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Chapter 11 : Friends? Friends.
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I awoke to a gasp, and I received a harsh shove on my chest. It wasn't enough to send me spiraling out of the bed, but it was enough to bring me out of my sleep. At first, I didn't quite register what was going on. Why was I being shoved? Then I heard Rose's voice, and that's when I remembered. How I crawled into her bed while she was sleeping, put my arms around her, how she responded by unconsciously welcoming my presence, how I was supposed to be her confidant.
"What the hell are you doing?!" she shouted in my ear.
I didn't jump. I hardly moved. I should have been more prepared for an outrage when I woke up. I only grunted and rubbed my face with my hands, shoving my head back into the pillow that permeated my senses with the sweet smell of her. I folded it around my head, blocking my ears to drown out her sound. When she saw that I wasn't making any movement to leave, she started shoving weakly at my body, scrambling beneath the covers, as if she could shove me out of the bed. But that was pointless.
I didn't move. I found I was too drowsy from - let's not lie here - the best nap of my entire life. I almost wanted to reach out and grab for her, to hold her again and just drift back into sleep and not have to worry about anything, to completely avoid her wrath.
"Malfoy!" Her shout was suddenly next to my ear, coming from the other side. It was clear that she had jumped out of the bed and was now standing beside it, leaning over me and demanding that I explain. "Answer me!"
"So sleepy, Weasley," I mumbled. My voice was muffled by the pillow, but it was enough to show that I hadn't provided an answer.
She shook my shoulders and turned me over. I kept my eyes squeezed shut though. I refused to look at her angry demeanor. I didn't want to see her looking at me like that. But I saw her anyway. I felt something prodding at my eyes, and I tried to move away, but Rose's fingers were pulling my eyelids apart in the next second. I let out a scream and protected my vision from her prying fingers.
"What are you doing in my bed, Malfoy?!"
"I don't remember!" I defended weakly. I realized how stupid it sounded, but I needed time to organize my thoughts! I needed an answer, and quick! I could generally think on the spot, come up with something witty that couldn't even be questioned, but I found myself completely out of ideas. I racked my brain for something as fast as I could.
"Lie," Rose stated blatantly, folding her arm across her chest. She tapped her foot impatiently, wiggling her nose.
"I went to my room, you fell asleep, but then I heard you yelling!" The words just began to spill out of my mouth. I had no idea where they were coming from, but hey, they seemed pretty good so far! I was impressed with myself! "I thought you were awake and that something was wrong! So I came to check, but you must have been having a nightmare. You were having some sort of fit and talking in your sleep. I tried to calm you down, but I didn't want to wake you! So I just stayed and tried to keep you quiet, but I must have fallen asleep! Anything that happened after that is beyond me!"
"You rotten liar!"
"Rose, I promise!" Lie. As I looked at it, she really did know me well. Well, not completely. Because I was actually Teddy Lupin pretending to be Scorpius Malfoy, but she could sense when I was lying or telling the truth, no matter who I was trying to be. No matter who I was or who I had turned into already on this crazed murder case. "You were having a nightmare!"
"I don't remember having a nightmare!"
"You're probably just telling yourself that," I said, pointing a finger at her. I puffed out my lips and gave her a convincing look. It seemed quite Malfoy-ish to me, to try and make Rose doubt herself for his own benefit, to throw in a random interjection for further persuasion. I also thought it was brilliant because, not only did it seem like the Malfoy thing to do, but it was also in my personality to do the same. Finally one less thing I had to worry about in clashing personalities.
When her mouth clamped shut, I felt a stroke of success. Finally succeeding at something! It took her a moment to consider it, but she finally shook her head. "No!" she argued in return. "I am not telling myself that. I wasn't having a nightmare."
“Sometimes people don't remember. And you don't know what you do while you're sleeping! I'm telling you; you were shouting and I definitely helped."
