the situation with Scorpius Malfoy.
When she noticed it was just before seven, she got up. “Sorry, Talia. Patrol. I’ll see you in Potions tomorrow?”
“Sure,” she said. “Have fun.”
Rose waved and hurried toward the double doors, where she could already see Noah Nott waiting.
“Lucky us,” he said when she reached him.
“I don’t mind so much,” she said. “By the time Evelyn got to me, I thought she was going to cry.”
“I wanted to practice my Patronus, but…” he shrugged. “My brother cornered me. He’s the seventh year prefect,” Nott added when she looked confused. “You really don’t may attention to other houses, do you?” She shook her head, and he snorted. “Whatever. Same as last time?”
“That’s fine,” Rose said, and they set off.
She wasn’t even halfway down her first corridor when she heard a voice behind her. “Fancy meeting you here.”
She turned around. “I have to patrol right now, Scorpius.”
“Is there any reason I can’t keep you company?” he asked.
Rose supposed there wasn’t actually any reason why he couldn’t. “Provided you don’t start snogging me, no.”
He blew out a breath and gave her a very exaggerated look of disappointment. “Too bad.”
“You know, I’m not going to start going out with you just because you’re good at kissing,” she said, crossing her arms.
He considered that. “Good point,” he said after a moment. “Anyway, no, seriously, your company is not only worth something if I might get a kiss out of it.”
Something occurred to her. She wasn’t sure if this was the right time to bring it up, but it had been bothering her, so she decided to risk it. “You know that time I was eavesdropping on you?” she asked, and winced. “Okay, that was not the best way to start that sentence.”
“When I was with Albus, or with Noah?” She glanced at him, and saw a glint in his eye she wasn’t sure she liked. “Just admit that you were.”
Rose was conflicted. On one hand, if she actually ended up going out with Scorpius, she felt like lying to him about it was probably a poor way to start off. At the same time, she wasn’t in the mood for a fight.
He had clearly noticed her hesitation. “What?”
“Yes, I was,” she said, making a decision. “But you were being really ridiculous and paranoid, of course I don’t have an invisibility cloak. It was just a disillusionment charm.”
“You can cast a disillusionment charm?” he asked skeptically.
Rose saw the danger and quickly avoided it. “No, of course not. I had a friend cast it on me.” He opened his mouth, and she added quickly, “I’m not telling you who.”
He sighed. “Please stop doing that.”
“Not telling you?” she asked, though she didn’t think that was what he was talking about.
Scorpius did not look amused. “No, eavesdropping.”
She didn’t say anything. She wasn’t sure she was willing to promise it. On one hand, it probably was quite unfair, especially since she definitely had access to tools that he didn’t. On the other, she kept learning such interesting things.
He shot her a look. “Unless you’re scared to just talk to me about it.”
“I’m not scared,” she snapped. Apparently, his revelation that he liked her did not stop him from pushing her buttons.
“If you say so,” he said, shrugging. “Stop eavesdropping, then.”
She hesitated. It wasn’t so much the idea that it was unfair that bothered her. Fairness was good in theory and all, but she wasn’t the type to get too hung up about it. Good was one thing, but fair was something else entirely.
No, the thing that was really going to bother her was his accusation of cowardice. She wasn’t a coward. She didn’t think that was why she’d been eavesdropping, but now that he’d put the idea in her head, she wasn’t sure she’d ever be able to get it out.
“Fine,” she said grudgingly, and steered the conversation away from that topic. “The time you were with Albus.”
“What about it?” Scorpius asked warily.
“You said something about us all getting top marks in our years.”
He looked a little surprised. Rose wasn’t sure what he’d been expecting, but this clearly wasn’t it. “Yeah, I did,” he said.
“Well, I don’t know if you were just exaggerating or not, but if you weren’t, you’re wrong.” She wasn’t sure why it had been bothering her so much, but it had been.
He stopped. “Why was I wrong?” he asked skeptically.
“I really need to be patrolling. You can walk and talk at the same time,” she told him, and peeked inside the classroom they were passing. No one was there.
“Why was I wrong?” he repeated, starting to walk again.
Rose opened the door to another classroom and scanned it. For the first time, it occurred to her that prefects were probably very annoying for couples that wanted some alone time.
“For one thing, you get better marks than I do sometimes.”
