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Chapter 9 : Insecure
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Don't sweat the small stuff.
Scorpius Malfoy was a charmer.
He kept the conversation going all through dinner. He steered it away from the relationship subject once Hugo got bored and brought it up, discussed his own success at Hogwarts, and also detailed a lot of our time together in the mountains. Of course he left out the snogging and jumping off of waterfalls, but otherwise he told some relatively interesting stories.
No mention of the shed. Or falling asleep in my bed. Or the kiss on the beach.
I had to stop thinking about that.
When he left, my mother was all smiles. She kept looking at the bouquet of wildflowers in the center of the table and adjusting it so the most beautiful flowers faced the kitchen island. When I pointed this out, she called me daft and told me to get lost.
Hugo went to sleep early since he had a headache and Dad ruffled my hair and said that didn’t go as bad as he thought it would.
“I didn’t even get to break the tension with an uncomfortable story about you,” he said, disappointed.
“You mean the one where I used to walk around in my underthings at Uncle George’s shop wasn’t bad enough?” I was still fuming about that. Scorpius got a kick out of it.
“Not at all. I should have been better prepared for tonight.” He gave me a kiss on the forehead and retreated upstairs with Mum.
After salvaging a little ice cream, I felt my way down the dark hallway and into my room.
It was an adventure of a night. Sure, I’d brought a few previous boyfriends home to meet my parents. It was always uncomfortable and always filled with awkward silences. That was the extent of boys not related to be meeting my family. Besides my cousins’ friends. Or Hugo’s, but no one really counted them because they couldn’t count themselves.
Scorpius was all smiles, charismatic, and made them laugh more often than not. He joined in on teasing me just enough so that it was endearing and not obnoxious.
I groaned. What was his game?
I finished off the ice cream, content, and placed the empty bowl on the dresser near my door. At least I could finally get a little sleep without being concerned about my family finding out who I was out with. I wondered what my parents were discussing.
Scorpius Malfoy. How was Rose spending time with a Malfoy?
I was just glad it wasn’t some family feud nonsense. Our families were on fine terms. They just weren’t the best of friends.
I changed into my kitten pajamas and crawled under the covers. Finally. Relaxation.
At least until the first rumble of thunder shook the house, jerking me awake three hours later.
The room was dark. Pitch black save for when the lightning illuminated my scattered belongings.
It was moving in slowly, everything shaking with each boom. I pulled the blankets up to my neck just as the rain began to fall. It splattered against the window in sheets, hammering away like an unwelcome guest.
I could do this, right?
Sure. Albus could do it. Why couldn’t I? We were in the mountains. Nothing could happen.
Except a tree falling on the house.
Or a flash flood from the lake? Except that was downhill. From the creek? Sure.
I jumped again, squeezing my eyes shut. Everything was shaking now, from my toes up into my fingertips. I hated this. The wind whistling against the leaves outside. Like the sick, pained howl of a dog. Crashes of thunder. Lightning. Cracks outside.
Was that a tree branch?
I hated storms during the night. I couldn’t see anything. I didn’t know how bad it was. Or if it would just pass quickly. Or if it would circle over us until I couldn’t breathe.
I pulled the blankets around me, leaning up into the headboard. My eyes were on the window. I had no idea what I was looking for. It was like peering into the fridge when I wasn’t hungry. No purpose other than to see.
To see that I was petrified.
The fabric wasn’t enough to cling to. I hated storms. Hated. Hated. Why did everything have to be so dark? Why was it horrible? Why was the thunder THIS loud? Really? Was that necessary?
WHY THE FUCK WAS SOMEONE HAMMERING ON MY WINDOW THIS IS HOW I DIE.
I pulled down the blanket from over my face, gasping for breath. I didn’t know if I’d screamed or not. The thunder would have drowned it out regardless. I blinked. There was a figure outlined at the window, knocking relentlessly with the rain.
I rushed over, throwing it open. I wished I hadn’t, as I was immediately soaked from my face down to my middle. The rain was sideways and forced me to stagger back.
Scorpius moved inside quickly and slammed the window shut just as another crash of thunder echoed through the mountains.
