Chapter 3 : Fish
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For ohsayitaintsox3 for leaving me a review that made me smile in the midst of craziness.
I was on my feet instantly, stumbling over stones to get to the shore as Scorpius disappeared into the foliage. Shit! Shit! Shit! My mostly-naked body was not cooperating considering within a couple steps I already had a gash on my thigh from a branch and my feet were aching.
“Scorpius!” I cried. “Stop!”
“Can’t hear you!”
“Damn you.” The trees were getting thicker and more impossible to navigate without clothing. Not that it couldn’t be done, because there were enough breaks between the trees to manage, but there were no paths and the twigs slicing into my skin.
I cut through a muddy patch and finally caught up to his walk, grabbing the back of his shirt collar and yanking on it. “Oy!” I cried. “Give it here!”
Scorpius turned and immediately his eyes were not on mine. The boy who had turned away yesterday had vanished and his gaze devoured me in seconds. Then he laughed when he realized my cheeks had become worthy of my name. “Maybe you are brave,” he noted.
“Quit gawking.” I slapped him hard on the shoulder and tore my clothes from his grasp.
“In case you haven’t noticed, you’re hardly dressed. Did I ask you to stop yesterday?”
“You could have,” I snapped, turning and marching back toward the creek to clean off my legs.
“Fine. That’s a better view anyway.”
Then Scorpius got a branch to the head and shut up.
But he did follow me back to the creek. Probably staring. I may have paid a little more attention to the way I walked.
“I can fish elsewhere,” Scorpius offered, picking up his net. “You don’t have to get dressed on account of me.” He paused, sitting on a nearby log. “Out of curiosity, why did you get undressed?”
I shrugged, now feeling a little foolish. I had gotten half-naked in the middle of nowhere, having no idea if any other homes were nearby or any creepers lived in the woods. I just willingly pulled off my clothes.
Not the smartest idea I’ve ever had.
“Felt like it.” That was the best I could come up with.
“You looked nice.”
“Okay,” I replied. It always irked me a little when boys complimented me. I could never decide if they meant it in a genuine way. Or figure out why it was my looks and not anything else they favored. Not that I was Dominique or anything. I was curvy. Dad insisted we not eat rabbit food growing up so I didn’t mirror Dom’s legs-for-days attributes.
It wasn’t exactly difficult to remember when she tied on her tiny bikini and pranced around.
“What? You don’t think you looked nice?”
“I didn’t have a mirror,” I reasoned, stepping back into the creek to rinse off my feet. I no longer cared he was staring. It wasn’t like we’d speak during the school year. Stare all you want, Malfoy. “I’m sure I looked just lovely.”
“You don’t sound like you believe that.” Scorpius moved beside me and I could feel his eyes on my skin.
“I’m happy you’re so perceptive,” I said with a bite to my voice. I pulled my shirt back on and flattened it over my body, and then stepped into my shorts.
“Are you sore with me for stealing your clothes? I wasn’t going to get all the way back to my rental, you know. I’m not that horrible.” His eyes narrowed, the jab at me obvious.
“Are you not? So I am?”
I took a breath shoved him backward into the creek, fully-clothed.
“And you look just lovely with your fancy black pants all wet,” I said, smirking.
He looked shocked, completely soaking wet. His hair was now a dark blond and fell over his forehead and down into his eyes. Completely dumbstruck, jaw slacked.
Good. Bloody deserved it.
“Are you getting back at me?” Scorpius said, lifting his arms out of the water. The shirt was sticking to his skin. “Because of what I said last night?”
“I’m giving you what you deserve.” I crossed my arms in a stubborn way. It wasn’t my fault he deserved to be thrown in a creek for being a twatty jerk.
Maybe not a complete jerk.
“Oh.” Scorpius nodded and shoved his hair away from his face. “I wasn’t aware we were playing the who deserves what game. In that case, it’s my turn.” He lunged forward. I tried to leap back, but I didn’t get far enough, as he grabbed me around the legs, lifted me into the air and fell backward into the creek with me, successfully soaking all of my clothes.
When I surfaced, his arms had moved around my hips. He let go immediately when he realized it, scooting away in the water with a rosy tinge to his cheeks. Apparently confident, gawking Scorpius had vanished. He looked away.
