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Rifts and Romance by petitesorciere

Format: Novella
Chapters: 4
Word Count: 15,476
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Mild Language, Scenes of a Sexual Nature

Genres: Romance, Young Adult
Characters: Harry, Hermione, Draco, Ginny, James (II), OC
Pairings: Draco/Hermione, Other Pairing

First Published: 01/09/2009
Last Chapter: 07/05/2009
Last Updated: 07/05/2009

Summary:



Draco and Hermione's daughter, Rosie, is dealing with the fallout of her school life after the revelation that Draco was a Death Eater. The reason for this fall out? James Sirius Potter, determined to make Rosie pay for the supposed crimes of her father. But a rift is not so simple to maintain when the prospect of romance is closer than they think. Gorgeous banner by the wonderful ginnygurl @ TDA.


Chapter 1: Chapter 1
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AN: Just to let everyone know – this story is meant to be a follow on from Seven Deadly Sins and Back to Temptation. However, if for some reason you don’t want to go and read those stories, this is all you need to know: Draco and Hermione are together, which has caused a rift in her relationship with Harry and Ron. Gosh, it sounds so bland when I put it like that, maybe you’d better go read the other stories. Anyway, this is my first attempt at a next generation story based around an original character, so all of your comments are very helpful.  Also, I might have got some of the chronology wrong, but I hope  no-one cares too much…Thanks!

 

Magnetism
 

Prologue
 

Hermione lay back against Draco and watched as his hands slipped around her and rested on the bump of her stomach. She felt their baby shift slightly and smiled as it kicked. “She always does that when you touch my stomach.”

 

“She’s going to be a daddy’s girl then.” He kissed the top of her head and hugged her slightly closer. “Have you thought about names?”

 

“I am not calling my daughter Sophronia.” She looked at back at Draco with raised eyebrows.

 

“It’s a family name,” he protested feebly.

 

“And your family is more than welcome to it. I want my daughter to have a normal name though.” She crossed her arms resolutely and felt her baby kick, as though in agreement.

 

“I’ve got a whole list…Portia, Titania, Madrona, Beatirsa…”

 

“Now you’re just teasing me.” Hermione pressed her spine back against him. “Why does it have to be so grandiose?”

 

“Says the girl with a name that comes from Ancient Greece.”

 

“You honestly want to name our daughter Madrona Malfoy?”

 

“Would you let me?”

 

“No.” She smiled back at him and reached back to kiss him. “What about Primrose?”

 

Draco said it a few times and shrugged apologetically. “It reminds me of a horse.”

 

“Prudence?”

 

“And you think I’m being cruel?”

 

“It’s an admirable quality!”

 

“Yes, and her schoolmates will be so grateful: you’ll provide them with so many opportunities for teasing. Does it really matter this much? Let’s just pick the name of the next woman that we see.”

 

“No! This is important. I want to give her a name that she’ll love!”

 

Draco sighed quietly and hugged his wife a little closer. “What about Rosalind?”

 

She paused, her automatic rejection on her tongue. “Rosalind Malfoy.”

 

“It sounds good, doesn’t it?”

 

“Rosie for short.”

 

“Do we have a name?”

 

She turned round and hugged herself into him. “We have a name.” They lay quietly for a minute, their baby between them, until Hermione broke the silence. “I had a thought.”

 

“Which was?”

 

“Harry and Ginny’s son, James, will be one year above Rosie at Hogwarts. Do you think they’ll argue?”

 

“Why would they? Kids are oblivious. They aren’t going to know about you falling out with Harry and Ron. So why would they ever carry on that argument? They’ll probably never even talk.”

 






 

Chapter One
 

16 Years Later
 

Rosie Malfoy smoothed down her Gryffindor robes, rolled her eyes and muttered loudly enough for her parents to hear. “Do you have to do that in public?”

 

Draco removed his lips from Hermione’s cheek and pretended to clip his daughter around the head. “When I was your age, I respected my parents.”

 

“Well, I’m sure your parents didn’t indulge in utterly repulsive public displays of affection. Try and hold it in check, why don’t you?”

 

Hermione smiled at her daughter. “You should consider yourself lucky that you have parents who love each other so much.”

 

“Why?” Rosie was tempted to run for the Hogwarts Express but was still strangely reluctant to leave her parents’ side. “It doesn’t serve any useful purpose.”

 

Draco looked at his only child and wondered how on earth she managed to provoke the most intense feelings of irritation and paternal pride at the same time. “Have you got all your stuff?”

 

“I ought to, Mum’s checked it about a million and one times.” She stuck her fingers into the wicker cat basket that was balancing on top of her trunk and stroked the downy fur of her slumbering cat. “What’s wrong with Tilly?”

 

“You mean, why isn’t she clawing off your fingers? I gave her a sleeping draught before we got her in the basket. I wasn’t having a repeat of last time.”

 

“If you hadn’t frightened her, then she wouldn’t have attacked you Dad.” She began hauling her trunk towards the train. “Are you going to help me, or did you think you’d done enough when you drugged my cat?”

 

Hermione poked her husband in the ribs and watched as he dragged his daughter’s belongings towards the train. It was odd seeing them together, Rosie’s long hair the exact shade of platinum blonde that Draco’s was. But as her daughter looked up, Hermione was met with her own brown eyes staring back at her, something that never failed to shock her. “Mum, are you going to help, or are you going to just stand there gawking?”

 

“Watch your tone,” Draco cautioned half-heartedly.

 

She flashed him the smile that always had him melting, something which she had worked out at the age of six, and had never failed to use whenever it suited her. Then, standing back, she let him heave the trunk onto the train and then hopped lightly after it. Leaning out of a window, she blew kisses at her parents. “See you at Christmas!”

 

“Take care of yourself! And work hard!” And then their daughter was lost to sight as she disappeared into the depth of the train. 

 

Draco turned to Hermione. “I though you said the terrible twos were the worst thing we were going to have to deal with.”

 

Linking her arm through his, she rested her head on his shoulder. “I don’t think she’s quite grown out of that stage yet.” The guard’s whistle sounded and they prepared themselves to wave at the train in the vain hope that their fiercely independent daughter was standing by the window to catch a last glimpse of them. 

 

A flurry of activity caught their eye further down the platform. Two tall, dark haired boys were hurriedly pushing at their trunks while their parents, the father with jet black hair and the mother with flaming red, stood by, encouraging them. A small girl with red hair was already standing on the train, watching eagerly. Hermione nudged Draco. “The Potters.”

 

Draco nodded silently. They watched as the boys bestowed hasty kisses on their parents and leapt onto the train, mere seconds before it began to pull away.  “Do you think Rosie does ever talk to them?”

 

“She’s never mentioned it if she has.” Hermione smiled at him. “But then, she likes to guard her privacy, so it wouldn’t surprise me if she’s storing it up for use on some special occasion.”

 




 

Rosalind sat back against the worn seats and looked at the countryside as it flashed past her.  Smiling slightly as she thought of her parents, standing arm in arm as they waved at the train. Of course she still watched for them, but it would never do to let them know that. As far as they were concerned, she was an independent young adult, and had no need of the parental safety net that they provided for her. Looking up, she raised an eyebrow as a two, tall, dark-haired boys pulled open the door to her compartment. She recognised them vaguely, having seen them around Gryffindor tower. 

 

“Do you mind if we sit here?” The younger one asked, only to look around and see his sibling already settling into a seat. “James!” he hissed. His brother gave him a nonplussed stare. 

 

“What? There’s a seat here, and thanks to you taking forever this morning, I’m not going to be able to get one anywhere else on the train. So I’m going to sit here.” He turned towards Rosie and gave her a confident smile that instantly set every nerve in her body on edge. “I’m James Potter.”

 

Fighting back her immediate response, which was to snap ‘Should I be impressed by that?’,  she smiled tightly and answered “Rosalind Malfoy.”

 

He nodded and she turned back around to the window as the younger one, who must be Albus she now realised, remembering who the boys were, sat down next to her.  “What year are you in?”

 

“Sixth.”

 

“Between us. James is Seventh and I’m Fifth.”

 

“I was able to work that one out.” She smiled again, tightly, hoping to dissuade him from continuing the conversation.

 

“You must have done well in your O.W.Ls to get through to your N.E.W.Ts.” Albus said, looking at her as though she had done something vaguely miraculous. 

 

“Yes.”

 

“What did you get?”

 

She exhaled heavily through her nose. “Outstanding in everything.”

 

James nodded to himself, as though approving her, which irritated her more than she would have thought possible. “I could have done that if I’d actually put some effort in.”

 

“But you didn’t?”

 

“Nah. My dad was furious.”

 

She smiled half-heartedly and turned back to the window. Was she meant to join in with that conversation and moan about parents? She could think of far more interesting things to do.

 

“So Rosalind” James had obviously decided that she was worth talking to. “ Why aren’t you sitting with your friends?”

 

She thought about giving him a slightly manic smile and saying ‘I didn’t have any until you came along’ but instead decided that normality was a better idea. “I got on the train late, and didn’t know if I’d be able to find them. I decided to wait and catch up with them later.”

 

James nodded. “Done anything interesting with your summer?”

 

“Not really. You?”

 

“Played a bit of Quidditch, met up with friends, you know the sort of thing.”

