Chapter 3 : Again
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THE BEGINNING OF THE END
Chapter IV: Again
Historically, the Triwizard Tournament had been conducted at Hogwarts every four years; however, for the past few decades, the tournament itself had been cancelled, out of respect to Cedric Diggory's memory.
The accompanying Yule Ball, on the other hand, was deemed harmless.
And, of course, the responsibility of planning it fell to the Heads.
"Mr. Malfoy. Mr. Malfoy. Are you listening to me?"
The grating voice of the old bat in front of him jolted Scorpius out of his reverie, and he just barely managed to twist his scowl into a passable, if forced, smile. "Of course, Professor McGonagall. You were saying?"
She frowned at him, her mouth pursing.
Grudgingly, Scorpius raised his head, flicking a lazy glance at his irate professor. He had to admire her tenacity; despite being possibly the more ancient than Hogwarts itself, the witch hadn't let age catch up with her. Her green eyes still glinted, her voice never shook, and not a stray lock had escaped from her tightly coiled gray bun.
McGonagall sighed, and replied, in a carefully measured tone, "It's already halfway through October. I trust you and Miss Weasley have begun the preliminary planning of the Ball?"
Beside him, Rose piped up in her infuriatingly together voice, "Of course, Professor. I've started on some basic sketches for decorations" – with this, she pulled out what must have been a ten-foot long scroll of parchment. Scorpius snorted. Basic sketches his arse. – "and I think I've an idea of the music, as well."
The professor nodded approvingly after skimming the plans. "Thank you, Rose. Remember, this is the first official event you two are organizing as Heads. Don't disappoint me."
Rose beamed from her mentor's praise. Eagerly bobbing her head up and down – like a damn puppet, thought Scorpius scornfully – she asked earnestly, "Is there anything else I can do, Professor?"
"Not at the present time, Miss Weasley. You are dismissed."
When she left, a flurry of red ringlets and perfume, McGonagall turned her hawk like gaze towards him. "If you don't mind, Mr. Malfoy, I do want to discuss something with you."
Scorpius shifted in his languid pose and prepared himself for a long-winded lecture about the neglect of his duties. He deserved it, of course – the Yule Ball had all but slipped his mind – but he was already inexplicably irritated (Weasley had that effect on him) and in no mood to listen to the witch harangue for ages on end.
He was surprised, then, when McGonagall abruptly changed the subject and said, "NEWTs are fast approaching, Mr. Malfoy. If you're planning on applying for the St. Mungo's scholarship, I need a written essay from you within the next two months – you are aware of the requirements, I'm sure."
Scorpius felt his stomach drop, and he stared at his professor with wide eyes. "How did you…"
"Call it a teacher's instinct," McGonagall said, waving away his question. "Obviously, there's some problem here. What is it?"
He groaned, and settled back in the wooden panes of his chair. "My father," he ground out, his voice low. "He wants me to carry on the business. He demands it, actually."
She nodded, knowingly. "Have you talked to him about this?"
"I tried. I don't think he wants to hear it, though."
McGonagall set down her horn-rimmed spectacles and rubbed her temples. "I understand how ... how difficult your father can be, Scorpius. But I also know that he's an intelligent man who cares about your happiness."
Scorpius cast his eyes downward in an effort to keep the disbelief from his face. Intelligent man who cared about his happiness? Did this woman even know his father? "Thanks, Professor, but …. I'll deal with this on my own."
He was almost out the door when she called out, "If you ever need help, Mr. Malfoy, you know where to find me."
And for some absurd reason, this helped.
Outside, the bitter breeze thrashed about him unforgivingly, the cold seeming to seep through his pores and freeze his blood. He could see his own breath suspended in the frigid air as smoky coils of white.
Obviously, not ideal weather for Quidditch.
But there was a Gryffindor-Ravenclaw game coming up, and just because he wasn't a Slytherin didn't mean that he hadn't inherited his father's desire to crush that smug-faced Potter bastard. The younger one, that is. And he wasn't about to let a little chill stop him from practicing. Besides, Quidditch was often exactly what he needed to get his mind off something. And today, with McGonagall's advice seared into his brain, the roads of his future had never seemed so cloudy. If he could put all that behind him, even for an hour, on the pitch, it would be worth the trouble of the weather.
