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30 Days of You and Me by Mistress

Format: Novel
Chapters: 22
Word Count: 103,634
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Contains profanity, Strong violence, Scenes of a sexual nature, Substance abuse, Sensitive topic/issue/theme, Spoilers

Genres: Fluff, Humor, Romance
Characters: Ron, Hermione, Hugo, Rose, Scorpius
Pairings: Rose/Scorpius, Ron/Hermione

First Published: 07/07/2012
Last Chapter: 03/31/2014
Last Updated: 03/31/2014

Summary:
Rose is there for vacation. Scorpius is not. Rose is there to relax. Scorpius is there to get away. Rose paints. Scorpius jumps off waterfalls. Rose is afraid of storms. Scorpius is afraid of losing it all. Rose thinks Scorpius takes too many risks. Scorpius thinks Rose is braver than she knows. Both are in need of a distraction.


Chapter 1: Trust
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For Ramita, who kept on me about finally writing a ScoRose in Rose's POV.




I met Scorpius Malfoy in a boat. We were crossing the lake toward the castle, both eleven, and he told me there was a giant squid below us. I told him I’d heard my dad and mum talking about it. He said that it was literally below us. Then he pointed over the side of the boat. I leaned over, fingers clutching the edge, and spotted a slimy tentacle emerging from under the boat.

“I’m afraid of squid,” Scorpius said, scooting toward the center of the boat.

“I’m not.” I reached into the water, sliding my hand against it. It felt like it looked. Disgusting.

“I’ve eaten squid before,” he announced. The girl in front of us made a face. “What? It’s chewy.”

“And yet you’re afraid of them?” I poked at the tentacle. It moved back under the surface and into the darkness.

“The squid on my plate wasn’t alive,” Scorpius said matter-of-factly. “And it wasn’t bigger than the chair I was sitting in.”

“I thought boys were supposed to be brave.” I settled back into the boat, hands in my lap. At least that was what my cousins had told me. Boys were always brave. Gryffindors were always brave. That only lasted so long until I punched James for teasing me about my moisture-loathing hair and I socked him in the arm. Then boys were criers just like girls.

Or so I thought, as life was pretty black and white as a child.

Scorpius caught my eye in the boat. I could hear Hagrid a few boats over giving orders. Maybe yelling at someone. “Why do boys have to be brave?” he asked.

I faltered. “They’re just supposed to.”

“I think you have it backward,” he replied. The boat docked and the girl in front of us got out, almost falling in the process. “I’ve always been taught it’s girls who have to be brave.”

He shot me a sheepish smile and climbed out of the boat. He didn’t look back.

*

After that, I spoke to Scorpius Malfoy very little over the span of six years. We had a few classes together. He had plenty of friends, girlfriends, and people willing to do what he asked. It wasn’t because of his family or his bullying, though. No, it was because Scorpius Malfoy was charismatic. He smiled a lot. He said thank you. He smirked.

He wore nice clothes, I never saw him in jeans, and he refused to participate in Halloween. At least I never saw him at any of the parties.

Not that I exactly frequented them either as my thighs refused to cooperate with skirts that barely covered my bum.

He worked as an intern at the Ministry and I heard him complain about getting people tea and filing manila folders. But he liked the suits. He always talked about the suits.

I tried not to pay too much attention to him, which was easy since he didn’t do more than meet my eye for six years, but what he said in the boat still tugged at my mind. Bravery. I was a Gryffindor. I was brave by design, right? The hat told me I was brave, and therefore I was. But what made me brave?

I asked myself this question so many times the word began to lose its meaning.

I didn’t do anything particularly brave. I didn’t play Quidditch like James, I didn’t train dragons like Albus, I didn’t begin a black market WWW trading system like Fred, and I didn’t beat off a mugger with a handbag like Dom. I curled up on the sofa and read books. I flipped through fashion magazines. I sang in the shower and pulled weeds in the summer sun.

I saw Scorpius one time over the summer. It was before fifth year and he was shopping for new robes in Diagon Alley. He was silent, stood as they measured him, and nodded a few times. Then he took his three bags and disappeared for the rest of the summer.

That was why I found it strange he was standing in the middle of a creek in the Smoky Mountains with rain boots up to his knees and a fishing net.

*

My family went on vacation every summer. Usually Mum insisted we go to Italy, as she loved the culture there. One year we went to Argentina. Another we spent in Greece. Wherever we went, Mum explored the culture, Dad explored the restaurants, and Hugo explored the residents of a female variety. He always came home after promising to come back and marry these girls. He was only fifteen, so I’d never understand.

This year my parents decided on the Smoky Mountains in North America. They said it would be just like roughing it, even though we ended up renting a large two-story house in the mountains with a back deck overlooking a huge pond. When it wasn’t smoky, anyway.

One thing was certain: we were quite alone. Hugo hated it. On the first day he whined and stomped around because there was nothing to do. He settled in front of the televisions and mashed buttons on a video game controller.

I went out to explore.

Each day for the first three days I went a little further into the woods. I couldn’t pretend to be able to live off the land, but I wasn’t bad. I learned quickly which plants to avoid (thanks to a rash) and which trees were ideal to climb. It made the day pass faster and gave me time to think. About what? My cousins, the impending seventh year, and my future? A trail of empty thoughts.

On the fourth day I came to the edge of a stream. I couldn’t have been too high, but the water was moving at a quick pace. It lapped at the edges of a downed tree. I slipped off my shoes and socks, placing them on the trunk, and moved into the cold water. It was refreshing to be in the sun again after what seemed like days bathed in the dim light flickering through branches.

“Rose?”

I lost my footing, damn near falling in the water, but saved myself on the tree. I grabbed onto it, restoring my balance, and looked up through dark brown bangs.

There he was. Right in the middle of the stream. Black rubber boots. Khaki trousers. Red polo shirt. Messy blond hair. And a net in his right hand. Everything about his expression told me he was just as confused as I was.

“Oh!” I looked down. Jean shorts. Tank top I bought when I was twelve that still fit. “Hey.” The water was spraying up against my knees, but I held my ground.

He stared for a minute. “Am I going to have to be the one to ask what you’re doing here?” Scorpius laughed a little. His teeth were really white.

“I’m on vacation.” I took a few steps away from the tree, but the bottom of the creek was lined with stones. Very uncomfortable on bare feet. “With my family.”

“Clearly.” He motioned, emphasising my being alone. “Where are they?”

“Back at the house.” I nervously pulled my hair up and tied it into a knot. “What are you doing here?” Why was the water so cold? WAS THAT A FISH?

No, seaweed. Creekweed?

“The very same.” Scorpius kept smiling. He swiped the net at the water. “Except I’m assuming your little brother may be able to amuse you. I’m only with my parents. Mum’s sunning herself. My father is attempting to use the grill.”

“A charcoal grill?” I asked.

“The very same.”

I had seen Mr. Malfoy on a lot of occasions. Mostly on the platform to see Scorpius off to school. I’d never seen him without a tie, so the image of him trying to work a charcoal-fed grill was amusing. Scorpius saw my smile and added, “Mum got him an apron that had ‘kiss the cook’ written on it, but it was scribbled out and is now replaced with ‘I can’t cook.’”

“Very classy,” I commented. I glanced around us. The stream curved a quarter mile down and it was flanked by tall trees. I could hear all sorts of wildlife I didn’t trust.

Brave? Yeah right.

“Having a fun vacation so far?” Scorpius asked. He turned his attention back to the water and his teeth tugged at his bottom lip. “I’m not a big fan of the humidity, myself. Sweat is pouring out of absurd places.”

“You look okay,” I said. At least he didn’t have sweat stains on his armpits, which I was certain I did. I made a mental note to keep my arms down.

“Thank you.” He met my eye for a moment and winked.

I blushed. Stupidly.

And then lost my footing on a stone and fell in.

The water was freezing and when I surfaced, my face was the color of his shirt. Very, very red. I must have looked like a fool, sitting up to my shoulders in cold mountain water, staring at the very calm and collected Scorpius Malfoy.

Not to my surprise, he laughed. “Having a bit of a hard time?”

“You could tell, huh?” I hoisted myself out of the water and the breeze made it worse. Thank Godric for wands.

Scorpius immediately turned, facing away, and busied himself with finding fish or crabs or whatever he had in a bucket on the shore.

I looked down. It was because my tank top was now transparent. Today was not the ideal day to wear a lime green bra.

*

After I was dried and forced the color to move back to normal, I walked down the shore and sat on a small log beside his bucket. I peered inside. It was empty.

“How long have you been out here?” I called.

“Few hours.” Scorpius shrugged.

“How long is a few?” I looked around to see if any creatures had escaped the bucket.

“Five.”

“What?”

“Five.”

“I heard you,” I said. “Do you think maybe a net might not be the best option for what you’re trying to accomplish?”

Scorpius looked over and then glanced at his net. “And what if I’m not trying to accomplish anything?”

“Then why do it?” I asked.

“Satisfaction.” He shrugged and went back to peering into the water.

“Five hours of that kind of satisfaction? Sounds mental to me.” I was struggling to figure out the point. Five hours in the sun waving a net around into freezing water. Catching nothing. Nope, didn’t understand.

“It would sound mental to you.” He smiled a little and tossed the net up into the mixture of sand and plant particles on the shore. Then he pulled off his shirt and tossed it as well.

I blinked.

I wasn’t sheltered. I had boyfriends. I had Dominique as a cousin and she had more boyfriends than the rest of us combined. But every time a fit boy pulled off his shirt, it was my duty as a seventeen-year-old girl to stare. Right? Of course.

Scorpius was just that: fit. He didn’t play sports, but he didn’t need to. He wasn’t pale, but he wasn’t tan either. He stepped out of the rubber boots and unzipped his khakis.

“What’re you doing?” I said, startled. My face was burning again.

“Getting undressed.” Thank you. I had no idea. Really.

“Is there a reason? Or is this part of your satisfaction thing?” My leg was bouncing nervously.

“I’m hot.” He shrugged and stepped out of his khakis. His boxers were a deep plum purple. “Temperature, I mean. The sun is warm.” He glanced over. “Are you blushing?”

“No!” I cried. All lies, my face was on fire.

“Didn’t you date Lysander Scamander last year?” he asked. “Pretty sure he was naked all the time.”

Truth. Lysander just hated clothes. He was great, smart, and funny. And enjoyed his body being uncovered.

Yes, even at my family’s Christmas party.

Dad threatened his life.

“So what?” I said. “It doesn’t mean I can’t blush. I can’t control it, you know.”

“Sure you can.” Scorpius bunched up his pants and tossed them onto the shirt. “Go on. Have a look.”

“What?” My eyes snapped up again. Oh, hell.

Don’t get me wrong. Scorpius Malfoy wasn’t some Greek God. He wasn’t tall and bronze and beautiful by every standard. Girls didn’t flock to him just for grinning. But hell, my eyes were still stuck on his collarbone and torso and arms the faint outline of muscles.

May not have been a God, but he was very good-looking.

“Feel better?” Scorpius shot me a smirk and submerged himself into the stream. He cringed, then moved all the way under and surfaced, blond hair sticking to the back of his neck. “I know I do.”

“Are you usually this arrogant?” I asked.

“In so many cases, modesty is no more than a white lie,” Scorpius explained with a shrug.

“What? No, it’s not.”

“Am I not supposed to be ambitious to achieve my ends?” he said, eyes on the blue sky. “Maybe I’m just trying to achieve ends here.”

“What are you trying to achieve?” I moved to my feet. My hair was frizzing again.

“Satisfaction.” Scorpius shot me a very arrogant smirk.

“I hope you achieve it then, considering purple is such a good color for you.” I mirrored his smirk, grabbed his pants and shirt, and headed back to the house. At least now if I fell into a stream, I had a change of clothes that looked less like a tween’s mall shopping spree.

*

“Hungry?” Mum was at the kitchen counter with two wooden spoons, mixing a salad together. Her hair, the same texture, color, and stubbornness as mine, was up and poofing in the back. She smiled. Dad was beside her, attacking the stove with his wand as he attempted to get it to light.

“I am.” I plopped down at the kitchen table, exhausted from the walk back. Most of it had been uphill. I stashed Scorpius’ clothes in the bushes before emerging into the kitchen. “Did you not want to try the grill?”

“Do you trust him with the grill?” Mum asked, making a face.

“So much confidence,” Dad mumbled, stepping back as one of the burners flipped on. “Look! See, I’m practically a professional cook.”

“Very professional, Daddy,” I said with a nod. “Can’t we order out in the mountains?”

“Hugo already asked.” Mum smirked, gave Dad a pat on the bum (eugh), and placed the salad in the center of the table. “There’s nothing wrong with eating healthy.”

“Except it tastes like--” Dad paused, freckled nose wrinkling. “Yeah, well, let’s all live wonderful, healthy lives and bike together and participate in marathons.” He rolled his eyes and started searching for pans. “Your mother wants me to start jogging.”

“Do you even know how to jog?” I asked.

“I’ve heard it’s just walking quickly.”

“Or running slow,” I said, shrugging.

“I’ll take the first.” Dad grabbed a pan and tossed it on the burner. “Rosey, do you know how to cook? Can you teach me? Can I go school Hugo in video games?”

“You agreed to help.” Mum narrowed her eyes. “Get Hugo out here too. HUGO.”

“EUGH.”

Hugo was fifteen years old. He had fifteen-year-old hormones. Therefore, he was dramatic about everything. This included putting his plate in the sink, putting clean pillowcases onto his pillows, and doing any kind of homework. He shuffled into the kitchen, looking annoyed.

“WHAT?”

Mum was a professional eye-roller at his dramatics. “Help your father with the chicken.”

“I don’t want chicken,” Hugo announced.

I scoffed. “Well, I didn’t want you, but we don’t always get what we want.”

“Go read a book,” he snapped.

“Go fall off a mountain.”

“Oh, scary!”

“And go read a book was?”

“Shut it,” Dad said. “You can both cook and I’ll go snog your mum.” His cheeks tinted pink, but he was grinning. Mum swatted at him. “What? Do you even want to cook?”

“Not the point.” Mum’s face was red now too. I lived in a family of red faces.

Dad leaned over, kissing her in an exaggerated way, prompting another whine from Hugo.

“I would have just stayed in there!” he cried.

Yes, I had given my brother bruises on more than one occasion. Not that seventeen didn’t make me whiny on occasion, or emotional, or annoying, but Hugo took it to an entirely different level.

Mum and Dad told me we weren’t allowed to leave him with Grandmum as she would leave him in the basement and lock him in.

I inquired about what was wrong with that.

*

The back deck was my favorite part of the house. Half was covered, the other half protruding out from the mountain, overlooking the sparkling pond. There were trees everywhere. I could see up onto the rolling hills of the other nearby peaks. Well, they weren’t peaks. They were just like giant, smoky hills.

They were less smoky now that the sun was sinking. I could see the yellows and oranges reflect of leaves and pine needles. I pulled those colors from my box of pastels and started smearing them onto a piece of paper. I wasn’t very good at painting, but there was something about blending colors I always appreciated. No matter how different things were, they could always be blended in some capacity.

My feet were propped on an ottoman in front of me as I stared at the landscape, trying to calm down after Hugo throwing a fit. He was frustrated Dad got two pieces of cake and he got one. He may have used the phrase ‘I’m a growing boy.’ Funny. When he talks to girls, he’s nothing but a man.

“Oy.”

The pastels went flying. The paper flew off my lap and the pad crashed onto the deck below. That, and I damn near toppled over the side of the deck, which was at least five feet down. My eyes snapped over at the voice and I spotted Scorpius Malfoy standing at the very edge. I could only see his head.

Nothing quite like having an almost-naked Scorpius Malfoy surprising you in the evening. I wondered what my friends would say.

“What are you bloody doing here?” I breathed, glancing over my shoulder. No one was on the deck and I didn’t see my parents in the kitchen windows.

“Someone walked off with my clothes.”

“That was hours ago!” I said. I scrambled to grab the pastels before they rolled off.

“What’re you drawing?” Scorpius stood on his toes, but made a face when I snatched the paper up. “Are you any good?”

“I’m all right. What do you want?”

His blond brow arched. “I thought you were smarter than that.”

“I thought you were smarter than to be arrogant to someone who had access to your clothes,” I noted, closing the notebook and placing it on the table beside me, careful not to knock over my iced tea. “Clearly I was mistaken. Did you find your inner satisfaction or whatever rubbish you were talking about?”

He met my eyes. His were a strange grey. Not cold, but the stony grey of a fireplace hearth. A warm color. They were intense, though. Enough to make my ears warm. “I did,” he replied. “And now I want my clothes back.”

“Nope.”

Scorpius paused. He glanced over his shoulder and into the woods before turning his attention back to me. “Are you happy, Rose?”

“What?” What kind of bleeding question was that? At least, why is the sky blue had a legitimate answer.

“Well, are you?”

“Sure.” I shrugged.

He looked unconvinced. Maybe I was unconvinced. I’d done a lot, hadn’t I? Maybe.

“C’mon. Let’s leave.”

I stared. “It’s late.” I pointed to the very obvious setting sun.

“I’m failing to see your point.” Scorpius’ voice was dry. “Come on. Just come with me.”

I looked past him. The spaces between the trees were already so dark I couldn’t see very far back into them. The light was fading fast. Even the lamps inside were starting to illuminate the rooms.

“Rose,” Scorpius said as I hesitated. “Just trust me, okay?”

My lips pressed together. “Let me tell my parents I’m going to sleep and I’ll sneak out the window.”

“Want to grab my clothes too?” he asked.

I picked up the pastels, my paper, and the glass of tea and finally looked at him. It was still in the nineties and it had to be almost nine in the evening. I smirked. “You’re going to learn a lesson tonight, Malfoy,” I said. “Trust me, okay?”

He looked down. “You wouldn’t.”

“There’s a lot you’re going to learn this summer.” With that, I headed inside to lie to my parents and hear Hugo talk about hating five television programs in a row.

 




A/N: I want to thank you for reading this. I've been having a great deal of fun with it, especially since it is VERY different from what I usually write. So I hope you enjoyed it! I welcome comments / opinions! 


Bonus points for a shirtless guy in the first chapter. That may be a record for me ...

NEXT: A lake, squid, and Scorpius gets back at Rose.

 


Chapter 2: Lake
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Thank you everyone who has given this story a shot! I've been writing it like crazy so I hope you enjoy! 


This chapter is dedicated to this hottie's collar bones.





Sneaking out was less thrilling than I thought it would be, considering I just opened the window, climbed out, and was back on the deck. Scorpius was where I left him. It was darker now, but I could still see his bare torso and purple boxers.

“You’re lucky I’m a kind person,” I muttered, throwing his clothes to him.

“I really thought you’d make me traipse through the forest in this.” He quickly pulled on the pants and the shirt. It stretched a little over his chest. I stared. I was a girl. So what. I was seventeen. Comes with the territory.

“I should have.” I motioned to his feet. “Sorry about that though.”

“I’ll just numb them.” Scorpius shrugged and whipped out his wand. “Rubber boots wouldn’t have gone over well anyway.”

“Just use transfiguration.” I sat on the edge of the deck and hopped off, landing on my feet, but only just.

“Not my best class. This is fine.” He flicked his wand and then kicked his feet a little. “Brilliant. Are you ready?”

“Considering I have no idea what’s happening, I don’t know if I’m ready.” I avoided his eyes. “I still don’t know why I’m not inside reading.”

“I do.” Scorpius smirked and made his way down the small slope of dirt and into the trees.

“Care you enlighten me?”

“Put on a brave face, Gryffindor. I’ll let you figure it out for yourself.”

I groaned and followed him into the forest, hoping I wasn’t about to get killed, mauled, or seriously injured. Mum would not be proud. The further I stepped, the darker it got until it became difficult to identify trees from boulders from Scorpius Malfoy. Thankfully, I took out my wand and illuminated the space around us.

The woods were spooky at night. It wasn’t like the magical Forbidden Forest. No, it was much more alive. I heard various animal noises. Snapping twigs. Leaves rustling. Scorpius swearing as he stubbed his toe.

“The further we go the more I’m convinced you took me out here to kill me,” I said, gasping for breath since he was going so fast. Stupid mountains.

“I could have just killed you up there,” Scorpius said. “Not that I know anything about killing. Would you care to be my test subject?”

“I’d rather not.”

“What is your biggest fear, Rose?” he asked loudly.

I pointed my wand at his back, illuminating the red and beige of his clothes. He didn’t so much as flinch. “Storms.”

“Biggest? I don’t believe you.”

“I haven’t spoken to you in six years!” I cried. “How would you know?”

“Just because we haven’t talked doesn’t mean I don’t know you.” Scorpius shrugged a little. “I just think you have to fear something more than storms. Are they really that scary? Booms of thunder?”

“Shut up.” Ever since I was a kid storms had bothered me. I would cuddle up on the sofa, away from windows, and pull a blanket over my head. Dad would sit and pull me onto his lap. Then we would watch some Muggle television show and I’d fall asleep to the sound of the rain against the windowpanes.

“Scarier than a cliff?”

I was glad he said something, as I wasn’t paying attention and I almost ran into him. Scorpius had stopped even with a line of tall trees. Just ahead of him was about two meters of grass, followed by the land vanishing.

“I wasn’t aware there were cliffs in the Smoky Mountains,” I said shortly, heart beating a little. I didn’t hate heights. It was like everyone hated heights. Everyone’s biggest fear was heights, which I found perplexing since I figured it would be the falling. It wasn’t mine, but this cliff was testing that.

The only way I could see the water below was by moonlight, which didn’t help. I tried pointing my wand, but it barely caught the calm waves.

“Found this place three days ago,” Scorpius explained. He leaned against a nearby tree, eyes away. “Almost fell in.”

“I bet there are rocks.” I stared over the edge. That was a long drop. Fifty meters? Not that long. I wasn’t sure. I needed better measuring skills.

“There aren’t.”

“How do you know?”

“Because after I almost fell in, I jumped.”

I turned. “What’s your story?” I asked. “You’re being mysterious. No one likes a mysterious boy. You’re blond, so there goes the tall, dark, and handsome.”

“But I am handsome, am I?” Scorpius said, his lips curving into a grin.

“I bet you’re still afraid of squid,” I shot back.

Finally, his cheeks turned pink in the darkness. “We haven’t warmed to each other.” He kicked his foot against the dirt, swirling it with his toes. “My story is that I am hours and hours away from home and I will either take advantage of spending it with someone my own age, or I’ll go back to the cottage and spend thirty days in fear my father is going to light the place on fire testing charcoal.”

I thought about being in the house with Hugo and my parents, who were probably being awkward. I then compared it with being on a cliff with Scorpius Malfoy, who was not dark, but had the tall and handsome thing going for him.

“Similar to my story, down to the days, though my dad won’t mess with the grill.” I paused. “Did you really jump?”

“I really jumped.”

“Let me guess. Leap of faith?”

“Why are you skeptical of everything?”

I turned. His eyes were on mine, though it wasn’t easy to tell. My wand was at my hip. “I don’t see the point, I guess.” Was there one? Jumping off a cliff blind? Spending five hours in a stream with a net? I’d much rather read or paint.

“Maybe this will help.” Scorpius pushed himself off the tree trunk and started toward me. He was quiet, but each step rustled the twigs and fallen leaves below. I heard a few owls in the distance, but didn’t look away.

There was something about his eyes that both put me at ease and scared me.

“Maybe what will?” I found myself a little out of breath as he approached, heart starting to beat faster.

Scorpius took my hand and squeezed it, but then let go. “Do you trust me?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I admitted. “Trust sounds a bit forward, doesn’t it?”

“Do you trust me, Rose?” Scorpius repeated, his expression not faltering. He was serious.

I hesitated, lips parting. He was less than a meter from me, eyes on mine. I could see the his brows crease, the locks of hair falling over his ears.

“Your biggest fear is taking risks,” Scorpius said into the silence.

Before I could disagree, he pressed on both of my shoulders and pushed me over the side of the cliff.

*

The fall was something I’d never experienced before. Weightlessness as air crashed over my sides. Then I hit the cold sheet of water and everything went dark. Darker than it already was anyway. When I surfaced, my body stung and I looked around. I saw the outline of the shore from the moonlight, but that was blurred with my choking on water.

A moment later and there was a large splash beside me. Scorpius flipped his hair away from his face. I could tell he was grinning.

“It’s cold!” he announced, laughing.

“You are aware I’m going to kill you, right?” I asked, treading water before swimming for shore. Ignoring him was the best option now.

“You can’t kill me yet,” he called.

“And why bloody not?”

“You’ll be stuck with your family for a month.” There was a smirk in his voice I hated.

“Maybe that would be better.” Eventually my feet found the muddy lake floor and I hoisted myself out of the water. I felt frozen. Everything was cold and instantly my body began to shake. “I cannot believe you just pushed me in the water. I definitely don’t trust you now.”

Scorpius patted my shoulder. “Loosen up a little, Rose. You act like you live behind bars or play by the rules.”

“What’s the point of breaking the rules?” I shot back. “Well, they’re there for a reason. It’s not like I can’t break rules. I just snuck out, didn’t I?”

“When was the last time you snuck out?” he asked. I faltered. “Exactly.”

I reached into my back pocket and tugged out my wand, performing a drying spell. It tingled all the way into my fingertips. After pulling my hair back up, I turned, eyes widening.

Why was this boy always half-naked?

Scorpius had his shirt off and was wringing it out over the edge of the lake. His pants were dry, wand sticking out of his pocket. It really wasn’t appropriate that the light was reflecting off his back muscles.

Not appropriate at all.

“You having a staring problem, Rose Weasley,” he commented without turning around. My intake of breath may have tipped him off.

“You have a naked problem,” I said just as easily. “In case you haven’t noticed, we’re at the bottom of a cliff. It’s late.”

“So you’re scared.”

“I’m not.” My eyes narrowed.

“Then just relax for a minute.” Scorpius draped his shirt around his neck and moved toward the trees. He picked up a few logs and twigs and starting piling them beside the shoreline. “Is it always go, go, go for you? Always have to complete a task and move onto something else?”

I paused, watching him. He moved slow, draping each log in a pyramid before standing back to survey the structure. “It’s not always like that,” I said.

Scorpius used his wand to light the logs, flames erupting so high he had to calm them before sitting beside it. He patted the spot next to him. “Tell me what it is like then.”

“Okay, am I the only one who finds this strange?” I said, a little stubbornly. “We’re on vacation in the same place. We haven’t really spoken in six years other than borrowing a potion’s ingredient or two, and now you’re asking for my life story next to a fire in the Smoky Mountains?”

He glanced up, smiling a little. “Can you think of a better place?”

I caved and fell beside him, pulling my legs up to my chest. I couldn’t figure him out. He was shrouded in a strange mystery. Like he answered every question with another question.

“You go first,” I said.

“With what? My life story?”

I shrugged. “Just go first, okay?”

Scorpius was quiet for a moment and the wood was beginning to crackle. “I don’t know what to say.” He laughed a little and I noticed his cheeks begin to darken. “I’m pretty regular, really.”

I shot him a look.

“Okay!” Scorpius said, laughing. “I’m not that regular. When my grandparents died, my parents sold the big manor because Dad said it reminded him too much of his childhood. And before you ask, yes, I do know all about it. My dad isn’t a bad person. He was just put in a bad situation.” He shrugged, his laughter gone. His gaze was focused on the lake. “He doesn’t talk about it, so I don’t talk about it.”

“So why are you talking about?” I asked quietly.

“Can you think of a better place?” Scorpius repeated, letting out a breath.

“My family talks about it,” I commented. He looked over. “About what happened when they were at school. The battle. All of that. Dad says it helps you move on when you talk about something.” I felt a little uncomfortable with him watching me. “Do you get along with your parents?”

“I think everyone expects me to say no when they ask that,” Scorpius replied. “But yes, I do. We don’t go on fishing trips with matching tackle boxes, but we do get on okay.”

“My family says I favor my mum, but I get along better with my dad.”

“Daddy’s girl?”

“You could say that.” I smiled. It was true. Since I was little I’d always gone on adventures with Dad, sitting atop his shoulders. We went everywhere together. Even at the Burrow we sat together after I punched James in the face for being a twat.

Scorpius hadn’t looked away. “I’m sorry we never got to talk before now, you know.”

“We’ve barely talked now.” I shrugged, feeling heat on my cheeks again. “We don’t exactly have the same friends or do the same things. You’re a Prefect and I’m not.”

He shrugged again. “Still. We should make up for lost time.” He nudged me in the ribs and I flinched. “Tell me about all of the brave things you’ve done since the sorting hat told you that you were a Gryffindor.” Scorpius was grinning again, that charismatic grin that ensnared so much of Hogwarts.

“I have stopped a puppy from digging up the garden at Grandmum’s,” I noted with a cheeky smile.

“Did you have a cape? You should have had a cape.”

“Will you make me a cape?” I asked.

Scorpius bit down on his bottom lip. “Scarlet and gold?”

“How about a nice rosy red?” I asked, nudging him back with my foot. I had to admit, this wasn’t horrible. Not that I thought it would be (though my mind was momentarily swayed by being pushed off a cliff), but I was still comparing it to being at the house with Hugo’s button-mashing.

“Done.” He shifted in the sand and turned his attention back to the fire. “Do you still like squid?”

“Are you still afraid of them?” I was impressed he remembered the conversation. I wondered if it had been on his mind for the better part of six years like it had mine. I was still trying to figure out exactly what he meant. I was plenty brave. Or maybe I wasn’t. What did he mean by girls should be brave and not boys?

He smiled almost sheepishly. “I told you we haven’t warmed to each other yet.”

“Meaning you haven’t even been in the lake,” I countered, smirking.

“Correct.”

I couldn’t disguise the laughter. “You’re kidding!”

“It’s huge, okay?” Scorpius said, his calm demeanor vanishing. “It’s a huge squid that could kill me!”

“You’re a wimp.” I shot him a grin. “Tell me more about you. I like having something to use against you.”

“I case of what?” he asked.

“In case I need it.”

Scorpius leaned forward and tossed a stray twig into the fire. “I like people. I like working with people, talking to people, and making people happy.”

“What about you?” The fire was crackling louder, sending barely visible plumes of smoke into the darkness. “Do you like to make yourself happy?”

“That’s why I spend five hours in a creek fishing.”

I moved to lie back in the sand. “Do you fish at home?” I asked. I tried to picture him in a nice house, standing out front in a ditch with a net, pants rolled to his knees. It made me smile.

“No.” Scorpius stretched his back and it popped. “No, I don’t. I’m usually pretty busy during the summer at home tending to…things. And at school...”

“Don’t want to catch a mermaid,” I teased. “Or a squid.”

“I can’t believe you remember that,” Scorpius said softly, kicking at the sand.

“Who do you think I am, Scorpius?” I asked, sitting up. My back was covered in sand and of course my eyes were on his bare torso. “Really. What do you think of me as you have so carefully observed me over the course of six years.” It was hard to think about that. What else had he noticed?

I had my first boyfriend third year and he broke up with me in the middle of dinner. I fell off my broom during flying lessons. I had my heart broken last summer by the Muggle boy who lived across the street. How much did Scorpius Malfoy know?

“Who are you?” he echoed. He picked up another twig and began drawing in the damp sand. Squiggles and swirls. “You are very good at Defense Against the Dark Arts. According to a girl who overheard you in the bathroom, you outscored me on every OWL. You bite your lip when you don’t know the answer to a question and you’re afraid of being called on. And you live in fear of being happy.”

My eyes snapped over. “What? I am happy. Are you daft?”

He didn’t reply for a minute. “You asked who I think you are. You got your answer.”

Annoyed, I got to my feet. “Well you can think by yourself then,” I said and marched off into the trees.

He didn’t follow.

*

Day Five

*

I walked into the kitchen in time to see Dad casting a concerned glance at the ceiling. Then the pancake dislodged itself and fell right onto his face.

“That’s a good look for you,” I said calmly, taking a seat at the table. “Need help? It’s too early so the most I’ll do is offer.”

“You’re a peach,” Dad said, peeling it off his face and tossing it back into the pan. “That one’s Hugo’s.” He finished it and tossed it onto a plate. “How many? One?”

“All of the pancakes.” I yawned. “Dad, how many cottages are up in these mountains?”

“Hard to tell. There were dozens through the company we used.” He squeezed batter into the pan. “I know there are a lot of companies too. Probably at least twenty on this mountain, but this is a big one.”

“How far apart are they?”

“Worried about being robbed? Just lock your window at night.” He chuckled. Like he was really funny or something. “I don’t know, Rosey. Few kilometers? Want to borrow a measuring stick? It’ll give you something to do. Better yet, let’s have Hugo do it. He’s already being a pain this morning.”

“What this time?” I stretched my legs out on the chair across from me. Pancakes smelled amazing, especially when Dad made them.

“He’s mad there are bugs here and no girls,” Dad said, smirking. “I don’t know where he got that, you know. Not from your mum and me.”

“Uncle George,” I said, thinking about the pretty girls Uncle George hired for the shop.

“Good point. I’ll tell Hermione to give him a swirly when we get home.” Dad smirked and plated another pancake. “Here you go, Turkey.” He ruffled my hair and poured me a glass of milk, placing it on the table as well.

“Thanks.” I poured way too much syrup on top. “Hey, out of curiosity, are you still in contact with Mr. Malfoy?”

Dad looked over, his ginger brow raising. “I haven’t saved him from a fire recently, but we speak at events.” He paused and shoved my feet off the chair so he could sit down. “Why do you ask?”

“I was just wondering. I thought about him yesterday.” Thought about him in an apron trying to work a grill.

“You want to go say hi when we get home?” He smirked and nudged me with his foot. “Maybe go play in the pool at the Malfoy Manor?”

“They don’t live in the manor anymore,” I noted.

“They don’t? Yeah, I guess that sounds right. Your mother probably told me while I was watching Quidditch or something.” Dad shrugged a little. “So what are your plans for the day, Turkey? Are you going to help me weed outside? Or perhaps devise a plan to get Hugo out of my hair?”

“You’re not that lucky,” I said, smirking. I thought for a minute about going back into the woods and who I might run into. After leaving the lake, it wasn’t something I was looking forward to. Besides, I was completely content here. With my family. On vacation.

Dad opened his mouth to reply, but jumped as the kitchen door banged open.

Enter: Hugo.

He was still in his pajama shorts, which hung loose off his body, and a large t-shirt. His hair, the same messy brown as mine, was lopsided from whatever product he had been using to set it in place. Dad noticed this too and wrinkled his nose. He always teased Mum about performing a maternity spell so his kids didn’t have red hair.

“What’s for breakfast?” Hugo grunted, pulling open the fridge and grabbing a carton or orange juice. He tipped it back and started drinking.

“Clearly we’ll mark that one with your name,” I muttered, rolling my eyes.

“Pancakes. Brilliant.” He replaced the carton and grabbed the plate with the ceiling-pancake. He slathered it with syrup, found a fork, and disappeared back into the living room without another word.

“Being that it was on a ceiling gives me a small victory as a parent,” Dad said, turning his attention back to me.

“Kicking him in the face would give me a large victory as a sister.” I finished off my own pancake and stood, placing the plate in the bubbly sink.

“You just let me know when and I’ll make myself scarce so there’s no evidence.”

*

Only twenty minutes into trying to relax and read on the back deck, Hugo was blasting music from speakers I didn’t know he brought with him. I stuffed several items in a tote bag, annoyed, and headed into the trees.

I could tell myself all day that I was just walking away from the house to escape Hugo, but that was a lie. I could have gone in any direction. Instead, I took a now-familiar path, expecting someone else to be on the other end of it. When I reached the shallow creek bed, however, I found it empty.

I wasn’t sure what I thought would happen. That Scorpius would magically be out there for another five hour netting trip? He was annoying regardless. He talked to me like he knew something I didn’t. Like he was Merlin’s gift to me or something. I had been alive seventeen years, same as him, and he had very few rights to have an opinion on me.

