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The Art of Being Bad by liltinglight
Chapter 5 : The Art of Fraternizing with Puppy-Kicking, Child-Punting, Owl-Punching Ruffians
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 21


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*Author's Note: Hey, delightful people! Sorry again for the long wait. I won't go into depth because the chapter is already of monstrous proportions. But I've just had a lot going on... SATs, finals, sports, etc in addition to illness and other unforeseen circumstances. Also, I had a difficult time getting this chapter how I wanted it. So I just decided, after a million revisions, I was just going to submit it since you guys have been waiting forever. So, hopefully it doesn't suck. If it does, my apologies.

So thank you to everyone who is reading and all my reviewers. You keep me going... even if it takes like five months for me to update since I'm a butt trumpet. And, without further ado... HERE IS THE NEXT CHAPTER! VOILA!

PS - This chapter is dedicated to my darling dearie/fellow Starkid Lydia because she is supermegafoxyawesomehot and is the sole reason I made it through finals week (and life in general).

DISCLAIMER - I STILL DON'T OWN POCKETFUL OF SUNSHINE, BUT I'VE BEEN IN CONTACT WITH NATASHA BEDINGFIELD ABOUT ACQUIRING THE RIGHTS. EXCEPT NOT REALLY. BUT I WILL WHEN I STOP BEING A LETHARGIC BUM. I ALSO DON'T OWN HARRY POTTER OR ANYTHING RELATED WHICH IS DREADFULLY UPSETTING. OR THE GREAT GATSBY WHICH IS OWNED BY F. SCOTT FITZGERALD WHO IS TRAGICALLY DECEASED, ALTHOUGH HE LIVES ON IN OUR HEARTS. OKAY I'M DONE HERE.



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

You know, I really wish that proper social interaction was something that could be learned through study.

Like, I could just read textbooks and make flashcards about how to not be awkward and, eventually, I'd be able to make it 10 seconds past 'hello' without eye-twitching or choking or really bad jokes or - most possibly - combustion.

But, unfortunately, social interaction is ideally a natural process. Something that everyone is equipped with the innate skills to maneuver painlessly through.

Everyone except Rose Weasley. Which is pretty much an embarrassingly obvious statement at this point. I mean, I accidentally admitted my love to my object of infatuation for six years and was rejected. I apparently (and inadvertently) led on a condiment-covered aspiring cat-breeder who was, incidentally, my date for the evening. #fasttimesathogwartsschoolofwitchcraftandwizardryandpossiblesexualviolation

Clearly, I wasn't endowed with those supposed givens.

I mean, even given normal circumstances, I'm utterly screwed as far as conversations go. And, though I'm generally an idealist, even I can't pretend these are remotely normal circumstances. Maybe on the Biggest Loser, this muggle show that the wizard network picked up a few years ago. On the Biggest Loser, some corpulent fellow - let's call him Chuck - going into relapse and being caught inhaling disgustingly abnormal proportions of ice cream would be perfectly plausible. Like, someone would reprimand Chuck, and there would be some emotional sentiment about how ice cream numbed Chuck's pain, then everyone would be touched and the episode would conclude in sobbing and Chuck tearfully promising he would change.

But tragically, my life is not an episode of the Biggest Loser. Despite the emotional-eating and incessant crying. The difference is that, in my life, extreme overreating doesn't touch hearts. It just kind of makes everything awkward.

Actually, awkward doesn't even begin to classify this predicament. I mean, sure, having anyone witness you shoveling processed cow product in your mouth like there's no freaking tomorrow is troubling enough. Especially when you lack the ability to justify or explain your actions. So, I mean, even if I would have just merely encountered a person, I would have already been screwed. But I happened to encounter Malfoy. Which essentially is the worst case scenario.

Malfoy. Let me tell you about Scorpius Malfoy. Well, you see, its kind of a funny story. Actually, its not so much funny as it is.... Erm. Let me start over. Actually, its really not even so much a story as it is... Actually, do you know if there's a phrase or term for 'My dad has strictly forbidden me from ever conversing or making eye contact with Scorpius Malfoy because he's allegedly the spawn of the devil who was unfortunately born without a soul and therefore engages in deplorable acts such as, but not limited to, kicking puppies and punting children' ? Because I think that's the most succinct I can make it. Well other than, 'Malfoy is bad.'

Growing up, my father really only implemented three basic rules. The first is stay away from Malfoy. The second is stay away from Malfoy. And the third, actually, is don't eat/look at/any-other-sensory-action Dad's food. Ever. I mean, my little brother Hugo ate Dad's leftover slice of pie last summer and - well - I don't think Hugo's been the same person since. It was frightening actually. When Dad found the remaining crumbs, he got really calm sort of. And then he sort of smiled, this tight-lipped, trembling smile that sort of enlightened me to the terrifying potential of smiles. And then Dad called Hugo downstairs, patted him on the back and told him they were going to have a little father-son chat. I don't really know what transpired after that, but Hugo has cried everytime Mom made pie since. So the moral of the story is don't defy Ron Weasley. And, if the consequences of eating the last of his pie resulted in a 10 year old boy breaking down in the presence of dessert, I can't even fathom the punishment for fraternizing with Malfoy. All I know is that it entails me being executed.

I mean, perhaps a little bit of Dad's opposition to Malfoy stems from his long-standing rivalry with Malfoy's father. And sure, Dad can tend to be slightly dramatic. But Dad's claims have to be justified, right? No one, not even Ronald Weasley, would ever - and I mean ever - casually throw out the term 'puppy kicker.' Accusing someone of puppy-kicking is a serious claim, not to be discounted. Kicking a puppy... that's practically the most immoral, malicious offense there is.

And you just can't make that stuff up.

So, ultimately, I haven't strayed from my Dad's rules once in my life. Not even the insignificant little laws that I didn't mention yet. Like chewing twenty-four times before swallowing, never cursing, flossing semi-daily.... Er, actually, those are my Mom's rules. But, essentially, I've never broken my parents' rules. So throughout my years at Hogwarts, I've eluded interaction with Malfoy. As well as I could. I mean, there's always the odd occasion where our paths cross in the library and I calmly wander (panickedly sprint) into a different section. Which has actually led to some pretty traumatic experiences. Like the time in second year where I mistakenly catapulted myself into the section of the library dedicated to... the transition into adolescence and adulthood... I suppose. Its funny, the titles of books I got a mere glimpse of then are burned in my memory to this day. For instance: The Magic of Puberty, How to Handle Your Wand. But let's just digress from that topc.

My point is - or was intended to be - I need to avoid Malfoy at all costs. Sure, it sounds ignorant to sort of judge what type of person Malfoy is when I haven't precisely gotten to know him, but I know Dad's words are completely credible; He couldn't have just lied about Malfoy being a treacherous, puppy-kicking ruffian. And here's the thing, I could never disobey my parents. I mean, I've already failed them in simply being a mental, graceless nerdmuffin, so the least I could do is respect their judgments and abide by their laws. If you think about it, not being 'bad' is really my only redeemable quality as a daughter. Which is, you know, really pathetic and all. But still true.

However, the universe hates me. So, after six years of avoiding Scorpius Malfoy, six years of uninteruppted Weasley-rule-following, as fate would have it, I'm trapped in a kitchen. With Malfoy. With a tub full of ice cream to explain. Without a way around it. So, in one fell swoop, my untainted history of obedience is completely obliterated by the unavoidable circumstance of inevitable conversation with Scorpius Malfoy.

I mean, I really shouldn't be surprised by this though. The only thing I should be surprised about - at this point - is that I haven't been hit by a bus. Or kidnapped by clowns. I mean, its gotten to the point where its shocking when bad things don't happen to me...