The fields were all but deserted; through a mist of fog, he could make out Hagrid's burly outline tending to something on the outskirts of the grounds, but there wasn't a student in sight. All the better for him.
Carefully sidestepping icy patches on the pavement, he pried open the knob of the Quidditch warehouse and retrieved his broom.
He released the Bludger into the darkening sky before he mounted the broom and chased after it, bat in hand.
Scorpius, unlike most Beaters, was tall and lanky. Although otherwise naturally suited to the position – he had an intensity that allowed him to maneuver the ball easily – this physical difference made it harder for him to control the ball in unusual conditions.
A lack of control which sometimes rendered, sadly, rather unfortunate consequences.
After flying for a good hour and a half, the sky had turned a shade of inky blue, and Scorpius had lost the Bludger to the veil of mist that stretched over it. That was never good because sometimes –
- it could catch you off your guard.
The ball had crashed into his shoulder, bruising his forearm to the point where he could feel the warm stickiness of his own blood mingling painfully with the glacial wind.
Stifling a cry of anguish, Scorpius forced himself to clear his head and, after catching the damn thing with his good arm, landed clumsily on the grass, clutching at his shoulder in pain.
Okay, breathe. Think. Swallowing heavily, he bolted up the warehouse and began an agonizing trudge towards the castle. He couldn't go to the Hospital Wing, since Quidditch practice was forbidden on treacherous days such as this one – a rule that he shouldn't have bent, he now understood. His only option was to hope he could find a spell that would relieve the ache for now, then visit the Wing in the morning.
After curfew, the winding halls of the building were empty, with the only light coming from the flickering golden glow of half-melted candles in the chandeliers above. Fortunately, in the dim gleam, no one spared him or his mangled excuse for a shoulder a second glance, the one teacher passing him deigning only to give him a quick grunt of acknowledgement before hurrying into a potions cabinet.
Finally, he made it to the Heads chamber, muttered the password, and pushed open the door.
Only to find Weasley there, her back turned to him, clipboard in hand, looking ready to talk decorations.
Bloody hell, not now. She can't see me like this.
He knew it wasn't rational, but for some reason, he couldn't bear the thought of Rose seeing him as he was now. Pathetic, defeated. What would she think of him? Ever since their confrontation – or really, his yelling idiotic nothings at her in some twisted attempt to quell feelings he couldn't understand – she'd been avoiding him, plastering on a mask of normalcy whenever their paths had to cross. She probably already thought the worst of him, that he was a coward who couldn't face the truth; he couldn't let her see him as a loser, too.
His mind reeling, he attempted to skulk into his dorm unnoticed.
But then she stood up.
Finally, thought Rose. Ever since McGonagall had sprung the subject of the Yule Ball on them, she'd been frantically drawing up plans in their rooms, waiting for him to come back. This was the biggest event Hogwarts had seen in four years; whatever was going on between them had to be buried, at least until the ball was over.
He'd been gone for ages – the blue of the horizon had melted into a black as dark as the pitch in the night. She had started to wonder what happened, but forced herself to calm down. It was none of her business which girl he chose to parade around with this week; as long as he could show up and execute his Head obligations, his personal life meant nothing to her. It didn't.
She couldn't deny, though, her heart jumped when she heard heavy footsteps outside their hallway. So he wasn't with a girl, after all.
Not that she cared.
"Malfoy," she said, standing and swiveling around to face him. "We need to discuss…" Her words died in her mouth.
Scorpius was standing in front of her, blood seeping through his black Quidditch robes.
"Scorpius," she breathed, taking an instinctive step closer to him before his hard look reminded her that she had no right to. "What happened?"
He wouldn't meet her eyes; instead, he swallowed and bit out a curt, "Nothing. I'm fine," before turning to leave.
She almost let him. But then she noticed that his knuckles were white from pain and in that moment she didn't care what he thought of her, she just knew that she couldn't bear to see him suffer without doing anything about it.
She caught his wrist, and, ignoring his wide-eyed stare of objection, emphasized, "Malfoy. What. Happened."