Besides, I took plenty of risks.

I pulled off my shoes and placed them in the sand. It was a hot, muggy day and my body was already covered in a sheen of sweat. One look over my shoulder told me I was very much alone.

Well, good.

I abandoned my tote bag on the shore and then wiggled out of my shorts. I also tugged off my shirt and tossed it aside, still thankful it was a more recent purchase instead of one from when I was twelve.

This was as good as a bathing suit anyway. Both undergarments were black and structured well. Dom constantly made fun of me for wanting to be comfortable.

“What’s the point in that?” she asked on more than one occasion. “You don’t need to be comfortable to look good.”

“Yeah, but who’s going to see it?” I countered.

I mean, boys had seen my undergarments. Once I did blush because the boy was so excited to see lingerie, only to feast his eyes on a plain, black bra. He wasn’t impressed.

The water was cool when I stepped into it, but not freezing like the day before. It felt good under the sun. I moved in up to my knees in the center of the creek, water brushing against my skin. It was a serene environment, but almost loud as I let my ears adjust. Birds, leaves, water.

I wondered what my friends were doing. Usually Cynthia went on her Caribbean vacation around the same time I did mine. Dominique was being wined and dined by her latest flame with his family in Italy (must be nice) and Bonnie was probably lounging in her garden getting sun. I wasn’t sure they’d believe I was in the Smoky Mountains, now sitting in a creek as the water rushed against my shoulder blades.

“You’re going to scare away the fish, you know.”

Accompanied by Scorpius Malfoy.

My head jerked around, neck almost snapping, and spotted him on the shore. He was in nice, black trousers and a collared shirt with the sleeves rolled to his elbows. It felt a little warm for that, but he looked nice. In one hand he carried his net, in the other a bucket and a paper bag.

Quickly, I sank into the water up to my neck. “What’re you doing here?” I asked, voice strained, considering I was in my bra and underwear in a creek. Oh, hell.

“These your clothes?” Scorpius pointed to my pile, though it was obvious. He grinned. “I could take these, you know. Like you did for me.”

“Except you’re not going to do that.” I spoke slowly, eyes dodging over to my clothes. I couldn’t imagine traipsing to find Scorpius in my undergarments. Talk about nightmare.

“How do you know?” He placed his bucket in the sand, bag beside it, and chucked the net nearby. “I am a Slytherin, after all. You’re just Gryffindor prey.”

“I thought you didn’t think like that,” I said.

“I guess you’ll see how I think, hmm?” Scorpius met my eyes, smirking, and grabbed the clothes, tucking them under one arm. He waved before he started off back into the trees. “Any means to achieve my ends, Rose.”




A/N: Thanks again for everyone who has started to read this! Like I said, I've been writing it like crazy and I'm already pretty far in! It's my first truely fluffy story so it's pretty amusing! Anyway, feel free to leave your thoughts.


NEXT UP: Blushing, straddling?, rubber boots, and Scorpius finds true love.
 


Chapter 3: Fish
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For ohsayitaintsox3 for leaving me a review that made me smile in the midst of craziness.




I was on my feet instantly, stumbling over stones to get to the shore as Scorpius disappeared into the foliage. Shit! Shit! Shit! My mostly-naked body was not cooperating considering within a couple steps I already had a gash on my thigh from a branch and my feet were aching.

“Scorpius!” I cried. “Stop!”

“Can’t hear you!”

“Damn you.” The trees were getting thicker and more impossible to navigate without clothing. Not that it couldn’t be done, because there were enough breaks between the trees to manage, but there were no paths and the twigs slicing into my skin.

I cut through a muddy patch and finally caught up to his walk, grabbing the back of his shirt collar and yanking on it. “Oy!” I cried. “Give it here!”

Scorpius turned and immediately his eyes were not on mine. The boy who had turned away yesterday had vanished and his gaze devoured me in seconds. Then he laughed when he realized my cheeks had become worthy of my name. “Maybe you are brave,” he noted.

“Quit gawking.” I slapped him hard on the shoulder and tore my clothes from his grasp.

“In case you haven’t noticed, you’re hardly dressed. Did I ask you to stop yesterday?”

“You could have,” I snapped, turning and marching back toward the creek to clean off my legs.

“Fine. That’s a better view anyway.”

Then Scorpius got a branch to the head and shut up.

But he did follow me back to the creek. Probably staring. I may have paid a little more attention to the way I walked.

“I can fish elsewhere,” Scorpius offered, picking up his net. “You don’t have to get dressed on account of me.” He paused, sitting on a nearby log. “Out of curiosity, why did you get undressed?”

I shrugged, now feeling a little foolish. I had gotten half-naked in the middle of nowhere, having no idea if any other homes were nearby or any creepers lived in the woods. I just willingly pulled off my clothes.

Not the smartest idea I’ve ever had.

“Felt like it.” That was the best I could come up with.

“You looked nice.”

“Okay,” I replied. It always irked me a little when boys complimented me. I could never decide if they meant it in a genuine way. Or figure out why it was my looks and not anything else they favored. Not that I was Dominique or anything. I was curvy. Dad insisted we not eat rabbit food growing up so I didn’t mirror Dom’s legs-for-days attributes.

It wasn’t exactly difficult to remember when she tied on her tiny bikini and pranced around.

“What? You don’t think you looked nice?”

“I didn’t have a mirror,” I reasoned, stepping back into the creek to rinse off my feet. I no longer cared he was staring. It wasn’t like we’d speak during the school year. Stare all you want, Malfoy. “I’m sure I looked just lovely.”

“You don’t sound like you believe that.” Scorpius moved beside me and I could feel his eyes on my skin.

“I’m happy you’re so perceptive,” I said with a bite to my voice. I pulled my shirt back on and flattened it over my body, and then stepped into my shorts.

“Are you sore with me for stealing your clothes? I wasn’t going to get all the way back to my rental, you know. I’m not that horrible.” His eyes narrowed, the jab at me obvious.

“Are you not? So I am?”

I took a breath shoved him backward into the creek, fully-clothed.

“And you look just lovely with your fancy black pants all wet,” I said, smirking.

He looked shocked, completely soaking wet. His hair was now a dark blond and fell over his forehead and down into his eyes. Completely dumbstruck, jaw slacked.

Good. Bloody deserved it.

“Are you getting back at me?” Scorpius said, lifting his arms out of the water. The shirt was sticking to his skin. “Because of what I said last night?”

“I’m giving you what you deserve.” I crossed my arms in a stubborn way. It wasn’t my fault he deserved to be thrown in a creek for being a twatty jerk.

Maybe not a complete jerk.

“Oh.” Scorpius nodded and shoved his hair away from his face. “I wasn’t aware we were playing the who deserves what game. In that case, it’s my turn.” He lunged forward. I tried to leap back, but I didn’t get far enough, as he grabbed me around the legs, lifted me into the air and fell backward into the creek with me, successfully soaking all of my clothes.

When I surfaced, his arms had moved around my hips. He let go immediately when he realized it, scooting away in the water with a rosy tinge to his cheeks. Apparently confident, gawking Scorpius had vanished. He looked away.

So I splashed him.

“Oy!” He laughed, returning the gesture right into my face. “Rude.”

“Pretty sure you just pulled me into a creek.” I shielded my face.

“After you shoved me in!” he countered, laughing harder. His entire face lit up when he laughed. I’d seen it on countless occasions in the Great Hall and even in class when someone made a joke. It was his charismatic look. Dominique talked about it a few times and I rolled my eyes.

It wasn’t like that was his only expression, anyway. He had others.

When he was concerned about his test marks or upset when his friend was crying or furious over a girl being picked on in the hallway. Or that soft smile he got when consoling someone.

I guess I had been paying more attention to Scorpius Malfoy than I thought.

“You deserved all of it,” I said, trying to drive that thought away. What else had I noticed about him? Had he noticed other things about me? He had to have noticed.

I suddenly felt scared he knew all too much about me.

“And you didn’t?” Scorpius chuckled again, splashing my shoulders and chest when I wasn’t prepared. “You did, Miss Rose. And now your clothes are soaked like mine. How does it feel?”

“Did you just call me Miss Rose?” I asked.

“What’re you going to do about it?”

My eyes narrowed. Then I pushed off of a couple stones and tackled him back into the water, dunking him.

Sometimes things happen when you’re concentrating on dunking the (attractive) blond boy beside you in a creek. And sometimes one of those things is you end up straddling him.

And then blushing furiously when he smirks at you.

“Shit!” I staggered to my feet, almost falling, and stepped way. My clothes were clinging to my body, making me even more uncomfortable. And awkward. My face was on fire. “I have to go.”

“Done bathing for the day?” Scorpius teased. He hadn’t moved from his spot, but I saw his neck was a little red.

“Yep!” I grabbed for my bag and didn’t look back, tearing through the trees.

Day Six

I had plenty of summer reading to do for school. In fact, a stack of books was on the bedside stand and I spent much of the morning pouring through them. Mum brought some tea and suggested I go outside, but I declined. The breeze from the open window was more than enough outside. Besides, my clothes were still drying out.

“Rose. Get up.” Hugo kicked open the door, surly look on his git face.

“Why?” I snapped the Charms book closed.

“Dad told me to put away the dishes.”

“So put them away.”

“Help me with it. It’s going to take forever.” He leaned against the door frame.

“Funny. You didn’t help me with dinner last night.” I opened the book again, but he didn’t move. “Go away.”

“Just help me.” Hugo crossed the room and sat on the edge of the bed.

“So you can get done faster? And then do what? Play more video games?” I rolled my eyes and set the book on my lap. “Are you done being a stick in the mud yet? Or will that take a few more days?”

“There’s a town a few kilometers away, you know,” he noted, shrugging. “Down a few roads. Saw it on a map.”

“So you’re going to go?” That didn’t sound like the best idea I’d ever heard considering Hugo was shit with directions and even shittier with people skills. Well, people who weren’t gorgeous teen models. He would probably get lost halfway there and be found wandering and attempting to speak to lizards.

“Sure. I’ll tell Mum and Dad I finally want to explore nature.”

“They’ll never believe you.”

“I’ll say I’m going with you.”

“I’m not going, and they still wouldn’t believe you.”

“Then I’ll tell them I’m almost an adult!” Hugo cried, then glanced over his shoulder, but no one was there. “I should be able to leave just like you. You’re only two years older than me.”

“And I’m also not an idiot,” I muttered. “Let me know how that plan works out. I’m dying to know. Really.” He didn’t move. “I’ll see you later, Hugo.”

“You’re really not going to help me with the dishes?” He looked crushed. No, my mistake. that was the look he fed my parents and all of those unsuspecting girls. “Fine. See what happens.”

With a huff, he left and slammed the door. He was more of a diva than Dom.

“Is your brother always like that?”

The book flew onto the floor and I narrowly avoided that fate, only by catching myself on the bedside stand. “Do you HAVE to do that?”

Scorpius was standing at my window, looking a little nervous since it was off the back deck. He kept glancing to the left, probably hoping no one came outside and caught him creeping. He shrugged. “You didn’t come to the creek.”

I raised a brow. “What’re you doing here?”

“I was trying to find a fishing partner.” Scorpius smiled a little. “Come on, Rose. Are you studying?” His nose wrinkled.

“Attempting,” I muttered. “So if you’ll excuse me.”

“You’re still mad at me for what I said by the lake.”

“Just trying to enjoy my vacation,” I said, leaning over the side of the bed and grabbing the Charms book. And of course I was mad. He thought he knew so much about me just from watching me. Or noticing me. Or something.

I took plenty of risks.

Jerk.

“Come fishing,” Scorpius said. “We’ll go to the lake. The creek doesn’t seem to have any fish.”

“Caught on, have you?” I asked. “How many hours did that take? Another five today with the net?”

“Four and a half,” he murmured, cheeks pink. I laughed. “Come on.”

I waved my book in the air.

“No.” Scorpius pushed up the screen and climbed inside of my room, dusting off his trousers. “You’re coming fishing.”

“No!” I said, scooting back on my bed. Who did he think he was? Well, other than a boy in my room. Once again wearing nice khaki pants and a polo. Did he have any vacation clothes? “Scorpius, I’m serious. Go fishing yourself. You only want to hang out with me because none of your friends are here.”

“That’s not true. I need someone to hold the bucket.” He shot me a cocky grin and walked over to my closet, pulling the doors open. “Let’s see. You need a fishing ensemble.”

“Not even commenting,” I muttered. “I don’t have any fishing clothes. Though I’m pretty sure your clothes aren’t made for fishing either, Mister Department Store Khakis.”

His neck reddened. “They’re comfortable.” He continued to leaf through my clothes, making me increasingly uncomfortable in comparison. “Aha!” He pulled out a pair of pink rubber rain boots.

“No.”

“You can walk into the water! See?” Scorpius grinned and tossed them on the bed. “Put them on. I’ve got more than the net this time. I have poles.”

“You are too desperate,” I muttered, casting a longing glance at my books. I really needed to get on that reading. “Why don’t you just beg your parents for siblings?”

“Oh, like the joyous one you have?” Scorpius asked. He began looking through the magazines on the dresser. “You like painting.” Four of the six were art-related.

“I do.” I tossed my legs over the side of the bed and stuck them in the rubber boots. Might as well, considering Hugo was just going to come back in and whine about the dishes. Or my lack of being a good sister. Or his lack of women to flirt with.

“Do you have any of your work with you?” He started to examine my brushes and the pastels beside them.

“No. They’re at home.” I stood. “How do I look? Classy?” Considering I was in a yellow sundress and pink boots.

“You look ridiculous.” Scorpius grinned. “Let’s go.”

“I should probably eat first.” I glanced at the door. I should also probably tell my parents. Or at least warn them Hugo was going to attempt to live in the wild for a few days as he tried to find the town. Maybe they could give him a wilderness book on what plants were safe to consume.

“I’ve got it taken care of.” Scorpius craned his neck out the window. “All clear.”

I paused for a moment, considering my room. If I needed anything. “We’re keeping this secret, aren’t we?”

He met my eyes. “Looks like it, doesn’t it?” Then he hopped out of the window and offered me his hand.

I kicked it out of the way and followed.

*
It took us more time to get to the lake since I refused to be pushed off a cliff. I carried a tightly woven basket of what Scorpius told me was lunch (he also refused to let me peek) and he had two poles, a bucket, a tackle box, and a net.

“Think you’ll make a career out of fishing?” I called to him as we approached the shore. The dead coals from our fire were still there. “Go into shrimping or something?”

“I like my shrimp in a ring.” Scorpius pulled off his shoes and rolled the khakis to his knees. “This just relaxes me.”

“From what stress?” I asked. I tried to imagine a stressed Scorpius. Barbeques with his parents. Good marks in school. People genuinely liked him. He seemed to have life on a silver platter. Or at least a less difficult time of it, since he didn’t have crazy cousins.

“Just life stress.” He shrugged, arranging everything. He busied himself putting bait onto hooks and I took the moment to glance around at the sparkly lake. A ways away I could see some smoke rising above the trees, likely from a chimney. Maybe that town really did exist.

“You know how to cast?” Scorpius asked, handing me one of the poles. It was the wimpier-looking one. With a wriggling worm on the end.

“I may need a refresher course.” From never learning ever.

He nodded and pressed a button on the pole with his thumb. “Now, you hold this until you cast. Then you let go and it flies out. Okay?”

“Um. Right. Yes.”

No.

Scorpius demonstrated, casting his far out into the lake. I could see the bobber bouncing in the calm waves. He propped the pole on a low tree branch and started digging through the tackle box.

I could do this. Right? Push a button. Throw. Easy.

Right.

Not.

“Scorpius?” I said, face on fire.

“Yep?”

“My worm is stuck in the tree.”

His laughter echoed against the clearing. Scorpius looked up and sure enough, the line was tangled in some leaves, worm dangling above our heads. “You might need some help.”

“I’ll let you do the honors,” I replied. “Out of the goodness of my heart.” And because I felt like an idiot for not being able to cast a damn fishing line.

“I appreciate your generosity.” Scorpius shook his head, still chuckling, and began to untangle the wire. He slid his teeth over his bottom lip, concentrating. “I have no idea how you managed to do this.”

“I just did it like you did. Your demonstration was flawed.”

Scorpius looked over, about to reply in some sarcastic, dry way, but he gasped. “The bobber! Oy, grab my pole!”

He was right. It was bouncing under the water and the pole was slipping away from the branch.

“What?” I said, grabbing the end of it before it jerked forward, almost sending me into the water. “What the heck is in this lake?” I pulled it back, digging my boots into the sand. “Scorpius, it’s going to take the pole!” Whatever was on the other end wasn’t giving up without a fight.

Knowing my luck, it was a stick or weed.

Scorpius abandoned the wire and rushed over, grabbing the pole from me and yanking it back. It kept tugging. “What the--?” He started reeling it in, walking out several feet into the water before finally getting control of it. The bottom of his pants were soaked around his knees.

“I’m pretty sure you’ve caught a giant squid,” I said, moving into the water, but not high enough to go over the boots.

“Don’t joke about that.” Scorpius arched his back, pulling on the pole. Something was thrashing around in the water, creating great white splashes. “Get back.”

“Shut up.” I inched forward. “What is it?”

He tugged on the pole one last time and out came an enormous catfish. Enormous. As big as one of my legs. At that, I did jump back, almost toppling into the water.

“Look at this!” Scorpius was laughing as he reeled it the rest of the way in. His pole was bending from the weight. “This has to be catfish-zilla!” He splashed up to shore and looked at the bucket. The fish was way too big for it.

It was now flopping around on the sand.

“Throw it back,” I said. “We don’t have anywhere to put it.” Unless he was going to shove that thing in a basket, I wasn’t seeing many options.

Scorpius stood back, chest heaving, and looked down at the giant fish. “Yes, we do.” His eyes moved around the site to the basket. Then to the bucket. Then to the ashes. “We’re going to eat it.”

I stared. “What?”

“We’re going to cook it and eat it,” Scorpius repeated, grabbing some stray wood and throwing it on the ashes.

“You say we. I’m a little perplexed by the word we,” I noted. “Considering my wire is still stuck in a tree.”

“I’ll put you to work.” Scorpius smirked at me, sending a chill down my spine. “Get some wood.” He paused. “Please.”

I couldn’t look away from the fish. Flopping around. I almost felt bad for it.

“Rose,” Scorpius said, his brow raised. “Are you having a moment for the fish?”

“Shut up, okay?” I said, cheeks flushing before I marched past him and started gathering wood. I tossed pieces into the pile, but kept looking back at the fish. It was scaly. And gross. And fishy. It smelled like the docks in London.

“What’s a matter? Did I cut you off before you could profess your undying love for Mr. Cat here?” Scorpius was snickering.

So I grabbed the now-dead fish by the tail and slapped him across the chest with it.

Scorpius staggered backward into a tree, gaping at me. “Did you just fish-slap me?” he said, rubbing his chest. The fabric was wet in the shape of a giant catfish. “That bloody hurt!”

“Quit teasing me!” I said, winding up to hit him again. “I’m sick of your shit, Malfoy. Now you tell this fish you love it or I’m hitting you again.”

He flattened himself against the tree. “What?”

“You heard me.” I took a step closer and he flinched. “Tell it you love it.”

“I love the fish.”

“Tell the fish!” I said loudly, waving it by the tail.

“I love you, fish!” Scorpius cried. “Put it down, woman!”

“Now was that hard?” I dropped the fish in the sand. It was too heavy anyway and now my shoulders ached. “Quit teasing me.” I stuck my tongue out at him and grabbed some more wood, tossing it into the pile as he recovered.

“Wasn’t aware you had it in you.” Scorpius groaned and pushed off from the tree. Instead of going for more wood, he opened the tackle box and pulled out a knife. “Want to clean your husband?”

“Watch it,” I said, eyes narrowing. “You’re the one killing your Juliet.” I grabbed my wand and lit the fire, crouching down to blow on the twigs a bit and make sure they were all in flames. It was times like this I missed the Hogwarts salamanders skipping in the embers.

Scorpius snickered to himself and dragged the fish over to a fallen tree a little ways away. The surface was almost flat, so he washed it off with lake water and placed the fish on top. I watched intently from the fire as he slid the knife along the scales of the catfish, peeling away layers and tossing them into the sand. He had a strange look of concentration on his face, eyes fixed on the project. At one point his teeth tugged at his bottom lip.

He cut the fish into fillets after removing the head (I looked away for this) and the tail. Then he made his way back over to me. “Glad I came prepared,” he said.

“With a knife? I’m glad too.” I didn’t know what else was out in the wild. Could be other animals if we found a catfish that big. Giant mice or something. Scaly lizards.

“I mean with this.” Scorpius balanced the fillets in one hand and pulled open the basket. Inside he grabbed a metal grid and two poles to hold it. He handed me the grid while he stuck both poles on either side of the fire. I placed it on top. “Now we won’t have to roast fish on sticks.”

“Did you think we’d catch anything?” I watched him place each fillet neatly on the grid. They were already sizzling.

“I figured there had to be something in the lake.” Scorpius smiled a little and sat down in the sand beside the basket. “I should get your pole untangled.”

“Just leave it.” I shrugged and plopped down, kicking the rubber boots away from my feet. “Pretty sure we have plenty of fish to keep us busy. I still can’t believe you caught that.”

“You helped,” he reasoned.

“I was almost taken out by a fish,” I muttered.

Scorpius laughed. “It was a valiant effort. And besides, that wasn’t a normal fish. It was fish-zilla, remember?” He rubbed the sand from between his fingers.

“And your lover.” I shot him a cheeky grin.

It was easy being snarky around him. He didn’t stare at me, dumbfounded, like Dad or roll his eyes like Mum. And he didn’t throw random objects at me like Hugo. At one point I got a milk carton to the face. Scorpius just sort of let things slide off his back. He grinned a lot. Even my friends didn’t smile as much as he did. And they didn’t hoist giant fish out of lakes.

He grabbed a stick and poked at the fish, before focusing his gaze out at the lake. “Do you think we’re alone out here?”

“My dad told me there are dozens of houses on the mountain,” I said. “And you heard Hugo. He said there’s a town.” I pointed to the faded smoke over the trees.

“You think there is?” Scorpius craned his neck a little, as if that would help him see if it really was beyond horizon.

I shrugged. “People have to get their supplies from somewhere.”

“We should check it out sometime.” He started poking at the fish again.

“We don’t even know where it is.” I laughed. I could imagine the pair of us venturing through the woods, me in my rain boots and him in his department store slacks. What a mess.

“We could find out,” Scorpius said, looking over. He looked genuinely excited.

I didn’t know what to say. My parents wouldn’t like it. Not that they had to know. I had been disappearing for a couple days and they just asked if I’d had fun. Which I had. That was the truth. “Maybe,” I said. “Only if you’re sure there’s a town.”

Scorpius nodded. “I’ll make sure.” He flipped the fish. One side was a crispy golden brown, slanted dark lines across it marking the grill. “Get the rest of the stuff out, will you?”

I raised a brow, opening the basket. I laid out the blanket that was inside, as well as some dishes and cutlery. Then I grabbed a container of diced apples, pasta salad, and a bag of crisps. “Did you know I’d agree?”

“I figured I had a good case,” Scorpius replied, grabbing one of the plates and waiting patiently for the fish to finish cooking. “It was either come hang out with me or stay home. Or go off by yourself. None of those sounded as appealing, at least in my mind.”

He had a valid point. If I wasn’t out here with him, I would still be pouring over my Charms book.

Scorpius plated the fish, wiping the sweat off his brow with the back of his hand. He handed me a plate. “There’s salt in the basket. Other than that, I didn’t bring much seasoning.” He shrugged it off, but I could tell he was unhappy about it.

I smiled. “It’s free food,” I said, laughing a little. He smirked. “Smells good.”

“Smells like you just lost a husband,” he said under his breath.

“Not my type anyway,” I said.

We ate in silence. The fish was way better than I anticipated and I finished all of it, plus a good portion of the extra food.

Scorpius placed the lid back on the pasta salad and finished off his fish. “Is that what you want to do then? Paint?”

I shrugged. “I can paint,” I said. “Don’t know if that’s all I want to do.”

“Why not?”

“Don’t you think that would get to be a chore after a while?” I asked. “Taking something you love and forcing yourself to do it every day for money, to please other people? I’m not sure I’d love it anymore.”

Scorpius considered this for a moment. “Didn’t think of it like that.”

“So what do you want to do then?” I asked, eager to get the conversation off me. I remembered him excelling in class, but never heard him mention a career path while passing Potions ingredients.

“Nothing.” He wasn’t looking at me.

“Nothing?”

“It’s stupid.” Ah, there it was.

“Come on. I bet it’s not stupid.” I nudged him with a stick.

“It’s really dumb.”

I rolled my eyes. “It can’t be stupider than not knowing,” I said. “Come on. Just tell me. Is there a better place?” I laughed.

Scorpius let out a groan. He sank back into the sand, hands behind his head. “Do you really want to know?”

“Yes!”

His nose scrunched up. “I want to be a television host.”

I stared.

“See!” he cried, draping an arm over his eyes. “It’s stupid!”

“It’s not.” I pulled his arm away, laughing. “It’s not stupid. Why do you want to be a television host?”

Scorpius shrugged. His face was turning a new shade of red quickly. “I don’t know,” he muttered out of the corner of his mouth. “I just think I’d like it. Being in front of the camera.”

The more I thought of it, the more sense it made. He was charismatic, fun, and had a great smile. An audience would eat that up in a second. Hell, I had eaten it up on more than one occasion. Though I wasn’t in a hurry to admit that to him.

“You should do it.”

“I don’t think there’s a school you can go to for that.” Scorpius laughed. His face was still burning. It was a good change.

“Broadcast journalism?” I guessed. I didn’t know much about hosts. “You should practice.”

“What?”

“Right now.” I grinned and scooted back, grabbing the stick. I handed it to him. “It’s your mic. Okay, practice.”

Scorpius stared at me, bewildered.

“We’re on a competition show!” I said, scooting onto my knees. “For drawing. Using the environment!” I grabbed another stick and started drawing in the sand. “Go!”

He cleared his throat, sitting up, clearly startled. “Uh--”
I had to admit, watching him stumble over himself was a nice change from confident, calm Scorpius Malfoy.

“We’re here today covering Rose Weasley and her quest for the Sand Cup,” he said, recovering nicely. “Rose is one of ten competitors sketching in the quest. She is currently using her abilities on...” He paused. “A cat?”

I shot him a look.

“A cat!” he cried. “Yes, it looks like a domestic feline with very realistic ears. And a tail. Look at how quick she is!” Scorpius was fighting not to laugh. “Rose is only seventeen, but she is already better than half the competition here. And further along. We’ll be back to check in on Rose’s chat shortly. Back to you, Jack.” He saluted the air and fell back into the sand.

“You’re a natural,” I said, laughing and putting whiskers on my cat.

“So are you. That actually looks like a cat.”

I raised a brow. “It’s not exactly difficult to draw a cat in the sand.”

He grabbed the stick from me and drew what looked to be a stick-figure version of a cat. I only knew that because of the pointy ears on the circle of a head.

“I stand corrected.” I said and Scorpius threw sand on my legs. “I mean it’s a work of bloody art!”

He fell back into the sand again, laughing.
 




A/N: First of all, I want to thank all of you for your continued support. As I'm writing this (before it goes into the queue) it will be ONE WEEK until I get married. This entire summer has been an absolute ball of stress, particularly August, and all of you have been wonderful. Once all of that craziness is over I'll be back to my updating schedule.


I adore you all! And I'm so happy you're enjoying this story. It has been a lot of fun to write so far :) Please let me know what you think.

 


Chapter 4: Town
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For PotterMistress. Thanks for making me smile :) 




It was late when Scorpius walked me back to the house. We stashed the basket under the deck so he didn’t have to carry it back, said an awkward good-bye, and I crawled through my window.

Unfortunately, someone was already on my bed.

“There is a town, you know,” Hugo said, arms crossed.

I damn near jumped out of my skin. “Is there?”

“Where were you anyway? Did you go looking for it?”

“Just went for a walk.”

“All day? What did you eat?”

“Berries.” I grabbed my pajamas and tossed them on the bed after kicking off the rubber boots. “How long have you been waiting in here?” I tried to keep my voice down, but my heart was racing.

“It’s eleven,” Hugo replied. “Where are you walking to?”

“Trying to find that town,” I lied.

“I could have given you a map.” Hugo sighed like I was dumb. “It’s not that far away. Probably have to walk for an hour though. Maybe two.”

I nodded. “That’s why I didn’t find it then,” I said, fighting the urge to roll my eyes. Go away, Hugo. Annoying.

He tossed an atlas onto my bed. “I circled it in there. I’m going to check it out.” Then he stood. “Night, sis.”

“Check it out now?” I said, gaping at him.

“No, tosspot. It’s late.” Hugo seriously thought I was stupid. He left, closing the door softly since Mum and Dad were probably long asleep by now.

I flopped onto the bed and turned on a lamp. Hugo was right. It was about an hour or two away, nestled in a valley away from any major establishments. One road went through the center, which went on for a while before it hit any major highways.

I rolled onto my side, considering it. We could have an adventure. I was on vacation after all. What was the point of staying cooped up with my family if I could be out exploring the wilderness with someone my own age.

Who happened to look ideal without a shirt.

*
Day Seven
*

I realized something when I woke up, ate, and packed a bag.

I realized Scorpius had been finding me every day. Well, except when I discovered him at the creek, he knew where to find me. He found our rental, found me at the creek, and even found my bedroom. I stared into the trees and realized I had no idea where he was staying. Or even what direction it was in.

Bugger.

I got to the creek, but he wasn’t there. Not that I expected him to be. It was still early, after all. And if he wanted to fish, he would have to go all the way past my house to the lake. Surely he would have stopped by.

Right?

I moved upstream, glancing around for any sign of a blond boy. I found a few chipmunks and strange plants. It was hot, too. The fog was low today and my hair was frizzing, even after I tied it back. I made a mental note to scold Mum for her hair.

Fifteen minutes in, I removed my shoes and walked in the creek. At least that cooled my body temperature, though my clothes were still sticking.

Just when I was about to give up and head back to the rental, I spotted a small gravel drive heading up to a house. It wasn’t large, about the size of my family’s, and had a silver car parked out front. I wished I’d asked what sort of car his family had. Did they even have a car? Or did they apparate? They’d have to check in somewhere.

My family had a car, but Mum was a muggleborn. Bugger.

I crept up toward the house, the sun finally finding its way through the fog and onto the back of my neck. It was sweltering. I had no idea if this place was being rented by the Malfoys. For all I knew some crazies lived here and I was walking into their drug nest.

Was that what it was even called?

Scorpius was right. I lived under a sodding rock.

The house had yellow siding and a large, oak door. There were flowers everywhere and it looked well maintained. Huge trees surrounded it, unlike where our back deck overlooked part of the mountains. I didn’t see anyone.

Scorpius and I agreed to keep this a secret. We didn’t have a particularly good reason. My parents didn’t hate his family and as far as he had told me, his parents didn’t hate mine. They weren’t going to get together for tea anytime soon, but they were all right. It just seemed easier not to tell them we were running off in the woods together. Maybe they’d think we were getting up to more than fishing and talking and practicing hosting abilities.

We were seventeen, after all. I couldn’t blame them, though I was pretty sure Mum knew I wasn’t getting into anything. I always had a guilty look after I did anything with a boy. Even snogged.

I crept low along the bushes, feeling like an idiot. For all I knew, Scorpius had a reason for not sharing it with his parents. Maybe they were overprotective. Or mean. Perhaps yes, they were mean.

At least these flowers were pretty.

The side of the house had fewer windows, but I wondered what I would do if Scorpius was in the kitchen with his family eating breakfast. I moved along the siding, rounding a corner, and let out a relieved breath. Scorpius was on the covered back deck, feet propped up on another chair, reading and drinking iced tea.

“Wherefore art thou, Scorpius?” I called in a mock whisper, grin exploding on my face.

To my surprise, he didn’t so much as flinch. “Has my fish come back from the dead for my hand in marriage?” he replied, turning the next page in the book he held. “If so, I must inform the Capulet of my intentions. They are not at all honorable and may end in a vial of poison and a knife.” He closed the book, twisting around, smirking.

I chuckled, staying close to the house. “Then maybe I can take the place of Juliet and interest you in an adventure?”

“You’re rescuing me from Lady Montague today?” Scorpius asked, brows raising. “What kind of adventure? Can I sword-fight? How about kill Tybalt?”

“Maybe we can save the killing for tomorrow.” I chuckled and pulled out the atlas. “Guess who discovered the town?”

“Your brother?”

“Shut it. I’ve got the map.”

Scorpius tossed his book onto the table. “Then what I discovered last night will come in handy.”

“Don’t say more fish wives.”

He stifled his laughter after checking behind him. His eyes were on the window for a moment before he looked back at me. “Follow me,” Scorpius whispered and abandoned his chair, moving down the deck stairs and back toward the side of the house. He moved swiftly behind shrubs and to a shed out of view of the windows.

“Tybalt isn’t in here,” I noted, but watched as he opened the doors and pulled out an old bicycle. Then another.

He grinned like an idiot. “Beats the hell out of walking, doesn’t it?”

I examined the bikes. A little rusty. Basket on the front of each. Looked like they were made at least twenty years ago, but the chains were okay and the seats didn’t look painful.

“Let’s do it,” I said, meeting his gray eyes. “Do you have to tell your parents you’re leaving?”

“I’m sure they’ll think I got distracted by something shiny.” Scorpius shrugged and pulled the bikes the rest of the way out of the shed. He shrugged, but wasn’t looking at me. “Okay, navigator, which direction are we going?”

I balanced my weight on the bike and checked the atlas, staring before I realized where we were. Then I positioned it in relation to my own vacation rental. “West,” I told him. “We have to ride around that other mountain next to the lake. That road will take us to this one here.” I pointed. “Which will take us into the town.”

“I hope it’s not abandoned.” Scorpius shot me a look. “Can we blame your brother if it is?”

“I intend on it.” I smiled at him and began to pedal, quickening my pace as we passed by the front of the house and slowing once we entered the thickening trees. He was following closely, both bikes crunching the gravel and twigs below us.

I had to admit, the breeze felt a lot nicer than the slow, muggy walk.

And when Scorpius started talking about the book he was reading, which was a murder mystery with some guy who loved tophats, it was even nicer. I let him talk for a while, going on about his book, the book he’d finished yesterday before he decided on fishing, and what was on the shelf at the rental when he got there. He liked to read about as much as I did. His face even got animated when talking about a few of the villains.

When he slowed, a half hour into our ride, I glanced back, concerned. Scorpius looked distracted and a little worried.

“What?” I said, stopping and hopping to the ground.

“Shh!” He put down the kickstand and climbed off the bike, glancing into the brush. “Do you hear that?”

I listened hard. Leaves. Lots of birds. Water. I raised a brow. Water?

“You do.” Scorpius abandoned his bike and moved into the trees, pushing past thick bushes and shrubs. “Where’s that coming from?”

“Pretty sure we have water back toward our houses,” I said impatiently. I was getting hungry and cranky from being in the sun and had been secretly hoping any of the businesses in town would have air conditioning. Still, I followed, successfully slashing open my shin on a branch.

“Shit.” Scorpius stopped a few meters ahead of me, grabbing onto a branch.

When I approached, I figured out why.

We had come out on the side of a river that was rushing quickly. It wasn’t huge, maybe a hundred feet across, but much bigger than the creek we had been walking into. And maybe twenty meters to our left it fell off into nothing, hence the noise. Scorpius moved quickly and we both stared down into an enormous waterfall. There was mist at the bottom and then the water calmed in a large pool before tapering off into a smaller, rapid-free creek.

“This is wild.” Scorpius moved to the edge and continued to gape at the waterfall.

I nodded. It really was unlike anything I’d seen before. The English countryside had a serious lacking of beautiful forest waterfalls. The mist coming up from the bottom was cooling my body.