So I splashed him.
“Oy!” He laughed, returning the gesture right into my face. “Rude.”
“Pretty sure you just pulled me into a creek.” I shielded my face.
“After you shoved me in!” he countered, laughing harder. His entire face lit up when he laughed. I’d seen it on countless occasions in the Great Hall and even in class when someone made a joke. It was his charismatic look. Dominique talked about it a few times and I rolled my eyes.
It wasn’t like that was his only expression, anyway. He had others.
When he was concerned about his test marks or upset when his friend was crying or furious over a girl being picked on in the hallway. Or that soft smile he got when consoling someone.
I guess I had been paying more attention to Scorpius Malfoy than I thought.
“You deserved all of it,” I said, trying to drive that thought away. What else had I noticed about him? Had he noticed other things about me? He had to have noticed.
I suddenly felt scared he knew all too much about me.
“And you didn’t?” Scorpius chuckled again, splashing my shoulders and chest when I wasn’t prepared. “You did, Miss Rose. And now your clothes are soaked like mine. How does it feel?”
“Did you just call me Miss Rose?” I asked.
“What’re you going to do about it?”
My eyes narrowed. Then I pushed off of a couple stones and tackled him back into the water, dunking him.
Sometimes things happen when you’re concentrating on dunking the (attractive) blond boy beside you in a creek. And sometimes one of those things is you end up straddling him.
And then blushing furiously when he smirks at you.
“Shit!” I staggered to my feet, almost falling, and stepped way. My clothes were clinging to my body, making me even more uncomfortable. And awkward. My face was on fire. “I have to go.”
“Done bathing for the day?” Scorpius teased. He hadn’t moved from his spot, but I saw his neck was a little red.
“Yep!” I grabbed for my bag and didn’t look back, tearing through the trees.
I had plenty of summer reading to do for school. In fact, a stack of books was on the bedside stand and I spent much of the morning pouring through them. Mum brought some tea and suggested I go outside, but I declined. The breeze from the open window was more than enough outside. Besides, my clothes were still drying out.
“Rose. Get up.” Hugo kicked open the door, surly look on his git face.
“Why?” I snapped the Charms book closed.
“Dad told me to put away the dishes.”
“So put them away.”
“Help me with it. It’s going to take forever.” He leaned against the door frame.
“Funny. You didn’t help me with dinner last night.” I opened the book again, but he didn’t move. “Go away.”
“Just help me.” Hugo crossed the room and sat on the edge of the bed.
“So you can get done faster? And then do what? Play more video games?” I rolled my eyes and set the book on my lap. “Are you done being a stick in the mud yet? Or will that take a few more days?”
“There’s a town a few kilometers away, you know,” he noted, shrugging. “Down a few roads. Saw it on a map.”
“So you’re going to go?” That didn’t sound like the best idea I’d ever heard considering Hugo was shit with directions and even shittier with people skills. Well, people who weren’t gorgeous teen models. He would probably get lost halfway there and be found wandering and attempting to speak to lizards.
“Sure. I’ll tell Mum and Dad I finally want to explore nature.”
“They’ll never believe you.”
“I’ll say I’m going with you.”
“I’m not going, and they still wouldn’t believe you.”
“Then I’ll tell them I’m almost an adult!” Hugo cried, then glanced over his shoulder, but no one was there. “I should be able to leave just like you. You’re only two years older than me.”
“And I’m also not an idiot,” I muttered. “Let me know how that plan works out. I’m dying to know. Really.” He didn’t move. “I’ll see you later, Hugo.”
“You’re really not going to help me with the dishes?” He looked crushed. No, my mistake. that was the look he fed my parents and all of those unsuspecting girls. “Fine. See what happens.”
With a huff, he left and slammed the door. He was more of a diva than Dom.
“Is your brother always like that?”
The book flew onto the floor and I narrowly avoided that fate, only by catching myself on the bedside stand. “Do you HAVE to do that?”
Scorpius was standing at my window, looking a little nervous since it was off the back deck. He kept glancing to the left, probably hoping no one came outside and caught him creeping. He shrugged. “You didn’t come to the creek.”
I raised a brow. “What’re you doing here?”
“I was trying to find a fishing partner.” Scorpius smiled a little. “Come on, Rose. Are you studying?” His nose wrinkled.
