Chapter 2 : Maybe
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THE BEGINNING OF THE END
Chapter II: Maybe
He was sitting on the tattered seats of the compartment, thumbing through an old copy of the Head's rulebook.
Well, he looked….
Rose hadn't expected that word to jump to her mind, and was surprised when it did. Peaceful?
But it was true. His platinum, almost white, locks were bathed golden in the light of the mid-afternoon sun, and the corners of his lips were turned upwards in what would look like, to one unfamiliar with Scorpius, a smile.
He'd looked so different last year, when issues with his father had come to a head and he had been so on edge about everything that he'd forgotten, for one heart-stopping moment still captured in the fibers of a woolen Ravenclaw scarf, that he hated her.
"Staring again, Weasley?" The characteristic smirk caught Rose off-guard and she jumped a little before collecting what was left of her dignity and sitting opposite him.
"Not at all," she retorted primly, collecting her scattered wits, "Just committing to memory a very unusual sight: Malfoy holding a book right side up for once."
The shadow of a flush spread across Scorpius' pale cheeks. "Okay, Weasley, that was one time and it was in History of Magic…"
Rose made a face at him, but inwardly let out a breath of relief that she didn't even know she'd been holding. They'd reverted to their old, teasingly spiteful banter; there was none of the awkwardness or tension that she'd been anticipating.
Well, none on his side, anyway.
Obviously, what happened that night had been an aberration, an anomaly chalked up to fatigue and circumstance that could soon be forgotten.
Rose told herself that she was relieved that it'd meant nothing to him. She was so wonderfully persuasive that she almost convinced herself.
"Whatever you say, Malfoy," she demurred, and looked down to the scrap of parchment she'd scribbled notes on. Eager to finish up the meeting, she rushed out, "So I divided the house Prefects – this list should cover settling in the first-years tonight, and patrols for the next week."
He snatched the paper out of her hand and rolled his eyes. "I've already sent McGonagall a schedule for patrols for the first term, so we won't be needing this. Didn't you get my owl over the summer?"
"I – what? No, I didn't," Rose said, flustered. "So then why did you call this meeting?"
He stood up, turned to leave, and he was suddenly too big, his pressed black robes seeming to fill every cranny of the compartment. "Ask McGonagall. It would seem like we're done h – "
Before he could finish, Rose had risen and grabbed his wrist. He turned, startled, his eyes widening for a brief second before he composed himself.
Their faces were too close together. Rose could feel him, rather than hear him, breathing. It didn't help that she was still grasping the material of his cloak, either.
"Malfoy, like it or not, we are doing this together," she hissed, flustered both by their proximity and his easy dismissal of her proposal. "You don't get to do whatever you feel like just because you can – those days are over. Get used to it."
He pried her hand off his wrist and cast a cool eye over her. "Easy, Weasley," he warned, his voice low and dangerous.
He leaned closer, like he was about to say something else, but then seemed to think better of it and strode out, leaving Rose alone in the compartment with a spinning head and an erratic heartbeat.
The feast, the Sorting, and the rest of the traditional first-day-back activities had passed in a whirlwind of chaos and adrenaline, and Rose was finally, finally alone. She had waited until McGonagall had given her the okay to leave the Great Hall, long after the first-years had been assigned their dormitories, long after clean-up, long after even the house elves had drifted off to sleep.
She'd drafted a plan with the professor and Scorpius, outlining the rest of the year in the smoothest manner possible, and now, at long last she could retire to her room.
Despite her exhaustion, Rose couldn't help but feel an oncoming wave of anticipation as she whispered the password, "Aut viam inveniam aut faciam,"* to the portrait of the young couple that guarded the Heads' chambers. She'd heard rumors about these rooms, stories of a bathroom with solid gold faucets and beds with towering mattresses and canopies…
She was not disappointed.
The space was beautiful, every inch justifying the outrageous descriptions. The floor was layered with plush crimson carpets, and rich rolls of drapery ornamented the heavy stained glass windows that adorned the walls. Even the polished mahogany of the tables was carved with intricate designs that spoke of an elegance Rose had never seen before in her life.
She finally flopped onto the bed-cushions in the girl's room, drained after the long day she'd had.
This was the life.
Before she knew it, she'd drifted off to sleep, cocooned blissfully in satin sheets and still fully dressed.
