Finding Malfoy was like searching for Horcruxes. I combed Hogwarts high and low, until I saw a flash of platinum hair heading down the staircase that led to the Hufflepuff Common Room. Running down the stairs two at the time, his figure slid round a portrait adorned with a fruit bowl as I jutted to a halt at the bottom. I caught the door and followed him in.
Above was a vast, high-ceilinged room. The sides of silver counter tops were heaped with mounds of gleaming brass pots and pans were tilted against the stone walls, bathing in the remains of the heat coming from the prodigious brick fireplace, currently burnt out. This, due to the quantity of House Elves and leftover Halloween food, had to be the kitchens.
“Taking up stalking, Weasley?”
Malfoy was sat upon the edge of one of the long wooden tables that ran down the middle of the kitchen. I followed his lean legs up, my eyes resting upon his torso which was reclined backwards with his pale arms stretched out languidly behind.
The brows flexed as I met his face, lolling with a playful smirk. “Done?”
Heat tingled my cheeks. “Don’t flatter yourself, Malfoy. I was merely wondering how much Madam Makin must hate your start of year robe fitting”.
“You appear to have quite an obsession with my body, Weasel”, he noted, his grey eyes gleaming. “If you’re not commenting on my height then you’re finding yourself in a flap when I bump into you. One might think you’ve developed a fondness for me”.
I folded my arms across my chest. “The only reason you broke the Ghost Potion today, was because you and I are connected by that ruddy Time-Turner”.
He sighed contemplatively. “Speaking of that, what time would you like to go to sleep tonight, Weasel? I was thinking around one? Or perhaps we can make it twelve after a shot of firewhisky”.
My lips formed into a slim line. “I need your…..assistance”.
If the smirk was broad before, it was now all-encompassing. The pewter irises danced over my features with guarded interest.
My face pulled indignantly. “Zabini has organised a party in the Slytherin Dorms”.
The pureblood tilted his head, lazily considering me from under a hood of blonde lashes. “And you want me to….”
I almost lost my temper on the spot. “You are Head Boy”, I reminded through gritted teeth. “Therefore it as much your duty as it is mine-”
A low, vindictive chuckle ended my speech. “I'm not your Prince in Shining Armour, Weasley. Sort your mistake out yourself”.
He procured a green apple out of the fruit bowl perched in the centre of the table and tossed it gently. “You and McGonagall decide on the Prefects before the start of term”.
“And you thought Zabini would be a magnificent, impeccably splendid one because…..”
I batted an eyelid at him. “He keeps up exceptional grades. He doesn’t play any extracurricular activities that would impede with Prefect Duty. And frankly his probably one of the least bigoted Slytherins I’ve come across”.
“And when will you learn Weasley, that good Slytherins always come with a price.”
I pursed my lips.
He pitched the apple a little higher into the air. “Take my Mother for example. On paper, she’s flawless. Head Healer at St Mungos. She got outstanding grades at Hogwarts. She even forbids the word Mudblood at home. But did you know when she was our age she was engaged, sleeping with three other people and blackmailing her fiancé?”
“So you’re saying Zabini’s price is…partying?”
His gaze bored into my face, past the flesh and the blood, plunging itself into the bone. Goosebumps seeped over my skin like rising rosebuds.
“His price is disasters. What he organises will always end unfavourably ….the taste confounds the appetite”.
My mouth was turning dry.
He took a bite out the apple, angling an eyebrow at me. I couldn’t find words to express the utter desolation I was feeling.
“Never trust a Slytherin unless you know he’s untrustworthy”.
“And you?” I shot. “Do you think you’re trustworthy?”
He took a second bite. The ripping sound of fruit flesh filled the air.
“Weasel”, he said, swallowing. “I'm the worst of them. Of course you can trust me”.
“But not to do the right thing”.
He scowled. “You can trust that I’d do what I perceive to be right”.
I threw my hands in the air. “What is that exactly? What do you think is right Malfoy? Do you think its right that Dark Lord lost? Do you think your family deserve to be treated like criminals!?”
“Careful, Weasley”, he growled silkily.
I glared. “No. No I won’t be careful! I'm not scared of you Malfoy and do you know why?”