“We should jump it,” Scorpius said, looking back at me. His eyes were lit up like Christmas morning. Like he’d just gotten every book in his fantasy library.

“Jump...what?” I looked across the river. Not jump-able.

“The waterfall.” Scorpius pointed down, grinning.

I leaned over the edge. “Hell no.” It was a long drop. A very long drop.

“Come on.” He judged my arm. “It’ll be fun.”

“I am not jumping off a bloody waterfall,” I said, wheeling around to look at him again. “It won’t be fun. It will be cold, terrifying, and I left my bag back there.”

He smirked. “Scared, Rose?”

“I’m not--” I groaned. “Shut up, okay? I just don’t want to jump into something I don’t know.”

“Story of your life, right?” Scorpius smirked again, this time in an arrogant way.

“Excuse me?”

“You never want to.” He shrugged. “That’s fine. I understand you’re scared and you can’t handle it. Maybe one day. When you build up enough courage. I’ll let the Gryffindors know they should train you more.”

My jaw dropped angrily. “Fuck you, Scorpius Malfoy,” I snapped, brushing past him and diving off the end of the waterfall.

It wasn’t until about halfway down that I realized what he had been doing.

Jerk.

It was freezing. Way colder than the shallow creek or the lake. Damn cold. When I surfaced, I couldn’t see because of the mist. When I was just leaving it, spotting the calm waters beyond, I heard a splash behind me. I clung to a rock at the shoreline, catching my breath as my heart continued to hammer. It felt like I would never hit the surface of the water. Like I was falling forever.

And it was because of that blond git that I did it.

He emerged from the mist with his hair flipped back away from his face, grinning. His cheeks were flushed and I could tell by his shoulders that the shirt was sticking to him. “Cold!” he cried, laughing.

“Really cold!” I said, trying to be angry, but it was difficult. He looked genuinely happy about jumping off a waterfall.

And as much as I hated to admit it, I was laughing.

And soaked. And frustrated. And absolutely cracking up laughing.

“You had fun!” he cried, pointing at me once he got near enough. Scorpius leaned against a rock to catch his breath. “You loved it!”

I shook my head. “It was horrible,” I said, snickering.

He splashed me. “You’re a horrible liar.”

“I am not!” Yeah, I was a horrible liar about being a liar. My face flushed almost instantly.

“Shall we finish off the adventure, Juliet?” Scorpius asked, climbing out of the water.

Godric Gryffindor.

The fabric of his button-down was soaked onto his chest and back, creating tiny crease lines down to his pants, which hung off him. I could see his boxers begin to poke up at the top where his shirt had been tugged up with his pants.

I swallowed hard. This was not an appropriate staring moment.

Scorpius glanced over his shoulder.

And winked at me.

“Let’s go, Juliet,” he teased, ruffling his hair and starting into the trees.

“Wait!” I called. “I thought Juliet was the fish!”’

He laughed, tugging down a branch before disappearing entirely. “I changed my mind,” he said.

I scrambled out of the water and after him, but fell back to grab my wand and dry myself since I didn’t want to blush anymore than I had.

Goddamn it, Scorpius Malfoy.

*

Luckily, he was dry before I reached the bikes (the uphill climb was not kind to me) and we continued on our way with me thinking as little as possible about him walking out of that water, dripping wet. With his shirt clinging to his muscles.

STOP.

We were friends and I shouldn’t be looking at him (or thinking about him) like that when we had just chatted about our life goals and I whacked him with a catfish.

Maybe it was just because he was the only one around.

Well, we were going into town. So that was about to change.

Not that I needed a boy or anything. It would just be nice to not have to only see Hugo every morning with toothpaste dribbling down his chin. Less than attractive, brother.

“Is this our turn?” Scorpius shouted up to me. His hair was still damp at the ends.

“Yeah, to the right!”

We had made it to the bigger road, which wasn’t saying much. Just two lanes with dashes in the center. No cars in sight. Lined by more tall trees baking in the sun. I checked the atlas in the basket and all I could hope for was air conditioning.

“What if it’s haunted?” Scorpius said, laughing.

“Then you can get your dead fish girlfriend to come save us.” I draped my hand over my eyes as I pedaled, trying to make out what was up ahead. The lack of sunglasses was a poor life decision in itself.

“Car!” cried Scorpius. I almost swerved, but then he added, “I see one up there! Parked!”

“And this is how I die,” I muttered, but I saw it too. A red car was parked along the side of the road. A little further away others began to swim into view. Then buildings.

Air conditioning? Come to Rose.

This whole sweat running down my body thing was not at all attractive. I wish wishing for the waterfall again.

Maybe we could stop on the way back.

Yeah, just to see Scorpius climb out of that water again.

STOP.

As we neared I spotted some kind of store, a diner, a few unlabeled buildings, another diner, a few houses, and two office buildings. One looked to have a doctor’s office in it.

Unfortunately, all of them also had fans in the windows. Damn.

The structures were worn down, fences rusted, and dogs were tied to poles outside. One man who walked the sidewalk was picking his teeth with what looked like a piece of wheat. I momentarily wondered where he got it.

“Hungry?” Scorpius slowed and stopped outside of the first diner, leaning the bike against a pole. He quickly locked it and ran his fingers through his hair. “I know we have a large array of choices, but I’m really feeling this might be the best.”

I glanced down to the other diner as Scorpius took my bike and locked it with his. “Pretty sure this one will be the best in town.” I smiled and he returned it. “My treat.”

He snorted. “I hope you know I’m not going to let you pay for lunch.”

I shot him a look. “I said my treat. That’s like calling dibs.”

Scorpius rolled his eyes and opened the door. “Good luck, then. Because it’ll never happen.”

We decided to sit at the counter. There were about ten people inside, all of whom looked up when we entered. One was wearing a cowboy hat. I wasn’t sure what a real cowboy looked like, so this guy could have parked his cattle out back and I’d have no idea.

Scorpius was trying hard not to smirk. He looked very aware he was wearing designer clothes and the most designer thing in that room was the logo on the menu.

I really liked it, though. The counter was shiny linoleum and the walls were painted a fresh teal. Even the lights above were in the true old diner style I’d seen in Muggle films, round and frosted. It was quiet, though.

A girl in the corner with black hair was staring, her long legs crossed in front of her. She had a cup of coffee and a scowl.

A pair a few stools down for us in frayed jeans and white cotton shirts had stiff posture as they ate. I wondered if these people were who regulars really were. I’d never been to a restaurant enough for the staff to know my order. Perhaps these people were it.

Scorpius cleared his throat and slid a menu toward me. His thumb slid nervously over his own.

“What can I get you kids?” The waitress was a woman of about forty. She had some laugh lines around her lips and her eyes were a pretty, pale blue. I wondered how long she had been working there, as she didn’t have a notepad to take our orders.

I was quick to scan the menu. “A grilled cheese would be brilliant.” I stuck out like a sore thumb with my British accent. Bugger. Now everyone who had looked away was staring again.

Scorpius ordered a burger and chips. The girl looked at him in a strange way and then he cleared his throat and corrected himself to fries, blushing like a fool. It was cute.

Sort of.

I traced my fingers along the grooves in the counter while the conversation began to pick back up in the diner. Scorpius leaned over. “Not awkward at all,” he said out of the corner of his mouth.

“Not one bit.” I smiled. I imagined Hugo walking in here with his big attitude and thick accent. Maybe he could pick up the dark-haired girl in the corner. Or at least share her booth.

I was already starting to sweat again. These fans were not helping.

“I’ve never been to a diner, you know,” he said, unfolding his napkin and placing his silverware on top of it.

I looked over. “Seriously?”

“Never.” Scorpius shook his head. “My parents either cooked or took us to other kinds of restaurants.”

“You mean nice restaurants.” I smirked in a teasing way.

His ears darkened. “That’s not what I meant.” Scorpius Malfoy, the terrible liar.

“With waiters in ties?” I prodded, snickering. “And appetizers? And more khaki pants?” I poked his thigh.

“That is absolutely not true. Just not diners.” He looked away after scowling.

I did everything in my power to contain my laughter, including turning it into a cough. “All right. All right. I hope this experience is enlightening for you.” I slid the ketchup and mustard toward him.

“What’s this for?”

I stared. “Don’t. Don’t tell me you don’t know.”

He returned my blank look. “Do I put this on the chips?”

I groaned. The boy who seemed to know everything about fishing, life, risk-taking, and being a television host was at a loss when it came to red and yellow bottles before him. The waitress delivered the food and I held up my hand before he could touch. I squirted the ketchup to the right of the chips, took one, dipped it, and tossed it into my mouth.

It was hot, but good. And salty. And greasy. And so tasty.

Then I grabbed the bun off his burger and squirted both ketchup and mustard on it. Scorpius looked scandalized. “Okay. Now eat!”

“I’m not eating that. You just ruined it.”

“Eat it.”

“No.”

I pinched his thigh. “Trust me.”

Scorpius swatted my hand away, glaring angrily. “The last time I said that to you, I pushed you off a cliff.”

I ignored him, grabbing my own sandwich and starting to eat. It was great, the cheese oozing out the sides and back onto the plate.

Eventually his stomach got the better of him and Scorpius groaned, picked up the burger, and stuffed it in his mouth. He was silent, chewing for a moment. He wiped his mouth with the napkin and looked over. “This doesn’t mean I’m always trusting you,” he grumbled, taking another bite after helping himself to a chip.

I grinned.

*

After the diner, we headed down the street to the general store. The sign hung at an angle off the roof, which made me worry, but we made it inside without being fatally wounded. It was dark since the windows were a little dusty, but there was enough light to see the rows of products and small freezer section in the back.

“Want anything?” Scorpius asked. He was still grinning since he managed to wrestle the check from my grasp and pay for the meal. He even pinched me back in the process.

Yes, people stared.

My eyes scanned the rows. Green beans. Sticks of gum. Boxes of instant potatoes. Creamed corn. I shrugged.

He held up a magazine from a nearby rack. “All about the region,” he said. “Might be useful.”

“Pretty sure you just want to get us to live off the land,” I muttered darkly.

“That catfish could have fed us for a few days.” Scorpius smirked, tossing the magazine onto the counter and pulling out his wallet.

The old man behind the register surveyed us. “Caught some fish, didja?” he said. His accent was thicker and deeper than the waitress’.

“One,” Scorpius replied with a grin. “A big one though. Catfish.”

The man nodded. “Got a lot of them out there,” he said. “Just gotta know where to look.”

“Great. Now he’s going to be looking,” I said, sighing.

“You could have said no,” Scorpius replied, nudging me with his foot as the man bagged the magazine.

“You threw the boots at me,” I said.

He laughed. “You could have tried harder to say no.” He thanked the man, who threw in a few pieces of chocolate he told us to eat quickly since it was so warm.

I had no problem doing that.

“Where to now?” Scorpius swung the bag at his hip, staring up and down the street. “Pretty much the most exciting place I’ve been in a week. Want to get a checkup?” He laughed, pointing to the doctor’s office.

“I’ll let you know if I’m feeling ill.” I pressed my lips together hard, looking around. There was a small full service gas station and at the very end of the street a motel. The vacancy sign was lit, but it wasn’t the most inviting place I’d ever seen. Peach siding, a vending machine out front, and overgrown grass.

“Does this feel anticlimactic to you?” Scorpius said.

I looked back down the street. A whole lot of nothing. It was even starting to get dark.

“I have an idea.”

“We’re not getting a physical either,” I muttered, but he grabbed my hand and pulled me toward the back of one of the taller buildings. We hurried past a few trash bins and into the alley littered with cardboard boxes. “I was wrong before. This is how I die.”

Scorpius scanned the building for a moment, before grinning and tugging me further down the alley.

“I promise the restaurants back here are not as good as the ones on the street!” I said, but I was laughing. His hand was warm.

Finally, he stopped at the foot of a ladder, stretching up the side of a two story building. It was an old, wooden structure and was obviously being used as a storefront downstairs and a flat upstairs.

“No,” I said, but it didn’t stop him from letting go and starting up the ladder.

“C’mon, Juliet, or I’m going to steal your balcony.” He was having way too much fun with that.

I groaned. “Scorpius, you’re mad.” Still, I stepped onto the ladder, frustrated, and followed him up onto the shingled roof.

The view was unexpected. Though the roof didn’t quite reach the tops of the trees, there was a gap straight down the road.

“Wow.” I blinked, shielding my eyes a little as I spotted the bright sunset. The sky was fading into shades of yellow and orange.

“Dinner and a show,” Scorpius replied with a grin, sitting down and propping himself up on his elbows. He nodded to the spot beside him, which I took.

“You got lucky.” I smiled and squinted, still admiring the colors. So many of them would be impossible to mix with paint. It was something too difficult to replicate on a two dimensional surface.

“How so?”

“You couldn’t have known you’d get this view.” I was grinning at him. The yellows were reflecting off the whites of his eyes.

“Maybe I got a little lucky.” Scorpius chuckled.

We were quiet for a while, watching the sun sink further toward the treeline. I began to get concerned about getting back in the dark, but the view outweighed it. By a lot. It wasn’t until Scorpius made a noise that I looked over.

He was asleep.

Git.

He looked peaceful, hair falling over his forehead. The collar of his shirt was a little stained from sweat, but other than that his clothes were in pristine condition.

Before I could shake him awake, Scorpius rolled over to prop his head on his arm, draping his free arm over my thigh. My brows raised. His fingers moved around my leg, tugging it closer, and he moved his head to rest it on my thigh. Then he sniffed and was out cold.

What the hell.

Excuse me while Scorpius Malfoy sleeps on my bloody leg.
 




A/N: Thank you again for all of you who decided to test out my Rose/Scorpius experiment. For those of you who asked, the wedding was phenomenal and couldn't have gone better.


Anyone else getting a crush on Scorpius? I'm kind of a sucker.

Next Up: Game day, Hugo calls out Rose, and some berries


Chapter 5: Berries
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For michacat. For your kind words. 




 

Things I found out about Scorpius Malfoy when he slept on my leg:

He could sleep through a volcano eruption.

He has a tight grip.

He sniffles in his sleep.

He could sleep through two eruptions and a tornado.

It’s cute when he bites his lip.

He could also sleep through me slapping him on the back of the head.

Eventually, though, when he jerked backward after a bug flew up his nose, I got the pleasure of watching his face darken to a color that would make a Gryffindor proud.

“Have a good nap, Romeo?” I said, arms crossed.

He stammered a few words I didn’t quite catch. Then took a breath, swallowed hard, and said, “I am the biggest git.”

I attempted to hold my composure. “Get a good grope in there?”

“My hand was on your leg, wasn’t it?” Scorpius said, groaning.

“And your face.” The view was now nothing more than a purple haze on the horizon. He noticed this too, standing. “How long do you think it’ll take to get back?”

“Took us a couple hours to get here.” He stretched his back, face still red. “Look, Rose. I’m... I didn’t mean to … I know you’re not a pillow.”

I rolled my eyes. “You slept on me, Scorpius, you didn’t try to snog me.”

He paused for a moment and I had no idea what that meant. Then Scorpius laughed a little and started for the ladder. “Let’s get going, shall we?”

I nodded. “Yeah.” Leaving. Going. Needed to leave because my leg was still tingly.

By the time we got to the bikes, it was very dark. Scorpius had a hard time unlocking them by the lone street lamp, but was okay once we were a little further down the road. He propped his wand against the handlebars like a headlight, instructed me on how to do the same, and then led the way.

When we turned back onto the gravel, it was pitch black around me and suddenly the noises were louder, scarier, and more mysterious. I didn’t want to be heard, but the tires crunching against twigs were amplified more than I cared to admit.

Scorpius kept looking over his shoulder at me. I didn’t know why. There weren’t any bloody giant squids to be afraid of.

“Hey,” I called to him, though softly because I was afraid of being mauled by a bear at any moment.

“You okay?” Scorpius slowed to ride beside me.

“How many wild animals do you think are out here?” I asked nervously.

“Are we counting bugs or no?”

“You know what I mean.” I narrowed my eyes, but I was sure he couldn’t tell. “I’m not scared or anything, I just don’t want to be dinner.”

To my surprise, he laughed. “You’re terrified.”

“I’m not!” I countered stubbornly.

“You are.” He chuckled. “Do you want to stop? Camp out? Do you want me to do my wolf whistle?”

“There are wolves?!” I cried and hurried to cover my mouth.

Scorpius roared with laughter.

“Stop teasing me!” I said, reaching over to slap his arm. “Are we almost back?”

“I haven’t been named king of the wilderness yet, though,” he said, grinning and now rubbing his arm. “Yes, we’re almost back. Just keep going. We’ve got a ways to go.”

“Then we’re not almost back,” I said dryly.

“Can I not just try to make you feel better?”

“By lying?” I asked.

Scorpius let out a sigh. “Come on. You’re cranky. You’ve had too much sun today and not enough mauling bears.”

I resisted the urge to chuck the atlas at his smarmy face.

Stupid bloody leg-sleeping Scorpius Malfoy.

*

I stored my bike just inside the woods by the rental, since I wasn’t about to ride it all the way back to his place. He waved and disappeared into the semi-darkness, wand light leading the way down the tiny gravel road. I climbed up the drive and onto the back deck, then inside my room.

It was two-thirty in the morning.

Hell.

*

Day Eight

*

“It’s GAME day!”

I rolled over. “No,” I grumbled. “Go away.”

“How far?” Dad took two steps back. “Now get up.”

“Further,” I said, pulling the blanket up over my head. “I’m dying. Can’t you tell?”

“We’re doing game day today.” Dad poked at me, but hadn’t moved his feet. Clever. “It’s almost eight! Get up!”

“Never.”

Dad pulled the blanket right off of me.

“Bugger off.”

Then he grabbed the mattress, tilted it, and I toppled onto the floor. I resisted the urge to swear. Loudly.

“That’s better,” Dad said cheerfully, smacking his hands together because of the accomplishment. “Be downstairs in fifteen minutes looking alive. You’re on my team this year and we are absolutely not losing.”

I groaned, hearing the door shut, and pulled myself up by the bedside stand. I was exhausted and the room was fuzzy with light. I hated not getting enough sleep and my body ached from riding a bike for hours yesterday. Everything hurt and all I wanted to do was crawl back under the covers and fall asleep.

Of course today was game day. Why would it not be?

Curse existence.

My family was around the kitchen table when I finally emerged, twenty-five minutes later. My hair was tied up in a damp knot and I had replaced my pajamas with gym shorts and an old Harpies shirt from Aunt Ginny.

“Team Ron!” Dad cried, throwing his fist into the air.

“We talked about this,” I grumbled. “That is not the team name.”

“Team Wicked Awesome?” he tried.

“Not even close.” I sank down at the table. “Why did we pick today again?”

“It’s beautiful outside,” Mum said. She had her hair pulled back in a similar fashion and was in a plain black shirt and shorts. “And because Hugo is getting cabin fever from being stuck in the house.”

“He can leave,” I muttered bitterly.

“Then I might run into you,” Hugo spat.

I really didn’t like him sometimes.

“Anyway, get excited.” Mum grinned. “Hugo and I have decided to be Team Hughmione. Isn’t that sweet?”

I raised a skeptical brow. She shot me a look, so I just nodded along. Sweet. Sure.

Dad explained we were going to take part in three games. One was a strange bean-bag toss, the other was a sack race, and the third was an obstacle course.

Great. Physical games. Just what I wanted.

Wow, I was an internal bitch when I was tired.

I wondered what Scorpius was doing. Probably fishing, relaxing with a book, or practicing his wolf whistle. All of which sounded more appealing than this.

There were two boards on the deck, one painted red and the other gold. My parents, the eternal Gryffindors. I walked with Hugo over to the red board, both of us flanking it.

“You’re going down,” he said.

“Are you really trash-talking during a bean-bag toss?” I raised a brow.

Hugo smirked at me. “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.”

How did these girls even talk to him?

I managed to roll my eyes instead of responding and watched Mum and Dad take their turns. Hugo kept his trash-talking going and started doing strange twirling moves before tossing a beanbag. One landed off the side of the deck. Dad roared with laughter and got elbowed.

We had been doing game day every year since our first summer family vacation in Ireland. It wasn’t much of a vacation – we just stayed at a small cottage next to some rolling hills, which reminded me of home. But it wasn’t. I was really young and Hugo didn’t remember it.

It was raining the third day and we were getting restless, so Dad came up with the idea of game day. He gave us two puzzles (Hugo’s was twenty-four pieces, mine was one hundred) and told us to put them together. Hugo was whining, so Dad said he’d be on his team. After the puzzles were complete (Dad helped Hugo a little more than he said he would), we had a race around the kitchen table, followed by a scavenger hunt. Every year after that, my parents came up with three games and mixed up teams.

I liked to complain about it and Hugo liked to be a twat, but every time I looked over at my parents grinning like idiots, I had to smile. They enjoyed it. And hell, Dad and I were winning the beanbag toss, so I didn’t exactly hate it either.

After we won (take that, Hughmione!), we moved down the deck stairs to the small patch of grass on the side of the house. There were four burlap sacks. My nose wrinkled.

“We’re going to win this one too.” Dad slapped me on the back.

“Just try your best, Hugo,” Mum said with a smile.

I grinned at my brother. He flipped me off behind his back.

Mum and I waited in the center of the grass, my fingers around the top of the bag. Dad and Hugo hopped toward us, Dad cracking up. I scolded him, accusing him of helping Hugo. Then Hugo fell on his face.

And Dad helped him up.

“Oy!” I cried. “You’re throwing the game!”

“He looked pathetic,” Dad said, hopping toward me and slapping my hand. “Can’t have my own son looking pathetic.”

I laughed, rolling my eyes, and hopped toward the deckline, Mum fast at my heels. Hugo was cheering for her. The most positive action I’d heard from him the entire trip.

“Go, Plumcake!” cried Dad. “Your mum’s gaining!”

“Bugger!” I was quickly losing my balance, moving forward with every hop, but my legs weren’t quite even.

Hugo laughed when I ate dirt.

Mum threw her arms in the air at the finish and pulled Hugo into her arms. Then she cleaned something off his nose because he didn’t shower that morning.

Dad hoisted me up by my elbow. “I think I saw her trip you,” he said with a nod. “Want me to take her out during the obstacle course? I’ll do that, you know.”

I nudged him, laughing. Everything tasted like dirt. “I’d appreciate that. Just don’t make it obvious or Hugo will cry or something.”

“Deal.” Dad smirked and put his arm around my shoulders, leading me back toward the deck. We passed the stairs and moved into the trees at the same place Scorpius and I disappeared to the lake a few nights ago.

I wondered if he did anything like this with his family. Lucky for him, he didn’t have a git brother to compete against.

Just inside the treeline was a small obstacle course. Tires on the ground, branches to jump, vines, and so on. Flags marked the path.

I raised a brow at Dad.

“Sorry, I forgot to mention it’ll just be you and Hugo,” he said cheerfully. “Mum and I are getting too old for obstacle courses.”

“Bollocks!” called Hugo. “You just want to laugh at us.”

“I have a bad back.” Dad didn’t have a bad back.

“And I have finger issues,” Mum added. No finger issues. What finger issues were there?

“So you’re pinning us against each other?” I asked. “Brother against sister?”

They grinned like idiots. Jerks.

Hugo clapped me on the back. “I feel terrible for you, sis, I really do. Let’s get this on the road.” It was clear he was happy to not have to go against Dad.

“So much for bloody Team Awesome,” I muttered angrily and turned toward the course, surveying the parts of it I could see. Great. There was even a rope wall.

This was a slow form of torture.

“Ready?” Mum said, voice full of cheer. She placed the whistle in her mouth and nodded to Dad when he brought two lawn chairs for them to sit in. Really, shove it in my face.

I shot her a nasty look.

So she blew the whistle.

Hugo took off in front of me, moving through the tires with ease. Part of me wondered why he never attempted sports. Or much of anything other than woman-hunting. He didn’t even focus on his studies long enough to get good grades. Dad had tried to get him into Quidditch when James started playing, but Hugo hated brooms.

At least I’d trained on the ground for Quidditch, only to find out later I had zero balance on a broom and zero ability for the actual sport. Or any sport, really. I moved past the tires, leapt over four poles, swung on a rope over a mud pit, and caught Hugo at the rope wall. His shoes were slipping from catching the very edge of the mud pit.

I grabbed my rope, hands instantly wanting to reject it, and pulled myself up the wall. It was difficult, considering I had little upper-body strength, and everything was on fire. Bones I didn’t know I had were pulsing, but I managed to get a hand on the top before Hugo and hopped over.

Into a pool of water.

Good one, Mum, Dad. Good one.

When I surfaced, gasping for air, I forced stray hair off my forehead and swam for the shore. I had to beat Hugo. This wasn’t an option. In this course I had to beat him. In school I had to beat him. And in life I had to beat him.

Okay, maybe not that extreme. If he wasn’t such a whiny twat all the time, I wouldn’t need to. All the time, anyway.

“Boyfriend not going to save you?” Hugo surfaced just behind me, choking a little on the water.

“What?”

“That’s who you’ve been leaving to see, isn’t it?”

My fingers closed on the shoreline and I hoisted myself out. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You’re seeing a bloke,” Hugo said, pulling himself out and running after me through a patch of dense trees with a lot of vines. “You weren’t just gone walking in the woods. That’s boring.”

“I love walking,” I said, out of breath, as my fingers fought to untangle the vines. They were whipping me in the face. “Just because I can have a calming walk and you can’t doesn’t mean anything.”

“You aren’t home for dinner.”

“So?”

“What’re you eating?” Hugo grabbed a stick and stabbed the vines, shoving through.

I followed him. “Berries.”

“I’m telling.”

“I will shove your head in that toilet so fast,” I snapped, grabbing his shirt collar and pulling him back to meet my eyes. We were at the end of the vines, far from the beginning of the course, and I held him still. “I’m not screwing around, Hugo.”

“It is a bloke then.” His sneer was unmistakable.

“Tell them and I’ll make sure you never get to that town,” I said softly, eyes narrowed angrily.

“Rosey’s got a summer fling,” Hugo said in a sing-song voice.

“I am dead serious, toerag.”

He shrugged. “I have demands, you know.”

“You can’t have demands. I just told you what I would do if you told.”

Hugo shrugged again. “I don’t need to go to that town. But you need to meet this boy.”

I narrowed my eyes. “Sod off.”

“Let me win the course.”

I raised a brow. “What other demands?” I said impatiently. Dad and Mum would be wondering what we got up to this long.

“I’ll think of them later.” Hugo pulled himself out of my grip. He was sweaty, so I was glad.

“Fine. Win the stupid course.” I looked at him like he was mad. He was. It was an obstacle course. On game day. I didn’t care.

Somehow, though, I wondered if this would come back to bite me in the arse.

*

Even if it didn’t, Hugo bragging about winning for the rest of the afternoon was unbearable. Every other word was about the course. How he pulled ahead after I stalled in the pool, clearly unable to continue due to fatigue and sheer lack of ability. He demanded seconds at lunch for being such a fierce competitor.

Who couldn’t throw a beanbag, I reminded him.

Scorpius didn’t stop by all day. He didn’t knock on the window or show up just off the edge of the deck. Maybe he went to the lake or the creek, but I didn’t see him.

I straightened a towel on the deck and got some sun in a bathing suit. Well, until Hugo came out with a bucket of water and dumped it on me.

So I punched him in the arm and locked him in the bathroom closet for a half hour.

Still no sign of Scorpius by the evening. I hated that I was even thinking about it. He was casual company and fun to fish with. And eat with. I guessed it was because he was the only person my age around and was the only person sane to talk to.

Hugo was insane. My parents laughed at me more often than not. They thought I was “cute.” Parents were ridiculous.

I propped an easel on the end of the deck and painted as the sun faded down into the trees. It was a different sunset than the night before. It was less colorful and the shades of yellow were pale and streaked with whites and grey. It wasn’t grand or breathtaking and when I looked at the canvas, I was underwhelmed.

I frowned. I’d been thinking a lot about that sunset. About dinner in the strange diner and Scorpius falling asleep beside me.

I couldn’t figure him out. One minute he was calling me out for cowardice, making me jump a waterfall. The next minute he was sniffling, fingers curled around my thigh as he drifted further into sleep. And my heart was hammering out of control.

I didn’t understand him. He was shrouded in as much mystery as these mountains in thick fog. There was something about him I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

That night in bed I went through the things I knew about him. About his family, classes he favored, and his dream of being a television host. His satisfaction theory. The way he talked about life, happiness, and bravery. I wasn’t sure I bought any of that.

Why on earth did girls have to be braver than boys?

They didn’t. He was the one that would be squishing the next bug I saw.

Well, not the next. I was pretty sure there was one by the window. Ew.

If he even felt like talking to me again after I freaked out on the bike ride back. In retrospect, I didn’t think a bear would have wandered out of the trees and pulled me in with it. If there were even bears around. I really should have done better research on this place when Dad told me about the vacation. The most I looked at were pictures of the trees and the fog.

I wondered how much Scorpius prepared.

I needed to stop wondering about Scorpius.

*
Day Nine

*

I was at the creek when he found me, shoes abandoned at the shore as I waded around on the stones.

“Do you hate me?” he called with a bright smile.

“For what?”

“For not seeing you yesterday.” Scorpius slipped off his own shoes, rolled up his pants, and stepped into the water.

“You’re on vacation. You shouldn’t hang out with one person the entire time.” I shrugged.

“So you hate me.”

“I don’t.”

Scorpius nudged me with his net. “You hate my guts and want me to leave forever. All right. I understand.” He frowned. “I’ll see you, Rose.” He turned and moved toward the shore.

Whatever, Scorpius.

Then he rolled down his pants and grabbed his shoes.

Wait, what?

“Oy,” I called. He turned. “Get back in the water.”

He grinned. “Brilliant.” Scorpius ruffled his hair. He hopped back in the water, leaving his shoes and net forgotten on the shore. “I saw some berries upstream.”

“Safe?”

“They’re in my book.” He shrugged.

I was thankful it was a cloudy day. I wasn’t as sweaty (or gross) and I didn’t feel like I needed to take a break every ten minutes to get water and rest. So I smiled. “All right. If you insist they’re safe.”

“Trust me,” he said, moving against the current.

“Are there any cliffs nearby?”

His laugh was loud. “You don’t trust me at all, do you?” he asked.

“Not one bit.” I wasn’t sure if that was true or not.

He chuckled again. “I can’t blame you.” Scorpius moved in silence for a few minutes, not looking back. Eventually he stopped beside a large bush speckled in purple and burgundy berries. He picked one and tossed it up, catching it between his teeth.

“Good?” I picked a berry, waited for his nod, and ate it. It was juicy and had a sweet, sugary taste. “Very. Who needs lunch?”

“So how did you spend your day without me?” he asked, moving around the bush and selecting the deepest purple berries.

“Family stuff.” I was partial to the redder ones, eating several at a time. Skipping breakfast wasn’t my best life decision. “We had a game day.”

“What’s that?”

I explained how it came about in Ireland and what the games were. I left out the part about Hugo blackmailing me in order to win, especially considering I still didn’t have a good reason to keep this a secret other than it made my heart beat fast when I snuck out to see him.

Well, I told my parents I was going for a walk.

“I should tell my parents to do a game day,” Scorpius said. “They wanted me to spend time with them yesterday. Told me it’s the point of a family vacation. We cooked and watched a few movies and I didn’t let my father near the grill.” He grinned, but it was a little awkward. “Overall, it was successful.”

“Good.” I smiled warmly and ate some more just to have something to do with my hands. “I painted yesterday too.”

“When do I get to see it?”

I thought about the lackluster colors. “When I paint something halfway decent.”

“I bet you’re hard on yourself.” Scorpius peeked around the bush.

“I’m not.”

“I bet you’re brilliant.”

“I’m not.”

He tossed a berry, hitting me in the forehead. “I bet you’re secretly Monet.”

“Shut it.” I rubbed the spot he hit and realized there was now purple juice on my forehead. Wonderful. “I’m serious. I’m not very good. I just like colors.”

“Then let me see what you did last night.”

“No.”

“Yes!” Scorpius laughed, throwing more berries at me. I tried to dodge them, but he got my face, shoulders, and chest. “Show me! Show me!”

“Shut up, okay? You’re not seeing them.” I pulled a dozen off a branch and started hurling them at him, irritated. It wasn’t his personal work I was trying to see. “Change the subject before I throw this tree at you.”

“Bush,” he corrected.

“Are there any cliffs around?” I snapped.

He laughed hard. “Relax, will you? You’re too uptight. Relax.”

I stared. “How am I supposed to relax? You’re throwing berries and pissing me off.” I folded my arms stubbornly. It reminded me of Hugo, so I stopped.

Scorpius took that opportunity to throw more berries at me.

“GO. AWAY.” I kicked water in his direction, but it didn’t make it. He shot me an arrogant grin, so I flipped him off and turned, marching back down stream. I was going to grab my shoes, go home, and paint. He was insufferable sometimes, teasing like that. And being annoying.

“Rose, come on. I’m kidding!”

“Eat your berries, twat.” I kicked at the water as I went, angry.

I heard some splashes behind me and before I could turn, Scorpius was in front of me. He bent down just as I opened my mouth, grabbed me around the middle, and threw me over his shoulder. Suddenly I was staring down at the creek as he carried me back to the bush.

The hell?

“Put me down!” I cried when I finally realized what was happening, blood rushing to my head. I slapped him on the back.

“Dangerously close to my arse, love,” Scorpius said in a cocky way, splashing through the water.

“I’m serious! I’m damn serious!”

“Oh, the language is getting serious.” He chuckled, arm around my hips as he held me on his shoulder. “Remind me not to mess with you when you’re angry. Damn serious.” He chuckled again.

I punched his bum hard.

“Bloody – ow!”

“Ha!”

Scorpius pinched my side. “Cut it out.” He stopped at the bush. “You know what? You’re being punished for being such a bully.” I heard the bush rustling and he popped a berry into his mouth. Then he started walking further upstream.

“Where are we going? I’m serious. Put me down. Now.” I groaned. Bouncing on his shoulder was not exactly the most comfortable place I’d ever been.

“You need to cool down.” Scorpius patted my leg with his free hand. “You excited for this year?”

“What do you mean? All the NEWT studying and career path talk?” I grimaced. “Not really.”

“Still don’t know what you want to do?” Scorpius asked.

“No idea.”

He sighed. “You’ll figure it out. Maybe the career path talk will help. And besides, you’ll be able to do magic at Hogsmeade if you need to hex any little brutes for getting fresh with you.”

“You’re getting dangerously close,” I shot back.

He laughed, pinching me again. “I don’t know if I’m excited either, to be honest. It’s the last year. That’ll be it. After that, it’s real life. Trying to really pursue my dreams.” Scorpius paused for a while as he walked and the only sound I heard was the water and birds above us. At least it was cloudy so the back of my neck wouldn’t get so burnt.

“Are you going to put me down?” I asked.

“Are you done being mad?”

“Not really.”

“Then no.”

I groaned. “Okay, I’m not mad.”

“Liar.”

I punched his back. “PUTMEDOWNNOW.”

Scorpius laughed and bent his knees, setting me on my feet in the creek. “Better?” he asked, brows raised over his grey eyes. He had small laugh lines outside his lips.

“Much.” I straightened my jean shorts and tank. “Your parents don’t come wandering in the woods, do they? We’re getting toward your rental.”

Scorpius looked around, eyes squinty. “You’re right.” He looked distracted for a moment, and then his eyes moved to the sky. “Hmm.”

“What?” That expression worried me. Among other things.

There was a deep rumble of thunder that echoed through the mountains three times over.




Uh, oh! Time to face your fears, Rosey! 

I hope you enjoyed this chapter :) Let me know what you think! And what you thought of Game Day. Ron is such a turd. 

NEXT UP: Rose confronts her fear. In a shed. 