“Attempting,” I muttered. “So if you’ll excuse me.”
“You’re still mad at me for what I said by the lake.”
“Just trying to enjoy my vacation,” I said, leaning over the side of the bed and grabbing the Charms book. And of course I was mad. He thought he knew so much about me just from watching me. Or noticing me. Or something.
I took plenty of risks.
“Come fishing,” Scorpius said. “We’ll go to the lake. The creek doesn’t seem to have any fish.”
“Caught on, have you?” I asked. “How many hours did that take? Another five today with the net?”
“Four and a half,” he murmured, cheeks pink. I laughed. “Come on.”
I waved my book in the air.
“No.” Scorpius pushed up the screen and climbed inside of my room, dusting off his trousers. “You’re coming fishing.”
“No!” I said, scooting back on my bed. Who did he think he was? Well, other than a boy in my room. Once again wearing nice khaki pants and a polo. Did he have any vacation clothes? “Scorpius, I’m serious. Go fishing yourself. You only want to hang out with me because none of your friends are here.”
“That’s not true. I need someone to hold the bucket.” He shot me a cocky grin and walked over to my closet, pulling the doors open. “Let’s see. You need a fishing ensemble.”
“Not even commenting,” I muttered. “I don’t have any fishing clothes. Though I’m pretty sure your clothes aren’t made for fishing either, Mister Department Store Khakis.”
His neck reddened. “They’re comfortable.” He continued to leaf through my clothes, making me increasingly uncomfortable in comparison. “Aha!” He pulled out a pair of pink rubber rain boots.
“You can walk into the water! See?” Scorpius grinned and tossed them on the bed. “Put them on. I’ve got more than the net this time. I have poles.”
“You are too desperate,” I muttered, casting a longing glance at my books. I really needed to get on that reading. “Why don’t you just beg your parents for siblings?”
“Oh, like the joyous one you have?” Scorpius asked. He began looking through the magazines on the dresser. “You like painting.” Four of the six were art-related.
“I do.” I tossed my legs over the side of the bed and stuck them in the rubber boots. Might as well, considering Hugo was just going to come back in and whine about the dishes. Or my lack of being a good sister. Or his lack of women to flirt with.
“Do you have any of your work with you?” He started to examine my brushes and the pastels beside them.
“No. They’re at home.” I stood. “How do I look? Classy?” Considering I was in a yellow sundress and pink boots.
“You look ridiculous.” Scorpius grinned. “Let’s go.”
“I should probably eat first.” I glanced at the door. I should also probably tell my parents. Or at least warn them Hugo was going to attempt to live in the wild for a few days as he tried to find the town. Maybe they could give him a wilderness book on what plants were safe to consume.
“I’ve got it taken care of.” Scorpius craned his neck out the window. “All clear.”
I paused for a moment, considering my room. If I needed anything. “We’re keeping this secret, aren’t we?”
He met my eyes. “Looks like it, doesn’t it?” Then he hopped out of the window and offered me his hand.
I kicked it out of the way and followed.
It took us more time to get to the lake since I refused to be pushed off a cliff. I carried a tightly woven basket of what Scorpius told me was lunch (he also refused to let me peek) and he had two poles, a bucket, a tackle box, and a net.
“Think you’ll make a career out of fishing?” I called to him as we approached the shore. The dead coals from our fire were still there. “Go into shrimping or something?”
“I like my shrimp in a ring.” Scorpius pulled off his shoes and rolled the khakis to his knees. “This just relaxes me.”
“From what stress?” I asked. I tried to imagine a stressed Scorpius. Barbeques with his parents. Good marks in school. People genuinely liked him. He seemed to have life on a silver platter. Or at least a less difficult time of it, since he didn’t have crazy cousins.
“Just life stress.” He shrugged, arranging everything. He busied himself putting bait onto hooks and I took the moment to glance around at the sparkly lake. A ways away I could see some smoke rising above the trees, likely from a chimney. Maybe that town really did exist.
“You know how to cast?” Scorpius asked, handing me one of the poles. It was the wimpier-looking one. With a wriggling worm on the end.
“I may need a refresher course.” From never learning ever.
He nodded and pressed a button on the pole with his thumb. “Now, you hold this until you cast. Then you let go and it flies out. Okay?”
