I was just changing into my Quidditch robes for practice when Dominique burst into the locker room. “Rosie! I feel like I haven’t seen you in ages!” she exclaimed at the sight of my half-naked body wriggling out of my jeans.
I rolled my eyes. “I see you basically every day, Dom.”
“You know what I mean,” she replied, ruffling my hair as she approached me. “Where have you been?”
I shrugged. Truth be told, I had sort of been avoiding Dom the past few weeks. I knew, on some level, that I was bothered by her snogging Malfoy, but I wouldn’t allow myself to dwell on this fact. “Just busy with schoolwork and prefect duties, I suppose,” I replied carefully.
“And Sebastian?” She wiggled her eyebrows suggestively.
I flushed. When I had confronted Sebastian with the information Scorpius had given me—without revealing the source, of course—Sebastian had laughed it off. Not that I had expected anything different. You know how people are, Rose, he’d said. They see something they’re jealous of, so they try to destroy it for no other reason than that. It’s pathetic! While I had taken his word for it—what’s a relationship without trust, after all?—I still felt a bit uneasy about the whole situation and wasn’t really sure how to act around him. As a result, I’d been far less inclined to spend much alone time with Sebastian lately, and I could sense him getting a little testy.
Dominique, of course, took my red face to mean something else entirely. “Rosie, you slag!” she teased. She had finished dressing for practice by this time and was focused on tying her loose waves back into a high ponytail. “Can’t say I’m not jealous, though,” she continued, sweeping her fringe out of her eyes. “If only Scorpius Malfoy would stop playing hard-to-get.”
My stomach lurched as my mind immediately went back to Dom straddling Scorpius on the couch in the Gryffindor common room while his eyes were locked on mine. Knock it OFF!, I scolded myself. Luckily, Lily chose that moment to poke her head into the locker room. “Oi! James is threatening laps for all of us if you two don’t get your arses out here now! I told him I’d happily stick a rabid Kneazle down his robes if he didn’t get off his power trip, but even that hasn’t deterred him.”
Dominique and I sighed, picked up our brooms, and followed Lily outside. It was even colder than usual for this time of year, and a chilly wind whipped our robes around our legs as we met James, Frankie, Alfie, and Hugo on the pitch. James had us running drills for over an hour and a half, until the darkening sky and our rumbling stomachs reminded him that we should probably return to the castle for dinner. By that time, I was convinced I had been frozen solid.
“Right, then. Same time tomorrow, everyone!” James called as we began to trudge back to the locker rooms. A chorus of groans resounded, which only resulted in a lecture about the Slytherin match being less than two weeks away. As if we weren’t already bloody aware.
I changed quickly, wanting to avoid Dom as much as I wanted to catch James on the way back up to the school. He’d seemed a tad grim the past few weeks since the Violet debacle, and I was concerned that this wouldn’t help his tendency to turn into a controlling Quidditch maniac in the weeks leading up to a big match. Luckily, he was just finishing locking up the broom shed as I rushed out of the locker rooms and caught up with him.
“Still no luck with Vi?” I asked gently after a few minutes of chitchat.
“No,” he replied glumly. “She still thinks I’m a womanizing prat.” I decided to say nothing, but he came to the obvious conclusion himself, anyway. “Which I am,” he conceded, “but that’s not what I wanted with her. I mean, Penny’s great and all, but I never would have been snogging her if I hadn’t thought Violet was blowing me off!”
“I know.” I patted him on the back consolingly. Sure, what he was saying sounded kind of awful, especially with respect to Penelope, but what else was I to expect from a seventeen-year-old boy who couldn’t admit that a girl had actually hurt him? Besides, Penelope didn’t seem too beat up about it—she had quickly moved on with Freddie. “But James, you have to realize that Violet wouldn’t have gotten so upset and stormed out if she had no feelings for you whatsoever.”
“Then why won’t she talk to me?” he complained.
“You hurt her feelings,” I reasoned. “You’re just going to have to woo her a bit until she gets over it.”
“Did you really just tell me to ‘woo’ someone?”
“Yes, I did. And not even ironically.”
He gave me a little smile and slung his arm around my shoulder. “You’re the best, Rosie. You know that?”
“Yep. Sure do.”
“And so modest, too!”
“That’s me!” I gave him a grin as we climbed the stairs to the castle and headed toward the Great Hall.
* * *
Sebastian was waiting for me outside the Great Hall after dinner. I greeted him with a peck on the cheek. “Hi, Seb.”
“Hey babe,” he replied, giving my bum a little squeeze. “What’s the plan tonight?”
“Lots of homework.” I pulled a face.
He rolled his eyes. “Shocking. Guess it’s a good thing your brother asked me up to your common room for a game of wizard’s chess, then. I just love to watch you study,” he teased.
I did everything in my power to prevent my eyebrows from shooting up into my hairline. As far as I could tell, Hugo, like Dad, had never particularly taken to Sebastian. However, again, like Dad, Hugo was a sucker for a good game of wizard’s chess, and Sebastian was a legend.
“You could seem a little more enthusiastic,” Sebastian pouted as he put his arm around my waist and steered me toward the Gryffindor common room.
I sighed. “I’m sorry, I am. It’s just that I’m so stressed right now, with all my work and everything. Plus James is starting to get riled up about the Slytherin match—you know how he gets about us practicing for these things.”
