Thanks to Bear&Fox for the amazing CI!
When Rose came down the stairs for breakfast the following morning, she found James scrutinising a sign on the board.
“What is it?” she asked, coming to a stop next to him.
He glanced over at her. “Dueling club,” he said. “Goldstein and Neville are running it. Should be good.” He turned toward the portrait hole, and she followed him across the room.
“Starts next Tuesday,” James said as he climbed down through the hole.
They walked in silence for a minute before James cleared his throat. “Quidditch tonight. Don’t forget.”
She looked at him curiously. “When have I ever forgotten Quidditch?” she asked, and he shrugged. “What’s wrong with you?”
“Nothing.” James cast a quick glance over his shoulder. “I just wanted to make sure that you didn’t- er- forget.”
Rose knew from long experience that pressing the issue would be completely pointless, because James very rarely actually answered questions just because he was asked. However, this time, curiosity got the better of her. “Avoiding someone?”
To her surprise, he sighed and made a face. “Roxanne,” he said. “She and Marion were huddled in the corner of the Common Room talking for awhile last night, and I think it might have been about me.”
Rose winced in sympathy. Roxanne had never been shy about dressing someone down when she thought that they deserved it, and Rose had no trouble believing that their cousin would feel that James and Marion’s drama qualified.
“I don’t think she’ll mention it in front of everyone,” James continued, “but just you...” He shrugged.
She didn’t press the issue further, and for his part, James did not mention Scorpius Malfoy. Instead, they talked about the Dueling Club on the way down to breakfast. It had been wildly popular the year before, and Rose hoped that she would qualify for one of the more advanced groups; her fellow fifth-years often left something to be desired.
When they reached the Great Hall, she followed James’s lead, and when he headed over to join Roxanne, Marion, and Tyler, she followed him, feeling slightly curious despite herself.
As they slid into the empty space on the bench, Tyler said, in long-suffering voice, “It looks like rain tonight.”
James glanced up from his plate, which he’d just finished spooning food onto. “Yes, it does,” he said cheerfully.
“Maybe I’ll use a snackbox to get out of practice,” Tyler added. “I’ve only just properly gotten dry since last time.”
“I won’t use a snackbox,” Marion said, grinning at James. Whatever the drama going on between them was, Rose had the distinct impression that Marion wasn’t ready to give up on James just yet. “I’ll just break my arm. A Chaser can’t play with a broken arm.”
James snorted. “You wouldn’t dare,” he said to Tyler. “If you do, I’ll tell Fred—you know, our old captain
—never to sell anything to you again.” Tyler groaned, and James turned his attention to Marion. “And breaking your arm would just be a stupid way to get out of practice, Madam Pomfrey can heal that in about a minute.”
“You would know,” muttered Rose.
He reached around Roxanne to punch her arm lightly. “Don’t hate me because I’m not afraid to break bones to win a game.”
Roxanne rolled her eyes. “James, half the time you break bones it’s because you’re goofing off. When was the last time you actually broke a bone in a Quidditch game?”
“Last year’s match with Slytherin,” he said promptly. “My ankle.” He ran a hand through his hair, and Rose could have sworn that he shot a quick glance toward Marion. She resisted the urge to smile with difficulty. “I remember all of my broken bones.”
“You’d think you’d lose track after awhile.” Tyler shook his head. “Or learn to be more careful.”
James shrugged. “I can take the pain. Anyway, I just consider it good training for my career in dealing with dangerous creatures.”
The four of them laughed. “God, James,” Roxanne said. “Even I’m
not that reckless.”
He grinned. “No,” he agreed, “you’re not. You do the joke shop, and I’ll go get my hair scorched off by dragons.” He raised his goblet in Rose’s direction. “Rosie’s with me, aren’t you?”
“Of course I am,” Rose said immediately. “What’s life without a few bruises and broken bones?”
He beamed. “Hey, Roxanne, if you do become a Healer, you can treat all your cousins when they come in disfigured with burns or curses. That would be fun, wouldn’t it?”
“James, you can be so morbid sometimes,” Marion said. She was still smiling, but some of the mirth had left her eyes.
“Why?” he asked. “Because I know what the dangers of my profession are going to be and don’t play denial?” His voice had gotten a little combative, which Roxanne had clearly noticed. She shot him an irritated look that told Rose quite plainly that James was right to be concerned.
Marion looked calm, but when she spoke, her voice was a little heated, too. “No. Because you can joke about yourself and people you care about being seriously injured.”
“Well, what am I supposed to do?” James snapped. “Go crazy worrying about half my family? Everyone knows the risks. You don’t see V or Teddy quitting their jobs just because of a trip or two to St. Mungo’s, and you won’t see me doing it, either.”
