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Dear Angel by blacksouledbutterfly

Format: Novella
Chapters: 5
Word Count: 14,081
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Mild Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Drama, Romance, Angst
Characters: Scorpius, Albus, James (II), Lily (II), Hugo, Rose
Pairings: Rose/Scorpius, Other Pairing

First Published: 12/04/2009
Last Chapter: 12/01/2013
Last Updated: 12/01/2013


Lovely banner made by Ardawling @ TDA

A simple game. Two determined players. One unbelievable outcome.

Two lives forever altered.

Chapter 1: The Game Begins
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Chapter image by ChoS_sista_gurl @ TDA

My name is Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy, son of Astoria Greengrass and Draco Malfoy. Over the years the identity of my father has caused a stir amongst some. Being directly related to more than one Death Eater wasn’t something most people considered to be favorable. Not that it bothered me, of course. My family was my family. Whoever didn’t like it could shove off.

It was rather early on that I discovered that the sins of the father often reflect on the son. I had only been attending Hogwarts for a matter of weeks when it became abundantly clear that the children of my father’s former classmates- the ones he was rather unfriendly with of course- would hold against me who my father was. I hadn’t intended to befriend any of them, of course. It was just rather pathetic that they associated me with the actions of my family when they hadn’t even gotten a chance to know whether or not their assumptions were correct.

No, I hadn’t intended on getting close to any of them- not the children of the Potter and Weasley families. My time was better spent avoiding them and their ridiculous opinions of who I was. Those opinions they formed based upon who my father- and most likely my grandfather- happened to be.

It wasn’t until fifth year that I was even in close contact with any of them. Rose Weasley- a know it all just like her mother had apparently been- was the one to manage to maneuver her way into my life. How she had managed to do that I’m not even sure, but she waltzed right into it like she belonged there, taking every opportunity she could to project herself further into my being.

I had thought she was a rather innocent one- always with the sweet smiles and the smart answers. But looks, I found out the hard way, were often deceiving. It was always the innocent ones that surprised you, because even the innocent could be cruel. Even the innocent could learn just how to break a person down.

Scorpius Malfoy couldn’t help but study her with a great intensity. It fascinated him to watch her as she concentrated, the end of her quill brushing against her bottom lip, the feather making a lazy line across her skin as she read the page in front of her, lips parted slightly, tongue just barely visible between her teeth. He wasn’t sure it if was more amusing or more, well, hot for lack of a better term. He couldn’t help but wonder if she concentrated on everything in her life as much as she did this.

Her gaze lifted and met his, blue eyes calm and empty. This wasn’t the first time he had been caught looking at her- nor would it be the last he was sure- but every time her gaze rose to meet his he couldn’t help but wonder at the fact that she had known he was looking at her. He was pretty sure he wasn’t being overtly obvious about it, but he could have been mistaken. It was entirely possible that he was horrid at hiding his fascination with her.

Her eyelids dropped half way and she looked at him from under her eyelashes. The quill moved to the corner of her mouth as her tongue slipped out, licking her lips. He swallowed harshly, watching this girl’s every move. She was aware, he decided then, of every single time his gaze moved to her, of every single thought inside of his head even. She knew his gaze had followed her tongue across that bottom lip as though in slow motion. She knew, he was sure, she he briefly pictured himself running his tongue over the same line hers had just gone. That he wanted to press his lips against hers, make her whimper and pant and cling to his shirt as though it were her only lifeline in this world. He was positive that she had some kind of a scheme brewing up inside of her head, but what it was he had absolutely no clue.

Then, her gaze left his face as she turned to look at her cousin. Her lips barely parted as they whispered, her head bowed down close to his. He tried to figure out what they were saying by following the shapes their lips made, but hers were moving too slightly to be deciphered.

She wasn’t stunningly beautiful he noted. Of course she wasn’t unattractive either, but there was nothing about her that would make someone stop on the street and do a double take. Well, perhaps her eyes would draw some attention- they were bright and lovely and he could imagine that people took notice to that, but beyond that she was on the more attractive side of average. And yet there was something about her that had drawn him in, made him unable to stop himself when the desire to look at her rose up inside of him. Even now as she had her head bent towards her cousin, whispering in his ear, he couldn’t bring himself to look away.

Then her eyes shifted to him, gazing at him with her peripheral vision. The edge of her mouth curled up, threatening to spill forth into an honest to goodness smile. And as quickly as her eyes had jumped to him they shifted back to the paper in front of her, quill running a line across her bottom lip every so often as she read. But his eyes remained on her, unable to bring himself to turn away.

She was waiting in the hallway. He noticed her the moment he stepped outside, her back pressed against one of the windowsills, legs stretched out in front of her and crossed at the ankles. She had her elbows resting on the wood behind her, arching her back slightly. Her head was tilted slightly to one side, her hair falling over one shoulder. Everything about her was screaming casual- save the smile on her face. It was sexual and alluring. And her gaze was directly on him. “You were watching me in class again today.”

He strode across the hall, closing the distance between them so others wouldn’t be able to hear their conversation. The last thing he needed was for word to get around that he was lusting after a Weasley. Of course it wasn’t that far from the truth but that was neither here nor there. “I watch people every day,” he replied coolly. “What makes you think you were a special case?”

“You watch me often.” Her hand shot up, gripping the bottom of his tie, playing with it as though she had done that a million times before. “Do I fascinate you that much?”

He leaned forward, resting one hand on the wood right next to her hip. The action didn’t put them that close but he was sure anyone who was passing by would mistake it for a little rendezvous between lovers rather than a rather strange conversation between classmates. “Girls fascinate me. You’re all rather strange creatures, you know. But that thing you do is rather…amusing.”

“What thing might that be?”

“With your quill. You run it over your lip, you know. Like you’re caressing yourself with it.”

“It feels nice.” It was such a simple and yet seemingly honest answer that he almost laughed right then and there. Of course it felt nice, but the answer wasn’t what he had expected. He expected her to deny doing it all that often or to question why he even paid that close attention to what she was doing. But that answer? It wasn’t something he ever would have expected from Rose Weasley. “I rather enjoy it.”

“Other things would feel better than that, you know.” He would admit to himself that yes, he was flirting with her, but it was harmless. He meant nothing by it and he was sure she would realize that on her own, but it was rather fun at times to flirt around with girls and see how they reacted. Often times they would blush and giggle like their heads were filled with air.

That didn’t happen with her however, much to his great surprise. Her cheeks didn’t stain with a dark crimson nor did she break down into a fit of giggles like some simpering school girl with a crush. No, instead a slow smile spread over her face. “Other things, huh?”

“Yes. Many things, actually.”

“What sorts of things?”

“Can’t figure that one out for yourself, Weasley? Need people to spell it out for you?”

“Humor me, Malfoy.” She tugged slightly on his tie, pulling his face closer to his. Her breath was warm on his face and if his gaze flickered down he could see the pink of her gum moving around behind her teeth. “Pretend I’m one of those idiotic girls that fall over every word you say and enlighten me.”

“Are you aware, Weasley, of just how close we are to one another at this very moment? This could cause quite the scandal.”

“And here I thought you enjoyed a good scandal. Isn’t that the Malfoy way?”

“I suppose it can be,” he conceded, inclining his head slightly as though he were in thought. “I heard in his school years my father had a bit of…I guess you could call it a flare for the dramatic.”

