Chapter 1 : Hey, that's me and I want you only
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He was her cousin's best friend. To make things even more complicated, he had also become one of hers. And goodness knows these things only go one of two ways, one of which would be particularly painful. The last thing she wanted was to lose him as a friend, but denying what she was feeling was becoming increasingly difficult. Still, she couldn't see this turning out full of sunshine and daisies and rainbows. She wasn't even sure if that was what she wanted. It would just be asking for life to complicate itself even more than it already had.
First, there was their best friend to consider. Sure, they were close with Erin as well, but Rose and Al were cousins and Scorpius was his best friend. It was different. She didn't want to isolate him or make him feel unwanted. And would he even approve? She cared too much about his opinion to not let that thought cross her mind. And then there was the rest of the family to consider. Never in their wildest dreams had they even considered something like this happening, or so Rose assumed. It was strange enough when she and Al first became friends with him, let alone the two of them becoming something more. But she was getting ahead of herself with these musings. Before anyone else ever accepted them, there would have to be a them. And he had given no sign that she was something he wanted. She knew now that there were ways she wanted him, no use denying it anymore, but she was terrified of destroying anything and everything else that they had.
These thoughts that had grown from occasional to constant over the course of the year were doing nothing to help her study habits. Final exams were only a week away, and even though she had another year before her NEWTs, she still wanted to finish the year strong. Of course, it didn't help that her study habits usually included his presence. She supposed she could always go back to her dorm and study on her own, but she would most likely end up just sitting there, openly daydreaming, rather than trying to focus with him in her presence. Or at least pretending to. If only she had kept her distance like her father had suggested. "Don't get too friendly with him Rosie…" If only. But she hadn't wanted to lose her friendship with Albus, and when he was sorted into Slytherin along with Scorpius, Rose felt like she had no choice but to accept Scorpius as Albus had, although somewhat begrudgingly. They still didn't talk to each other much the first few years or so. They didn't really hit it off until 4th year when they were partnered together for an arithmancy project. That's how the studying together and the actually having a friendship came to be. Stilted conversations in the library eventually led to a sense of camaraderie over their shared love for the topic, and they soon found themselves distracted by topics unrelated to their studies. They had even been kicked out of the library on more than one occasion for disturbing the peace.
When 5th year rolled around, well, it kind of just naturally continued. Being two of the top students in their year, if not the top two, was part of the reason they were drawn to each other in the first place. They challenged each other to be better. They started studying for OWLs together constantly by the end of 5th year. He had come back the beginning of 6th year the same as ever but more sure of himself. More confident. He wasn't exactly shy before but, he had a nervous quality about him. Like he constantly felt that he was being measured by the people around him. Especially the ones who only saw him for his name. But 6th year brought a change, and she liked to think that their friendship had something to do with it. And she couldn't deny that his confidence had made him more attractive than his blond hair, lean figure, and piercing blue-gray eyes already made him. It wasn't the cocky type of confidence that would have drove her mad, although that popped out on the occasion that he bested her in anything. It was more the humble kind that made you want to know him more, maybe figure out if he was hiding something. It gave him a sense of mystery that the girls couldn't help but notice. He wasn't trying to impress anyone, he had just accepted who he was and was thankful for the friendships he had nurtured with Rose, Albus, and the rest of their family and friends. And after the past two years, she now considered him one of her best friends. She and Albus and Erin had grown up together so they would always be close, but her friendship with Scorpius had blossomed into something completely unexpected and she cherished it more than she thought she would.
And it was more than just studying together. Half the time, she and Erin found themselves sitting at the Slytherin table for meals and hanging out with Albus and Scorpius in the joint common room, and when they weren't at their table, the boys were at the Gryffindor one. They spent time wandering around the grounds on nice days and spending time together during the holidays. She even missed him when he wasn't around. This was her first sign of trouble. Then, during Christmas that year, she started thinking about him in ways she hadn't let herself before. Wishing he would catch her under the mistletoe, hoping for a moment alone where they could just be and enjoy each other's company and who knows where that might lead. Now, here they were a few months later, entrenched in exam season and hardly leaving the library except for meals, class, and sleep. And she couldn't keep her mind off him. Her eyes were having trouble behaving as well. His movements captivated her. The way he occasionally tapped his quill on the table and ran his hand through his hair when he was thinking really hard over a difficult piece of homework. The way his mouth absentmindedly moved as he read through what he'd just written to make sure it was correct. The way his eyes twinkled when he was onto something. His smooth deep voice as he said her name over and over and…
Wait, was he saying her name?