 

“Oh.” She turned back to the window and wished he would shut up so that she could just think. She knew precisely the sort of person he was: a jock who thought he was the best thing to grace Hogwart’s halls in the last decade. She had absolutely no interest in talking to him.

 

“Do you play Quidditch?”

 

“No, I hate flying. I think I get it from my mum; she can’t work brooms either.”

 

“You don’t like flying? I’m sure you would, if you had the right sort of lessons. I’m an excellent teacher. In more ways than one.” 

 

Rosie vacillated between giving him a contemptuous glare or opting to be civil. The manners which Hermione had instilled into her at great length (“Well, I don’t want her to be as rude as you were Draco.”)  won out. “I just don’t have a head for heights. I find it hard enough to deal with the Astronomy tower.”

 

“I’d look after you.”

 

“I don’t need you as a teacher, no matter how excellent you claim to be.”

 

“Oh.” James sat back and studied her as she stared resolutely out of the window. Her face was quite angular, the jut of her cheekbones almost too severe, making her heart-shaped face look almost sharp. The velvet brown of her eyes was a strange shade next to her light blonde hair, and the cushion of her lower lip was uneven next to her thin upper lip. He didn’t know who her parents were, but had he been aware of it, he would have seen how their features blended in her face. She contrasted in every single aspect of her appearance which left her too unusual to be beautiful, but she had a peculiarly appealing nature about her.

 

Albus saw the look on his brother’s face and wanted to scream. It was the exact same expression that he had had when they went on a family holiday to France last year, and James had seen all of the scantily clad girls on the beach: an appraising, anticipatory look. He seemed to think that any girl he approached would instantly flutter her eyelashes and fall under his spell. Casting a quick look at the silent Rosalind, he felt that she might not be so quick to succumb as girls usually were.

 

Because girls did seem to fall for James. He was tall, conventionally handsome and a key member of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. Intelligent but unwilling to focus on his academic studies, he preferred to spend his time in class laughing with his friends or picking arguments with the teachers. He was a friendly, appealing young man who was well aware of it. Albus raised his eyes to heaven; why did none of that easygoing confidence extend to him? He looked out into the corridor to see one of his friends walk past and immediately jumped up to run after him, anything rather than watch James make yet another move on yet another girl. 

 

James watched his younger brother run out into the corridor and then turned his speculative gaze back to Rosalind. “You’re quiet Rosie.”

 

“What’s the point of having inane conversations? And please don’t call me Rosie.”

 

“This is an inane conversation? I’m hurt!” He smiled at her, the insult rushing straight over him. “And why can’t I call you Rosie?”

 

“Only my friends call me Rosie. You only met me fifteen minutes ago, so I doubt very much that you’re a friend. And yes, I think this is a perfect example of an inane conversation.”

 

He drew back slightly, his eyebrows furrowed. “Well, there’s me put thoroughly in my place. What did I do to deserve that?”

 

Rosalind looked at him.  Truth be told, she didn’t know what he had done to warrant that. She had barely noticed him before today. Yes, he was arrogant, but she could deal with that. But he was friendlier than anyone had a right to be, and there was something about him that made her want to cut him back down to a size that she could deal with. But once again, good manners coerced her into smiling politely and apologising. “Sorry, you  didn’t deserve that.”

 

“Why say it then?”

 

Her irritation promptly rose. He was asking questions that she could not answer, and no student who has consistently received top marks likes to be the recipient of such questions. “I don’t know.”

 

He looked her over once more, and she felt her blood rise to her cheeks and instantly wanted to hide her face in her hands. Because she had such pale skin, the smallest blush that went to her cheeks made her look like she had been painted with a particularly virulent shade of crimson. He looked at her incredulously and laughed quietly. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a girl actually blush. What century are you from Rosalind?”

 

“It was your fault. You were looking at me!”

 

“Listen to yourself you nutjob. I was looking at you?”

 

“You know precisely what I mean.”

 

“No, I don’t.” From the look on his face, she could tell that he was telling the truth and decided that she probably was going mad from a mixture of intense annoyance and too much blood flow to her head. Unable to think of any sufficiently witty retorts and unwilling to back down and put up with his mild teasing, she stood up and walked out of the carriage, almost as furious with herself as she was with him. And utterly confused because as far as she could logically tell, he had done nothing to warrant such anger.

 

James watched her departing back and shook his head in amusement. A peculiar appeal was all well and good but he didn’t need someone that defensive. 

 

*

An hour later, Rosalind was murmuring in her friend Sophie’s ear, filling her in on the events of the train journey. Sophie whipped around and hissed loudly “And you were rude to him?”

 

Several first years, waiting to be sorted, jumped slightly at the harsh sound of the hiss. Rosie gestured for her friend to keep her voice down. “Will you be quiet? He’s only a couple of seats down?”

 

Sophie  raised her eyes to heaven and lowered her voice. “Why on earth would you be rude to James Potter?”

 

“why wouldn’t I be? He’s cocky, and arrogant, and rude…”

 

“Rude?”

 

Honesty compelled Rosie to amend her statement. “Well, not rude per se, but you should have seen the way he was acting. He wouldn’t stop talking or…”

 

“Have you any idea how many girls would kill to have been talking to James? Quidditch team, clever, utterly gorgeous.”

 

“He’s not that amazing. He just thinks he is, and for some reason everyone believes him.”


 

Rosie discretely looked down the table. James was laughing with his friends, his hair glossy under the candlelight. Sophie saw where her gaze was directed and looked closer to whisper into her friend’s ear. “So why can’t you stop staring at him? Rosalind, surely you aren’t buying into the myth that James Potter is amazing?”

 

Rosie elbowed her friend in the ribs, Sophie’s giggles fortunately drowned out by the Ravenclaws clapping at the newest arrival to their house. “Yes, he’s attractive, but I need much more than that!” She met her friend’s eye levelly for a minute and then the pair of them dissolved into laughter.

 






James had just finished telling his friends about what had happened to him on the train. “I’m telling you, she just got up and walked out!”

 

“You’re sure you didn’t spit at her or something?”

 

“Unlike you, Richard, I have some understanding of social graces. No, of course I didn’t spit at her or something. I was a perfect gentleman.”

 

Michael raised an eyebrow, and James sighed. “You don’t need to be so dubious. I was my usual, charming self.”

 

“That’s precisely why I’m dubious. Your usual self is not particularly charming.”

 

James coolly took a sip from his goblet. “Say what you want. I’m charming, you know I’m charming and more to the point, that girl there,” he paused to nod his head in the direction of a Hufflepuff girl coyly eying him, “thinks I’m charming. The evidence stands for itself.”

 

“Well, dear Rosalind clearly doesn’t think so.”

 

James waved a hand in a nonchalant gesture of dismissal and winked at the Hufflepuff. “A single dissenting voice in the face of my outstanding popularity. I’ll survive.”

 

His friends smiled with him, unable to deny his charisma.

 







 

The next day, Rosalind was sitting in her Potions class, absentmindedly running the feathers of her quill against her cheek as she stared at the blackboard. Slughorn was recapping the points of the lesson, and she was miles away, still lost in her memories of yesterday’s encounter. Now that she wasn’t faced with James, she could think of a million excellent retorts, yet none of them quite seemed to do justice to the intense feelings of irritation that she was still harbouring. 

 

Jolted from her reverie by the sound of wooden stools scraping against the stone floor, she sat upright and began shoving her things into her bag. Slughorn wandered over to her desk. “Are you alright Miss Malfoy?”

 

“Oh, fine thank you Professor. Sorry if I’ve seemed a little distracted, I…”

 

“A little homesick, I wouldn’t wonder.” Rosie opened her mouth to correct him, but he was speaking irregardless. “A summer spent at home with your fine parents, Hogwarts must seem a little barren in comparison.”

 

“I…” Rosie paused and then looked at him. “What did you say?”

 

“Your fine parents. Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy, I believe, hmmm?” He laced his fingers contentedly across his ever-expanding stomach.

 

Rosie’s eyebrows furrowed together. “How do you know who my parents are?”

 

“Well, I taught both of them of course.” Slughorn rocked back and forth on his heels. “And then there was all the controversy surrounding them at your father’s trial.”

 

“My…my father’s trial?” 

 

Slughorn looked at her closely. “You were unaware of this?”

 

Rosie nodded silently and stared at him with wide eyes.

 

“Well, in that case I would be ill-advised to continue.” He turned back towards his desk, only to feel Rosie’s pale hand clutching at his sleeve.

 

“Professor, you can’t tell me something like that and refuse to elaborate.” She gulped. “My father was on trial? For what? And why was there a controversy? Please, Professor, you know I’m one of your best students, a trustworthy student!”

 

Slughorn smiled absentmindedly. “Much like your mother. Miss Malfoy, what I am about to tell you happened a long time ago. You must not allow it to reflect badly on your view of your parents, do you understand?” He waited for Rosie’s tiny nod and then continued. “Your mother, Hermione Granger, has long been regarded as the most brilliant witch of her age. She excelled at school, and was a dear friend of Harry Potter and Ron Weasley.”

 

“But they…they stopped Voldemort.”

 

“As did your mother.” Slughorn’s eyes were grave as they looked at her. “She was a vital part of the effort against Voldemort.”

 

“Then why hasn't she ever spoken about Mr Potter and Mr Weasley? Surely if you were a part of something like that, you would have a lifelong bond?”