He stared back with a formality that tried to nip my resentment back in place.
“Because you can’t do anything to me. You can irritate me, push me over, mock me, stun me, put me in the Hospital Wing, break my Time-Turner, call me repulsive, but you can’t break me. You can’t make me hate you”.
He placed the core of his apple on the table and slowly slid off, his feet cuffing the floor. I held my ground as he sauntered over, his eyes encasing my figure, fitting my body like a wet glove sticks and rubs against a hand. I pleaded silently that my cheeks weren’t as enflamed as my hair.
He stopped directly in front of me, the tips of his shoes just scraping mine.
I could smell him – pepper and the remnants of those syrupy blue cigarettes that were regularly hooked behind his ear. His breath, blew wisps of hair away from my forehead, flecking across my cheekbones instead. My senses felt dazed, his proximity was like standing too close to fire.
“I can do one thing”, he said icily.
My bottom lip quivered as I forced myself to not to cower. Instead I scanned his features. Pale, angular, stupidly handsome but not outrageously so. His skin held no blemish. No blackheads, spots, flaking skin, shiny forehead. The only pores were the pores of stubble that were shaven.
A knot I hadn't even been aware was coiling, jolted like an elastic band in the pit of my stomach.
“Don’t say it”, I whispered. I wasn’t really sure what I was trying to prevent. But I knew that whatever was to come out of his mouth, would be a sure onset of pain.
His lips twitched but the glare lingered. I took this to be some kind of compliance.
I struggled with my plea. I needed him. I needed us.
“I need your help”.
I didn't think a party could make me feel so….disgusted.
But Zane Zabini succeeded in making me feel repulsed by his and what it was doing to the students of Hogwarts. The whole of the Slytherin Dormitory was draped in orange Halloween Banners, spilt alcohol, chocolate marks and black lipstick. Intoxicated students were draped over the sides of the iron wrought stairwell, entangled with each other, immersed in fits of laughter or in the midst of both.
The air was tight, hot and seasoned with sweat. Music throbbed, working the crowd, turning their smooth, practiced movements into a thrashing collection of jerks and bumps. I followed Malfoy, who was weaving through the throng. Squeezing past the sweating, heaving bodies, I bumped into a green-faced Hag, with a bottle of Finest Finns Firewhisky gripped tightly in one hand and who bore a resemblance to my Ravenclaw Prefect, Francis,. The green face curdled into pea pale.
“ROSE! WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE!?” She screamed over the music.
Dithering between pursuing Malfoy and unleashing my pent up anger over her treachery, I ultimately opted for the latter.
“HOW COULD YOU DO THIS, FRANCIS!?”
“WHY DID YOU DO THIS!? I shouted through the noise.
“YOU WEREN’T MEANT TO FIND OUT!”
“ZABINI INVITED THE WHOLE SCHOOL! OF COURSE I WAS GOING TO FIND OUT!”
The Hag shook her head. “IT’S HALLOWEEN! IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE FUN!”
I glared. “HALF THE STUDENTS HERE ARE UNDERAGE!”
“AND THE OTHER HALF ARE HAVING THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES!” Francis bit back. “LIVE A LITTLE!”
I yanked the bottle of Firewhisky out her hand and held it high. “YOU CAN TELL ME WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU’RE SOBER!” I shoved past her, amidst the bodies again, seeking out the white blonde among the flickering yellow lights.
Something snagged my wrist and hauled me back.
To my utter horror, Rictor Haven tugged me into his chest, clutching a cup of Fizzy Dragon Dribble in his hand, which was slopping over the top, spattering near my shoes.
“ISNT THIS GREAT!?”
I was near to foaming at the mouth. “DID YOU DO THIS ON PURPOSE!?”
He bobbed to the music merrily. “WHAT!?”
“DID YOU KEEP ME BUSY SO I WOULDN’T FIND OUT ABOUT THIS!?”
“DIDN'T ANYONE TELL YOU ABOUT IT?” He grinned. “IT’S AWESOME!”
My Wand came out and the pretty grin on his pretty face evaporated quite quickly. “DON’T YOU DARE COME NEAR ME EVER AGAIN!”
He shook his head confusedly. “WHAT?”
