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Chapter 16 : Fight
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For Haley. Just for making me a better person.
My jaw was damn near on the carpet. I pulled away from the closet, taking a step back (while almost tripping over myself), and took in the boy before me. Scorpius was leaning against the doorframe, arms crossed. He was in a light rain jacket, a red polo, and his standard khaki pants. He was smirking and I couldn’t help but smile in return.
“Fancy seeing you here,” I said.
“I may have mentioned a few truths to your father,” he said. “And asked if I could join you today.”
“He agreed?” I remembered the look on Dad’s face when I came home. It didn’t look like he’d be letting anyone join me, let alone the boy I’d snuck out to see.
“He did.” Scorpius nodded, his eyes moving down my body and then back to my face. “You have the most unique selection of pajamas.”
They may have had dogs on them.
“They were a gift,” I muttered. “So are we really playing board games with my family?” I paused, unsure of exactly what to say. “And you are willingly participating in this?”
He nodded. “I’ll wait in the living room while you change.” Scorpius shot me a wink. “It’s high time everyone witnessed you losing to me.”
I threw a pillow at the door. Git.
He was on the sofa when I entered, helping my father set up a wizarding board game about escaping from Gringotts that came out after the wizarding war. He placed each colored pawn on the starting section and smiled when he noticed me.
My stomach exploded with nerves. Well, he never asked either.
I felt like a fourteen-year-old girl talking to her twenty-year-old crush for the first time. Absolute rubbish. I had spent the last almost-month hanging out with him and now I wanted to throw up just looking at him.
Thank Godric he was wearing a shirt.
Not that it wasn’t tight enough against him.
I took a seat across from him on an ottoman, Mum to my right. Hugo sat beside Scorpius and starting giving him skeptical glances like he was suddenly my protector. Or at least gave a damn about me for more than the time it took to acquire the remote.
Mum asked Scorpius about his injuries. He smiled when he answered. He really did look a great deal better than he had the day before. Dad got a bit more clarification on the size of the bear. Hugo made a few snarky comments about tying shoes properly.
I kept mostly to myself, moving my pawn away from dragons and into two or three different carts. I tried not to smile, but it was kind of fun watching Scorpius charm the pants off my parents. It definitely wasn’t something I saw every day, especially with my mum as observant as she was.
Hugo won the first round, which he claimed was because he was the only one actually paying attention. I didn’t disagree. The rest of us were laughing over a story Dad told us about Mr. Malfoy and a ferret. I stopped listening halfway through to take my turn, but Scorpius was doubled over in laughter.
We were like that through the entire first half of the afternoon – laughing, talking, and beating each other. And in Hugo’s case, gloating about it. We paused to refill juice drinks and grab bags of crisps from the kitchen. Dad even demonstrated the proper way of constructing a house from playing cards. This time I had a mysterious sneeze coming on. Then I had fifty-two cards in my lap to pick up.
Eventually, Hugo traipsed back upstairs to start a reading for the fall (yeah right) and my parents began putting on their shoes to head into town and buy the last couple days worth of groceries until we were scheduled to leave.
I poked my head through the kitchen door. “Hey.”
Dad looked up. “You’re going to ask to leave.”
I blushed. The thought of fishing had sounded rather appealing.
“When will you be back?” Mum asked, tying her hair up in an attempt to combat the frizziness.
“She’s grounded,” Dad said.
“Yeah. So grounded her boyfriend can come play games with us all day,” she replied, rolling her eyes. My cheeks darkened. “Sounds like quite a punishment.”
Dad sputtered a little. “We’re supposed to stick to things, you know.”
“Clearly you stuck to them by letting the boy in the house.” Mum grabbed her rain jacket and an umbrella. “Don’t force me to go through the list of times we’ve decided on something only to have you cave to – what do you call it – her big brown eyes? You’re a git. Let’s go.”
Dad grumbled something and looked over at me. “Home before dinner,” he said and held the door for Mum as they left.
I jumped as Scorpius’ arms moved around my waist, pulling me back into his body. “You sure you want to go fishing in the rain?”
“It’s not storming.” I peered through the windows, trying to keep my mind off how good his touch felt. “It’s just a light drizzle. It’s making everything foggier, which is pretty.”
“It is.” He kissed my cheek. “I had fun with your family.”
