Chapter 1 : Less Than Friends
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The corridors were usually silent at this time of night, but Scorpius could hear someone near the Charms classroom. It wasn’t a very smart place to hide since Professor Flitwick often stayed up late grading papers in his office.
Scorpius was nearing the end of his patrol and, like most nights, was exhausted after spending hours looking for students out of bed. He glanced at his watch and groaned in annoyance. Technically his patrol was over and he didn’t have to be responsible for disciplining anyone. Prefects were only required to patrol until midnight, teachers were responsible after that.
He desperately wanted to leave and pretend he’d never heard anyone, just get back to the Hufflepuff common room and finish the essay he had due in Transfiguration the next day.
But when it became clear the noise was someone sobbing, Scorpius didn’t have the heart to turn around. Whoever was crying was clearly upset and needed comforting. The Hufflepuff in him wouldn’t let him turn his back on someone who needed help.
He sighed and began walking towards the sound. At first Scorpius didn’t notice anyone when he turned the corner, but his eyes quickly spotted a figure huddled on the floor. Her face was buried in her hands and her only distinguishing feature was the frizzy bright red hair that stuck out wildly from her head.
The girl lifted her head as he approached and Scorpius realized with a start who she was. It was too late for him to turn around and even if it wasn’t he didn’t think he could abandon someone like that, even if that someone was Rose Weasley. Her eyes were bloodshot, her face blotchy and swollen. The mascara around her eyes had run and stained her cheeks, leaving her looking like a mess.
She swiped at her eyes with the sleeve of her robe and scowled up at him. “What are you doing here?” Rose asked, her voice thick from crying.
“Patrolling.” Scorpius tapped his Prefect’s badge sheepishly. After two years he still couldn’t get over the fact that McGonagall had made him a Prefect.
Rose laughed bitterly. “That’s right. You’re a Prefect. I’d nearly forgotten. Have you come to gloat? Give me a detention, maybe? Turn me in to a professor?” Another sob racked her body, but this time she didn’t bother wiping the tears away.
“Technically my patrol’s over. I’m breaking the rules here just as much as you are.” That wasn’t exactly true because Scorpius knew a flash of his badge would get him out of trouble in an instant, but that didn’t matter at the moment. Rose was distraught and he knew he had to help her.
Lily Potter was prone to emotional hysteria of both positive and negative natures, but Rose generally kept her feelings hidden behind a cool demeanor. He hadn’t ever seen her this upset. “Go away, Malfoy.”
Scorpius had no intention of leaving her alone, crying on the cold ground. Instead he crouched down beside her without a word. Rose used the sleeve of her robe to cover her eyes. “Walk away, Malfoy.” There was no conviction in her tone so Scorpius placed a comforting hand on her arm.
“You want to talk about it?” He asked after several minutes of near silence. Rose lifted her tear-stained face to scowl at him.
“Talk about it with you? Scorpius Malfoy, the son of a Death Eater? That’s never going to happen.” She drew a shaky breath and covered her face again. When she spoke her voice was muffled. “Why do you even care? We’re not close. We’re not even friends. We’re- we’re less than friends!”
Scorpius nodded. He wasn’t surprised or hurt at being called the son of a Death Eater. It was the most common insult he’d heard since coming to Hogwarts as a first year. The entire Weasley clan had branded him a Death Eater and blood purist on day one.
Neither of them said another word for quite some time. Slowly Rose’s cries subsided and her slight frame grew still. She dried her eyes and glanced up at Scorpius, as though she was surprised he was still there. His hand was still rested on her forearm and she pulled her arm away hastily.
Scorpius pushed himself off the floor and offered a hand to Rose, but she ignored it. Her eyes, which were still bloodshot, glistened as the torch light flickered. They stood there awkwardly, neither quite sure of what to say. “If you’re waiting for some kind of gratification, you aren’t going to get it,” Rose said, refusing to meet his eyes.
“No,” Scorpius said quickly. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”
Rose snorted, but didn’t disagree with him. She gave him one last glance over, then turned on her heel and left. As she turned the corner and slipped out of sight, Scorpius sighed. He didn’t think he had helped much. He’d barely even said a word.
He let out another sigh as he too began walking down the corridor, heading to the Hufflepuff basement.
Scorpius was quiet and almost unresponsive during breakfast the next morning. His friends left breakfast early as they usually did, but Scorpius stayed behind. He was waiting for the Weasley and Potter clan to get to breakfast and they were often quite late.
They all entered at the same time and the din in the Great Hall nearly doubled. There were so many of them that Scorpius had difficulty finding Rose. Finally he found her, shuffling in towards the back. She looked better than she had the previous night, but there were dark shadows under her eyes.
Indecision caused him to freeze for a moment, then he made up his mind.
He deliberately made his way over to the Gryffindor table to where the Weasleys and Potters sat. They didn’t notice him at first, something for which Scorpius was immensely grateful. He might have lost the nerve if they had all stared.
“Hey Rose.” He said quietly. Her head jerked in shock as his words reached her.
When he spoke the rest of the group turned to stare as well. “No one invited you to speak to us, Malfoy,” James Potter said, scowling at the younger boy. “Do you want to get hexed?”
“Relax, Jimmy,” Roxanne Weasley replied. “He’s talking to Rose, not you.”
James ground his teeth, but didn’t argue. Instead they turned to Rose, waiting for her to respond in some way to Scorpius’s greeting. She tucked an unruly lock of hair behind her ear and rolled her eyes. “Get lost Malfoy.”
Scorpius bit his lip and his gaze fell to the floor. He walked away without another word, but the laughter of Rose and her family followed him out of the Great Hall.
At the last minute he turned to get one more view of her and felt a slight tug of his heart. She was surrounded by her family, laughing and joking with them, but he felt sorry for her. It was almost as though there was a piece missing and he didn’t know how to help her. They were, after all, less than friends.
A/N: Written for Houlestar's 'What the Hell is a Hufflepuff?' Challenge. Thanks so much to the lovely Coley for being my beta reader! Leave a review down below and let me know if you liked it! :)
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