Groaning, Rose turned over in bed and gripped her covers a little tighter. "Ten more minutes…"
A pillow zoomed at her and hit her smack-dab in the face. "Get up. It's the first day of classes – are you always like this? Because that would be a problem."
She sat up suddenly when the voice registered: Malfoy, in her room…what? Right, summer was over.
And the git was leaning against her doorframe, showered and dressed, with not an irritating blinde hair out of place.
"Malfoy, what the hell?" she cried, pulling the duvet up to her neck. "Get out!"
He quirked an eyebrow, before saying condescendingly, "Trust me, there's no enjoyment on my side, either. My eyes may actually be bleeding. Are you sure that the thing on your head is, in fact, hair and not some obscure magical creature Hagrid would be interested in studying?"
Rose could feel a furious blush spreading like wildfire across her face and, trying to spare herself any further humiliation, tossed the pillow back at him and muttered a quick spell to slam the door in his face.
"And stay out!" she yelled to the faint chuckles she heard behind the door.
She was already late, so she ran into the bathroom for a quick shower and pulled on her robes before making it down to the Great Hall just in time to see everyone finish breakfast.
Disgruntled – she'd secretly harbored the fantasy of making a dramatic entrance on the first day of school and watching all the first years stare in awe and whisper to each other, "That's Rose Weasley, the Head Girl. Isn't she amazing?" – she began her reluctant trudge to Herbology, her first class of the day. Lizzy fell in step beside her and said consolingly, "I saved you some toast – here."
Rose took the grease-covered tissue and smiled at her friend. "Thanks."
Her friend raised her eyebrows at her archly. "Something wrong?"
Rose shook her head before admitting, "Well, seventh year so far is....not exactly as I pictured it."
Lizzy nodded sympathetically, and, her smile bright and infectious as ever, swung a comforting arm around her unhappy companion's shoulder. Just being around her made Rose forget – to a certain degree – her earlier mortification.
But not quite.
It was just …. him. He managed to get under her skin like no one else could. Why couldn't she get him out of her head? Why did she still feel a flutter every time his eyes met hers?
Why couldn't she get that night last spring out of her head?
Ugh. And now she was stuck working with the bastard, effectively ruining what was supposed to be the best year of her life.
It was going to be a rough year.
Scorpius was sitting at his usual spot in the Great Hall - right side of the Ravenclaw table, fourth seat from the left. His usual breakfast was in front of him – scrambled eggs, a side of toast and goblet of pumpkin juice. His usual friends were around him, gabbing endlessly about classes and professors and who fancied who.
And yet Scorpius was not his usual self.
Actually, scratch that – he'd been this way for months now. Maybe this was his new "usual". This moping, mooning, hopelessly-in-he-wasn't-ready-to-say-the-word-yet shadow of his former self. Ever since a cold spring night half a year ago when…
Fucking Rose Weasley.
This was her - this wasn't him! She was making him this way; she'd wriggled her way into his head somehow and she wasn't coming out. This…this was madness.
It was like nothing he'd ever felt before.
Hell, he wasn't a prude. He'd been with girls before; he'd even garnered a reputation as somewhat of a ladies-man. But what he was feeling right now wasn't lust.
Or rather, it wasn't just lust.
It must be some sort of spell, some enchantment she'd cast over him. This lunacy couldn't be natural. The way his throat dried up whenever her warm eyes twinkled at him, the way his palms sweat whenever he heard her full laugh.
The way his breath caught in his throat whenever she touched him.
That moment in the train…he'd thought he could handle working with her, he'd thought he could be professional and keep his recent psychosis under control. But it was too much. She was too much. And when he couldn't take it anymore, when he had to get out…
She'd grabbed his wrist, and he could have sworn there was bloody electricity coursing between them, the kind he'd only heard of in soppy dramas his mother was addicted to.
What the hell was going on?
Scorpius exhaled slowly and took a long swig of his pumpkin juice.
It was going to be a rough year.
The bright glare of the morning sun was seeping into her room through a crack in her curtains.
Her alarm had gone off no less than five times, and each time she'd smashed the snooze button so violently that her fingers were beginning to redden. The broken staccato of a half-heard bird-song filtered through her window, but still she slept.