Then again, getting hit by bus would sort of be a relief.



-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


November 6th - Saturday - 11:32 pm - The Astronomy Tower 'Post-Incident But Before I Make Yet Another Mistake'


* * *

My paralyzed eyes finally broke Malfoy's gaze after a few uncomfortable seconds. Slowly, they drifted from his face to the shamefully gargantuan tub of dairy, to my ice cream-covered palms -

I cringed as I envisioned what this must look like.

Oh, God. How do I even recover from this?

Obviously nothing I could say could repair the damage. So, more appropriately, which words would screw me over the least?

Incapable of selecting an acceptable sentence, I entertained the idea of furtively ninja-rolling into the pile of pots and pans.

"Weasley?"

...

Oh muffins.

...

My heart activity practically halted and I shifted my gaze to the floor.

Maybe if I just feigned being mesmerized by the hardwood, Malfoy would just gather I was having a moment and kindly leave.

I took a breath.

Okay, Rose. Just keep studying the floor...don't meet his eyes...

... And he won't see you. I mean, sure, you most likely look constipated, but he won't see you.

Actually, he probably hasn't even seen you. Him saying your last name was... a coincidence of sorts! A humorous one even! A lot of people say 'Weasley' randomly when they walk into kitchens. Actually, who doesn't do that? That's the real question here.

I mean, sure, I did involuntarily gawk at Malfoy earlier since I was in that frozen state of shock. And, sure, he's sort of raising his eyebrows now with sort of an amused countenance, seemingly directed at me. - Oh fricktarts, I'm looking at him again. - But perhaps Malfoy has a lazy eye or something. So it just appears as though he's viewing me, when, as a matter of fact, he hasn't noticed me at all.

Yeah, actually, that's highly plausible.

Assured, I closed my eyes and relaxed slightly.

And by relaxed slightly I mean tensed up like Jimmy Neutron forcing a brain blast.

"Listen, I'm not the type of person who really cares about other people, but are you okay, Weasley?"

...

Maybe there is a slight possibility that he.. erm.. could have.. seen me. Maybe.

So... This means I have to respond doesn't it?

But couldn't I just go live in a hole the rest of my life instead? Or eat liver? Or have a sleepover with hobos? Actually, do you know what the politically correct term for a female hobo is? Is it just 'hobo' or would be like 'hoboette?'

... What? No, I am most certainly NOT trying to put off conversing with Malfoy! I really just wanted to know the politically correct term for a female hobo! Which actually inspires another imperative question: Is the plural name for hobos 'hoboes' or 'hobi,' because I just really-

Fine. I'm shutting up now.

Okay. I'm going to talk to Malfoy. I can do this... Possibly.

I gulped, clearing the voice in my head reminding me of what an abomination I was for even considering the idea of answering Malfoy. Slowly, I emerged from behind the ginormous ice cream tub, which I'd been hiding behind pretty much the entire time. I lifted my head above the container, peering over at Malfoy apprehensively.

He was leaning back on the wall, his arms crossed, and-

Oh fricktarts he was looking at me.

I tried to avert my eyes, but it was futile. I noticed one of Malfoy's eyebrows was raised, as if he was somewhat concerned by my resemblance to a deer-in-headlights.

Oh God. I should probably say something.

"Hi!" I chirped cheerily. "And I'm positively splendiferous! And, you know, stable."

But in case my verbal confirmation didn't entirely evince my wellbeing, I made a thumbs-up to clarify that I was mentally stable.

Because if a thumbs-up isn't a sufficient indicator that I am a sane human being, then by God I don't know what is.

"Splendiferous?," he repeated, with half-smirk. Like he was amused or something. "Ah, I assumed you were having a crisis, but clearly you're doing really well."

"Uh... yeah. Thank you," I responded perplexedly. Because, honestly, this is just a weird scenario.

I mean, I had endeavored to avoid Malfoy my entire life, let alone had a conversation with the bloke. And suddenly he commending my wellbeing.

The thing is though, I'd be weary of anyone who would linger around, attempting to make conversation with an evident psycho fat kid immersed in a container of dairy. But this was Malfoy, which made it all the more befuddling. Although I didn't technically know Malfoy, I sort of had an idea about his character based on my father's words. And I certainly didn't get the impression he was an innocent, kitchen conversationalist. I mean, Dad had also let it slip that Malfoy was an owl puncher... Which really didn't sound harmless.

Skeptical, I scooched back a bit.

"So what brings you here then, Weasley?" Malfoy inquired thoughtfully, now leaning into the table, propped up by his elbows. "I mean, whatever is keeping Rose Weasley, of all people, out past curfew must be very important."

Well... I think eating in a time of crisis is pretty important business.

But I really didn't really feel like getting into that.

"Right, yeah," I confirmed, scrunching my eyebrows in deep thought. "I was... doing something very important. Its.."

He encouraged me with a nod.

"Its called exercising. I was exercising. That's what I was doing."

Exercising.

Sure.

I mean, exercising the limits of how much I can consume without exploding. But still.

"In the kitchen at 11:30? You don't say." Malfoy drawled, chin resting on his fist.

"I mean, this is the optimal time for working out," I pointed out amicably. "And the kitchen is just a good place for... push ups and weights and just, you know, working out in generally. Because that's what I do work out. Hard core. My strength regimen is just very important to me, you know?"

I self-consciously rubbed my toothpick arms.

Lying. I couldn't have just been blessed with the gift of lying.

"Clearly," Malfoy noted and I considered the possibility of sarcasm in the statement before he gestured towards the tub. "So the massive container of ice cream is just..."

"Oh! Pfft," I laughed, waving away his comment with my arm as I pulled myself to my feet, "That's not ice cream. That's training equipment. The... erm... Tub90x."

... What.

Nevertheless, I offered Malfoy a sympathetic smile and shrug, as if I was forgiving his amateur error of mistaking the newest innovation in weight training for dairy.

"Yeah," I continued confidently, "I use it for overall strengthening. Like lift it up and push it around. Its- It has honestly done wonders for me... physically"

What am I doing?

"So you mean to tell me this is your secret to such impressive brawn?" Malfoy feigned awe, crossing his arms.

"Pretty much," I said weakly, avoiding eye contact and hoping he was actually being sincere.

"Well, this is very convenient because I've actually been looking to take up a new program, Weasley..."

I inhaled, anticipating the worst. "Oh?"

"Yeah," Malfoy removed his elbows from the table and dusted them off. "And this seems pretty legitimate, so could you demonstrate how the Tub90x works? You know, so I have an idea."

...

I eyed the ice cream wearily.

It definitely weighed more than I did.

...

"I would love to do that so so much," I confessed. "But unfortunately I really need to go, so I'm just going to abscond slowly and-"

"Please?" Malfoy implored, "I'm just so eager to learn how you do it."

I exhaled, taking a reproachful glance at the vat.

"I mean... I guess I could," I acquiesced reluctantly.

"Brilliant, Weasley. Thank you."

I ambled over to the container, breathing deeply. I mean, how hard could it be? All I had to do was move it. That much should be simple.

Key word: should.

I made the mistake of looking at the formidable tub again, and I instantly regretted ever even engaging in conversation with Malfoy in the first place, even if it was to explain my actions... Or conjure an elaborate lie in a demented attempt to explain my actions.

Oh God. I was such a bloody imbecile.

I closed my eyes and tilted my head to the ceiling, silently loathing myself.

Finally, I tucked a mahogany strand of hair behind my ear and attempted to pull myself together. I glanced back at Malfoy, who, again, looked mildly amused. And possibly worried.

"Okay, so, the first step in conquering the Tub90x., essentially, is the approach," I began, turning around to face him.

Kill me.

Kill me now.