She looked at him, and saw that he was rolling his eyes. “It doesn’t count. Come on, Red—” Her eyebrows rose, and he hurried to amend the statement. “Come on, Rose. I’m marginally better than you in a few subjects. It’s not enough to matter. You’re much better than me in plenty of them.”
“You’re a lot better than me in Astronomy,” she pointed out, looking into another classroom.
“Am I?” he asked in a tone of surprise.
She gave him a curious look. “Of course you are. I’m terrible in Astronomy. I’ll be lucky if I get an A on my O.W.L.”
Rose groaned. “Yes, really. The only reason I even pass is because James helps me with it.”
“Oh.” They walked for a moment without saying anything, and as she was opening another door, he said, “Well, it’s still only one class.”
“You’re right. It is. I also do work hard to get good marks, shocking as it might sound.” She closed the door and continued on.
Scorpius sighed. “I’m starting to realize that,” he said as they turned the corner. “Where do you find the time?”
“Time management,” she said, shrugging. “And, by the way, my teammates do the same thing. That’s why they tend to get good marks. Though you were definitely overstating it for them, too, except maybe Roxanne.”
“Al’s brother tends to do well,” he pointed out.
Rose bristled. “He has a name. You could use it, you know. And, yes, James does do well in general, but he also got a T on one of his exams.”
“He got a T?” His voice was surprised, and for good reason; most people couldn’t manage Ts even in their worst subjects. She might have felt bad talking about James’ marks to Scorpius, except that she knew James didn’t care. He found his T very amusing. “In what?” he asked.
“History of Magic,” Rose answered.
He let out a loud laugh. “Of course it was. Who could blame him? But how did he end up with a T?”
She shrugged. “He skipped class, didn’t pay attention when he was there, and never studied. At any rate, we actually work for our marks. And, by the way, for the Cup.”
“Are you really saying you all aren’t a little arrogant?” he asked incredulously.
“No,” Rose said. “I’m not. Well,” she corrected herself, “Not Marion, so much, but everyone else, yes. You still weren’t being fair.” She paused for a moment, deciding whether or not she wanted to broach what was sure to be a very awkward subject. “Especially to James,” she added, making her decision.
He stared at her. “I wasn’t being fair?”
“That is what I said,” she told him, starting down the stairs toward the dungeons.
“Your brilliant cousin has been nothing so much as incredibly unpleasant every time he’s had to interact with me for the last four years,” he said as he followed her. “He’d probably turn me into a giant slug or something if he knew about…” he gestured between him and Rose. “You know. This.”
“He does know,” she said, feeling slightly triumphant.
Scorpius jerked his head around instinctively. “He does?” he said, his voice a little higher than usual. “Since when?”
Rose shrugged. “Awhile. Since I was in the Hospital Wing.”
He shook his head. “No, I don’t mean he knew about… my feelings, I figured he knew that. Noah figured he knew that—although you probably heard that,” he said, giving her an annoyed look. I mean if he knew about… if he knew you were actually considering going out with me.” She glanced over at him; even in the dim light, she could see that his cheeks were a little flushed.
“I know what you mean, and I’m telling you that he does know.” She looked over at Scorpius, who looked like he’d been hit over the head with a sledgehammer. “He was the first person I told.”
“So why hasn’t he jinxed me?” An idea clearly occurred to him, and he added, “He was trying to lure me into a false sense of security!”
Rose snorted. “No, he’s not.”
“How do you know?” Scorpius demanded.
“Maybe I’m flattering myself,” she said dryly, “but I think I know my cousin a bit better than you do.”
He shook his head. “But it doesn’t make sense. He hates me. I know he hates me. Why would he start being decent now that I’m snogging one of his favorite cousins when he hasn’t managed it in the four years I’ve been friends with his brother?”
“Probably because it’s easier to ignore your brother’s friend than your cousin’s boyfriend,” she pointed out. “And anyway, James doesn’t hate you. He just doesn’t like you very much.”
Scorpius was clearly struggling with the entire concept. “You’re saying that he hasn’t tried to convince you that I’m a terrible person and you shouldn’t waste your time on me?”
“Hardly,” Rose said, feeling a little irritated. He clearly didn’t know James at all. “He just said that he didn’t understand why, and that who I wanted to go out with was up to me. He doesn’t think you’re a bad person, you know. He just doesn’t like you.”
“But why were you asking him in the first place if he doesn’t like me?” Scorpius was obviously still very confused.