Chapter 6: Storm
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Ronnikins! 





Oh, Godric Gryffindor and his awkward belt loops this was not what I signed up for.

It happened again, the thunder moving across the mountains. The sky wasn’t too dark yet, but I could see between the breaks in the trees lining the creek that it wasn’t far off.

“Can I ask you something?” Scorpius said, his eyes still cast upward.

“Sure.” I could feel my heart start to race. It was getting breezy.

“I know I called you out for storms being your biggest fear, but they’re still one of the big ones, right?”

I paused and then realized I had been holding my breath, searching the sky for something. A tornado? Could they have tornadoes in the mountains? I didn’t even know what a real tornado looked liked. I’d spent far too much time hearing my cousins talk about the Tutshill variety.

“I’m going to take that as a yes.”

Thunder cracked, closer now, and I jumped. I thought I saw something in the sky flash.

“Let’s go.” Scorpius grabbed my hand and pulled me onto the shore, abandoning everything we’d left back at the meeting site. “We can’t be out here much longer. Not with all the water and tall trees.”

I let him tug me between the tree trunks even though I flinched several times. Walking in the water with no shoes was nothing, but on land with the twigs and rocks and bugs wasn’t the best experience. But my heart was hammering and everything was becoming a blur as the wind picked up.

The sky kept darkening.

“Scorpius, where are we going?” I called. Everything was getting louder. The birds, the wind whipping through the trees. The thunder. I jumped again. I tried to keep my voice even, but failed. “Is it far?”

He had to have noticed, because he instantly picked up his pace. “We’re close,” he said, grip tightening on my hand.

I felt strangely comforted, even with the stray hairs slicing at my face. I ducked under a branch and kept following. He didn’t let go, and I appreciated him for that.

My fear of storms went back years. I could pinpoint it to visiting the Burrow one summer weekend and being out in the thicket with my cousins. The adults were inside. When the sky started to darken, most of my cousins retreated, but Al and I wanted to finish our hide and seek game. When I found him, it had just started to rain.

That was when we realized we weren’t sure where we were. Or how to get back.

Al and I took shelter under a large tree, waiting at the base as a severe storm ripped through the area. I’d never heard anything so loud. So terrifying. I remember holding each other, scared one of us was going to blow away. Afterward, we found our parents, who had been out searching for us in the storm. Dad was soaked, all of his clothes clinging to his body, and he scooped me up and told me he was never letting me go.

Albus didn’t fear storms like I did. Over the rest of the summer, James forced him out into more storms and he became numb to them and even started to like them.

Hugo didn’t force me out into storms and Dad always came in to check on me. I curled up under the blankets and hid.

I didn’t have blankets to hide under this time. I had Scorpius, who was tearing through the trees. Over the wind, I could barely hear his hard breathing. He swore loudly once it started to rain, pinpricks showing up on my shirt at once.

Thunder cracked overhead and everything lit up like a nearby firework had exploded.

“Scorpius!” I cried before I could stop myself. “Hurry!”

I saw him nod. I could barely breathe and we were full-out running now. My feet ached with each step and I knew they were cut. I knew my legs were cut from stray branches. It began to rain harder, blurring my vision. Great.

Suddenly we were in a clearing and I moved my hand over my brows to shield the downpour.

“C’mon.”

Then I realized where we were. To my right was a shed, the same one we’d pulled the bikes from. The doors were ajar. To the left of it were tall bushes blocking it from Scorpius’ rental house. He pulled me toward it, pushed the doors open the rest of the way, and led us inside.

The rain on the roof was loud, but at least it wasn’t attacking my skin anymore.

The shed was dark. I noticed a line of tools on the far wall, a few pool supplies (there wasn’t a pool), and a trunk in the corner. More thunder cracked overheard and the downpour was so strong I couldn’t see more than a meter or two out the doors.

Scorpius left one cracked for light and patted his pocket. He groaned.

“What?” I said nervously, chewing on my bottom lip. Why was the storm getting worse? Why was it raining so hard?

“I left my wand at home today,” he explained, jerking his head toward where the rental was. “I figured I wouldn’t need it.”

“That’s fine.” I reached into my back pocket, only to come up empty.

My wand was back with my shoes.

Instantly, my face fell.

“Bugger.” Scorpius groaned and began looking around the shed. He pulled the trunk open and smiled a little. “This should hold us until it lets up.” From it, be pulled a few old blankets. He spread them out on the floor after shaking out any dust. “Are you cold?”

I nodded. My entire body was soaked. It didn’t matter I wasn’t wearing a light color, my clothes were sticking firmly to my skin and there weren’t any secrets. I didn’t care. I just wanted to be warm.

He frowned, eyes on mine. “C’mon. Let’s wait it out then, okay?” Scorpius looked around and then back at me. “Well, I don’t know that we have many choices.” He jumped when the thunder crashed again. I shrieked. Then he pulled off his shirt and I stopped shrieking.

“What’re you doing?” I said suddenly.

“My shirt is wet and I’m freezing.” Scorpius arched a brow. “So I’m going to remove it and get under one of these blankets.” He motioned to two extras he had placed on top of the trunk. “I suggest you do the same or I’ll be losing my company for the rest of the vacation, as you’ll be sick and in bed.”

My eyes narrowed. How could he be logical at a time like this?

“Fine. But turn around.”

Scorpius cracked a smile and did as he was told. I took the opportunity to stare at his back muscles, still dripping wet. Once he started to undo his pants I turned as well, face on fire.

Hell.

Okay. I could do this. I was freezing and my teeth were starting to chatter. Besides, I needed a distraction from the storm outside. It was worsening, the thunder and lightning getting closer together. Close enough to shake the hills.

I checked to make sure he was still turned around before pulling off my own shirt. I draped it over the handle of a mower and followed with my shorts. I could do this. Nevermind I had never been this naked in front of a boy before this vacation. Also nevermind that I had not anticipated this and therefore was not wearing anything remotely decent to be looked at.

“Stay turned!” I said and heard him laugh. “And toss me one of the blankets.”

He chuckled again and a blanket fell over my eyes. I grabbed it and pulled it around my shoulders and body. There. Now it was like I was wearing a gown or something. Not undergarments. Well, only undergarments.

“Okay.” I swallowed hard as the rain beat down on the roof and turned. Scorpius had just finished pulling the other blanket around him and looked at me.

“Ravishing,” he teased with a smile.

“I am freaking out and you’re being a jackass,” I said, plopping down on the blankets. They were too old to be soft, so I tried to get comfortable. My bum was already hurting, but that was driven from my mind when I squeaked at more thunder. It shook the shed.

“I’m not trying to. I just want to make you laugh.” Scorpius moved to sit beside me, rewrapping the blanket around his knees. “I find I’m less scared when someone makes me laugh.”

“Oh, what are you scared of then?” I said, rolling my eyes. “Not being happy?”

“Squid.”

I did laugh at that, nudging him with my elbow. “I’m serious.”

“I wish I was kidding.” His cheeks were pink. “Just don’t tell anyone. I have a feeling my roommates might find some interesting ways of torturing me.”

“Squid on your pillow?” I offered.

“You’re ruthless.” Scorpius looked at me for a moment as if he was trying to read me. I didn’t understand why, considering he was the one who was difficult to read. “You still cold?”

“Hair’s wet,” I explained. “I wish I had my wand. I cannot believe I left it for berries. I feel like Mum will scold me if she finds out.”

He was strangely quiet for a little while, before shaking his head as if to snap out of it. “Here. I mean, if you want.” He nodded to himself.

“What?”

Scorpius’ face was getting redder. “We can like … keep each other warm or something.”

“Oh.”

Bugger. Bugger. Bugger.

This was a lot different than him falling asleep next to me on a roof. And then snuggling my leg. This was both of us awake. In a shed. Almost naked under blankets. Keeping each other warm.

What did that even mean?

“You don’t have to!” Scorpius blurted. “It was just a suggestion.”

“Right – no.” I paused, blushing furiously. “No, it’s fine. I’m just –” Another pause. I cleared my throat. Everything was on fire. Well, that was one way to get warm. “How … do we do that?”

Could I get any more awkward? I blamed my father for this.

Scorpius glanced around him for a moment. “I’m going to, erm, lay down. And you can … you can just lay down.” He did so, moving onto his back, but his stiff posture suggested he was feeling the same weird tension I was. This was all too strange.

I wanted to run back out into the rain, but nearby thunder suggested otherwise.

“Yeah. That sounds brilliant.” Brilliant, Rose? Really? That’s what it sounded? Eugh.

“Brilliant,” Scorpius echoed. The blanket was falling off his shoulders and onto his chest. Godric.

I moved next to him, back flat on the hard floor. Okay. Step one. That was fine. I jumped at another rumble of thunder. Still freezing. Now my hair was trapped against my shoulder blades and the blanket under me.

“Erm, here.” Scorpius wiggled a little and grabbed me, putting an arm under my neck and pulling me onto his chest so that I was on my side. His arm stayed around my shoulders, fingers splayed against my own arm. I didn’t understand how he could be so warm. My hand moved to his stomach.

My heart was hammering again and for once, it had nothing to do with the weather activities outside.

I blinked. Wait.

“Was this really to get warm?” I asked, looking up at him.

“Of course. You’re cold.” Scorpius met my eyes with his grey ones, but there was a teasing hint in his voice I didn’t approve of. Once I shot him a glare, he added, “And maybe to distract you a bit from the storm.”

I shoved him, hoisting myself away from his body, but he pulled me back, holding me against him tight. “Let go! You’re a jerk.”

“I thought you’d be more scared,” Scorpius said, smirking. “Since it’s your biggest fear and all.” He chuckled and squeezed my arm.

“I am scared,” I muttered bitterly.

“Sure you are.” His lofty tone suggested otherwise.

I slapped his stomach. Then I wished I hadn’t because it was hard and forced the blush to return to my cheeks almost instantly.

“I’ll let you up if you don’t want to lay with me,” Scorpius said. “But I’m still cold.”

I hated that he was right. I was still freezing. And my hair was on his arm, so he must have been too. So I stayed, cheek resting against his bare chest. I could hear the steady beat of his heart. How could he be so calm? Maybe being this close to someone else wasn’t new for him. Or awkward.

We were quiet for a while as the storm raged outside. I closed my eyes, trying to drown it out. Scorpius was a good distraction. I almost wished he wasn’t, just so I could prove him wrong, but I had to admit I was much calmer there than I would have been back with my family. Hiding under the blankets. Well, at least there was something in common between the two situations.

My body warmed quickly beside his. Dom used to always talk about boys and how they were portable heaters. I knew that from the limited boyfriends I’d had, but Scorpius took it to an entirely different level. His body radiated heat. I didn’t move.

After a while, he said, “Tell me something about you I don’t know.”

I opened my eyes, focusing them on the side of the trunk beside us. “I’m really comfortable right now.”

“Physically or mentally?” he asked.

“Both.”

Scorpius’ fingers trailed up my arm absently. “So am I.”

*

When I woke, the rain had stopped. We must have fallen asleep at some point after talking about whether we liked cats or dogs better (I liked dogs, he liked cats). All I could smell was his cologne, which was somehow still there after the rain and the stripping and the old musty blankets. It smelled better than I cared to admit.

I sat up, letting his arm fall back behind me, and he stirred. One glance told me he was unsure of the situation, considering his cheeks were flushed with color.

“Do you have any idea what time it is?” I asked, looking for an excuse to break the silence between us. I was feeling groggy.

He shrugged. “It’s still sunny. Late afternoon?”

I groaned. One of these days my parents were going to start getting suspicious of my long walks in the woods. Or Hugo would out me.

“I should go.” I smiled a little, weakly.

“Let me walk you back,” he offered.

“It’s fine. I have to go get my wand.” I shrugged, trying to fight the blush that was forming and the unsureness of everything. I stood, keeping the blanket close to me. “Um...”

“Yeah. Sorry.” Scorpius rolled onto his side. He was tracing lines in the floorboards with his finger.

I dressed swiftly. My clothes were still damp, but they weren’t soaked anymore.

“I’ll see you around.” The most awkward thing uttered since ‘I carried a watermelon.’ Before letting him respond, I dropped the blanket and left, careful to make sure Mr. Malfoy wasn’t out and about the side of the house gardening. Luckily, no one spotted me as I headed back into the woods.

What had I gotten myself into?

Scorpius Malfoy. Charismatic, likeable, and genuinely nice to people. He had plenty of friends in school, got good marks, and when Talbot Winters was ill, had been known to commentate a few Quidditch matches. There weren’t many people who disliked him.

But he was nice to everyone. If Dom was scared of storms and standing in a creek picking berries, he would have hauled her back to the shed too. He would have stripped as a distraction and fell asleep beside her.

I wondered about his history with girls. He’d never been one to flaunt it, which was probably why I knew little to nothing. Not that I needed to know. We went fishing and eating in diners. We didn’t have to complicate matters with feelings.

I didn’t have to complicate matters with feelings.

Not that I felt anything. I was just thinking about it.

Why was this walk so long?

This would be so much less complicated if I just had a boyfriend to go back to. Or a boy I was seeing. Or anything. It was just distracting watching Scorpius Malfoy take off his shirt.

And not be able to know what he was thinking.

My wand was beside my shoes, half-stuck in the mud.

It would be less complicated if he wasn’t so damn easy on the eyes.

But for some reason, I felt a little foolish. Like I was just in this position because I happened to be here, I happened to be his age, and happened to blush at the appropriate times.

Eugh. I needed to stay away from him.

Day Ten

My bobber was still stuck in the tree when I arrived beside the lake late the following morning. I didn’t make an attempt to free it, just sat on the beach and stared out at the water. Hugo had been impossible that morning, walking around the kitchen table chanting about his obstacle course victory. What a git. Mum and Dad even suggested I go pick some berries just to get away from him.

Instead, I came to the lake.

I needed somewhere to just get away. In the mountains, everywhere was an escape. But just from my family. Not from Scorpius.

I didn’t like feeling this strange about someone. I was certain I didn’t have a crush on him, especially since I didn’t have those same heart flutters that I did when crushing on Dom’s ex, Henry, but I hated that I didn’t know what was happening.

In that sense, I was my mother’s daughter.

I just needed to get away for a bit. I just needed to be by myself and enjoy this vacation.

Alone.

“I’ve been looking for you for ages.”

Well, nevermind about that.

“I’ve been here,” I replied.

Scorpius moved into view. He was standing, hands in the pockets of his khaki pants even though it was hot and muggy. “I checked here first.”

“I was at home.”

“I had something planned for today,” he said shortly.

I looked over. “That would have been nice to know.”

“Excuse me for not having time to explain that between you getting dressed and hauling your ass out of the shed yesterday,” Scorpius replied. His tone was dry. Irritated.

Like he had a right to be mad. “You’re excused,” I quipped, getting to my feet. “I told my parents I’d be back for lunch.”

“Fine.” Scorpius shrugged. “It’s too late to go into town anyway.”

I didn’t meet his eyes. “Is that what you had planned?”

“Part of it.”

I rubbed the back of my neck, frustrated. “You pretty much plan everything, don’t you?”

He looked over. I was surprised to see his eyes flash. “Oh, because you didn’t come over the other day with a bloody atlas ready for an adventure.”

“Well, I have plans today,” I snapped.

“Good. Go have your plans.”

“Okay!” I groaned and marched into the treeline.

“I’m going anyway!” he called angrily.

“Good! Go!”

*

“Everything okay, Popsicle?” Dad asked, peeking his head into my room. He had two steaming glasses, which I was certain were full of hot chocolate.

“It’s okay.” I shrugged, fighting for a smile. I was sprawled out on the bed, several discarded books on the bed beside me. I was too irritated to read.

“What’s wrong? Did you stub your toe or something? You’ve been in a mood ever since yesterday.” He sat down beside me, placing one of the mugs on my bedside table.

“I’m fine.” I shrugged.

Dad nudged my leg. “How are your friends doing?” he asked with a smile.

“I haven’t heard from them since we left,” I replied. None of them had written me, but then again, they were all distracted with beach vacations and boyfriends. I couldn’t blame them.

“Ah.” Dad cleared his throat, thinking. “The paper was interesting this morning. Did you want to read?”

I shook my head. “I’m not really interested. Were there any good headlines?” I paused. “Not related to Quidditch.”

Dad leaned back against the bed, shifting his hands under his head. “Not much. Ministry promoted someone I used to go to school with. Diagon Alley opened a new chowder restaurant. Some concerts in London this weekend.” He stretched his back. “Oh, apparently Malfoy’s wife is on the mend according to the entertainment section.” He shrugged and stared at the ceiling.

I shot up in bed. “What? On the mend from what?”

He arched a brow. “She was in St. Mungos for a while,” he explained. “They didn’t know what it was.”

“How did I not hear about this?” I asked, heart beating quickly.

“I don’t know. It wasn’t exactly largely publicized.” Dad shrugged, sitting up and still looking puzzled. “I just knew because Malfoy mentioned it to your Uncle Harry at that wonky fundraiser for St. Mungos. Said she was in there for a few more months and then had to do some sort of rehabilitation.”

“So it was a disease?” I asked quickly.

“No idea, potato pie,” he replied. “The article today just said she was on the mend and would be back to work in no time after rehab.”

“She’s a publicist, isn’t she?” I asked. “For some music star?”

Dad nodded. “You okay?”

I didn’t know what to think. Scorpius’ mum had been in the hospital for months. Perhaps that was the reason they were out here. Her rehabilitation in the mountains, not a family vacation.

Suddenly I felt like the biggest jerk on the planet.

While I was whining about Hugo and Dad’s dry pancakes, Scorpius’ mum was trying to get better and recover from a disease. Or something.

Maybe that was why he wanted to keep it a secret.

I swallowed hard. “I should take a walk,” I said.

“It’s almost eight,” Dad replied. “It’s getting a little late for a walk, don’t you think?”

“I just need to go.” I threw the books off my bed, grabbing my shoes, and left (through the door this time).

I tore through the woods toward his house. It wasn’t easy, but the sun was only just beginning to fade, so I had plenty of light to go by. I felt horrible. He was dealing with something that was probably tearing him up inside, and I was getting awkward about falling asleep beside him!

Scorpius probably just wanted someone else to be around. In the same way he wanted to distract me, he was using me as his own distraction.

And I was being a jerk.

It took me close to a half hour to reach his rental. I didn’t have a game plan, so I snuck around the side of the house again, careful to step lightly, but I encountered no one.

It was getting darker by the minute and the light I had used to get there was gone. Luckily, the kitchen windows led to the deck and were casting plenty of light outside for me to see. His deck was just as large as ours, sprinkled with chairs and a table with an umbrella. I crouched low, keeping off to the side, and adjusted my eyes to look inside.

Scorpius was there, sitting at the table. He was laughing, lines appearing on the sides of his eyes. His blond hair looked damp and he was in his signature polo and khaki pants. I wondered if he owned jeans and t-shirts.

Beside him was Mr. Malfoy. His hair was thinning at the sides, though he didn’t seem to care all that much. It was just as blond as Scorpius’. I could see where the fashion taste came from, as Mr. Malfoy was sporting a shirt and tie.

I didn’t see Mrs. Malfoy anywhere, but I did spot a third person.

A pretty, raven-haired girl. She was between the two of them at the end of the table, hair scattered around her shoulders, and was in a casual green dress. She was laughing too.

She put her hand on Scorpius’ arm, squeezing it.

I stepped back, suddenly confused. I knew Scorpius had no siblings. And he didn’t mention coming with anyone on vacation. Who was this girl?

Had he really gone to town? Did he meet her there?

But then why would he keep us spending time together a secret and have her over for dinner?

I watched them for a while. She went back for seconds on some kind of chicken. Scorpius laughed. A lot. He exchanged glances with her.

A lot.




Okay gang. I hope you enjoyed the chapter. I'm going to move across the country to Colorado and then I'll be back updating on the reg. 

NEXT UP: Town, Rose is a terrible liar, and Scorpius sneaks in.


Chapter 7: Distraction
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For writetolive13 for the kind words. 




 

Day Eleven

*

The bike was in the same place I’d left it days before. The ride was the same couple hours of leg-burning and humidity. And the diner still didn’t have air conditioning.

I didn’t care. It was a different place.

I sat at the counter and ordered the same grilled cheese and it was delivered to me by the same waitress. For a while, I listened to people talk about their houses, mortgages, and movies they’d seen lately. One bloke in a wide hat talked about some surgery he had scheduled in a few days.

After I finished, I took out my sketch pad and pastels and began to paint the stack of plates against the far wall. I liked the shadows.

Once that was complete, I abandoned the diner and decided to walk for a bit, admiring the structures. It was such a strange town – everything was in one, central location. It wouldn’t take me more than five minutes to walk from one end to the other. Still, I liked it. It was homey. Relaxed. No pressure.

I passed a small office building and then the second diner, eyes fixed ahead of me. There were a few rusted cars and some dumpsters near the end of the building. Maybe I could sketch the road coming into town. I paused beside the diner window, reaching down into my bag to check if I had brought the pencils.

“Rose?”

I wheeled around. Scorpius had just come out of the diner, hair messy and still chewing some of his food. He looked surprised. Hell, so did I.

“Hey,” I said, caught off guard by the nerves in my voice.

“I –” Scorpius paused to swallow. “Listen, I’m sorry I lost my temper yesterday.”

I stared. I didn’t know what to say. How could I tell him I knew about his mum? He hadn’t told me for a reason. Maybe he wanted to keep our friendship separate.

“I’m sorry,” I said, shaking my head. “You shouldn’t be.” I finally met his stare. “Did you end up going into town?”

“I did.” He nodded.

“What else did you get up to last night? All I did was read.”

“Nothing,” Scorpius replied. “Just watched television with my father.”

I paused. “Just your father?”

He nodded. “It was a boring night.”

I took the opportunity to glance into the diner. It was set up in a similar way to the first, but bathed in a beige paint. And just as I dreaded, the raven-haired girl was at the counter.

“Ah,” I said, voice a little higher than usual. “Well, it was nice seeing you. I’m glad you had a good night.” I looked to the left and right, trying to find a way to escape. My bike was all the way at the other end of the road.

“What are you doing here?” he asked, stuffing his hands in his pockets.

“Just came on a whim.” I shrugged. “Listen, I have to go. It was really nice seeing you.” I moved past him quickly and down the sidewalk, face burning.

“Hey, Rose?” he called.

I didn’t answer, picking up my pace.

“You’re a really shit liar.”

*

I hated tossing and turning. Especially when everyone else was in the living room playing board games. I could hear Mum squeak every time she got points. The bed was a disaster. Blankets everywhere. Fan pointed at my face. I couldn’t sleep.

And I felt like an idiot because I couldn’t sleep.

What was the big deal, anyway? Nothing. Scorpius could have dinner with as many girls as he pleased. I wondered if the raven girl knew about his mum. She had to! She was in his house! Though Mrs. Malfoy wasn’t downstairs.

Godric. Tossing. Turning. My stomach was in shambles.

And now I knew something. And he had no idea that I knew.

And I felt like a jerk for letting him so much as talk without telling him that I knew. I was a jerk for being such a jerk when he was dealing with his mum.

Who the hell was that girl?

Was I also a jerk for wanting to accidentally spill her drink on her?

I groaned and turned over. Then jumped, shrieked, and fell off the far side of the bed.

“Queen of stealth,” Scorpius muttered, climbing through my bedroom window. “Get back up there. I heard footsteps.”

He vanished under the bed just as the door opened.

Dad peeked in. “Did you get abducted?” he asked, brow raising.

I shook my head. “Had a strange dream,” I replied, crawling back under the covers. In the most not-attractive pajamas ever invented with kittens on them.

“Well, if you do, at least leave a note, okay?” He smirked. “You’re sure you don’t want to play? Hugo’s losing and I’m having fun watching his face turn colors.”

I smiled. “I’ll be okay. Thanks though.”

He blew a kiss and slid the door closed with a snap.

I heard a groan and Scorpius crawled out from under the bed. “Less room under there than I thought,” he said, getting to his feet. “Move over, Juliet. I didn’t climb this balcony for nothing.”

“My room is off the deck,” I said slowly.

“Yes, well, that’s not the point.” He shoved me over and sat beside me, back against the headboard. “Cute kittens.”

I pulled the blanket up to my chest. “What’re you doing here? It’s late.”

“Something’s wrong with you.” He shrugged a little. “Came to make sure you were okay.”

I shot him a look. “I’m fine. Just tired.”

“You left in a hurry today,” he said lightly. “You were sore with me yesterday. Will you just tell me what’s wrong so I can fix it?”

My lips parted as I craned my neck to meet his gaze. “Why would you want to do that?”

“Just tell me or I won’t be able to sleep.” Scorpius shifted and then kicked off his shoes. “I’m not leaving until you do.”

“My parents are in the living room.”

“Better hope they don’t walk in,” Scorpius said, smirking. “You have a boy in your bed.”

I was happy it was dark because my cheeks were heating up. “I’m sorry I’ve been being a twat,” I said after a while. That was safe enough, right?

“What?” He raised a brow. I could make out the angles of his face in the light coming from under the door. “I’m pretty sure the only point you were being a twat was out by the lake.”

“What did you have planned?” I asked, releasing a sigh. Our shoulders were touching.

“I thought we could go into town and try the most horrible-sounding food in the general store,” Scorpius explained with a smile. “Then maybe get some real dinner so I could apologize if I made you uncomfortable in the shed.” He looked over in a curious way.

“I was fine,” I said, shaking my head. “Okay, it was a little weird.”

He chuckled softly. “I thought so too,” he replied. “Though it was a hell of a nap.”

I couldn’t hide the smile. “Yes, it was.”

Scorpius leaned his head against the board behind us. “I am sorry I was short with you, though. I don’t normally do that. I just had a bad morning.”

“Oh.” I rubbed my lips together. “Sorry I was avoiding you.”

“Just had some … issues at home.”

“Ah,” I replied awkwardly. “Sorry.” I looked away, focusing on the door.

Scorpius paused and then I felt him move on the bed. “Look at me,” he said.

“Why?” I didn’t.

“Rose, look at me.”

Finally, I turned, heart hammering. His eyes were reflecting the light from the hall. I couldn’t focus on anything else. Everything was a blur.

“What do you know?” he asked in a voice so soft I almost couldn’t hear them.

“What?” I whispered.

“You know,” he said, leaning away. “Salazar, you know already.”

I blinked, snapping myself out of wherever my mind was going. “I know what?” I asked nervously, eyes instantly moving to the window. To anywhere but his. Hell.

“Who told you?”

“Who told me what, Scorpius?” I asked, releasing a breath. Why was I so nervous? Terrified? My fingers clutched the blanket at my middle.

“You know about my mother.”

My jaw fell and I finally looked back at him, face on fire. What could I possibly say to that? Called out. Absolutely called out before I could admit it. I should have said something the minute he crawled into my bed. When he came out of the diner.

“I do,” I replied softly.

“I have to go.” Scorpius swung his legs over the bed and was out the window before I could so much as apologize.

*
Day Twelve
*
“You’ve been taking a lot of walks lately, muffin,” Dad said, eyeing me over the top of his morning paper. He couldn’t fool me. I knew he was reading the comics.

“I like to clear my head,” I replied, shrugging. I stuffed a few apples into my bag.

“Gotten any painting done?” he asked.

“A little.” I shrugged. That sunset was still in the back of my mind and I wanted nothing more than to paint it. “Mostly exploring the area.”

“I should go with you at some point,” he replied. “We could have an adventure. And then your mother could scold me when you come back with scrapes on your knees.” He chuckled.

“Maybe.” I smiled at him. “I’ll be back for dinner, okay?”

“Pretty sure this family vacation has been a wonky honeymoon for your mother and I,” he commented. “With you gone all day and Hugo yelling at the television … not too shabby.”

“The visual the word ‘honeymoon’ puts into my head is inappropriate,” I said, ducking out the back door.

I had a plan this time. I knew what I was going to say. What I was going to do.

When I didn’t find Scorpius at the creek, I kept moving upstream. I paused to collect some berries (though they were gone in a matter of seconds) and continued through the foggy air toward his rental house. He had made that walk more times than I had, but I still wasn’t fond of it. I would have taken the gravel road if it didn’t circle all the way around the mountain before hitting his drive.

Out of curiosity, I checked the shed, but found it empty. As was the side yard. Damn. I’d hoped I could find him somewhere outside, but he wasn’t on the deck either. Bugger.

I also had no idea where his bedroom window was.

That was when I heard voices from around front of the house. Raised voices.

I strained myself to hear, tiptoeing under the window line back toward the front.

“It’s not that I’m not trying, okay?”

“You’re never around!”

“I can’t be around.”

“I’m very disappointed in you.”

“I can’t do this like you can, okay? I don’t want to do this anymore.”

“You don’t have a choice.”

“When is she leaving then?” Scorpius sounded defeated and tired.

Mr. Malfoy shrugged. “A few days,” he said. “If you’re not going to help, then I don’t want to see you back here until dinner. You’re making things worse.” He turned and marched back into the house, slamming the door behind him.

In a second, Scorpius’ knees buckled and he was on the ground, face in his hands.

My bag fell beside me and I skinned my knees on my way to pulling him into my arms. He didn’t resist, only moved to embrace me tightly. His fingers clutched my shirt.

“Let’s go,” he whispered into my skin. His lips were just above my collarbone and it made me shiver. “Please, Rose. Let’s just go somewhere.”

“Okay.” I nodded and helped him to his feet. He looked shaken and scared. I grabbed my bag, took his hand, and led him into the trees.

Scorpius was quiet for a while, letting me lead. It made me uncomfortable when he wasn’t teasing or taunting or just rambling about nothing, but I didn’t pry. Instead we walked in silence for a long time. His breathing slowed eventually, as we approached my house, but I led the way around it and down to the lake.

I forced him to sit on the beach and began building up the fire again even though it was still morning. I needed something to do with my hands. Something to distract me from looking at him, because every glance made my heart hurt. His expression was vacant. There was no intensity in his eyes.

Once I had the fire going, I sat beside him, pulling my legs up to my chest.

“Thank you,” he said after a while.

I wasn’t sure for what, so I nodded.

“She’s – erm – getting worse.” Scorpius’ jaw tightened. He was clearly in pain. “Ali said they thought this would be best for her.”

“Ali?” I looked over, raising a brow.

“Mother’s nurse,” he explained. “She’s been here the last few days to do a preliminary check-up since it’s two weeks into the month.” Scorpius ran his fingers through his hair three or four times. “But she’s not better. She’s not getting better.”

Ali was the nurse. His mum’s nurse.

And now I felt like an even bigger idiot. Splendid.

“Would I be rude if I asked what it was?” I asked softly, slipping my hand into his.

“Wouldn’t be rude. I just wish I could give you an answer.” Scorpius shrugged a little. “They thought it was like six different things. Then they treated her for some strange jungle disease and it seemed to be working, so we came here to get away from it because apparently humidity helps and now …”

“Now?” I prompted.

“She hasn’t gotten out of bed in three days,” he said, teeth running the length of his bottom lip. “She can barely speak. I don’t know. I feel like some days she’s going to be fine and other lengths of time she’s fading so fast.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. It took everything in my power not to picture myself in that situation. Mum with some unknown disease. In a bed. I blinked back unexpected tears.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you,” Scorpius said, his voice airy. He was running his hand through his hair again, so I took that one too and forced it into his lap.

“It’s fine,” I insisted. “It’s your own business who you tell about your personal life and I shouldn’t have been such a bitch.”

His lips curved into a small smile. “Why were you there today?”

“To apologize,” I said. “For everything.”

“Everything?” He raised a brow.

“Everything.” I nodded and scooted closer to him. “Just let me be your distraction. You were nice enough to do it for me.” I squeezed his hand.

He squeezed back. “Okay,” he replied. “I like the sound of that.” It looked like he needed it.

“What kind of distraction?” I asked with a fond smile. “I could always try to fish again.”

“I just want to spend time with you,” Scorpius replied. “You can pick. Whatever you’d like. I’m taking a break from planning adventures.” He shot me a wink that made my stomach explode with nerves.

How was he capable of that?

“Okay.” I nodded sheepishly. Even though I had a game plan that morning, it hadn’t extended to being Scorpius’ distraction on the beach. Then I smiled, remembering his gaze and teasing smile on many occasions. “Let’s go swimming.”

He looked up, surprised. “Yeah?”

“Yep.” I got to my feet, finally letting go of his hand, and moved toward the water. I tested it with my toes. Not bad. And the air was so muggy it could have been freezing and I wouldn’t have minded. “Unless you don’t want to.”

When I turned back, Scorpius already had his shirt off. It was thrown over the same branch my bobber was stuck in. In two weeks, he’d gotten some sun. The tops of his shoulders were a little bronzer than they had been before and I spotted some freckles I hadn’t seen.

Not that I was looking at his shoulders.

“Falling behind, Juliet,” Scorpius said, quick to lose his pants and toss those aside as well. His boxers were green today. He shot me a cocky grin and walked into the water, getting to his knees before he dove in.

I wondered momentarily if there were anymore giant catfish in there.

“Come on!” Scorpius called once he surfaced, the sun reflecting off his wet shoulders and face.

Godric.

Okay. Concentrating.

I moved back toward the fire and pulled off my shirt and shorts. Luckily, today I didn’t have kittens on and came prepared in case we met up at the creek.

“You cheated!” Scorpius cried, laughing.

“I came prepared.” I pointed at my bathing suit, doing a turn to model it properly. “How’s the water?”

“Get in.”

“How is it?” I repeated.

“Get in.” Scorpius swam toward me with a smirk on his face. “Now.”

“Maybe I won’t,” I said. “We could do something other than swimming.” I grinned, glad to finally see him smiling again and the light back in his eyes. A distraction was a good idea.

“Don’t make me come up there.”

I rolled my eyes. “Fat chance. You’re already in the water.”

His brow raised, clearly accepting the challenge as he moved out of the lake.

I hadn’t thought this through properly. I considered running, but was then distracted by the fact that he was sopping wet, glistening, and walking toward me.

Not okay for a seventeen-year-old girl to be looking at. Not okay at all.

Scorpius took advantage of the weakness, threw me over his shoulder, and walked into the lake, tossing me in.

“You’re stubborn,” he said once I surfaced. Then he fell back into the water.

“That’s not fair!” I countered. “I can’t throw you over my shoulder.”

“Do you want to? I’ll try and pretend to be light.”

“I’d have to pretend to be strong.” I swam out a little ways, eyes on the sky. Then I kicked some water at him and heard a choke.

“Damnit!” Scorpius said, laughing. Then he splashed me back. “Do you always torment sweet, unsuspecting boys?”

“What?” I said, flushing. This was becoming a regular occurrence around him and I hated it.

“What a bully you are, Rose,” he replied, still grinning like a jackass. “You’re always just so mean.” He splashed more water.

“I’m never mean!” I cried, splashing him right in the sodding face.

“You probably have a boyfriend back home and everything,” Scorpius said, laughing. “And you’re in a skimpy little bathing suit with a very handsome man in a lake in the mountains.”

“Handsome?” I said. “You really are full of yourself.”

“I just won’t lie,” Scorpius said gleefully.

I splashed him again. “I want to see you do something you aren’t good at.”

“Gladly,” he replied. “There are plenty of things I’m not good at.”

“I’m not letting you pick,” I said. “Then you’ll just pool-shark me and secretly have a talent for it.” I went back to floating.

“Go on,” Scorpius said with a sigh, impatient.

“You’re going to paint,” I said with a cheeky grin.

He was quiet. “No.”

“Yes!” I adjusted to look at him. “Yes, you’re going to paint.”

“I hate painting.”

“You’re just horrible at it, aren’t you?”

“I don’t want to.”

“Too bad.” I splashed him again, swimming away. “You’re going to paint and I’m going to laugh.”

“Why don’t you teach me?” Scorpius asked, swimming after me.

“Okay. I can do that.” I shrugged. I wouldn’t be able to teach him technique, but I could at least show him how to mix colors.