"That seems very important," Malfoy folded his arms, squinting his forehead in concentration, "Should I conjure a quill and parchment?"

"No, um, that's okay."

I looked back at Malfoy, who was biting his lip to contain a smile.

"Er, anyway... next you want to sort of bend your knees and..."

I glanced at the vat, and it glared back.

Well, I mean, it would have if inanimate objects could glare back.

Oh niblets I can't do this.

"... mentally prepare to move the Tub90x?" I finished uncertainly.

"Of course."

"And then, for the finale, you just..."

I pressed my hands to the box, pushing with every bit of fortitude I possessed...

... And it didn't move.

(Insert-Bad-Word-Here) my life.

"I'm just kidding," I told Malfoy amiably, shaking my head with a smile. "I just need to..."

I put my whole body into it, drawing on every bit of my dwindling strength. Except the tub remained stationary and I just kept slipping backwards which was really the opposite of what I had intended.

You know what, large container of ice cream? You suck. And I hate you.

With an irate huff, I took a few steps back from the ice cream, then lunged at it, thrusting myself at the container and ricocheting back on to the floor about 6 feet away.

ARE YOU SERIOUS, ICE CREAM? ARE YOU SERIOUSLY SERIOUS?

I sprung back to my feet and commenced pouncing at the container, all the emotions of the night rising to surface. Agitated, I threw myself at it incessantly, punctuating my lunges with angry kicks at the container.

"Hey, hey. Easy, Weasley," Malfoy advised calmly, blocking the tub before I could dive in a fourth time.

DIDN'T HE UNDERSTAND IT NEEDED TO DIE?

"Hey, I've got this," he reassuringly turned up my chin and turned toward the container.

My adrenaline abated, and I cocked my head at him dubiously. Then he inspected it before nonchalantly moving it out of sight.

...

And... there goes my last shred of dignity.

...

"I see you like cookie dough, Weasley. Maybe too much."

I looked away without a reply, cheeks burning, and Malfoy sort of half-smiled at me apologetically.

He leaned against the wall again, smirking. "You're quite the determined little thing, aren't you?"

I shrugged, resisting the urge to hide my scarlet countenance with my palms.

"Unfortunately you're a shitty liar."

I succumbed to burying my face in my hands, silently dying, "A little bit."

"Don't feel bad, Weasley, I kind of saw through your charade beforehand since you had a little ice cream..."

He rubbed his nose, and my stomach plummeted to my knees.

"This whole time?" I exclaimed aghast, clutching my nose with both my hands.

"No, it actually came off when you collided with the container," he smirked.

So I go on a date with a future serial killer/cat breeder. Then I am rejected by the guy I think I'm in love with. Then flipping Malfoy witnesses me gormandizing my rejection ice cream with my hands as well as getting beat up by an inanimate object. And then, for the finale... it turns out... I had ice cream on my nose! The whole time! How funny! You know what would be more hysterical? Merlin ceasing this endless chain of torture for his own amusement and just running me over with a triple-decker bus already. What a novel notion. Oh... Wait. I already thought of that.

At least I don't have repetitive thoughts.

At least I don't have repetitive thoughts.

Hey. At least my sense of humor is still intact.

...

Too bad it, you know, sucks.

Oh.

I sunk to the floor defeatedly.

"So are you going to tell me?"

I widened my eyes at Malfoy curiously, "Tell you what?"

"Tell me what the hell is going on, basically," he construed calmly, kneeling down beside me.

I drew a breath, raising my head to face the ceiling. I suppose I owed Malfoy an explanation. I mean, I had tried to convince him an ice cream tub was exercise equipment. And I had called him 'old sport' afterall. But Malfoy was the last person I was going to justify my actions to. Because justifying my actions would inevitably entail sharing the Incident. I was hardly planning on telling Dom about it, let alone Malfoy. Who already probably thought I was mental enough alone, forget the unrequited love confession.

"Hmm," I considered, austerely avoiding the question. "What is going on, basically, is that the Earth is rotating on an axis while simultaneously revolving around the sun."

...

Malfoy squinted his eyes, studying me with concern.

A few seconds elapsed like that, and I squirmed. Something about eye contact makes me uncomfortable.

Something about anything involving other people makes me uncomfortable. I mean, if I'm going to be honest here.

"This is becoming redundant," Malfoy finally said. "But are you okay?"

...

Maybe it was because the sugar had finally reached my bloodstream. Maybe it was because I should have been placed in an asylum by now.

But for some reason, unbeknownst to me, I started laughing.

Hysterically.

"Am I okay?" I vociferated breathlessly between laughs. "Am I okay? That's - That's a brilliant question! Am I okay?"

I turned to an invisible audience and spread out my arms.

"Hey, everyone! He," I tilted my head at Malfoy, "wonders if I'm okay!"

I collapsed back on the wall, wiping a tear from my eyes, "Yes, yes. Praise sweet Jesus, Lordy Lordy, sweet Mary and Joseph, and THANK ALLAH I'M OKAY! HALLEJUAH! MAZEL TOV!"

Holy french toast, I've done it...

I've finally gone insane.

Unless, of course, people usually start superfluously praising in like three different religions when they have too much sugar.

I have a peculiar feeling that its not typical behavior though.

Suddenly, I sobered up, and my hysterics dissolved into weak, interspersed laughs. I pulled my knees to my chest and shook my head reprovingly at myself.

Well, at least one thing is sure. If Malfoy hasn't booked it by now then he was crazier than I was. Or entirely didn't value his life. Because at the rate I'm losing my mind, it wouldn't be entirely shocking if I accidentally killed him or something.

But when I finally looked up, Malfoy, to my surprise, was still there.

"As comforting as that was, Weasley, I have this eerie feeling you're not okay."

I cocked my head, pondering the mystery of how Malfoy was actually talking to me like a normal person after that episode. I mean, let's face it, I was one manical laugh away from being chucked into the loony bin.

I sighed. "Listen... erm..."

How do I even address this chap?

"Listen... old sport," I decided, and Malfoy raised his eyebrows. "I acknowledge how my... "

I made air quotes, "'moment'... might have seemed disconcerting, and I appreciate you expressing concern. But scenes like such are perfectly social acceptable in my culture. Which may or may not be Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Or possibly all three. So, in a nutshell, I'm entirely okay, superdy duperdy totally awesome okay!"

I really need to stop.

You know, talking...

Breathing...

...

"Okay, then," Malfoy responded after a few seconds of hesitation, raising a concerned eyebrow. "But can I just say something?"

I nodded hesitantly.

"Though its evident that you're... sound... Weasley," he started, perhaps sardonically, "it seems like you're confused."

...

I gaped at him; I don't know what I was expecting but it wasn't that.

"What?"

Malfoy sighed, "I'm quite perceptive. And what I got from your episode earlier is that you're experiencing some religious conflict."

... Because of the.. Allah praising and Mazel tov.... And Mary and Joseph...

Oh.

But before I could clear up the misunderstanding, Malfoy cut in.

"I just want to say that you should reevaluate Islam. I don't know. A ginger Muslim is almost a conundrum. Like an centaur rabbi or a midget prostitute. Its just bad taste. We can talk about it if you want, Weasley. Like if you need some spiritual guidance or shit."

....

I blinked blankly at Malfoy for a moment.

I had never talked to this kid in my life and suddenly he was offering me spiritual guidance? I mean, according to Dad, the only service Malfoy could do me is show me the ropes of Satanic worship...

Merlin's pants... He's trying to recruit me for his cult isn't he?

"Erm... That is so nice but no thank you," I picked myself up very quickly. "I actually have to go right now, but maybe some other time..."

"Aww, don't look so scared, love, I was kidding," he smirked. "What, did you think I was ask you to join a cult or something?"