She shrugged. “He gives good advice.”
Scorpius did not appear to think very highly of James’s advice, because he gave a quick snort of laughter. “You like Roxanne. Why didn’t you ask her?”
“She doesn’t like you any more than James does, you know,” Rose said. “I have mentioned it to her now, and her initial advice was not helpful.”
“What was her advice?” Scorpius asked curiously.
Rose felt her face get a little hot as she remembered the conversation she’d had with Roxanne on the way to the village Saturday night. “Never mind,” she said quickly.
He looked like he wanted to press her, but ended up letting it go. “So,” he said casually, “which of them turned my hair this awful color?”
There was a moment of silence, and then Rose gave him a look. “Nice try.”
“It had to be one of them,” he said. “I’ve thought about it. If you really were with Albus, then it must have been one of them.”
“You don’t think it could have been my brother?” she asked.
The possibility clearly had not occurred to him. “He’s a third year. He wouldn’t be able to cast a spell like this, I can’t even find the counterjinx.” His voice, however, lacked conviction, and she could see the wheels turning in his head.
“Oh, it’s mostly faded away, now,” Rose pointed out. She stopped under a torch and reached out to touch it. “It’s blond now, at least.”
He gave a slight shiver, and she was suddenly aware of how close they were standing to each other. “It’s not my blond,” he said, clearly trying to keep his voice steady. He mostly succeeded, although she could hear a slight waver in it.
She stepped back. “I’m on patrol,” she reminded him, disconcerted to discover that she also needed the reminder. Her heart was starting to pound.
Scorpius nodded reluctantly. “Right.” He shook his head in what she assumed was an attempt to clear it.
Rose opened the door to the Potions classroom. It was empty. “What do you want to do after Hogwarts?” she asked as she closed the door.
He didn’t answer for a moment, and she looked over at him. “Sorry,” he said. “I’m just a little thrown by the question. It’s still a bit odd to actually have a normal conversation with you.”
As she let out a laugh, a couple Slytherins walked around the corner. As they neared, she recognized them as Flint and Soebly, whom she heartily disliked. They were both staring at her and Scorpius.
“Can I help you?” she asked coldly. When Flint opened his mouth, she added, “You might want to be careful what you say. I am a prefect, you know.”
He glared at her, but they walked away without saying anything.
Scorpius sighed, and she realized belatedly that escalating the situation might not be helpful for him.
“Sorry,” she said. “I didn’t think.”
He gave her a surprised look. “It doesn’t matter. They’ll give me hell about this one way or another eventually, at least if it works out the way I want it to. I don’t really care.”
“How do you want it to work out?” she asked mischievously.
Scorpius reached out, put an arm around her waist, and pulled her closer to him. “You know how I want it to work out,” he said, and pressed his lips to hers.
When they parted, she felt a smile spreading across her face. He really was very good at kissing. “I’m still not clear, sorry.”
He rolled his eyes and let her go. “I’d clear it up for you, but you have to patrol,” he said. “What were you asking before? What I want to do after Hogwarts?”
“Yes.” Rose could still feel the butterflies in her stomach.
He frowned. “I’m not sure. Recently, I’ve starting to consider becoming a Healer.”
“Huh.” She wasn’t sure what answer she’d been expecting, but she knew it wasn’t that. “You do know you have to keep taking Herbology for that, right?”
“I know,” he said unhappily. “I’m not looking forward to it.” He glanced at her. “What, are you surprised?”
“Yes,” she admitted, “though I don’t know why. I wasn’t expecting any particular answer.”
“Well, that’s what it is,” he said. “What about you?”
She bit her lip as she thought. “I don’t know,” she said after a moment. “Something exciting.”
“What a surprise,” he muttered.
“For awhile, I was thinking of becoming an Auror, but over the summer, I heard that that might not be where the real excitement is at right now.”
“What?” she looked over at him, and he was looking a little stunned. “What do you mean, ‘real excitement’?”
“There have been a lot of issues with dark creatures. I overheard Victoire telling my uncle.” She hoped he wouldn’t ask how she’d overheard it.
He didn’t. “What did she end up doing?”
“Victoire’s working for the D.C.B.,” Rose said. “So she would know. I know there’s been an increase in dementor attacks recently.”
“So, wait,” he interrupted. “Are all of your cousins into danger and recklessness, then?”
“Not all,” she said. “Lucy isn’t, really, and neither is Lily. But the rest of us… a bit, yes.”
