Chapter 17 : Fighting with Scorpius
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By the time Rose and Albus left Potions that afternoon, she had completely forgotten her promise to do work with him and Scorpius in the library until dinner.
However, when she started to continue up the stairs to Gryffindor tower, Albus called after her, "Weren't you going to work with us in the library?"
Rose paused for a moment before she remembered what he was talking about. “I forgot,” she said as she retreated back down the stairs.
Her cousin rolled his eyes. "Of course you did."
“Well, it’s been a long day,” she muttered.
He didn’t look sympathetic, probably because a significant part of her long day had involved sneaking into the village to see Fred and playing exploding snap with Marion once James had gone to Transfiguration.
Scorpius was already there when they arrived. He looked up from his Potions book as they sat down across from them. "Get caught yet?" he asked.
Rose smirked as she pulled her Arithmancy essay out of her bag. "Of course not. We never do." Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Albus and Scorpius exchange a look, but neither bothered to respond.
Other than a few whispered questions, they worked in silence. Rose glanced up at the clock frequently, and when it hit six o’clock, she began to stuff her books into it.
“You’re done already?” Scorpius asked in surprise.
She shrugged. "No, but I'm hungry. I didn't eat lunch, remember? If you both want to keep working, go ahead, but I need to eat something."
She was not surprised when Scorpius immediately began to pack up his bag. She was also not especially surprised when Albus waved them off. "I'll be down in a little while, I need to finish this assignment first," he said. He looked vaguely amused at how eager his friend was to follow Rose out of the library, which she supposed was probably preferable to how he had been acting before now.
As they left the library, she peeked over at Scorpius. “You know I’m not sitting with you at the Slytherin table, right?”
“I know,” he said cheerfully, shoving his hands inside his pockets. “But I figured I’d walk you down and leave you to enjoy dinner with your narcissistic cousin.” She stopped dead in her tracks, and he looked at her, clearly realising a moment too late that he’d stepped over the line. “I didn’t mean—”
With difficulty, she managed to restrain herself from taking out her wand. "Don't insult James," she snapped. He opened his mouth, but she cut him off before he could say anything. "I don’t want to hear any of your stupid excuses.” She took a step closer to him, and he instinctively edged back. “You don’t have to like him, but if you can’t keep your mouth shut, you can sod off right now.”
At this point, she had him backed up against a wall, and he swallowed audibly. However, when he replied, his voice was nearly as irritated as hers was.
“Oh, so that’s it, then?” he asked waspishly. “Your brilliant cousin can treat me like scum for four years, but if I want to get with you I just have to shut up and take it?”
Rose was caught between wanting to take out her wand to jinx the hell out of him and feeling vaguely pleased that at least liking her hadn’t completely taken away his backbone.
She crossed her arms and backed off a little. “I don’t care what you think of him or why, he’s my cousin and I love him and I’m not going to just stand here while some stupid snake has a go at him.”
His eyes narrowed, and his cheeks reddened slightly. “Don’t call me names,” he said coldly.
"Then don't insult my cousin.”
Scorpius closed his eyes for a minute and took several deep breaths. When he opened them, he looked a little calmer. "Fine. I'm sorry I insulted your cousin." She didn't say anything, and he raised his eyebrows. "This is the part where you also apologize for calling me names."
"Fine," she said shortly. "I'm sorry I was nasty to you. Even though you deserve it."
He rolled his eyes. "I guess that's a start.”
"You don't even understand," Rose said angrily. Scorpius might be able to calm himself down, but she didn’t possess the same self-control. "You're judging him without even knowing him.”
He leaned against the wall. He was clearly still irritated, but he’d regained most of his composure. "Are you joking?" he asked incredulously. "Al's brother—"
"Use his name."
Scorpius stopped for a moment. "Fine,” he said with obvious effort. “James never even tried to get to know me before deciding I was an obnoxious git. Go tell him not to judge people without knowing them."
This had been exactly what Rose had been afraid of at the outset. Once the novelty of being friendly wore off, they were going to discover that they were completely incompatible.
Scorpius said he liked her. After talking to Albus the night before, she was fairly certain she believed that it was genuinely true. However, if he couldn’t restrain himself from insulting James at every turn without any provocation at all, there wasn’t any potential for a relationship with him.
"James is terrific," she snapped. "James is one of my favorite people in the world. He's always there for me. When I was failing Astronomy first year, James would stay up all night helping me on my homework.” Scorpius sighed and tried to say something, but she talked over him. “When I was worried about not being good enough for the team, back when I first joined, James spent hours helping me practice. When I just want to give up and not do my schoolwork because I'm too tired to care anymore, he convinces me not to go to sleep and to finish it, because I'll regret not doing it later. The few times I've actually fallen asleep doing my schoolwork, he's finished it for me.”
