“You’re thinking about it again.” Amanda claimed impatiently as they sat in the library on Wednesday afternoon.
Dom looked up from the book that she had propped against her knee and shook her head. Lucy just smirked. Rose had been reading too, until Amanda so rudely interrupted her. Well, no. That wasn’t entirely honest. She had been trying to read, but her eyes just couldn’t absorb any of the words with the goddam stupid kiss replaying nonstop in her mind. It was like it was on a loop. Every time, the memory changed a little bit, and Rose was beginning to worry that the more and more it replayed in her mind, the more fragmented and less real it would become. And then what if it eventually became fiction, and any proof that it even happened at all just disappeared?
“The kiss. You are so thinking about that right now.” Amanda said again, snapping Rose from her non-reading reverie.
“You freak, I was not.” Rose quickly defended, snapping her book shut.
“Rose, honey, just don’t even try. It’s so obvious. You get all rosy, and then you make this face,” Amanda made a strange face with pouted lips, “And then your breathing gets all irregular.”
Rose snorted, doubtful.
“I mean, no offence Ro, but you breath like an ingested elephant.”
“That’s a beautiful image, Manda. Thank you so much.” Lucy said, smiling. “Your breathing is fine, Rose, so stop holding your breath.”
Rose let out a breath, laughing.
“Why am I friends with you freaks?” Dom commented drily, shaking her head.
“Oh, shut up.” Rose said, shaking her head.
There was a brief moment of silence while Dom opened her book and began to read again.
“So, how are you feeling about all of that, with him ignoring you and stuff?” Lucy asked, leaning forward.
Rose felt a sudden mixture of guilt, embarrassment, and anger reach her stomach. He had ignored her for two weeks. By the fifth day back at Hogwarts, Rose had finally gotten the courage to try to catch his eye. She had (wrongly) depended that he would be trying to catch hers too, so that didn’t work. She changed her route that she took to classes, hoping to bump into him. If she saw him in a corridor one day, he was never in the same corridor the next. It was as if he was avoiding her. Clearly and obviously avoiding her.
She saw him in Potions briefly, but he constantly entered the classroom right as the bell rang, and seemed to always sit as far away from her as possible, as well as behind her, so that she couldn’t peek glances at him without being pitifully obvious. Every time he averted his eyes, or walked around a group of people to avoid her, Rose just about burst into tears. It was truly the most pathetic thing she had ever seen in her entire life.
And she seriously wasn’t even imagining it. It was so obvious that even Al, who usually couldn’t observe anything outside of his own two foot radius, asked Rose if Malfoy was allergic to her. “I mean, do you have some disease that we should know about?” Lucy had hit him on the arm, and judging by Al’s face, it was pretty hard.
Then two days ago, she saw him at breakfast. He was with Max, and was looking at the Gryffindor table right as Rose happened to glance up at the Slytherin table.
He looked pained. Regretful. Sad. Conflicted. Angry. And then in a matter of seconds, he had looked away, and it was all over. That three second glance had defined the whole day.
“Rose, listen,” Dom said in her lecturing tone, puling Rose back to the present, “You’ve got to stop dwelling on it. Okay, yeah, he selflessly healed you, gave you clothes and passionately kissed you, blah blah blah, but you’ve got to move on.”
Lucy nodded grimly.
“Why don’t you focus on the Hosmead trip coming up?” Lucy suggested, looking excited.
“Yeah! It’ll be me, you, Lucy, Dom, Alex, Rob, Thomas, and Al, and we’ll walk around, and go to Leaky Cauldron.” Amanda said excitedly.
Lucy darkened at Al’s name.
“Seriously, Lucy, what is the deal with you guys?” Amanda asked.
Lucy sighed. “I told you, there’s no deal.”
“Tell the truth now, or I’ll tell everyone about your pink Pony Pals underwear.” Rose threatened.
“He just made it seem like there was something going on between us.” Lucy said detachedly, examining the skin by her nail, “And then he has some new girl every week, and acts like he can still flirt with me and I’ll be okay with it.”
“A week?” Amanda contradicted, “Maggie has been at least two months.”
“Yeah, whatever.” Lucy said, shaking her head.
“I mean, what did Al do to imply that he was interested in you like that?” Rose asked, “Other than the obvious excessive flirting that he does with all females?”
Lucy became quiet. “Um, you know…” She paused. “He helped me with homework a bit. He stayed up with me all night three nights in a row to help me study for exams?”
