Chapter 5 : Drown
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THE BEGINNING OF THE END
Chapter VII: Drown
It was ten.
Patrols started at nine forty-five and it was ten.
Rose glanced anxiously at the clock ticking incessantly, relentlessly, infuriatingly slowly on the mantle, chewing the inside of her cheek. Was he going to show up? What was he thinking? What was he feeling? Was he angry? Was he sad?
Was he okay?
Groaning with frustration, she collapsed on the sofa in the common room, burying her face in a pillow.
She hated the fact that she cared.
Or maybe she hated the fact that she hated the fact that she cared.
Seconds melted into minutes, and minutes passed by painfully slowly. Rose dragged a hand through her messy curls, wondering whether she should go search for him. Perhaps he'd forgotten about the patrols.
But what would she even say if she found him? Hey, I know you're grieving over the loss of your estranged grandfather, but would you mind patrolling the hallways with me to catch infatuated teenagers in the middle of frenzied make-out sessions and send them to bed with severe warnings?
Damn. Life sucked.
His and hers both.
Just as she was about to give up and patrol solo tonight, she heard his characteristic, thudding footsteps outside their door and her shoulders sagged in relief. So he hadn't forgotten, after all.
Forcing her facial muscles into a distorted smile – after deciding hesitantly that a smile was probably the most appropriate expression to adopt in this situation – she sprang up with as much energy as she could muster to greet him. He'd clearly been out on the Quidditch pitch again – his robes were caked with mud, the planes of his cheeks were highlighted with dirt, and his hair was mussed by wind – but, thankfully, there was no blood in sight this time, indicating that his arm had healed.
She started to speak, to give him the sympathy speech she'd been mentally rehearsing for the past hour, when, for the first time in what seemed like eons, he looked at her. Right at her. No shuffling about, no avoidance. His grey eyes glittered coldly into hers and her words withered on her lips.
Rose was about to talk, she really was. She was about to offer her condolences and then briskly bring up patrols. She was about to be professional and friendly and exactly what he needed right now.
Her mouth just seemed to disagree, stubborn thing that it was. Upon being subject anew to his withering gaze, her insides began to churn and her eloquent speech crumbled on her tongue. Despite her best attempts, she couldn't seem to do any better than inaudibly gape at him, and she hated herself for it.
She, better than anyone, knew that he'd had enough gaping for one day.
He met her gaze coolly for a few seconds, seeming to wait for her to say something. When he realized that wasn't going to happen anytime soon, he stated, in a level tone that held no tremor, through hooded eyes that betrayed no sentiment, "I haven't forgotten about patrols. I'll be right back, just let me clean up."
Rose could barely manage a squeak of concession before he'd stalked out of the room, almost regally. If she hadn't known any better, she'd say his behavior hadn't changed an iota. Still just as cold. Still just as unfeeling.
But she did know better.
She'd caught how his throat flexed as he swallowed before he spoke, how his nails dug into his palms, how the muscles in his jaw jumped as he turned his back on her.
He was in pain.
And this time, it wasn't a bruise on his shoulder that a bandage could fix. This time, there was nothing she could do to help him.
For some inexplicable reason, that thought caused her heart to clench agonizingly in her chest.
Rose slumped back down onto the cushions, her eyes squeezed together to stifle the tears that hovered precariously on her lashes.
Life really did suck.
She'd begun pondering the merits of offing herself with the loose thread that dangled from her sweater to avoid actually communicating with Scorpius when he re-appeared, clearly just finished with his shower. Damp beads of moisture clung to the shadows of his features, and his dewy hair leaked droplets onto his crisp white shirt.
"Ready, Weasley?" he muttered, grabbing his wand and tucking it into the folds of his robes.
He clearly wasn't ready to talk about what happened. Or maybe he was and just didn't want to. Whatever the reason, the worst possible thing to do right now was bring up his grandfather, that much was obvious. She could spout any meaningless nothing that sprung into her mind, but she'd be safe as long as she didn't even mention what happened to his family….
Of course, Rose being her idiotic self, she took one look at his rumpled visage and was unable to resist the painful twinges in her chest any longer. "I'm sorry about your grandfather," she blurted clumsily, wishing the words back as soon as they tumbled past her lips. Stupid, stupid, stupid ….
Scorpius froze, his features molded into a glower. "Shut up, Weasley." His voice was gravelly, edged with steel. A warning.