“Um. Right. Yes.”
Scorpius demonstrated, casting his far out into the lake. I could see the bobber bouncing in the calm waves. He propped the pole on a low tree branch and started digging through the tackle box.
I could do this. Right? Push a button. Throw. Easy.
“Scorpius?” I said, face on fire.
“My worm is stuck in the tree.”
His laughter echoed against the clearing. Scorpius looked up and sure enough, the line was tangled in some leaves, worm dangling above our heads. “You might need some help.”
“I’ll let you do the honors,” I replied. “Out of the goodness of my heart.” And because I felt like an idiot for not being able to cast a damn fishing line.
“I appreciate your generosity.” Scorpius shook his head, still chuckling, and began to untangle the wire. He slid his teeth over his bottom lip, concentrating. “I have no idea how you managed to do this.”
“I just did it like you did. Your demonstration was flawed.”
Scorpius looked over, about to reply in some sarcastic, dry way, but he gasped. “The bobber! Oy, grab my pole!”
He was right. It was bouncing under the water and the pole was slipping away from the branch.
“What?” I said, grabbing the end of it before it jerked forward, almost sending me into the water. “What the heck is in this lake?” I pulled it back, digging my boots into the sand. “Scorpius, it’s going to take the pole!” Whatever was on the other end wasn’t giving up without a fight.
Knowing my luck, it was a stick or weed.
Scorpius abandoned the wire and rushed over, grabbing the pole from me and yanking it back. It kept tugging. “What the--?” He started reeling it in, walking out several feet into the water before finally getting control of it. The bottom of his pants were soaked around his knees.
“I’m pretty sure you’ve caught a giant squid,” I said, moving into the water, but not high enough to go over the boots.
“Don’t joke about that.” Scorpius arched his back, pulling on the pole. Something was thrashing around in the water, creating great white splashes. “Get back.”
“Shut up.” I inched forward. “What is it?”
He tugged on the pole one last time and out came an enormous catfish. Enormous. As big as one of my legs. At that, I did jump back, almost toppling into the water.
“Look at this!” Scorpius was laughing as he reeled it the rest of the way in. His pole was bending from the weight. “This has to be catfish-zilla!” He splashed up to shore and looked at the bucket. The fish was way too big for it.
It was now flopping around on the sand.
“Throw it back,” I said. “We don’t have anywhere to put it.” Unless he was going to shove that thing in a basket, I wasn’t seeing many options.
Scorpius stood back, chest heaving, and looked down at the giant fish. “Yes, we do.” His eyes moved around the site to the basket. Then to the bucket. Then to the ashes. “We’re going to eat it.”
I stared. “What?”
“We’re going to cook it and eat it,” Scorpius repeated, grabbing some stray wood and throwing it on the ashes.
“You say we. I’m a little perplexed by the word we,” I noted. “Considering my wire is still stuck in a tree.”
“I’ll put you to work.” Scorpius smirked at me, sending a chill down my spine. “Get some wood.” He paused. “Please.”
I couldn’t look away from the fish. Flopping around. I almost felt bad for it.
“Rose,” Scorpius said, his brow raised. “Are you having a moment for the fish?”
“Shut up, okay?” I said, cheeks flushing before I marched past him and started gathering wood. I tossed pieces into the pile, but kept looking back at the fish. It was scaly. And gross. And fishy. It smelled like the docks in London.
“What’s a matter? Did I cut you off before you could profess your undying love for Mr. Cat here?” Scorpius was snickering.
So I grabbed the now-dead fish by the tail and slapped him across the chest with it.
Scorpius staggered backward into a tree, gaping at me. “Did you just fish-slap me?” he said, rubbing his chest. The fabric was wet in the shape of a giant catfish. “That bloody hurt!”
“Quit teasing me!” I said, winding up to hit him again. “I’m sick of your shit, Malfoy. Now you tell this fish you love it or I’m hitting you again.”
He flattened himself against the tree. “What?”
“You heard me.” I took a step closer and he flinched. “Tell it you love it.”
“I love the fish.”
“Tell the fish!” I said loudly, waving it by the tail.
“I love you, fish!” Scorpius cried. “Put it down, woman!”