I let out a strangled groan. “STAY AWAY FROM ME!”
Abruptly, the music cut out. A transmissible groan swept through the student body.
“Turn it back on!”
“What do you think you’re doing!?”
Standing on top of the black leather sofa, his wand out, the smouldering relics of the speakers behind him, Malfoy scowled at the crowd.
There was a dark silence. Footsteps and then coming into view, halting in front of Malfoy as a Knight curtsies before his King, stood a bold Zane Zabini.
The grey eyes zoned in on the usurper.
“Get off the sofa, Malfoy”, Zane snapped.
The lip glided into a curl and the blonde’s head cocked. He was like a muscled sparrow. Tilting his head, twitching his lips, his eyes zipping at anything being said, taking in everything so intently that it was no wonder he could never answer anything lessons, his brain must have worn out by the time he had breakfast.
“My ancestors paid for half this dorm….Z”, he drawled. “I can set fire to the walls if I feel like it”.
Zabini glanced round at the bewildered faces of his increasingly wrathful peers. He leaned forward grimacing. “You’re not shutting it down”.
Those grey eyes blazed, appearing somewhat deranged. “Are you telling me what to do? Because Z. You know how that’s going to turn out”.
“For fuck’s sake, Malfoy!”
Smirking, the pureblood spun to the crowd. “Who would care to see Z here, pull his trousers up and have a go?”
There was an apprehensive murmur.
I swayed on the spot – uncertain of stopping it and simultaneously mesmerised to see how Malfoy was going to handle the situation. His face screwed into a compelling combination of a smirk and a scowl, he grabbed Zabini by the scruff of his robes and hauled him up onto the leather sofa.
The red-faced Slytherin stumbled a bit on the unstable ground, his wand unsteady.
Flashing a scheming smile to his spellbound audience, Malfoy straightened him up and assessed him with a glimmer of smugness. “Proceed Mr Party Animal.” He sniggered at his own humour. “Show me what I’ve had coming for the past six years”.
He was the villain in the novel: the smug, conceited, rich idiot that you wanted the underdog to finish off with one clean swing. Even I wanted to see Zabini muscle up and break that pale nose.
Zabini, fuelled by the eager faces of his peers and probably the firewhiskys he’d been consuming, lifted his wand.
Malfoy caught it lazily. “Too slow.” He threw it back. “Try again”.
The darker boy licked his lips nervously, spread his legs apart and raised his wand, “Rictisempr-!”
Caught up in an Irish jig, Zabini tumbled off the sofa and landed on the stone floor with a decisive thump. A few people rushed over, helping the boy into a sitting position. His nose was skewwhiff and stained with blood.
Malfoy hopped off the sofa and stood in front of him, sneering. “Get your arse out my Common Room.” He looked round. “All of you!” He barked.
People began to disperse. I pressed myself near a chair as they meandered past, muttering about Halloween, alcohol and that ‘lunatic Malfoy’.
Lunatic Malfoy approached me as the room gradually became bigger with the absence of bodies. He kicked an empty cup into the piles of litter presently being cleaned up by a few of the more sober Slytherin girls.
I gave him a strained smile. “Thank you”.
There was no returning friendlessness in his scowl. “Just remember you owe me, Weasley.” He glanced around his emerald Common Room, his eyes lingering on the tattered banners and spilt puddles of drink. “And next time, you can have it out with Zabini. I’m not your sodding gladiator”.
Over the following week, I paid dearly for the price that shutting down the Halloween Party had cost me. Everyone knew I was behind it. And with the majority too fearful to challenge Malfoy, I was the target for a few nasty comments, public booing and general resentment from the rest of Hogwarts.
During this time, the distraction of Chrissy would have been appreciated. But the brunette had been reserved with me since the Halloween Feast. I scarcely saw her in the Common Room, or at dinner. She was withdrawn – taking showers at strange times, keeping any conversation to a minimum and spending more time with Harrison that I thought possible. Chrissy played with boys. She didn't trail after them.
Apart from the overall animosity towards me, I also had family to contend with. Teddy and Victorie’s baby shower was less than a week away. The clan would leave Hogwarts this weekend and spend a wintry, rainy, joyful night on the beach at Shell Cottage. Needless to say I was clearly thrilled by the prospect. The only thing that seemed to be going right, was my grades (thank merlin) and the lack of time-travelling episodes. The last thing I needed was some night-time trip to the Founders Era.