“What’re you doing here?” I asked, glancing over to the clock. It was two in the morning.
Instead of answering, he grabbed his wand and quickly dried his drenched clothes. Then he released a sigh. “Freezing,” he said, smiling. “That walk was not pretty.”
I jumped when another bolt of lightning flickered through the room. “You just ran out in this?”
“Are you okay?” Scorpius’ eyes were on me. He used his wand to dry my front.
“What?” My fingers were finding it difficult to grasp the damn kitten pajamas I was wearing again. Just when I thought I was safe, he was there again.
He was fighting to catch his breath. He must have been running. “I asked if you were okay. I know you and storms don’t exactly see eye to eye.”
I stared. Then jumped, shrieking as a crack of thunder shook the house, forcing a picture frame off the wall. It shattered.
Scorpius grabbed me and pulled me against him, wrapping his arms around me. “I came to make sure you were okay,” he said. “Are you?”
“I didn’t think you would be. This one is nasty.” He kissed the top of my head. “C’mon. Let’s get you and your kittens into bed.” He ushered me toward the bed, drawing back the blankets so I could crawl under. Then, at the look I gave him, he smiled. “Yes, I’m coming.” He removed his shoes and moved beside me, wrapping his arms around me and pulling me close.
“I can’t believe you … “ I paused. “That’s like a thirty minute walk.”
Scorpius shrugged. He began moving his fingers through my hair. “It’s going to be fine,” he said softly. “So how did I do today? Did I pass?”
“You were very charming,” I replied with the tiniest of smiles, clinging to him as the thunder boomed again.
“Good to know. How about with mini-Weasley?”
I chuckled. “You did well,” I replied. I scooted closer to him, draping a leg over his and wrapping my arm over his middle. My hold tightened every time something scared me from outside. Which was often.
He was silent for a while before clearing his throat. “Dinner was great.”
“Mmhm.” I closed my eyes, fingers clutching his shirt. It was the same one he wore earlier.
“Thanks for inviting me.”
“Thanks for not believing Hugo about the bed-wetting.”
Scorpius laughed. His touch trailed down my back, making me shiver. He kissed the top of my head and leaned back into the pillows. “I’m also glad your father didn’t break out a shotgun.”
“You and me both. I don’t like blood, nor would I have liked cleaning it up.” I smirked a little.
He pulled me closer as the thunder echoed again. “Watch out for that glass in the morning.” He nodded toward the broken frame.
“I’m trying to be nice.”
Scorpius poked me hard in the ribs.
“You’re a bint, Mum.”
He laughed, hugging me tighter before relaxing. After releasing a long sigh, he snuggled down into the blankets with me. The storm raged on outside, pounding against the windows, but he did well with his intention. My focus was on the steady beat of his heart and the way each of his fingers moved over my back.
“Rose?” Scorpius’ voice was a little strained, like he was fighting against the words.
His grip tightened on my back and pulled me on top of him. I gasped a little when I found myself staring down at him, hair falling onto his face.
He didn’t look arrogant or smarmy or even like the charismatic Scorpius I was used to. Instead, he had a serious expression, eyes trained on mine. His fingers moved to my hips, holding me there.
“Kiss me again,” he said softly. I almost didn’t hear him over the rain.
I did so, and it wasn’t like the hungry, aggressive kiss against the wall. It was slow. His fingers slid up my side, under my shirt, and his thumb pressed into my skin. Everything was slow.
I could taste the rain on his lips and feel each sharp intake of breath. I couldn’t concentrate; I could just feel my body pressed to his, the humidity taking advantage of our hair and skin and the air around us.
By the time I pulled away, both our bodies were soaked in sweat. I shrugged off the blanket and stared down at him, even though I could only see the outline of his face when the lightning lit up the room. It didn’t matter. I wanted to see his eyes.
Scorpius didn’t say anything. He moved his fingers around the back of my neck and brought me to him again, kissing me softly. Then he put his arms around me and pulled me back to his side, turning so that I was facing away from him and his body was against my back. He tugged me close, his face against my hair.