Her exhaustion was getting to her; between Head Girl duties, classes, and worrying about her NEWTs, Rose felt like she never got a moment to herself. Somewhere in her subconscious, the sanctuary of sleep provided the much-needed break she needed from the real world...
However, even in slumber, Rose's ever-present rational mind tickled against her conscience. Wake up, it seemed to whisper. Sleeping more will just get you later to Herbology, which will make you have a mountain of make-up work, in addition to the two feet of parchment you have for Arithmancy tonight…
This nagging part of her brain was a persistent little bugger. No matter how many times she squeezed her eyes close shut with a vengeance or forced herself to tune out the damn logical voice, it just wouldn't leave her alone.
Groaning, she peeled herself from the alluring call of her duvet and wiped the crust from her eyelashes.
A glance in the mirror above her desk confirmed that she looked just as terrible as she felt. Her hair, which had never been shampoo-commercial worthy to begin with, was now piled around her head in a manner reminiscent of Medusa, the tangled knots framing her face like a lion's mane. The hollows beneath her eyes were dark with the evidence of fitful sleep, and she'd fallen back into her old stress habit of biting her lip as she slept; the bruises were raw and tender.
The chirping of the birds rang in her sleep-fuzzy mind, causing her to grimace. What the hell were they so bloody cheerful about?
Scorpius stared at groggily his foggy reflection in the mirror that was still misted with steam from his shower. He had faint purple half-moons under his eyes, and his eyelids drooped with exhaustion.
This year was slowly sapping the life out of him. So far – and it had only been a month – his classes were more rigorous than they'd ever been, and the scholarship he'd had his eye on at St. Mungo's University seemed farther away than ever. He raked a hand through his hair and sighed hoarsely.
He dragged himself away from the mirror, dressed, and chewed his way listlessly through a plate of toast that may as well have been cardboard for all he tasted it.
All this before Weasley deigned to open her eyes.
Scowling, he contemplated waking her up – it was only half an hour until classes began – but then remembered the first day of school, when he unwittingly subjected himself to her wide, drowsy eyes and freckled cheeks rosy with sleep.
He sure as hell wasn't doing that again.
As much as Rose irritated him – and yes, that's what he was calling it; he wasn't sure he could handle anything other explanation – he had to admit, half-heartedly, of course, that he had a sort of begrudging admiration for her. She seemed to effortlessly earn top marks, despite sleeping until two minutes before classes started and gossiping with her friends until late in the night.
In addition, she was an excellent counterpart to him as Head Girl; despite his numerous attempts to find faults in her work ethic, she was more put together than he ever was.
Of course, he wasn't about to tell her any of this.
At the precise moment Scorpius was pondering his newfound respect for her, Rose decided to make her grand appearance.
Disheveled as always – water was dripping from her damp tendrils of hair, droplets seeping into the folds of her wrinkled, carelessly thrown on robes – she nevertheless succeeded in making him catch his breath for a brief moment before he scrapped together what was left of his dignity and came to his senses.
Clearing his throat, he muttered, "Morning, Weasley."
Cordially, of course.
He was never anything but.
She seemed startled for a second and jumped a little at his voice. "Hey. No Great Hall today?"
He shook his head. "Don't feel up to it."
Rose nodded emphatically. "Me either. This year…"
"…has been hell, right?" Scorpius finished, as close to rudeness as a Malfoy manage.
He stood up, roughly. If he didn't feel up to eating with his friends in the Hall, he definitely didn't feel up to making small talk with the girl that morphed him into an empty-headed idiot. "I know. I'm going to be late for Herbology, so…"
She looked down into the cup of orange juice she'd just poured, suddenly extremely interested in its contents. "Scorpius," she said in a small voice. "Why are you doing this?"
He frowned. "What?"
"This." She poured the cup in the sink and moved over next to him. She had to tip her face up to meet his eyes; she'd never really noticed how tall he'd become.
"Acting like everything is all right. Pretending that what.…what happened last year never happened."
"Weasley," he hissed, narrowing his eyes. She noticed shadows etched into the hollows under his lashes and realized that she wasn't the only one insomnia visited. "It meant nothing, okay? Nothing. Just…forget it ever happened."
And with that, he whirled around and stormed out of the room, his robes billowing angrily behind him.
The only indication that he'd ever been there was the orange juice trickling down the drain and the quivering tear caught between her eyelashes.