 

Slughorn sighed. “That leads me to your father. He was a good student as well, although not quite on the same level as your mother. Unfortunately, he ran with a bad crowd. He was dragged into the Death Eaters. The story came out several years later. He had never been a willing member of the Death Eaters, and he had decided to remain an inconspicuous participant, to preserve his life. It was common at the time. However, there was an aspect of Draco which Voldemort was unaware of. Your mother and father had been in love during their time at school. It had been a secret relationship, clouded by the old House rivalries. Although they had broken up, those feelings still lingered. When Draco was ordered to kill your mother, he decided he could no longer do pretend to be a Death Eater, and fled. He remained in hiding until the end of the war. He was then captured by the Ministry of Magic, and stood trial. Hermione protected him, and their relationship came to light. Many could not understand how Hermione Granger, protector of the innocent, could stand by the side of an accused Death Eater and declare her love for him. It caused a rift in her relationship with Harry and Ron. An irreparable rift by all accounts. Even when Draco was found innocent, they could not bring themselves to repair that break.”

 

“My father was a Death Eater?” Rosie felt a lump in her throat. The man that she had adored all her life, who had sat with her on his knee, who had bought her ice cream, let her dance on the top of his feet, teasingly tugged at her hair, was a lie. 

 

“He was an accused Death Eater,” Slughorn corrected gently. “Many pretended to give their allegiance to keep their loved ones safe.”

 

“My mother didn’t.” Rosie stood up, and swung her bag onto her shoulder. “Thank you Professor.” 

 

Slughorn watched as she left the room, her feet hitting the floor hard. She paused in the corridor, her mind spinning. Running to Gryffindor tower, pushing past the students in the corridors, she flung herself onto her bed, and rummaged in her bag for parchment and a quill. Jamming the nib of the quill into a pot of ink, she dragged the feather across the parchment, splattering violet ink everywhere. Unable to think past the roaring in her ears, she scrawled. “When were you planning on telling me that Dad was a Death Eater? And how could you marry him Mum, knowing that he was everything you had fought against?”

 

She sealed the letter and tossed it onto her bedspread, staring at the creamy envelope. None of it made sense. Her parents had always been vociferous in their contempt of Death Eaters and everything they stood for. They had never mentioned that her mother had been instrumental in the fall of Voldemort, or that her father had stood in Voldemort’s inner circle. How could parents keep that kind of information away from a daughter that they professed to love?





 



Hermione and Draco sat at their kitchen table staring at their daughter’s angry writing. Draco swallowed. “How did she find out?”

 

Hermione leaned her head against her husband’s shoulder. “Someone will have given her some garbled version, that doesn’t take into account all the circumstances.”

 

“But the fact remains. I was a Death Eater. It will make me a hypocrite.”

 

“She’s our daughter. She’ll understand.”

 

Draco watched as his wife pulled a fresh sheet of parchment towards herself and began to write a letter back. “What if this gets out? What if she’s bullied because of what I was?”

 

Hermione paused and looked at Draco. “Will you pull yourself together, for Merlin’s sake? Stop being so pathetic! You always said it didn’t matter what the world thought of us, it was what we knew to be true. That’s done us well enough so far, and I’m sure it’ll do just as well for Rosie. Now, be quiet and let me write this letter.” She lifted her face so that Draco could kiss her and then resumed writing.

 







 

The letter for Rosie arrived at breakfast a couple of days later. The envelope landed on top of her toast, and as she gingerly picked it up, trying to avoid touching the smears of butter and marmalade, she saw her mother’s neat handwriting. Flicking open the letter, she began reading.

 

Darling Rosie,

 

I know that the news of your father’s past will have come as a surprise, and no one regrets that more than I. I did wonder many times if it would have been wise to tell you of our history, but hoped that it would never touch your life. Given that you’ve managed to make it to your sixth year before it ever came up, I was hoping that you would be protected. Unfortunately, fate seems to have a nasty way of dealing out the hand of cards we least want when we least expect it.

 

Yes, your father was a Death Eater. And I can imagine precisely how this makes you feel, given that he has always openly despised them. What you must understand is that your father comes from a family where support to Voldemort was a way of life. He was brought into that world without wanting to be, and he thought that he would be able to ride out the war in the relative safety of Voldemort’s inner circle. I know that seems like cowardice, and to an extent, it is. But being in the Death Eaters was no guarantee of safety. Many of them were tortured and killed. Your father was never involved in any crime, and he fled Voldemort after being ordered to kill me.

 

You see, he loved me. We had fallen in love during our final year at Hogwarts, and I had ended it, believing that the differences between us were too irreconcilable for us to ever be together permanently. It broke my heart. All the time that I was fighting with Harry and Ron, I was praying that we would never come across Draco, that I would never have to raise my wand against him. That prayer was answered, but I was never able to move on with my life. I spent every minute of every day missing him. 

 

When I learnt that he was to stand trial as a Death Eater, and that he had no support from anyone, I knew I had to help him. I decided that I would keep our romantic involvement a secret and remain completely professional. I told myself again and again that what I was doing was protecting human rights, not endeavouring to protect the man that I had loved for so long, even though I knew that was precisely what I was trying to do. Our relationship began again, and I knew that I could trust whatever he was telling me. I defended him, and a court that was biased against him found him innocent. Rosie, I think that has to tell you something about the strength of your father’s story: that a Ministry desperate to convict him had no option but to find him innocent. 

 

The one part of this story that remains unresolved is the rift between Harry, Ron and myself. To say the least, your father had somewhat a stormy relationship with Harry and Ron at school. In fact, he was absolutely vile to them. Harry and Ron were willing to see only the possibility that he was a Death Eater, and they were unable to accept the fact that I loved him. We argued, and they walked away from me at the time when I needed them most. 

 

My darling daughter, please understand that your father is still the man that you thought he was. The fact that he had to go through so much when he was younger does not affect the fact that he has been a wonderful parent to you. He is your father and always will be. 

 

All my love

 

Mum

 

Rosie stared at the letter, its edges being crumpled as she clutched at it. Her mother was so completely devoted to her father, that was something that she had known all her life. The history that lay behind their relationship, or at least what she knew from a couple of paragraphs, hinted at a much deeper bond than she could ever have guessed. What was she meant to do? Accept that her father had facets to his past that were best left untouched? Pretend that she had never been told about her murky family history?

 

She was still staring at the letter, although she had been able to release her hold slightly, when James walked past. “Why, if it isn’t Rosie.” He swooped down and snatched the letter from her hand. “What are you reading?”

 

She jumped up. “Give that back right now Potter!”

 

“Well, we are touchy this morning, more so than usual! What is it, a love letter?” He lowed his voice to a faux-scandalised whisper, and then began to read the letter. “Let’s see…’My darling daughter’. Your mother is ever so affectionate. I just get letters begging me to start behaving.”

 

Rosie’s heart was pounding in her chest. A history that she was unable to deal with, something that she was struggling to even begin to come to terms with, was about to be unveiled to the Gryffindor table that was now listening so attentively. “Give it back now.” She thought she was going to vomit, her stomach churning uneasily.

 

“It would have been wise to tell you of our history. Gosh, Miss Perfect Rosalind has a dark secret does she?” Without waiting for a response, James skimmed through to the next paragraph. “Yes, your father was a Death Eater.”

 

He didn’t seem to realise what he had just said, too caught up in the glorious moment of basking in everyone’s attention. The Gryffindor table sat, waiting for the punch line. Rosie’s mouth fell open, her breath gasping out of her as she saw stars flashing behind her eyes. James muttered the line again. “Yes, your father was a Death Eater.”

 

Rosie, acting on instinct alone, pulled her wand from her robes and shouted “Incendio!” She watched as the parchment shrivelled into itself, the incriminating words lost to the air. 

 

James stared at her. “You’re the daughter of a Death Eater?”

 

She licked lips that were rapidly drying out and grasped at random words. “I…it’s not…”

 

“The spawn of a Death Eater.” His tone was coldly disdainful and he paused, giving her the chance to reflect on her demotion from ‘daughter’ to ‘spawn’. “How can you sit in here and show your face like you’ve done nothing wrong?”

 

“I haven’t done anything wrong,” she whispered, but James was pounding on relentlessly.

 

“Have you no idea what those bastards put my father through? Put the entire wizarding world through? And you act like you aren’t ashamed of who you are?”

 

“I’m not!” She pulled her spine upright, hoping it would infuse her with self-righteous determination. “My father was forced to join the Death Eaters by his family. He never committed any crime. He was found innocent by a Ministry desperate to convict him. I think that should tell you something of his virtue!” She parroted her mother’s words, trying to imbue herself with some of Hermione’s faultless devotion. “I will not be ashamed of my heritage. As far as I’m concerned, being the son of a man who deserts his friends because they won’t do precisely what he wants is much worse. Maybe before you start throwing stones at me because of my father’s perceived crimes you would do well to ask your father about how he treated my mother.”

 

Raising her chin proudly, she turned her back on James Potter and walked away from him, trying to deafen herself to the whispers that rose up in her wake. 