“From what I hear your father was an outright prat.”

“That’s how some people would have classified him, yes.” His gaze returned to her face, but the expression in his eyes had changed, going from mild amusement to annoyance in a flash. “And I suppose your family told you this. Don’t bother answering the question, Weasley, I know the answer. But what your family never did was actually try to learn anything about who my father was beyond the theatrics. He, like them, was a child. Like we are. And children, they tend to do stupid things, don’t they? Look at the things your family got into while they were in school.”

“There’s no need to be defensive.” Her tone hadn’t changed. She seemed as though she were playing some game. It was a bit unnerving. “I’m not trying to insult you, Malfoy. I would have to say you’re definitely less of a prat than your father supposedly was in school. Still a prat, mind you, but not nearly as bad. Tolerable even.”

“Was that supposed to be a compliment or an insult, Weasley?”

“A backhanded compliment, actually. Does that bother you?”

“Not really. I’m actually rather used to it by now.” But he dropped his book bag to the floor and reached over, gently prying her fingers off of his tie like he was suddenly disgusted by being that close to her. “I’m rather used to it, as you well know. You’re not the only one who regards my family as villainous, you know.”

“Loved by some, hated by others. Aren’t we all that way?”

“My you're being philosophical. How…adorable.” Once he had pried her fingers off of his tie and the strip of fabric was free he smoothed it down, eyes staying fixed on her face. “Some of us are hated more than others, you know.”

“Yes, I suppose that’s very true.” Her mouth spread out into that smile again, her eyes shining with amusement and mischief. “You didn’t answer me before, you know.”

“About what?”

“What would feel better.”

“As I said: a great many things. Don’t hold so much stock in a feather.” His hand shot up quick enough to make her blink and he ran the pad of his thumb across her bottom lip. “But you’re going to have to figure those things out for yourself.”

“Are you that naïve, Malfoy?”

“Whatever do you mean?”

“I already know the answer to the question. I just wanted to see if you were brave enough to say it.” The sparkle in her eyes seemed to get brighter, so much so that he found himself unable to look away. Then her tongue slid out from between her parted lips, lashing quickly across the pad of his thumb before she was gently moving him back from her, watching him struggle to walk backwards without stumbling. “I know a great deal of things, Malfoy. Maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll figure me out one day. But I think not.”

Scorpius drew his hand to his chest as he watched her go down the halls, hips swinging in a way he could tell was natural and not practiced like so many other girls. Rose Weasley, he had decided, was a mystery. And he was determined to figure her out.

Let the games begin.

Chapter 2: Tell Me The Answer
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Nearly a week after Rose had basically dared Scorpius to figure her out had passed and he still hadn’t spoken to her again. It wasn’t a conscious choice not to speak to her, it was more of a coincidental thing than anything. He had been spending time with his friends and his Quidditch team while she was spending most of her time with her cousins and her brother.

The only times that they were even in the same room with each other was when they were either in class together or in the great hall for dinner. The still didn’t speak to each other while they were there together but there were times when Rose would just look over at him with this strange type of smile on her face, almost like both a challenge and an invitation at the same time though he wasn’t quite sure if it was one more than the other or what exactly she was challenging him to do. He could definitely speculate about it what the challenge was he didn’t quite think it was the best thing to do. If he guessed incorrectly there was a very good chance that he would make a complete and total fool of himself.

It was one day after Quidditch practice when he finally spoke to Rose. He had been walking with the rest of his team back towards the school after changing in the locker room, taking their time to wander across the grounds, more trying to avoid having to go back to the common room and work on their homework for the next day’s classes. No matter how important they knew their homework technically was they wanted to put it off as long as they could.

He had spotted her sitting with her back pressed against one of the trees that looked out on the great lake, one leg stretched out in front of her, one curled close to her chest and no longer in uniform, the denim of her jeans pale in the sunlight. So he excused himself then from where he was with his teammates and made his way over towards where she was sitting, glancing a couple of times over his shoulder to look at the others as they made their way to the school, knowing that they’d all give him a hard time if they knew that he was going over to speak to Rose Weasley of all people.

He didn’t even ask if she minded his company before he sat down next to her under that tree, glancing over at her as she kept her nose buried in the book she had in her hands. In the few times that he can remember his father ever talking about her parents he remembers distinctly that her mother supposedly did the same thing constantly, kept her nose buried in a book like it was the most important thing in the world to her to continue reading and not really associate with the other students. But unlike how her mother supposedly would do he saw Rose continually look at him out of the corner of her eyes, a small smile threatening to spill across her face at any moment though she kept fighting it.

It was after about fifteen minutes of complete silence that she finally spoke, eyes never leaving the book in her hands, her voice completely casual and almost disinterested. “How does it feel to be the son of a Death Eater?”

There was surprisingly no judgment in her voice when she asked, no hint of criticism like he would have heard in her friend’s voices were they to ask her the same thing. It was startling and at the same time oddly comforting. It was nice for once to have someone not seem to be judging him based upon who his family happened to be. See seemed to be more curious than anything

“He’s my father,” he told her, his own legs bent towards his body, arms resting on his bent knees, sitting in a completely relaxed manner like they often sat like this and had conversations which wasn’t even close to the truth. They never really spoke at all. “I don’t think about his being a Death Eater. He’s just my father.”

He studied her for a moment, watching the way the light hit her face and illuminated some parts while casting other parts into shadow. “Shouldn’t I be the one asking how it feels to have parents like yours? You and your famous parents.”

“My uncle is the famous one,” she corrected, her voice still casual and calm. She closed the book and put it down on the grass next to her, turning her torso so she could look over at him, arching one of her eyebrows. “Harry Potter is the famous one in my family, Malfoy. Not my parents. Surely you should know that.” There was something akin to teasing in her voice, like he’d just made a big mistake by assuming her parents were famous.

“Everyone knows who your parents are,” he insisted, turning a little himself to look at her. “They might not be as famous as your uncle but they’re still famous. In a century everyone will still know who they are. That’s being famous, Weasley. You might not believe that it is but I assure you that you’re wrong.”

She watched him for a long while, her head tilted slightly to the side, hair falling over one shoulder. Somehow she managed to look both beautiful and adorable; both naïve and yet undeniably sexual. It wasn’t an easy balance; it wasn’t a balance you found very often either.

“I want to know something,” she announced after a moment, hands resting on the ground in front of her legs, palms pressed flat against the ground.

There was absolutely nothing in her voice that him even guess what it was that she wanted to know which was a bit unnerving to be honest. Most of the time he could read people pretty well but this time was different; this time he couldn’t read the person he was with at all. He wasn’t sure if he liked not being about to read her, wasn’t sure if he could trust her not to ask something embarrassing or actually try to embarrass him in some way. But that wasn’t really something he wanted to think about, wasn’t an idea he wanted to entertain. So he didn’t let himself worry about it too much, merely nodded his head a little bit. “Alright,” he said. “Then ask me.”

He knew as soon as the words left his mouth and the edge of her mouth twitched slightly, threatening to turn into an actual smile that she was up to no good though he couldn’t quite pinpoint what exactly it was that she was up to. He just knew that whatever it was couldn’t be good; he knew that she was probably going to embarrass him a great deal and make him regret that he said she could ask him something. But Scorpius Malfoy wasn’t a coward and he’d only look like one if he backed down and told her that he changed his mind.