And still, her stupid, disobedient mouth continued. "I know you don't want to talk about it, so I'll stop talking, but I just wanted you to know that …" her voice was wavering; perhaps it was finally listening to the furious commands of her brain to stop talking. Wait, no, of course not – "that I'm here for you. You know, as a …" Rose stopped and cleared her throat sheepishly, wishing she'd never said anything to begin with, "as a friend."
He looked away, a hard glint lingering in his eyes. "Let's just get this damn patrol over with, yeah?" Deliberately, he swiveled and strode towards the door, without sparing her a backwards glance.
He seemed to be doing that a lot these days.
Rose cursed herself for her idiocy, seriously contemplating digging through the floor with the edge of her wand as a plausible escape route.
How was it possible that the daughter of Hermione Granger was so … so stupid? Really, it was a wonder anyone thought her brainy, as a Pygmy Puff so clearly outranked her in terms of communication and social skills.
Whispering a barely audible sorry, she followed him quietly out the door, vowing to keep silent and wrap up the patrol early.
They walked wordlessly together for twenty minutes, his long strides leaving her flustered and impatient to keep up with him. Besides the occasional teacher, there was no one in the hallway, leaving their lonely footsteps to echo eerily in the empty passages. Fluttering spurts of lights from overhead lamps threw scattered luminance around the otherwise ink-black halls.
The tension hanging in the air was palpable. Rose could feel it, she could taste it. It felt like even her shaky breathing was disturbing the fragile equilibrium of the atmosphere.
Beside her, Scorpius was rigid. His jaw was set firmly, his lips were pursed in a straight line. That slight twist of his mouth marred his aristocratic features, and she knew that the minute action was the only crack in his facade of perfection. It was the only hint of his feelings, and it was the only thing she wasn't allowed to notice.
It burned her, but she kept quiet. It scorched her, but she kept quiet. Because whatever nonsense fell out of her mouth would only scar him more. Would only hurt him more.
And she couldn't hurt him more.
A scuffle from a nearby cupboard broke the heavy silence.
Startled, Rose stopped in her tracks. Her surprise quickly turned into amusement as she realized that, once again, some foolish couple had decided that a broom closet after-hours was the perfect place for a hook-up.
Throwing a quick glance back at Scorpius, who'd also visibly relaxed since hearing the noise, she yanked open the door. She was greeted with the expected fervent snogging and, with a grin dancing on her lips, was about to sternly send the kids off to their separate beds when something stopped her.
Jet-black hair and thick golden locks. Jade-green eyes and wide blue orbs.
Albus and Elizabeth.
Rose almost choked on her own spit.
"Albus?" she managed in a strangled tone. "Lizzy?"
Shocked, the pair untwined their tangled limbs and stared at Rose with hangdog, disbelieving expressions.
"Um … hey," Albus finally sputtered guiltily, his glasses hanging crookedly off the bridge of his nose.
Lizzy narrowed her eyes at him in disappointment. "Really? She catches us like this and all you can manage is hey?" Puffing with exasperation, she pulled up the lowered sleeve of her top and said, with her famous poker face, "Rose, we were going to tell you. Really. But you seemed to be going through your own stuff, and we were just … well, we're not that serious …"
"Not that serious?" Albus blustered. "Well, that's a fine way of letting a bloke know …"
"Oh, shut up, Albus!" Lizzy said. "Seriously, it was your brilliant plan to sneak into a broom closet – that turned out great – and now you're a martyr?"
"Guys!" Rose, recovering from her stunned silence, suddenly found her tongue. "Don't worry about it, really. I mean … yeah, it's a surprise. But … bloody hell, Al, it's about time you found a decent girl!"
Lizzy burst into delighted giggles. Stumbling gracelessly out of the cupboard, she wrapped her friend in a tight hug. "I knew you'd be fine, Rosie."
"Hey, not fine," Rose amended hastily, pulling herself out of Elizabeth's death grip. "But it's really not my business and I can't bother to keep track of Al's line of bimbos, anyway."
Lizzy raised her eyebrows blithely. "I'm not sure I like what you're implying, Rose, but since I owe you for keeping this a secret, I'm going to let it go."
"Seriously, Liz," Rose said, glaring pointedly at her friend and adopting a sterner tone. "In case you forgot, you just got caught after-hours in a compromising situation by the Head Girl. If you don't want to lose any House Points, I suggest you get back to your bedrooms. Your separate bedrooms."
Still chortling, Elizabeth pulled a petrified Albus from the depths of the closet and sauntered off jauntily, her hair swinging in tune behind her.
Rose watched their figures receding into the shadows, her befuddled demi-grin frozen on her face. Blinking fast, she shrugged off her initial shock.