“I’d hate to see what you consider boring,” I said with a laugh, untangling myself from his grip so I could pull on my rain boots beside the back door. “We’ll have to find some poles though. There might be some in the shed.”
Scorpius chuckled. “I may be spontaneous, Rose, but I always come prepared.” He reached up, running a hand through his light hair, and met my eyes. “I stashed the poles and bait under your deck before I came up here. I had a feeling we might be able to sneak away for some fishing time.”
It boggled my mind how confident Scorpius was. Maybe confident wasn’t the correct word. Sure of himself? Prepared? Smirky?
He made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. He made me completely unsure of myself, but completely sure of myself at the same time. He made my heart race.
Scorpius made me want to kiss that smirk right off his face.
“Are you ready or are you going to stare a bit longer?” he asked and I blushed. Again.
“I’m ready.” I grabbed the extra umbrella from its holder and moved out into the light rain. It pattered against the fabric. Scorpius followed and pulled his hood over his head, smiling a little. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and led the way down to where he had carefully hidden two fishing poles and the same plastic tackle box as before.
“It’s been my experience fish bite better when it’s raining,” Scorpius explained as we moved into the trees. He hoisted the poles over his shoulder so they dangled behind him. I followed a small distance back, not in favor of getting smacked in the face with a hook.
“It’s been my experience I can’t get the bait in the water to get them to bite anyway,” I called. With each step my boots sank a little further into the mud.
“We’ll work on that.” Scorpius chuckled. “You taught me how to paint after all.”
More like I showed you some colors before our mouths were attached for a while. Ugh.
And now my face was reddening again.
“I’ll need quality lessons,” I called, trying to concentrate on the conversation at hand.
Not kissing Scorpius.
In the sand.
“I’ll give them to you.” He held a branch so I could move past without getting nailed in the face, and we continued down a steady slope toward the lake. Everything was misty. Even the moss was filled with moisture and dripping down the trunks of trees. The ground squished under my steps. Water fell from leaves when the wind blew.
It was a strangely peaceful day in the mountains.
“Did you mean what you said?” I asked after a while, brushing past a few bushes to stay on the path he’d created. “About school.”
“How I’m blond and you’re not?” he asked, snickering. “I meant that.”
I rolled my eyes. “You might as well tell me what you think is going to happen because I’m at a loss. One minute you’re witty and charming and romantic and the next minute you’re snarky and mysterious.”
“I can’t be both?” Scorpius asked, moving to the left to avoid a sketchy-looking vine.
“When it involves me feelings I’d appreciate being informed.”
“Are you not informed?”
I groaned. “I don’t know what I am. I’m just unsure.” I felt like I was talking in circles. He was answering my questions with more questions and it was making my head hurt. Did he do that with his professors? I thought back to our previous courses together and I couldn’t remember. All I remembered was Dom talking about how fit he would look without a shirt.
“I don’t know what you need to be sure about,” Scorpius said. He stepped out onto the sand, which was damp, and dried it with his wand, creating a canopy of tree branches overhead to keep it dry. He was better with spells than I gave him credit for.
I stared. “Nevermind. Let’s just fish, okay?” I closed the umbrella and tossed it to the side, grabbing a pole from him. I let Scorpius delicately bait the hook and then waited for him to show me (again) the way to cast.
He didn’t reply. Instead, he baited his own hook and moved a few steps into the water. “You press this button, flick your wrist, wait for it to be level with your body, and let go.” Scorpius demonstrated, sending the hook far out into the water. Then he reeled it in, catching a bit of weeds he plucked off with ease.
“Right.” I pressed the button skeptically as I moved into the water. Then I flicked my wrist in the same way he had, releasing the button and sending the bobber out into the water. It wasn’t very far and it was way left of where I had aimed, but it wasn’t in the tree. That was a start.
“Well done, Gryffindor,” Scorpius said, chuckling.
I rolled my eyes and reeled it in. Some weeds, but no fish. I tried again. This time it was a little straighter. I could see the rain hitting the lake and it calmed me a little. I didn’t know why my heart was beating so quickly. Why my breathing was so unsteady.
I didn’t look at him as I cast again, this time leaving the line in the water just enough so that if something bit the bobber would dip under. I dug a hole and stuck the pole in it, retreating to the dry sand under the tree.
Scorpius reeled his line in several more times. He looked content, standing with his legs shoulder-width apart in the water. I watched his posture. Straight-backed. Grandeur. Like he was the one who would tell the fish if they would live or die today.