Um. Well.

I weakly chuckled, "Pfft... no. Pfft."

Except I didn't meet his eyes.

"Fuck," Malfoy remarked after a few moments, shaking his head in disbelief, "You actually thought I was going to ask you to join a cult, didn't you?"

I attempted to whistle, but unfortunately I neglected to remember that I can't, in fact, whistle.

So I just sort of just looked at the ceiling because it was not Malfoy.

"I'm really sorry," I finally apologized.

"Don't be, Weasley. I'm flattered you would assume that," he winked. "I think you overestimate me though. Getting Rose Weasley, the paragon of virtue, to join a Satanic cult is too sinister... even for me."

I shook my head, suddenly weighed down with guilt.

"I'm really not the paragon of virtue, Malfoy," I laid down on the floor, not bothering to make sense anymore and talking more to myself than Malfoy. "Actually... I'm the paragon of horridness. I'm a terrible person."

"Right now, even, I'm directly defying my father. And, I mean, I'm out past curfew!" I exclaimed, flailing my arms to get across my point. "I've gone completely and utterly wild!"

I glanced up at Malfoy, expecting him to nod in grave agreement that I was despicable. Perhaps ask me to join his puppy-kicking gang since I met all the requirements for a deplorable human being.

Instead, Malfoy was studying me. Smirking.

He was smirking!

A shock of frustration surged through me. Did he not understand the extent of my horridness?

"What?" I asked suspiciously. "Why are you smiling?"

"Because the fact that you consider," he paused, glancing at his watch, "lying on the kitchen floor at 11:36 on a Saturday 'completely and utterly wild'... is just really funny to me."

My jaw opened and closed unbelievingly, "But how is that laughable, though? I'm an official rule breaker! I'm a rebel!"

Malfoy bit his lip, barely stifling a laugh, "An official rule breaker?"

"This is very serious!"

He sobered up and nodded solemnly, "You're right. I'm sorry."

"Thank you."

I crossed my arms defiantly and he coughed into his elbow before leaning back into the wall.

"So, tell me, what are your plans for the future? You know, now that you're such a bad ass. Not wear a seat belt? Refuse to pay the fine on an overdue library book?"

"Funny," I smiled drily, clearly unimpressed. "But I would never have an overdue library book."

"I don't know, Weasley..." Malfoy drawled wistfully, studying his palm.

...

I widened my eyes.

Did he- Did he really-

... Oh my God.

"Do you really think that I would..." I gulped. "Have an overdue library book?"

Malfoy's sullen grey eyes met mine, and my heart sunk.

"Well, now that you're such a rebel, I can't be sure anymore, Weasley," he sighed with a somber sincerity.

I grabbed my temples in horror, "Holy french toast, I really am a terrible person!"

I mean, aside from kicking puppies, having an overdue library book is practically the sickest, most frowned-upon offense there is. And if I go by the logic that 'it takes one to know one' - and Malfoy perceived me to be an overdue-library-book-holder - then I really was a contemptible person.

I'm going to the bad place aren't I?

And I don't just mean on the library banishment list.

...

Malfoy just chuckled, "You're quite excitable, aren't you Weasley? I have to admit, its entertaining."

I gaped at Malfoy, who was now sitting in a random chair by me, lighting a cigarette with his wand.

"An excitable- But I'm not even excitable!" I protested.

He raised an unconvinced eyebrow.

I cleared my throat and regained my composure.

"I mean- I mean... Uh, yeah, I'm totally calm. Not even a little excitable. I'm completely chill, dude." I explained, inadvertently adopting a surfer bloke accent.

Hey. Accents happen.

Malfoy parted his lips to release a ring of smoke in response.

Upset, I hacked and coughed profusely, as loudly as I possibly could.

I can assure you that it was very attractive.

"Problem?" Malfoy inquired after about twenty seconds of my choking fit, withdrawing the stick of death from his mouth.

"OH-COUGH-NOTHING-JUST-COUGH-DYING-COUGH-A-LONG-COUGH-ARDUOUS-COUGH-DEATH-COUGH!" I sputtered out between incessant coughs.

I thought it was a very subtle way to enlighten him to the lethal hazards of smoking.

I waited for him to kindly put out the killing device.

"Oh, how rude of me," Malfoy lamented remorsefully, holding out his pack. "I'm sorry did you want one?"

What- What the...

My jaw plummeted, and I ogled at him incredulously.

I desperately wanted to ask him if he was usually this dense, or inform him of some very cool anti-smoking slogans, but instead, I settled for stretching the top of my shirt to cover my nose and mouth.

"No thank you," I resigned, the words muffled underneath my shirt.

He cast me his cocky, half-smile, the cigarette still wedged between his teeth, and I crossed my arms belligerently.

"Aww, what's the matter, love? You look upset," he noted.

I sighed and removed the fabric from my face.

"Every year, over 6 million people die on account of smoking," I informed Malfoy with a disapproving frown.

"Oh, that's not too bad," Malfoy shrugged, then smiled when I gasped at his response.

"The number of chemicals in nicotine and tobacco smoke exceed 7000," I pressed on earnestly. "93 of these chemicals are enlisted as harmful and potentially harmful constituents by the FDA, and some of these chemicals are toxic in nature. So, essentially, you're ingesting tar, hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, cadmium and several other hazardous compounds at this very moment."

"Really?" Malfoy inquired, examining his cigarette with intrigue. "Good. Frankly I don't think I'm getting enough hydrogen cyanide. Tell me more, love."

What? This bloke was insufferable!

I rubbed eyes, trying to suppress my escalating frustration.

"Smoking impairs brain functions, you know," I continued exasperatedly, trying to prevent the agitation from reaching my voice. "It reduces the grey matter in the brain responsible for alertness, memory, and learning, consequently lowering your intelligence level."

"I actually am too intelligent," Malfoy explained, "and therefore am in the process of becoming more stupid so I can fit my blonde stereotype."

I exhaled.

"A projected 300,000 annual cases of lower respiratory tract infections in infants and children are attributable to secondhand smoke exposure!" I warned him.

"Fine, there are too many healthy children in this world."

...

I halted.

Holy ships.

I examined Malfoy, then felt an electric chill shoot through spine.

It was true. Everything my dad had told me was true. He really was a child punter.

Abort mission. Abort mission. Abort mission.

I pulled myself to my feet abruptly, prepared to make a break for the portal.

"Oi, Weasley, wait," I heard him say, and I glanced back, "I'm joking. Sorry, here."

Malfoy tapped the ashes and stubbed the cigarette onto a table before clearing everything away with his wand.

"Weasley, you know way too much about smoking. To be honest, its kind of peculiar."

"Er- Thank you," I answered quickly, internally panicking. "And thank you also for taking the first step in protecting your alveoli. But I should really get going... So many... erm... things to do at... uh... midnight. Yep. Adios!"

Because apparently I do Spanish farewells nowadays. Yeah, that information is foreign to me also. Ba da bum.

...

Hopefully you realize why I hate myself now.

I commenced to book it out the door, but Malfoy stepped in front of me.

"Look, Weasley, given your state, I wouldn't have a clear conscience just letting you leave now."

I glanced up at him, raising a quizzical eyebrow.

Malfoy had a conscience?

"You have a conscience?" I asked in disbelief, the words slipping out before I could revoke them.

"I'm sorry," I started quickly before Malfoy could respond. "I just... I've basically been told my whole life that you were a ruffian and it just seemed implausible that you had a conscience based on... And I'm going to stop now."

...

And these are the times I'm grateful for my lack of filter.

I clamped my palm on my forehead.

"Well, to answer your question, yes," Malfoy half-smiled. "Shockingly, I have the suggestion of a conscience."