She didn't have anything to say to that. Success again! After she was quiet for a long time, our eyes just staring into one another's, I finally spoke up. "Weasley, I don't get why it's such a big deal."
She blanched, rapidly blinking. She was now acting like I had moments ago, scrambling as fast as she could to find an answer to my statement. It was now my turn to decide if she was lying or not.
"I-It's not!" she spluttered. "I just wanted to know."
Then she turned on her heels and left the room, leaving me to analyze her words.
Lying. That was for sure. But why. Clearly it was a big deal to her, otherwise she wouldn't have reacted like that, and it wouldn't be such a big deal if she simply wanted to know. If she just wanted to know, why not a casual question? Why try to push me from her bed, shout, yell, and get angry? There was something deeper than she let on. There was a reason, and it clearly was a big deal. Diagnosis: lying.
She was lying for sure. I would have otherwise been angry. I'm a person who wants to know the truth; I hate it when people lie to me, but who enjoys being lied to their face? But I understood why she was lying to me. She was making a big deal out of nothing. It wasn't really a big deal that we were cuddling, but it was to her for no good reason. If there was a reason, then it had to do with her feelings for Malfoy and that alone.
I threw back her covers and jumped out of the bed, chasing after her. Once again, I didn't quite know what I was doing. I really needed to get better at this quick witted stuff. We travelled through the house at a quick pace, and I followed her all the way until the water of the ocean began to dampen our toes. The sun was setting across the horizon, and the tide was rolling in. I felt the salt water lap at my feet, my toes wiggling into the sand.
I came to a stop behind her as she faced the ocean, perhaps wishing she could swim away into the vast sea. I reached out my hands, debating on whether or not I should touch her. I know she had left the bedroom to get away from me, but sometimes people act the direct opposite of what they truly need. I know people will sometimes run away when all they need is comfort. Maybe Rose just needs comfort.
Her confidant. It was my job to comfort her, thanks to Peakes, but I also had this deeper urge to make sure she was all right, to be there for her because I simply wanted to.
I bit my lip, torn between the decision to hold her or to simply stand there and wait for her to say something in her own time. I finally pushed my hands forward. I touched her with only the tips of my fingers at first, grazing her hips. When she didn't swat my hand away, I stepped closer to her and let my hands fully play out over her hips. I felt my chest press against her back, and that was when I wrapped my arms fully around her.
I locked my hands together and let them rest against her abdomen. I could feel how tense she was, her mind befuddled with thoughts of whatever was going on deep inside her and her temptation to probably run away from me. But she didn't. Her shoulders finally slackened, and I smiled. We were making great progress today. Her arms left her side and she folded them across her chest. The wind blew her hair, and it distorted my vision, but I didn't mind. I loved her smell, and her hair was soft against my skin. I noticed how small and fragile she seemed in my arms, as if I could squeeze and I would break her in half. It was such a different feeling, knowing the kind of person she is. How strong, independent, and open-minded she is. Now, in my arms, she felt the opposite, like I was her stronghold.
"What are you doing to me?" she finally whispered.
Her words sent a chill down my spine, and I debated retracting my arms. She brought forward thoughts I hadn't even considered. That maybe I was only screwing with her thoughts more and that maybe that was the exact opposite of what she needed. There had to be a lot of crap going on up there for her right now. I nearly pulled away, but her actions told me not to. She turned so that she was facing me, and I was vaguely aware of my fingertips now grazing her bum. I was entering a whole new territory here, and I didn't quite know how that made me feel.
"Rose," I began. Her name felt good on my tongue. I had spoken it often enough throughout my entire life, but over the past few weeks of calling her Weasley, it felt good to return to her first name. I suddenly found my words hard to form, like I couldn't lie to her anymore. Feeling how weak she was against me, her arms pulled in between my chest and hers, like her strong personality was just a cover up of what was truly going on in the inside, I wanted to tell her everything. How I was the boy who pulled her from the sand so long ago, the boy who took care of her and always will. It was my job to look after Rosie. How could I do that by lying to her, knowing it will only hurt her more?