Albus caught me in the Owlery the Thursday before we due to depart for the gathering and pressurised me into attending it with him.
“We were supposed to bring dates!?” I repeated, startling the Owl I had tied my post to, which consequently nipped my hand and flapped in my face.
“Shhh!” I tried to pacify the bird, only to get my other hand pecked.
“Here”, Albus said, untying the knot and whistling to his own Owl, Oxer. The tawny owl swooped down, wobbling slightly as it landed on the perch and stuck its leg out. “He’ll be quicker”.
“It’s supposed be a family gathering”, I sniffed, rubbing my injured hand. “Not an opportunity to show off prospect Wedding candidates”.
“Aunt Fleur’s idea”, Al said, standing back as Oxer began to beat his wings, preparing for the journey. “Though I don’t really think it’s going to be much of a gathering.”
“Why is that?”
Al grimaced, scratching the back of his head. “Both our Dads are away. Your Mum’s still on her writing retreat. Uncle Charlie can’t get back from Romania and I don’t think Dom’s going to make an appearance”.
“You say that likes it bad thing”.
Oxer suddenly propelled himself off the perch, triggering us both to duck. Rising gently, we watched the owl blur into the glare of the setting sun.
“She….” Al broke off, turning back to me. “She just hasn’t handled being…us…well”.
That was an understatement. We’d had to apply for a special allowance from the Daily Prophet, to make sure that Dominique wasn’t targeted for any interviews or paparazzi. In fact we’d had to classify her as ‘mentally unfit for releasing information’.
“Very well then”, I sighed. “I suppose I accept your invitation”.
He scoffed. “I feel so flattered”.
“What about James?”
“What about him?”
“I presume he has a date”.
I blinked and tried a different expression. “A girl? His latest conquest?”
Al shrugged. “None that I know of”.
I placed my hands on my hips. “Albus, are you telling me James Potter has suddenly turned celibate?”
“How should I know? Since when as that twat told me anything other than where to shove it?”
I frowned, staring at the intermingled hay and straw on the floor below. “He’s becoming most….peculiar”.
Albus rolled his eyes and headed towards the door. “It’s none of your concern, Rose”.
I picked up my bag and followed him, chewing my lip. “Ever since that girl…”
My face brightened. “Yes! Do you know her?”
Al opened the door. “The hairy one?”
My face fell into a exemplification of a shocked banshee. “Pardon?”
“The hairy one”.
“I heard that! I don’t-what are you on about!?”
“She has lots of hair. Well that’s what all her friends say anyway. They always call her hairy, or shaggy, or furry”.
Al shrugged again, closing the door as we stepped out into the chilly air, our shadows tumbling down the steps that led away from the Owlery. “Her arms do have a lot of hair”.
Even more puzzled than before, I descended down the steps, my brow crumpled. What did my cousin want with a hairy girl?
“So I heard about the party”, Albus said, walking unhurriedly alongside me.
I bristled. “I was entitled to shut it down”.
“Never said you weren’t”, he said, a smile tugging the corner of his mouth. “Just wondering how Prefect Meetings are now that you know you’re soldiers can go AWOL”.
I shuddered. “I haven’t organised one yet. I'm still disputing the best way to handle the incident”.
“Sounds like Malfoy handled it pretty well”.
I glanced at my cousin. His face looked humorous, but his lips were drawn too tight for my belief that that was a casual inference.
“He has his advantages”.
Albus raised an eyebrow enquiringly. “Does he?”
I sighed. “Please Albus. Not at the moment”.
We stopped at the bottom of the stairs and Al stuffed his hands low in his pockets. “I can’t help but wonder…Rose”.
He stared me directly in the eyes, the green surveying my features intimately. “Do you want to like Scorpius Malfoy?”
I folded my arms. “I want to go inside”.
“You didn't answer the question”.
I huffed crossly. “No. I don’t want to like Malfoy. I don’t even want to tolerate Malfoy. But I do because I have to”.