But he punts children!

"But you punt children!"

Shut up. Shut up. Shut up.

"Punt children?" Malfoy repeated, wearing a worried expression.

No. Punt children and kick puppies and punch owls.

"And kick puppies and punch owls."

I clasped my hand to my mouth.

OH MY GOD, ROSE, WHY CAN YOU NOT SHUT UP!?

I buried my burning visage into my hands.

You know, if I had a sickle for everytime I've said something and it wasn't embarassing...

I'd be completely broke.

"Wait," Malfoy ran a hand through his hair. "You're under the impression that I... kick puppies... and punch owls... and punt children?"

I concealed my eyes with my hands.

"No?" I tried weakly, then peered at him through my fingers. He looked unconvinced.

"I'm sorry," I shook my head. "I say stupid, demented things that mean nothing and make no sense. So I'm just going to leave slowly, yeah? And then hopefully we can just forget about all of this. Sound good? Yeah? Okay, good bye!"

I turned to dart toward the portal, but something pulled me back by the wrist and I revolved around.

You know, I'm getting a tad bit tired of people jerking me around today.

"You are crazy, Weasley," Malfoy informed me, releasing my wrist. "Like really fucking nuts, you know that?"

...

You don't say.

"I know," I admitted sullenly, grasping the door handle. "I'm sorry."

"Wait, you didn't let me finish."

I cocked my head at Malfoy, nonplussed.

"I was going to say that its endearing and I like you, Little Red."

...

Say what?

I scanned the room, searching for another 'Little Red' Malfoy could have been addressing. Because there was no way in the free world that anyone could ever like me.

I finally pointed at myself, "Me?"

"No," he deadpanned. "The bronze pot in the corner."

"That actually seems more plausible."

"No, because that would imply I was talking to inanimate objects. And I'm not the mental one here."

"Yes, actually, it is more plausible, because the bronze pot is a lot more likable than I am."

Malfoy half-smiled incredulously, "You're not serious?"

"I'm completely serious. I mean, look at its shiny exterior. Its literally sparkling. And it aids in making food. Everyone loves food! And then there's me. Who eats ice cream alone in a kitchen. And goes on dates with condiment-covered cat breeders and is stupid enough to believe that something good will come out of confessing-"

I stopped abruptly.

Again, I had hardly planned on dishing the Incident to Dom, my own cousin. Let alone, Malfoy... someone I didn't even know, let alone was forbidden to know.

"Sorry," I forced a laugh, waving off what I had said. "Its stupid. See you."

With that, I - for bordering on the hundredth time - reached for portal to leave.

"So a rough night, I'm assuming?"

I turned around with sigh.

"Eh, not that I recall. No," I shook my head fervently.

Malfoy tilted his head, "No?"

"No," I confirmed.

Malfoy just scrutinized me. As if he were waiting for me to snap or admit I was lying or something.

But, I mean, I wasn't lying.

My night was more like disturbing with a splash of mortifying sprinkled with traumatizing. But mostly traumatizing though. So it wasn't rough.

I lowered myself to the floor criss-cross applesauce style, rubbing my face before carrying on, "Actually, its a long story."

"I see."

"And its embarrassing."

"Weasley, I watched you poorly attempt to convince me that a tub of ice cream was exercise equipment."

"I had my reasons!"

"I am not denying that."

"Can we pretty please just forget about that?"

Malfoy sighed sympathetically, "I would say yes... But I'm not a liar. Unlike some people."

"But- But I'm not generally a liar! Its just that- Okay, but the circumstances were- Ugh!" I poorly endeavored to redeem myself.

"Its truly heartbreaking... watching you struggle."

Frustrated, I pulled my legs to my chest and defeatedly allowed my head to collapse on my knees.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Malfoy laughed. "If I stop being an ass will you tell me your long, embarassing story?"

I narrowed my eyes at him skeptically, " I don't understand, why do you-"

"Curiosity," Malfoy clarified. "Obviously not because I care or anything."

"Well, its really not that big of a deal..."

Malfoy clicked his tongue, "You're tough, Weasley. What will it take you to open up? Coffee? Tea? Veritaserum?"

I tilted my head, nonplussed, "You really want to know?"

"Eh, not particularly," Malfoy said sarcastically, then winked.

I mean, it was sort of... unfeasible, unreal. I had never interacted with Malfoy in my life and now he was kind of encouraging me to talk about my feelings? After I had just completely and utterly gone mad? My cousins didn't even care to converse with me about 'me.' Sure, we talked. But it was mostly about Quidditch. Or their homework and how much more they'd supposedly love me if I completed it.

However, the thing is, my Dad had always advised me to avoid Malfoy. And told me that he was evil... like Grindewald level evil.

But aside from being a little obnoxious, he didn't seem like the dark wizard my father had always painted him to be. Perhaps it was possible that my Dad had miscalculated.

And maybe it was because of my overnight metamorphosis into a terrible, rebellious person, but part of me sort of wanted to believe Malfoy. Believe that someone wasn't 'entirely opposed' to me venting to them.

But... A puppy kicker... You can't just turn your head to those kind of claims.

"I'm not that much of a ruffian, if that's what you're worried about," Malfoy winked again, seemingly reading my mind. "No promises about the Satanic cult though."

Fricktarts... Malfoy wasn't a Legilimens... was he?

Oh Godric, I was so screwed if that were true...

I sighed, tossing the idea of spilling my guts to Malfoy around in my head.

I cleared my head with a deep inhale, and closed my eyes for a second. It didn't matter why Malfoy cared, or was pretending to. It didn't matter that it was Malfoy. I was done. I had nothing to lose anymore.

Well, I mean, aside from my awesome personality.

Right.

"Well... it all started in the library," I began.

Malfoy sat down next to me, leaning forward to rest his chin in his palm, "That is a thrilling introduction, Weasley."

"Actually," I said, ignoring his comment. "It technically all started when I was born. But for the purposes of this story, I'm just going to say it started in the library."

"Okay."

"Then again, to be entirely honest with you, it may have started before the library."

Malfoy heaved an understanding sigh, "Mmm hmm."

"No, no," I scrunched my eyebrows down and stared up at the ceiling in deep thought. "I think it really did start in the library. But in a way, it all transpired afterwards... No, that's entirely erroneous; it really did start in the library..."

"Weasley, can I just ask you now if the rest of the story will be like this? Because if the introduction is this much of the struggle, then the rest will probably be very painful, and I'm just not going to put myself through that."

"I'm sorry," I backed off, embarrassed. "I'm just a really bad storyteller."

"Hey, I'm joking, okay?" he assured me amicably. "Really, keep going. So, it started in the library..."

"But that's the predicament. I really don't know if it started in the library."

"For all intents and purposes," Malfoy maintained his calm, collected tone, "how about it started in the goddamn library? Does that sound good to you?"

I finally carried on, "Okay. So it started - for all intents and purposes - in the library... Which may or may not be true..."

I explained the whole of it to Malfoy, in graphic detail. I thoroughly illustrated every last cringe-worthy feature of this evening's course of events... Which, as you can imagine, became rather uncomfortable in some parts. Like explaining how I had gone on a date with Harold... who incidentally had... ambitious aspirations in the black market of cat breeding. And then I went on to explicate how I had eluded the scooching game like a ninja. And next was the main mortification of the night... Confessing my love to Lysander only to have it be exchanged for a well-meaning 'Thanks.' Expounding upon that experience to Malfoy was almost worst than enduring it the first time. And that's saying something. I carried on with how I went insane on the astronomy tower, and stumbled into the kitchen accidentally. I finished with how there was really no utensils, so I had to... I really don't feel like stressing that last part again.