Scorpius let out a shaky breath and raked a hand through his hair roughly. "I was practicing…"
"In this weather?" snorted Rose. "Brilliant, as always. A Bludger, right?"
He nodded silently. Still not meeting her eyes.
"You idiot. Sit down," she said, boldly conjuring a chair closer and pushing down on his good shoulder.
"Weasley, what the hell!" Scorpius protested, futilely attempting to stand. "I don't need your babying."
She cocked an eyebrow at him and retorted, "I think you do. I'm pretty sure the grounds are closed, right? I'd hate to see what'd happen if I told the Hospital Wing about your injury."
Scorpius rolled his eyes and scoffed disbelievingly, fully aware that he'd most likely be stripped of his Head badge if anyone found out he'd broken the rules, which she took as reluctant compliance.
After fetching a spellbook and some healing supplies, she drew up a stool next to him and took off the black cape around his shoulders.
The laceration was on his shoulder, and she abashedly requested him to take off his shirt in a barely audible voice, refusing to meet his piercing gaze.
Wordlessly, his eyes never straying from her lowered lashes, he complied and Rose, steadfastly keeping her gaze confined to the bare skin of his shoulder, ignored his heated look and her own burning flush to attend to the bruise.
Underneath, his wound was deep and sticky with blood. It made her stomach turn, but she made an effort not to show it. Whispering a quick healing spell, she started to dab at the injury with warm water, uncomfortable with the way he fixed his fiery stare on her face.
Neither of them spoke. She didn't think she could find words even if she tried. Somehow, the situation had morphed from an innocuous effort to talk about decorations to…well…this.
Somewhere between the blood and the mess, Rose knew she had seized this opportunity as an excuse to be with him. To be near him.
They could never be normal, she understood that now. There was too much between them - too much history, too much feeling, too much confusion. This was the only way. Stolen glances, furtive moments, intimacy masked as innocence.
He was beautiful, she realized, almost unwillingly. His blond hair was tousled, wind-blown, falling into his stormy eyes. Even disheveled and weary, he was too beautiful for the wild thoughts that were coursing through her head.
Her heart was beating. So fast. She could hear it thudding in her ears, in her throat, in her wrists.
How did he do this to her?
With one look, with one word, he transformed her into an insipid idiot incapable of forming a coherent sentence. If she didn't know better, she'd assume he'd cast some sort of enchantment over her; what else could explain how she lost all rational thought every time she was close to him?
Clearing her throat, she began softly, "I think you'll be fine. The wound's healing. I'm just going to get some gauze…"
She had turned to leave, relieved to be away from him, away from his icy eyes that somehow melted her, away from his deep voice that rendered her breathless, away from….
When he grabbed her and spun her around to face him. They were both standing, both scared to breathe, both acutely aware of each other's proximity and both afraid to do anything about it.
Their ragged breathing seemed to resonate in the silence.
"Your arm," Rose murmured finally, beginning to twist out of his grip, expecting him to relinquish it easily. "You'll hurt it…"
Instead, he tightened his hold on her and stepped even closer. "Damn my arm."
And then they were kissing, and it felt like this had been what was missing; this was what she had been looking for all her life, this was what she'd struggled against, fought against, and now that she'd finally given in, she couldn't even remember what she was defying.
In that one moment, time stood still.
In that one moment, they forgot that he was Scorpius Malfoy, that she was Rose Weasley, and that their lips were never supposed to meet.
In that one broken moment torn between desire and practicality, they forgot that they could never be.
But time rumbles on, heedless of stolen moments or clandestine kisses. Lost rationality returns.
Rose, struck with the sudden realization that this wasn't right, tore away, gasping, breathing shakily. "I'm sorry," she whispered, tears pricking her lashes. "I can't do this."
And this time it was he who was left alone.
With a spinning head.
And an erratic heartbeat.
A/N: Hope you liked it! As always, read and review.
I told you at the beginning that I have a few chapters of this story written a while ago, but we're nearing the end of mapped-out territory. So, if you want updates, please review and motivate me! As always, enormous thanks to those who reviewed - LaLaLuna and Miss Muggle. You're the best!
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