“Good night, Rose,” he whispered.
I moved my hand into his, lacing our fingers together.
The storm was over by morning, though the humidity wasn’t. I thought I was waking in a bathtub of sticky, disgusting sweat. Scorpius still had his arms around me, our fingers were still intertwined, and I could feel each of his breaths against my shoulder.
“Scorpius?” I murmured, yawning.
“Mmhm.” It was more of a grunt than a reply.
“I can’t believe you came here in the rain.”
“Can you not?”
I thought about it for a moment. The way he was. His own nature as a person. I guess it wasn’t that illogical he would walk through a storm to make sure I was okay.
“I owe you,” Scorpius said, kissing my hair. “A lot.”
“For what? Going fishing and getting embarrassed at your jokes?” I rolled my eyes.
“Distracting me.” He stretched and sat up after untangling his body from mine. “And I’m going to have to apologize for sweating this much. I probably smell horrible.”
Truthfully, all I could smell was his cologne.
I shrugged. “It’s not like I have any room to talk.” I scooted away from him, and looked down, admiring the lovely sweat stain on the collar of my shirt.
“Let’s get out of here,” he said.
“In case you haven’t noticed, I have family in the other room.” I narrowed my eyes. “They’re probably making me an extra pancake right now.”
“Pancakes aren’t even that good.”
I shoved him. “Who are you to talk about pancakes like that?”
“Lord of the Pancakes,” Scorpius said without missing a beat. “Come on. Quit being such a rule stickler and let’s go.”
“Where?” I asked.
“Anywhere.” Scorpius grabbed my hand and tugged me out of bed. “Let’s just go. C’mon, Gryffindor. Where’s your sense of adventure?”
“I have more common sense,” I muttered darkly.
“Want me to carry you out in your kittens?”
“Bloody hold on.” I groaned and pulled open my wardrobe, grabbing a pair of shorts and a clean shirt. One that wasn’t from when I was twelve. It also wasn’t adorned with baby animals. “My parents are going to shit if they find me gone.”
“Will they?” Scorpius was standing by the window, smirking.
“And then they’ll off you for kidnapping.”
“Bring it on.” He slid it open and then poked his head out. “All clear. Do you want to climb out of your balcony, Juliet?”
“I wish you wouldn’t have given me your dead fish’s nickname.” I waited for him to turn before quickly changing my clothes. “Or dead lover. Whatever she was to you.”
“Pretty sure it was a bloke fish.”
“Can you tell?” I asked, only to find Scorpius laughing. “Shut up. Do you have a plan?”
“Plans are for Ravenclaws,” Scorpius said. He grabbed my hand, pulled me out the window, and we hopped off the side of the deck. Then we moved silently into the trees.
The ground was saturated from the night before and everything seemed much more alive after the rain. Plants were greener, birds were louder, and of course, my shoes were getting stuck every few meters. At one point Scorpius had to hoist me out of the mud.
“Let’s move onto the road.” He helped me clean off my shoes with a few fern leaves and we started toward town for no reason other than to go in that direction. At one point we dove off the side of the road as we heard an approaching car, but it was just an old man in a black pickup truck.
“Pretty sure there was a gun in his passenger seat,” Scorpius noted once the dust settled and we moved back onto the gravel.
“There was not. You just want a story to tell when you get home.” I smirked.
“About how we were almost killed by a local?” he said, his tone quiet and scared. “I had to jump in front of you to save you, but then you shoved me out of the way and punched the bloke in the face. Before you killed him, you told him of your devious plan to take over the world and become Minister of Magic.”
I raised a brow. “Is that what happened?”
“Clear as day.” Scorpius smirked. He was kicking up gravel as he walked.
I wanted to kiss the smirk off his face, but I didn’t know if I could do that. Or what we were doing exactly. To be honest, for the first time I didn’t really mind. This was a vacation. All of the people in Muggle movies got their summer romances or snogs or whatever they got, and I could do. So I was just going to smile, be happy, and spend the day with Scorpius Malfoy.
Snogs or no snogs.
I did whack him in the arse with a flimsy stick for getting cheeky though.