“It’s a very personal question,” she warned him, sitting up on her knees and leaning closer to him, her head still tilted in that naïve/sexual way that was oh so confusing to him.

“I gathered it would be.”

“And that doesn’t bother you?”

“Not really.” It was a lie, of course. it bothered him a bit to have her want to ask him something that even she admitted was personal simply because when people say they want to ask you a personal question that usually meant it would either shock you into silence or embarrass you so much that you blushed bright red and remained red for quite some time afterwards. And to be honest he had never really been the type to blush in all honesty the last thing that he would want would be for her to make him do so.

“Good.” There was something close to real satisfaction in her voice, like she hadn’t been sure that he would let her ask him something personal. It makes him feel even more uneasy because that just means that what he was going to ask her is most likely just as embarrassing as he had thought it could be. Its not a very comforting thought but he’s still not about to back down and let her think that he was some great big coward who couldn’t even handle having a girl ask him a simple question.

Her hand moved through the grass and towards him, moving like a small animal stalking its prey and then her hand moved up to rest on his knee, her face completely innocent even as she leaned closer to him, her face just a breadth away from his, her breath warm on his face. “I was wondering something about you,” she says slowly, her voice calm and in a way almost breathy, almost like the type of tone that someone would use when they were trying to seduce someone though he didn’t think that was even close to what Rose had in mind. “It actually came up when some of us girls were talking in the common room.”

“You’re staling,” he accused.

“No, not at all,” she argued. “I’m building up the suspense. It’s so very fun to watch you squirm, wondering what it is that I’m going to ask you.” He should have figured that she was enjoying making him wonder but he was too busy trying to guess what she was going to ask him to think about that as well. “We were wondering this about several different guys, actually. I’m merely in the position to ask you about it myself.”

“Then by all means: go ahead and ask.”

“Alright.” She smiled then, completely innocent though there was this look in her eyes that was anything but innocent. It was definitely mischievous, perhaps even dangerous but nowhere near as innocent as her voice was. “I was wondering: are you a virgin, Scorpius?”

The oxygen caught in his throat and he nearly choked on his own saliva because he had to admit that he hadn’t expected that in the slightest. He hadn’t expected her to ask her anything like that. He wasn’t sure what he thought she was going to ask him but it certainly wasn’t that. He wouldn’t have guessed that in a million years. It actually makes his palms sweat and makes him actually feel like being the coward he didn’t want her to think he was and just taking off back to the school without answering her. Of course then word would get around that he was not only a wimp but they’d also probably think he was completely and totally prude for not being willing to answer the question and wouldn’t that just be fantastic?

“You all were wondering if I was a virgin?”

“Not just you,” she reminded him. “We were wondering about several of our male classmates, actually. Trying to figure out which ones had ventured beyond the area of innocence when it came to girls.” He watched her as she spoke to him, watched her as she shifted, her hand still on his knee but her body moving so that she was in front of him, her knees resting between where his feet were. “Don’t you ever wonder about anyone? Don’t you ever look at some of the people we go to school with and question whether or not they’ve ventured beyond purity?”

And of course as soon as she asked him that it made him wonder about her, made him wonder just how innocent little Rose Weasley was or just how corrupted she was. And neither one really seemed to fit for her. He couldn’t imagine her being completely and totally naïve but he also couldn’t imagine her being all that corrupt. Neither one seemed to suit her and yet both of them did at the same time because she just had this balance about her where he just couldn’t guess. She had this seductive charm and yet the ability to come across as completely and totally innocent.

“I guess I wonder about some people sometimes,” he conceded, nodding his head a little bit. If she asked him who then he wouldn’t tell her because she didn’t need to know that she had just gotten him to wonder about her. It would have just made the whole situation a little bit more bizarre.

“So then why is it so surprising that we would wonder about you?”

“I guess it really isn’t when you put it that way.”

“No, it really isn’t,” she agreed unnecessarily, smiling a little bit. “Not really so surprising at all.” And that’s when she tried, quite obviously, to make him extremely uncomfortable because she moved his arms away from his legs and slid forward, placing herself between them, pressing her body closer to his, resting herself in between his legs, her nose nearly pressed against his. “So, tell me: are you a virgin, Scorpius?” The edge of her mouth twitched into an almost smile, her lips nearly touching his but not making contact, not letting herself make contact with him, like she’s really just playing a game which he thinks she just might be. He may just be a big pawn in a little game of hers. “Are you?”

He swallowed hard again, his eyes jumping down to her lips and then back up, meeting her mischievous blue eyes. His mouth felt dry; his tongue felt like lead in his mouth. “No,” he heard himself saying before he even realized he was actually going to answer her. “No, I’m not.”

“No?” she intoned. She clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth almost disappointedly. “Naughty boy.”

“Are you a virgin?”

Her head dipped down, her mouth brushing against his and then almost too quickly for him to process it she leaned back from him, reaching over and taking her book in her hand. “I never told you I’d answer any of your questions,” she reminded him and then stood up quickly but somehow very gracefully and smiled down at him, a twisted and amused sort of smile. “And I thought you were supposed to be figuring me out not asking me to fill you in.”

And then she did the most unexpected thing- she winked at him and stepped over his legs, heading off towards the school, never once looking back even as his eyes remained on her the entire time.

Score one for you, he thought as she started to vanish from sight. You won this round.

Chapter 3: Quid Pro Quo
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He found that the situations that can bring people together could often be the strangest and the least likely. You can spend almost all of your time around specific people without ever speaking to them; you can see a person every day of your life and not say a word to them and then something happens and all of a sudden you're drawn together, you end up speaking to them and talking to them and from that day on the course of your world shifts just a little bit. That’s what had happened with Rose; that’s what had set this whole strange series of events into motion. At first he never even spoke to her, at first he would scarcely even look at her from across the room. He had been casually kind to her every once in a while but he never really spoke to her. And then she had approached him in the hall that day and dared him to figure her out and it was like flicking that first domino, the one that makes the whole lot of them fall down. She had been the domino that day in the hall and the rest of his life afterwards had been the line of them.

Three days after she had asked him if he was a virgin or not he hadn’t spoken to her again, at least not yet. He had spent most of that time wondering why it was that she would actually want to know that about him, why she would care at all about whether or not he happened to be a virgin. And he realized that answering her was probably a bad idea, that it really wasn’t any of her business that he wasn’t a virgin anymore. It wasn’t anyone's business but his. And, of course, whomever he had gone and shagged. But it certainly wasn’t her business and yet he had answered her. And she hadn’t returned the favor and answered him.

And so it made him wonder the entire time why she had opted not to answer him, what she was trying to hide and whether or not she was, in fact, a virgin or not a virgin and why she had felt the need to hide the answer either way. If she was a virgin then he figured that maybe she was embarrassed by that fact. And if she wasn't them maybe she was embarrassed by that as well, maybe it had been a very bad experience for her or something of the like but whatever the reason he kept wondering over and over again whether she was or wasn’t; he kept wondering why she hadn’t answered him after he had asked her and he knew that it was probably intentional, that she had avoiding answering him just to annoy him.