Albus and Lizzy ... oh, what the hell. Maybe the full impact of their relationship would hit her later, but for now, she couldn't bring herself to be very upset.
In fact, she was rather entertained by the whole escapade.
Absently, she realized that Scorpius was still beside her, quietly absorbing the fiasco before them. She snuck a look at his face and noticed, with a certain measure of surprise, that the corners of his mouth were quirked upwards in a soft half-smile.
The ghost of his characteristic smirk spread an intense, almost frightening warmth through her, and she was disturbed at how deeply his emotions affected her.
Purposefully ignoring this unfortunate epiphany, she instead chose to be gratified that her friends' exploits had at least led to some good - they'd evoked some, if not much, emotion from Scorpius - and began walking forward, expecting him to follow her lead.
She didn't notice that his heavy footsteps were conspicuously missing from the silence of the night.
So naturally, she skidded to a stop, alarmed, when an unexpected voice snaked through the darkness, piercing the shadows that wrapped around her.
A voice smooth as marble. Cold as granite.
"I didn't know him."
Dumbfounded, she whirled around and saw him lingering in the doorframe of the closet Albus and Elizabeth had hurriedly vacated, his hard, marble eyes roving her features piercingly.
Rose was speechless, a small part of her lamenting the fact that her capacity for language seemed to be permanently impaired recently.
All she could bring herself to do was nod moronically. And watch, with wide eyes, as he drew an unsteady breath and continued, "I didn't know him. My grandfather. Lucius. I met him …twice. Both times in Azkaban." A humorless laugh slid past his lips. "Once was on my twelfth birthday. Some present, huh?"
She bit her lip and dared to draw closer to him, unconsciously willing him to go on, unconsciously wanting to help him, to ease his pain.
"It was the summer before second year. He'd … my father had just told him I'd been sorted into Ravenclaw. He was furious. I remember him yelling, cursing. He called me … a disgrace to my name. To the Malfoy name. He said that I was no grandson of his and that, even if I had been a Slytherin, that he would never accept me or my … my blood-traitor family. My family, not his."
Scorpius leaned heavily on the doorframe, clenching his jaw roughly. "That was the last time we visited. But I never stopped thinking about it. He was my grandfather, and he didn't accept me. Here, people don't accept me because of him. My whole life I've tried to be different from him, and still, when people look at me, they see him. I know they do. I see it in their eyes, in the way they curl their lips when they see me. No matter what I do, I'll always be … a Malfoy. A Death Eater."
His breathing was ragged, and his throat bobbed in cadence to his quavering tone.
"I'm sorry," Rose whispered, hardly daring to breathe. "I'm so sorry, Scorpius."
She almost placed a hand on his shoulder instinctively, but, thinking better of it, diverted it and gripped the wood of the wall instead.
He'd broken eye contact with her, raking a trembling hand through his hair and fixing his gaze straight ahead. "And now he's dead, and I don't know what I'm supposed to feel. My father's mourning. My mother's mourning. And I feel … nothing. Am I a terrible person? Can anyone hear of their grandfather's death and feel nothing? Can anyone hear of their grandfather's death and be almost … relieved?"
Screw it, Rose thought, and laid her hand firmly on his shoulder. Let him hate her if he wanted.
She was about to rattle off a few hollow words of comfort when Scorpius snapped his head up, startled by the contact and the warmth of her touch.
He stared hard at the girl in front of him with the fiery hair and innocent eyes, like he wasn't sure she was there at all. Disbelievingly, hoarsely, looking wonderingly into her face, he murmured, "I don't know why I'm telling you this. I haven't told anyone. Rose" – she flinched with surprise as she realized he called her by her first name – "what are you doing to me?"
Rose swallowed, acutely aware of the now-familiar twinge in her heart as his dark gaze collided with her own. Boldly, she moved her hand up to the nape of his neck, feeling the dampness of his washed hair slick under her fingers. Her heartbeat was pounding, vibrating everywhere in her body. Every breath she drew suddenly felt cacophonously loud.
"You're not a bad person," she breathed, inclining her body almost imperceptibly towards his. "You're not, Scorpius."
They were so close. So perilously close. She could feel his warm breath on her face, the uneven drumming of his heart, his sharp inhalation when her fingers curled around the curve of his neck.
This was dangerous.
She tilted her head, locking her eyes with his, his unchanging, resolute eyes.
That, for some strange reason, weren't unchanging at all at this moment. That were, in fact, flashing an almost molten silver, communicating a desire that she, until this very moment, had thought he didn't reciprocate.