“What are they all doing, then?” Scorpius looked a little taken aback.
“Well, V’s in Dangerous Creatures, like I said. Molly’s still figuring it out, but she’s a bit…” Rose trailed off. “Odd,” she supplied eventually. “Dominique went in for Dragon Research and Restraint, and Louis’s planning on becoming a Hit Wizard.”
“So it isn’t just the Gryffindors who are into danger, then,” he said.
“No, of course not. We don’t let them show us up, though.” He rolled his eyes, but she ignored him. “Fred mostly does the joke shop, but that’s about as tame as it gets, and he’s always blowing things up. Oh, and there’s Teddy. He’s not technically my cousin yet, but he’s a Cursebreaker.”
“What do you mean, he’s not technically your cousin yet?”
She shrugged. “Oh, Victoire will probably marry him eventually, they’ve been together for years now. James and Roxanne are going to do something exciting, they’re just not sure what yet. Albus wants to be an Auror.” She felt a quick pang, but pushed it away. They’d make up soon enough.
“Yeah, he’s said that,” Scorpius commented. “I didn’t know whether he was really serious about it, though.”
“I think he is,” she said. “I’m not sure what Hugo and Lily are planning to do yet, they’re too young, but Hugo’s latched onto the idea of being a Cursebreaker. He couldn’t wait to start Arithmancy.”
When it was clear that she’d stopped, he asked, “So, if being an Auror isn’t exciting enough, what are you planning to do?”
“Maybe what V does. That sounds like it’s the most exciting.” She smiled. Victoire had told them so many interesting stories. She probably hadn’t been intending to sell her department as a good career choice, but she’d definitely succeeded for both Rose and James.
“By exciting, don’t you mean dangerous?” Scorpius was clearly perturbed.
“Sure,” she said, and looked over at him. “Why? Does that bother you?”
He thought for a minute and then shook his head. “I don’t know. I’ll figure it out if it becomes relevant.”
She started ascending the stairs, and he burst out, “I’m not a coward, you know.”
Rose looked back, a little startled. “Did I say that you were?”
“No,” he said, “but if that’s what your family is like, most people look like cowards, and I want you to know that I’m not, even though the idea of being attacked by…” he thought for a moment, and then said, “… a manticore, or something, doesn’t exactly appeal to me.”
She shook her head. “Scorpius, I don’t think you’re a coward.” She thought for a minute. “A jerk, yes. A coward, no.”
He smiled a little at that. “Am I terrible if I think that you’re a little crazy?” He started climbing the stairs after her.
“You have a lot of company,” Rose said lightly. “I don’t mind.”
At the top of the third floor, they saw Noah coming down toward the fourth floor.
“You’d think we planned it this way,” she called out.
Noah grinned. “You’d think.” He looked at his friend. “Scorpius, I didn’t realize that you were a prefect, too. Or that Rose needed help patrolling.”
Scorpius did not look remotely abashed. “I’m just keeping her company. I’m hoping she realizes that my winning personality and witty comebacks are reason to go out with me.”
Noah looked a little amused. “If that’s what you’re relying on, good luck,” he said lightly.
“It seems to be working,” Scorpius said. “Maybe I’ll get a kiss goodnight.” He winked at Rose, and she rolled her eyes at Noah, who let out a laugh.
“Yeah,” Nott said. “All you want are a few kisses, right?” He looked at Rose and whispered loudly, “He doesn’t just want a few kisses, you know.”
“I kind of gathered,” she replied in an equally loud whisper.
Scorpius shrugged. “Can you blame me?” he asked them.
“I’m not going to attempt to touch that question,” Noah said, turning around and heading back up the stairs. “I’ll see you both later. Good luck, Scorpius.”
They waved, and Scorpius looked at Rose. “What about you?”
“Of course not,” she said, flipping her hair back. “But then, I wouldn’t. I’m arrogant, right?”
They walked together for another half hour. When her patrol was done and they were standing at the foot of the stairs that would lead her up toward Gryffindor tower, she asked, “Did you want that goodnight kiss, then?”
He didn’t wait for her to kiss him.
A/N: I know, I know. Two updates in less than a day? Wow.
The queue is crazy short right now, and I finished editing this chapter over the weekend, so I decided to throw it up. I hope you enjoyed it, and as always, I would love to hear your thoughts. :)
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