At this point he realized that nothing Rose could do would probably be surprising to him, that she was definitely what you would consider a complex person. There are people in the world that you can understand with very little effort and people that you couldn’t understand no matter how hard you tried and he was starting to believe that Rose fell into the second category, that he could try for the rest of his life to understand her and it would never, ever happen. It was frustrating and fascinating and infuriating and a million and three things all rolled up in one. He wasn’t sure why he even wanted to understand her anymore except that he didn’t understand her, that was this big puzzle that he seemed to be missing half of the pieces of.

He hadn’t told anyone about Rose's little challenge or her little game of 'lets confuse the hell out of Scorpius', hadn’t thought that it would be important to tell them. And to be honest, he didn’t think his friends would understand why he was willing to play her little game. It wasn’t as though he had to understand her for any reason. Sure, in some small way he had been fascinated by her since they were first years but he's positive that’s simply because she was such a mystery to him. Had she been even remotely easy to figure out then he was sure she would be pretty much static in the background to him. But when someone is basically impossible to figure out that makes him just want to try even harder to understand them, makes him want to pick apart the strings and get to the basics of who they are.

He had let his mind forget about that all during the first Quidditch game of the season, focusing on the game. It hadn’t been that difficult of a game- games against Hufflepuff rarely are- but it had made him focus on something other than the game, made him focus on the yellow of their uniforms and the feel of the broom between his legs; made him focus on the air rushing around him as he moved through the air, made him focus on a million other things that didn’t involve Rose Weasley and her naïve/seductive smiles and her game and her personal questions that she refused to answer about herself.

Slytherin had beat Hufflepuff, predictably, and the teams had gone to their respective locker rooms and changed back into their clothes, his team talking about the game and congratulating themselves on their victory while the Hufflepuffs all talked about Merlin knows what. And then slowly the players started to file out of the room until it was basically empty, all them just wanting to get back to the school so they could bathe because despite what people seemed to think playing Quidditch could build up a pretty good sweat.

"You all played quite well," he heard as soon as he stepped out of the locker room prompting him to turn slightly to find Rose Weasley, the very same mysterious bird that had been frustrating him to almost no end walking along the root of a rather big tree, her feet moving delicately over it like a ballet dancer, her bare soles collecting dirt against her pale skin. He was pretty sure that given the time of year the ground was probably rather cool and thus chilled her skin but she didn’t seem to notice it, just kept walking along the root to the end and then stepped gracefully off of it, pressing her toes into the dirt first and then lowering it down until her heel pressed down as well and then her gaze turned up towards his face, her blue eyes dancing with some sort of mischief that he couldn’t quite place but he knew that look already because she had the same look on her face when she had told him she wanted to know something about him and then she had asked him whether or not he was a virgin. "Rather surprising, actually."

"Why is that so surprising?" he replied incredulously, a bit insulted by the way she had put it, implying that the team wasn’t capable of playing a good game on a normal basis when they're actually quite good. True, he may be a bit biased seeing that he's on the team but he's sure that they're not bad enough for her to seem surprised that they were good in that particular game.

"You've been rather distracted lately," she noted, tilting her head in that naïve/sexy way she seemed to do quite often around him, looking very much like a cross between a little girl and a vixen in her flowing skirt and her simple shirt, her head cocked to the side and folding her hands behind her back like a little kid trying to convince their parent to buy them something they don’t really want to. "I wonder why that could be."

Scorpius watched her for a couple of seconds as if trying to decide whether or not she was serious and then scoffed, a louder sound than he had intended and one that didn’t get his desired reaction because she merely smiled, a smile that was almost a smirk as she looked at him, her eyes sparkling again.

"I think you can imagine why," he retorted evenly, his voice void of any emotion, keeping his tone as empty as she seemed to like to keep hers when around him.

"Me?" she questioned, sounding quite innocent and looking just as innocent, her eyes widening slightly, unfolding her hands so she could put her one hand on her chest, as if motioning to herself in disbelief. "Now, why would you possible think that I would have even the slightest inkling as to why you happen to be as distracted as you've been lately? It isn’t as though I were psychic, Malfoy."

"No, you're not," he agreed easily. "But you're manipulative, aren’t you? You enjoy this little game that you have going on right now. And you're thoroughly convinced you're going to win. I don’t think you consider me a worthy adversary."

"Game?" She arched one of her dark eyebrows at her, the shade of brown standing out as starkly against her skin as her messy hair did, hair that sat around her thin face in unruly waves, hair that didn’t seem to be able to be untangled even if her life depended on it. "I don’t have any clue what you're talking about."

"Come off of it," he requested tersely, heaving a bit of an annoyed sigh and reaching up to run his fingers through his pale blonde hair in frustration. "You know exactly what game I'm talking about. The game you started. That little challenge you issued."

"And what challenge might that be?"

"To figure you out."

"Figure me out?" The corners of her mouth turned up slightly, almost smiling. "Am I really that complex?"

"You know exactly what you are."

"True," she conceded, glancing down at her bare feet once more and taking those delicate, dance like steps, one foot directly in front of the other as though she were walking on a very narrow beam and was trying to keep her balance. "I know what I am quite well. I don’t, however, know what you think I am. That most definitely remains a mystery to me."

"You're trying to play with my head," he accused, narrowing his eyes at her, watching her as though she were a snake ready to strike.

She paused then in her steps and threw her head back, laughing as though he had just said the funniest thing she could have ever imagined him saying, her eyes closed, hair blowing in the wind. She reached up, put her hand over her mouth to try to muffle the sound, her shoulders shaking with the amusement she was feeling. "Lovely," she finally managed to say once the laughter had subsided a little. "And why, pray tell, would I want to do that?"

"Haven't quite figured out your motive yet," he admitted, shrugging his shoulders a bit.

"Then perhaps its safer to assume that you're paranoid than to assume that I'm up to something," she suggested, looking over at him with one of her dark eyebrows arched again. "Paranoia can be a dangerous thing. You might want to look out for that."

"I'm not paranoid," he insisted and then, without thinking about it and scarcely even realizing that he was going to do it he reached out and clasped his hand around her wrist, tugging on her arm, sending her tiny body forward so it nearly slammed into his chest and probably would have had if she hadn’t stuck her hand out to brace herself, her fingers colliding with his chest.

"I'm not paranoid," he insisted again, his voice sharper this time even as she tilted her head up very slowly to look at him, her face betraying absolutely nothing. "I don’t know why but you've decided to play a little game with my head, to confuse me, to try to keep yourself this big mystery to me. You think you can win, that you're better at being a mystery than I am at figuring things out. You can deny it all you want but we both know that’s the truth."

Then she did the strangest thing. She got this look on her face like she was truly concerned, her eyebrows knitting together, her head cocking slightly to the side in a completely innocent way, not a single bit of the sexuality she normally exuded in that act visible this time. "Are you ill?" she asked him quite seriously, reaching up with the hand that wasn’t immobilized by his grip and pressing the back of her hand against his forehead as though checking for a fever. "Perhaps you should go to the hospital wing and have them give you a check, yeah?"

Narrowing his eyes at her he growled, a deep and dark sound that rumbled in the pit of his chest, and he reached up, grabbing that wrist in his hand as well, lowering it down from his face. "You know bloody well that I'm not ill," he hissed down at her and then he was moving, moving her backwards as he moved forwards, his eyes locked on hers, managing to find the amusement hidden within the blue orbs that she'd been trying so hard to hide.