Tyler and Roxanne were starting to look distinctly uncomfortable.
“This is exactly
what my issue is with you,” Marion retorted. “Like I’d want to be in and out of St. Mungo’s every other week because you did something stupid—”
“Stop it!” Rose said loudly, as James opened his mouth to respond. They both looked at her. “You’re both being stupid. Just shut up and calm down.”
Marion glared at one of the plates on the table, and James crossed his arms, looking sour.
“Or you could go find some secret passage to go… work it all out,” Tyler said suggestively, clearly trying to break the tension.
Rose reached around Roxanne to nudge James, wishing she was sitting next to him. He glanced over, and she said, “Calm down. Don’t get like this.”
He looked down at his plate with saying anything and began to eat.
After a minute or two of silence, Tyler said, “So we’re not getting out of practice if it’s raining hail, then?”
“Definitely not,” James confirmed, forced into a grin.
“If I let a bludger break my arm, will you like me better?” Marion asked, looking up from her food, a small smile on her lips.
James stared at her for a moment before breaking into a laugh. “Marion, I don’t think I need to like you anymore than I do now.”
She didn’t answer, but went back to her food with a small smile on her lips.
After they’d finished eating, Rose trudged off to Potions with Albus, who had joined them partway through breakfast. After a Potions lesson that felt much longer than it actually was in which Rose was shocked that she managed to produce a halfway decent Sleeping Potion, they headed off to Transfiguration.
Scorpius was looking significantly better than he had the day before. He greeted them quite cheerfully before the lesson began, though he looked a little disappointed when she hurried off to Arithmancy as soon as their class had been dismissed. Once she got out of Arithmancy, she began to head toward the Great Hall for lunch. Before she’d gotten very far, however, she heard someone calling her name, and when she turned around, she saw Scorpius and Albus heading toward her.
“Hey,” she said as they neared her.
Her cousin nodded, and Scorpius smiled back. “Hey,” he replied. Before he had a chance to say anything more, she heard a voice behind her.
"I told you.” She whirled around, and found Soebly and Flint heading toward them. "I said that hanging out with Potter was a slippery slope,” Soebly continued, “but you ignored me."
Scorpius avoided looking in their direction, but his eye twitched, and he appeared to be restraining himself from retorting only with great difficulty.
"Now you're running off snogging a Mudblood's brat," Flint added. "What's next?"
Rose opened her mouth to tell them off, but someone beat her to it. "Detention," the girl from the library said coldly. She had just caught up with them, and she looked distinctly annoyed. "And twenty points from Slytherin."
Flint and Soebly both seemed to consider this to be very unfair. "It's your house, too!" Soebly whined, and she shrugged.
“So don’t give me a reason to take them,” she suggested.
"Each," she amended. "Shut up, or it'll be fifty."
Neither of them seemed to want to test her, but after a moment, Flint asked irritably, "So now you're a Weasley lover too, Claire? Wouldn’t have thought it of you."
She glanced over at Rose. "Not especially," she said, the coolness still apparent in her voice. "But you're still out of order."
They stared at her for another moment before turning to leave. From the way they glanced back at Scorpius, however, Rose could tell that they were far from done.
Scorpius slumped back against the wall and groaned. “Ruin my life, why don’t you,” he muttered, and then looked up at the girl. “Thanks, Claire,” he said.
She nodded wordlessly and headed off in the direction of the Great Hall. Rose stared after her curiously.
“I thought she was angry with you,” she commented after a minute.
Scorpius glanced up in surprise. “What?” After a moment, he processed what she’d said and shrugged. “Oh. She is, but that typically doesn’t stop her from sticking up for me. She’s often mad at me.” Rose felt a slight stab of jealousy again, and Scorpius added, “Sorry about them.”
Albus and Rose both glanced at him curiously. “It’s not your fault,” she pointed out.
He shrugged an acknowledgment. “Well, no,” he agreed. “But you might just not want to deal with the drama when you can run off and go out with Finnigan or someone.”
Rose considered that for a moment, as much to see him twitch uncomfortably to reassure herself after her brief moment of jealousy as anything else. “No,” she said. “If it doesn’t bother you, it doesn’t bother me.”
He smiled slightly and reached out to grab her hand. Albus wrinkled his nose and turned away. “You’re both...” Words seemed to fail him, and he headed off to the Great Hall without waiting for a response.
“Do you still want to meet me after I finish with practice?” Rose asked. “I can get the cloak so we don’t have to worry about being caught out of our Common Rooms after hours.”
Scorpius cocked his head to one side. “The cloak?” he asked curiously, and too late, she realised her mistake.