I wondered if he knew how truly mysterious he could be.
I thought about his answer a couple weeks ago. About how he just wanted satisfaction. I still had no idea what he meant, but I was closer to figuring it out as I laid sprawled out in the sand, eyes on his back. The way the water moved against his rubber boots. How it stretched out onto the sand. I didn’t feel like moving. Or grabbing my pole when the bobber began to sink. Instead, I just let my vision blur and listened to the rain hit the water and leaves and sand around me.
“You caught a fish,” Scorpius said, knocking me back into reality. He was holding my pole. Attached to the hook was a small, grey fish wiggling in the air.
“So I did,” I murmured, not moving.
“Are you going to touch it?” he asked.
“I am not.” I rolled onto my back, looking at him.
Scorpius stuck his own pole into the hole I’d made in the sand and pulled the fish from the hook. He threw it back and then turned to me. “Something on your mind?”
“Nothing,” I replied because it was true.
“Do you want to cast again?” he said.
I moved back to my feet, dusting the sand off my clothes, and cast the line back into the water. I was quiet, examining the treeline surrounding the water. Hopefully there would be no sign of bears. Or mountain lions. I reeled in the line and cast again. Then again.
Scorpius cleared his throat beside me.
I focused on the shades of blues, greens, and greys of the water. The way the rain hit it reminded me of an Impressionist painting.
“I meant what I said,” he said quietly. “About the train. About sitting beside you. I meant every word.”
I thought about what that would mean. Our compartment was usually me, Albus, Dom, Albus’ girl of the summer who would normally be dumped in a matter of hours following the train ride, Louis if his mates hated him that day, and Roxanne. I tried to imagine Scorpius there, beside me. Holding my hand. Telling everyone about playing board games with Hugo and all his snarky comments.
“And at school?” I asked.
“Why don’t you tell me what you think, Rose?” Scorpius asked, dropping his pole. “For a person so caught up in what other people think, maybe you should tell me what you want.”
“I don’t know what I want.”
“I think you’re lying.”
I stared. “I’m not lying,” I shot back. “I’m trying to make sense of it, okay?”
“Make sense of what?” Scorpius said, his voice raising. “Everything is out in the open. Is it not crystal clear? I told you I fancy you. I took you on a pretty damn good date. I came over and played board games with your family. Do you really need me to spell it out in plain English? Are you honestly that daft?”
“Am I –?” I gaped at him. Of all the rude, insufferable things to ask someone. “Just because I don’t want to assume anything about something unsaid does not make me daft,” I snapped. “If I recall, you were seeing someone else up until I found out about it so forgive me if I don’t put weight on anything I can’t put a label on just in case you go home in five days and another girl finds your journal about me and I’m just some girl you’re seeing.” I threw my pole down and marched back to the dry sand, snatching up the umbrella.
“You forgave me for that!” Scorpius cried.
“You can barely even say what you really mean,” I said. “You were right, you know. Boys are just cowards.” I opened the umbrella and walked into the trees, fuming.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” he yelled, following me. His footfalls were hard, snapping twigs quickly.
“Did I stutter?” I rolled my eyes, walking faster.
“Oh so now that you jump off waterfalls and save blokes from bleeding to death suddenly you’re a daredevil!” Scorpius said. “Let me tell you something, Rose, you have a long way to go.”
“Like you would know.”
“I would!” he shot back. “You didn’t want to so much as disappoint or disobey anyone a couple weeks ago and now you’re sneaking out after midnight to scale a house and destroy flower frames!”
I rounded on him. “You were injured, okay? If I thought you were fine I would have stayed home and slept.”
“You knew I was fine.” He stopped just feet from me. “You just wanted to see me. So now you’re sneaking out and breaking rules, but you can’t just stop to enjoy what you have. You have to put a label on it or it’s not real.” Scorpius took a step closer. “What part of this isn’t real to you?”
My eyes narrowed. “The same part that keeps you from being truly honest about anything.”
“Why can’t you just be happy now that you’re brave and all-knowing?” Scorpius’ voice was filled with arrogance. I hated it.
“Because I don’t like the idea of happiness resting on an idea.”
“It doesn’t rest on an idea,” he said. “It is the idea. It’s real. You just refuse to see it because you want everything tied with tight little bows and presented to the world.”