We ate at the diner, both ordering the same thing and exchanging smirky glances between bites. He asked about the condition of my shoes. I asked about the condition of his brain. He ruffled my hair. I kicked him.
“Do you still think your family will be sore with you?” Scorpius asked. We were walking along the sidewalk with fast-melting cones of vanilla ice cream.
“Probably.” I smiled. “What about yours? You haven’t even been home.”
Scorpius shrugged. “I’d put a few Galleons on them not knowing I was gone.” He tried for a smile, but I could tell it was a touchy subject.
“Is that common? Or just here?” I finished off my ice cream and tossed it into the bin.
He didn’t reply right away, but instead busied himself with his food. After we reached the end of the block and crossed the street to walk up the other side, he finally responded. “I don’t want to say it’s always like that,” he replied. “Because it’s not. I don’t have some tragic sob story and you don’t need to feel bad for me. But since Mum got sick, I’ve been low on the priority list.” He paused to toss the rest of his cone into the trash. “But that’s the way I want it. She deserves the attention and the care.”
“Tell me about her,” I said, eyes on him.
“Growing up she took care of everything,” he said, beginning to kick a rock as we went. “She scolded me for talking out of turn, taught me to cook, and used to pretend to fly off the back deck with me, complete with umbrellas. She was full of adventure.” He chuckled. “You never had to worry about anything when she took charge.”
“She sounds brilliant,” I said. I enjoyed the image of tiny Scorpius hopping off a deck with an umbrella.
“Then she got sick,” Scorpius continued, a frown forming against his lips. “And everything changed.”
I didn’t know how to reply, so I didn’t. Instead, I reached over and slid one finger in his belt loop, holding it there.
“Suddenly I was in charge,” he said as if he hadn’t stopped. Hell, as if I wasn’t walking beside him. “Dad was tending to her all the time. He stopped going to work. He was at her bedside giving her anything she needed. Then when she went to the hospital, with her he went. And I was left. I spent a summer practically at home alone cooking and cleaning and tending to the garden.” He continued to kick at the stone. “My parents were wrapped up in each other.”
“Did that bother you?” I had no idea why I was asking so many questions. Or if I was even allowed.
“At first it did,” Scorpius said, running his fingers through his hair. It was getting longer now. “Then I kind of thought about it. If I’d been married as long as them and in love as long as them, I guess I’d make the same choice, wouldn’t I? I mean, at first Father didn’t know if she would make it through the week. There were all these tests. All these assumptions and guesses. I would have done the same thing.” He looked lost in thought.
I felt miserable for him and tried my hardest not to imagine my own mother going through it - again. Then Dad’s reaction. He would have made the same choices. He would have been lost in himself. His life didn’t function properly without Mum. Hell, when she went on a work trip for two weeks he lasted a week before he was whining about getting out of bed.
I had to hand it to Scorpius. He didn’t want pity. In fact, he thought that, given the situation he was in, things had worked out the way they should. But the idea of him sitting home alone cooking his own dinner and watching television … I hated it.
“Your mother sounds wonderful,” I said, frowning a little. “I’m sorry this is happening to you.” I had no idea what to say. Sorry? Sorry I can’t relate? Do you want some sweets?
Suddenly annoying Hugo and Dad telling embarrassing stories about my childhood didn’t seem so terrible.
He looked over, studying me for a moment. But then he shook his head. “It’s getting warm. Let’s go into a shop.”
“My money’s on it not having air conditioning.” I pulled open the door to a boutique and walked inside. At first, I wished I hadn’t. There were a lot of patterns and prints and a whole lot of decades from before I was born.
I smiled when Scorpius put his arm around me. “I want you to pick out the worst things and try them on,” he told me. “And then we’re even.”
“Even?” I said, pulling a strange zebra print into my hands.
“For the pleasure of my company last night.” Scorpius winked, leaning against the clothing rack. “Go on. I like that one.”
“Oh, you’re under the impression you’re not trying anything on.” I shot him a smirk and nodded toward the tiny men’s section in the corner.
“Oh no,” he said, laughing. “That’s not going to happen.” He adjusted the collar on his shirt.