“Brilliant.” He grabbed my leg, met my eyes for just a second, and pulled me underwater.

*

It was ages before we pulled ourselves onto the sand, exhausted. Scorpius rolled onto his back. His body was covered in dirt, which was welcome at this point. I followed suit, chest heaving.

“Pretty sure I won the second race,” I said, catching my breath. Or trying to.

“Pretty sure I got a leg cramp.” Scorpius huffed a little.

“Pretty sure you’re a sore loser,” I noted.

“I’ll throw you back in.” Scorpius glanced over for a moment, pausing. “Thanks, Rose.”

“Hmm?”

“For spending today with me.” He smiled a little. “I needed it.”

“My pleasure,” I said. I sat up, ignoring the sand getting everywhere. I scooted toward the fire, which was barely smoldering now. “What’re you going to do when you get back?”

He frowned. “I’m not sure. I know my father is still frustrated with me for not taking this well, but how can I?”

“Can I ask how long things have been like this?” I bit my lip, nervously. I hated prying.

“Years,” he said and my eyes snapped over. “She’s been sick for years. It just started getting worse in the past six months, but the symptoms came a long time ago.”

I thought back to school. He seemed charming and collected. Then again, maybe that was his strong point. Hiding it.

“It’s starting to wear on me,” Scorpius explained. “Once I think she’s better, everything gets worse. My father can deal with it. He’s been through it. He just can’t understand why I have to leave every day. He thinks I’m being a horrible son.”

“So he’s mad at you?”

“Furious,” Scorpius replied. “He loves my mother so much, anything that could hurt her more than she already is sends him into a panic.”

“Is there anything I can do?” I offered.

“You’re already doing it.”

It was hard to imagine my mum being sick for that long, watching her go through everything. Even if I had Hugo, that wouldn’t simplify things. I glanced back at him. “I don’t want you to go home tonight,” I said, taking myself a little by surprise.

“Hmm?” Scorpius met my eyes. “You have a tent?”

“Stay at my place,” I said. “Come have dinner with us and you can sleep on the couch.”

He was quiet for a minute, tracing his fingers in the sand. “That wouldn’t make this a secret anymore,” he said.

“I don’t think we had a good reason for it to be a secret anyway.” I smiled. “If it makes you feel better, we can still keep your side a secret.”

“Should I bring back my fish?” Scorpius asked. “This is sounding a little star-crossed lovers to me.”

“Maybe you should stop distracting me in sheds and we’d be fine.” I shot him a cheeky grin and stood, grabbing my clothes and sliding them on. There was still sand in uncomfortable places, but my stomach was grumbling and all I wanted was dinner.

“Maybe you should stop staring and you would be fine,” Scorpius shot back after a moment of silence, laughing, and led the way back toward the rental.

“I was watching your eyes the whole time, Malfoy,” I called. “Don’t think I didn’t catch you.”

The back of his neck went red.

*

“You’re sure this is an okay idea?” Scorpius asked. We were about five minutes from the house and he was starting to get nervous. He kept running his fingers through his hair.

“It’s fine.” I tried not to think of the different ways it could go.

“Can you just … can you go in and ask first?” he said. He looked nervous all of a sudden, which wasn’t very common for him. “I don’t want to impose on your family’s vacation.”

I compared my vacation to his mother’s rehabilitation. If my family was cheeky about it, they could get over it.

“I’ll go in first. Just stay out here and I’ll come and get you.” I smiled at him and disappeared into the clearing. I climbed the stairs onto the back deck and moved into the house.

What I wasn’t expecting, however, were three people sitting at the table staring at me. Hugo’s face went red.

He told.

“Rose, where have you been?” Mum asked seriously, her lips pressed hard together.

“On a walk,” I replied. I tried to meet Hugo’s eyes to see what they knew, but he was examining the oak table designs. Helpful. “I said I’d be back for dinner. Is everyone hungry?”

It probably took every ounce of control Mum had not to roll her eyes at me.

“Go to your room,” Dad said. He wasn’t looking at me either and the back of his neck was red. “And no more sneaking out all day to see a boy.”

So they didn’t know who it was.

“I wasn’t–” I began.

“You were,” Dad said. “This was supposed to be a family vacation. It was time for us to spend together since you two are away for nine months out of the year at Hogwarts.” He finally looked up at me. “I look forward to this all year, getting to see you, and I’m disappointed that you’d rather spend it walking around in the woods with some boy.”

My heart broke seeing my father like that. He was always joking around and cheerful and it hurt to see him so upset. Not mad. He could never be mad at me, but disappointed.

The horrible part was, I had been so distracted by my new friendship and the mysterious Scorpius Malfoy, that I failed to realize how right he really was. I had spent barely any time with my family on vacation, save the game day and some meals and late night television shows. Instead I spent it with a boy I saw all year.

I frowned. “I’m sorry,” I said.

“Hugo, go to your room too,” Mum said. Her fingers were around a mug of tea on the table.

Dad didn’t meet my eyes again, so I sighed and left down the hall, walking into my room for the month, and closed the door. I heard Hugo’s door close upstairs.

The guilt ate away at me. I hadn’t thought how much effort my parents put into planning these vacations, from securing the rentals, the weekends, and the activities and food. They probably started thinking about it in January. They probably got really excited when they missed us while Hugo and I were off laughing with other people our age.

I was a horrible person.

I slipped off my shoes and sank onto the bed. Oh, hell. What was I supposed to do? It wasn’t even a full two weeks into the vacation and there were already problems.

How was I supposed to distract Scorpius from his own family, when I was stuck with mine?

Scorpius!

I leapt off the bed and shot to the window, pushing it open. “Scorpius?” I whispered into the darkness. No response. “Scorpius?”

His head poked up at the end of the deck. I could only just see him in the light from the kitchen windows.

“Do they hate me?” he whispered back.

“They don’t know it’s you.”

“What?” he called softly.

“Just – c’mere.” I groaned and stuck my head out the window to make sure no one was secretly overhearing our conversation.

Scorpius clamoured onto the deck and crawled to the window. He still looked nervous. “Do I need to worry about a shotgun?” he said with a small smile.

“Get in here.” I grabbed his shirt collar and tugged him inside, closing the window behind him. Then I took out my wand and performed and silencing charm on the door. “Okay.” I released a breath and told him what had happened – that Hugo had told, Mum had been mad, and Dad had been disappointed.

And that I didn’t quite get a free moment to ask if the boy I had been ignoring them for could spend the night on the couch.

Scorpius frowned. He had busied himself with closing the curtains and then leaned against the wall beside them. “So I shouldn’t be here,” he said.

“You’re not going home.”

“What? You want me to live in the woods? How very Lord of the Flies of you,” Scorpius replied in a dry way.

“Just stay.” I wasn’t sure why I wanted him to stay, I just knew the thought of him going back to where he had to deal with so much pain was unbearable.

“What if someone walks in?” he asked.

“You’ll hide.” I shrugged. “Or I’ll say I forced you to stay.”

“I don’t think people will see it that way.” A smile was curving up his lips. “But okay. I’ll stay if you insist.”

“I do.” I grinned and looked around. “You should probably change.”

“Into what? One of your nighties? I’ll pass. Thanks anyway.” He slipped off his shoes and placed them under the window.

“Hugo was trying to mess up my room the other day and left some of his in here.”

“No.”

I raised a brow. “Why not?”

Scorpius looked at the pile of clothes I presented. A pair of jeans. Gym shorts. T-shirts with crude slogans. Quidditch shirts. Nothing from a department store and certainly nothing of the quality Scorpius was used to wearing. He grimaced.

This made me laugh. “You have got to be joking,” I said. “Just put on the gym shorts and the Finches shirt.”

He was bouncing on his toes. “I’ll sleep in this, thank you.”

I raised a brow. “No, you won’t. You’ll sleep in this. Thanks for the offer though.”

“You’re pushy.” Scorpius shot me a glare and grabbed the shorts and shirt in irritation. “Just know I’m not comfortable with this situation. Or you.”

I rolled my eyes. “Yeah, yeah.” I turned so he could change and I put on my own gym shorts and a t-shirt from when Dad and I got second place at a Father-Daughter Day competition a few years prior.

Eugh, I was such a horrible daughter.

When I turned back, I burst out laughing. Scorpius looked way more than just uncomfortable. It was clear he didn’t remember the last time he wore a plain cotton t-shirt and shorts. His body was stiff and his nose wrinkled.

“I severely dislike you right now,” he grumbled.

I beamed. “That’s the way it ought to be.” I flipped off the main light and got into bed.

“Do you have a blanket so I can sleep on the floor?” Scorpius looked around and peeked in the closet to see if there were any spares. There was one, so he spread it out beside the bed. He grabbed a stuffed animal that had been perched on the dresser to use as a pillow.

The room was big enough for a few people to sleep comfortably, but the floor wasn’t exactly made for it. The carpeting was old and worn and would probably feel like sleeping on concrete. Or the floor of that shed.

I pulled the covers up to my middle and turned out the bedside lamp so we were bathed in darkness.

And silence.

I snuggled down into the pillows. “Are you comfortable?”

“Glad there’s air conditioning. It’s hot outside.” Scorpius was rolling around on the ground and groaned at one point.

I bit my lip. Part of me wanted to offer to share a bed with him since he was uncomfortable and we had fallen asleep with each other in the shed, so how different could it be? Well, my parents could walk in, for one. We could get uncomfortable again, for two.

“Scorpius?” I said softly.

“Hmm?”

“Do you want to...” I trailed off, feeling like an idiot.

“Do I want to what?”

“Nevermind.”

“Yes.”

“What?”

“I said yes. The answer is yes.” He was grinning. I could tell.

“Okay.” I was glad it was dark. My face was on fire again.

The side of the bed lowered as Scorpius crawled in beside me. He was warm. I felt his shoulder touch mine and he sank down into the pillows. “Your bed is comfortable,” he noted.

“Yep.” I was chewing on my bottom lip awkwardly.

My entire body was on fire. Heart beating quickly. He was right next to me. His arm was touching mine. Everything was hazy.

“So, Juliet, are you comfortable?” Scorpius asked, clearly trying to break the tension.

“Your fish girlfriend is going to get jealous, you know.” I nudged him.

He nudged me back. So I elbowed him. Then he grabbed my sides and I shrieked with laughter, shoving him away and almost off the side of the bed. He snatched my wrist to keep himself up, pulling me closer.

And then on top of him.

Oh, Godric. Why. Why. Why.

I could barely see the outline of his face. My chest was pressed against his and I could feel his heart racing. Or maybe that was mine? I couldn’t even breathe anymore. One of his hands was on my hip, the other on my arm. He didn’t move. My hand was splayed on his shoulder, the other to the left of his head on the pillow. My hair was scattered onto his collar bone. My eyes moved to his lips.

As soon as it happened, we leapt apart. I almost flew off the other side of the bed, he scrambled to sit up.

“Sorry,” Scorpius stammered. “I was just trying not to fall.”

“Yeah!” I squeaked. “That’s fine. Didn’t want you to fall or anything.” Let’s all just carry watermelons.

“We should go to sleep.”

My heart was racing. Fat chance. “Yeah, that sounds good.”

Scorpius slid back down into the bed. From the light under the door, I could see his chest rising and falling rapidly, pulling against the t-shirt.

I moved back beside him. This wasn’t the most comfortable position I’d ever been in, especially since I was almost off the bed, on my back, shoulders even with his. Why must he have such broad shoulders? Get your own side of the sodding bed.

“Are you okay?” Scorpius asked, looking over. He must have noticed me fidgeting.

“Trying to get comfortable.” I shrugged and groaned a little when my elbow knocked into his. Bugger.

“Here – erm,” Scorpius mumbled, scooting away. Then he moved his arm around me and pulled me to his chest, same as he had done in the shed. He held me tighter this time and I draped one leg over his to get comfortable.

My eyes closed right away once I draped an arm over his stomach.

“Rose?” he asked.

“Hmm?”

“I think you should be a painter.”

I raised a brow. “Oh?”

“I think you should do what you love,” Scorpius explained. “Everything is hard, but that’s what makes it worth it.”

“And you don’t think painting for other people’s needs will make it horrible?” I asked.

“You just have to balance it.” Scorpius sighed, which moved my hair a little. “You have to balance doing things for other people with doing things for yourself.”

I smiled. “Pretty sure you just sounded like a Hufflepuff.”

“Don’t tell my mates.”

I chuckled. “As long as you don’t tell mine I’m sharing my bed with a Slytherin.”

Scorpius squeezed my shoulders. “I think they can make an exception.”

“You haven’t spoken to Dom,” I noted. “She’ll want to know your whole life story before making exceptions. My family is very protective over me and who I share my bed with.”

“Then I’ll just have to win them over, won’t I?”




A/N: Thank you all for the kind words so far on this story. It's really a great deal of fun to write! Thoughts? 

UP NEXT: Scorpius learns to paint. Sort of. 


Chapter 8: Paint
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For Penguinbuddy23. Thank you so much for notifying me (twice) that my work had been plagiarized by someone else. It means a lot to have people looking out for me and supporting what I do. 




Day Thirteen

“Cupcake? Breakfast is ready.”

I jerked awake. My face was still on Scorpius’ chest and he was still passed out. I sat up. Shit. That was my dad’s voice. In the hallway. The doorknob turned.

So I did what any caring, helpful girl would do.

I shoved Scorpius off the side of the bed with a loud thud.

And then Dad walked in the room. I coughed loudly to cover up and groaning from injuries I may have given Scorpius.

“Morning,” he said, his face a little pink. He walked over and sat on the edge of my bed, hair still damp from a shower.

“Morning.” I scooted close to him and put my head on his shoulder. Yep. Suck up time.

He put a freckled arm around me. That was one thing I got from him – freckles on my arms and shoulders. “We should talk, huh?”

“Probably.” I shrugged a little, feeling odd that Scorpius could hear this entire conversation.

“You want to tell me what’s going on?” Dad asked.

I bit my lip. The honest answer to that question was an astounding NO. But I had always been close to my dad. I told him everything. Maybe he was so disappointed because this was the first time I really hadn’t been honest with him. And it was about a boy.

“What did Hugo tell you?”

“Nevermind that. I want to hear it from you.”

I was afraid of that. “Well, I haven’t been going on all of the walks alone,” I explained slowly, looking at the floor. “But it’s not every walk and it’s not all the time. A lot of times I really have been just wandering around the forest. I even found these tasty berries.”

“Sharing is caring,” Dad noted with a small smile.

I chuckled. “I’m sorry I didn’t say anything,” I said. “I didn’t want to worry you. Or make you go to town looking for a shotgun.”

He grinned wider at that. “So what is it then?” he asked. “Is this just a friend? Do you fancy him? I need to know if I should set aside money for that gun.”

My cheeks reddened. “We’re friends,” I said.

Dad examined me. I had a feeling he saw right through me.

I didn’t fancy Scorpius Malfoy. I really didn’t. I just didn’t quite know how I felt about him. If there was something there or if it was just a friendship of two people that had spent a lot of time in each other’s company for the past two weeks.

And the most confusing part was I had no idea what he was thinking. Ever.

Jerk.

Dad ruffled my hair. “All right, cheesecake,” he said. “But I want you to tell me things from now on, okay? And spend more time here. Why don’t you bring him by sometime? Tomorrow for dinner or something?”

My eyes widened. How would they react to it being Scorpius? Dad and Mr. Malfoy never got on at school and they still weren’t exactly mates nowadays. “Yeah,” I said. “I’ll ask him.”

Dad grinned. “Good. Okay, what are you going to do today?”

Hmm.

He nudged me. “Hugo wants us to take him into town,” he replied. “Go have fun. Be back by dinner.” He kissed my forehead. “I’ll have the shotgun by then.” Dad shot me a cheeky wink and left.

Scorpius sat up. His hair was an absolute mess. “Should we even talk about the fact that I may die tomorrow?”

I laughed, cheeks still on fire. “That leaves you one day to live,” I told him. “In which you will learn to paint.”

“We’re still doing that?” He groaned.

I was thankful he didn’t mention anything about the actual conversation. Specifically the part about whether or not I fancied him.

“We are.” I looked around for a moment. “We should go down to the beach so we can paint the lake. I can show you how to do water.”

“Thrilling.” He rolled his eyes.

*

We agreed to meet a few hours later at the lake. I ate breakfast with my family and showered, and he went home to do whatever it was he needed to do. I didn’t pry.

I got there first, tugging a box of paints and brushes, along with two sketchbooks with thick pages. It was beautiful outside. The sky was blue and the view of the trees and mountains was unrivaled by anywhere except maybe Hogwarts.

I began rooting through the box for the correct colors, when I heard some twigs snap.

“I brought lunch,” Scorpius said, kicking some branches out of his way. “I figured it was better than suggesting we catch another fish.”

“Fish-zilla,” I noted with a smile. He had the same large basket with him, which he placed behind me in the sand. “I brought the paint, so you’re not getting out if it.”

“You saw my abilities,” he said, groaning. “You’re really not going to get anywhere with me. I promise. It’ll be a waste of paint.”

“I’ll get over it.” I grinned.

“Maybe I’ll just take a round with your Dad and that gun instead.”

“Why are you so afraid of painting?” I asked, looking at him.

“I just don’t want to.”

“It’s because you aren’t good at it,” I said quickly. “You aren’t good at it and you hate that.”

“I don’t hate it...”

“You do!” I countered. “You hate failure.”

“What? You’re absurd.” Scorpius’ face reddened. “I can fail just fine. In fact, I fail all the time.”

I eyed him. “On what?”

He paused. “Things.”

“Right.” I shoved a pad of paper into his hands and motioned to the ground. “You’re not getting out of this. You’re going to learn and be a better person because of it. And then your modesty about yourself will extend to painting.” I rolled my eyes and sat beside him, placing the box between us.

Scorpius narrowed his eyes bitterly. Clearly he was used to getting his way and getting out of things that may make him look like a fool. Considering he had spent the better part of two weeks making me look like an idiot jumping off waterfalls and stripping in a shed, it was his turn.

I spent a few minutes introducing him to the colors and pointing out different shades in the trees and water. He said the water was blue. I told him it was a greenish brown that reflected the blue sky in places. He looked irritated. He said the trees were green. I told him they were mostly brown with some greens and black between the branches where it looked into the forest. He looked even more irritated.

I showed him how to mix colors. He just swirled two colors together and called it a day. I cringed. But at least he was trying.

It grew warmer as we sat on the beach, pausing after we got through mixing to share a sandwich and crisps.

Scorpius seemed less grumpy as time went on and squinted his eyes in an attempt to see more than just blue water and green trees. He pulled his legs up under him, straining to be good at painting. Then he would shoot me a dagger-esque look when I giggled.

“It’s not so bad, is it?” I asked. I had already gotten a foundation down for the base colors in the water.

“It’s not good either,” Scorpius mumbled in response. He had been trying to mix blue with green with brown and came up with something not very attractive. “How do you see these things?”

“You just have to look past everything else.” I shrugged.

He looked over. “What do you mean?”

I paused, pressing my lips together in concentration. How could I explain it. “You just have to take what everyone else sees and look past it. It’s an entirely different world.”

Scorpius met my eyes. His were intense, suggesting he was deep in thought. “Like with people?” he asked.

“I guess.”

He took his brush and ran it through his mixture of colors. “Can you add to it then? This different world.”

“I don’t see why not. People build things all the time.” I looked out to the lake. Small waves were flickering onto the shore. “You should be able to add something beautiful to something already beautiful.”

“If you insist.” Scorpius placed the end of his brush against my cheek, slowly drawing a line of paint down to my chin. “There.”

“You just painted on my face,” I said, dumbfounded.

“Here.” He smiled a little and painted what felt like a star on my other cheek. Then Scorpius brushed away a few stray hairs and admired his work. “I could be a painter after all.”

I was quiet, but dipped my brush into a teal and did the same, dragging my brush from his ear down his jaw and up the other side. I was startled to find him staring at me and forced myself not to blush. It was just painting.

I drew a flower on his cheek bone, carrying the petals toward his eyes. Scorpius had very blond eyelashes. They were longer than I expected them to be. He didn’t flinch. Instead, he kept focused on me as I worked. Each petal. I mixed the teal with white to do the highlights on the flower and circled the stem down toward his lips.

Scorpius raised his brush again, moving it down my arm. It tickled, but not enough to make me laugh. Just enough to make me bite my lip.

I mixed black in with the colors, creating a teal-gray combination. Then a little more white so much that it neared his eye color. I slid the brush in small motions down his cheek, creating short lines. Then flitted horizontal lines down his neck, stopping at the collar of his shirt.

Scorpius moved his own brush to my jaw bone and then down my neck, sending chills up my spine. My lips parted instantly, heart racing. He dipped the brush and ran it along the length of my collar bone.

My entire body was on fire. It was like my other senses were dulled and all I could do was feel the strange sensation of the bristles and paint against my skin.

When I met his eyes, it was an explosion of nerves in my stomach. It wasn’t his normal look. It was intense and hungry. Scorpius brought his brush back up my neck, my chin, and stopped just under my lips. His eyes flickered down.

My brush fell into the sand.

Scorpius’ lips were on mine before I knew what was happening. His hand tangled in my hair, the other on my hip as he pulled me to him. His grip was aggressive and he kissed me hard, but in a wanting way. He tasted like spearmint and chocolate and I never wanted it to stop.

I moved my arms around his neck, tugging him closer to kiss him. I was the one that parted lips first, my fingers moving into his hair. It was soft. Everything about him was textured, but his hair was soft. I could barely keep ahold of it.

Or anything. Or my mind.

Scorpius’ hand moved to my back, pulling my body against his. I was nearly in his lap now. He kept the firm grip, unwilling to let me go. I could barely breathe. Judging by the way his chest rose and fell, he was suffering from the same complications. Everything was in a daze, but I knew I didn’t want to stop kissing him.

We fell back into the sand, me over top of him like we had been the night before, only this time our lips were locked. My hair was around his face, probably streaked with paint, and his arms were around my middle. Tight. Aggressive, but not painful.

I kept kissing him. He didn’t pull away. I didn’t pull away. I didn’t want to pull away. I couldn’t remember the last time a boy kissed like that – passionate, but not sloppy. It wasn’t until his teeth found my bottom lip in a way that made my whole body almost melt that I gasped and pulled away.

To my surprise, it wasn’t my face that was on fire. It was his.

“I’m sorry,” Scorpius said quickly, nervously. He relaxed when he saw my smile. “Maybe I’m not.” He paused. “Should I be sorry?”

I shook my head. “I don’t think so.” I sat up, still on top of him, my legs on either side in the sand. “Unless you want to be.”

“We’re going in circles.” His hands rested on the tops of my thighs.

“You have a flower on your face.” I smiled a little, sheepishly. I leaned down and traced it with my finger, down to his lips.

“You have a great deal of untalented scribbles on your face,” he told me.

My heart was still beating painfully against my chest. “I want to kiss you again.”

“I’m not sure why you stopped,” Scorpius replied, pulling me down against his body again.

*

The paints were forgotten at our feet, paper tossed off toward the basket. We kissed for a while. I wasn’t sure how long, but I knew I was out of breath more than once and twisted my fingers in his shirt a few times. Everything was a blur. I didn’t mind.

Eventually he rolled away from me (at one point my back was to the beach and his torso was on topof mine) and toward the remains of the fire we had built a few times. He was quiet, but I could hear him attempting to regulate his breathing. And fail.

My gaze focused on the sky. A few clouds had appeared, blocking out the sun for moments on end, but no sign of a storm. Regardless, I was thankful the trees shaded me. Even without the sun I was hot and muggy. Other reasons made that more obvious. Sweat was not an attractive feature.

I attempted to calm myself down, but all I could think about was kissing him. On a beach. Snogging Scorpius Malfoy.

Before this vacation, I had barely strung a sentence together to speak to him in years. And now we were snogging on a beach.

I tried not to let the stereotypical girl part of me creep in, but part of me wondered what snogging meant. With my last boyfriend, he snogged me and then asked me out during the same outing. Did that mean Scorpius was going to ask me to be his girlfriend?

But I didn’t want to be his girlfriend. Not that Scorpius was a bad bloke, but I didn’t exactly feel like we knew each other well enough to have a title. Besides, we knew each other here, not at home. What would it be like when we got home?

Still. What did it all mean?

It meant he was bloody gorgeous. And a good kisser. Godric. Dom was going to hear about this.

Scorpius rolled onto his stomach and grabbed the basket. He pulled out a watch and cringed. “Ah,” he said.

“Hmm?”

“I should head back,” he said, sitting up and beginning to put things back into the basket. Empty wrappers. Dip. Napkins. “I told Mum I’d spend a little time with her tonight.”

“Okay.” I nodded, but didn’t move.

“I’ll see you, Juliet.” Scorpius nodded to me and headed into the trees.

And just like that, he was gone.

*

It was funny how confused a girl could get in a matter of hours. The very same boy that had made my heart slam into my ribcage had that very same day made me question everything while in my bed, staring at the ceiling.

I didn’t want to question everything. I had absolutely no desire to question anything at all. Mostly, I wanted to have a good vacation, spend time with someone my own age, and smile. A lot. Right now I was tossing and turning, I had skipped dessert, and my heart was racing. Not in a good way.

I didn’t fancy Scorpius Malfoy.

Let’s just get that out of the way right now.

But I didn’t not like him. And just thinking about him pulling me onto his arms made something flutter in my stomach I wasn’t comfortable with.

Like remembering first dates, first kisses, and first questions.

I rolled again, staring at the window. It was dark now.

And what was with him leaving? At one point I had been on top of him, hair tangled in his. Then he just leaves? What was with that?

Was it not good?

That couldn’t be it. Right? could it? Bugger! What if I was a shit kisser?

I was probably a shit kisser.

If Dom was here I could ask her. Not to snog me, but at least to get an opinion. At least have someone to vent to about how quick he was to leave and how confused I was. I groaned and rolled again. This was a mess.

It would be so much easier if Scorpius Malfoy wouldn’t have kissed me.

And then kissed me again. And again.

It would also be so much easier if Scorpius Malfoy wasn’t such a bloody good kisser.

“Rose?” Mum poked her head in the door. “Is everything okay? You barely ate at dinner.”

“It’s all right.”

I felt the bed move as she sat down. “Want to talk about it?”

“Not particularly,” I said in my usual seventeen-year-old angsty way.

“Okay, I’ll rephrase.” Mum moved around to the other side of the bed and sat beside me. She smoothed the hair away from my face. “Need to talk about it?”

“I feel guilty for talking about it,” I explained. “I shouldn’t be concerned about it. I should be out there spending time with you lot.”

“Oh? With Hugo? By the way, he’s given some colorful nicknames to the video game characters. I’m not sure you’d be better off in there. Your father has gotten ear plugs.” She started running her fingers through my hair. “It’s the boy?”

I nodded. “I don’t understand boys.”

“Your father told me he invited him to dinner tomorrow,” she said.

I nodded again. “I don’t know if he’ll be here,” I replied, pressing my lips together hard. He’d heard my dad ask, but hadn’t said anything about it. If he would come. Or not. Or if he was going to snog me out by the lake again.

I hated feeling like this. Like I was waiting on him.

I didn’t like waiting on people.

“I hope he comes,” Mum noted. “He’s captured your attention enough for me to be curious.” I shot her a look. “What? I’m serious. You’re usually barely interested in boys other than trying to best your cousins and the few scattered boyfriends you’ve told me about.”

At least that was positive. When I didn’t have Dom or my other mates to talk to, I could talk to Mum about boys, though she wasn’t exactly keen on sharing information, given that her and Dad had been together since she was my age. That, and she always told me that reading, classes, and friendships were more important than boys.

What happens when you start to snog a boy that was your friend?

“Is he a Muggle?” Mum asked. “Muggle boys can be very endearing.”

I shook my head.

“Really?” she said, surprised. “Fancy that. How did you find out? That must have been an interesting encounter.” The questions reminded me of an interview for a glossy magazine.

“I knew him already,” I said. My face was burning.

“Oh.” She pressed her lips together in the same way that I always did, still smoothing back my hair. “You think it’ll be okay?”

I shrugged. I couldn’t stop thinking about that kiss. In fact, it angered me that I couldn’t stop thinking about that kiss. All I wanted to do was think about anything - everything - other than that kiss.

“It will be okay.” Mum leaned down and kissed my forehead. “I know you. Any boy is lucky to be so much as smitten with you.” She chuckled. “And if not, your father got a gun.”

“No!” I cried, sitting up. “Did he really?”

“Of course not.” Mum rolled her eyes. “Do you really think I would let him get a gun? Man can barely handle a wand when he’s emotional. Like I would let him get a gun when his daughter is spending time with a boy. Alone.”

I thought about how Dad questioned the security in the girls’ dormitory at school when I was a first year. She had a point.

“You’re really okay with him coming to dinner?” I asked.

“Sure.”

“And you’re not sore with me I’ve been spending some time with a guy without telling you?”

“I was upset you were lying,” Mum said. “And you’re still not exactly out of the water, but I can tell it means something to you. Whether that is just a friendship or something more.”

I shot her a dangerous look. “I just want it to be simple again,” I said.

“Here’s a piece of advice,” Mum said, leaning forward and kissing my forehead again before standing. She turned off the light. “Learn quickly that life will never be as simple as it is today.” She closed the door with a soft snap and I was left alone to my thoughts.

Alone with my thoughts of Scorpius’ lips on mine.

And his sudden, strange exit.

Day Fourteen

I jerked awake late the next morning. I was a little sweaty (gross) and I knew it was later than I usually woke. I realized quickly what had done it when I heard another rapping against the window. “What the--?”

I flew onto my other side, ready to maul someone, but my jaw fell.

Scorpius was on the other side of my closed window.

Dressed in a collared shirt and tie.

And I was in kittens again. Bugger.

I moved to the other side of the room and pulled open the window. “What’re you doing here?” I asked.

“Am I late?” he asked nervously, adjusting and readjusting his tie.

“For what?” I checked the clock. It was ten in the morning. Fog was still covering a lot of the mountains.

“Dinner. I didn’t know when you had dinner.”

“Pretty sure it’s morning...” I raised a brow. “Why are you really here?”

Scorpius met my eyes, adjusting his tie again. “I left. I had to, erm, get away.”

So I was being used as a distraction again. Fancy that.

I jerked my head toward the bed. “Get in here. What happened?”

“She’s coughing up blood,” Scorpius explained, moving inside and plopping onto the bed. “They had to call in a nurse this morning.”

“Oh.” I chewed on my bottom lip for a moment, watching him. He kept running his fingers up and down the material of his tie. “On the plus side, you’re almost a professional painter.”

The look he shot me send shivers of pleasure down my spine. It was a cocky smirk, but not in an arrogant way. His eyes weren’t on mine, though. They were on my lips.

Which made me all the more nervous.

I cleared my throat. “You can blow off dinner, you know. You don’t have to hang out with my family. Or even let them know it’s you.” I hoisted myself onto my desk, not wanting to get too close to him.

“You don’t want me to meet them?” Scorpius asked. He kept fiddling with the blanket, pressing his palms against the fabric.

“It’s not that.”

“It’s fine.” He shrugged. Then he went back to screwing with his tie. “I guess it would be weird anyway, wouldn’t it? Our parents being old childhood rivals. Me being who I am. You being who you are.”

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“I don’t know. I’m just talking.” Scorpius looked away. “I’m sorry I left like I did.”

“Hmm?” I pretended to have no idea what he was talking about. My pretending was terrible, however, and once my cheeks started to burn I saw him roll his eyes.

“The way I left,” he stated firmly. “After we snogged.” He paused. “In the sand.” Another pause. “By a lake.” Yet another pause. “Together.”

I fought off the blush. “Yes, well, I’m sure you had a good reason to kiss any run.” I had to keep my face from turning colors. Good thing the bitterness in my voice was the perfect distraction.

Was I really this bitter about it?

Scorpius bristled a little. “Are you mad at me?”

“I don’t know what I am.” My fingers found the back of my neck, rubbing it.

“Because I don’t tell you everything.” He sounded just as irritated.

“You don’t tell me much of anything,” I shot back, moving to grab the edge of the desk. Who was he to start getting defensive when he snogged me for ages and then bailed into the woods? He left me laying in the sand, lips plump and heart racing.

“Excuse me for wanting to keep some things private,” Scorpius snapped.

“Should have kept your bloody lips private,” I said, hopping off the desk and heading for the window. I needed some air. My face was burning with regret.

“Don’t give that to me!” Scorpius cried, moving to his feet. “It takes two to snog, Juliet, and you were the second part.” He grabbed my arm, spinning me around. “I didn’t leave because I wanted to, okay?” His eyes were intense and unforgiving.

“Then why did you?” I said, squinting ruthlessly. I snatched my arm back.

“Because I bloody fucking had to,” he said. He grabbed my shoulders and shoved me into the wall beside the window, pressing his body into mine, and kissed me hard.

All I wanted to do was shove him away and hit him for having the audacity to leave me yesterday. For kissing me and then confusing the hell out of me.

But as my back hit the wall and his hand moved to my face, I was frozen. My heart began to fly with each aggressive kiss and soon my arms were around him and my hands clutched the fabric of his collared shirt, successfully untucking it just to get a better hold.

I hated that he had this hold on me, but he did. Maybe I was curious to see what would happen, if anything. Maybe I didn’t want anything to happen and we could just go home two different people who got close in the Smoky Mountains. Or maybe I just wanted to be pushed up against a wall and kissed like the Muggle movies.

Scorpius pulled away after a few minutes, breathing hard. His gaze was on mine when I opened my eyes, but he said nothing. He was still trying to catch his breath and his hands were tangled in my hair and resting on my hip.

“I’m still mad at you,” I said softly, teeth trailing along my bottom lip.

“You have every right to be.” He leaned in again, but this time only to give me a simple, small kiss. “Just don’t leave, okay?”

I didn’t know what he meant, so I shrugged.

“Do I look okay?” He finally moved away, adjusting his tie and retucking his shirt. “Do you think your dad will want to kill me off?”

“You don’t look too threatening.” I shrugged again and made my way (shakily) over to my bed. “No tattoos or tribal signs or anything. You should be okay in terms of fatality.”

“I’ll reschedule my appointment for that tribal arm band tattoo,” he said, frowning and sat next to me. To my surprise, he slid his hand into mine. “I’m sorry for being so difficult. You really shouldn’t bother with me.”

As much as I wanted to agree with him, I couldn’t. Not when he was going home to his mum with an unknown disease and his dad on the verge of a heartbreak meltdown. Part of me knew it would always be difficult to stay mad at the boy I met in the boat.

*

Scorpius stayed in my room for a few hours, which was easy since my parents left to get some groceries from the general store and get lunch. We layed in my bed and talked about things like fishing and silly childhood memories and our favorite dives while swimming. We stayed away from the heavy topics like family, relationships, and personal issues.

I was glad, but at the same time, he made me curious.

Especially since he spent the entire time holding my hand as he rubbed his thumb against it.

I left him in there around six to check on my parents.

“You missed a good grocery run,” Dad said with a smirky smile once I walked into the kitchen. “That general store is packed with goodies.”

“Your father found cheese flavored banana bread,” Mum mumbled.

I wrinkled my nose.

“No regrets!” Dad cried. He was opening something I assumed would be the mentioned bread, but it looked like a lump of meatloaf with yellow mold. Not okay.

“Did Hugo enjoy himself?” I asked.

Mum snorted with laughter. “He stayed in the car,” she said. “Then whined when we asked him to carry groceries.”

“What a family man.” I rolled my eyes and plopped down at the table. “So. Um. Dad.”

“So. Um. RoseyPosey.”

“Remember what you said yesterday? About inviting that … boy?”

Dad looked up from his cheese banana bread. “He’s coming?” he asked, his mouth full. He looked like a true Weasley.

“Yes, he’s coming.” I blushed.

My parents exchanged glances.