Shite. How long had she been spacing out on him?
"Yeah?" she said in a barely there whisper, catching her breath after being caught lost in her thoughts of him.
"I was just wondering if you'd gotten to question 11 yet, but your mind is clearly elsewhere?" he responded with a twitch of his lips and a twinkle in his eye. She blushed slightly as she realized he had noticed her spacing out. Had he seen her looking at him?
"Yes, why?" she responded as she regained her composure. Thankfully she had started her homework before he'd arrived in the library and was able to get ahead.
"Oh", he said, choosing to ignore her slightly flustered state. "I'm just not sure what is going on with question 11. It's not in my notes and I can't seem to find it anywhere in the text."
She rolled her eyes and chuckled slightly at him. "That's because you and Al wouldn't stop playing tic-tac-toe during class the day we covered this portion." She shot a bemused smile at his disgruntled yet slightly amused face.
"Well you would too if you sat next to your cousin in Arithmancy. He has the attention span of a goldfish and is very convincing. Not to mention slightly manipulative when he wants to be."
Rose laughed at his look of annoyance but still felt slightly bad for him.
"Here," she said as she moved around the table to sit next to him. She slid her notes toward him and started explaining the topic he had missed.
"Why can't you just show me your work?" he asked with a mischievous smile. She shook her head as he started to reach across the table for her completed work. Chuckling she reached forward and dragged his arm back across the table. The look on his face was so disappointed she almost felt guilty, but not enough to compromise on her scruples. Besides, she wasn't about to complain about having to touch him.
"Why?" he almost whined at her.
"Scorpius," she said insistently, still gripping his arm, "the point of a study guide is to help you learn and retain information. How will you do that if you just copy the work that someone else has already completed?" She gave him a pointed look and he relented.
"Fine," he said with a sigh, "but you're helping me." She rolled her eyes but smiled as she released his arm and they got back to her notes. It was a little while later that she noticed he had shifted closer. Not only that, but his arm had somehow made it's way onto the back of her chair. She tried not to think too much of it or let it distract her, but the way his fingers started tapping a light rhythm on the back of her chair demanded her attention. It made his proximity that much more obvious to her and she tried to shake herself out of it. Her thoughts were starting to go to that place again and this was not the time for those musings to return.
"So having completed the first 3 steps, you just divide the answer from step two by step three and that should be your answer."
He was silent for a moment, pursing his lips as he looked through his previous answers. Once the light bulb clicked in his head, she could see it written all over his face.
"Yes, of course!" he said with realization and then began to talk through the process with Rose as he worked it out on his study guide. By the time he got to the end she was grinning at him in an amused way as he flung his quill on the table with a cocky smirk and leaned back in his chair.
"There, done. Want to go for a walk or a fly or something? It's awfully stuffy in here after a while." He looked at her expectantly and she raised her eyebrows, looking between him and their incomplete study guides pointedly.
"Umm… you do realize this is a 50 question study guide? And we've barely made a dent?"
He looked back at the study guide and stacks of books scattered across the table for a solid ten seconds before throwing his head and arms down on the table and groaning in frustration. She felt slightly disappointed that his arm was no longer around her chair, but her disappointment was brief as he sat back up with an exasperated sigh and placed his arm back in it's previous position.
"Why must we study so much this year? It's not like it's that important. This is more of a filler year, really. No OWLs, no NEWTs. Just regular old exams."
She looked at him incredulously. "Yes, but we can still fail out if we don't perform well."
He started glancing around the room and bouncing his legs in an agitated manner.
"What's gotten into you?" she asked. "You're usually more than happy to spend time studying. I thought you liked Arithmancy?"
"I do," he responded with a moderate amount of conviction. "I do, it's just…" He paused as if to gather his thoughts.