AN: Hope you enjoyed, all constructive criticism appreciated. For my regular Dramione readers, I'm aiming to have the first chapter of 'Forbidden Fruit' up by this time tomorrow, so keep an eye out for it!  Petitesorciere xxx

 

Chapter 2: Chapter 2
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Three hours later, Rosie was lying on her bed, the red curtains drawn around her, listening to the hissing whispers of the other girls in her dormitory. Unable to hear the words, she could only think that the murmuring sounded quite ominous; spitting like water poured on hot fat. She stared at the scarlet velvet that surrounded her, trying to convince herself that she had just as much right to be here as everyone else. But suddenly all the ease that she had felt with Hogwarts had disintegrated. Her entire school life felt like a lie. She had sat with her classmates and studied the rise of Voldemort, she had condemned the Death Eaters and the terror that they had inspired, and she had revelled in the nods of her peers and teachers when they approved of a particular comment she had made. How could she retain that same pride and standing when her own father had been one of them? She didn’t know what he had done with his time in the Death Eaters and for all she knew he could have been one of the worst.

 

She was pulled from her melancholy by the curtains swishing angrily back and Sophie staring down at her. “We were meant to go to Charms together and you just ran off.”

 

“I had other things on my mind,” Rosie answered, rolling her eyes, and intensely relieved that her best friend was still talking to her. Sophie settled herself cross-legged on the bed and pulled the curtains shut again.

 

“How are you?”

 

“I don’t know.” Rosie looked at her and wondered how best she could explain the constantly turning tide of emotion inside her. “I keep telling myself that my dad’s actions have no reflection on me as a person, but I can’t help feeling the fact that he was one of them undermines everything I’ve ever said about Death Eaters and Voldemort. And then I tell myself that I don’t know that dad ever even did anything bad, because my mum’s letter said that he was just in the Death Eaters to avoid being hurt and because his family expected it. And then I think, well, is that true, and if so, why is my dad such a coward?”

 

“You never make things simple for yourself, do you?” Sophie scooted over on the bed and put her arm around her friend’s shoulders. “Stop analysing this. You can’t do anything about what your dad did or didn’t do, and it doesn’t reflect on you as a person at all. Look at my mum: she would happily eat spinach every day. Me? I can’t stand the stuff.”

 

“There’s a bit of a difference between eating spinach and being in an organisation which was based on death and torture.”

 

“Not to me. Oh, come on Rosie, it doesn’t affect your life that much. He’s still your dad.”

 

“I know, but…”

 

“You’re not meant to know everything about your parents.” Sophie paused to shudder at the thought. “And I’m sure they didn’t tell you because they knew it would hurt you, not because it was something that needed to be kept a secret.”

 

Rosie nodded. “You’re right.”

 

“This is me. I’m always right.” Sophie squeezed Rosie’s shoulders. “Now, I love you but you’re being a drama queen and I’m not going to put up with it. We’re going to dinner.”

 

Rosie’s pale skin blanched to an ashen shade. “I can’t go in there! They’ll all be looking and whispering!”

 

Sophie stood up and pulled the curtains back. “How big is your head? You think you’re a celebrity and the rest of Hogwarts have nothing better to do than gossip about you?”

 

Rosie stood up reluctantly and smiled half-heartedly at her friend’s jesting tone. “No one’s been talking about it?”

 

“Pah. It’s nothing.” And without waiting for her friend to analyse her tone, Sophie grabbed Rosie and pulled her down the stairs.

 

The moment they got into the dining hall, Rosie turned to Sophie and hissed “you lied.”’ There had been an audible increase in the level of conversation and the frantically turning heads left Rosie in no doubt that her peers were discussing her in as much detail as their frenetically waving tongues would let them. She immediately tried to twist away, nursing an animal instinct to run back to somewhere safe and brood. Sophie grabbed her arm and pulled her back around to face forwards, whispering into Rosie’s blonde hair. “If you walk away now, you are telling them that you’re ashamed of who you are and you think that they’re right. And I’m not going to let you do that.”

 

As she was led forward, past the staring eyes, Rosie whispered back. “But I am ashamed of who I am and what my father was and they are right.”

 

Sophie didn’t bother dignifying Rosie’s self-pity with a response, choosing instead to shove her into a seat and watch her like a hawk as she glanced around nervously. Deciding that a change of subject would be for the best, she gestured to Rosie to load up her plate and began talking about anything that came to her mind. “You missed it in Charms today, Peter managed to set fire to Flitwick’s hair, green flames and everything. It was hilarious.”

 

But her attempt to attract her friend’s attention was cut short as James caught sight of Rosie and shouted down the table, giving everyone a legitimate excuse to stare at the blonde. “You’re still daring to show your face around here then?”

 

Sophie’s eyebrows furrowed and she opened her mouth, but was beaten by Rosie shouting back down the table. “Have you got something you want to say Potter?”

 

James stood up and walked down towards the girl that he had decided to turn into a nemesis. Conscious that everyone’s eyes were on him, his walk was more of a prowl, his eyes fixed on Rosie but still taking in everyone else’s admiring glances. Rosie’s fists were clenched so tight that she was gouging crescent shapes into her palms that would still be there an hour later. “I would say, Malfoy, that you have no right to be sitting at the this table. You don’t even deserve to be sitting with the Slytherins.”

 

“What my father did has no bearing on me.” She stood up and wished that she was taller: he was towering over her and it was making her anger seem petty.

 

“Like father, like offspring.”

 

“What, so you’re going to desert all your friends as soon as the going gets tough, are you?”

 

“What are you talking about?” His eyes narrowed even as his mouth quirked in amused disdain.

 

“My mother, Hermione Granger, helped your father defeat Voldemort.” For the first time since she had heard this news, Rosie felt a flash of pride. “She’s like Ron Weasley, she never gets more than a mention in the footnotes, but she was there. And apparently, the three of them were incredibly close: she risked her life to save your dad and the wizarding world! But rather than trusting her when she told them that she was in love with an innocent man who had had to hide in the Death Eaters, they walked out on her. They were too cowardly to help her when she needed it.” Every word that came out of her mouth was dripping with the venom that she felt her mother needed for protection, that she felt her reputation needed in order to withstand this attack. James drew back slightly, looking at her as though she was something that he had found on the bottom of his shoe.

 

“How dare you talk about my dad like that?” His cheeks flushed bright red, and for a minute Rosie wondered if he was going to curse him. Let him try, she thought, relishing the thought of being able to defend herself in the best way that she knew how.

 

“I dare because it’s true. And unlike you, I care about whether or not what I’m saying is true! I know that your father turned on my mother when she needed his support most, and I know that you’ve turned on me when I’ve just found out something absolutely huge about my dad and when I need support from my house! So I know that it’s true that you’re exactly like your father! Back off Potter, and sort out your own life, because I don’t need you trying to ruin mine!” She finished her speech, breathing heavily because she was so angry. 

 

James looked at her brown eyes, narrowed in dislike and felt himself regressing to the mental state of a first year. Instead of coming up with a suitable retort, he was focused on her lower lip, thinking that it looked so red next to her creamy skin but there was no trace of the waxy gloss that comes from using lipstick…Shaking his head slightly, he dragged himself back to reality and felt his hatred for her parents swell up again. “You’re pathetic. You can’t think of your own arguments, so you turn on my parents!”

 

“And what are you doing you idiot?” Her voice was rising now, shrill above the general hubbub of the hall. “You began this whole thing because of who my dad used to be! You turned on my parents!”

 

His social status flashing before his eyes, James turned on his heel, his robes flapping after him. He glanced over his shoulder to see Rosie subsiding into her seat and her friend squeezing her arm, no doubt whispering about how wonderful Rosie had been. He wanted to spit. It wasn’t fair. Did no one else understand what the Death Eaters had done? They all made mealy-mouthed pronunciations about how awful the war and Voldemort had been, but none of them really understood. They read about in textbooks, he lived with a man who would occasionally draw into himself because he was remembering the friends he had lost and the atrocities he had seen and the pain that he had to go through.  James loved his father, however much he tried to antagonise him, and couldn’t bear to see him lost in the private sorrow that none of them could relate to. For Rosie to sit there with her pale face and uneven red lips like she wasn’t ashamed of what she was related to was intolerable. He wanted her to pay for the crimes that her own father had escaped paying for. 

 

Going into his empty dormitory, he looked at the photo that was tucked away in his bedside drawer. His mother was brushing her flaming red hair out of her eyes and holding Lily up to the camera, making her wave. Albus was smiling shyly and trying to avoid being in the forefront of the picture. And James was standing proudly next to his dad, the warm weight of his father’s arm slung around his shoulders. Every time he saw it, he felt a glow of pride for who his father was and what he had managed to achieve: the saviour of the wizarding world. But the glow had been dimmed slightly by Rosie’s words. Although James was seventeen and well aware that his parents were far from perfect, he didn’t like to think that his father could have done anything wrong.

 

Sliding the photo back into the drawer, he pulled out a quill and ran it through his fingers for a minute. Finally, he pulled out a piece of parchment and carefully wrote on it: “Who’s Hermione Granger? And why is her daughter telling me that you walked away from her when she needed you most?” He left out any mention of a Death Eater father, not wanting to be judged prematurely for the vendetta that he seemed to have started. 