To my surprise, Malfoy, aside from occasionally punctuating the tale with facetious remarks, was a remarkable listener.

"... And that's when you entered the kitchen...." I finally consummated.

I dared a glance at Malfoy, who was nodding, contemplating, digesting it all.

I understood; It was a lot to absorb at one time.

Then, finally, after about a minute of silence, he cocked his head at me.

He narrowed his grey eyes, and I waited for him to share some deep, intelligent thought. Or perhaps some consoling, insightful words.

"So... you seriously sang Pocketful of Sunshine... that many times?"

...

"Its a calming technique! You promised like three times you would stop judging me about that."

"I am ashamed of you, Weasley."

I huffed with agitation.

"And you deliberately sang it?"

"Yes, I deliberately sang it. We've gone over this eight times now since I first-."

"On purpose?"

"I told you that I was nearly been suffocated by a tuna-smelling, ketchup-covered future breeder of the black cat market... and this is what you're concerned about?"

"Quite frankly, Weasley, yes. I am very concerned about this."

In exasperation, I leaned back.

... And then I yelped with pain as the back of my head collided with the wall.

Well, if nothing else, at least I was blessed with an acute awareness for my surroundings.

"Christ, Weasley, I'm sorry," he apologized.

"Oh, no, it happens a lot, actually. I'm really not conscientious."

"No, I really am sorry," Malfoy's voice was saturated with an apologetic sincerity, and he placed his hand on his heart for emphasis. "I'm sorry that I blamed you for your abominable taste in music. I mean, going by the story, you injure yourself so regularly that your mind is most likely impaired from all the damage. It probably ruined your musical taste and everything."

"Ugh!" I guffawed indignantly, my cheeks burning scarlet.

I half wanted to fire back an equally acrimonious retort, but I felt guilty about it so I settled for, "I- That's ridiculous, I hardly ever injure myself."

Malfoy raised an eyebrow.

"Okay... So, maybe, occasionally. Maybe once in a blue moon."

A blue moon.

I said a blue moon.

"So tripping on your way to the room of requirement... tumbling down the astronomy tower stairs... What is that classified as, may I ask?" Malfoy's face contorted with intrigue.

Uh. Indicators of my sublime grace.

Obviously.

"That's just... Its..." I spat out, looking for a way to preserve my dignity and failing. "Okay! I fell once ascending up the stairs. I didn't 'tumble down them'."

"My apologies, Weasley. Clearly there's a eminent difference between falling up and down the stairs."

You know, I strived to be kind. And I was a humanist... I discerned the reputable qualites in people rather than the reprobate ones. My - effort to be nice, I guess - was all I had, and I would do anything to avoid hurting someone.

But something about Malfoy... I... Well, usually I could suppress any negative judgments or feelings about a person. I could twist what I thought about them into something positive in my head.

But Malfoy was just- just really bad, okay! He was an obnoxious, vexatious, smoking, cursing, puppy-kicking, facetious jerkwadface! And I didn't feel like contorting my image of Malfoy into something favorable. I just kind of wanted to smack the smirk off his face or get dirt on his snazzy shoes.

And I wasn't even sorry.

...

Fine. I was mostly wasn't sorry.

Actually, I feel a little bad.

I mean, he wasn't that contemptible, right?

My rubbed my head, which was literally throbbing with the internal conflict.

"Weasley, you look distressed. I'm not bothering you, I hope?"

An overwhelming guilt infested my stomach, and I widened my eyes at him apologetically, "Oh, no! Of course not. I'm sorry if I made you think that."

It didn't matter that Malfoy... possibly irked me... a little. I hardly wanted him to think that.

Malfoy shook his head and started laughing, "Bloody hell."

I opened my mouth and closed it speechlessly, my eyebrows narrowing suspiciously.

"What?"

"I don't get it. I'm being a prick and you're apologizing to me," Malfoy shaking his head.

"No, you really haven't been irr-"

"Weasley," Malfoy sighed, smirking. "I don't listen to people's words, I read their face."

My mouth involuntarily lip-synced a 'What?', and my eyes were squinted with perplexity.

Now, as a disgrace to the human race, I hardly reserve the privilege to judge anyone, but Malfoy... seemed to be a few fries short of a happy meal.

The dude was really not making sense.

"You have very expressive eyes, Weasley," Malfoy continued. "So, even though your sweet little voice says otherwise... Your eyes clearly read that you want to beat the shit out of me."

...

A wave of severe confusion swept over me.

... I mean, how could someone get that from a pair of irises?

"I don't want to beat you? I'm sorry?" I tried as though I was asking a question, feeling violated from his insight and horribly puzzled and guilty all at once.

"Weasley," Malfoy smiled. "I know you want to tell me off. Just do it. Please do me the favor of telling me I'm a prick."

I scooched back farther with scared eyes, troubled by Malfoy's out-of-place reactions.

"Just say it. I don't have feelings, I promise."

A few seconds of silence ensued, and I looked around the kitchen awkwardly, avoiding Malfoy's request.

...

Dooby da shoe bop...

...

I glanced over, prompting him to say something. But he just continued to intensely stare me and I lowered my eyes.

This is weird.

...

"... There's... erm... a lot of pots and pans in this kitchen," I finally observed after the silence became too uncomfortable.

I... I am not even going to comment about what I just said.

Malfoy turned his neck to examine the kitchen and then nodded, "That is an accurate statement."

"Thank you," I replied, hugging my knees to my chest.

I looked up at the ceiling and eventually succumbed to whistling as the silence dragged. Well, attempted whistling.

"Don't you ever get enervated of it, Weasley?" he finally exhaled.

"Oh, of trying to whistle? Actually I have really powerful alveoli so not really. But I will stop if you want me to."

"Powerful alveo- ? Wait, you were whistling?"

I nodded, then changed my mind, "Well, I mean in my head I was whistling but in reality I was just exhaling since I can't whistle. So yes and no."

Malfoy looked at me for awhile, concerned.

"Okay, but actually I meant enervated of avoiding conflict."

I laughed, brushing off his question. "Are you implying I should be pursuing conflict?"

"No, I mean you seem to avoid conflict at the cost of suppressing everything. It just seems tiring."

For some reason, Malfoy's assessment caused a flood of panic to rise in my chest.

"Weasley, I can appreciate that you're an nice and naive and innocent and you see the best in people, and it seems like its also the root of your problem."

Problem?

"Oh please!" I retorted, suddenly defensive. "I think I have a lot more than one problem."

With a victorious snort, I sat up straighter... until I realized how I actually just....

Defeated myself...

Oh.

"Yeah... that was supposed to come out... not like that," I mumbled quietly, heat rising from my chest to my face.

"Listen, I just think that you're so concerned about hurting everyone else that you're forgetting to protect yourself."

"I don't know what you're talking about," I dismissed, feeling uneasy. "Besides that's just completely irrelevant to-"

"Its not irrelevant," Malfoy responded coolly, unruffled. "That's the whole point of the story."

"What?"

"Don't you see it? Everything that happened is because you don't defend yourself."

"I - What? There's nothing I need to defend myself from."

"Let me think," Malfoy said sarcastically, rapping his chin with his thum. "Maybe Dom? Constantly pressuring you? Getting you into bad situations?"

"She would never force me to do anything I wouldn't have done on my own."

"Right. Right. Like your date. Because I'm sure Harold McLaggen is at the top of your list of most eligible bachelors."

"Well, maybe he is," I suggested.

Malfoy raised his eyebrows as I searched for a supporting reason to my argument.

This might be a challenging one.

"You see, he's rather... He's kind of..." I stammered out as my argument collapsed. "He's very... He's very... quite unique."

Yeah. That's what it is.