"It's just that I'm realizing that we only have a year left here. And I want to make the most of it. And somehow spending time constantly in the library doesn't seem to fit the bill."
She smiled softly at him and turned in her chair to face him. "I know," she said with a sigh.
"It's like this combined sense of nostalgia and urgency. You can't help but think back on all the wonderful memories but you're worried you haven't made enough yet. The ones that will really matter in the end. So you think you have to take every moment and make it an important one or else you might regret it."
As she spoke she kept eye contact with him, hoping she didn't sound too obvious. She wanted to make her moments with him last and count for something. As much as she thought she should study, she couldn't help but want to take him up on his offer. Who knows what could happen as they wandered around in secluded areas of the grounds. Or what would happen as they basked in the adrenaline rush after a fly. He held her gaze and a crease appeared between his brows as she spoke. As if he were really taking in what she said and contemplating it. He paused after she finished and, after what felt like an eternity to her, said, "Yeah. I couldn't have put it better myself." She smiled at him and he returned it before turning serious again, almost as if stealing himself for something.
"Rose?" He asked. She just looked at him expectantly. He seemed nervous so she placed what she hoped was an encouraging hand on his arm that rested on the table as he glanced away. Her contact seemed to give him strength and he looked back at her with confidence and began again.
"It's too bloody hot to spend an hour in a greenhouse."
They both jumped slightly as a bag was thrown onto their table and a chair across from them was roughly pulled out and turned around as their intruded unceremoniously plopped down and straddled it.
"Honestly, there should be rules about these things. It's nearing on abuse."
"Really Al? You said the same thing in the dead of winter when you complained that your bits had nearly been frozen off. Can you ever be happy?" his dorm mate asked him with a resigned look. Al looked affronted.
"Besides," Rose interjected, "the greenhouse is a temperature regulated environment. It's the same no matter the season."
Al rolled his eyes at his cousin's knowledgeable response.
"Yes, well, I more meant the trek to and from. It's stifling in these robes. I bloody stink."
"You're not wrong there," said a new voice as a fourth person joined their party and begrudgingly sat down next to an admittedly smelly Albus, who brightened at her entrance.
"Erin, can you please talk to your dad about maybe not requiring robes for Herbology? Or at least placing a cooling charm on the path to and from the castle?"
Erin shook her head at Al, her shoulder length dirty blond waves starting to fall out of her plait. "You know I have a rule about using my position as a faculty members child. You never ask and I never have to say no."
Al pouted and rested his chin on his hands that lay across the back of his chair and returned his attention to his two other best friends.
"Why did you come in behind Al?" Rose asked, "Did he race ahead to get out of the heat? No wonder you're sweating like a pig," she threw at her cousin in a teasing manner.
Al gave her a scathing look but self consciously gave himself a once over as Erin and Scorpius laughed at his expense.
"No," Erin responded still slightly chuckling. "I had to talk to dad about plans for going home after exams. Mum is still visiting with Great-Gram who's still not doing so well. Dad, Ethan, and I are leaving to be with her as soon as we're finished with exams."
The mood immediately became more somber at her words. Rose even completely forgot about her earlier moment with Scorpius for a while. Al reached out and put a comforting hand on Erin's shoulder. She looked at him gratefully for a moment before breaking the tensions by throwing it off and making a jab at his hygiene.
"Phew you really do stink. Sure you didn't have a roll in the manure before heading up here?"
They all laughed and even Albus gave a slight grin after rolling his eyes at her.
"Fine I can take a hint. Or three. I'll see you guys at dinner. I'm due for a shower. Scorp? Heading back to the common room?"
Scorpius seemed hesitant for a moment but finally relented and rose to collect his things and join his dormmate.
"See you guys later," he said as he left, but not before sending another quick smile Rose's way. She sent a shy one back as he sauntered out after his roommate, giving him a playful shove as he again mocked him due to his stench.
As soon as they were gone, Rose rested her head on the table and groaned, immediately gaining the attention of her closest girl friend.
Erin raised her eyebrows at Rose as she made unintelligent sounds.
"Pardon?" she asked with an inquisitive look on her face.