“What’s wrong with that?” I said loudly, thrusting my umbrella to the side. “What in the world is wrong with that!”
“That’s what’s not real,” Scorpius seethed, his gray eyes etching into mine. “That’s your stupid mind convincing you of security.” His thumbs pressed into my shoulders and my back hit the tree hard. Then Scorpius was kissing me, his hands in my hair and his body against mine.
I couldn’t think. I kissed him back hungrily, my arms around his neck. His fingers moved against my ribs to my hips and then to my thighs, grabbing my legs and hoisting me up, legs around his torso. He didn’t break the kiss. Nothing broke the kiss. Everything was a blur of mint and rain, soaking my hair and eyelashes.
I tightened my legs around him, back arching as I kissed him. My fingers clutched the collar of his shirt, nails digging into the fabric. I forgot where we were. What we were talking about. My shirt was being ripped by the bark. I didn’t care. I didn’t care about much of anything.
Just the feeling of his lips against mine, hands under my thighs to hold me against the tree. His chest against mine, heaving since it was hard to breathe. It was muggy. Everything was muggy.
When he pulled away, Scorpius held me against the trunk and used his left hand to wipe away rain from my face. He released a breath, laughing a little. His cheeks were pink and his blond hair was sticking up at strange angles, pieces also pressed to his ears and neck. I ran my fingers through it.
“I’m sorry I haven’t asked,” he said in a hoarse voice. He didn’t seem to care the rain was coming down harder now in chilly sheets.
“I’m sorry I made you think you had to.” I leaned in, kissing him again, this time slowly. Everything tasted watery now. “You were right.”
“I think a Gryffindor just admitted she was wrong,” he muttered into my lips.
“Don’t push it.”
Scorpius chuckled and kissed me again. “We’re going to get sick if we stay out in the rain,” he murmured, smirking.
“Is it strange of me to not want to go home for a few weeks before Hogwarts starts?” I asked, moving my arms back around his neck and pressing my forehead against his. I closed my eyes.
“I’m just glad you said it before I did,” he replied. He placed me back on my feet and stepped away. “You’re soaked.”
“Your fault.” I shrugged a little and picked up the umbrella, shaking away the water. “At least this time you can’t see through my clothes.”
“An unfortunate oversight, I confess.” Scorpius wrapped an arm around my shoulders and led the way back through the trees to the beach. “So what do you make of all this?”
I took a moment to listen to the rain on the leaves around us. It reminded me of impatient taps of fingers. “I like you,” I said.
“Yeah?” Scorpius noted with a smirk.
“What do you make of it?”
“Well,” Scorpius said, pausing for drama, “I like you. As you know. And it can be whatever you want it to be.” He squeezed my shoulders. “Just know if someone so much as looks at you in a flirtatious way I may have to accidentally recreate my own bear wounds on them. It will be purely accidental of course.”
I was thankful to reach the canopy of trees and dried myself with my wand. “What did you paint?” I asked.
“The latticework frame,” he replied with a cheeky grin.
“You did not.” I spun, meeting his eyes.
“If you don’t believe me it’s on my dresser.” Scorpius used his wand to extend the trees a bit further in order to grab both our forgotten poles. The bait was gone from the hooks, probably nibbled off by hungry minnows. “It was a valiant move, by the way. Climbing that to get on the porch roof. Can’t say I would have thought of that. And with my parents’ window open. You have guts, Weasley.”
I took my pole from him and replaced the bait. “I didn’t mean to break it. I’ll replace it.”
“Mum already fixed it,” Scorpius replied, laughing. “She needed something to do while she was on forced bed rest this morning.” He cast his line, watching it intently. I did the same. “We have five days left, you know.”
“I can count.” I smirked.
“What do you want to do with it?”
Most days had been entirely unplanned. Going to town. Walking through the woods. Running from storms. Eating grilled cheese. Trying on zebra tops at boutique. I made a face. “Hang out?” I offered, laughing.
“Thrilling,” Scorpius teased, reeling in his line and casting it out again after untangling a few weeds from the hook. “We’ll have plenty to tell people when we get back to Hogwarts. A month of trees, humidity, and hanging out.” He waved his arms in the air dramatically. “Yes, you should have been there! A lot of casual conversation about Rose’s younger brother, some thrilling devouring of mystery berries, and we even discussed the giant squid at great length.”
I slapped his shoulder (not the hurt one). “What are you going to tell them about me, hmm?”