Her back made contact with the tree which made them both stop abruptly, could have made him crush her against the tree if he hadn’t been careful not to hurt her. As annoyed as he may be with her Scorpius Malfoy has never, ever been violent with a girl and he didn’t intend to start now of all times. "You know that I'm not ill and I'm not paranoid so quite playing innocent. You aren’t nearly as good at it as you think you are."

The corners of her mouth turned upwards again, turning up into a slight smile and she shifted a bit, settling more comfortably against the tree, pressing her lower body more firmly against his as she did so, teasing him because he knew she knew exactly what she was doing and meant absolutely nothing by it. "Oh, you let me get to you far too easily," she cooed at him like he was a child. "If you think you could ever possibly win any sort of a game with me when I can get you this upset this easily then I'm afraid you're dreaming, Malfoy."

"You're devious."

"Compliments will get you nowhere," she informed him evenly, cocking her head to the side again, this time going back to that naïve/sexy way, resting her head against the tree, her hair getting caught up in the bark as she sighs a bit in almost a resigned sort of way. "Is this the part where you berate me for being a prat?" she questioned. "Or are you thinking of something far more nefarious?"

"Good to know you think so lowly of me," he replied dryly, releasing her wrists but not stepping back from her, keeping her there so she can't do her dance like movements and step away from him this time like she had done last time; so she can't just make all of the rules in this little game. "I think you owe me an answer to a question, Weasley."

"Oh? And what question might that be?"

"The very same question that I asked you last time we spoke."

"Oh, Malfoy," she cooed again, reaching up and running the tips of her fingers down his cheek in an almost caressing fashion. "I never said I was going to answer questions, did I? If I never promised you answers how can you say I owe you them?"

"I answered you. Quid pro quo, Weasley. What's fair is fair."

"Who ever said anything about fair?"

"Games should be fair. What good is a game when you have the advantage?"

"Do I really have the advantage?"

"You know you do."

"My. How unfair of me." She clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth as though she were scolding herself and then watched him for a couple of seconds before narrowing her eyes at him, almost smirking. "Why do you want to know if I'm a virgin or not, Malfoy? I told you why I was asking but why do you want to know?" she questions and then she does smirk as she leans up a bit so her mouth is almost brushing against his. "You don’t fancy me, do you Malfoy?"

Of course he didn’t fancy her. She was fascinating to him, of course, but that wasn’t the same thing. But still, standing there with her that close, with her lower half pressed against his, her breath warm on his face, the floral scent of her shampoo wafting into his nostrils the denial dies in his throat and it makes him forget for a couple of seconds.

"Malfoy! What the bloody hell do you think you're doing to my cousin?"

Rose smiled then, her eyes sparkling as she gazed up into his. "Hello, Albus," she called out softly and turned her head to look at her cousin. "Problem?"

Score: Rose 2, Scorpius 0, he thought bitterly as he turned his head to look at her very, very annoyed looking cousin.

Chapter 4: A Simple Misunderstanding
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Rose Weasley couldn't have looked more pleased with herself if she had tried to. She stood there looking between her cousin and Scorpius like the proverbial cat that caught the canary. He wasn't entirely sure why she looked as pleased with herself as she did but the expression on her face was unmistakable, as though perhaps she enjoyed the idea of her cousin catching them in a position that seemed slightly compromising. He hadn't been doing anything wrong, of course, but to anyone who had walked in on that it certainly wouldn't look that way. As a matter-of-fact, it would have looked very much like he was about to do something inappropriate with her though that was the furthest thing from his mind. Well, almost the furthest thing from his mind.

He took a giant step back from Rose as though that would prove the point that he wasn't doing anything wrong though he gathered that it could have possibly made him look more guilty than he actually was in that moment. What was he supposed to give the guy as an answer to that question anyway? It wasn't like he could tell Albus that Rose was engaged in some bizarre game with him, especially since it was a game that he didn't understand himself. He was mostly an unwilling participant, after all. Or rather a participant that had been dragged into things rather than volunteering to join the game himself.

Rose leaned back against the tree in a way that was almost like she was lying out on display for the whole world to see. The fact that she was enjoying things as much as she was happened to be rather disconcerting to him. Especially when he was absolutely at a loss as to what to say to her cousin who currently was giving him a look that could stop birds in mid-flight. One would think he had walked in on Scorpius with his hand down Rose's knickers rather than standing close to her and talking to her.

"I asked what you were doing, Malfoy," Albus hissed at him, took a step towards him. It was quite obviously meant to be a threatening gesture, one to let him know that he absolutely meant business. Under any other circumstances then Scorpius would have probably laughed right in his face. Despite the fact that most people tended to kiss Albus' ass because of who his father was Scorpius had never done that. And he had never been intimidated by him in the very least. He could hold his own against someone like Albus without much work at all.

"I was talking to your cousin, Potter." God, in that moment he probably sounded very much like his father, so much like him, in fact, that were Harry Potter standing there himself he would probably think he had traveled back through time to his own days at Hogwarts. And yet he didn't really care at all that he sounded like his father just then. It was a rather stupid question in his opinion and it was the most obvious answer he could have given to the other boy at the moment.

"It didn't look like you were just talking to her," he pointed out, his eyes darting back and forth between the two of them.

Rose returned his gaze with the most innocent expression that he could muster, looked at Albus like she couldn't possibly imagine what he was talking to her about in that moment. After all, she hadn't really been doing anything too ridiculous, at least from an outsider's point of view. To anyone else she would have just looked like a sweet, innocent young woman that had accosted by a very unsavory fellow. Of course, most of Rose's family considered him to be unsavory just based on who the hell he was related to.

"Well, I was just talking to her," the blonde insisted as he kept on looking at the other boy in front of him. He refused to give him any sort of control or power over him. Rose had already taken away enough power from him with the little game she had initiated. No way was he going to relinquish more of his power to anyone else in that family.

"What did you think I was doing, Potter? Jumping her? Trying to shag her up against the tree? Trust me, Potter, if I was going to shag your cousin I wouldn't be doing it out here in the open up against a tree. Trust me when I say the bark wouldn't be all that comfortable for her." Even though it meant risking being hexed or getting punched in the face Scorpius folded her arms over his chest, his mouth turning up slightly into a smirk. "And trust me when I say I would make sure she was comfortable."

Albus took two giant steps towards him, his hand instinctively reaching for his wand. Rose stood there for a handful of seconds as her cousin moved towards Scorpius but it wasn't until his fingers were almost around the wand that she actually stepped forward so she was standing between Albus and Scorpius, her back almost pressed against the blonde's chest.

Albus stopped with the wand halfway out of his pocket, his eyes going to his cousin as they widened in question. If he tried to shoot any kind of a hex Scorpius' way in that moment he'd end up hitting Rose and if that happened his father would never let him live it down. Hurting family just isn't an option whether it be intentional or accidental. "Bloody hell. Why are you protecting him, Rose?"

"I'm not protecting him," she insisted in such a logical tone that questioning it could seem utterly ridiculous. Sometimes she had the ability to seem logical and honest even while she was being anything but logical and honest. It was probably something she practiced because he had never seen anyone fake things quite as well as she could. After all, she managed to come across as innocent as anyone ever had when they were both very aware she wasn't even remotely close to innocent if their little game was any indication.