“Not happy with cotton and nylon?” I guessed.
“Pretty sure I’ll get a rash.”
“Would you rather try this on?” I held up the zebra top.
“I’ll get a few,” Scorpius grumbled and headed over to the corner.
Girl power? Something power? Rose Weasley power.
I grabbed a few hideous tops in hideous patterns, but gravitated toward another area near the fitting rooms which held clothes in solid colors (surprise). I picked out a few dresses and tops just as Scorpius touched my shoulder.
“We’re not talking about this after we leave,” he said. “Especially to any of my mates.”
“What? Too manly?” I rolled my eyes. “Get in the dressing room, Romeo. You aren’t fit enough to deny these clothes.”
“What’s that bloody mean? I’m fit enough.” He looked down at his shirt and then back to me. “You sure have a hard time looking away while we swim.”
I blushed. “Get in there or I’m sending the leopard dress in after you.”
Scorpius closed the curtain in a bitter huff. I moved into the room beside him and put the hangers on hooks. “Going to make it?” I called.
“Hardly. I don’t even know what this fabric is.”
What a snob, I thought. Then I pulled on the leopard dress. To my surprise, it fit quite well. It was way too loud for me, but I didn’t have to worry about the bit of a muffin top that protruded out of my pants and my thighs were hidden so hey, that was brilliant.
“Coming out?” Scorpius asked in a gruff voice.
“Bloody get out here.” He wrenched back the curtain, so I stepped out. Whereas he had a look of disgust, I started laughing.
Scorpius wore a polyester shirt that wouldn’t have looked out of place at a bowling alley. His grimace told me exactly how he felt about it.
“That’s a good look on you.” I circled him, grabbing at the shirt as he swatted me away. “What? You look very handsome.”
“I look like I’m the clown for a party,” he said. “And look at you out on the skimpy safari.”
“At least I look attractive,” I shot back.
“High hopes are not for those in leopard,” Scorpius quipped and walked back behind the curtain. I kicked it and he yelped
“I look damn good,” I muttered and switched into some jeans and the zebra top. I looked in the mirror. It just wasn’t me. “I’m not coming out in this.”
“Oh bloody yes you are. If I’m going bowling you’re coming out in whatever that is!”
I grumbled. “No.”
“I’m coming in there.”
“NO.” I ripped back the curtain to find Scorpius standing before me in red pants and a yellow top. “Look at you, Gryffindor.”
He didn’t respond.
I waved a hand in front of his face. “Scorpius. I’m insulting you. Pay attention.”
He stared. But not at my eyes.
I slapped his shoulder. “OY!” I cried, pressing my hands over my chest, which was a little exposed in the top. “Could you please not be such a perv?”
He shook his head, hair flying against his forehead. “Blimey - sorry, Rose.” Then Scorpius was grinning like an idiot, cheeks flushed. “No regrets, right?”
I turned. “Spoken like a true Gryffindor.”
He moved his arms around my middle, pulling me against him. “Did you just say Gryffindor?”
I nudged him away. “We’re in a store.”
“You called me a Gryffindor.” Scorpius pushed me forward into the dressing room. He closed the curtain behind us.
“Because you’re wearing scarlet and gold.” I elbowed him and he stumbled back into the mirror. “I’m trying to try on these beautiful clothes.”
“You’re holding an African print shirt with a striped belt.” His blond brow arched. “And for your information, I would make a remarkable Gryffindor.”
I snorted. “Right. Now get out.”
“And if I don’t?”
“Then you’re a git.” I threw the shirt at him. “If you don’t, I won’t teach you to paint anymore.”
“Is that code for snog?” he asked, fingers brushing the curtain.
“Time for another outfit.” He slipped out immediately.
I laughed to myself, discarding the printed shirt before even putting it on. What a strange boy he was. I had few words to describe him, but he certainly made me smile.
“Ready?” he called.
Bugger. I wasn’t ready. I looked around, grabbing a solid violet dress and tugging it on over my hips. It wasn’t the most flattering thing I’d seen myself in, but it wasn’t terrible. The cut was right. Hit my knees the right way. “Yeah, hold on.”