Rose lifted her head slightly to look at her friend. She considered confiding in her for a second, but then thought better of it and sat back in her chair with a sigh. "Nothing. Just all this studying. I think it's getting to me."
Erin still looked slightly skeptical. "Ok…," she said, "is that what you and Scorp were up to before Al interrupted?"
Rose turned slightly pink remembering the somewhat charged moment between them before her cousin barged in.
"Oh...Erm...yeah, we were study." She tried to make herself look busy with focusing on her study guide, but Erin wasn't fooled at her attempt to sound nonchalant.
"Wait, something happened didn't it? Something happened between you two, or was about to, and your prat of a cousin interrupted didn't he?"
Rose eyes bugged out at the intensity with which her friend spoke these words, not to mention the accuracy of them, but she was still determined to remain in denial. She wasn't even sure if something had happened between her and Scorpius.
"What? No, why would you think something like that?"
"Come on Rose," said Erin with an eye roll, "I see how you zone out on him sometimes. It's not like he doesn't do the same."
"Please," said Rose with more conviction than she felt, "we're just friends. Nothing is happening. Please don't turn this into something it isn't."
They were now leaning towards each other over the table and talking with such intensity that they forgot for a moment that they were in the library as Erin made to rebuttal.
"Come on Rose, you know you can - "
"Oh, erm, hi. Sorry, I'm interrupting." Rose and Erin looked up to see that they had drawn attention to themselves in the form of one of the library aids.
"Hey Bobby," Rose greeted, thankful for the distraction, "What's up?"
He sent her an apologetic smile before explaining his presence.
"Sorry to bother you, it's only Madame Pince has been complaining about the noise for a while. She was about to barge over herself before I volunteered. I knew it was you guys and I'd rather you not get in trouble, but, well, I'd rather not lose my job either…"
"No problem Bobby, really. You're just doing your job," said Rose as she began to hastily pack up her books and notes that were scattered across the table.
"We were about to head to dinner anyway."
"Ok, great" He said with a relieved smile. "Do me a favor? If you see your brother, don't mention I'm on duty tonight. Last time he took that as an invitation to pull a prank in here and I'm not too keen on it happening again. I already told Lily to be on the lookout but just in case."
Rose chuckled but agreed to his request as she hurried out of the library hoping to dodge any further questioning from her friend who was still glaring daggers at her. Erin turned her glare to Bobby as she got up to follow Rose.
"Thanks a lot for that" she said in a rather harsher tone than necessary, causing the sandy haired 14 year old to look slightly taken aback as she strode out of the library to catch up with her best friend. Thankfully, she hadn't gone too far and Erin was able to catch her before she got to the Great Hall as she hurried behind her, calling her name and refusing to be ignored.
"Rose," she said one more time as they neared the hall that was packed full of people.
"Please, just stop and listen to me for a second." Rose slowed to a stop just outside the Great Hall and faced her friend looking slightly hesitant. Erin sighed and gently gripped Rose's upper arms.
"I just wanted you to know," she began with a gentle and understanding look on her face, "that you can trust me. If there's something going on or if you're just filled with uncertainty and need someone to talk to, I'm here and I will do my best to understand. In fact I probably understand more than you think I do."
She spoke with such sincerity that Rose considered letting everything out right then and there, especially if it meant Erin would open up to her in return. She was unnerved by how accurately she had perceived the reason for her earlier flustered state, and her interest had been piqued by her last comment, but she restrained herself and gave her friend a grateful smile.
"Thanks Erin, that means a lot and I do appreciate it. But not yet. Trust me, when I need to talk about it, if there is in fact anything to talk about, you'll be the first on my list."
Erin looked satisfied with this response and slung an arm around her best friend to lead her into the Great Hall.
"Come on," she said with a spring in her step, "let's go tease that little cousin of yours about our dear friend Bobby Finnegan. That always gives me a laugh." Rose chuckled along with her best friend as they made their way to join the Gryffindor table.
Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed chapter one. Feel free to leave a review! I'd love to hear your thoughts. I already have the first few chapters posted elsewhere so those will probably be up relatively soon. The title of the story and the chapter are both lyrics from a song by Bruce Springsteen called "Thunder Road."
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