He said her name in a cracked, broken voice. One that touched the innermost depths of her being, one that liquefied her resolve into a puddle, one that shook her senses into a fervor. "Rose."
She let out a nervous laugh, knowing that this situation could spiral terribly, terribly out of control if she let it. Knowing she should to something – anything – to stop him, to stop them, to stop what was indubitably about to happen….
He drew closer to her, and she melted. "Scorpius, I –"
He cut her off, and slowly, excrutiatingly, painfully slowly, raised his hand to trace the curve of her cheek. The roughness of his fingers felt gloriously terrible against the softness of her skin. His face was just a breath away from hers. "Rose, you need to tell me to stop."
She stared unblinkingly into his face, his features that were contorted in torment; she felt her heart stutter when his hands fell from her cheeks to settle snugly at her waist, sending blistering singes throughout her entire body. She sensed her mind clouding, her rationality slipping, her logic fading as she fell, deeper and deeper, into the liquid luster of his eyes.
She said nothing.
He groaned, a raw wrenching from the depths of his throat, and rested his forehead against hers, his chest heaving to match hers, ragged breath for ragged breath. "Tell me to stop, Rose. This … this can't happen. You know it can't happen. Tell me to stop."
Rose suddenly found her mouth very dry. Without her realizing it, her hands had tangled themselves in his hair and her body was pressed against his intimately, securely, as though they fit. As though they were meant to fit.
She couldn't breathe, a gasp was lodged in her lungs. She was suffocating, she was drowning, she was burning, she was lost and she was found.
She said nothing.
Scorpius swallowed heavily and closed his eyes. Even as he willed himself to step back, to collect his thoughts, the hand that had settled on the hook of her waist brushed intuitively against the coarse material of her sweater that hid the swelling of her chest. His leg unconsciously nudged her thighs apart, causing her to gasp sharply and arch her hips against him instinctively, agonizingly.
She was torturing him and she didn't even know it; she didn't understand, she was blissfully ignorant of the terrible power she wielded over him...
And he couldn't exploit that innocence, that purity that shone in her warm brown eyes, in her inviting smile. He couldn't hurt her.
Almost pleadingly, he looked into her dark eyes one more time, become undone in their auroral gleam. "Please," he begged again, his voice a strangled cry. "Rose...please tell me to stop."
Rose dragged in a shallow breath, trying to focus her thoughts. She shifted in his clasp, and felt him stiffen in response underneath her hands. Tension infused his long frame, rendering his shoulders rigid and his face ethereally pale; as she looked up, she saw his eyes slit to bright silver shards that smoldered in the shadows. Strange emotions, foreign sentiments, roiled in their depths.
And she knew, she finally knew, that she was gone. She was lost. She had surrendered.
She wanted this, needed this, craved this.
She was his.
Wrenching her eyes away from his heated expression, she pressed herself impossibly closer to him, feeling the warmth that radiated from him imbue her being, filling her with a new and tantalizing fire.
She raised her head to his and, grazing her lips against the tender flesh of his lobe, murmured, "Don't stop."
And his will snapped.
Recklessly, deliriously, he snatched her lips in a desperate kiss, unable to hold back, unable to maintain his characteristic control.
Both of them were, at last, ready to drown.
One of his arms tightened around her waist, drawing her in closer, while the other dragged down her neck, her shoulders, her ribs, possessively, protectively, greedily.
Rose felt her eyes flutter shut, and she released a shaky moan against his mouth. He felt it vibrate in the back of his throat and groaned harshly in response to her gasp, frantically pressing her harder against the wall.
Her hands slid fluidly down his back, evoking a shiver down his spine. He tore his mouth away from hers raggedly, planting feathery kisses down the column of her throat. Her pulse thrummed irregularly under his lips, her nails raked down his neck, catching the sensitive skin of his spine. He pushed her hair – her thick, bewitching, ridiculous fountain of curls – to one shoulder, relishing the bare expanse of skin revealed.
Somehow, however, his hand caught on the handle of a broom next to them, and it fell to the ground with a loud clatter.
The resounding crash brought them both back to their senses.
Aghast, Rose pulled away from the warmth of his chest, a chill washing through her as she did so. Her wide, panicked eyes were desperately seeking for and finding no promises in his grey ones.
For one brief stutter in time, they stared at each other, the knowledge of what they had done and what they could never change burned into their minds.
Scorpius sucked in a cold gulp of air, futilely attempting to clear his foggy mind. His voice low in his throat, he growled grimly, "Damn it, Weasley, you should have told me to stop."
He ripped his eyes away from hers, almost reluctantly, and stepped back, putting distance between her trembling body and his. "Why the fuck didn't you tell me to stop?"