My voice was only a whisper. I let the wind carry it to her. "I'm here for you. I understand that there are some things you don't want to share. I guess I respect that, but you're having a difficult time. You should know that I'm here for you. I haven't forgotten how stubborn you are. I know you can think you can handle this on your own, but you don't have to. I know we had our disagreements in school and whatever, but it's been two years. I'm a different person. You, however, seem just as independent as ever, but isn't it time to put all those disagreements to rest? I would like to be your friend."
"I don't understand you," was all she said with a laugh sneaking its way into her voice.
I was able to smile at that. "That's because it's been two years since we've seen each other this much. If you took the time, then maybe you would begin to understand me. Friends are there for each other. I could be here for you, if you would let me."
"Why are you being so nice to me?" was her next question.
I didn't understand why she couldn't comprehend the kindness of some people's actions. What had Malfoy done to her that made her so reluctant to believe me? Why was she so adamant in believing that Malfoy couldn't be kind enough to offer friendship? It made me loathe the skin I was in. I kept telling myself that, if she knew it was truly me, she would understand.
"Because I have no reason not to be," was all I could manage.
She said nothing, only looked at her arms drawn against her chest between us. She fumbled with her fingers and finally looked up to me. Her lips were tightly pursed, and I could tell she was trying to hide her smile. I pressed my hands into the small of her back, showing her that I wasn't going anywhere, that I wouldn't let her fall. She finally nodded. "Okay."
"Okay?" I asked. I don't know why I was trying to clarify. If I made her give me the answer twice, she may change it mid-sentence. She could easily change her mind, but I couldn't believe what I was hearing. She nodded again; her grin was growing noticeably bigger.
I released her and offered her my hand. "Friends?"
She gripped it tightly and gave it a firm shake. "Friends."
When she dropped my hand, her mood suddenly changed. She gently pushed me away from her, distancing our bodies by a foot or so, and she gave me this look that was a mix between a smirk and a smile. Her ambiance seemed to have brightened in an instant. "All right," she began. "Now that we're friends, we tell each other the truth. So, was I really yelling in my sleep?"
Ah. So that's where she was going with this. Now was the time to prove how well I could lie. Honestly, I didn't know how well I could lie, but I seemed to be doing well thus far.
Rose was a pro at taking a deeper look on things and finding the truth beneath them. When she and her cousins would build forts in their younger years, Rose didn't demand a password. Instead, she demanded a secret, and if you lied, she somehow knew. There was no room for mess ups now.
I met her eyes. Wasn't the key to persuading someone you were telling the truth to make eye contact?
"Yes," I stressed and nodded.
"No ulterior motives?" she questioned, and I knew what she was trying to do. She was scanning my eyes for my lie. I wanted to cringe. Her gaze made me want to blurt the truth about everything. There was even this sinking feeling that, if she stared long enough, she would know it was me instead of Scorpius Malfoy.
"No ulterior motives," I chuckled, still shaking my head. "We're friends. This is called the friend zone."
She laughed at that, and the heavy weight that had come over me while waiting for Rose's analysis suddenly left. She must have believed me. She let go of my arms and turned away from me. She kicked at the sand, a new vibe taking over her. She was all smiles and her spirit had lifted.
"Fine. I'll believe you," she said with a laugh. "What's for dinner?"
She was trying to change the subject. Not yet!
"Nuh-uh!" I laughed, and I jogged up next to her again. She stopped to wiggle her toes into the sand. I rolled up my jeans and helped by pushing the wet ground onto the tops of her feet. "You can't change the subject. Not yet. If you demand the truth from me, I demand the same."
She clearly didn't like what I was telling her. Deep down, she knew where I was going with this, but I could tell that she wanted me to say it. So I pressed further. "Earlier today...When I broke down the door - "
"Which you are going to fix yourself, by the way! Before I go to bed tonight," she interjected by pointing an accusing finger at me.