She paused for breath, and Scorpius tried to take advantage of the pause. “Rose—”
She kept going. “Oh, and that map you were so impressed by? It belongs to James, not Al, and he always gives it to me if I ask for it. He’s one of the most selfless, caring people I’ve ever met in my life. So shut your mouth about James. You don't understand at all."
He regarded her warily. “Are you done?” he asked after a moment. She nodded, and he sighed again. "Look," he said slowly. He was clearly choosing his words very carefully. "I'm not saying that he hasn’t been good to you. I'm just saying he's always been awful to me."
Part of Rose knew that he was trying to be reasonable, but it wasn’t enough to overpower her indignation. “Unless he actually does something, keep your mouth shut about him,” she snapped.
Scorius took a cautious step forward. "Will you please just calm down?" he asked, putting his hands on her shoulders. She tried to half-heartedly to shrug them off, but he did not step back. "I'll keep my mouth shut about your family if you'll keep your mouth shut about mine, okay?"
"I haven't said almost anything about your family," she said irritably.
"I know. Let's keep it that way."
Rose stared at him for a moment, still breathing a little heavily. “I really want to jinx you right now,” she said as he started to lean in.
He slumped back against the wall. “Yeah, well, I really want to jinx you right now, too,” he replied.
She put her hand on her wand. “Try it,” she dared him. “Go on.”
Scorpius let out a bark of laughter. “No,” he said flatly. “No matter how much I want to jinx you right now, it’s not going to get me what I want.” Her bewilderment must have shown on her face, because he added, “Look, unlike you, I have some self-control. I’m annoyed at you right now, but I’m often annoyed at you. I know how to choose my battles.”
She threw up her hands in disgust. “You are such a Slytherin,” she snapped, though her anger was finally starting to ebb away.
“Thank you,” he said, grinning broadly.
“It wasn’t meant as a compliment,” she muttered, turning away from him.
Before she could start to walk away, he pushed himself off the wall and grabbed her hand. She looked back at him warily, and he brushed his lips against her cheek. "Look, I'm sorry, but do you understand why I feel the way I do?"
"No," she said defiantly.
"Close enough," he said. He seemed to have regained his good cheer. “It’s kind of a process with you, I’m finding.” She shrugged, and he actually managed another smile. “Come on. I'm getting hungry, too."
As they started walking again, she said, “You could’ve just let me storm away, you know.”
He laughed. “No, I couldn’t have. You’d have refused to speak to me ever again.”
There was probably some truth in that.
After a minute or two of silence, he asked, "Do you want to do this again tomorrow?"
"Fight?" she asked, though she knew that wasn't what he meant.
He laughed, and Rose took a moment to marvel at the fact that he’d moved on so quickly. She was still thinking of jinxes to use on him. "No, work in the library before dinner,” he said.
"I can't,” she said shortly. “I have Quidditch practice."
He nodded. "Fair enough. What about Thursday afternoon?"
"I can't," she repeated. "I have Quidditch practice."
"Well, yes. The game is coming up. We need to be in top form."
He sighed. "And you’ll be too tired to meet me in the library after, won’t you?"
"I don't know. Probably." She frowned. "Is that a problem?" He didn't respond, and she groaned. "Scorpius, seriously, what do you expect? I'm on the team, so yes, I'm going to spend some time practicing."
He did not look like he was especially pleased with that, but after a moment, he said, "All right, then. How about Friday?"
"Probably. Look, we have at least one class together a day, can't we talk about this Thursday or Friday?" she asked. She was beginning to lose her patience with him again.
"Fine." He closed his eyes for a minute, and then added, "I'm sorry, Rose. It really is fine. I don't want to be creepy or possessive."
She studied him for a moment. He was looking quite vulnerable all of a sudden, and most of her irritation with him evaporated. She squeezed his hand. "It's okay. If not Friday, we'll do something Sunday, I promise. But it might just be schoolwork."
He glanced at her. “Your mood can change really quickly, can’t it?”
“I’m a Weasley. Of course it can.”
Scorpius laughed. “Fair enough,” he said again. "So, with your game coming up, I suppose that means you'll be having practice a lot."
“Don’t the Slytherins?”