"Ahh," he tapped his chin with his thumb. "Very quite unique. You know, you're right. That's a very important quality. Because you can't find a charmer with high-watered, mustard-stained pants just anywhere."

I tried very hard to contort my face into a glower, but smiled in spite of myself.

"Look, Weasley," he ran a hand through his hair. "I can see how much this is all weighing on you, and I just think you deserve better."

I felt my cheeks pinken, and I turned my gaze to the floor awkwardly. "Thank you, but-"

"So why don't you retaliate?"

The question was austerely direct, and I couldn't push away.

I sighed. "I don't know. I think I need to please people and meet their expectations, otherwise I won't be accepted. And I don't want to disappoint anyone or hurt anyone, you know?"

"But are you hurt?"

I paused.

"Yes."

I unlocked my gaze from his grey eyes and exhaled, feeling the weight ascend from my shoulders.

That was the truth, wasn't it? I was obsequious to my cousins, afraid that they wouldn't accept me otherwise. I was the model student, the straightlaced daughter, terrified that my parents wouldn't love me if I didn't meet and exceed their expectations. And everyone else... I was afraid of being ostracized, disliked if I spoke out. Because being a wallflower was a more favorable option than being noticed and loathed.

My reputation and everything I feign to be... Well that's just it. Its all feigning.

Everything I am is just a facade, a mask that I've been hiding under to protect myself. My entire life.

Holy french toast... If that's true...

Then who is Rose?

Malfoy said something, but I barely heard him through my rapidly expanding network of thoughts.

I just blinked my eyes stupidly, continuing to mull over it all, before finally answering.

"This- This is bad."

"What do you mean?"

"Don't you understand, broseph?" I sank to the floor dramatically. "I'M HAVING AN IDENTITY CRISIS!"

"Did you just call me broseph?"

"I'm sorry," I apologized, anxiety abating. "This is just... I don't know I feel like I'm on this fine line between laughing and crying. Which probably doesn't mean anything since I'm not generally emotionally stable, but what I'm trying to articulate is that I just feel very weird about all of this."

"But this is progress, Weasley."

"Progress?"

"Acknowledging the problem is the first step."

I sat up gradually, raising a quizzical eyebrow. "Then what's the second step?"

"Its an intricate program, Weasley, a series of progressive steps. The second step is believing that a power greater than yourself can cure you. The third-"

"Wait, you think I need to be cured?" I asked incredulously.

"You don't necessarily need to be cured of niceness. Dragon pox patients don't need to be cured of dragon pox. But in both scenarios, treatment is probably the best course of action unless you want to spend your remaining days wallowing in freakish misery."

I craned my neck forward in dubiety, "So you're essentially saying that I'm going to eternally wallow in freakish misery?"

"You're taking my words out of context. I said that you're going to suffer in freakish misery unless you're treated."

I gesticulated with my arms in an effort to communicate, "But, I mean, this isn't even a disease, this is my personality!"

"So?" Malfoy flicked an invisible piece of lint off his shoulder.

"So a personality can't be treated because a personality can't be diseased."

"But it can be infected."

"So now I have an infected personality?"

"No," he assured me. "You've always had an infected personality."

"What?" I panicked, my voice an octave higher than usual.

Malfoy laughed, "Don't worry, its actually the preferred alternative. I mean, your personality isn't irreversibly impaired. Its just infected... With destructive habits."

I paused, put off by Malfoy's assertment.

Destructive habits?

I mean, this was coming from a smoking, cursing, delinquent! And he had the nerve to tell me I exhibited damaging behavior?

"I really don't think I have destructive habits."

"Denial is not just a river in Egypt, love."

"But I really don't! I mean, I don't drink, or smoke, or swear-"

"Wow," Malfoy put his hands on his cheeks in mock awe, "It sounds like you lead a truly riveting existence."

"I do, actually," I agreed cheerfully, disregarding his sarcasm.

"Of course you do."

I rubbed my forehead, trying to extinguish my annoyance.

I generally didn't get frustrated with anyone, I really didn't. But something about Malfoy - I didn't know if it was his cocky smirk or his perpetually calm, cool tone or constant sarcasm or just everything - well, it just really brought out this bellicose side of me. And I didn't understand it.

"Okay, but I really don't have destructive habits!" I imparted adamantly after a few seconds of silence.

"You're incredibly stubborn, Weasley."

"And I suppose that's one of my 'destructive habits'?"

"No, actually."

"Well since you have so much insight into my psychology," I told him contemptously, folding my arms, "why don't you just tell me what my destructive habits are, Malfoy?"

"Ooh," he half-smiled, amused. "Sarcasm and last names. Am I finally getting to you, Weasley?"

I quelled my tenseness before shaking my head to indicate negatory.

"Good, then I'll tell you your destructive habits. You ignore your own feelings and prioritize others. And you let people take advantage of you."

...

I blinked at Malfoy, unnerved.

But then I thought about it, weighing all the ideas in my head.

I mean, what had I really accomplished in behaving the way I did? My cousins didn't love me anymore just because I was assumed accountability for their homework. I still wasn't anymore of a favorite just because I played by the rules. Trying to make everyone happy may have earned me a spot in Weasley-Potter family, but I still didn't truly belong. What was my purpose there, really?

And, if I was going to be honest with myself, I was enervated, sad even. Because I knew that I wasn't part of my family, really. The only reason I 'fit in' was because I let them use me. But the truth was that I was utterly disposable. I mean, is it possible that my cousins don't even love me? Maybe. Maybe they just love what I do for them. And, if that's true, that really hurts.

In the end, all I had achieved was providing myself with a false sense of belonging, avoiding confrontation, and avoiding hurting everyone else. But the consequences outweighed these supposed 'achievements'; I really don't even know who I am under my guise. And, I mean, wasn't who I was - or had made myself into - the reason - or one of the reasons- that Sander had rejected me?

I sat up and grasped my temples.

I turned to Malfoy, my eyes saucers, as if I could communicate my epiphany with my expression.

My mind swirled chaotically with the realization.

When Sander rejected me, he had told me I was 'too good.' He was afraid of 'corrupting me.' I had originally accepted that, not bothering to analyze it. But now I understand perfectly.

What Sander had implied was that I wasn't his type. I was juvenile, sweet, pristine, innocent. He had even called me 'adorable.'

But those were hardly the qualities he desired. He wanted contrasting attributes. He wanted everything that I wasn't. Boldness, assertiveness, wildness, sexiness. Someone who didn't abide by every last rule.

Of course Sander didn't like me in that way I wanted him to. How could I have not grasped this before?

He wanted a bad girl, and I practically epitomized goody goody.

"Do you think that I'm a goody goody?" I asked Malfoy.

"No," he dismissed. "You're blatantly a delinquent."

I ignored his sarcasm, "I think that's the entire predicament."

"With what?"

"With everything. I mean, everything I embody is completely wrong..." I said, then continued explaining how my disposition, reputation completely didn't work.

"... I just wish I could be different," I finished. "Not, you know, a 'goody' or whatever."

I waited a moment before looking at Malfoy, who was gazing at me nonplussed.

"Is Rose Weasley," Malfoy studied me quizically, "implying that she wants to be bad?"

Bad.

The concept of badness frightened and thrilled me.

"I think so?" I answered in a small voice. "But how?"

"How to be bad, you mean?"

I nodded.

"Well, you see, Weasley, I'm not sure if its a learnable concept. Its more of an inherent trait."

I laughed, "That's ridiculous. I'm sure 'badness' could be acquired."

"Not in your case."

I rose to my feet, putting a disgruntled hand on my hip, "What? How hard can not following the rules be?"

Malfoy stood up in turn, "So you mean to say that being bad is easy?"

I shrugged, smiling.