Albus was still for a few moments and then eventually nodded. Unfolding my arms, I wearily linked a loop of red hair behind my ear. “On that note, I’ll see you later”.
He titled his head. “You’re not coming back to the castle?”
“I have to deliver something to Hagrid”.
“See you later then…I guess”.
We waved each off and I hurried down the slanted grass banks, heading towards the half-giants hut. As the sun lowered beyond the horizon, the colour spectrum of the sky became a watery selection of red hues. Dust particles appeared to be lit inside, floating through the air like lanterns, casting the same colour filter on shining orange leaves scattered under my feet. My legs prickled at the cold, and the lack of exposure to sunlight dampened the smell of the remains of the burst pumpkins that had lain bulbously entwined between the vines.
A few Hippogriffs in a fenced paddock raised their heads as I approached. I gave a hearty knock on the wooden door. While waiting for a response, my eyes wandered across the tall line of trees that led into the forest. Dark silhouettes with even darker promises, it wasn’t till I looked at something twice, that I realised something was staring back at me.
Eyes. Distinctly brown. Human.
My stomach flipped.
I dropped the letter, rushing for my wand. But by the time I pointed it towards the trees, the eyes had vanished. Bottom lip trembling, I squinted. Something had stared back at me. Someone.
I left the letter on the porch and slowly descended back down the steps, my wand still raised. Around me, little had changed. There was still the same hum of rousing insects and night birds and the tingle of cool air colouring my cheeks.
A yawning sound made me jump, before I realised it was my own jaw dropping. I swallowed, still on edge, but more alarmed by the fact that I didn't feel tired……
When I opened my eyes, I could still see the brown ones implanted in the dark forest. My own blue tie ascended and fell as I sat up, breathless.
Around me were beds. Green silk sheets topped with feathery, silvery, goose pillows. Slytherin beds. And from the amount of silk, black, boxers carpeting the floor, this definitely wasn’t the Girls Dormitory.
My arms gave way and I collapsed back, hitting my head on the bedside table behind. Hissing with pain, I pushed myself up against the side of bed. My senses were very sloppy – I could barely utilise my arms. Dimly aware that Malfoy couldn’t be far, I craned my head over the top of the bed.
Across the ruffled covers, past the cushions that reeked of sweat/boy and with a hand clasping a crumpled piece of paper, lay a boy.
Rigid, I sunk down to the floor, keeping a check on my breathing. He was asleep. Therefore, I had time to get out of this room and not end up clarifying how I managed to get in the dormitories, or where I was from, all of which could be very problematical.
I swallowed my rising fear, and began to crawl. It took a substantial amount of female courage to navigate my way through all the underwear, some of which displayed the most repulsive of stains. My toes became hooked round belt loops and I stubbed my knees on buttons, all in quest to reach the wooden door of the dormitory.
I hate time-travelling.
I hate time-travelling.
I hate time-travelling.
I froze and slowly peered through my curtain of red hair.
Dark eyes incensed, greasy hair hanging in between the point where nose (hooked and heavy) met his brow, the boy, who looked to be my own age, held his thin wand steady.
Heart thrumming, I stared back.
“Who are you?” The boy sneered, briefly scanning my figure, before letting his eyes zoom back to my face. “A Ravenclaw?” His voice was velvety, with a biting sourness that drew out the last word.
“Yes…” I mumbled.
“And what are you doing here?”
I truly wished I could answer that question.
“Did Potter put you up to this?”
It was the way he said Potter, like it was some nasty thing that always got glued to your shoe when you were walking.
“No”, I replied quietly.
The boys sneer faltered. “Then what the hell are you doing in my dormitory?” He snarled.
Instantly I scowled. I did not care for snarling. I especially did not care for snarling Slytherin boys. “I am Head Girl”, I retorted swiftly.
He narrowed his eyes. “No. You’re not”.
I swallowed. No. I was not. Not here anyway.
“Lilly Evans is Head Girl”, the boy drawled, measuring me questionably.
Lilly Evans. Lilly Evans. Lill-Oh dear. I knew who Lilly Evans was.
I smiled edgily. “Silly me”.
“Stand up”, the boy commanded.
I got to my feet, wincing as my wand dug into the side of my thigh.