I let a smile reach my lips, but dismissed it and continued on. "I will. Promise. But you weren't really telling the truth, were you?"
She didn't answer. More stone cold silence.
"You seriously aren't going to try to keep convincing me that?"
Rose sighed. We both knew the truth, so I didn't know why she kept trying to deny it. Maybe she was still in denial herself.
"I guess not," she whispered painfully.
Instead of continuing to wiggle her feet into the sand, she kicked them free and plopped down into the sand, white shorts and all. She looked pathetic on the ground, knees pulled up to her chest, arms already wrapped comfortingly around her knees. She was rocking back and forth, now staring off into the sea and appearing to be completely off in another world. I sat down next to her and gently patted her back before distracting myself with fiddling with the sand. I felt the fine grain between my fingers, rubbing until it fell back to the earth.
"Wanna talk about it?" I finally pushed.
"Not really," she dismissed.
I huffed. I guess that was fine. Within the past five minutes, I had made plenty of progress. She could call me her friend, and I had at least gotten a sign from her that she would let her lie of having a nightmare go. It was two steps in the right direction. I didn't have to get the answer from her today; I just had to know I could wiggle it from her eventually. But I could keep on trying.
"Rose, I understand that," I muttered quietly, "but if someone was hurting you, shouldn't we owl that Auror who brought us here? We could be in danger. I could know for sure if you would tell me."
"I'm fine, Scorpius," she said.
That name. So unfamiliar to me. I almost gave a jolt at being called it. It was so different. I had just begun to be accustomed to being called Malfoy, and now she was calling me Scorpius. In those past few moments, I had forgotten who I was trying to be. It was becoming easier and easier to act and talk around Rose, like I didn't even have to try.
Scorpius, it's such a weird name anyway. I don't like it.
"I'm fine," she said again for good measure.
"Will you at least let me put up some extra protection charms? I know Scamander is your friend, but I think we would be better off."
She was quiet for many moments. I could tell she was thinking deeply about it, and she finally nodded. "Fine. I can agree to that," she said.
Yes, another success!
"Well, that's good," I said. "Because I would have put up the charms anyway."
Rose actually laughed. She didn't look offended or like I had made the conversation take a wrong turn. She was smiling, laughing, and it was all real. Because of me. She joked along with me actually. "Of course you would," she said.
"Hey!" I chuckled in an accusing yet playful voice. I rocked slightly in my sitting position to nudge her with my shoulders. She nudged back, and when our laughter died down, I pulled my wand out of my pocket and subtly gave it a wave. The sand near our feet began to make a small castle, and her eyes fixed on the small grains that meshed together to form the shape. My eyes, however, were fixed on hers. I watched as her day brightened, and it gave me a sense of hope. I believed that, maybe, this would all be okay.
She could be so stern, so serious. She was such an independent woman; nothing could assuage her thoughts if her mind was set, but then there were times when she looked free as a bird and made me feel the same just by looking at her. She could seem so fragile, delicate, so sweet just when I thought she had the toughest backbone around. I had yet to understand how she worked, but I was curious to find out.
It was in that moment that I became truly proud I could finally call her my friend. We had finally begun to close that gap that had existed all those years. I was finally getting to know Rose. Rose, the girl who Bill would rant on about having the most astounding memory charms just like her mother, after having practiced them during her training before being deported to Egypt for the first time a year ago. Rose, the girl who Albus claimed could do three back handsprings in a row and not even be a tad dizzy. I would be toppling over, so more power to her.
Rose had always seemed like such a great, unique girl, and a girl that I was now regretting our lack of friendship. She was too wonderful to not know. Why had I always neglected the opportunity to get to know her better? Whatever the reason was, I must have been crazy. I was just grateful that she was now my friend.
Of course, she thinks this new friendship is with Scorpius Malfoy. But maybe someday we can have what we never did. Maybe someday...
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