“Change of plans?” Dad offered. “We’re going to need to do something good to entertain Rose’s new beau.”

“He’s not my beau!” I squeaked.

“Put your mold bread away,” Mum said, moving to the fridge. “When’s he arriving, Rose?”

I thought about it. Technically, he was in my room looking through an old photo album from my first few years at Hogwarts to see if he was in the background of any pictures. We’d already found him in two grinning like a freak.

“Soon I think,” I replied. “I can just tell him to come later. Or tomorrow. Or never.” Yes, never sounded much better. I could get used to that.

“Soon is fine.” Dad shot me a shit-eating grin and moved to help Mum with dinner. “I’ll put on something decent.” Considering he was wearing an old gardening t-shirt and lime green shorts, I figured that was a positive.

“Are you guys going to be okay?” I said, staring them down. At one point they told one of Hugo’s catches he wet the bed until thirteen.

He was fourteen at the time.

“Do you mean to say there are occasions where we’re not okay?” Dad faked an offended look. “I am simply aghast. Look at this look. Aghast.”

“I am putting money on that being on your word of the day owl,” I muttered, moving back into the hallway. “He’ll be here soon. At least try not to make me look like an idiot.” I opened the bedroom door and closed it in a hurry, reapplying the silencing charm. “I apologize in advance.”

Scorpius looked up. He was sprawled out on the bed still leafing through the photo album. “For what? Dinner? Is it going to be burnt? Should I conveniently order out for after?”

I moved beside him on the bed. “No, just my parents. I haven’t exactly … done this before. Well, not like this.”

“Previous men not measure up?” Scorpius smirked.

“Quit being a sod.” I shoved him. “It’s just dinner. It’s just my parents. You’re my friend. It’s going to be fine.”

“Exactly.” He smiled and nudged me. “So you have nothing to apologize for.”

Except that I did.

*

Hugo Weasley. My wonder of a brother.

“Is he almost here?” he asked, glancing out the back door onto the deck.

“I don’t know.” I stared him down. “Don’t say anything stupid.”

“Like ask him if he’s your boyfriend?” Hugo said.

“He’s not.” I smacked him on the back of his head. “We’re friends. We’ve been hanging out. That is that.”

“Snogging?” Hugo said.

I kept my voice steady. “No,” I replied. “Now bloody shut up and be nice.”

“Watch it,” Mum warned. “Get along, will you?”

“Impossible,” we sat in unison.

Then Scorpius was at the front door, which I didn’t even know he knew about, and I pulled it open. Suddenly terrified.

He was in the same collared shirt and tie as before, but this time he held wildflowers. I recognized them from the path to the creek. He looked nervous, feet brushing against the concrete of the porch.

“You look great,” he said quickly, as if I wouldn’t give him time to talk.

I looked down. Navy blue sundress. Flats. Hair down even though the humidity was already attacking. “Thanks,” I replied. I lowered my voice. “You sure about this?”

Scorpius raked his fingers through his blond hair. “Not really,” he replied with a nervous laugh. “Are you?”

“Not one bit.” I offered a small smile and took the wildflowers, pausing to smell them. They didn’t ease the nerves at all, but they were wonderful. And the perfect combination of pinks and purples and blues. I wondered if he had been paying attention while I talked about paint. Moreso than to my body language.

“And if they hate me?” He asked, following me into the foyer and letting the door close behind him.

“Then you run. Run fast.” I smirked. Then I took a deep breath (prompting him to do the same) and moved down the hall and into the kitchen.

My parents were at the island, chopping something. Dad had his apron on. Hugo was at the table.

Looking like Christmas came early.

“That’s Scorpius Malfoy!” Hugo cried, pointing like an asshole.

Cue: Blush. Not just from me, but from Scorpius as well.

Dad dropped the knife in shock, but recovered quickly and placed it to the side of the cutting board. I wasn’t sure why Mum let him have a knife when I had a bloke coming over for dinner. As friends, but still. Not the point.

“Ah!” Mum said with a smile that couldn’t have been as large as it was. She moved around the island and extended her hand immediately. “Scorpius, so it is! It’s great to see you again.”

Scorpius shook her hand, remaining calm except for the color of his face, and smiled. “It’s a pleasure,” he said. “Mr. Weasley.” He nodded to my father, which my father returned in a polite fashion.

Come on, Dad. You can do it.

“Scorpius, you remember my brother, Hugo.” I pointed, tone forced for a reason.

“My friends call you Scar.” Hugo smirked arrogantly.

“They sound like keepers,” Scorpius noted, returning the smirk.

Dad choked into his drink, trying to turn it into a cough but it kept going as a laugh. Hugo shot him a look. “What? Your mates are horrible.”

“It smells wonderful,” Scorpius told my mother with a large smile. “Thank you again for having me.”

I remembered him being able to charm people at Hogwarts with a smile or a kind compliment, but I’d almost forgotten while we were in the woods how he could relax a situation with a comment.

“I’m sorry I forgot a vase,” he added, nodding to the wildflowers.

“Oh!” Mum said, grabbing the flowers out of my hands. “These are beautiful, aren’t they, Ron? I’m sure there’s a vase around here.” She started rooting around in the cupboards.

“They look like forest flowers,” Hugo muttered.

“They are,” I said proudly. “Which makes them more beautiful.”

“That’s not right.”

I stepped hard on my brother’s foot. “You’re not right.”

“Oh, so hurt.”

Scorpius coughed to disguise his laugh. “I got them by a creek not too far away. That’s where I first ran into Rose, actually.”

Dad’s ears seemed to perk up. “That’s right. So I didn’t know your family would be here of all places for vacation. Fancy you two running into each other.”

“He was trying to fish,” I noted as we took seats on the same side of the table. Hugo was across from us and Dad to my left. Mum finished getting the flowers into a vase and placed it in the center of the table.

“Trying?” Dad arched a brow.

“I had a net and high hopes,” Scorpius explained, laughing.

“Very high hopes, as I saw no fish.” I met his eyes, smiling for a moment before standing to help Mum with dinner. She made a delicious-smelling casserole with greens and thankfully no cheese-flavored banana bread.

“So Scorpius,” Dad said in a very dignified sort of way, “Do you and Rose talk much at school? I haven’t really heard your name around the house on breaks. Then again, that could be because Dom causes enough drama to fill my evenings.” He put on a fake, high voice. “Dom started snogging this boy and I kind of might have sort of liked him and then he told me he kind of liked me, but was with Dom and then she said you snooze you lose--”

I kicked him under the table.

“We don’t, actually,” Scorpius replied with a kind smile. I appreciated that he didn’t laugh, though I knew he wanted to. “Since we’re in different houses, it was hard to solidify a friendship. We did meet on the boats into school though.”

Dad looked at Mum. “Pretty sure we first started talking when I hated you.”

“Yes, well, you had dirt on your nose.” Mum shrugged.

“How’s your father?” Dad asked Scorpius, helping himself to some food. I had to hand it to him for keeping his cool.

“He’s all right.” Scorpius’ jaw tightened. “Bit of a family crisis, I’m afraid, but things are all right.”

Dad paused for a moment, casting a glance at Hugo. “I read in the paper,” he said. “Rehabilitation?” It was a simple enough question and one that Hugo seemed to ignore, as he was now stuffing his face. Dad looked strangely serious.

Scorpius nodded lightly.

“Helping?”

He shrugged. “Too early to tell,” he replied.

Dad nodded and concentrated on his dinner. I did the same. Scorpius shifted in his seat.

“Rose wet the bed until she was twelve!” cried Hugo.

Instant blush.

Scorpius looked over. “Did you really?”

“NO.” I crossed my arms. “Hugo, get out.”

My parents were rolling with laughter. Thanks a lot.

“I would be okay if you did,” Scorpius interjected.

“I didn’t.”

“It’s nothing to be ashamed of,” he said.

“I hate you.”

“I quite like him,” Hugo said to no one at all.




A/N: KISS ACTION YEEEYAH! I'm sure someone squee'd. Someone better have. I'd love to snog a boy that looked like Scorpius while painting on the beach. Holla. 

Opinions? 

UP NEXT: Scorpius the Knight, plans are for Ravenclaws, and a fashion show. 


Chapter 9: Insecure
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Don't sweat the small stuff. 






Scorpius Malfoy was a charmer.

He kept the conversation going all through dinner. He steered it away from the relationship subject once Hugo got bored and brought it up, discussed his own success at Hogwarts, and also detailed a lot of our time together in the mountains. Of course he left out the snogging and jumping off of waterfalls, but otherwise he told some relatively interesting stories.

No mention of the shed. Or falling asleep in my bed. Or the kiss on the beach.

I had to stop thinking about that.

When he left, my mother was all smiles. She kept looking at the bouquet of wildflowers in the center of the table and adjusting it so the most beautiful flowers faced the kitchen island. When I pointed this out, she called me daft and told me to get lost.

Hugo went to sleep early since he had a headache and Dad ruffled my hair and said that didn’t go as bad as he thought it would.

“I didn’t even get to break the tension with an uncomfortable story about you,” he said, disappointed.

“You mean the one where I used to walk around in my underthings at Uncle George’s shop wasn’t bad enough?” I was still fuming about that. Scorpius got a kick out of it.

“Not at all. I should have been better prepared for tonight.” He gave me a kiss on the forehead and retreated upstairs with Mum.

After salvaging a little ice cream, I felt my way down the dark hallway and into my room.

It was an adventure of a night. Sure, I’d brought a few previous boyfriends home to meet my parents. It was always uncomfortable and always filled with awkward silences. That was the extent of boys not related to be meeting my family. Besides my cousins’ friends. Or Hugo’s, but no one really counted them because they couldn’t count themselves.

Scorpius was all smiles, charismatic, and made them laugh more often than not. He joined in on teasing me just enough so that it was endearing and not obnoxious.

I groaned. What was his game?

I finished off the ice cream, content, and placed the empty bowl on the dresser near my door. At least I could finally get a little sleep without being concerned about my family finding out who I was out with. I wondered what my parents were discussing.

Scorpius Malfoy. How was Rose spending time with a Malfoy?

I was just glad it wasn’t some family feud nonsense. Our families were on fine terms. They just weren’t the best of friends.

I changed into my kitten pajamas and crawled under the covers. Finally. Relaxation.

At least until the first rumble of thunder shook the house, jerking me awake three hours later.

The room was dark. Pitch black save for when the lightning illuminated my scattered belongings.

Great.

It was moving in slowly, everything shaking with each boom. I pulled the blankets up to my neck just as the rain began to fall. It splattered against the window in sheets, hammering away like an unwelcome guest.

I could do this, right?

Sure. Albus could do it. Why couldn’t I? We were in the mountains. Nothing could happen.

Except a tree falling on the house.

Or a flash flood from the lake? Except that was downhill. From the creek? Sure.

I jumped again, squeezing my eyes shut. Everything was shaking now, from my toes up into my fingertips. I hated this. The wind whistling against the leaves outside. Like the sick, pained howl of a dog. Crashes of thunder. Lightning. Cracks outside.

Was that a tree branch?

Godric.

I hated storms during the night. I couldn’t see anything. I didn’t know how bad it was. Or if it would just pass quickly. Or if it would circle over us until I couldn’t breathe.

I pulled the blankets around me, leaning up into the headboard. My eyes were on the window. I had no idea what I was looking for. It was like peering into the fridge when I wasn’t hungry. No purpose other than to see.

To see that I was petrified.

The fabric wasn’t enough to cling to. I hated storms. Hated. Hated. Why did everything have to be so dark? Why was it horrible? Why was the thunder THIS loud? Really? Was that necessary?

WHY THE FUCK WAS SOMEONE HAMMERING ON MY WINDOW THIS IS HOW I DIE.

“Rose!”

I pulled down the blanket from over my face, gasping for breath. I didn’t know if I’d screamed or not. The thunder would have drowned it out regardless. I blinked. There was a figure outlined at the window, knocking relentlessly with the rain.

I rushed over, throwing it open. I wished I hadn’t, as I was immediately soaked from my face down to my middle. The rain was sideways and forced me to stagger back.

Scorpius moved inside quickly and slammed the window shut just as another crash of thunder echoed through the mountains.

“What’re you doing here?” I asked, glancing over to the clock. It was two in the morning.

Instead of answering, he grabbed his wand and quickly dried his drenched clothes. Then he released a sigh. “Freezing,” he said, smiling. “That walk was not pretty.”

I jumped when another bolt of lightning flickered through the room. “You just ran out in this?”

“Are you okay?” Scorpius’ eyes were on me. He used his wand to dry my front.

“What?” My fingers were finding it difficult to grasp the damn kitten pajamas I was wearing again. Just when I thought I was safe, he was there again.

He was fighting to catch his breath. He must have been running. “I asked if you were okay. I know you and storms don’t exactly see eye to eye.”

I stared. Then jumped, shrieking as a crack of thunder shook the house, forcing a picture frame off the wall. It shattered.

Scorpius grabbed me and pulled me against him, wrapping his arms around me. “I came to make sure you were okay,” he said. “Are you?”

I faltered.

“I didn’t think you would be. This one is nasty.” He kissed the top of my head. “C’mon. Let’s get you and your kittens into bed.” He ushered me toward the bed, drawing back the blankets so I could crawl under. Then, at the look I gave him, he smiled. “Yes, I’m coming.” He removed his shoes and moved beside me, wrapping his arms around me and pulling me close.

“I can’t believe you … “ I paused. “That’s like a thirty minute walk.”

Scorpius shrugged. He began moving his fingers through my hair. “It’s going to be fine,” he said softly. “So how did I do today? Did I pass?”

“You were very charming,” I replied with the tiniest of smiles, clinging to him as the thunder boomed again.

“Good to know. How about with mini-Weasley?”

I chuckled. “You did well,” I replied. I scooted closer to him, draping a leg over his and wrapping my arm over his middle. My hold tightened every time something scared me from outside. Which was often.

He was silent for a while before clearing his throat. “Dinner was great.”

“Mmhm.” I closed my eyes, fingers clutching his shirt. It was the same one he wore earlier.

“Thanks for inviting me.”

“Thanks for not believing Hugo about the bed-wetting.”

Scorpius laughed. His touch trailed down my back, making me shiver. He kissed the top of my head and leaned back into the pillows. “I’m also glad your father didn’t break out a shotgun.”

“You and me both. I don’t like blood, nor would I have liked cleaning it up.” I smirked a little.

He pulled me closer as the thunder echoed again. “Watch out for that glass in the morning.” He nodded toward the broken frame.

“Yes, Mum.”

“I’m trying to be nice.”

“Yes, Mum.”

“Stop that.”

“Okay, Mum.”

Scorpius poked me hard in the ribs.

“You’re a bint, Mum.”

He laughed, hugging me tighter before relaxing. After releasing a long sigh, he snuggled down into the blankets with me. The storm raged on outside, pounding against the windows, but he did well with his intention. My focus was on the steady beat of his heart and the way each of his fingers moved over my back.

“Rose?” Scorpius’ voice was a little strained, like he was fighting against the words.

“Yeah?”

His grip tightened on my back and pulled me on top of him. I gasped a little when I found myself staring down at him, hair falling onto his face.

He didn’t look arrogant or smarmy or even like the charismatic Scorpius I was used to. Instead, he had a serious expression, eyes trained on mine. His fingers moved to my hips, holding me there.

“Kiss me again,” he said softly. I almost didn’t hear him over the rain.

I did so, and it wasn’t like the hungry, aggressive kiss against the wall. It was slow. His fingers slid up my side, under my shirt, and his thumb pressed into my skin. Everything was slow.

I could taste the rain on his lips and feel each sharp intake of breath. I couldn’t concentrate; I could just feel my body pressed to his, the humidity taking advantage of our hair and skin and the air around us.

By the time I pulled away, both our bodies were soaked in sweat. I shrugged off the blanket and stared down at him, even though I could only see the outline of his face when the lightning lit up the room. It didn’t matter. I wanted to see his eyes.

Scorpius didn’t say anything. He moved his fingers around the back of my neck and brought me to him again, kissing me softly. Then he put his arms around me and pulled me back to his side, turning so that I was facing away from him and his body was against my back. He tugged me close, his face against my hair.

“Good night, Rose,” he whispered.

I moved my hand into his, lacing our fingers together.

Day Fifteen

The storm was over by morning, though the humidity wasn’t. I thought I was waking in a bathtub of sticky, disgusting sweat. Scorpius still had his arms around me, our fingers were still intertwined, and I could feel each of his breaths against my shoulder.

“Scorpius?” I murmured, yawning.

“Mmhm.” It was more of a grunt than a reply.

“I can’t believe you came here in the rain.”

“Can you not?”

I thought about it for a moment. The way he was. His own nature as a person. I guess it wasn’t that illogical he would walk through a storm to make sure I was okay.

“I owe you,” Scorpius said, kissing my hair. “A lot.”

“For what? Going fishing and getting embarrassed at your jokes?” I rolled my eyes.

“Distracting me.” He stretched and sat up after untangling his body from mine. “And I’m going to have to apologize for sweating this much. I probably smell horrible.”

Truthfully, all I could smell was his cologne.

I shrugged. “It’s not like I have any room to talk.” I scooted away from him, and looked down, admiring the lovely sweat stain on the collar of my shirt.

“Let’s get out of here,” he said.

“In case you haven’t noticed, I have family in the other room.” I narrowed my eyes. “They’re probably making me an extra pancake right now.”

“Pancakes aren’t even that good.”

I shoved him. “Who are you to talk about pancakes like that?”

“Lord of the Pancakes,” Scorpius said without missing a beat. “Come on. Quit being such a rule stickler and let’s go.”

“Where?” I asked.

“Anywhere.” Scorpius grabbed my hand and tugged me out of bed. “Let’s just go. C’mon, Gryffindor. Where’s your sense of adventure?”

“I have more common sense,” I muttered darkly.

“Want me to carry you out in your kittens?”

“Bloody hold on.” I groaned and pulled open my wardrobe, grabbing a pair of shorts and a clean shirt. One that wasn’t from when I was twelve. It also wasn’t adorned with baby animals. “My parents are going to shit if they find me gone.”

“Will they?” Scorpius was standing by the window, smirking.

“And then they’ll off you for kidnapping.”

“Bring it on.” He slid it open and then poked his head out. “All clear. Do you want to climb out of your balcony, Juliet?”

“I wish you wouldn’t have given me your dead fish’s nickname.” I waited for him to turn before quickly changing my clothes. “Or dead lover. Whatever she was to you.”

“Pretty sure it was a bloke fish.”

“Can you tell?” I asked, only to find Scorpius laughing. “Shut up. Do you have a plan?”

“Plans are for Ravenclaws,” Scorpius said. He grabbed my hand, pulled me out the window, and we hopped off the side of the deck. Then we moved silently into the trees.

The ground was saturated from the night before and everything seemed much more alive after the rain. Plants were greener, birds were louder, and of course, my shoes were getting stuck every few meters. At one point Scorpius had to hoist me out of the mud.

“Let’s move onto the road.” He helped me clean off my shoes with a few fern leaves and we started toward town for no reason other than to go in that direction. At one point we dove off the side of the road as we heard an approaching car, but it was just an old man in a black pickup truck.

“Pretty sure there was a gun in his passenger seat,” Scorpius noted once the dust settled and we moved back onto the gravel.

“There was not. You just want a story to tell when you get home.” I smirked.

“About how we were almost killed by a local?” he said, his tone quiet and scared. “I had to jump in front of you to save you, but then you shoved me out of the way and punched the bloke in the face. Before you killed him, you told him of your devious plan to take over the world and become Minister of Magic.”

I raised a brow. “Is that what happened?”

“Clear as day.” Scorpius smirked. He was kicking up gravel as he walked.

I wanted to kiss the smirk off his face, but I didn’t know if I could do that. Or what we were doing exactly. To be honest, for the first time I didn’t really mind. This was a vacation. All of the people in Muggle movies got their summer romances or snogs or whatever they got, and I could do. So I was just going to smile, be happy, and spend the day with Scorpius Malfoy.

Snogs or no snogs.

I did whack him in the arse with a flimsy stick for getting cheeky though.

We ate at the diner, both ordering the same thing and exchanging smirky glances between bites. He asked about the condition of my shoes. I asked about the condition of his brain. He ruffled my hair. I kicked him.

“Do you still think your family will be sore with you?” Scorpius asked. We were walking along the sidewalk with fast-melting cones of vanilla ice cream.

“Probably.” I smiled. “What about yours? You haven’t even been home.”

Scorpius shrugged. “I’d put a few Galleons on them not knowing I was gone.” He tried for a smile, but I could tell it was a touchy subject.

“Is that common? Or just here?” I finished off my ice cream and tossed it into the bin.

He didn’t reply right away, but instead busied himself with his food. After we reached the end of the block and crossed the street to walk up the other side, he finally responded. “I don’t want to say it’s always like that,” he replied. “Because it’s not. I don’t have some tragic sob story and you don’t need to feel bad for me. But since Mum got sick, I’ve been low on the priority list.” He paused to toss the rest of his cone into the trash. “But that’s the way I want it. She deserves the attention and the care.”

“Tell me about her,” I said, eyes on him.

“Growing up she took care of everything,” he said, beginning to kick a rock as we went. “She scolded me for talking out of turn, taught me to cook, and used to pretend to fly off the back deck with me, complete with umbrellas. She was full of adventure.” He chuckled. “You never had to worry about anything when she took charge.”

“She sounds brilliant,” I said. I enjoyed the image of tiny Scorpius hopping off a deck with an umbrella.

“Then she got sick,” Scorpius continued, a frown forming against his lips. “And everything changed.”

I didn’t know how to reply, so I didn’t. Instead, I reached over and slid one finger in his belt loop, holding it there.

“Suddenly I was in charge,” he said as if he hadn’t stopped. Hell, as if I wasn’t walking beside him. “Dad was tending to her all the time. He stopped going to work. He was at her bedside giving her anything she needed. Then when she went to the hospital, with her he went. And I was left. I spent a summer practically at home alone cooking and cleaning and tending to the garden.” He continued to kick at the stone. “My parents were wrapped up in each other.”

“Did that bother you?” I had no idea why I was asking so many questions. Or if I was even allowed.

“At first it did,” Scorpius said, running his fingers through his hair. It was getting longer now. “Then I kind of thought about it. If I’d been married as long as them and in love as long as them, I guess I’d make the same choice, wouldn’t I? I mean, at first Father didn’t know if she would make it through the week. There were all these tests. All these assumptions and guesses. I would have done the same thing.” He looked lost in thought.

I felt miserable for him and tried my hardest not to imagine my own mother going through it - again. Then Dad’s reaction. He would have made the same choices. He would have been lost in himself. His life didn’t function properly without Mum. Hell, when she went on a work trip for two weeks he lasted a week before he was whining about getting out of bed.

I had to hand it to Scorpius. He didn’t want pity. In fact, he thought that, given the situation he was in, things had worked out the way they should. But the idea of him sitting home alone cooking his own dinner and watching television … I hated it.

“Your mother sounds wonderful,” I said, frowning a little. “I’m sorry this is happening to you.” I had no idea what to say. Sorry? Sorry I can’t relate? Do you want some sweets?

Suddenly annoying Hugo and Dad telling embarrassing stories about my childhood didn’t seem so terrible.

He looked over, studying me for a moment. But then he shook his head. “It’s getting warm. Let’s go into a shop.”

“My money’s on it not having air conditioning.” I pulled open the door to a boutique and walked inside. At first, I wished I hadn’t. There were a lot of patterns and prints and a whole lot of decades from before I was born.

I smiled when Scorpius put his arm around me. “I want you to pick out the worst things and try them on,” he told me. “And then we’re even.”

“Even?” I said, pulling a strange zebra print into my hands.

“For the pleasure of my company last night.” Scorpius winked, leaning against the clothing rack. “Go on. I like that one.”

“Oh, you’re under the impression you’re not trying anything on.” I shot him a smirk and nodded toward the tiny men’s section in the corner.

“Oh no,” he said, laughing. “That’s not going to happen.” He adjusted the collar on his shirt.

“Not happy with cotton and nylon?” I guessed.

“Pretty sure I’ll get a rash.”

“Would you rather try this on?” I held up the zebra top.

“I’ll get a few,” Scorpius grumbled and headed over to the corner.

Girl power? Something power? Rose Weasley power.

I grabbed a few hideous tops in hideous patterns, but gravitated toward another area near the fitting rooms which held clothes in solid colors (surprise). I picked out a few dresses and tops just as Scorpius touched my shoulder.

“We’re not talking about this after we leave,” he said. “Especially to any of my mates.”

“What? Too manly?” I rolled my eyes. “Get in the dressing room, Romeo. You aren’t fit enough to deny these clothes.”

“What’s that bloody mean? I’m fit enough.” He looked down at his shirt and then back to me. “You sure have a hard time looking away while we swim.”

I blushed. “Get in there or I’m sending the leopard dress in after you.”

Scorpius closed the curtain in a bitter huff. I moved into the room beside him and put the hangers on hooks. “Going to make it?” I called.

“Hardly. I don’t even know what this fabric is.”

What a snob, I thought. Then I pulled on the leopard dress. To my surprise, it fit quite well. It was way too loud for me, but I didn’t have to worry about the bit of a muffin top that protruded out of my pants and my thighs were hidden so hey, that was brilliant.

“Coming out?” Scorpius asked in a gruff voice.

“Unsure.”

“Bloody get out here.” He wrenched back the curtain, so I stepped out. Whereas he had a look of disgust, I started laughing.

Scorpius wore a polyester shirt that wouldn’t have looked out of place at a bowling alley. His grimace told me exactly how he felt about it.

“That’s a good look on you.” I circled him, grabbing at the shirt as he swatted me away. “What? You look very handsome.”

“I look like I’m the clown for a party,” he said. “And look at you out on the skimpy safari.”

“At least I look attractive,” I shot back.

“High hopes are not for those in leopard,” Scorpius quipped and walked back behind the curtain. I kicked it and he yelped
.
“I look damn good,” I muttered and switched into some jeans and the zebra top. I looked in the mirror. It just wasn’t me. “I’m not coming out in this.”

“Oh bloody yes you are. If I’m going bowling you’re coming out in whatever that is!”

I grumbled. “No.”

“I’m coming in there.”

“NO.” I ripped back the curtain to find Scorpius standing before me in red pants and a yellow top. “Look at you, Gryffindor.”

He didn’t respond.

I waved a hand in front of his face. “Scorpius. I’m insulting you. Pay attention.”

He stared. But not at my eyes.

I slapped his shoulder. “OY!” I cried, pressing my hands over my chest, which was a little exposed in the top. “Could you please not be such a perv?”

He shook his head, hair flying against his forehead. “Blimey - sorry, Rose.” Then Scorpius was grinning like an idiot, cheeks flushed. “No regrets, right?”

I turned. “Spoken like a true Gryffindor.”

He moved his arms around my middle, pulling me against him. “Did you just say Gryffindor?”

I nudged him away. “We’re in a store.”

“You called me a Gryffindor.” Scorpius pushed me forward into the dressing room. He closed the curtain behind us.

“Because you’re wearing scarlet and gold.” I elbowed him and he stumbled back into the mirror. “I’m trying to try on these beautiful clothes.”

“You’re holding an African print shirt with a striped belt.” His blond brow arched. “And for your information, I would make a remarkable Gryffindor.”

I snorted. “Right. Now get out.”

“And if I don’t?”

“Then you’re a git.” I threw the shirt at him. “If you don’t, I won’t teach you to paint anymore.”

“Is that code for snog?” he asked, fingers brushing the curtain.

“Sure.”

“Time for another outfit.” He slipped out immediately.

I laughed to myself, discarding the printed shirt before even putting it on. What a strange boy he was. I had few words to describe him, but he certainly made me smile.

“Ready?” he called.

Bugger. I wasn’t ready. I looked around, grabbing a solid violet dress and tugging it on over my hips. It wasn’t the most flattering thing I’d seen myself in, but it wasn’t terrible. The cut was right. Hit my knees the right way. “Yeah, hold on.”

“There is only so long I will stay in this for you,” he grunted.

“For me?” I asked, laughing as I moved back into the area in front of the dressing rooms.

“I’m not doing this for me.” Scorpius was a green and pink striped shirt, reminding me immediately of a watermelon (and also making me hungry). Over the shirt was a pair of elastic suspenders holding up khaki pants.

Though the shirt itself was hideous and he looked murderous, I had to admit the suspenders were rather attractive. The only person I knew who had worn a pair was Grandad Weasley, which wasn’t exactly fashion forward.

Maybe it was also Scorpius biting down timidly on his bottom lip.

Godric.

“It’s not bad,” I commented.

“I look like a piece of fruit,” he shot back. “I want to meet the designer of these clothes. Honestly. I’m writing a letter of complaint.”

“How’s that going to go?” I rolled my eyes and stepped in front of the large mirror, spinning a little. The dress was form-fitting and made the things I didn’t exactly love about myself a lot more obvious. I poked at my hips in annoyance.

Scorpius stepped toward me and placed each of his hands on my hips, smoothing the dress over them. He smirked. “Look at you,” he said. “I can see it in your face.”

“You can see what?” I twisted a piece of hair between my fingers.

“You’re insecure.” He stepped onto the raised platform with me, hip-bumping me to make room. “Why?”

“And this is a conversation we’re not having.” The last thing I wanted to talk about with Scorpius Malfoy is how I needed to do more crunches in the morning and stop drinking so many fizzy drinks. Especially considering I was still searching for a flaw on him.

“Come on,” he said, nudging me. “Look. I’ll start.” He ruffled his hair and stared at himself in the mirror. “I have acne scars on my back.”

“You do not, I’ve seen your back.” I stepped off the platform and moved back toward the dressing room. I didn’t want to talk about this.

“I have hairy toes,” he said.

“You’re an idiot.” I threw back the curtain and stepped inside.

“My nose is too big.”

“What?” I peeked out from behind the fabric. “Who told you that?”

“Loads of kids growing up,” he blurted, shrugging. His cheeks were pink.

Did he honestly believe that? His nose was perfectly normal. I was actually pretty sure mine might have been bigger than his. I stared for a moment, at his face, and watched his cheeks get darker the longer I looked. He did believe it.

I tried to think of something to say. To tell him he was daft for believing it. That he was ridiculous for even being embarrassed by something like a nose. Then I frowned.

“Seems trivial, doesn’t it?” Scorpius asked, his eyes meeting mine. “Being insecure about something so small.”

“Literally,” I teased with a smile. He chuckled.

“You’re beautiful, you know,” he said quickly. His fingers were toying with the suspenders. “You probably don’t think so, but I do.”

I forced the blush off of my cheeks. “Yeah?”

He nodded. “Get back out here.” Scorpius slid over on the platform and nodded to the space beside him. After my nose wrinkled he shot me a look that suggested he would carry me out if I didn’t agree. So I did. I slowly stepped back out, onto the platform, and looked in the mirror.

He looked in the mirror as well, but he was looking at himself. “Shouldn’t matter, should it?”

I didn’t know what he was referring to, but I could guess. “No, it shouldn’t.” I shrugged, keeping my eyes in line with my own stare in the mirror. I liked my eyes. They weren’t gray and beautiful or green like Al’s or that pretty amber color like James’. They were a dark, chocolate brown. Nothing spectacular, but I wondered why brown couldn’t be spectacular.

Dark, mysterious, and warm. Brown.

Hmm.

Scorpius slid his hand into mine. “Get the dress,” he told me.






A/N: Ahhh! Okay so I really enjoyed writing this chapter. I hope you enjoyed it and hopefully got some perspective on one or two things. Maybe. Anyway, for those of you who asked -- the move was great, the mountains are great, and we got a puppy! 

His name is Brego and he is a Shiba Inu. He's smart, arrogant, and a diva. I should have named him James. 

 The reference to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is from Shakespeare. I didn't come up with it, and if I did Romeo wouldn't have been such a tool. 


Chapter 10: Journal
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For slightlyobsessedwithfanfiction. Thank you so much for reading!




Day Sixteen

After sneaking into the village, my parents put me on dish duty. Nevermind that I could do them with my wand. They thought I would learn better by scrubbing the food off of each individual dish and took my wand for the morning.

It was worth it.

I was pretty sure the whole day was worth it when I made Scorpius buy the scarlet and gold outfit to wear on Halloween. He said the fabric was better quality than the other clothes.

The kiss down by the waterfall couldn’t be overlooked, though. At least I didn’t have to jump this time.

“How’s it going?” Dad smirked as he walked into the kitchen and leaned against the counter across from me. “Getting some arm muscles?”

“Something like that.” I rinsed a bowl and placed it in the drying rack. “Something I can help you with?”

“Yeah. I wanted to know why when I go places I get you things, but you went into town and didn’t get me a present.” He grabbed a cup, licked the side, and placed it into my soapy water.

My father. Ugh.

“I didn’t see anything you’d like,” I replied, grabbing the damn cup.

“I don’t know that I believe that.” He grab a bag of crisps and hopped onto the counter. “Since I like everything. Food, toys, things that will annoy Hugo while he plays games, hats … I am even rather fond of visors.”

“I went into a women’s clothing store,” I said. “Sorry. Nothing for you.”

“How did Scorpius take to that?” The smirk on his face was unmistakable.

I looked over.

“Come on, string bean,” Dad said, rolling his eyes as he popped a crisp into his mouth. “Do you honestly think I bought that rubbish about needing to get away after the storm?”

Damn.

“It also helped I was about to dump an extra glass of water out the bedroom window and saw the pair of you escape off the back deck.” The smirk was back. He looked so proud of himself.

“Why didn’t you tell Mum?” I rinsed the cup and placed it on the rack, starting on the cutlery.

“Why bother? I knew you were okay.” Dad shrugged. “And truthfully, it’s about time you started acting your age.”

“What? I’m mature!” Yes, that sounded very mature.

“That’s what I mean,” Dad said. “Enjoy your teenage years. I got to do a lot of fun things, but I also had to help Uncle Harry break into Gringotts and the Ministry and save the bloody world when I was your age. I want you to have some fun.” He tossed a crisp at my head. “But I will think of more creative punishments every time you sneak out without telling me.”

“More creative than chores?” I asked dully.

“Do you like weeding gardens?” Dad said. “I hear humidity is great for weeding gardens.”

“Any chance you want to switch places with Uncle Harry for a few days?” I said.

“Yes. Then I can coax Lily out of a closet, watch Albus read, and get James to stop snogging every girl he looks at.” Dad chuckled. “I think I’ll stick with you and Hugo. Two most low-maintenence kids. Even Perce has to work harder than I do.”

“That’s because Molly just got her fourth tattoo,” I commented, rinsing some forks.

“I heard it was of the claw of a raven. Any truth to that?”

I shrugged. “Last I heard she was trying to get a dreamcatcher or snake or some lemon candy she had tried that day.”

“No tattoos,” Dad said, eyes narrowing.

“Oh, really?” I turned, eyes wide. “That was what Scorpius and I did in the village yesterday. Matching lower back tattoos.”

He choked, but regained composure once he realized I was kidding. Poor Dad. That image must have been painful. “If he peer pressures you into a tattoo, just say no. Repeat after me: No.”

“No.” I paused. “Well, yes for a pretty blue and bronze butterfly just above my bum.”

“No.”

“Tribal arm band?”

“No.”

“Our old cat we used to have when I was seven?”

“No.”

“How about your face?”

“That one’s okay,” Dad said with a content nod. “Make sure I look really mean in it though. Scare off those weird blokes.” He paused. “And get it on your face. I’ll pay.”

*

The paints were scattered across the kitchen table, stains on the wood that shouldn’t have been there. Dad and I were on the same side, discarded papers around us.

“It’s more like this.” He held up a poorly painted version of himself with angry red eyes and a scowl. Though his hair was blue because I had stolen the orange paint.

“It’s uncanny,” I said, sliding my latest version over to him. A disappointed stick figure with shaggy ginger hair and a glass of water.