That was actually very substantial for Al. He would barely even get someone a glass of water if it was out of his way.
“We went for a few walks around the lake…I mentioned I was craving chocolate one night after tutoring, and he snuck down to the kitchens to get me some?”
Lucy looked as if she were about to cry.
Rose nodded silently. What a dick her cousin was.
“So I’m not crazy, right?” Lucy asked, “I know I’m being dramatic, but…”
“Not at all, Luce,” Rose reassured. “That totally qualifies as leading-on.”
“Absolutely.” Dom agreed.
“Hogsmead will be fun though, okay? We’ll stick it through.” Rose said, kissing Lucy on the top of her head.
“Just as long as Maggie isn’t there.” Lucy said solemnly.
It ended up that Maggie was there, of course, and her pathetic clinginess to Al even made Rose uncomfortable. They were all sitting at a big table in The Three Broomsticks, everyone with a large butterbeer in hand. Amanda and Rob were talking quietly and holding hands under the table. Thomas Wood, the keeper on the Quidditch team, had been hanging around with their crew more and more, and he was now engaged in a heated discussion with Dom about something concerning muggle politics. How Dom knew anything about that, Rose didn’t know, but it seemed like Dom was enjoying herself. Lucy, who had somehow ended up sitting next to Al, was facing away from him and was trying to talk to Rose over Maggie’s annoying voice, which was blabbing to Al about their summer plans, or something.
“Can we just kill her, please?” Lucy asked quietly, grimacing.
“We have knives…and our wands…we could poison her drink!” Rose said, laughing. As awkward as the situation was, she was having a good time. It was nice to get out of the castle and have some distraction.
Lucy sighed contentedly.
“Shut up!” Dom was saying, banging her fist on the table, a slight smile on her face, “Government in the muggle world is entirely necessary! Every civilization needs some form of government to survive!”
“Merlin, I agree with that, I just don’t think that the muggles need such complex administration. I mean, they could just be governed like animals, right?” Thomas said shaking his head, his humor evident in his eyes.
“Cute couple, eh?” Al whispered to Lucy and Rose, disengaging himself for a moment from Maggie.
Lucy flinched at his voice, but managed a smile and a vague nod.
“Absolutely,” Rose said, giving Al her look of death. Al shot a confused glance at her before turning back to Maggie.
Rose sighed, and stood up. “Alright, I’m going to run over to the post office and I’ll be right back.” Lucy slid into Rose’s chair, and scooted it closer to Dom.
“Don’t get frostbite out there,” Dom said, winking at Rose.
“Alright,” Rose said with a return wink, turning away and walking across the room.
It was freezing outside, and Rose pulled her hood over her head and wrapped her scarf around her neck, stuffing her hands into her pockets as she made her way down the snow-blown street. She didn’t actually have anything to mail at the post office, but she found that it was a calming place, with all of the soft hoots making a sort of soothing symphony.
There were few other people in the street, and those that were had their heads down and moved quickly, snow swirling around them. Rose’s breath made clouds before her as she quickened her pace down the street.
Just as she was walking past Zonko’s Joke Shop, she saw a figure slide into a narrow side alley. Was it her imagination, or did he look just like Malfoy? He had certainly been tall enough. Curiosity burning in her chest, Rose crossed the street and stepped into the alley. It was less windy and snowy in here, and Rose could finally see more than a foot ahead of her.
The figure was definitely Malfoy, Rose realized, her heart pounding. He hadn’t noticed her yet, but had stopped, and was leaning against one of the tall brick walls of the narrow alley.
He glanced up and saw her just as she said his name.
“Malfoy.” She hated how vulnerable her voice sounded.
He pushed himself off the wall.
Neither of them said anything for a moment. Rose could hardly hear the wind over the beating of her own heart.
“Hey,” He said finally.
“Hey,” She said back, suddenly entirely uncertain of everything. Her voice was shaking. What was she doing?
“I’ll leave,” Rose said, suddenly furious, taking a step back. “It’s pretty obvious that you don’t want to talk to me.”
She spun around to leave, but he jumped forward and grabbed her arm, pulling her back around to face him.
“Rose, wait,” His eyes searched her face. He looked like he was searching for words. Rose waited.
“I’m sorry for avoiding you,” He said finally, “I just thought it would be easier.”
This seemed like a stupendously stupid remark to Rose.
“And easier for whom, exactly?” Rose spat, her voice still shaking.
“You. Me. Us. Everyone,” He said, his gray eyes full of conflict. His grip on her arms burned through her layers, and Rose suddenly realized how close they were standing.