"Ah. I see," Malfoy mused, nodding. "Fine. Curse right now."

...

I stopped, "Curse?"

"Curse. Say 'fuck' or something."

I widened my eyes.

"I'm not going to say that!"

"Exactly," he responded smugly.

"But its not because I'm not capable of saying it," I articulated fervently. "Its just not classy."

"Weasley, I witnessed you eating ice cream without a utensil. If I'm going to be honest, that doesn't sound like the behavior of someone who is particularly concerned with class."

I covered my face, "Why can't you just let that go?"

"Because."

"Ugh!"

"Listen, Weasley," Malfoy finally said. "What I was trying to say is that badness is an art, a style. You can't just pick it up."

"But you said I could treat my personality infection," I reminded him.

"You can treat your personality infection, you just can't master badness."

"Isn't that the same thing?"

"Hardly. You can lose your destructive habits, develop a healthy personality, sure. But mastering the art of being bad is a different matter entirely."

I sighed. Malfoy was impossible.

I mean, where did he get off claiming to be an expert in badness? Sure, malevolence was practically in his blood. He came from a long line of Slytherins, afterall. And he was smoked and cursed and -

Wait.

I clamped my hands to my mouth when it came to me.

It was brilliant.

"You," I looked at him, "You could teach me how to be bad."

"Oh no," Malfoy chuckled, shaking his hair, "No no no no no."

"Come on, you would be the perfect candidate. You make horrible choices, you always get into trouble! Please?"

"As much as I appreciate you pointing out what a delinquent I am, the answer is no."

"Why?" I begged.

"I'm - Look, you're right. I'm a delinquent. I'm reckless and make bad choices. And I'm not going to lie, I enjoy that immensely. But I'm not going to be responsible for corrupting you, okay?"

"Is this because of the nonsense you were spewing out earlier? About badness being an art and how not everyone can become proficient in it and whatever?"

"No, this is because I don't want to burn in hell."

"Well," I droned slowly, looking for a way to invalidate his fear. "You wouldn't really be sinning if you're doing someone a favor."

Malfoy swayed from side to side, seemingly entertaining the idea, before frowning.

"Right... but doing a favor indicates I'm doing something good."

I turned my palms upwards at him in curiosity, "And?"

"And I'm very opposed to doing good things."

My countenance crumbled, and suddenly the prospect of corruption became more hopeless than exhilarating.

"But I'll do it."

I looked dubiously at Malfoy who was propped up on the table with his elbows.

"I'd be happy to educate you in badness, Weasley."

"Really?" I smiled. "Why?"

"No reason of consequence," he winked. "Besides I'm inevitably going to burn in hell. So why not seize every opportunity to make bad choices, right?"

I eyed him suspiciously.

"Don't worry about it," he half-smiled. "So you want to do this?"

I nodded, ignoring the ominous feeling in my gut.

"So how about we meet in the abandoned classroom on the sixth floor at, say, eleven Monday night?"

My abdominals felt as though they had taken a bullet.

Past curfew?

Forbidden classroom?

With Scorpius Malfoy?

I winced and squinted my eyes. Oh God, I was deplorable.

"Okay," I swallowed painfully.

"So its set then."

"Yeppers," I cringed, still not having entirely recovered.

Malfoy brushed a strand of hair out of my face, "You all right, Weasley?"

"No because that's past curfew and the abandoned classroom is off limits and I'm conflicted about all of this!" I blurted out involuntarily, my anxiety overwhelming me.

"You don't have to do this," he half-grinned. "If its too much."

I smoothed down my hair, recollecting myself, "No, no. I've got this. Its totally cool. I'm cool.... So Monday you said?"

"Monday," he confirmed, wearing his amused expression again.

I clapped my hands together, "Mmhmm mmhmm. Monday. All righty. That's delightful. Even though its a school night in a forbidden classroom."

"And you're sure you're okay with that?"

"Okay? I'm-"

I searched for a superior synonym to okay.

"-very okay," I finally finished, not exactly achieving the effect I wanted.

"So, I guess I better go," I gestured toward the door.

"Do you want me to walk you?"

"I'm good, thank you. And, um..." I paused, wondering how to phrase it. "Thank you for...you know."

"Not a problem."

"See you on Monday then," I grinned back, grasping the door handle.

Malfoy leaned against the wall, and extracted his cigaette pack, "Goodnight, Weasley."

I began to turn the knob, but then the curiosity consumed me and I rotated around decidedly, "Why are you doing this?

"I told you. For no reason of consequence," he winked, and I turned back to the portal.



"And by the way, Weasley.."

I gyrated around, "Yes?"

"How the hell did you eat all that ice cream?"

I blushed then ensconced my face, "Why can't we move past this?"

"No, I'm actually very impressed, Weasley. Its just bewildering that someone your size could consume that much, and I want to know how."

"Well maybe its bewildering that your shoes are that shiny, and I want to know how," I challenged playfully, switching the focus off of my gluttony.

Malfoy examined his shoes.

"Well maybe its bewildering that you could think you have feelings for a prat like Scamander."

...

Suddenly, the friendly mood collapsed.

"What do you mean by that?" I asked timidly, a little defensive, a little hurt.

"Oh, come on, Little Red, I'm joking," Malfoy said quickly with his half-smile.

I unfolded my arms and forced a weak laugh, "Oh, right."

"He seems like a..." Malfoy swallowed, then looked at the wall for inspiriation to complete the sentence "... A nice guy."

The butterflies suddenly returned to my stomach, and I smiled at my feet, "Yeah, he's great, isn't he?"

He coughed, "Uh...yeah."

I laughed, embarrassed by asking Malfoy about Sander, then waved my comment away, "I'm sorry, I'm just-"

"Its okay."

A few awkward seconds passed and I gestured towards the door, "So I should probably..."

"Goodnight, Weasley," he drawled with his half-grin.

I waved goodbye to Malfoy, because I honestly had probably already verbally said a farewell forty times, and it was honestly just getting excessive.

He tipped his head in reply, wearing his usual smirk, and I entered the hallway and shut the portal.

Finally, I headed towards the Gryffindor Tower, feeling oddly at peace for once.

...

Wait. Oddly at peace?

...

When the muffins have I ever felt oddly peace? I mean, there must be something to-

I halted in my tracks as if my body had abruptly shut down. The sensation of worry hit me with the force of train.

Holy ships... What was I doing?

I had not only fraternized with Scorpius Malfoy, the enemy... I had agreed to receive badness lessons from him.

I scampered down the hallway, biting my nails and wondering what I had been thinking.

Maybe the ice cream had addled my brains? I mean, I have questionable judgment already... add some sugar and I'd probably assent to jumping off a cliff. And, let's face it, making a deal with Malfoy was essentially the same thing. Both activities were risky, utterly stupid, and ultimately suicidal. I mean, there was a chance I could endure both events, but even if I managed to survive I would wind up critically injured and completely dysfunctional . You know, in the case that my dad found out. Which was highly likely since my cousins are somehow in the know about everything remotely scandalous that transpires at Hogwarts. And, unfortunately, all have a mouth the size of Daily Prophet columnist.

...

Oh, God.

What have I done?





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PLEASE REVIEW! PRETTY PLEASE? IF YOU WANT TO COMMENT BUT DON'T KNOW WHAT TO COMMENT ABOUT, HERE ARE SOME THINGS YOU SHOULD CONSIDER INFORMING ME ABOUT: WHAT YOU THINK OF MALFOY, WHAT YOU THINK OF MALFOY, WHAT YOU THINK OF MALFOY, AND WHAT YOU THINK OF MALFOY. Thank you, lovelies! :D I hope this wasn't as awful as I thought it was. I apologize for the wait and length as well. Thank you again!


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