 







 

It took three days for his parents to write back to him, leaving James in a state of limbo where he was trying to avoid Rosie so that he wouldn’t look weak for not continuing the argument or look stupid for continuing an old argument. When the letter landed on top of his cereal, he fished it out of the milk and wished that the post owls would improve their accuracy, then ripped open the yellow envelope. His father’s neat writing, sloping down one side of the paper, leapt at him in a series of random words. Blinking hard, he flicked Richard away and began reading.

 

Dear James,

 

Firstly, your mother tells me to tell you that she hopes you’re behaving. If not, start behaving.

 

Hermione Granger is a complicated matter. She was one of my best friends, and she dedicated so much of her time to me. I loved her like a sister, and to be honest, I still think of her as a sister. 

 

However, it turned out that she thought she was in love with Draco Malfoy, who came from a family with a longstanding association with Voldemort. Draco had been horrible to her at school and Ron and I couldn’t understand what she saw in him. They had apparently seen each other at school and then broken up. But then when Malfoy was captured and accused of being a Death Eater, she decided that she couldn’t keep away and that she wanted to jeopardise her whole life by defending him. She kept going on and on about how much she loved him and how she wanted us to support her. 

 

I regret what I did next because it cost me one of my best friends but I couldn’t have supported Malfoy. It went against everything that I had stood for, and everything that she had stood for as well. So Ron and I walked away from her, even after Malfoy was found innocent. We heard about her occasionally through mutual friends, so that’s how I knew that she had married Malfoy and had her daughter. I never thought I’d have to tell you James, I thought it was an argument between Hermione and I and I never thought you and Rosalind Malfoy would be involved in this. I’m sorry for that.

 

Love

 

Dad

 

James ran his fingers over his father’s writing, almost able to see the gaps in the writing where Harry had paused to think about what he was going to write next. He could understand why his father had cut off this Hermione Granger: he would have done the same thing under the same circumstances, no matter how harsh it seemed.

 

But where did that leave him with his argument with Rosie? Should he continue the separation that their parents’ argument had imposed on them? Or should he make friends with her? Or should he maintain his disgust for her parentage?

 

He abandoned his second idea. Friendship was too much to ask. He would maintain the rift between them: a rift that they had not previously known about and one which should stay. A cold aversion to her, that would leave her in no doubt of his dislike of her but which would not leave him open to accusations of verbal assault. For James Sirius Potter might be charming but he was clever with it. Scrunching up the parchment that his father’s letter, he made to throw it away, but then for some reason, thought better of it, smoothed it out and slid it into the drawer next to his photo.

 







 

Rosie had been keeping her head down at the Gryffindor table the past couple of days. James had made no further attempt to show how repulsed he was by her, and none of her friends or acquaintances had made any attempt to distance themselves from her, so she was hoping that it would blow over without any need for her to defend herself anymore.

 

She picked up her bag to go to her first class and as she turned around, felt her satchel swing against something solid.  Turning around, she saw Albus Potter in front of her, looking slightly winded from the force of her six textbooks bashing into him. “Oh, I’m so sorry Albus, are you ok?”

 

He nodded and began speaking, sending small shivers along her neck. His voice was just similar enough to James’ to remind her of the horrible confrontation at dinner the other day, and it made her fists clench in worry just to think about it.  “I wanted to say that my brother’s being idiot.”

 

She laughed. “There’s a great example of brotherly loyalty.”

 

Albus blushed. “He is though.”

 

“I know.” She smiled at him and began walking. He followed, slightly like an anxious puppy. 

 

“I was named for a man who pretended to be a Death Eater.” He paused, giving her the chance to look at him curiously and raise an eyebrow in a command to carry on talking. “My middle name, Severus, comes from Severus Snape who pretended to be a Death Eater for years to keep people safe. So I know that people became Death Eaters for lots of reasons, not always because they wanted to follow Voldemort.”

 

Rosie stopped in the corridor and looked at him. “Thanks Albus.”

 

“Call me Al.” He looked straight ahead, embarrassed to be the focus of so much attention. “Albus Severus; it’s more than a little bit cruel.”

 

She laughed again, and carried on walking, easier with him at her side now. “I just don’t understand why James hates me so much. It’s like, I can’t help what my dad did, you know? And he did it for a good reason. Sort of. Well, he did it to keep himself safe and because his family made him. Not very noble, I suppose.”

 

“Maybe he was worried Voldemort would punish his family if he didn’t join?” Albus circumnavigated a hurrying first year and continued walking.

 

“Al, where are you coming up with all these things? I swear, you’re an answer to all my ethical problems right there in one handy fifth-year package. Now, why does James hate me?” She was joking, and didn’t expect Al to turn to her so bluntly and look at her with eyes that were so different from his brother’s and not just in colour.

 

“I think it’s because he liked you, and then he found out you weren’t what he was expecting. James doesn’t like surprises: you should have seen him at his surprise 13th birthday party.”

 

Rosie stopped dead in her tracks, nearly causing a pile-up in the third floor corridor. “He likes me? Ok, you just ruined your problem-answerer status.”

 

“It’s true.” Al flushed a brighter red and heaved his bag higher on his shoulder. “He would never admit it now, but he was looking at you like…well, in the way that he always looks at girls when he likes them. I see it a lot.”

 

He began to walk away but Rosie stopped him. “But I was so rude to him.”

 

“You think that bothers him?” Al looked longingly down the corridor, willing himself to get away from this suddenly awkward conversation. “You would have been a challenge. But now you’re not what he expected, so he’s trying to turn the way he feels against you. He would never admit it though.” With that, he pulled away from her and hurried down the corridor. 

 

“You’re mad!” She shouted above the heads of students, but he just waved his hand in the air, not bothering with any further response. She turned around, muttering to herself, to find James standing in front of her.

 

“Inducting my little brother into a new cult?” His voice was cold, and for some reason, that hurt more than his anger had.

 

“I though Al was mad, but clearly you’re even worse.” She pushed past him, not bothering to stop her bag from smashing into his ribs.

 

James felt a clutch at his heart as he heard her refer to Albus by his nickname. How dare she? Like she was something important to their family, rather than the offspring of a cast off friend and a convict. “Stay away from him!”

 

She barely heard his words, begging herself to block them out. There was only one thing that she was sure about with James Potter and his constantly changing tones: there was no way that he had ever liked her. You didn’t change emotions that quickly. Ever. There had always been a separation between them, and now that they knew about it, they would have to keep it in place. His words made it clear that there was no other option.

 

 

 

 

AN: Nice quick update, huh? I’d love a review! xxx

Chapter 3: Chapter 3
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Rosie looked out of the window and saw members of the Gryffindor Quidditch team flitting about on their brooms in the evening sunlight. Just knowing that James was out there, being superior and laughing with his friends made her feel both angry and anxious. It was made even worse by the fact that he was completely friendly to every one else. No one else had to put up with the constantly icy wall that he kept up between them. And it wasn’t even the kind of wall that she could ignore. Now that he had wormed his way into her head, she was aware of where he was when she sat down at the Gryffindor table. She was hideously conscious if he walked within two feet of her in a busy corridor. She could tell precisely where he was in the common room, even if she had her back to him. The other day, she had gone into the library and had almost walked out again, convinced that he was lurking behind one of the shelves, just waiting to give her a condescendingly cool stare as he walked past her. It was as though she had some particularly ghastly crush.



 



She jumped slightly as Sophie flung her bag onto the table that Rosie was sitting at. “What are you doing? You’re just gawping out of the window.”



 



Rosie smiled absentmindedly. “Just thinking.”



 



“You know perfectly well that I don’t accept such pathetically winsome answers as that.” Sophie pulled her bag towards her and dragged a battered quill out from beneath a sheaf of parchment. “Are you thinking about James? Again?”




“Again?”



 



“Rosie, you’ve been obsessing about him and this ridiculous feud that he’s started with you for about a fortnight now. Give me your essay, I want to make sure I haven’t left anything out of mine.”



 



Rosie pushed the neatly written essay at her, and stared. “I haven’t been obsessing.” She looked out of the window again and then dragged herself back to the present moment. “Anyway, it’s hardly a feud. He’s just ignoring me. Putting us back to the way that it always was, where we didn’t even know that the other existed or had any significance.”



 



Sophie rolled her eyes. “And he’s doing such a good job of it, because you aren’t sitting there and worrying about why James Potter doesn’t like you. It’s precisely like you never even met.”



 



“Well, I don’t know what I’ve done wrong!” Rosie pulled her essay back angrily, smoothing the corner that Sophie had already managed to bend. “It’s natural for me to worry about it! What if I inadvertently manage to start an argument with someone else?”



 



Sophie pulled the essay back again, with a long-suffering sigh. “I sometimes wonder how I managed to make friends with someone as neurotic as you. Relax. You did nothing, as I have said about ten times. James is a prick. You are not. Let it go. Live your life. Explain what this point here means.”



 



Rosie wrinkled her nose as the grotty end of Sophie’s quill jabbed at a sentence. “I honestly did nothing?”



 



“You can’t help what your parents did or didn’t do. So relax.”



 



“Then why can’t he see that?”



 



Sophie pushed Rosie’s essay back into one pile and glared at her friend. “Because he is a boy. Ergo, he is an idiot. It comes with their hormones. Now will you please stop driving me mad? Come on, we’re going out for a walk while the sun’s still up. And you are forbidden from talking about James. Or any other feuds that you may have.”



 



Rosie smiled and placed her essay back in her bag. “Come on then. You can tell me precisely what you were doing with Mark Webber in the Charms classroom.”