"I don’t really pay attention," he said, shrugging. “I’m not on the team, remember?” He stopped her as they approached the stairs. "Since I'm apparently not going to see you for the next two weeks…"
"Oh, don't exaggerate—" she was starting to say when he leaned in and kissed her.
She wrapped her arms around his neck and was returning the kiss with a great deal of enthusiasm before she’d even had time to process what she was doing.
After a moment, he broke away. When she felt his lips on her neck, the protest she was about to voice turned into a whimper.
"Admit it," he murmured. “Deep down, you really do want to be with me.”
“Well, you do have a nice profile,” she gasped.
"If you say so," he said, and pressed his lips to hers again. She could feel the hand he had on the small of her back begin to drift down. Then he pulled back suddenly. “Wait, what?”
Rose felt her face go red. Of all the stupid things to say, that had to be one of the worst she could have come up with.
“I—” she started, without having any idea of what she was going to say.
She was interrupted by a very familiar voice, and she groaned. The situation had suddenly plummeted into one of her most embarrassing moments ever. "Rosie, Rosie, Rosie," James called from the end of the corridor. "I thought you had some sense."
Scorpius' hand slid back up very quickly, and she could see the tension on his face as she turned around to face her cousin.
Roxanne, who was right behind him, was clearly in her element. "Seriously, Rose. I mean, a corridor?"
"Haven't we taught you anything?" James asked.
"You know at least half a dozen passageways where the only people likely to bump into you would be us," Roxanne said, grinning as they neared Rose and Scorpius.
"And yet you choose a corridor." James shook his head. “I thought we’d been better teachers than that."
"Yeah, Rosie." Roxanne clapped a hand over her heart and adopted an expression that suggested she’d been deeply wounded. “We’ve given so much blood and sweat and tears to pass on our knowledge to you. We won’t be around forever, you know.”
"It was nice to feel like someone actually appreciated us and our secrets," James added. "My brother certainly doesn't, he's no fun."
"Oh, please." Rose could no longer hold back her giggles. "Hugo and Lily appreciate you and your secrets plenty."
"Well, yeah," James acknowledged with a shrug, "but they're unfocused. Young. Immature."
"We just thought we could expect better from you." Roxanne shook her head in disappointment.
"We're going to be honest," James started.
Roxanne finished his thought. "You've really let us down."
“Well, I’m so very sorry,” Rose replied. On one hand, this was embarrassing – but on the other, with any luck Scorpius would have forgotten what she’d said by the time James and Roxanne departed, and on the whole, she thought that she probably preferred being teased by her cousins.
James reached out and ruffled her hair. "Live and learn." He looked past her at Scorpius. "Hello, Malfoy. Enjoying groping my cousin?"
Rose looked up at Scorpius, whose face was rapidly going red. "Yes, actually," he said, and she was impressed to hear that his voice was quite steady.
Roxanne leaned against the wall and began playing with a few of her braids. "If you shag him, you'll definitely want to use a passage," she said, off-handedly.
Rose could feel her face starting to burn. "Thanks for the tip," she said.
James rolled his eyes, but did not comment on Roxanne's advice. Instead, he made to go for his wand, which was sticking out of his pocket.
Rose looked up at Scorpius, and was not surprised to see him flinch.
James grinned without taking his wand out. "So, Rosie," he said, looking back at her. "How would you rate Mr. Malfoy's snogging abilities?"
"James, I'm not discussing this with you."
"Oh, you'll discuss it with us later, let him hear what you think of him. Full disclosure and all."
Scorpius shifted slightly. "You know, I'm kind of interested to hear this. You have to admit, it's only fair, seeing as you can't seem to stop eavesdropping on me. This is sort of similar."
Roxanne snorted. "Good girl, Rosie." She paused to consider it, and then added, "Well, except for getting caught."
"Oh," Rose said, knowing that she needed to say something. "I suppose he's all right."
James smirked. "It didn't look like you thought that he was just all right when we were back there. To tell you the truth, it looked like you were rather enjoying it." Rose heard Scorpius let out a muffled snort, and James looked up at him. "Oh, by the way, Malfoy," he said, "I just want to commend you."
When it was clear that James was not going to say anything more, Scorpius reluctantly asked, "About what?"
"Well, for not going for her chest," James said. "I've heard about how much you seem to like it, so the restraint is admirable."
"Probably wise, too," Roxanne added. "Groping a girl's chest is strictly fourth date material."
"Following her around on patrol doesn't really count as a proper date," James told him.
To Rose's surprise and relief, Scorpius laughed. "You know, it would seem like you both were unnaturally well-informed if I didn't know about that map. I expect you used it to find us tonight."