“Now was that hard?” I dropped the fish in the sand. It was too heavy anyway and now my shoulders ached. “Quit teasing me.” I stuck my tongue out at him and grabbed some more wood, tossing it into the pile as he recovered.
“Wasn’t aware you had it in you.” Scorpius groaned and pushed off from the tree. Instead of going for more wood, he opened the tackle box and pulled out a knife. “Want to clean your husband?”
“Watch it,” I said, eyes narrowing. “You’re the one killing your Juliet.” I grabbed my wand and lit the fire, crouching down to blow on the twigs a bit and make sure they were all in flames. It was times like this I missed the Hogwarts salamanders skipping in the embers.
Scorpius snickered to himself and dragged the fish over to a fallen tree a little ways away. The surface was almost flat, so he washed it off with lake water and placed the fish on top. I watched intently from the fire as he slid the knife along the scales of the catfish, peeling away layers and tossing them into the sand. He had a strange look of concentration on his face, eyes fixed on the project. At one point his teeth tugged at his bottom lip.
He cut the fish into fillets after removing the head (I looked away for this) and the tail. Then he made his way back over to me. “Glad I came prepared,” he said.
“With a knife? I’m glad too.” I didn’t know what else was out in the wild. Could be other animals if we found a catfish that big. Giant mice or something. Scaly lizards.
“I mean with this.” Scorpius balanced the fillets in one hand and pulled open the basket. Inside he grabbed a metal grid and two poles to hold it. He handed me the grid while he stuck both poles on either side of the fire. I placed it on top. “Now we won’t have to roast fish on sticks.”
“Did you think we’d catch anything?” I watched him place each fillet neatly on the grid. They were already sizzling.
“I figured there had to be something in the lake.” Scorpius smiled a little and sat down in the sand beside the basket. “I should get your pole untangled.”
“Just leave it.” I shrugged and plopped down, kicking the rubber boots away from my feet. “Pretty sure we have plenty of fish to keep us busy. I still can’t believe you caught that.”
“You helped,” he reasoned.
“I was almost taken out by a fish,” I muttered.
Scorpius laughed. “It was a valiant effort. And besides, that wasn’t a normal fish. It was fish-zilla, remember?” He rubbed the sand from between his fingers.
“And your lover.” I shot him a cheeky grin.
It was easy being snarky around him. He didn’t stare at me, dumbfounded, like Dad or roll his eyes like Mum. And he didn’t throw random objects at me like Hugo. At one point I got a milk carton to the face. Scorpius just sort of let things slide off his back. He grinned a lot. Even my friends didn’t smile as much as he did. And they didn’t hoist giant fish out of lakes.
He grabbed a stick and poked at the fish, before focusing his gaze out at the lake. “Do you think we’re alone out here?”
“My dad told me there are dozens of houses on the mountain,” I said. “And you heard Hugo. He said there’s a town.” I pointed to the faded smoke over the trees.
“You think there is?” Scorpius craned his neck a little, as if that would help him see if it really was beyond horizon.
I shrugged. “People have to get their supplies from somewhere.”
“We should check it out sometime.” He started poking at the fish again.
“We don’t even know where it is.” I laughed. I could imagine the pair of us venturing through the woods, me in my rain boots and him in his department store slacks. What a mess.
“We could find out,” Scorpius said, looking over. He looked genuinely excited.
I didn’t know what to say. My parents wouldn’t like it. Not that they had to know. I had been disappearing for a couple days and they just asked if I’d had fun. Which I had. That was the truth. “Maybe,” I said. “Only if you’re sure there’s a town.”
Scorpius nodded. “I’ll make sure.” He flipped the fish. One side was a crispy golden brown, slanted dark lines across it marking the grill. “Get the rest of the stuff out, will you?”
I raised a brow, opening the basket. I laid out the blanket that was inside, as well as some dishes and cutlery. Then I grabbed a container of diced apples, pasta salad, and a bag of crisps. “Did you know I’d agree?”
“I figured I had a good case,” Scorpius replied, grabbing one of the plates and waiting patiently for the fish to finish cooking. “It was either come hang out with me or stay home. Or go off by yourself. None of those sounded as appealing, at least in my mind.”
He had a valid point. If I wasn’t out here with him, I would still be pouring over my Charms book.