 



Sophie stood up. “You heard about that?”



 



“The whole house has heard about that. Come on.” Rosie linked arms with her and the pair of them made their way down to the lake, giggling.



 








 



James shot his broom down to the ground and dismounted lightly, almost entranced with his own fluid movements. Waiting for his friends to follow, they all began to walk back towards the castle. Laughing about the pass that Richard had fumbled, the evening breeze ruffling his hair, James felt remarkably content.



 



As they turned towards the school, James glanced towards the school and his whole face froze. He could see the pale blonde of Rosie’s hair shining in the dim light of the sunset, instantly noticeable. She was clutching at her sides, laughing helplessly as her friend mimed what looked like a terrible kiss, their faces contorted in mirth. Richard looked at James and saw his expression, and followed his gaze across to the lake. “Still hating her?”



 



“Trying to blank her out,” James answered and turned resolutely away. And yet, he couldn’t help but cast one last look over his shoulder at her. “She’s bloody well everywhere though.”



 



“She’s in our house James. You’re going to see her.” Richard rolled his eyes, and tried to walk a bit faster, anxious to make his way back to the common room and find the Quidditch groupies. 



 



“That kind of remark isn’t helpful. You don’t understand.” James let the front door slam harder than was necessary behind him. “I know where she is if I walk anywhere near her. I can tell if she’s in the same corridor as me, if she’s in the library with me, if she’s just sat down at our table! It’s insane!”



 



“Mate, you’ve got a crush on her.”



 



James stood stock still in the middle of the corridor. “That’s insulting.”



 



His friend turned around and laughed at him. “You know where she is, and she makes you feel the strongest emotions that any girl has ever made you feel.”



 



“Hatred is not the same thing as having a crush Richard,” James drawled, trying to regain a modicum of control over the conversation.



 



“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”



 



“Oh very wise. Who did you steal that off?”



 



“Elie Wiesel, and it wouldn’t kill you to culture yourself a little more.” Richard gestured at the corridor up to the common room, anxious to carry on moving. “If you honestly didn’t want anything to do with her, you would have cut her off. Instead, you’re putting more effort into pretending to ignore her then I’ve ever seen you put into anything else.”



 



“That’s because she’s done horrible things” James muttered as he followed Richard up the corridor.



 



“Pull yourself together Potter. She hasn’t done anything. Her dad did something, and apparently he was forced into it. Cut her some slack, she seems nice enough.”



 



“Fantastic support from my friends then.” James said sarcastically.



 



“Only when you need it. And you certainly don’t need more help to make yourself look like even more of an arse. So drop it.” 



 



James opened his mouth to retort, but Richard was already in the common room and talking to the giggling Gryffindor girls who had draped themselves over him. He looked in, knowing perfectly well that if he went in, he would have his very own rapt audience to laugh at everything he said and agree with him on every point. It didn’t seem as appealing as it might have.



 



Turning around, he walked back down through the castle. As he got to the main entrance hall, he paused. He knew perfectly well that he was gravitating towards the lake. He didn’t know why. Maybe he was in the mood for a fight after what Richard had said.



 



As he stepped out into the dim evening light, he dragged a deep breath in, almost able to taste the crisp autumn air. It was just a walk around the lake, he told himself. Rosie probably wasn’t even out any more. And even if she was, he would just walk past her. Ignoring her. Not hating her, not feeling any strong emotions to her, and not noticing anything about her. It would be fine.



 








 



Sophie looked back at the castle. “It’s getting chilly, do you want to go inside?”



 



“No, I’m good.” Rosie was looking at the cool, rippling waters of the lake and felt remarkably more peaceful than she had in the past fortnight. “You can go in though.”



 



“Sure?” Sophie stood up, rubbing her hands along her arms. “Don’t stay out too late.”



 



“Yes mother. Go on, I’m sure Mark is waiting for you!” She rolled her eyes and laughed at the expression on her friend’s face. 



 



She watched as Sophie retreated back to the castle and then turned back out to the lake. She was staring absentmindedly at the calm water, daydreaming about nothing in particular when she heard a footfall coming from the opposite direction to the one that Sophie had just left in. Suddenly aware of the fact that it was growing darker and that she was alone, she reached for her wand, its warmth reassuring in her hand.



 



Scrambling to her feet, she watched as a tall figure drew closer to her. Her nerves screaming at her, she prepared herself to fire a spell. Just as she thought her mouth was going to shout the words without the consent of her brain, she recognised the face on the figure and dropped her wand promptly, feeling like a complete idiot.



 



“Getting ready to attack me? Like father like daughter,” came the sardonic drawl that she was quickly growing to despise. 



 



“And already I’m regretting not doing it,” she muttered. “What are you doing out here, lurking in the dark?”



 



“I could ask you precisely the same thing.”



 



“I’m out here to get away from the constant tension that you’ve managed to create,” she spat.



 



“That I’ve created? This is all your doing Malfoy!”



 



“How is it my doing Potter? You’re the one that decided you wanted to create this argument out of nothing and then do your very best to make me feel uncomfortable in my day to day life!”



 



“I’m trying to ignore you!”



 



“Well you aren’t doing a very good job, are you?” She shouted, infuriated beyond belief.



 



“That’s because you’ve…you’ve wriggled your way under my skin! I can’t just pretend that you don’t exist because I always know that you’re there!”



 



“I haven’t done anything to you! How the hell have I gotten under your skin?” She watched as he sat down where she had been sitting, his skin pale in the dark. She looked back at the castle, it’s windows bright and inviting now that night had fallen. Turning away from the safety that her school would provide, she sat down tentatively next to James and looked surreptitiously at him from beneath the curtain of her hair. 



 



James looked at her and saw that the fall of her platinum hair couldn’t quite hide the curious brown eyes that were looking at him. “Please tell me that this is infuriating you as much as it is me.”



 



“Why do you think I came out here?” She half laughed, unable to believe how surreal the situation was. “I came out here because I thought it would be the one place where I could get away from you. You seem to be everywhere, and it’s driving me mad.”



 



James looked back out across the lake. “Why is this happening?”



 



“What makes you think I know?” She snapped back, angry not to have the answers. “It doesn’t make any sense. You don’t make any sense.”



 



“Me?”



 



“One minute you’re being all flirty and offering to teach me how to fly, then you turn on me because of who my dad was, and then you’re ignoring me but making me feel more uncomfortable than my mother does when she tries to talk to me about sex.”



 



“That uncomfortable?” He looked at her and she gave a reluctant smile and nodded. “My mum wouldn’t have the talk with me. She left it to my dad, and I think it was the most awkward thing that I’ve ever had to endure. He just rambled about love for a bit and then tried to talk about protection, and I thought he was going to have a heart attack, he was going so red.”



 



Rosie laughed and the pair of them sat in silence for a minute looking at the lake. “I ought to go back in, or Sophie’s going to think I’ve fallen into the lake. And your groupies will be missing you.”



 



“It’s been more…interesting out here.” James admitted. 



 



They stood up and began to walk back towards the brightly lit school. Each was highly conscious of the other, anxious not to accidentally brush hands, or to make any kind of contact. The brief moment of ease that they had had while sitting down had vanished into the night, blown away on the breeze that was pushing Rosie’s hair in every direction. 



 



James looked down at her, her eyes fixed firmly on the floor, and almost fell over. Cursing himself for not paying more attention to his surroundings, he found that he still couldn’t quite take his eyes off her. She had looked at him as he had stumbled and given him a hesitant smile, her white teeth framed by her plump lower lip. Against every rational thought in his head, he was suddenly overwhelmed by a stream of images and sensations: his lips pressed against hers, his teeth gently pulling at that curvy lip, his fingers laced into the sheet of shining hair. 



 



Shaking his head, he tried to drag back his animosity. There was too much of a difference between them. How was the son of the Boy Who Lived meant to do anything with the daughter of a Death Eater? And yet, for the first time since the whole episode had begun, he could understand what the others had been saying: that she wasn’t responsible for the actions of her father and that maybe he had been slightly unfair to try and punish her for it…that maybe he could put his stubborn nature to one side temporarily and bury the hatchet that he had seen fit to wield.



 



Rosie could feel his eyes on her, dragging the blood to her cheeks. Grateful that it was dark, she concentrated on not dragging her feet through the grass, conscious that if she fell over where he had merely stumbled, the blush that would overwhelm her would probably make her head explode. Why was he making her feel like this? How had he managed to go from one extreme to another: from hating her and from cold enmity to this warmer, almost joking James, who was able to laugh about the ineptitude of parents with her.



 



As they let themselves into the entrance hall, James turned to look at her. She was smoothing her hair down, trying to get it into some kind of order. He smiled and reached out to push back a strand of hair that was tangled in her eyelashes. She knocked his hand away, all the ease of the lake gone. “You can’t do that.”



 



“Can’t do what?” His eyes narrowed, unaccustomed to such blatant and vehement rejection.



 



“I don’t deal with faux-schizophrenia. If you want to be two different people, fine. But I’m not going to let you screw around with my mind by being Mr ‘I hate Death Eaters and their spawn’ in public and Mr ‘Look at me, I’m funny and nice’ in private. Play your mind games with someone else.” Turning her back on him, she began to make her way up the stairs.