Rose was in Ancient Runes. She was decoding an archaic text, a relic from a Mayan wizard's spellbook. It was an important task, and she was completely focused on it.
Completely focused on it.
Okay, fine, maybe she was a little distracted. Or a lot.
But she forced herself to concentrate on the symbols at hand, and attempted to restrain her wandering mind. So what if last spring meant nothing to Scorpius? She certainly hadn't expected it to.
And it hadn't meant anything to her, either. It hadn't.
She clenched her teeth together and dipped her quill in ink, preparing to write an essay on symbols that she hadn't even begun to translate.
He did this to her.
Every glare, every scowl, every smirk….everything he did affected her in a way she wasn't ready to admit. She didn't know what was wrong with her. This had never happened before, and she didn't like to think about the reason it was happening now.
She shouldn't care that it had meant nothing to him.
But maybe, possibly, some secret part of her wanted to believe that she affected him the way she affected her.
She couldn't be completely off-base, could she? After all, the way he'd looked at her last spring, his eyes melting from their usual iciness to molten pools of silver.....
Rose snapped out of it, chiding herself for allowing her unruly mind to wander back to forbidden thoughts.
Maybe she did want to believe that.
But probably not.
Spring of Sixth Year: That Night....
It began raining.
They were outside, on the terrace of the Ravenclaw common room, a telescope pointed at the inky black sky.
They were supposed to be working on an Astronomy project – it wasn't due for another week, but Scorpius hated to procrastinate; however, the oncoming clouds looming on the horizon, heavy with rain, made it impossible for them to finish.
And of course, they were locked out of the common room, since they were supposed to be out all night documenting the stars.
Which they couldn't do.
Because it was fucking raining.
Rose cursed softly, her oath resonating in the velvety silence that engulfed them, and huddled into the only corner of the balcony that was covered. "Wonderful. What the hell are we supposed to do now?"
He sat down next to her, tucking in his long legs to get them out of the rain; he was too lanky for the small space they shared uncomfortably. "Nothing. We wait."
Minutes passed by in awkward silence. Both of them were acutely aware of the others proximity, but unable to do anything about it; in all honesty, Rose wasn't sure she wanted to do anything about it; his warmth was comforting, safe....
She shook her head and blinked rapidly as soon as the thought popped into her mind unbidden – where had that come from?
Her robe was drenched at the bottom and the wet fabric plastered to her, making her shiver.
He noticed her shaking, and asked, politely, in a manner of cool indifference, if she was cold.
"No," Rose replied, but, as her teeth were chattering noisily as she spoke, she wasn't too sure she convinced him.
Wordlessly, Scorpius untwined the scarf wrapped around his neck and attempted to give it to her.
When she declined, he turned, faced her, and, almost tenderly, wrapped it around her shoulders.
His fingers were rough against her throat; their gentle touch made her shiver with something besides cold. His breath was warm upon her cheeks and her heart was racing; what was he doing to her?
As he finished twisting the scarf around her, she slowly raised her eyes to meet his.
"Thank you," she managed to whisper, even though she felt like his presence was squeezing all the breath out of her lungs.
He reached out and tucked a stray curl behind her ear, the pad of his thumb lingering on the contours of her face.
In that moment, his eyes were blue, they were grey, they were love, they were hate, they were him, they were her, and she didn't know if she could stand it a second longer.
She looked down, unable to meet his heated gaze any longer; somehow, his smoldering, icy eyes were melting her into a quivering pool of idiocy, burning her so her chest had physically started aching, searing her until her whole body felt like a mass of incandescent flames.
She had do to something....anything....to shake this feeling, to ignore what he was doing to her.
Abashedly, she cleared her throat and began, "So, this project...."
"Weasley," he said, in a low voice filled with an emotion she couldn't identify and wasn't sure she wanted to, cupping her chin gently and tilting her head so her reluctant amber eyes met with his flashing quicksilver ones, "shut up."
And then he kissed her.
*Aut viam inveniam aut faciam: "I will either find a way or make one."
So, there, a nice long chapter for all of you! Hope you enjoyed it; please let me know what you thought! Your feedback is what helps me grow as a writer :). (Plus, reviews mean motivation and a motivated me means faster updates...yay for you! :D)
A huge THANK YOU to Persephones Child for being my FIRST EVER reviewer! Virtual cookies for you!
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