“I’ll tell them you’re not as sheltered as originally anticipated?” He smirked and dodged a second hit. “I’m only teasing. I’ll tell them you often fish for compliments.” He didn’t dodge well enough the third time. “Kidding! What do you want me to tell them?”
“How I’m the most wonderful person you’ve ever met,” I said with a confident nod.
“And the most modest,” I noted.
“Modesty is little more than a white lie,” I shot back. “As someone once told me.” I cast my line again and reeled it in, though this time there was a pull to the hook, bending the pole forward. I squeaked and Scorpius dropped his own pole to help me reel it in.
“Reel!” he said, laughing as he held the pole, arms around my middle.
“I bloody am!” The pole was bending forward so far I was sure it would snap until I heard a loud crack and both of us were thrown backward onto the sand. Lucky for me, Scorpius broke my fall with an unceremonious “ompf!”
It did snap. Three quarters from the end.
That damn fish snapped my pole right in half and the line was still spewing out of the holder. All I could do was stare, open-mouthed.
“Sorry about your pole,” I said, stunned.
“Maybe it’s better this way.” He put his arms around me as we sat in the sand and watched the water swallow the rest of it. “It may have eaten us too.” I heard him chuckle in my ear, tightening his hold.
The rain settled into a steady drizzle, sounding more like a bathroom shower than a storm. I let out a sigh. “I can’t say when I saw you in a creek with your silly rain boots I expected to be here, now.”
He leaned back onto his palms and I lounged against his chest. “Considering you ran off with my clothes, how could you possibly have expected that?”
I did do that, didn’t I? And then he showed up at my house in his knickers, something I would be sure to make note of when explaining what a good time we had over the summer.
“You deserved it.” I chuckled, digging my heels into the sand. I tilted my chin to find his gaze. “I’m glad we visited the same place.”
“For completely different reasons.” Scorpius smiled a little. “Thank you, Rose.”
“For?” I raised a brow. After all, I was pretty sure that sentiment should be the other way around.
“Everything.” He kissed me and went back to staring at the lake. A scene from a painting.
As promised, I made it home before dinner. Scorpius stayed through the meal after helping Mum tear the lettuce for salad and peel carrots. He humored her by wearing a spare apron and modeling it like on a catwalk.
I tried to focus on chopping potatoes, but I kept getting distracted by him. Not in the way I had before – shirtless. No, this time I kept looking over with a smile. That was one thing about Scorpius: I was always smiling. I guess before the vacation I hadn’t really given him the time of day. Not that he had given me more than a boat ride.
While he stirred the potatoes in boiling water I thought about the ride before our first year began. Touching the squid. Talking with Scorpius.
Things were so black and white back then. At eleven, isn’t everything?
What had I considered my first year? I didn’t care about the way my thighs looked. I hadn’t really looked into the other houses (except what I knew of Gryffindor from James). I hadn’t been exposed to diseases or terror or sleepless nights or the pull behind your navel when you begin to fancy someone so much they’re all you think about. No, on that boat ride everything was innocent. Either you did or you didn’t. Either you liked squid or you didn’t. You were brave or you weren’t.
I remembered his eyes. The way he stared back at me, hair looking blonder by the light of the boathouse.
“I’ve always been taught it’s girls who have to be brave.”
Did he still think that? After all, he was the one venturing into the woods alone, pushing people off cliffs, jumping off waterfalls, and talking to a girl with a very protective father (who may or may not own a shotgun).
Then again, he also closed off his feelings, often didn’t confront things head-on, and got antsy when he had to try on something not from a department store.
Why would girls have to be braver?
Was I braver now, at seventeen? Or was I the same girl from the boat. Was he the same boy? Hardly. How could I be?
I took my House seriously. I wanted to make my parents proud. I wanted to make everyone proud.
Except myself? Why were these things so complicated? How had I only just now realized I wanted to paint forever? I wanted to paint everything. Every wrinkled expression and shade of the sky. I wanted to paint water and tinted glass bottles and fountain pens.
I wanted to paint bravery. But if I had to paint bravery, it would be in the image of the canvas Scorpius already had on his dresser.
A/N: Thank you all for your continued support!
I hope you enjoyed the chapter. Also - because I've been asked, the story will be 22 chapters total.
UP NEXT: Someone goes missing. Thirty days are cut short.
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