"I'm protecting you, Al." Rose cocked her head slightly to the side as she watched him, the expression on her face indicating just how honest she was trying to be with him, that she really and truly meant it when she said she was protecting her cousin and not Scorpius. And maybe she was. Only Rose would know that and she wasn't exactly an open book.

"If you hex him then you might end up getting into trouble. And we both know if any of us get into trouble at school Grandma Molly will be very angry. And we both know her howlers are legendary. So, aside from the trouble you'd be in with the school, you'd end up being embarrassed in front of your friends when she sent that howler to you. I really am just looking out for you, dear cousin." If Scorpius wasn't used to hearing people in his own house being manipulative then it would have surprised him how easily Rose managed to play the game she was playing.

"And he really was just talking to me, Al," she assured him. It wasn't a lie, that was true enough. He really was just talking to her though he was trying to get information out of her by any means possible. But he hadn't crossed a line that would cause any problems. Or at least he hadn't crossed the line that Albus seemed to think he had.

Her cousin, however, looked dubious at best. He glanced between Rose and Scorpius, both of his eyebrows furrowed, his mouth set in a grim line, his body still rigid, fingers twitching a little bit like he was trying to stop himself from grabbing his wand into his hand and finding a way to hex Scorpius into the next century.

"If he was actually doing anything to me I would let you know," she promised. Of all the things that she had said as of late Scorpius believed that was probably the most truthful of them all. Even though she seemed to be enjoying the little game that they were playing if she needed to he didn't doubt she would call foul and get her family involved if the need arose.

Albus let out a heavy breath through his nostrils, scoffed underneath his breath and mumbled something to himself that sounded a lot like he couldn't honestly believe that Rose was telling him to walk away from Scorpius like that, not to do anything to him, to trust that they were both telling the truth.

"Fine." It came out in a frustrated hiss and then after a couple of moments he finally pulled his hand away from his wand though his body remained tense, rigid. He seemed extremely uncomfortable with the idea of walking away in that moment, with letting Scorpius get away with being that close to his cousin.

"Come on, Rose," he finally said after a moment, lifted up the hand that had been going for his wand to motion in her direction, to tell her that she should go with him rather than stay there with the Slytherin he absolutely didn't trust. He could honestly say he would never trust Scorpius Malfoy.

Rose smiled a little bit and nodded her head just a little bit to say she would go with him. She took a couple of steps towards her cousin before turning her head slightly to look at Scorpius. One side of her mouth turned up slightly in a cross between a smirk and a smile, her eyes locked on his face. And then, just before she turned to head back towards the school with her cousin she winked at him, the way to silently say that she was nowhere near done with their game, that she would be back to play more of it at a later time.

Scorpius watched the two of them walking away and for the life of him he couldn't help but wonder how long she'd keep playing that game with him. And how the game would end.

The common room was only a relaxing place when most of the students had either gone to bed or had retired to their rooms to do their homework. Before then there were too many people in there chattering away with each other, being so loud that finding any semblance of peace and quiet was laughable to say the very least.

Once it got late, once everyone was winding down for the day it was very easy for you to find some peace and quiet by relaxing in the common room. After being in the house for a while you got to know the patterns of people and what they were going to do. Sometimes understanding the way things worked around that school was the best way to deal with being there most of your year. Otherwise it could drive you crazy.

Scorpius had been lying on one of the couches there for about an hour, his head still spinning a little bit as he tried to figure out exactly what it was that Rose was really trying to accomplish when it came to that stupid little game of theirs. Or, rather, as he liked to think of it the game of hers that she had decided to start with him.

Because he didn't really know much about who she really was it was hard for him to figure out why she might be playing some strange cat-and-mouse game with him. Until she started the game all he really knew was what he had gleamed from their time in school together, that mask of sweetness and innocence that she wore for the rest of the school. And if that was how she was for the most part then figuring her out seemed next to impossible.

He heard the sound of footsteps coming before he actually saw anyone coming by where he was. Someone made their way out into the sitting room- or lounge or living room or whatever the bloody hell you felt like calling it at the moment- and sat down in one of the armchairs close to where he was lying.

At first the other person said absolutely nothing which was a blessing given how much his head was beginning to hurt from how much he was thinking. And if he were to be subjected to inane chatter he would probably lose his patience with the person.

"Your head hurting you, mate?"

Scorpius recognized the voice without looking at him. When you got to know someone well enough you could pick up on the voice. And after five years there anyone in the same year as him and in the same house was definitely someone he knew decently enough. And anyone he had become friends with he would probably recognize by voice a mile away.

Scorpius continued to lie there on the couch with his eyes closed, with his arm lifted up so his eyes were covered by his forearm without saying a word. It wasn't because he was trying to avoid the question or because he was ignoring him but because he was trying to figure what to say, what was the best way to approach the whole situation he was stuck in rather than just blurting out the first thing that came to mind.

After a moment he lowered his arm from over his eyes so he could look at Braxton Zabini sitting down in the chair. Their fathers had been friends in high school, or at least friends to an extent. He knew very well that there were times when the two of them didn't get along, that they didn't agree on things but there was still a thread of friendship there that had never gone away.

The two sons had never had the issues with each other that their fathers had. They had become close their first year and since they had remained friends, had never gotten to the point where they had been practically enemies the way their fathers had. But that was probably because they never had to worry about their loyalties and where they happened to lie given the fact that they weren't in the midst of a war. It made some things much more simple for their generation.

Finally he lowered his arm and looked over at his friend. Braxton sat in the chair hunched over, his elbows resting on his knees, his gaze fixed on Scorpius, his dark eyebrows furrowed just a little bit as he gazed at his friend, his expression making it obvious that he was waiting for a response of some kind.

"Brax," the blonde finally started after a moment, shifted around on the couch a little bit so he could get into a more comfortable position while he lied there. "Do you understand women at all?"

For a moment Braxton kept looking at him like he was trying to assess whether or not he was serious with that question. And once he was sure that he was then Brax let out a surprised bark of laughter, his head thrown back, the light from the fireplace casting an eerie glow across his skin. "Jeez, mate. You should know by now that no bloke understands women. According to my dad we spend our whole lives trying to figure them out and we never quite get there. They're too damn complicated."

Scorpius frowned just a little bit as he looked at his friend, not completely satisfied with that answer even though he was sure Braxton was telling the truth. He had never seemed to have any reason to lie to him before so there was no reason to assume he would start to from that point on.

"What made you decide to ask about understanding women all of a sudden?"

"They're just far more complicated than I ever thought they could be." He supposed that all men understood women to a certain degree but only in the most basic and primal way possible. It was the way that all men could understand women, at least men that were attracted to women. A sexual drive was the simplest way to understand women from his standpoint. But that didn't help with the complexity of them. And he was beginning to see just how complicated they were.

"You'd think you would have been aware of that by now," Braxton teased as he looked at his friend, the corners of his mouth turning up slightly like he was trying to keep himself from smiling, from laughing, from finding the whole thing ridiculous. Not that Scorpius could really blame him for finding it silly. It had been a rather ridiculous question if he really thought about it.

"I suppose I just figured that some women were easier to read than others," he conceded with a very slight shrug of his shoulders. "But apparently some of the women that seem the easiest to read turn out to be the hardest ones to read. And apparently some women like to play games."

"So do men," Braxton pointed out, nodded slightly in his direction as if to emphasize his point.