 



“I’m not playing mind games!” He shouted, and ran up after her. “I just don’t know how to act around you! And you’re playing mind games – Miss Sweet and Shy out by the lake and now you’re this….this termagant!”



 



“A termagant!” She stood on the step above him and was furious that she wasn’t taller than him. “If I’m a termagant then you’re…a cad!”



 



“How am I a cad?” The pair of them were storming towards their common room, shouting as they strove to outdo each other.



 



“You play with girls and their emotions! I’ve seen how you treat all the girls who like you?”



 



“Oh, is that why you’re being so bitchy? Are you worried you’ll get hurt if you open up your heart to me?” He spoke sarcastically as they approached the portrait of the Fat Lady.



 



Rosie let out a low scream of aggravation as they scrambled through the portrait hole, struggling to retain some dignity. “You should be so lucky!” she shrieked. Glaring at each other, breathing quickly, they both slammed off in opposite directions, leaving the common room giggling and whispering.



 



As she lay on her bed, curtains drawn, a horrifying thought occurred to Rosie. For all that they had shouted and screamed, they had never once fallen out of pace. Any body language expert would tell them that they were perfectly matched.


AN: So that took a bit longer than I expected...ooops. Sorry everyone! All reviews appreciated! xxx



 



 



 



 



 



 


Chapter 4: Chapter 4
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Rosie rolled over in her bed and looked at her best friend. “Sophie,” she whispered, her voice seeming loud in the quiet dormitory.



 



“What?” her friend mumbled sleepily, trying to bury her head in her pillow. “I’m sleeping.”



 



“Not anymore, you’re not.” Rosie crawled out of bed and scrambled over to sit by her friend’s head. “I have just realised something utterly terrible and I need my best friend to confide in.”



 



Sophie sat up with groggy eyes and looked around at the other girls in their room. “We’ll go down into the common room. And for waking me up at this time, you’d best have murdered someone and be needing tips on where to hide the body.”



 



Once they were ensconced in two chairs in the deserted common room, Rosie’s knees pulled up to her chest as she huddled in her dressing gown. She looked the picture of guilt, and Sophie was beginning to become genuinely concerned. “Rosie, what’s wrong?”



 



“Well…Oh, Sophie, it’s so awful, I can’t believe it’s actually happened.” Rosie dropped her head momentarily onto her knees, and Sophie leaned forward to rest her hand on her friend’s shoulder.



 



“Rose, what’s wrong? Has someone hurt you?”



 



Rosie’s head jerked back up and she stared at her friend with furrowed eyes. “What? No, it’s nothing like that!”



 



“Well, what is it then?” Sophie shrieked, in the most muted tones that she could manage.



 



“I…I…” Rosie stuttered and then dragged in a deep, fortifying breath. “I think I have a crush on James Potter.”



 



Sophie looked at her, her mouth slightly agape. “That’s it? That’s honestly it? You drag me out of bed, make me think that someone’s attacked you, and then you confess to fancying an irritating boy? That’s all that’s wrong with you?”



 



Rosie looked at her friend with raised eyebrows. “How can you not think this is a big deal? I have begun to fancy the boy that has designated himself as my enemy!”



 



“You have a crush Rosie. It is not the end of the world.” Sophie rubbed her eyes tiredly.



 



“It’s James Potter!”



 



“It’s a crush!”



 



Rosie huffed and leaned back in her chair, and Sophie half-laughed at the expression on her face. Rosie glared. “It’s all very well for you, you don’t have to deal with this hideous turn of events.”



 



“Oh come on then, let me be a therapist for you. When did you realise you had a crush on him?”



 



“Last night.”



 



“And what brought this bizarre feeling on?” Sophie steepled her fingers under her chin, and put on a mock-caring air.



 



“Well…you know when you went back in last night?” Rosie watched as her friend nodded, but neither of them heard the gentle step of feet coming down from the boy’s dormitories. “I stayed out there, and James came along, and we ended up talking for a while. And even when we began arguing, I was fighting and I meant every single word, but I still wasn’t quite wanting it to end. And then I went to bed, and I was lying there, and I was smiling thinking about talking with him, and then I realised that I had a crush on him, and then I had to wait until a decent time to wake you up, and…”



 



“Well, you failed miserably with the last.” Sophie sighed and leant back in her chair. “I can’t believe that you fancy James.”



 



And then both of them whipped around with their eyes wide, as the footsteps that they had neglected to hear stepped out into the common room. “You have a crush on my brother Rosie?”



 



“Al! Merlin, you scared the life out of me!” Rosie clutched at her throat, pulling the edges of her dressing gown closer together. “What are you doing there?”



 



“I just couldn’t sleep so I came down, and I heard you saying that you’ve got a crush on James.”



 



“Al, you cannot tell anyone!” Rosie was slightly manic now, staring at the fifth year.



 



“I’m not stupid,” he answered, in an offended tone. “But you’ll probably end up going out with him, so everything will work out fine for you.”



 



Sophie laughed outright at the shocked gasp that exited from Rosie’s mouth so quickly. “I like you Al. What makes you say that?”



 



“I told Rosie, the reason my brother doesn’t seem to like her is because he fancied her and then she wasn’t what he was expecting. James doesn’t like surprises,” he added, for Sophie’s benefit.



 



“Well that doesn’t mean that we’re going to get together,” Rosie said indignantly, her hackles raised but curiously delighted at the concept that James might fancy her back.



 



“But he was talking to you last night. That means he’s already begun to soften to you. And that means that he will be returning to his original plan of trying to entice you. And he’s determined, so he does usually get what he wants. And then you’re also very determined, so it wouldn’t surprise me if you set out to entice him just as much.”



 



“Oh Rosie, I do like him. He’s gotten your measure through a couple of conversations with you. And how do you know so much about how James works, little Al?”



 



“You’re forgetting that I am the nerdy little brother,” Al smiled wistfully. “I spend every term watching James flirt with Hogwart’s prettiest girls, and then every holiday watching him pick up the prettiest girls we meet on holiday.”



 



“The perennially overlooked sibling. I have that precise problem, little Al. Lucky Rosie has never had that experience, as she is a spoilt only child, accustomed to getting her own way. Which is precisely why, as you say, she will end up with James.”



 



“I love the fact that the pair of you can be so entirely complacent about what is no doubt one of the most hideous things ever to happen to me.”



 



“You’re such a drama queen, it’s unreal,” Sophie sighed, and rolled her eyes sympathetically. “Calm down, and tell us what you plan to do.”




 



“Well.” Rosie looked at Al and Sophie. “As I have told both of you and been assured by both of you in return, James is an idiot. It would be self-destructive to pursue him, given that he professes to hate me, that his father overlooked the achievements of my mother, and that he is one of the boys who moves from one girl to another. In addition to which, intellectually, I don’t like him at all.”



 



“But you aren’t thinking intellectually here.” Sophie said, as wisely as she could manage while sitting in a dressing gown.



 



“No. And therein lies the problem. Whatever it is that is making me fancy him is telling me to pursue him, somewhat relentlessly. But logically, I know that I am not willing to humiliate myself by placing myself entirely at his mercy, after the way that he’s treated me.”



 



“I probably shouldn’t be telling you this, given that I’m his brother, and everything…But you know, now that James has begun talking to you, it won’t be long before he starts actively pursuing you. Why don’t you just wait, and let him put all the cards in your hands?” Al finished with a shy little smile that was completely at odds with the sly suggestion that he had just made.



 



The two girls looked at each other, and smiled, as sly as the suggestion that had just made. “You’re right Sophie, he really is utterly brilliant.”



 



*



 



James lay in bed, with his arms crossed behind his head, and looked idly down at his bare chest. Superb, obviously. And given the general excellence that accompanied every part of his life, what was keeping him awake at this time in the morning?



 



He looked over at his sleeping classmates and contemplated waking them. Attention was always a nice way to pass some time. But still, he very much doubted that they would be able to tell him what was so wrong with him that he was unable to sleep. 



 



He had a sneaking suspicion that he did actually know what was wrong with him. It took the form of blonde hair and irritatingly red lips, and he didn’t know why she was preying so much on his mind when he was able to insult her with such ease. The emotions that she aroused in him were so frustratingly contradictory that he didn’t know how to act. She wasn’t a girl who obviously fancied him, but he was sure that she did. How could she not? She was alarmingly close to being like those girls who dismissed his charm as entirely superficial but something in her insults seemed to lack conviction. So he was stuck in a middle ground where he wasn’t quite sure how to get what he wanted from her.



 



And that led him to his next problem. What did he want from Rosalind Malfoy? He had told himself that he had to maintain an icy distance between the pair of them, but that was proving more difficult than he had originally thought. Now that she had worked her way into the periphery of his life, she seemed to be there for the foreseeable future. And he wasn’t sure how he was meant to deal with that. He could be crueller and crueller to her? Maybe that would overwhelm the feelings that he was currently struggling with. He would be able to put them to one side and focus on the issue of her parentage.



 



But then, James had noticed a remarkable lack of interest on the part of other students in what Rosie’s parents had ever done. And James was not one to fly in the face of public opinion. That might jeopardise his social standing, not something that he really needed to be dealing with at this point in time. 



 



So perhaps he could just rub along pleasantly with her? And the feelings would either fade in time, or James would get what he wanted. No matter what that was. That was the way the universe worked for him.