Awkwardly, I shuffled round slowly. I could sense his eyes taking me in, just as Malfoy eyes had in the Kitchens.
Once I had spun full circle I faced the greasy boy, my lips pursed curtly.
“You look like a Weasley”, was his resulting verdict.
“I'm not”, I said quickly. Too quickly.
He got off the bed, his wand still fixed in my direction. “Come closer”.
I couldn’t deny I wasn’t frightened to the bone. The young man gave off an aura that was as sinister as it was intriguing. I stepped forward, observant and unwilling.
He stood a foot away from me, his coal eyeballs searching my face, lingering on my freckles, wandering over my waves of red hair, focusing on my copper coloured eyes and watching the lump in my throat move as I swallowed.
“Your name?” His voice was silky enough to warrant a quiver.
I stared back, feeling like a rabbit under the inspection of a ferret, determining whether there would be enough meat on the bones to last for one week or two.
“Rose”, I murmured, feeling compelled to be honest.
“Rose”, he repeated and my name truly sounded like a flower.
His left hand rose into the air, and gently, as if I were something that might crack or even wilt under his touch, he slipped a loop of scarlet hair behind my ear, his ice fingers brushing softly against the sensitive skin of my lobe.
“It’s nice to meet you Rose”.
“And your name?” I asked quietly. “You know mine.”
There was a knock on the dormitory door.
“Go away!” The boy spat, not separating his gaze from my face.
“I said sod off!”
The door precipitously opened. Dripping wet, his clothes completely shredded, his face incrusted with war-paint like mud, stood Scorpius Malfoy, looking like a fallen angel that had taken a wrong turn in his descent. His skin seemed whiter than usual and those grey irises, polished and as sharp as flint, switched from me to the boy.
“I knocked twice.” He growled. Politeness was something he seldom used and all were expected to acknowledge that.
“And who are you?” The black-haired boy enquired disdainfully.
Malfoy ignored him, caught my eyes and nodded for me to leave.
“Do you know him?”
“He’s…..” I trailed off. What was Scorpius Malfoy to me?
My hesitation didn't go unnoticed by my astute captor. “Doesn’t seem like she has any particular urge to go with you”, he drawled.
Malfoy’s eyes narrowed.
“I have to go”, I told the hook-nosed boy, taking a small step backwards. “I shouldn’t be here”.
The question hung in the air as if someone was holding their breath.
“Please?” My eyes darted to his wand. It was still raised, still pointed, still ready to cause me pain that I didn't think he would have any trouble perpetrating.
I turned my head questioningly at Malfoy. He gave me a long, all-pervading stare that told me I was to leave without looking back.
“Don’t even think about it”, came a silky warning.
“Spots, trust me”.
I wavered, petrified of turning my back on that wand.
“What did I say in the kitchens, Spots?” Malfoy murmured. “Trust me. Trust me to do what I think is-”
I ran to the door just as jinx hit the lamp, which exploded and shattered, shards pinging off the floorboards. Malfoy yanked my arm forward, wheeling me round so I was safeguarded by his tall, sodden body.
With a shield charm up, he threw the door shut, muttered a locking charm and then turned to the staircase.
“Fucking move it, Weasel!” He growled, taking hold of me again and practically throwing me down the iron wrought stairwell.
I stumbled, breathless, my feet and limbs unsteady as I hurried down, my mary-janes hammering against the steps. “Why didn't you stun him!?” I demanded.
“I'm not in the mood for a duel”, he snapped back, “especially not with him.”
“And who is he!?”
We sprinted across the stone, emerald and silver common room, past the onyx sofas and to the undetectable entrance in the wall.
“Blood-reckoning”, he spat, pushing me through the door and out into the clammy dungeons. I fished my wand out my skirt pocket, while Malfoy pushed back his wet hair, his gaze on the fortification behind us, anticipating any movement.
“You need to read up on your History, Weasel”, he said cynically. “You just time-travelled straight into Severus Snapes arms”.
“Snape?” I whispered with dread.
“And unfortunately for us”, he scowled, sparks glinting out the tip of his wand, “he appears to have taken a shine to you”.
A/N: I have a good feeling about this chapter. Loved writing it. Whats the one thing Malfoy can do to Rose? Opinions and thoughts please.