"Depends on the game."

"Are you playing a game you don't feel like playing?"

Scorpius just looked at him for a few moments, for a handful of seconds of silence while he tried to decide what the truth was when it came to that question. A part of him could honestly say that he didn't enjoy the game Rose had gotten him into but the rest of him said that a part of him did enjoy it. It was the competitive side of him that enjoyed it the most, the side of him that hated even coming close to losing a game.

Maybe that was something he had inherited from his father, the competitive nature that seemed to flow through the Malfoy veins. Whether that was the case or not he had to admit, to himself, that he most definitely didn't want to lose the game he was playing with Rose. And so he supposed that, yes, a part of him really and truly did like the game as strange and frustrating as it could be.

He contemplated the best way to answer that for another couple of seconds before looking at his friend once more.

"I'll get back to you on that one."


Chapter 5: The Girl Made Of Surprises
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For the next couple of days Rose wasn’t able to have any contact with Scorpius to continue on with the little game that they were playing. Not because they were overly busy and it wasn’t as though Scorpius was avoiding her but her overprotective cousin seemed to be intent on keeping her in his line of vision. It was obvious, to her at least, that he didn’t want to leave her alone in case Scorpius decided to go up to her again.

It seemed he had even gone so far as to tell Hugo to keep an eye on her as well. Because despite the fact that Hugo was her younger brother, despite the fact that he had no reason to be overprotective of her, he was following her around rater closely when they weren’t in their respective classrooms. A part of her found it frustrating while the rest of her merely found it amusing.

Sitting in the Gryffindor common room with her brother and her cousin, her legs pulled up onto one of the couched, a fire burning in the fireplace she pretended to be reading her book the entire time yet she was constantly watching them looking over at her, watching her like they were trying to make sure that she was still there, that she hadn’t gone off and gotten into a situation where she might, in that mind, be cornered by Scorpius who, they thought, no doubt had something horrible in mind for her. They didn’t seem to want to give him the benefit of the doubt.

After playing that little game of pretending she didn’t notice them looking at her had gone on for nearly an hour Rose lowered her book down into her lip, on finger between the pages to hold her place and looked over at Albus, cocked her head to one side as a slight smile turned up the corners of her mouth. “So, tell me, Al- just how long do you intend to watch over me like a bloody bodyguard? It’s getting to the point where soon you won’t even let me go to the loo without you or Hugo watching after me.”

Letting out a frustrated groan Albus put his quill down and glanced up at her, his shoulders slumping a little while sat back a little bit to look at her. “You’re being overly dramatic, Rose. Hugo and I are just looking out for you.”

“Unnecessarily,” she pointed out with a very slight shrug of her shoulders. “I’m not in any danger, Albus. It’s Hogwarts. It’s rather safe here. You don’t have to watch my every move. And you know perfectly well that I’m capable of taking care of myself.”

“Don’t you think your father would be glad to see that Hugo and I are taking care of you. We’re family, after all. And families need to stick together, after all.” Cocking his head very slightly to the side Albus shrugged his shoulders just a little bit as though it made total sense to him.

“Except you’re protecting me from an imaginary problem, Al,” Rose rationalized rather easily, smiling a little bit in a way that implied just how ridiculous she thought that he was being in that moment. “I already told you that Scorpius was being honest. We were just talking, Al.”

“You two aren’t even friends, Rosie.”

“You don’t have to be friends to talk to someone. We’re classmates, after all. We go to the same school, our families have histories. There’s more than enough possible subject matters to discuss. And since he didn’t do anything wrong? Then there’s no reason for you to be overly protective of me.”

“You say you two were just talking. But you don’t know what was in his head. None of us do. Last time I checked none of us are psychic. You could have gotten his intentions all wrong.”

“Al, you’re the one who got his intentions wrong,” Rose countered in a tone that was meant to soothe him, to calm him down. “And you dragged my brother into your misunderstanding,” she added, motioning to Hugo who looked over at her as if telling her to keep him out of that conversation though he was a very big part of it. “You walked in at the very end of the conversation and you took everything out of context. He wasn’t going to do anything to me. He was emphasizing his point by standing close to me, that’s all. I promise I was in no danger. We’re family. You should trust me more.”

“I do trust you, Rosie,” Al replied in an exasperated tone. “I just don’t trust him. I have no reason to trust him.”

“And you don’t have any reason not to. You’re not your father, he’s not his. You’re not sworn enemies or anything of the like so why assume the worst?”

Al rolled his eyes at her, folded his arms across his chest as though protecting his thoughts from her while revealing just how stubborn he intended to be about the whole thing. “I’m not going to apologize for looking out for you, Rosie. We’re family. We look out for each other. Just like I know you would help me if I were in trouble? I’m looking out for you.”

“Yes, but I wasn’t in trouble,” she drawled as she threw her legs over the edge of the couch and stood up from it. “But if I am? I’ll tell you. Promise.”

She smiled at her cousin and then at her little brother, a mischievous type of smile that implied she was hiding something though what that might be wasn’t apparent to either of them. And then, without so much as another word, her book still in one hand, her finger still marking her place, she turned from them and headed for the stairs to the girls dormitory.

“You’re extremely stubborn!” Albus called out to her as she walked away.

“It must run in the family then,” she retorted as she started her way up the stairs.

The library was mostly empty and yet still Scorpius was sitting far in the back of the room. It was mostly so he could do his work in peace but it was also because very few people made their way over to the back of the library unless it was extremely busy there. So, from his first year there he found that the back of the library was the better place to go.

Rose had figured that out in their third year there. It had been rather accidental that she had discovered it. She had been in one of the sections of books towards the back where most people didn’t tend to look- her mother’s curiosity had been something she had inherited- and after seeing him there several days in a row, sitting by himself working on his assignments she realized that he enjoyed that location far more than any other.

In the weeks before she actually decided to play the game with him she had watched him for a long time, studied him a bit as though he were something she would be tested on later in life. She hid behind the bookshelf, watched the way he would hunch over while scribbling away on his parchment with his quill, the way his eyebrows would furrow as he read the pages of whatever books he brought over to the table. Watching him was he did his work proved to be fascinating to her though she couldn’t quite explain why it was to fascinating to her.

That was where she had found him after she finally got her cousin and her brother to back off enough where she felt like she could breathe. She hadn’t been sure if he would be in the library at that time but she was lucky enough to see him there, to find him rather easily. It made things easier for her since she didn’t have to go searching for him. And it was nice to be able to play the game again without working too hard to find him- or try to get her brother and Al to leave her alone.

She stood there behind the bookshelf watching him for a few minutes, the way he was slouching back slightly in his seat, one elbow resting on the desk, his arm bent, fingers pressed against his temple, eyes moving over the page in front of him. It was both fascinating and comforting though she couldn’t explain why that was.

After she had watched him for a satisfactory amount of time she stepped out from behind the bookshelf and made her way over to him, dropped her bag down onto the floor next to his chair. The sound of the books inside hitting the floor drew his attention away from the book, was almost surprising enough to make her jump.

His eyes jumped up to her face and his pale eyebrows furrowed slightly in something akin to confusion. She couldn’t blame him for that one though since she hadn’t been anywhere near him in the last couple of days. But it still made a very slightly amused smile turn up one corner of her mouth. “What’s the matter, Malfoy? Did I startle you?”