 







Rosie looked at herself in the mirror. “Should I make more of an effort with my appearance? You know, now that we’re trying to ensnare James?”



 



“Er, what’s this ‘we’?” Sophie asked wryly. “You’re the one who decided you wanted to have all the power of James, not me. And don’t pretend that you have some higher aim in mind here, you’re just trying to get with the boy that you have a crush on.”



 



“He’s not really a boy, he’s…”



 



“Don’t you dare say that he’s a man. I’ll vomit.”



 



“Well, no, not a man,” Rosie admitted. “But more than a boy. But we’re getting distracted from the issue at hand here. Should I be making more of an effort with my appearance?”



 



Sophie sighed. “And there was me thinking that you having a plan of action would stop you talking about James all the time. Rosie, if you want to put more make up on, fine. Just do it. You’ve already woken me up at a ridiculous time, I can’t give you much support right now.”



 



Rosie rolled her eyes. “Thanks for the kind words.” Rummaging through the various tubes scattered across her bed, she decided just to put on lipgloss. “After all, I don’t want to look too obvious.”



 



“Fine, whatever. Can we please just go to breakfast now? We’ve been obsessing over this for fifteen minutes now.”



 



As Rosie followed her friend down to the dining hall, she felt obliged to point out that this was the first proper crush that she had ever really had.



 



“And you seem to be making up for lost time by fitting three years worth of obsessing into one week. If only you’d managed to develop a proper fixation on a celebrity, or Quidditch player or something. It would have been a much healthier outlet.”



 



“Well, I’m sorry this isn’t more convenient for you but…” Rosie tailed off as she noticed James, the moment she walked through the doors. “Oh Sophie, why didn’t you help me develop a fixation? This kind of crush cannot be good for my sanity.”



 



“Trust me, it’s not good for my sanity either,” her friend muttered, and led her to a seat up the table. “Now, try not to talk too much until I’ve got something in my stomach to puke up when you begin talking about how shiny James’ hair is.”



 



“I’m not that pathetic,” Rosie retorted, buttering a slice of toast and biting back her comment about how glossy his black hair looked under the morning light.



 



James looked down the table and saw Rosie straight away. Instantly biting his tongue, he turned to Richard. “You were right yesterday. I have a crush on Rosalind Malfoy. I thought I could deal with it but I can’t. Help me get rid of it.”



 



Richard turned incredulously to him. “You have a crush on her?”



 



“Yes. Don’t make me say it again.”



 



“But she’s not exactly the prettiest girl here. Come on, I can get you over her. Look, just focus on that Ravenclaw girl over there.” He gesticulated vaguely.



 



“How is she not pretty?” James snapped defensively. “I only go for pretty girls.”



 



“Oh come on, she’s got a pointy face.”



 



“It’s just heart-shaped!”



 



“And she had weird colouring!”



 



“She hasn’t really,” James looked surreptitiously down the table at her. “Just because she’s got blonde hair and brown eyes? Plenty of people have that.”



 



“And incredibly pale skin, practically albino.”



 



“You’re overreacting,” James said coldly.



 



“Well, next to her lips, her skin looks way too pale. Does she bite her lips until they’re about to bleed?”



 



“No, they’re just naturally that red,” James answered faintly. “Anyway, I don’t need you to criticise my taste, I just need you to help me get over this. I was thinking this morning that I would be able to just sort of, get along with her until the feeling passed and then she wouldn’t seem that intriguing and I could just forget about her. And move on to my usual type. But that doesn’t seem very likely at this precise minute. And seeing as you never seem to have a girlfriend, so I figured that you must be good at either dealing with rejection, or getting over crushes very quickly. Information please.”



 



“You really know how to go about getting help from friends don’t you?” Richard stabbed a piece of bacon and lifted it to his mouth, mumbling around it. “I have girlfriends.”



 



“Not the issue at hand here,” James retorted. “Now help me!”



 



“Well, I don’t know…maybe you should try and kiss her? And it wouldn’t be any good and you could forget about her that way.”



 



“Good thinking, but what if it’s not?”



 



“Then you’ll have made out with the girl you have a crush on. Either way it’s a positive result.”



 



“But I don’t want to have a crush on her. And I don’t want any sort of lasting relationship with her.”



 



“Well, it doesn’t look like you have a big say in the matter,” his friend answered. “Just deal with the fact that this is out of your control and make a decision about what you’re going to do, instead of just dithering around like you’re a girl.”



 



“You know how to cut to the bone, don’t you?” James threw his spoon into his bowl, ignoring the splash of milk that landed on the table. Looking up, he noticed Rosie walking out of the hall. “Got to go, I’ll see you later.”



 



“Bye Romeo.” Richard said wryly. “Good luck.”



 



The first that Rosie knew of James’ romantic intentions was when his hand grabbed her shoulder as she went up the corridor to her Runes class. Sophie had left her, promising that if Rosie came back with any more whimsical thoughts of James that she would be meeting with some sort of lovingly aimed curse, so Rosie was focusing very hard on not thinking about her crush.



 



So her first thought when she spun around and saw James’ face looking down on her was immense irritation. She knew straight away that she was going to have to talk about it and Sophie clearly wasn’t in the mood to deal with that. James had just managed to scupper a whole fifteen minutes of moving on and not being subject to stupid crushes. Idiot.



 



“What do you want?”



 



“I wanted to talk to you, Miss Rosie.” He tried to twinkle his eyes and not get distracted by having her standing right in front of him.



 



“I told you that only my friends call me Rosie,” she answered, any thoughts of ensnaring him completely gone as she tried to recover from her shock.



 



“And there was me thinking that I’d made progress with you,” he joked, although feeling an uncommon dryness in his mouth that he could only attribute to a previously never-experienced nervousness.



 



“What, after you accused me of being a modern day Death Eater, of inducting your brother into a new cult, of being icy cold to me in front of the rest of the school, of calling me a termagant and trying to destroy my sanity by being alternatively nice and horrible to me?”



 



“Well, everything is going to sound bad if you remember it.”



 



“I have an excellent memory, so unfortunately you are doomed to forever being thought of as the prick who tried to destroy my life.”



 



“Slightly overdramatic, don’t you think?” he rejoined.



 



“Not at all,” she answered, raising her head proudly.



 



James looked at her pale, determined face and felt his eyes being drawn straight to her lips. A slick of shining glitter had muted their usual red colour. “What’s wrong with your lips?”



 



He saw the resolve in her eyes waver slightly with a lack of confidence and her hand flew up to her lips. “Nothing’s wrong with them.” A pink tinge began to creep across her cheeks.



 



“I don’t mean that it looks bad,” he said quietly. “It’s just…different.”



 



“Well, I felt like doing something different. And since when did you notice what I did with my face?”



 



“Since you began to intrude more and more of every single thought process in my head.”



 



“I’m in your thoughts?” Every plan that she, Sophie and Albus had made that morning flew out of her mind. She was no longer concerned with getting the upper hand with him, more concerned with the fact that she was standing in an empty corridor with a person that she found dangerously attractive. It was very challenging to maintain a level head. And the more she thought that this was a challenge, the more she was having to deal with a nagging thought that said there was no point in being challenged, that she should just give in and go with the flow.



 



“Yes. It’s very disconcerting. You’re proving very difficult to forget about.”



 



“Well, maybe you should try harder.” She was whispering now, unable to think of anything wittier to say.



“I’ve never been one for trying particularly hard. I prefer to give in to temptation.”



 



“Why should you involve me in your weak-willed nature?”



 



“Because you’re the reason that I’m having to give in to temptation. So really, you ought to share the responsibility. And you can’t deny that you feel the same.”



 



“I…” But Rosie was tailing off because James’ hand was moving up to her face. His thumb was tracing her jaw, from her ear to her chin, and then his index finger was on her lips, gently smearing away the pink glitter that coated them.



 



As soon as he could see the cherry colour of her lower lip, James felt a modicum of control slip away from him. Without saying another word, he moved closer to her, towering over her now, and slipping a hand around her waist to pull her to him. Bending down as she turned her face up to him, he pressed his lips against hers, and felt a small thrill run through him. He could taste traces of the sweetness of her lipgloss left on her mouth, and changing tacks, he held her face still, gently holding it up to him and kissing away the remaining drops of the make up.



 



Rosie stood pliantly there, willing that precise moment never to end. What she was feeling went beyond any tentative kiss in a darkened corner at a party. It was pure, rippling lust, made even more prominent by the fact that the kiss was so inherently innocent in nature.



 



They stood there in the corridor, early morning sunlight landing at their feet through the paned windows, not daring to move from the magic circle that they had found themselves in until they heard the thunderous roar of students’ footsteps pounding through the corridors. Then, without saying a word, they both peeled away from each other to go to class, not daring to look back at the moment that had just passed.



 



 



AN: Hey everyone. I’m really really sorry that this chapter has taken me so incredibly long to update. I had exams, and then I had to move back home for the summer, and then start a new summer job and then deal with some personal stuff,, and it’s essentially been one thing after another, which has meant I haven’t really felt much like writing. But now I’m hoping to keep updating regularly (and that counts for Forbidden Fruit as well, if any of you are reading that), so I won’t be keeping you that long. Anyway, hope you enjoyed this chapter, please please please review. Love…petitesorciere xxx

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