She pushed his hands off of her arms and took a few stumbling steps back. She couldn’t think strait with him standing that close. It had distracted her when he had said ‘us’.
He didn’t move towards her again, but instead placed his hands back into his pockets. So this was finally the reason for his avoidance—it would be easier?
“Do you always run away?” Rose said, the words tumbling out of her mouth, somehow ending in a whisper.
He stepped towards her, and she stumbled back until she found the wall of the alley for support. He was close enough to touch, and Rose felt a pang of fear and excitement shoot through her. He took another step, and Rose could see a ring of dark blue around his grey eyes. Close enough that she could feel his warm breath on her cheeks.
“No,” He breathed, his lips hovering above hers, his hands braced on the wall, holding their bodies inches from touching. His chest rose and fell in time to her heartbeat. Rose heard her breath catch, and her eyes drifted shut.
His lips brushed across hers, so lightly that she wasn’t sure if she imagined it. She could feel the warmth radiating off of him. There were shivers radiating up and down her entire body.
“Rose,” He breathed, his lips brushing lightly across her cheekbone. She tried to focus on breathing.
His lips gently grazed across her forehead, and she felt the corners of her lips curve up slightly.
He lightly touched each of her eyelids with his smooth lips, and then the bridge of her nose. The snow swirled around them and got caught in Rose’s eyelashes.
“Forgive me?” He breathed across her cheek. His lips brushed across her earlobe.
And finally, slowly, he moved in that crucial centimeter and kissed her, his body pressing up against hers, the cold brick wall against her back.
It was so different from their first kiss; desperate, frenzied, fervent.
This kiss was slow, building, forbidden, and yet crushingly soft. He was so close that she could feel his heartbeat through all of her layers.
One of his hands was braced above her head, the other resting lightly on her waist. It was as if he was trying to not scare her away.
Rose couldn’t even move, her brain was on overload; her body took over. Her hands tangled in his hair, her breathing sharp and irregular as he kissed a line of kisses down her jaw line, down her neck, to the dip above her collarbone. Rose’s knees gave way, and she fell into him, the world spinning.
She heard his laugh, a deep, throaty chuckle, as he gently placed her back on her feet.
“Oops,” She said breathlessly.
“Momentary dizzy spell?” He breathed against her neck. She could feel his smile, and it made her smile.
“Ahh…it looks that way,” Rose said nonsensically, trying to steady her breathing.
There were some shouts of people walking across the street, and Rose immediately tensed up, which caused Scorpius to remove his hands from her and step away, leaving her feeling suddenly very cold. The people passed by after a moment, not even glancing into the seemingly uninhabited alleyway.
“So…” He said, his hands back in his pockets. It looked as if he were fighting a smile. Rose felt suddenly very dazed, as if she had just come above water from holding her breath for a long time. Confusion wound around her mind.
“So, now you lock me in a closet, right?” Rose said raspily, clasping her hands together to keep from reaching out to him.
“Well, technically I didn’t actually lock you in there.” Malfoy mused, tilting his head.
“I’m sure the sentiment was basically the same.” Rose said flatly.
“Rose,” He said, his expression becoming more serious, his eyes becoming staid, “Will you at least let me explain?”
“Fine. But not now. Not here.” Rose said. The warmth of the kiss was already wearing off, and she hated the cold that took its place.
His jaw was clenched, and she could tell that his hands, resting in his pockets, were curled into fists. Something flashed across his face, a brief moment of vulnerability, uncertainty, regret, and then it was gone, and his eyes had become hard once again.
Rose suddenly thought of her family; her father, and how angry he would be if he even knew that she was standing here speaking to a Malfoy. Even Al would consider this the greatest form of betrayal. She could even see her mother’s face, turned down in disappointment at the dark turn her daughter had taken.
“Just tell me where,” Scorpius said, his face total seriousness.
Rose opened her mouth to speak--
“HEY ROSE, WHERE ARE YOU?”
It was Albus and the rest of the group, she could hear them coming down the road. Unthinkingly, she grabbed Scorpius and pushed him up against the wall of the alley so they wouldn’t be seen.
“Bye,” she whispered frantically, and spun to go. Unthinkingly, he grabbed her arm, pulled her back in, and miraculously, they were kissing again--
Rose stumbled away, almost falling over as she hastily pulled herself from him.
“Bye,” she breathed, almost smiling at the ridiculousness of it all, and then she was gone.
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