“Here I was thinking your family wasn’t going to let you out of their sight,” he replied, his tone much more calm than she had expected it to be. A part of her couldn’t help but to be impressed. Normally when people looked that surprised, that startled they didn’t go a very good job of keeping their voice that calm.

“Oh, they certainly tried to play the bodyguard. It’s almost adorable how protective they are of me, acting as though I’m not capable of taking care of myself. But they know better to question me when I tell them I can take care of things myself. Because they know it’s true.” Rose cocked her head very slightly to the side, a slight smirk spreading across her face. “But, when you’re part of my little family clan? You become accustomed to people being overly protective of you. But I don’t suppose you would understand that being an only child with very little family. As suffocating as my family can be I can’t imagine that.”

“It doesn’t bother you when it’s all you know,” he retorted though his tone wasn’t snapping or sarcastic, it merely implied that she should know that without having to ask questions. And it was a logical statement to make since you could only know firsthand what you lived with every day.

One of Rose’s dark eyebrows rose slightly as she looked at him, her head cocking slightly to the side, the smirk disappearing from her face to turn into an amused sort of smile. She bit down on the tip of her tongue though to keep from laughing only because she didn’t want to inflate his ego. That certainly wasn’t a part of the game.


“Did you come here for a reason, Weasley?”

“Oh, what’s wrong, Malfoy? Not happy to see me? And here I thought you might have missed me. How foolish of me.”

“You thought I’d miss you playing games with my head?” Both of Scorpius’ pale eyebrows shot up in surprise, a startled laugh slipping past his lips as he sat back in his seat, his entire posture displaying how unbelievable he found that statement to be. “You must be a very confident person.”

Girl,” Rose corrected. “I’m a girl, Malfoy. Woman if we’re being technical. Even the least observant person in the world would have noticed that by now.”

“I’m not completely oblivious so, yes, I have noticed you’re a girl, Weasley.”

“Good. I’m glad we have that cleared up then.” Reaching out with one leg she kicked her bag a little further away from the chair and stepped closer to him. Reaching out she put one and on each of his shoulders to keep her balance and climbed into his lap, one leg on either side of both of his. Had she been wearing a skirt she wouldn’t have done that because he skirt would have rode up too much. But with her pants there was no chance of flashing her knickers around.

Without even pausing to think about it, without even considering the situation at all he reached up and put his hands on her waist to balance her, to make sure he didn’t fall back off of his lap and down onto the floor. His instincts came through despite the shock though he had to admit he wouldn’t have expected her to climb onto his lap like that.

“Never had a girl climb into your lap before?” she teased, smiled at him like one might smile to someone they thought was naïve or ridiculous.

“I just wasn’t expecting you to climb into my lap like that,” Scorpius defended, his fingers tightening a little bit more out of frustration just then than wanting to make sure she didn’t fall off of his lap. And yet even with the frustration inside of him he was very careful not to hold on too tightly, not to let hurt her or leave bruises. Not just because he knew how her family would react if they found out he left marks on her but because if there was one thing he wouldn’t do it was hurt a woman. His mother would have his head if he did no matter who the girl’s parents were.

“Remember when I said that this little game had no rules? Well, I retract that statement. This game does have just one rule. And it’s a very, very simple one. One I have no doubt you can remember.”

“And what might that rule be?”

“Expect the unexpected.” Moving her hands off of his shoulder she wrapped her arms around his neck, slid closer to him so her chest was nearly pressed up against his, her head still cocked slightly to the side, her eyes sparkling with amusement. “Just about everything is fair game right now. Well, except causing permanent damage to each other, of course. I think we can both agree that we want to come out of this game with all of our fingers and toes intact.”

“Well, I would appreciate keeping every part of my body, yes,” he agreed rather easily. “And I think I can agree to make sure you keep all of yours, too.”

“Good. Because if I lost any of my fingers during this little game of ours I don’t think I’d be able to stop my family from coming after you.”

Some part of him wanted to laugh, the cocky part of him that felt invincible, the part of him that existed in all boys his age. All of them thought that they were untouchable, that nothing could get to them. Even though they all knew about what had happened when their parents were in school, about the war and that people died, how easily their lives could end they all felt like nothing would touch them, that life was in their favor and that darkness couldn’t appear in their world once more. It was naïve and foolish but people are often so naïve and foolish when they’re young.

“Do you think I’m afraid of your family?” he finally asked, his own eyes sparkling with amusement just then, his head cocking to the side. If how close she was to him bothered him he refused to let it show, kept it buried deep down inside of him. If he let her know she was getting to him at all then she would win that round and she had won too many of them already.

“One of my family members on their own? No, I don’t think you’d be afraid of them then. I think you’d be able to handle yourself decently enough. But a group of them together? All of them coming after you? Yeah, I think that would scare you half to death.” Lifting up one hand she brushed her fingers through the bottom of his hair at the base of his skull. “And I know, without a doubt, that they would win. On their own they might not be scary but as a group? They most definitely can be.”

“And here I thought you wanted to play a game with me. Now it sounds like you’re just trying to scare me away.”

“Scare you away? Oh, no. Not at all. I wouldn’t want to do that. But give you fair warning? Yes, that I most definitely am willing to do. It wouldn’t be very nice of me to let you go into this blind would it, Malfoy? To let you think nothing can happen to you when that’s far from true.”

“I wasn’t under the impression you cared much about being fair or nice.”

“Ouch. I didn’t think you had such a low opinion of me, Malfoy. That hurts.”

“Does it?” His pale eyebrows furrowed in an inquisitive manner as he leaned a little bit closer to her, the tip of his nose almost touching the tip of hers.

If anyone came by them in that moment, if they saw the two of them they might think there was something more going on between the two of them than a little game. They would most likely think there was something romantic going on between the two of them. And if not romantic at the very least very intimate.

That thought alone was enough to amuse her, that someone might look at them and think they were dating or at the very least sleeping together. It amused her mostly because it wasn’t true and in that school rumors tended to spread. And given what families they both belonged to? Well, the rumors would spread even quicker, like a fire in underbrush.

“Yes, it does. Don’t you feel bad? Hurting my feelings and all. I think you owe me an apology.”

“This is all a game, isn’t it? So why should I apologize to you?”

For a handful of seconds Rose just looked at him, watched him like she was waiting to see just how serious he was and then she threw her head back and laughed, glad they were in the back of the library where the odds of being heard were very slim. The last thing that they needed was for someone to come back and ask her a million questions about the whole thing. Especially with her sitting in his lap the way that she was.

“You, Scorpius Malfoy, are just full of surprises, aren’t you?”

“I thought you would have realized that by now, Weasley,” he drawled in a lazy tone.

“Well, I’m full of surprises, too.”

“Is that right?”

Rose arched both of her dark eyebrows at him and closed the distance between them, her tongue slipping past her lips. She lashed her tongue across his bottom lip and then backed up like nothing had happened, slid off of his lap and stood up, leaned down to get her bag, lifted it up and put the strap of it onto her shoulder. “I’m full of more surprises than you can imagine,” she told him, amusement etched in every word.

And with a parting smile in his direction Rose turned and headed out of the room.

Once she was out of sight Scorpius threw his head back and laughed.

“I’m not letting you win this game too easily, Rose Weasley,” he whispered to himself. “I’m not the pushover you think I am.”