A heartbeat passed as a hush laden with unspoken pledges seeped into the air. Finally, he turned, embittered and disheartened, the effort of regaining control causing his nails to bite into his palms. He moved swiftly, brutally, ready to leave and put this behind him, put her behind him...
Rose felt a jolt strike her chest and reverberate to the base of her spine as she realized he was planning on abandoning her.
Her eyes snapped in anger at the revelation and she blocked his path instictively. "Stop."
He snorted hollowly. "A little late for that, isn't it, Weasley?"
Rose shook her head, frustrated. A clot settled in her throat and, humiliatingly, she seemed once again on the brink of a breakdown. "No," she uttered woodenly, looking at him with eyes misty with unshed tears. "Stop this. Stop this … this cycle. Stop making me think you care and then walking away. Stop –" she swallowed, and looked away, "stop hurting me."
Scorpius felt like he was burning. Or drowning. Maybe both. "Rose," he muttered, detesting the ease with which her name spilled out of his mouth. Or relishing it. Maybe both. He cupped her chin, forcing her to meet his raw gaze.
She blew out a soft sigh and cast her lashes down. "You're doing it again," she whispered.
He groaned hoarsely, letting his hand slide down from her chin to her side. "I can't … we can't … Rose, you know we can't."
"Why?" she pleaded earnestly, brokenly, hysterically. "Why can't we? It's been a year, Scorpius, since … since the first time. Ever since then, we've been denying ourselves, saying we can't. Can't we … or won't we?"
The memories of that kiss still consumed him. Long after the black of the night had melted into the burnished gold of day, he would lie awake in his bed, dreaming, remembering, wishing.
"We're from two different worlds," he answered, hating that he'd caused the tears glistening in her eyes, hating that he was the reason for the mortified flush blossoming on her cheeks.
Even as he explained the reasons they couldn't, his hand, seemingly of its own volition, moved to grip her waist possessively. He snatched it back before she noticed, but the phantom feel of her still fizzed through his body.
Strangely, he felt his energy sapping in his attempt to refrain from touching her.
"You have your family. Your father, would he ever accept me? And mine …" Again, the same empty chuckle. "My father wants me to take over his business. He wants me to marry Heather Parkinson. He wants me to be everything he couldn't be." He looked directly into her eyes, his chest constricting painfully as he spoke his next words, "And I've promised him I will be."
Rose felt frozen, the vague thought that she should respond a distant whisper in her head. Inside the crevices of her mind, her thoughts were in chaos, tumbling and tripping over each other, all of them overwhelmed by the raw tenderness of her lips and the sting of his rejection.
Dimly, absently, she noticed a peculiar expression steal over Scorpius's features; was that regret? No, it couldn't be.
Surely a creature so obviously cold and impervious to emotion would be incapable of regret.
Angrily, she brushed away the unruly tear that dared to slip from beneath her lashes and commanded her eyes to stop watering. Meeting his gaze, despising his incensed stare, she squared her shoulders and attempted to calm the pathetic quakes of her chest.
"So," she hissed, loathing the quaver that crept into her voice unbidden. "It's clear, then, where we stand."
Attempting to collect the remaining fragmented shreds of her dignity, she stepped out of the cupboard, keeping her back straight, her shoulders stiff.
Once out of his line of vision, she rushed - ran, really - back to the common room, her legs quivering and her body shaking. After muttering a quick silencing spell – she couldn't have him sadistically relishing her heartbreak – she let out the sobs that stifled her chest, hoping, in vain, that doing so would somehow relieve the ache, the physical pang, that seared through her heart.
He'd tricked her.
He'd ensnared her knowingly, drawing her to a false sense of promise, coercing her to her humiliating confession, convincing her to bare her soul for him.
And then he'd crushed her. Spat on her, mocked her, derided her. Laughed in the face of her pain.
She curled into the blanket, drawing its silky emptiness around her in false comfort.
Because yes, he'd cheated her. He'd used her.
But worst of all, she'd let him.
She didn't tell him to stop.
A/N: So, here's a present for my amazing reviewer, LaLaLuna! This chapter is only here because I was so touched by your comments that I felt I had to update quickly. I really hope you liked it!
To everyone who's read this story: please review. Your feedback doesn't have to be positive. You can tell me if you hated it. Actually, PLEASE tell me if you hated it - at least then I'll know what to fix!
Reviews, as you can tell from my super-fast update thanks to LaLaLuna's loveliness, give me motivation to write.
Thanks, and I love you all :)
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