Scorpius plated the fish, wiping the sweat off his brow with the back of his hand. He handed me a plate. “There’s salt in the basket. Other than that, I didn’t bring much seasoning.” He shrugged it off, but I could tell he was unhappy about it.
I smiled. “It’s free food,” I said, laughing a little. He smirked. “Smells good.”
“Smells like you just lost a husband,” he said under his breath.
“Not my type anyway,” I said.
We ate in silence. The fish was way better than I anticipated and I finished all of it, plus a good portion of the extra food.
Scorpius placed the lid back on the pasta salad and finished off his fish. “Is that what you want to do then? Paint?”
I shrugged. “I can paint,” I said. “Don’t know if that’s all I want to do.”
“Don’t you think that would get to be a chore after a while?” I asked. “Taking something you love and forcing yourself to do it every day for money, to please other people? I’m not sure I’d love it anymore.”
Scorpius considered this for a moment. “Didn’t think of it like that.”
“So what do you want to do then?” I asked, eager to get the conversation off me. I remembered him excelling in class, but never heard him mention a career path while passing Potions ingredients.
“Nothing.” He wasn’t looking at me.
“It’s stupid.” Ah, there it was.
“Come on. I bet it’s not stupid.” I nudged him with a stick.
“It’s really dumb.”
I rolled my eyes. “It can’t be stupider than not knowing,” I said. “Come on. Just tell me. Is there a better place?” I laughed.
Scorpius let out a groan. He sank back into the sand, hands behind his head. “Do you really want to know?”
His nose scrunched up. “I want to be a television host.”
“See!” he cried, draping an arm over his eyes. “It’s stupid!”
“It’s not.” I pulled his arm away, laughing. “It’s not stupid. Why do you want to be a television host?”
Scorpius shrugged. His face was turning a new shade of red quickly. “I don’t know,” he muttered out of the corner of his mouth. “I just think I’d like it. Being in front of the camera.”
The more I thought of it, the more sense it made. He was charismatic, fun, and had a great smile. An audience would eat that up in a second. Hell, I had eaten it up on more than one occasion. Though I wasn’t in a hurry to admit that to him.
“You should do it.”
“I don’t think there’s a school you can go to for that.” Scorpius laughed. His face was still burning. It was a good change.
“Broadcast journalism?” I guessed. I didn’t know much about hosts. “You should practice.”
“Right now.” I grinned and scooted back, grabbing the stick. I handed it to him. “It’s your mic. Okay, practice.”
Scorpius stared at me, bewildered.
“We’re on a competition show!” I said, scooting onto my knees. “For drawing. Using the environment!” I grabbed another stick and started drawing in the sand. “Go!”
He cleared his throat, sitting up, clearly startled. “Uh--”
I had to admit, watching him stumble over himself was a nice change from confident, calm Scorpius Malfoy.
“We’re here today covering Rose Weasley and her quest for the Sand Cup,” he said, recovering nicely. “Rose is one of ten competitors sketching in the quest. She is currently using her abilities on...” He paused. “A cat?”
I shot him a look.
“A cat!” he cried. “Yes, it looks like a domestic feline with very realistic ears. And a tail. Look at how quick she is!” Scorpius was fighting not to laugh. “Rose is only seventeen, but she is already better than half the competition here. And further along. We’ll be back to check in on Rose’s chat shortly. Back to you, Jack.” He saluted the air and fell back into the sand.
“You’re a natural,” I said, laughing and putting whiskers on my cat.
“So are you. That actually looks like a cat.”
I raised a brow. “It’s not exactly difficult to draw a cat in the sand.”
He grabbed the stick from me and drew what looked to be a stick-figure version of a cat. I only knew that because of the pointy ears on the circle of a head.
“I stand corrected.” I said and Scorpius threw sand on my legs. “I mean it’s a work of bloody art!”
He fell back into the sand again, laughing.
A/N: First of all, I want to thank all of you for your continued support. As I'm writing this (before it goes into the queue) it will be ONE WEEK until I get married. This entire summer has been an absolute ball of stress, particularly August, and all of you have been wonderful. Once all of that craziness is over I'll be back to my updating schedule.
I adore you all! And I'm so happy you're enjoying this story. It has been a lot of fun to write so far :) Please let me know what you think.
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