“My nose does not look like that.” Dad touched his long nose.

I wrinkled my own. “Yes, it does.”

“Good thing you got most of your mother’s features,” he said with a chuckle. “Let’s convince Scorpius to get a tattoo of your name.”

“Oh?” I thought about how that conversation would go. And burst out laughing. “In cursive or print?”

“Definitely in print,” Dad explained. “A lot of people can’t read cursive well. Everyone has to know who he spent vacation with.” He nudged me with his elbow and went back to his blue-haired portrait. “Look at me? I’m Teddy.” Then he held up the paper and made it dance around.

“You’re clearly the most mature one in the house.” I grabbed a blank sheet of paper and started doodling my name in different scripts and colors. “Should I convince Scorpius to get it on his lower back? Or his arm?”

“How about forehead?” Dad mentioned. He stood, moving toward the sink to get a glass of water. “And on his earlobes. That ladies go crazy for earlobe tattoos.”

“You’re making that up.” I dipped a brush into gold paint and streaked it under my name, creating a beautiful flourish.

Dad pulled the back door open. “What do you think?” he asked. “Do you want Rose’s name on your lower back or your earlobes? You can say both if you’d like.”

My face went scarlet.

Scorpius didn’t look so brave anymore either. He was standing on the deck in his usual polo and khakis with a terrified expression on his face. “What?” he stammered.

“Tattoo,” Dad said, impatient. “Where do you want the tattoo? Turkey already sketched out several of them. Just pick your favorite.”

Scorpius moved into the room. His hands were stuffed in his pockets and he moved to the table, leaning over to look at my paper. “Very … artistic.” It sounded as if he was having a difficult time breathing.

“I know a guy,” Dad added. “Rose gets tattoos from him all the time.”

I bit my lip to hide the smirk.

“You have at tattoo?” Scorpius asked, abandoning any tact he’d entered with. “I’ve never seen one.”

Dad plopped down in the chair at the head of the table. “Since I’m pretty certain he has only seen you fully dressed, I don’t see that it should be a concern,” he said dryly. “In fact, I have a turtleneck for you to wear swimming.”

I knew Dad realized we’d been swimming. He probably knew exactly how much of my body Scorpius had seen and was hoping it was not any more than that. Which it wasn’t. So awkward.

“Right!” Scorpius said, nodding heavily as his cheeks began to darken. “A tattoo. Yes. What is it, though?”

“Oh you know what happens when you’re peer-pressured,” I said in a lofty manner. “My ex and I decided to get matching name tattoos on our bums.”

Dad and Scorpius both choked.

“Joke over,” Dad mumbled. “I need to go clean with peroxide.” He stood, grumbling about something, and left the kitchen. Then he shouted to Mum upstairs.

“Not funny,” Scorpius said with a grin, sliding into the seat beside me. “So what were you doing anyway? Painting ways to terrify me?” He held up a portrait of my father from earlier with different colored eyes and an angry brow.

“That was pretty much it.” I moved my finger through the extra gold paint and wiped it across his cheek. “What brings you here?”

“I had a proposition.”

I thought about this for a moment. Scorpius never really had beneficial propositions. This could include being shoved off a cliff, fishing, waterfall-jumping, and dressing up in zebras. I made a face.

“I want you to have dinner with me tonight,” he said, stare linked to my own.

“Okay.” I shrugged. That wasn’t really a proposition, considering we had dinner together a lot in the last two weeks.

“And my parents,” he added.

“What?”

“Yeah.”

I blinked. No way. My parents were one thing. They were used to all sorts of strange adversity and Slytherins and well, I knew them. Scorpius’ parents were another story entirely. I hadn’t so much as spoken to Mr. Malfoy and to be honest, he scared the Gryffindor out of me. He just seemed so traditional and respectable and chances are I would accidentally wear Ravenclaw colors and get kicked out. Not even to mention Mrs. Malfoy, who was here to recover.

And not be bothered by some Weasley girl who snogged her son on a beach.

She was going to see right through me.

I didn’t even know which fork was the salad fork.

I reminded myself they moved from the manor into a different house. A smaller one. Less traditional and powerful.

But that didn’t save my fork skills. Or lack thereof.

“Rose?” Scorpius waved a hand in front of my face.

“Um.” Why was my heart beating this fast? It wasn’t like he had proposed and we were meeting his parents and they were judging me. They would probably still be judging me though. What kind of anecdotes could I come up with to share at dinner? I knew how to mix paint. I survived being shoved off a cliff. Their son called me Juliet on occasion.

I was screwed.

“Do you think it’s a terrible idea?” Scorpius asked. “I figured since you’d been nice enough to let me stay I could return the favor.”

“Is it a good choice?” I asked, nose scunching. “With your mum sick? I don’t want to put pressure on anything.”

“To be honest, I think she’d welcome a face that wasn’t my father fussing over her or me trying to take care of everything.” He frowned and glanced at the door to make sure we were alone. “If you don’t want to, just say the word. We can have dinner by the lake or go into town and watch the sunset. Whatever you want to do.”

I stared at the swirls of text on the paper before me, confused. Of course I wanted to meet them. I did. Or did I? I didn’t sodding know.

This was complicating things. This was supposed to be a secret.

“Aren’t you supposed to keep your distraction a secret?” I asked.

“Rules are made to be broken,” Scorpius replied, the edges of his lips tugging into a smile. He placed both hands on the table and let out an easy sigh. “It’s about time we start breaking them.”

“Pretty sure we’ve been breaking rules for two weeks,” I noted.

“You need to catch up to every other seventeen-year-old girl,” Scorpius said, leaning over to whisper it in my ear. “I’m here to help you try.” He pressed his lips just below my earlobe and a jolt traveled from my neck down to the tips of my toes.

“I’m pretty sure you’re hitting on me,” I said. I was frozen. Even if my father walked through the door, I couldn’t have moved from that spot.

Scorpius didn’t move. Instead, he kissed a little further down, onto my neck, before pulling away. “What do you think?”

“That gave me chills,” I said breathlessly.

“About dinner, Rose.”

I blushed. “Oh,” I said. “Um. Yeah, sure. We could do that.”

“Brilliant.” Scorpius grinned and then pushed his finger through the gold paint, just as I had, and smeared it down the bridge of my nose. “Twins.” Before I could reply, he kissed me.

It was slow, a tender movement that forced my senses to concentrate on each tiny place his lips went. Scorpius’ hand rested on my thigh as he leaned into me. Everything was a blur, the scent of oil paints lingering in the air.

“Yeah, you’re gross.”

I jerked away from Scorpius immediately, shoving him back in a fight to catch my breath.

Hugo was leaning against the doorframe.

“Get out,” I breathed, wiping my lips. Godric. Heart racing. I swatted Scorpius’ hand off my thigh, as it hadn’t moved.

“I should just go ask Dad to come evaluate,” Hugo noted with a snarky smirk. “I’m sure he wouldn’t want his only daughter snogging someone in the kitchen.”

At least Scorpius blushed too.

“Please leave,” I muttered.

“Or?” Hugo said.

“Or I will physically make you leave,” I muttered and pulled my wand from my back pocket, placing it delicately on the table.

Hugo moved in front of me with the tabletop between us. “Have plans tonight?” he asked.

“I might.”

“Not anymore you don’t.” Hugo smirked arrogantly and turned, marching back into the livingroom. “DAD.”

“Fuck,” I muttered, looking over to Scorpius.

He looked like he’d been hit with a truck. Or a very large stunner spell. Or a bucket of salamanders.

“Do you hear a gun cocking?” he whispered.

I listened, but heard nothing.

“OH GODRIC GRYFFINDOR I CAN’T DO THIS.”

“That was Hugo,” I said, heart pounding. “Do you want to hide under something? Or in a cupboard?”

“Or the fridge.” Scorpius was on his feet, glancing around the kitchen for a place to hide. Unfortunately, it was an open space, which limited his hiding options to the pantry, cupboards, and his idea of the fridge.

He looked petrified.

Scorpius rushed behind the kitchen island, crouching down just as the door burst open again. It wasn’t my father behind it, though. It was Hugo again.

And he didn’t look mad. He looked just as scared as Scorpius.

“What happened?” I said, shoving the painted papers into a pile.

“I’m never going upstairs again,” Hugo noted. “I’m sleeping in your room. Snog all you’d like.”

“Where did this come from?”

“Mum and Dad were up there snogging!” Hugo whined. “I may never get that image out of my head!”

I knew when I got older, I’d understand where parents were coming from. But right now, at seventeen, I wanted to bleach that image out of my mind forever. And I hadn’t even been the one to see it! Gross. My parents. Snogging. Ew. Come on.

Inappropriate.

“It was like a train wreck!” Hugo continued in a whine. “I couldn’t look away!”

“Stop!” I cried, jamming my fingers in my ears. No more!

Mum. Dad. Making out.

Scorpius whimpered from behind the island. “I should have just hidden in the fridge,” he mumbled.

“You don’t have to see them every day!” I cried.

His hands appeared on the counter as he hoisted himself up. “Poor Hugo’s stuck here for dinner,” Scorpius said, smirking. He grabbed an apple and took a bite.

“Yes, poor Hugo,” I said, looking at my terror-stricken younger brother. “I’m sorry about that.”

“What’re you doing?” Hugo asked, sliding into a chair.

“I’m having dinner at Scorpius’ rental tonight,” I replied. If there was ever a reason to get out of this place, it was that. Eugh.

I was probably going to dream about that tonight. Gah!

“Lucky bint,” Hugo muttered, slamming his forehead down on the table.

*

Scorpius was standing beside the bedroom door checking his watch. Repeatedly. We were supposed to have left twenty minutes ago. “You look great, Rose.”

“How great though?” I asked, in a voice that didn’t sound like my own. I didn’t normally ask these questions to anyone except Dom. And that wasn’t even very often.

She would just glance over, tell me my arse looked fat, and go back to her glossy magazine. Then I threw a pillow at her head and she told me I looked brilliant.

“Should I repeat what I’ve already told you?” he asked in a bored way, looking up from the face of his watch. “Beautiful. Gorgeous. Fit. Pretty. Stunning. Do I need to continue?”

“I feel like you’re just saying that to get moving.” I stared into the mirror and tried to remember what he told me at the boutique. I had to take a step back.

The dress in question was nice enough. A cocktail dress, all black, with straps that hung off my shoulders in an elegant way. It wasn’t fancy or too casual. I put on a simple silver necklace and earrings and charms my hair to stop frizzing (okay, Mum did that). All in all, it wasn’t too terrible.

“I’m saying that because it’s true,” Scorpius reasoned. “But I will throw you over my shoulder to get there on time if we don’t leave in the next couple minutes.”

I shot him a look. “Don’t threaten me.” I straightened the wrinkles just below my hips. I hated those stupid hips.

“That’s a promise,” Scorpius replied, checking his watch again. “Grab your bag and let’s go.”

He looked a little nervous, as much as he held things together. I could see the tiny beads of sweat on his forehead and the collared shirt and tie wasn’t helping him cool down any. He was probably as nervous as I was.

“Dad told me to take a picture of your father’s face when I walk in the door,” I said, snatching my clutch off the bed.

“I’m sure he’ll be shocked,” Scorpius said, trying to play it off with a shrug. I wondered how shocked, though. I still had no idea what feelings Mr. Malfoy harbored toward my family. Dad and Mum were pretty open-minded with my judgment as long as they knew what was happening. Grandmum would probably give me an odd look, but that was as far as it went (not including cousins, as they would tease me relentlessly for my present company).

“Should I bring something?” I asked, eyes widening. Every time my family went somewhere for dinner, we brought a bottle of wine or a plate of cheese or something the displays at the store told us were appropriate as dinner guests.

“Pretty sure we have things covered,” Scorpius said.

“Did you tell them I was coming?” I asked. He’d left after our painting snog for a few hours.

“I told them I was bringing a guest,” Scorpius explained. “Now can we please leave or do you have trivia questions about the secret passageways in the rental home? I’m sure I’ve discovered them all.”

“You have secret passageways?” Why didn’t our rental have passageways? Or did it?

“No,” he said, sighing. “Now can we please bloody leave?” He shot me a very impatient look.

I then realized I was being THAT girl and decided to nod and follow him down the hall and into the kitchen where my parents were having a cup of tea and Hugo was nowhere in sight.

My parents who were upstairs snogging.

Ugh.

Dad’s brows raised upon seeing me. “You’re wearing that.” It wasn’t a question.

“Mmhm.” Smile? Don’t smile? Unsure.

“You look great.” Mum stood, pulling me into her arms. Pretty sure she wrinkled the dress. “Is this a fancy dinner? Or are you just dressing to impress?”

“Better than jean shorts and a tank,” I said, shrugging.

“You could wear a jacket,” Dad offered. “It’s chilly outside.”

“You were weeding without a shirt,” I offered.

“I get hot quickly,” he said.

“You then ran through the sprinkler,” I added.

Dad shrugged. “Just saying. You might get cold. Or a sunburn. Jackets are nice.” I could tell he wanted nothing more than to cover up my shoulders. Mum shot him a look that quickly shut him up, but I walked over and hugged him.

“Don’t worry, Daddy,” I said, kissing his cheek. “I’ll make it back with all my dignity in check.”

“Remember to tell me what Malfoy’s face looked like,” he said.

Scorpius held the door for me, said good-bye to my parents, and followed me off the deck. “We should probably stick to the road,” he said. “These clothes aren’t exactly made for the woods.”

“Neither are the clothes you wear every day,” I said. It was still warm, though the sun was coming down. Maybe it was so warm because I was terrified to meet these people. “Are you sure about this?”

“Really? Cold feet now?” Scorpius asked, offering me his arm once we started onto the gravel.

Was I getting cold feet? Of course. His mum was always in the magazines and she’d been so sick lately. Was it a good idea for Scorpius to just spring me on his family? Especially considering I had been the distraction? I had been what he got away to?

I was still nervous about his father.

And secretly relieved he didn’t have siblings.

“I’ll be fine,” I said after a while, keeping my eyes on the darkening trees around us. I liked how everything blended into the fog of the mountains, especially at this hour. Every color was melding together like a stew. Like crayons in the sun.

“I don’t know why you’re so scared,” Scorpius said. It was quiet for a moment as our shoes moved against the stones below us. The crackle reminded me of a fire. “They’re just parents.”

“Your father screamed at you,” I said, teeth tugging on my bottom lip. I didn’t look at him.

“You do crazy things when you have feelings for someone else.”

I was silent. I thought about how my father would react to everything. Especially if I wanted to disappear so often when my mother was sick. If I got fed up with taking care of everything and just needed the time on my own. I’m sure he would snap on me too.

“You’re right,” I said, nodding. “Okay. I’m ready. I am. Really.”

“Truly?” he teased.

“Truly.”

*

Turns out, I was not ready.

My heart started to beat painfully against my chest as we walked up the drive to the house. It was the same, only looked bigger. Or I felt smaller. Either way every step felt as if it was taking me backward. Like we were barely moving.

And then, very suddenly, we were at the front door.

It looked so regal. I couldn’t even remember what the front door at our rental looked like, as I had barely entered through it during the whole vacation. It didn’t look like this, though. Giant, bronze bloody knocker in the center of the door. Made out of deep, dark wood.

If I ran, I could definitely get out of range of Scorpius scooping me up and bringing me back.

He put his hands on my shoulders, moving in front of me. “It’s fine,” he said, clearly able to spot the terror on my face.

Why was I even this nervous? Just parents. We weren’t dating. We weren’t doing anything more than the occasional snog and hanging out. What if they thought we were sleeping together? What if they thought we were announcing our engagement? Or a PREGNANCY?

I couldn’t breathe.

“Rose,” Scorpius said, shaking me a little. “Get a grip, okay?”

I blinked. Right. No pregnancy. No engagement. Feelings would probably come first, right?

“Okay,” I said, breathing deep. I could do this. I could. I was Rose Weasley. I could do anything.

I had no idea where that came from, as I was much more partial to being at home and painting than this. Or jumping off waterfalls.

Scorpius twisted the handle and moved inside. The foyer was large and held an umbrella stand and closet, along with a beautiful painting of a young woman holding daisies. There were stairs to the left and a formal sitting room to the right, but we continued down a short hall with a few closed doors.

“Father?” Scorpius called out.

“In the kitchen,” Mr. Malfoy said.

I watched Scorpius’ shoulders rise and relax as he took one last deep breath.

The kitchen was similar to ours with its large island and stainless steel fridge, but all of the cabinets were dark wood. The table to the left matched the color. Two red candles were glowing in the center. There was the door I’d peeked into and got a glimpse of Scorpius and Mrs. Malfoy’s nurse.

Mr. Malfoy was turned away at the stove, sauteeing a pan of vegetables. “Your mother is upstairs,” he said. “You’d better be on your best behavior, too, as she’s looking forward to getting out of bed.”

Scorpius was quiet for a moment. “Of course,” he said. “Can I help with something?”

“Go ask what she wants to drink with dinner,” Mr. Malfoy said.

“All right.” He turned and then jumped, realizing I was behind him. “Oh. Father. I brought a guest for dinner tonight.”

“Did you meet someone in the village?” Mr. Malfoy shut off the burner and turned, his brows instantly raising when he caught sight of me. He knew exactly who I was. There was no question about it. “Pleasure to see you, Miss Weasley.”

Hell. Oh, hell. What do I do now? He was all the way across the room. I couldn’t shove past Scorpius and shake his hand. Was I supposed to shake his hand? This is why people brought gifts. I could have presented a lovely bottle of wine at that moment.

Instead I stood there feeling awkward. “Nice to see you too, sir,” I eventually replied, red in the face.

“So what brings you to the mountains?” he asked curiously, folding his arms over the apron he wore. I recognized it as the one Scorpius had told me about the first day I saw him.

“Vacation, sir,” I stammered. “With my family. We’re staying not too far from here.”

“In another rental?” he asked.

I nodded.

“Ah.” He gave me a look I couldn’t quite read and then smile. “Well then I’m glad you could make it. Feel free to accompany Scorpius upstairs, as sometimes he has trouble with simple tasks.”

I damn near ran up those stairs.

The hallway was dark. The first open door led to a bathroom. The second a guest bedroom. Then there were three closed doors at the end. Brilliant. I took a deep breath and twisted the first handle, walking inside.

The room was bright with dying sun streaming in past the open curtains. The bed was in the center with a burgundy bedspread and matching pillows. All of the furniture (desk, dresser, wardrobe) matched the wood downstairs. If it wasn’t for the scattered books and utensils, I would have assumed it was a guest bedroom as well.

I thought about how much I had personalized the room I was staying in just after a couple weeks. My things were strewn about. I put a few pictures up to remind me of my mates back home. I had books everywhere.

Scorpius had done very little with his living situation. There was a fish tank atop the dresser with a few fish swimming around. Beside it were a few novels which looked untouched. His shopping bag from the boutique was on a plush, overstuffed chair. There were no photos, but my eyes did wander to a black journal on his bedside stand.

My heart started to beat faster. It could have just been something he wrote thoughts in. Or song lyrics. No, Scorpius wasn’t a writer. He could have written his ideas to be a host! They were probably private, though. Especially if they were about his parents.

They could be about his feelings or something.

I shouldn’t look.

Instead, I skimmed.

I thought she was going to kill me for pushing her off a cliff. Truth was, it was nice to just have someone to hang out with. Rose is an all right girl. I’m pretty sure she’s going to need to loosen up. I don’t think she’s happy. I think she’s afraid of being happy.

I feel like a fool for falling asleep on her tonight. Could I really have any less tact? I may have even snored. Hopefully the sunset distracted her.

I need to stop looking at her.

We painted today. I think we painted more of each other than we did the canvas. I kissed her too. Salazar, I shouldn’t have kissed her. Why did I kiss her? Things just got way too complicated.

It’s starting to rain. I’ve been listening to it for a while now. I’m fond of the sound of rain, but I’m worried about that thunder in the distance. I hope it goes south.

It’s not going south. I’m going to see if Rose is all right.

This is a mess. I have no idea what I’m doing and I hate that I don’t know what I’m doing. We were supposed to be friends. Hang out on vacation. Talk. Be each other’s distraction. How did this end up the way that it did? All I want to do is kiss her. I’m not shy about it and I don’t care.

But how was I going to tell Danielle I’d been kissing another girl?




Enter: Shit hitting the fan.

Sidenote: Apologies for not answering reviews in the quickest manner possible, like I used to. I am having limited spans of time to do anything after moving and the new job and puppy!! but I promise I will get to every single one of them. EVERY ONE OF THEM. Once things settle down a bit and I have time to just bust out large chunks at a time. So be patient. BUT I read every single one the day they come in. And sometimes post about them because I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH SNUGGLES!! 

Anyway... 

NEXT TIME: 

I blinked.
Who the fuck was Danielle?
Who. The. FUCK. Was. Danielle?
 


Chapter 11: Letter
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]



For Ravenclawsome. 





I blinked.

Who the fuck was Danielle?

Who. The. FUCK. Was. Danielle?

I slammed the book shut, heart racing. He’d never mentioned a Danielle. I played and replayed our conversations through my head. Never a Danielle.

She could be a nurse, right? But then why the hell would it say ‘another girl?’ Godric. I was the other woman! WHO THE FUCK WAS DANIELLE?

Okay. Breathe. There had to be a rational explanation for this. After all, we had only kissed a few times. It wasn’t a big deal. Nothing dramatic. I could handle this. I could calmly, rationally, handle this.

The book in hand, I moved back into the hallway.

“Rose, there you are.” Scorpius smiled. He was closing the door to my right. “Mum wanted to chat with me for a minute and I asked her what she wanted. What do you think about me teaching you how to make a virgin martini?”

I was still having a difficult time breathing. I hated that he was smiling.

So I held up the book. “Is there something you need to tell me?” I asked flatly.

The terror was immediate. “Ah.”

“Let me repeat myself.” I kept my voice quiet because of his mum in the other room, but I did not move my gaze from his. My hand shook as I tried to steady the book. “Is there something you need to tell me, Scorpius?”

My face was flushed. Humiliated.

Scorpius raked his hand through his blond hair, letting it fall over his forehead. “I’m sorry,” he said. “Rose, I didn’t intend for you to find out like this.”

“Did you intend for me to find out at all?” I asked.

“Yes, of course.”

“You mean after you snogged the Gryffindor out of me,” I commented, now practically seething.

“Danielle is …” He took a breath and rubbed the back of his neck nervously. “She’s a girl I’ve been seeing back home.”

I hated how bad those words stung. Like a curse straight through the chest.

Seeing a girl back home. Danielle was just a girl he was seeing back home.

“Rose,” Scorpius began. “I wanted to tell you.”

“You know,” I said, cutting him off. “We had a lot of casual silences that would have fit right into.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, grimacing.

I took a step back and dropped the book between us. “You don’t get to be sorry,” I said. “I get to be sorry. Sorry that I ever let myself trust you.” I turned and grabbed the banister to steady myself as I rushed down the stairs. I could hear Mr. Malfoy saying something from the kitchen. Scorpius was shouting for me in the hall. I ripped open the door and ran.

I just ran. And kept running.


Day Seventeen


Fuck you, Scorpius Malfoy.


Day Eighteen


“Going to tell me what happened today, Coffeecake?” Dad moved to sit beside me on the bed. He kicked off his shoes and plopped onto his back, looking to the ceiling. “Yesterday you locked yourself in here.”

“Yes. Well.” I shrugged.

When I got back from Scorpius’ place I marched through the kitchen, ignoring quizzical looks, and locked my bedroom door. I didn’t come out the following day except to eat. I lost myself in any book I could reach for, but whenever characters kissed it got thrown at the wall. This created a large pile of novels just below my closet. I didn’t care. I didn’t want to read about kissing characters.

“I can talk if you don’t want to,” Dad offered.

“Go ahead.” I frowned, too lazy to blink. I hadn’t slept much.

I hated that I was this upset. I wanted to shrug and say okay, Scorpius, you have your little tart back home. Whatever. Fine. Just don’t so much as touch me. We can be friends! Gladly! Okay, let’s go catch a fucking fish!

But that wasn’t what was going through my head.

At all.

It was a mixture of hurt, betrayal, and just pissed off.

Part of me wished Dom was here, but I knew she would have walked the half hour in stiletto heels just to punch him in the face. And I would have let her.

I should have.

“Well, this morning I went into town,” Dad began. “And ate at one of the diners because your mum insisted I cook. So we went together. It was nice.” He nodded a little. Awkwardly. “And then we went into a clothing boutique. I think it’s the same one you want to, considering it was the only one there.”

“Subject change,” I said immediately.

“Flowers are beautiful this time of year,” Dad commented.

“Ugh.” I rolled over and buried my face in his chest. “I hate everything.”

“Everything?” I asked, moving his arms around me in that hug only he was capable of. “You don’t think that’s a touch dramatic?”

“Not at all. Everything.”

He scooted so that he was in a sitting position and pulled me against him. “Whatever happened, it’s going to be fine.”

“That’s such a fatherly thing to say,” I muttered into his shirt.

“Yes, well, it’s also the truth.” Dad kissed the top of my head. “I promise, okay? Don’t be sad.”

“I’m not. I’m mad.”

“Oh. Then use that.” Dad chuckled. “Do you want to practice mean spells? Don’t tell your mum.”

I smiled a little. “I think I’ll be okay,” I replied. “Just a little relaxation. Maybe some sleep.”

“Hot tea?” Dad offered.

“That’s a good idea.”

He untangled himself and kissed the top of my head again. “I’ll be back shortly,” he said and paused before moving toward the door.

“Dad?”

“Hmm?”

I wiped a few angry tears from my eyes. “Want to play some chess?”

He smiled. “I’ll get the board, Turkey.”

*

“No.”

The owl kept tapping on my closed window.

“Nope.”

It was now trying to bite its way in. Through the glass.

“Still no. I think you’re snogging the window.”

Yes. Owl was definitely getting fresh with the window.

“Nope.”

I yelped as the window flew open. “Let the sodding beast in!” Hugo cried angrily. “I’m out here concentrating.”

“On what?” I said, watching the owl bounce into the room and fly up onto my bed.

“My speech.”

“For what?”

Hugo shrugged. “There’s a pretty girl in town that works at the diner,” he replied with a smile.

“You’re a perv.” I sighed and looked at the owl, which was shaking its leg at me. Tied to it, which I had suspected would be there, was a small scroll of parchment.

“Who’s it from?” asked Hugo, leaning inside.

“Your dream girl,” I replied shortly. “Now go away.”

“She has better tact than to send an owl.” He slammed the window shut and returned to his speech-practicing or general prattery.

The owl was happily bouncing on my blankets.

I turned the parchment over between my fingers like a tiny baton. It was tied with brown twine. Definitely the handywork of Scorpius. I was sure it was a bunch of sappy shit about how sorry he was and him explaining his side of the story after carefully rehearsing it for the day I was burying myself in novels yesterday. Yes, indeed, Scorpius. How could you spin this so you didn’t look like a jackass?

I didn’t care. I really didn’t. All I wanted to do was hit him. Or cry. Eugh.

I just wanted to go home.

I flicked the parchment onto the stack of discarded books and pulled the blankets up to my head. The owl would have to stay the night.


Day Nineteen


My family and I spent the morning in the village eating breakfast in the diner, purchasing some groceries, and chasing Hugo down when he went after a rabbit. He swore to Mum he’d take care of it. She gave him a strange look. Then politely said when we got home maybe we could get him a bunny.

“That does not mean the kind of girl in a bunny Halloween costume,” I commented and Hugo shot me a very dirty look.

He was already upset his dream girl wasn’t working at the diner that morning.

“I will never understand how they pay their bills.” Dad pointed to a shop with a large window. Inside was a gallery of huge paintings. “How many paintings do they have to sell to afford the rent? Those spotlights don’t look cheap.”

“Apparently your father is going into real estate,” Mum muttered, peering into the window. “Want to look around, Rose?”

I bit my lip. It wasn’t exactly my family’s scene.

“Why don’t we get ice cream?” Dad offered. “And you can go poke around at the brush strokes.”

He knew me all too well.

“I’ll meet you,” I said with a cheery smile, pulling open the door and moving inside.

The gallery was enormous. It was a tall room with exposed brick walls and dozens of paintings in thick, gold frames that wouldn’t have looked out of place two centuries ago. There was a tiny spotlight on each one and a few benches in the center of the room. In the back was a small deck and an older gentleman typing away at a computer.

I moved a piece of hair behind my ear and walked as quietly as possible to the first painting to my left. It was a pastoral painting filled with simple tans and creams and golds, all mixed with gray to create the illusion of simplicity. I moved closer. Cross-hatched brush strokes. The colors barely blended, but it worked. All of it worked.

“Good afternoon, young lady.”

I looked up. Was it afternoon already?

The man from the desk was standing, hands in his pockets. He was giving me a knowing smile that was kind of creepy and kind of comforting.

“Afternoon,” I said warily.

“Have a look around,” he insisted. “A lot of them are local artists.”

“Ah.” My eyes moved back to the paintings. Some of them were rural, but a lot tackled the darkness of the smoky mountains themselves: creeks, lakes, and the fog. Each one was different, but all of them carried the same passion and desperation through the colors.

I let out a very long sigh.

“I’m assuming you know your way around a color palette?” The man moved toward me until our shoulders were almost touching as we started at the same portrait of a young woman in a study, holding a book to her chest.

“I pretend to,” I replied.

“Modest too,” he said with a chuckle. “Judging by your accent should I assume you’re not from these parts?”

“I’m not,” I replied, still examining the painting. “So is this like consignment? They get a portion of the sales?”

He nodded. “The artist receives a portion and the shop does as well,” the man explained. “I’m Leonard Navy.” He extended his hand and I shook it.

“Navy?” I said. “Like the color?”

“No. Like the branch of the military.” Leonard smirked.

“Brilliant.” I smiled a little and turned to the rest of the paintings, taking in as many as I could. Landscapes. Still-lives. Everything. I finally felt calm for the first time in a while.

“Let me know if you need any additional information,” Leonard said with a smart nod. “I have all of the author biographies and photos of some of their other works in different galleries.”

“Thanks.” I moved close to an abstract, contemporary work with color-blocking. The blue was overpowering my senses.

“Friend of yours?”

“Excuse me?” I spun around, Leonard pointing toward the window.

Shit.

Scorpius was standing outside, pacing, repeatedly running his fingers through his hair.

“Not at all,” I said, watching him.

He looked flustered. Sweaty. Nervous. He looked like he hadn’t slept in days.

Bloody good.

I hoped he was miserable, sodding GIT.

“Thanks for the talk, Mr. Navy,” I said, moving past the benches and back to the front of the store. I pushed open the door and moved into the sunlight. “Why are you here?”

“Rose,” Scorpius said, in his voice a tone of desperation I hadn’t heard before. “Did you read my letter?”

“Of course not. You’re a fucking twat.” I put both hands on my hips. “Go away.”

“I need to talk to you.”

“Nope.” I smiled sweetly and turned in the opposite direction, hoping my family was still getting ice cream.

“Come on,” Scorpius said, falling into step with me. “Please just hear me out.”

“Or,” I said, putting up my index finger to stop him from continuing. “You could shut up and go away because I have absolutely no interest in listening to what you have to say.”

“Just listen--”

I spun on my heel and slapped him across the face.

Hard.

“I said I have no interest in speaking to you,” I snapped. “So you can go back to your rental, write a sappy letter to Danielle, and tell her all about how the mean Rose Weasley gave you a big sodding bruise across your face.”

Scorpius looked positively dumbstruck, his lips parted as he stared back at me. His hands dropped to his sides as his cheek began to redden.

Ha.

I turned back, marching down the sidewalk. When I threw open the general store door and found my family inside, I finally let out a loud sigh because hitting people HURT and my hand was in considerable pain. I made Dad buy a package of peas and placed it on my palm for the entire ride home.


*

This was an absolute disaster.

I stared at the canvas before me, propped on an easel. Something just wasn’t right. I was attempting to paint the clearing and treeline just off the deck, but the colors were wrong, the proportions were wrong, and my heart was wrong.

It was too dark.

I squeezed some white onto my palette, but just stared at it. Why was this so difficult?

Probably because all I’d been thinking about were those rows of paintings in the gallery. They were a vision of grandeur. Something strange an unattainable. And something I wanted desperately.

Instead I was stuck with an odd mixture of green and black that was quickly turning to some funky grey I hated. Bugger.

I slapped some white onto a tree as a highlight.

Well, that’s horrible.

What was so bad about being a painter anyway? I just didn’t want to get sick of it. I didn’t want to wake up after years of running a brush over a canvas and want to throw away every container of paint I have.

It was a legitimate fear. Right?

Or was it just something stopping me from doing what I loved?

Fear of rejection? Of not being good enough?

I certainly didn’t paint like the people in that gallery. But really, how old were they? How much training did they have? They didn’t exactly offer painting courses at Hogwarts. I should start a petition about that. Or an underground organization.

Dad would be proud.

I dipped my brush into the black again, draping it along the nearest tree on the canvas. That was a little better. I sighed. More paint. More color. Why was everything so dark?

Hell, why was my mind so dark?

The sun was beginning the sink further into the trees now, casting orange light on my shirt and very little on the subject I was painting. What a good lesson in shadows. Painting in the evening.

I could have used this for the lesson with Scorpius.

Ugh. No.

Screw it. I grabbed the orange, mixed it with some white, and started adding delicate highlights to the trees. Playing by the rules wasn’t exactly my thing.

Not anymore.

I slid my tongue between my teeth and concentrated on each flake of bark protruding from the tree. Each leaf. I had to keep reminding myself to take a breath. I wondered how it would look in that gallery. Under a spotlight. My cursive sprawl of a signature in the bottom corner.

My heart was beating hard against my chest. The idea was thrilling. The image was clear. Everything was clear. That was what I wanted. That was everything I wanted.

I just wanted to create. And damn anyone who said I couldn’t.

Or looked at me weird when I said I liked to paint.

So it wasn’t Quidditch or Gringotts or designing runway robes. I didn’t care.

Once the sun sank too low for me to continue, I moved into the kitchen, placing the canvas in the center of the table to dry. I boxed the paints and left them as well, only to find my family in the living room.

Dad looked up and disguised his laugh for a cough. “Painting, muffin?” he asked.

“Yeah. Did you see me out there?” I glanced over at Hugo, who was mashing buttons on the controller as he tried to kill zombies.

“I just kind of assumed.” He was smirking.

“Rose,” Mum said with a sigh, elbowing Dad in the side. “You have paint all down your front.”

Bugger.

I looked down and spotted the collection of colors. At least I could call it abstract art. Perhaps Leonard would display it and I could get a few sickles out of it. “So,” I started and they looked at me. Well, Hugo didn’t. “I’m going to be a painter.”

They looked unfazed.

“For real,” I added. “Like, in my life.”

Still, expressions unchanged.

“For a career or something,” I said. “Or on the side if I need rent money.”

Dad actually yawned. He yawned. Seriously?

“Rosey,” Mum began with a knowing smile. “It’s really about time you figured that out.”

“Even I knew that before you,” Hugo said and then yelled a few colorful phrases when he was killed by a swarm of zombies.

I looked between all three of them. “Seriously? Why did you humor all of my other ideas then?”

As I recalled, I went through several career phases. Healer. Administrative Assistant at the Ministry. Minister of Magic (I was six). Shop owner. Novelist. Traveling poet (I was seven). At one point I told my father I was just going to grow up and live off of his money. He told me that was fine, just as long as I wore a thick coat on dates.

“We felt it was something you should discover on your own,” Mum said, smiling. “It’s your talent, love. You should use it.”

I felt a little dumbstruck. They knew the entire time. I wondered if Scorpius knew. If he would have said anything.

It didn’t matter now.

“Get changed and watch a movie with us,” Dad said. “I’m not having paint on my good shirt.”

I stared. “Dad, your shirt has three holes in it and has the Weird Sisters logo on the back.”

“Exactly.”