“I know. But don’t worry, you’ll be brilliant.” He kissed the top of my head. “And I promise I’ll be there to see it this time.”
I smiled up at him. Maybe things were going to turn out just fine, after all.
* * *
Sebastian had only returned to the Slytherin dorms a few minutes previous and I was just ready to turn in for the night when I let out a loud groan and smacked my palm to my forehead.
“What is it, Rosie?” Roxy stopped slathering moisturizer on her face and looked over at me with concern.
“My new Quidditich gloves with the built-in Heating Charm. I wrote Mum a letter to owl them to me but completely forgot to send it!”
Roxy shrugged. “So? Just wait ‘til tomorrow.”
I groaned again. “I can’t. The Slytherin match is already less than two weeks away, and I’ll freeze to death if they don’t get here in time.”
Roxy glanced at the clock. “You’ll be cutting it close, but I reckon you can get up to the Owlery before anyone will give you detention for it.”
“Don’t have much of a choice, anyway. Be right back.” I grabbed the letter I had written earlier that day and dashed out of the dorm.
A few minutes later, I ran up the steps to the Owlery and entered, finding myself alone except for the scores of owls perched about haphazardly. I spotted the snowy white feathers of Hugo’s owl, Artemis, and whistled for her to come to me. She immediately flew down from her spot on the rafters and hooted at me softly as her long talons dug into my forearm. “Take this to Mum quick as you can, if you please,” I murmured to her as I tied on the letter. “Try not to be too cross with me when she has you bring back my gloves.” I gave her a few scratches to appease her before she took off. I stood at the window a moment and watched her until she became a tiny white dot in the night sky.
“Fancy meeting you here.”
I jumped and reached for my wand, causing a flurry of disgruntled owls around me, then slumped back against the wall, hand to my chest, when I saw who it was. “Merlin, Malfoy, you nearly gave me a heart attack!”
He smirked. “Lovely to know I can have that effect on you, Weasley.”
I rolled my eyes. “What are you doing up here, anyway? It’s getting late.”
“Same as you, I suppose,” he replied, pulling a rolled-up letter out of his back pocket. He whistled for his owl, who came flying down to him immediately from a spot not too far from Artemis’s previous perch. Scorpius cooed gently at the large creature and smoothed its downy grey feathers comfortingly before it took off into the night. Then he straightened and we both stood there for a few awkward moments, staring at each other.
I cleared my throat and started to make toward the staircase. “Well, good night, then.”
As I moved to pass him, he grasped my arm. “Rose, are you really going to keep avoiding me forever?” I looked up at him. It was a fair question, I suppose. I had been avoiding him ever since his revelation to me in the library. That is to say, I had been trying to avoid him, while he’d been trying his damnedest to not let me do so. Almost every time I found myself studying in the library alone the past few weeks, Scorpius would appear, set his books down beside me, and silently do his own work at my table. He seemed to understand that I wasn’t ready to talk to him, and he hadn’t tried to speak to me—until now.
“Maybe,” I replied, pulling away from him and retreating back to my window, which I looked out forlornly.
I heard him sigh behind me and could almost sense him running his hand through his hair. “Look, I was just trying to do the right thing—“
I whirled around. “The right thing?!” I exclaimed. “You lied to me about my boyfriend shagging some other girl! What were you playing at, anyhow?”
Scorpius’s eyes widened and his jaw dropped in disbelief. “I lied to you?” He was yelling now. “Why in Voldemort’s reach would I lie to you, Rose? Especially about something like that?”
“How should I know?!”
He scoffed. “We may not be the best of mates, but when have I ever done anything to make you believe that I would purposely try to hurt you that way?”
Now I scoffed. “Oh come off it, Scorpius! Stop acting like you’re such a bloody hero, and stop acting like you care so much about me and my feelings. Just go back to snogging Dominique!” I had no idea why I was engaging him, why I was getting so heated.
“Why does the fact that I snogged Dominique bother you so damn much?”
“It doesn’t!” I spat. “I couldn’t care less what you do or who you do it with!”
Scorpius was pacing by now. “You drive me absolutely insane, Weasley!”
“Oh yes, Malfoy, because you’re just pure joy and sunshine every bloody moment!” I replied hotly.
It only took him three long strides to make it across the room to me. His expression was thunderous as I backed against the wall, waiting for his sure-to-be infuriating retort. Instead, in one swift move, he pulled me to him tightly with one arm, grasped the back of my neck with his other hand, and crushed his lips against mine.
I found myself melting for a moment. His lips were so soft. I hadn’t remembered that from our brief tumble last Christmas. I suddenly realized what I was doing, and tried to push him away. “Scorpius—“
“Oh for the love of Dumbledore, Rose, just shut up!” And for some reason, I did.
He quickly resumed our kiss. Slowly my mouth opened, allowing his tongue access to mine. He pressed me up against the wall behind me, much like Sebastian had done only a couple of months ago on the Hogwarts Express. Though Scorpius kissed me just as urgently, I didn’t feel any of the pressure, the discomfort I had with Sebastian.
As much as I knew I shouldn’t be doing this, my traitorous body seemed to have a mind of its own. I found myself pressing back into him, my arms wrapped around him with one hand buried in his pale golden hair. I had no idea how much time had passed by the time we broke away from each other, gasping. He looked at me expectantly. “I can’t—I have to go,” I blurted out. I ran out of the Owlery without looking back.