“There is only so long I will stay in this for you,” he grunted.
“For me?” I asked, laughing as I moved back into the area in front of the dressing rooms.
“I’m not doing this for me.” Scorpius was a green and pink striped shirt, reminding me immediately of a watermelon (and also making me hungry). Over the shirt was a pair of elastic suspenders holding up khaki pants.
Though the shirt itself was hideous and he looked murderous, I had to admit the suspenders were rather attractive. The only person I knew who had worn a pair was Grandad Weasley, which wasn’t exactly fashion forward.
Maybe it was also Scorpius biting down timidly on his bottom lip.
“It’s not bad,” I commented.
“I look like a piece of fruit,” he shot back. “I want to meet the designer of these clothes. Honestly. I’m writing a letter of complaint.”
“How’s that going to go?” I rolled my eyes and stepped in front of the large mirror, spinning a little. The dress was form-fitting and made the things I didn’t exactly love about myself a lot more obvious. I poked at my hips in annoyance.
Scorpius stepped toward me and placed each of his hands on my hips, smoothing the dress over them. He smirked. “Look at you,” he said. “I can see it in your face.”
“You can see what?” I twisted a piece of hair between my fingers.
“You’re insecure.” He stepped onto the raised platform with me, hip-bumping me to make room. “Why?”
“And this is a conversation we’re not having.” The last thing I wanted to talk about with Scorpius Malfoy is how I needed to do more crunches in the morning and stop drinking so many fizzy drinks. Especially considering I was still searching for a flaw on him.
“Come on,” he said, nudging me. “Look. I’ll start.” He ruffled his hair and stared at himself in the mirror. “I have acne scars on my back.”
“You do not, I’ve seen your back.” I stepped off the platform and moved back toward the dressing room. I didn’t want to talk about this.
“I have hairy toes,” he said.
“You’re an idiot.” I threw back the curtain and stepped inside.
“My nose is too big.”
“What?” I peeked out from behind the fabric. “Who told you that?”
“Loads of kids growing up,” he blurted, shrugging. His cheeks were pink.
Did he honestly believe that? His nose was perfectly normal. I was actually pretty sure mine might have been bigger than his. I stared for a moment, at his face, and watched his cheeks get darker the longer I looked. He did believe it.
I tried to think of something to say. To tell him he was daft for believing it. That he was ridiculous for even being embarrassed by something like a nose. Then I frowned.
“Seems trivial, doesn’t it?” Scorpius asked, his eyes meeting mine. “Being insecure about something so small.”
“Literally,” I teased with a smile. He chuckled.
“You’re beautiful, you know,” he said quickly. His fingers were toying with the suspenders. “You probably don’t think so, but I do.”
I forced the blush off of my cheeks. “Yeah?”
He nodded. “Get back out here.” Scorpius slid over on the platform and nodded to the space beside him. After my nose wrinkled he shot me a look that suggested he would carry me out if I didn’t agree. So I did. I slowly stepped back out, onto the platform, and looked in the mirror.
He looked in the mirror as well, but he was looking at himself. “Shouldn’t matter, should it?”
I didn’t know what he was referring to, but I could guess. “No, it shouldn’t.” I shrugged, keeping my eyes in line with my own stare in the mirror. I liked my eyes. They weren’t gray and beautiful or green like Al’s or that pretty amber color like James’. They were a dark, chocolate brown. Nothing spectacular, but I wondered why brown couldn’t be spectacular.
Dark, mysterious, and warm. Brown.
Scorpius slid his hand into mine. “Get the dress,” he told me.
A/N: Ahhh! Okay so I really enjoyed writing this chapter. I hope you enjoyed it and hopefully got some perspective on one or two things. Maybe. Anyway, for those of you who asked -- the move was great, the mountains are great, and we got a puppy!
His name is Brego and he is a Shiba Inu. He's smart, arrogant, and a diva. I should have named him James.
The reference to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is from Shakespeare. I didn't come up with it, and if I did Romeo wouldn't have been such a tool.
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