The corner of James' mouth twitched. "I would never use such a power for such a petty thing," he declared.
"Yeah, what kind of people do you take us for, exactly?" Roxanne added.
"What possible reason could we have to wander down a deserted corridor and interrupt our cousin like this?" James asked Scorpius.
"That depends," Scorpius said dryly. "Were you interrupting her, or me?"
James grinned. "Well… I'd have to say both, wouldn't you, Roxanne?"
"Definitely both," Roxanne agreed.
"We're very capable of multitasking, you know," James told them.
"After all, as my Dad says, time is galleons, ickle fifth years." Roxanne straightened and pushed her braids back. "Well, now that we've corrected your conduct, we'll be going downstairs, I think."
James nodded, and made for his wand again. This time, Scorpius' hand twitched toward his own, but before he could pull it out, James had actually pulled his out and pointed at Scorpius. Rose raised her eyebrows at him, and he grinned again and pocketed it.
"Just joking," he said. He and Roxanne started to walk down the hall, and after a few paces, he turned around and began walking backwards as he pointed a finger at her and called, "Don't make us come find you again, young lady!"
Roxanne turned to face them, too. "Especially not in a corridor, I mean, really."
They hurried off, laughing.
After a moment, Scorpius relaxed. "That was… interesting. I thought they were going to curse me."
"Oh, they were just having a bit of fun," Rose said dismissively.
"Yes, I realize that now, as I'm not cursed." He sighed. "I suppose we'd better get downstairs."
Rose turned back to face him and put her arms around his neck again. "Oh, I think we can wait a few minutes."
"You do?" he murmured, leaning in.
"Yes," she breathed, and met his lips with hers again.
After a moment, he pulled away and whispered in her ear, “So what was it you were saying about my profile?”
When she slid into the seat next to Roxanne at dinner fifteen minutes later, Albus was already there sitting with James.
He raised his eyebrows at her. "Didn't you leave the library before me?"
Rose darted a glance at James, who stretched. "Oh, we thought it would be better to tell him while you were here."
"Maximize the embarrassment, you know," Roxanne added, grinning.
Rose groaned. Albus was looking at her curiously, so she said vaguely, "We got distracted."
James gave her a very disappointed look. "Now, Rosie, is that really accurate?" He looked at his brother and said, "We caught them out at snogging in a corridor."
"Pretty shameful, really." Roxanne poured herself some orange juice and shook her head. "A corridor. We were very disappointed."
"With so many other options before you…" James shook his head. "I suppose you were just enjoying yourself too much to think about it?"
"Certainly looked that way to me, James," Roxanne said, now serving herself potatoes.
Rose had the sudden urge to hide her face in her hands.
Albus wrinkled his nose. "This is so bizarre."
"Well, Al, on the bright side, I guess your best friends can stand each other now," James pointed out, gulping down the contents of his goblet.
"True." He glanced at Rose. "Just please don't get too embarrassing for me to be around you," he told her.
"I'll do my best," she promised. "Talk to him, though, he's the one who can't keep his hands to himself."
Albus winced. "God. I don't need to hear this!"
"You know," James commented as he began to serve himself seconds, "he's actually starting to grow on me."
"Same here,” Roxanne agreed.
"So he's not worth liking when he's my friend, but he is when he's Rose's boyfriend?" Albus rolled his eyes. "Thanks."
James and Roxanne both shrugged. "Well, you know. It's easier to ignore your friend when he's not groping our cousin in the corridor," Roxanne said. "We felt we should really make an effort if he and Rose were going to be shagging in random corridors."
Albus looked at Rose. "You were doing what?" he asked loudly, and several people near them turned to stare.
"I wasn't," she protested, looking daggers at Roxanne, who just grinned.
"I hate you all," Albus muttered.
James put an arm around his shoulder. "Oh, no you don't, little bro."
Albus grinned despite himself. "No, I really don't," he admitted.
James ruffled Al's hair. "Admit it. We're good for you. Otherwise, you might start to take yourself too seriously. We couldn't have that."
"No, I suppose you couldn't." Despite his words, Rose could tell that he wouldn't have been able to stop smiling if he tried.
If he’d just give James half a chance, she was sure that Scorpius would see the light. He would have to – she’d decided a long time ago that any boy who didn’t get along with Albus, James, or her brother was not worth going out with.
A/N: Thank you so much for reading. I hope that you enjoyed this chapter, especially James and Roxanne.
As always, I would greatly appreciate any feedback you would care to leave me. :) Thank you for reading!
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