He jerked back. “I knew
it,” he said excitedly. “I knew
you had an invisibility cloak.”
She glanced around the empty hallway and hissed, “Lower your voice.” Her heart was beginning to pound. James was going to kill
“Sorry,” he said in a much softer tone. “But you do, don’t you?” She tried to think of plausible lie, and he fixed her with a look. “Don’t lie to me,” he said. “I told you, I don’t like it.”
Rose briefly considered lying anyway, but when she thought about him getting fed up with her if he ever found out, she was surprised to find that the idea really bothered her.
She pulled her hand away from his and groaned. “Damn it,” she muttered, closing her eyes and leaning her head against the wall. “Damn it.”
“I won’t tell anyone,” Scorpius promised. She opened her eyes to look at him; he looked sincere, but she wasn’t sure whether that was saying much. Slytherins were supposed to be good at lying. “Not even Albus.”
She narrowed her eyes at him. “You lie to your best friend?”
Scorpius shrugged. “Sometimes. When it makes my life easier.” He seemed to guess what was coming, because he cut it off quickly. “No, Rose, that doesn’t mean I’m going to lie to you. Do I look stupid?”
She considered him for a moment, and he rolled his eyes. “No,” she finally said, relenting.
“If I lie to you, you’ll ditch me,” he said, crossing his arms. “I don’t want you to ditch me. Therefore, I won’t lie to you. It’s pretty simple.”
“I’m not going out with you in the first place.”
“Whatever.” Scorpius didn’t seem to think very much more of her rebuttal than she had the moment it left her mouth; when you were snogging a boy in random corridors and making plans to meet him after hours, the line between “going out” and “not going out” did seem rather thin.
“We’re not,” she insisted. “A month ago you hated me.”
He shook his head. “No, a month ago, you hated me,” he corrected her. A slight smile was spreading across his face. “A month ago, I was trying to figure out whether I wanted to wring your neck or kiss you.”
Rose felt her face get a little hot. “Have you decided?” she asked lightly, and his smile broadened.
“No. You make it a little difficult sometimes.” He reached out and grabbed her hand again, and she allowed him to lead her down the corridor. “I don’t feel like eating with my house today,” he said lightly. “Can I join you instead?”
She glanced up at him. To her surprise, he seemed serious. “If you’d like.”
As they started walking down the hall, he muttered, “I knew you had a cloak.”
Rose made a face. However much her feelings toward him had changed recently, the very last thing she’d intended to do was make Scorpius Malfoy into a confidant about one of their biggest family secrets.
He leaned down to kiss her cheek. “Cheer up,” he said. “If it’ll make you feel better, I can tell you about a Malfoy family secret.”
Rose couldn’t stop her nose from wrinkling at the concept. “No, thank you.” She had no idea what secrets the Malfoy family had, but given his family’s background, she was fairly certain that she didn’t want to.
Scorpius shrugged. “Tell me if you change your mind.”
She looked at him for a moment before shaking her head. “Has anyone ever told you that you’re very strange?” As his laugh echoed down the empty corridor, Rose reconsidered her answer. “Actually, yes,” she said, changing her mind. “Tell me a Malfoy family secret.”
He stopped dead in his tracks and dropped her hand. “Are you serious?”
Rose crossed her arms, feeling very pleased with herself for regaining the upper hand. “Yes. It’s only fair.”
“Because you let it slip out?” he asked incredulously. She opened her mouth, and he shook his head quickly. “No, it’s fine. I will.” He looked up at the ceiling as he thought.
“Are you serious? It’s taking you that long to think of one?”
Scorpius sighed. “I only said that to make you feel better. The only family secrets we have are boring ones and Death Eater ones. Well,” he amended his statement, “the Greengrasses have other secrets, but Evy’s sister is hardly confiding in me about Auror business.”
Rose stared at him. “Your cousin is an Auror?”
He didn’t appear to find this anywhere near as interesting as she did. “Yeah. So’s your uncle. There’s nothing special about it.”
She decided not to take that moment to inform him that her father was also one, though she didn’t see how he could possibly not know. “There must be something,” she pressed him.
He screwed up his face in thought. “I’ll think about it,” he said finally. “Sorry. My family’s really kind of boring.” He glanced toward the Great Hall, which was just barely in sight. “Come on. I’m hungry.”
She followed him into the Hall without saying anything else, but inside, she resolved to press the issue further at some point. She had a very hard time believing that a family full of former Death Eaters didn’t have anything to hide.
A/N: So I keep worrying that I'm moving their relationship along too fast, but then I remember that it's chapter 19 at this point and there should be something building up at this point. Still, I'd love to hear what you guys think, if you wouldn't mind taking a moment to share your thoughts. :)
Thanks for reading!