My family was so strange.

I closed my curtains and pulled off the shirt when I got back into my room, searching around for something else to wear. I found an old Harpies shirt and tugged it on.

My room was a disaster. I’d pulled out half my trunk when searching for the right paints, so that was sprawled everywhere. Mum was going to murder me, so I began to pick it up, tossing random things back into the trunk, folding clothes, and tidying up a little. Chances are if I didn’t, she’d walk in somewhere around seven in the morning and tell me to get up and do it.

She was unpredictable like that.

I grabbed a stack of books and neatly piled them on the bedside stand. Then another group of them on the dresser just under the mirror. I liked the way books looked as decor.

I jumped when I heard a crunch under my feet. If there was a dead animal in my room so help me Godric Gryffindor I would die.

I looked down.

Ah.

It was the letter, still rolled into a scroll, but now bent because of my foot.

Hmm.

I considered tossing it out onto the deck and letting it roll away in the breeze. Though there was a chance Hugo would find it and read whatever was in there. I did have a lighter. I could just set it on fire. I didn’t care what he had to say.

He lied to me.

And as much as I didn’t want to admit it, he hurt me.

I moved the scroll into my hands, fingers tracing the twine against it. He seemed pretty desperate in town today. Like this was eating him up inside. And I hoped it was. That’s what he gets for being a liar. For kissing me like he meant it while he was seeing someone else.

Whatever that meant.

And I couldn’t stand him.

I crumpled the scroll in my hands and chucked it into the mirror, watching it bounce onto the floor and under the bed. Then I sighed and walked back into the living room to kick Hugo off the television and hug my dad.

It stormed that night. I pulled the blankets up over my head until it was over.




A/N: And now we know who Danielle is! Do you think she'll ever make an appearance? Do you think Rose will ever let Scorpius explain? Or ever trust him again? What do you really think is going on here? 

I want to say a quick mushy thank you to everyone following this story and a HUGE thank you to everyone following ALL FOUR of the stories I'm updating right now. Seriously. You are all amazing and I appreciate you so much. As long as I have readers, I'll probably keep writing even though I'm trucking through an original novel as well. 

So thank you again. Love you and such! Hugs! 

UP NEXT: The letter. And some well-deserved honesty. Not just from one side. 


Chapter 12: Blunt
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For everyone who loves Ron just as much as I do. 





Day Twenty


I was much happier than I had been. I slept in since nobody bothered to come shake me awake for dish duty and curled up with a book for a few hours. When I eventually crawled out of bed, I padded down the hall in my pajamas and noticed my parents weren’t there. The car was also gone.

“Hugo?” I called. No answer. Either he was upstairs with headphones on, or he’d gone with them. Bugger. I could have asked them to pick up ice cream or something.

I sat in the kitchen after grabbing a bowl of cereal and stared out the back door.

It was a relatively nice day, though I couldn’t see the lake from the fog. They didn’t improperly name these mountains, that was for sure. I glanced at the painting, which my parents had propped against the windowsill so they could eat breakfast.

That may have been what was missing.

I abandoned the cereal and grabbed the supplies, rushing to the back deck. I quickly positioned the easel and canvas and started mixing blacks, whites, and blues. After repeatedly shoving my hair behind my ears, I began pressing misty fog onto the painting with the dry brush. Tiny flakes here and there. Thicker in some places between trees.

Already I felt relaxed. The breeze was warm and the humidity was starting to make the sweat on my neck all the more obvious. But I couldn’t stop. Not yet.

“Coffee cake?”

I turned. Dad was smiling from the door with a container of ice cream.

“Good mind-reading abilities,” I said. “What do you think?”

“Did you paint that?” Dad said, his jaw falling.

“No. I found it this way.” I rolled my eyes.

“I thought you bought it at that gallery thing or something.” Dad moved closer, his eyes on the canvas. “Godric, Rose, this is brilliant. Can I buy it?”

I stared. “What? It’s practice, Dad. It’s not even that good. The proportion of the foreground trees aren’t right.”

“Hundred galleons?” he offered.

“What? You’ve gone mad!”

“I’ll throw in some ice cream.” Dad smirked. “Oh. I should probably mention...” His nose scrunched so that some of the freckles were touching each other. I got nervous. “We saw Malfoy – well, Mr. Malfoy to you – in town today.”

“Oh?” I tried to make my voice sound as indifferent as possible.

“He said they were taking off,” Dad said. “Did you know about that? I thought you mentioned Scorpius was here the same time we were.”

I stared. Awkwardly. “What do you mean taking off? Why? To where? Home?”

He nodded. “Yeah. He mentioned something about Astoria and them leaving.”

Why did it feel like I’d just been hit by a truck?

“I need to...” My heart was beating painfully fast. “I’ll be right back.” I brushed past him and into the house, tearing down the hallway, and threw myself down on the floor. Rather dramatically, might I add. I crawled about halfway under before my fingers clutched the discarded letter.

I took a very deep breath after I unfolded it and began to read.


Rose,

I realize I am the last person you want to receive a letter from right now and I know there is little chance of you forgiving me, but I needed a chance to explain things to you. I need to set this right because it is the right thing to do.

I know you’re unhappy and I know I caused that. I feel terrible.

I promise it was unintentional. I would never want to do anything to hurt you. Maybe that’s why I didn’t mention it sooner. The more time we spent together, the harder it became to tarnish the friendship we had built. The more difficult it became to come clean. I realize now that I should have sat you down almost instantly and explained. So allow me to take time now to explain.

Danielle Miller is a Muggle girl who lives a few blocks away back in England. I met her last summer and took her to a jazz concert. We got along well, but then I disappeared back to Hogwarts and spun a web of lies about a preparatory school in Russia which ended in me having to learn some Russian phrases. When I arrived back this summer, I took her out on a few dates. We went to a restaurant. Spent another date dancing. I kissed her goodnight once. I brought her flowers. I think I felt so guilty for leaving abruptly that I wanted to make up for it. For everything. I wanted to be happy.


She told me before I left to come here that she wanted to be with me. I told her I wasn’t in the correct place of my life to give my heart to someone, as it was currently with my mother. Danielle told me that she understood, and that she would wait until I returned to discuss it further. I felt horribly guilty for not being able to give her what she wanted. She waited all that time while I was at Hogwarts, and I was still eluding her. She is a nice girl. I have nothing ill to say of her.

And I was honest. My heart was and is with my mother. I worry about her constantly. Every time I hear her coughing I start to tense up, panicking that maybe that will be the moment it all ends. When the temporary medication stops working and she is lost to me forever. I make a note to tell her how much I care about her every day before I leave. I do not want me last words to her to be filled with anything but love.

As I’m not sure if you’ll ever speak to me again, I should apologize for my behavior over the last couple weeks. I shouldn’t have kissed you. In truth, I first thought about it when I saw you walk away with my clothes that day. But I shouldn’t have. I’m horrible at this, Rose. I want to take risks and I end up hurting people because I can’t control my emotions. My temptations.

I can’t control my behavior when I’m around you.

And for that I’m sorry. Because my own inabilities are the reason you were hurt.

Lastly, I wanted to share that my family thinks it will be wise to leave early. I’m hoping to catch you tomorrow in town, but I don’t know if you’ll be there or not. There’s a really great gallery I visited today that I think you may be interested in. Maybe we could talk there, though I’m sure you don’t want anything to do with me. I can’t blame you.

Mother hasn’t made any real recovery here, other than relaxing, which has been good for her. It’s been better for Father, who stresses in hospitals. He insists she be better taken care of by nurses, though. She disagrees. We’ll probably leave in the next day or two. Perhaps Father is anxious to get back to the house.

She coughed up blood again last night. You’re the only one I’ve told about how deep this really is. And if I’m in the business of confessing, it terrifies me. Everything terrifies me right now. My mother. My father’s reaction. Losing you.

I hope now you realize why you will always be far braver than I am.

Maybe it is not my entire heart that belongs to my mother.

Scorpius


Everything hurt. My fingers, my legs, my heart. The paper was ripping. I was holding it too tight. I swallowed hard. I had no idea if I regretted reading the letter altogether or if I regretted not reading it sooner.

I reread it. I paused at the last line.

No. He couldn’t just do that. He could just casually throw in a line like that and expect everything to be fine. It wasn’t fine.

But what was he thinking?

Hell, what was I thinking?

I was thinking that Scorpius Malfoy was probably long gone by now. Back to England. Back to his house. Back to Danielle Miller.

Shit.

I didn’t know how I felt about Scorpius. I knew I was mad. I knew I wanted to hit him again, even if it meant I had to buy another bag of frozen peas. But I there was something I did know.

I didn’t want him to leave.

I hurried to change out of the kittens and into shorts and a plain t-shirt. I grabbed a bag and shoved a few things into it before tearing back into the kitchen.

“Have you thought about my offer?” Dad asked, nodding to the painting on the back deck.

Double shit. The clouds were darkening.

“If you bring it in I’ll consider it.” I took a breath. “I’ll be back.”

He looked positively smug. “Care to share where you’re off to? It looks like rain.”

I shot him a look. “I think you’re pretty sure of where I’m going.”

“Forgiven?”

“Hardly.” I leaned down and kissed the top of his head. “Have some peas in the freezer just in case.”

“That’s my girl,” Dad said as I exited the house and down the deck stairs.

I glanced at the road, but knew I’d never make it in time. It took an extra forty-five minutes that way. I’d just have to brave the forest, but I was used to it by now. I’d been through it plenty of times alone, though part of my had always assumed Scorpius was there too. At least on most occasions.

I hurried past trees and bushes, getting scraped a few times by stray branches and sharp leaves. Everything was getting darker and cooler, but I tried not to think about it. Scorpius’ rental wasn’t far away. I just needed to speak with him before he left anyway.

And say what?

Bugger.

What was I going to say?

Hello, Scorpius. Got your letter? What the fuck did that mean? It’s okay. I’ll wait patiently while you explain.

How was I far braver than him? That was stupid. His mother was practically dying. I was pretty sure nothing I did constituted as anywhere near that amount he had gone through. I wasn’t brave. I walked away when I should have screamed at him.

Why did I always walk away?

The easier way. I always took the easier way.

I found my way to the spot we’d first spoken at the creek and began my trip north along its bank. It was still soggy from last night’s rain.

It wasn’t that I didn’t care for Scorpius. Of course I did. He meant a great deal to me. That was why we spent so much time together. He listened when I spoke. I listened when he spoke. He’d gotten me to try new things. I’d gotten him to try on clothes that wouldn’t have looked out of play in a Muggle frat house.

Perhaps it would be clearer when I saw him. I’d know what to say. Or do. Maybe I’d hit him again. Everything still ached from reading his journal. Like a horrible sense of betrayal, though I knew I had no right to. He could see as many girls as he pleased. I had no attachment to him. Other than a few kisses. Holding hands. Having adventures.

Who was I kidding?

It was a stupid summer fling.

I stopped, staring at a fallen tree before me. Moss had begun to grow. We were supposed to be here for a month. Like a poorly written Muggle movie. A beachy summer of hormones and teenage lust and tension I couldn’t explain. Then it would be over.

Except this time it was over ten days early.

My fingers trailed over the bark. It was rough. I considered turning back. He was probably gone by now and what would it achieve if I went there anyway? I could accept his apology so he could sleep at night. Or I could hit him for hurting me. Either way we were each going back to England alone.

What difference did it make?

Oh hell.

I did not get shoved off the side of a cliff so I could turn back now.

Mud began to cake onto my shoes as I moved alongside the creek. I could do this. I could definitely do this.

Then the thunder rumbled in the distance.

Yeah, I couldn’t do this.

My body froze. The breeze had gotten chilly and it looked far later than it actually was. And of course it was going to storm.

The rain began in icy sheets, soaking me in seconds as I stood, rooted to the spot. I watched each pellet slam into the creek. The sound they made against the leaves was an erie wash I wanted absolutely nothing to do with.

I glanced over my shoulder. Nothing but rain for days. I could barely see the path I’d cleared. I’d have to go back. There was no way I could keep going. Not like this. Not in this weather.

This was probably some kind of stupid sign anyway. To just leave it alone.

Ugh.

Then I spotted one of the berry bushes and my lips parted. I was closer to Scorpius’ place than my own. I lifted one foot out of the building mud and put it in front of the other.

Slowly, I made my way forward, body trembling in the cold.

Each step was its own battle. My feet sank into the ground. The shirt stuck to my skin. My shorts weighed heavy on my hips and I could barely see as my eyelashes were caked with rain.

The lightning almost caused me to stumble, but I grabbed for a tree, taking a deep breath. I could do this. I was already out in it. I was not stuck under a tree waiting for it to stop. I did not have Albus with me. If I wanted to get somewhere, I had to do it myself.

I moved to the next tree as thunder echoed through the mountains. The ground moved beneath me.

I could do this.

More thunder. Lightning. The creek was rising.

Another step. To another tree. My fingers grabbed for the bark, but they were slipping now. Everything was too wet to touch.

I made a run for it, immediately regretting it as my face burned with cold and my arms were slashed by branches as I tore through them. I couldn’t see much of anything and hoped I was going the right way. Thunder was at my heels. I shrieked each time lightning illuminated the patches of trees around me.

I could beat this.

I didn’t have to fear this.

I crashed to my knees after tripping on a root, palms splayed on a patch of grass. My tangled, wet hair flew into my face like a whip. And I also probably smelled like a damp dog. Great.

I looked up. There it was. The front of Scorpius’ rental house with its dark wood door and intimidating knocker. There was no vehicle in the drive. All of the curtains were drawn.

I stumbled to my feet, using a nearby tree to balance as the thunder startled me again.

“I will be damned,” I began, marching across the grassy puddles, “If I just walked all the way here in a fucking storm and you are GONE.” I ignored the knocker and pounded on the door with the side of my fist.

Nothing. I moved closer to the door so I wouldn’t get anymore soaked than I already was. I knocked again. Still nothing.

Great. Scorpius had left. He’d gone home and I’d braved this stupid sodding storm for no reason other than for a natural soapless shower.

Hell.

I moved onto the front steps, not even caring that it was raining anymore. I let it slam onto my shoulders as I brought my legs up to hug them. Well, I could wait it out and walk back down the gravel road considering I had enough cuts on my arms and legs to not walk back through the woods. Dad was going to murder me.

I stuck out my left leg. It was bleeding. As was my arm. And the back of my hand. Great.

Today was clearly my day.

I groaned and put my face on my knee. Just let me die.

“Rose?”

I spun around and toppled backward off the stairs, hitting my arse hard on the cement below. I shoved the hair out of my eyes.

“What’re you doing here?” Scorpius moved swiftly down the stairs and into the rain, bending down to scoop me up immediately. He didn’t wait for a reply before kneeing the door the rest of the way open and carrying me inside.

At this moment I didn’t particularly want to hit him.

Scorpius wasn’t looking at me. He walked up the staircase to the right and straight into his room. “At least wait to hit me again,” he said, placing me on his bed and hurrying to the wardrobe, yanking it open.

I couldn’t hit him if I wanted to. I was trembling. Everything was shaking and in turn I was shaking the bed. It tapped the wall gingerly behind me.

“I thought you were gone,” I said.

“I’m not,” he replied, grabbing a thick sweatshirt and tossing it to me. He paused and then grabbed his wand, performing a quick drying spell on my clothes. “Put it on.”

Though the clothes were dry, I was still freezing so I tugged his sweatshirt over my wet hair and grabbed his blankets, but then stopped.

“What?” he said.

My leg was still bleeding. “Could I have a bandage?”

“Shit, Rose,” Scorpius said, moving to the bed. “What happened to you?” His eyes met mine for the first time, brows creased in concern.

“How do I know you were telling the truth?” I demanded. Apparently that was what I was going to say when I saw Scorpius Malfoy.

“You read the letter?” He moved away from me and opened his bedroom door. “I’ll be right back.” Then he disappeared into the hall.

“Yes, I read the letter!” I called to him. “Was it true? I’m not fucking around, Scorpius. I will hit you. Hard.”

“I do not doubt that!” he shouted from a different room.

“I am dead serious!” I cried. I felt a little tired, though. Not exactly threatening. I grabbed the bag from beside me and pulled out the sopping wet letter. “Are you going to go home and take this Danielle girl out again?”

To my surprise, Scorpius’ face poked into the room immediately. “I can’t even get you a bandage in peace, can I?” he said, that teasing tone back in his voice. I had no idea why, as I was still mad at him.

Maybe it was because I was lying injured in his bed.

“Answer me,” I said seriously, matching his gaze.

He frowned. “All right,” he said. He peeled the packaging off a bandage and placed it on my leg once he wiped off the extra blood. “First let me clean you up.” He was silent, grabbing my arm and running a damp cloth over the cuts.

It would have been more relaxing if my heart wasn’t beating so hard.

Scorpius sat beside me on the bed and made sure each cut was properly cleaned before he placed a bandage over it. He didn’t talk. He didn’t so much as glance at me. Instead, he concentrated. I could hear the rain slamming against the windows.

“You really walked all the way here in the storm?” he asked quietly, applying a thin bandage to the back of my right hand.

“Mhmm.”

His thumb brushed over my skin. “You’re quite the Gryffindor,” he said. I could see the red in his eyes.

“Clearly.” I took a breath and watched as he folded the cloth neatly, placing it on his bedside stand. “Scorpius, I don’t know why I’m here.”

His eyes moved to mine. “Probably for the same reason I’m still here,” he said.

I could feel my heart begin to beat faster, so I busied myself with pulling the blanket over my legs. “Where are your parents?”

“They went to the village,” he replied.

“Your mother?”

“She insisted,” Scorpius said. “I told her about the diner and she wanted to try it. Father was very reluctant, but he always caves with her.” His lips tugged into a small smile.

“My dad said you were leaving today,” I explained. “He said he ran into your father.”

“We were going to.” He shrugged. “Mum hates the hospital though. She wanted to stay for a bit longer. She said she wants to sit on the back deck with a mug of hot tea.”

I began to relax. “So what of Danielle Miller?”

“What of her?” Scorpius asked. He busied himself with straightening some clutter, even though it wasn’t a mess.

“What becomes of her when you go home?” I asked.

“Do you have an opinion?”

I swallowed hard. “If I hit you and left angry, what would become of her?”

Scorpius paused, running his finger over the dresser. He clicked his tongue briefly and turned, leaning against the furniture as he surveyed me. “The same thing that would happen if you forgave me. Nothing.”

I tried to focus. I was not the kind of girl to just get hurt and then fall for a letter from Mr. sodding Darcy. I had legitimate concerns. I was mad. Or something.

“Okay,” I said, nodding. I paused, taking a breath. Okay. Brave face, Rose. “You lied to me.”

“I know.” His jaw tightened.

For some reason I just felt angry at all of it. Him standing there after cleaning my wounds. Being in this bedroom where I’d found his journal. What the hell had I done? I grabbed the pillow and threw it at him and he shot me a confused look.

“I bloody cried!” I shouted at him.

He stared, dumbstruck.

“Do you even understand that?” I asked. “I don’t even know what the hell this is! I don’t even know why I cried because I couldn’t bloody care less who you snog when you’re home!”

Scorpius looked like he wanted to say something, but remained silent. He raked his fingers through his hair nervously.

“You don’t get to be charming and put your stupid feelings into a letter,” I snapped. My eyes were beginning to burn. “You don’t get to make things all right.”

“I wasn’t trying to,” Scorpius finally said. “I was just trying to explain.”

“Then fucking explain what this is,” I shouted, blinking back the tears I hadn’t anticipated. I moved my finger between us. “Because I have absolutely no idea why I feel so foolish right now.”

Scorpius’ grip tightened on the dresser. “Rose,” he began, but stopped.

“I need to leave.” I threw off the blankets, tears blurring my vision as I staggered to his bedroom door.

Everything hurt. Why did everything hurt?

I felt his fingers move around my wrist, spinning me so fast I lost my balance and fell. Into him. My chest pressed against his and I fought to wipe away the tears before looking up at him. His arms tightened around my waist.

“Rose, you know what this is,” Scorpius said gruffly, moving his free hand to wipe a few of the stray tears from my jawline.

“I don’t,” I said, determined.

He cupped my face in his hand and leaned in, kissing me softly. “You do,” he said against my lips.

Did I? Everything was a little fuzzy. The room had that dampness too it from the window being open. My hair was wetting down the back of the sweatshirt. I wanted to comment on all of this, but I found myself kissing Scorpius again.

“You didn’t come here to hit me,” he whispered, his hand moving from my face into my hair.

“Stop being mysterious,” I said absently, kissing him again. “I’ve had enough of mysterious.”

Scorpius moved both his arms around me, pulling me tight to his body. “I’ll be blunt,” he said, tone serious as he looked down at me. His eyes were a different intensity of grey today. He looked more relaxed, yet tired. “Rose, I fancy the hell out of you.” He paused and I could feel his heart beating against my chest. “A lot,” he added breathlessly.

His cheeks were pink.

I couldn’t breathe and my grip tightened on his shirt. I had no idea what to say. Like I was had the wind knocked out of me. I blinked a couple times, my mouth opening and closing like a fish.

“Please say something,” Scorpius blurted, his eyes full of concern.

I felt like my throat had closed up, heart racing.

So I grabbed his chin and pulled him into a kiss, knocking him back into the wall.

*

“Does this mean you forgive me?”

We were in Scorpius’ bed, his arms around me. My hair was almost dry now and the parts that weren’t were against his skin so I wasn’t cold. Everything smelled like him.

“Don’t get ahead of yourself,” I murmured into his chest. My eyes were closed and I felt sleepy. It was still raining, but it was no longer storming. Just a light, summer rain. We’d been laying there for the better part of a half hour after kissing for a while against the wall. My lips were still a little tingly.

Scorpius kissed the top of my head. “Fair enough,” he said with a brief chuckle. “I may have had a motive when I told my mother about the diner.”

I glanced up. “Did you really think I’d come?”

“I hoped you would,” he replied. “And then if you didn’t, at least I could spend some time alone before going home.”

“What did you do with your alone time anyway? Did you practice your hosting personality?”

“Actually, no.” Scorpius squeezed my shoulders and hopped off the bed, walking over to the dresser. He pulled open the first drawer. “I’ve been working on something.”

“If you wrote me another damn letter I will leave,” I muttered.

He pulled out a small, square canvas. “I painted,” he said with a shy smile, crossing the room to place it in my lap.

It was an abstract painting with what looked to be a house in by the trees. Lots of reds and oranges and yellows. I stared.

“I used the colors from that sunset,” Scorpius said after a while. “It reminded me of you.”

My eyes flickered to his. “I like you too,” I said breathlessly, fingers moving over the brush strokes.

“Yeah?” His lips immediately exploded into a grin. It looked charming and natural and I wanted to kiss him even more.

“Yeah. This painting is amazing. I can’t believe you used that as your inspiration.” I could see a lot of the colors in it. The ones I’d studied so hard on the roof. While he slept.

“I had a good instructor.” Scorpius shrugged, his cheeks darkening again as he sat beside me on the bed. “Do you like it?”

“It’s brilliant.” I smiled, kissing him.

“Keep it.”

“What?”

“You should keep the painting.” Scorpius put his hand over mine. “Just in case I screw up again. You can look at it and get all sappy and forgive me.” He chuckled in a teasing way.

“Are you hiding any other girls?” I said darkly, making a face. “Because I’m going to start dropping my gloves and throwing down with these girls.”

Scorpius laughed, moving the canvas onto his bedside table and tackling me into a hug, pressing his lips against my cheek and chin and jaw. “I’m going to have to hold you back,” he teased, snickering. “But I can’t deny I’d like to watch that.”

I swatted his arm. “You’re making this up to me,” I told him.

“Anything,” Scorpius said, holding me tight. “Can I ask if you’ll have another go with my parents?”

I thought about it for a moment. How nervous I’d been. How I stormed out of the house. I couldn’t imagine what Mr. Malfoy thought when I slammed the door. Great. That would be fun.

“Maybe,” I replied. “Can you escape tomorrow? Or should you be here?”

Scorpius was quiet. His fingers brushed up and down my arm. “I could escape,” he said. “I could use a distraction, you know.” His lips followed his fingers, tracing slow kisses down my arm.

“I could move around my schedule,” I said, though it barely came out because of the chills running through my body.

“Can I take you out?” Scorpius asked.

“Like a date?” I looked at him, eyes wide.

“Sure,” he said. “I’ve been wanting to take you on a date.” He shrugged in a casual way, but there was nothing casual about his expression. “Thought it would be strange to ask when we hadn’t exactly said anything more than we were friends.”

“Who were snogging,” I added.

“Yes. We did that.” Scorpius smirked and kissed me again. “A lot.”

“Didn’t hear you complaining,” I mumbled with a small laugh. I spoke between each kiss and found my hands tangled in his hair.

“Right back at you, Juliet,” he growled into my mouth and holy hell everything melted.

I didn’t know he was capable of that sound.

“I should not be here anymore,” I whispered, kissing him again. And again.

“Clearly you’re making a case to leave.” He smirked, hand on my thigh.

Just as Scorpius’ tongue brushed my lower lip we heard a car door slam shut and jumped apart. I could assume my face was as red as his was. “I’m in your sweatshirt!” I said like it was some sort of indicator that we were making out in his bed.

“Keep it! It’s chilly after it rains!” Scorpius said nervously, leaping off the side of the bed. “My parents are here!”

“Pretty sure I knew that.” I leaned over the window and watched Scorpius’ mum climb out of the passenger side of the car.

It had been a long time since I’d seen her. Mrs. Malfoy looked very little like her son or husband. She was tall with raven-black hair tied up in a loose knot on the back of her head. The kind of woman who wore regular, cotton clothes but could make them look like they were from Rodeo Drive. She was smiling. I noticed how pretty she looked when she smiled.

“I have to warn you,” Scorpius said softly, his arm moving around my waist. “She’s very protective.”

“Like my dad protective?” I asked.

“Oh no. That’s an entirely different beast.” He kissed my forehead. “Want to sneak out the back?”

I nodded. “Dad probably has a bag of peas ready for me.”




A/N: To clarify from Scorpius' letter, Danielle is not and was not his girlfriend. Just to put that out there just in case it was confusing. 

Thank you all again for your continued support and comments with this and the other stories I am updating. Thank you for your patience as well. It gets hard to update four stories at once!! But your kind words keep me going. 

I hope you all enjoyed this chapter :) 

NEXT UP: A Date. And Mr. Malfoy.


Chapter 13: Date
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For AriesGirl40.





Everything was a foggy haze. After leaving Scorpius’, I meandered down the road back to where I was staying, thinking. My mind had no idea where to go. It somehow ended up back on Scorpius’ kiss every time it wandered.

What the hell had just happened?

I tried to replay it over in my head. How furious I had been the last few days. My heart beating rapidly when Dad told me what he’d heard from Mr. Malfoy. Pure fear as I ran through the trees. The stinging of cuts on my skin. Scorpius pushing his sweatshirt into my hands. Kissing me. Kissing me again.

He told me he fancied me.

Looking back, I suppose I should have seen there was a different attachment there. When he pushed paint with his thumb across my jaw I should have known that was not regular friendship. I wouldn’t do that with any bloke I was just hanging out with. But with Scorpius, it seemed so natural. I had no reason to think anything else.

Until now.

He fancied me. Scorpius Malfoy fancied me.

What did that mean?

Who sodding cared? At this particular moment, I didn’t.

I moved up the steps, darkened by the rain, and into the rental. The kitchen was empty and I spotted a trio of mugs in the sink. Dad had brought my painting in as promised and placed it on the center of the table with the box of paints and brushes. I stared at it for a long moment, eyes scanning the colors and the mixtures. I’d left Scorpius’ canvas there after instructing him to sign it.

Something was missing.

I grabbed the painting and tugged it back outside. It was chilly now, so I was thankful for the warm sweatshirt against my shoulders. I secretly couldn’t stop smelling it, which made me feel like a creep. Oh well. No one was around. I’d smell the shit out of this shirt.

I tapped the brush into a mixture of yellow and orange and began spreading it against the previous highlights on each tree. They hadn’t been bright enough. They blended. They let the fog take over. The darkness.

I kept my tongue between my teeth as I painted, careful to use the sunlit trees to my left as guidance. But the colors. Those were from the sunset. From Scorpius’ painting. Something I now associated with him.

After a quarter of an hour I stepped away from the painting. I stared. That is what I always did. Took a step back and just looked for a while. Maybe trying to spot a flaw or something I could improve upon. This time I just stared. Then I packed up the paints and brushes and headed back inside.

“Apparently when you leave you come home with new clothes,” Dad noted. He was at the sink washing out the mugs. “Not quite your style.” He smirked.

I blushed a little, but busied myself with organizing my paint box. “I finished the painting.”

He looked out the window. “How about a hundred fifty Galleons?”

“Sold,” I said with a teasing laugh.

“Did you work things out?” he asked, placing each mug into the drying rack.

I thought about that for a minute. What the correct answer would be. What would be appropriate to tell my father.

“I did.” I nodded and locked the paint box, sliding it onto the table by the door. “I think everything will be all right. Eventually.”

“Ah.” He tossed the dish rag onto the counter. “I take it they haven’t left.”

“They haven’t,” I replied, attempting to hide the grin. I could feel my face begin to heat up. “We’re going out tomorrow. Is that all right?”

“Did you just ask me permission?” Dad made a face that showed he was quite impressed. And was trying to think of just what to do with this newfound power.

“I’m going out,” I explained. “I just wanted to make you feel better.”

“Just avoid Hugo,” Dad said, pulling me into a teddy bear hug. “He’ll be out and about tomorrow as well. I told him I’d drop him off in town and he could walk his happy arse back.”

“Good to know he’ll probably stay the night rather than walk back.” I chuckled and kissed Dad on the cheek.

“Go take a shower,” he muttered. “You smell like rain and Malfoy.”


Day Twenty-One


When I went to sleep, I figured I would just wake up and find something decent (and decent-smelling) to wear before Scorpius arrived. That wasn’t entirely the case. After Hugo burst in to harass me of going on a date (thanks, Dad) I washed my face and stared into my closet.

Shit.

What was I supposed to wear?

I knew that this was a typical girl move. I’d done it on so many occasions when I got nervous before a date. Or going to dinner when the guy I had a crush on was sitting at the same table. And as I’d had quite a few Gryffindor crushes, this was unfortunate. Usually, though, I had Dom. She would walk over to the wardrobe, grab a cute outfit absently, and throw it at me. Hard.

She would also take great pleasure in my discomfort and suffering. Everything seemed to come much easier to her.

Especially boys.

I looked like an awkward mess dressed in kittens as I stared at my clothes. I wasn’t prepared to go on a date. I thought I’d spend the better part of thirty days in sweats, gym shorts, t-shirts, and kittens. I wasn’t anticipating spending time with anyone other than my family. Especially a fit boy who wanted to take me out.

Something told me the tank-top with one burn hole from when I was fourteen was not going to cut it today. The only dress I had was dirty. Ugh.

“Need some help?” Mum stuck her head in the door. “Your father’s big mouth alerted me.”

I chuckled and pulled the door the rest of the way open. “You don’t think he’s going to give Scorpius some rubbish intentions talk, do you?”

“Who would get more pleasure out of that? Him or you?”

I thought about watching Scorpius squirm and blush. I mentally agreed it would be me.

“Let’s see.” Mum’s fingers moved over the clothes I had hanging in the closet. She kept her expression indifferent until she came to the end. “Come on.” She grabbed my hand and pulled me into the hall.

“Pretty sure I should be getting ready,” I noted.

“You’re your father’s daughter,” Mum said and tugged me up the stairs and into the master bedroom. Their bed was neatly made with white blankets and everything was placed perfectly about the space. Dad had nothing to do with that. And Mum was right, considering I had books, clothes, and paint brushes scattered around my room.

She opened her closet and pulled the dangling chain to illuminate the space. Mum hadn’t brought too many outfits, but enough to pick from. “Let’s find something for you to wear.”

At least Mum didn’t wear ugly things with shoulder pads.

I was surprised at the selection, to be honest. I’d only seen her in a few casual outfits over the last couple weeks. I went through cute silk tops, a thick, knit sweater, and some plain t-shirts.

“Why don’t you try this?” Mum held up a black top with small crystals sewn into where it would lay across my left collar bone. She pulled a skirt with black and white vertical stripes from her dresser. “Casual, but worthy of a date.”

“When was the last time you went on a date?” I took both items from her and vanished into the bathroom.

“Your father takes me out more often than you’d think,” she replied.

I remembered Hugo walking in on them snogging. Gross.

“Okay,” I replied, pulling the skirt up over my hips. “What if it’s going out with a boy you’ve already been friends with and you don’t want it to be weird?”

Mum snorted with laughter. For a while. “You mean like after ah, almost seven years of knowing each other?”

Oh yeah.

“Then how was it not awkward?” I said defensively.

“Just be yourself,” Mum said. “You don’t need to be anyone else.”

I looked at myself in the mirror, mind wandering back to the boutique with Scorpius. The word ‘beautiful’ on his tongue.

After walking back into the bedroom, I spun and Mum caught me, pulling me into a hug.

“You look lovely,” she said, kissing my forehead. She tossed a pair of black flats to me and smiled. “There. You’re all set.”

I guess I didn’t need Dom after all.

*


Scorpius arrived when he said he would and to my delight, he looked positively nervous as he knocked on the back door. I pulled it open and was met with a small bouquet of wildflowers. Purples. Pinks. Greens. Oranges. Beautiful.

I grinned. “Hey,” I said.

He choked back a few words and nodded. “You look great,” he said eventually, wiping a little sweat from his brow. Clearly this was a situation Scorpius had not found himself in on a frequent basis. Not that I had, but his parents must not have calmed him down first.

I couldn’t say he didn’t look good, though. He paired his usual khaki trousers with a blue and white striped collared shirt. The sleeves were rolled up to his elbows and he nervously fidgeted with them as I filled a vase with water.

“So where are we going?” I asked with a sheepish smile.

Might as well milk it.

“Scorpius!” Dad cried, bursting into the kitchen.

Scorpius looked positively petrified.

I shot my father a look. “We’re leaving now,” I told him.

“Just a moment.” He grinned like an idiot and nodded to one of the kitchen chairs. Scorpius sat down obediently. “So. Scorpius. You’re taking my daughter out. You know, after spending our entire family vacation with her. My vacation with her.” He narrowed his eyes.

Scorpius stared. He blinked once or twice.

“Where will you be taking her?” Dad asked.

“Into town, sir.”

I almost snorted with laughter.

“Who will be paying for this adventure?” he asked.

“I will, sir.”

Dad needed to stop. But I wasn’t going to stop it.

“When will you have my little turkey home?” Dad asked.

“Before dark, sir.”

Dad slid into the seat across from Scorpius with a very serious expression on his face. Oh, Godric, here it comes. “What are your intentions with my daughter?”

Scorpius’ jaw slacked and I couldn’t help it – I burst out laughing.

“No, really,” Dad said, now laughing as well. “I’d like to know. Just so I can sleep at night. Or discuss a few Ministry methods with your Uncle Harry.” He shot me a grin. “Did you know they used to string you up by your thumbs at Hogwarts?”

I nudged him with my hip. “Come on, Scorpius. You don’t have to tell him your intentions.”

“He does so!” Dad said with a pout. “I’m sure those thumb-hangers are on backorder so I’ll have to get them soon.”

I rolled my eyes. “His intentions are to take your daughter on a nice date.” I looked at Scorpius. “And apparently sweat a lot.” I smirked. “I’ll be back before it gets too dark.”

“Too dark or dark?” Dad asked. “There’s a difference.”

“Pretty sure I’ve been back well after midnight during the vacation,” I said. “Too dark if I want to watch a sunset.” I grinned, grabbed Scorpius’ hand, and tugged him out into the sunlight. Then of course I burst out laughing yet again.

“That’s not funny!” he said, shoving me playfully. “I was seriously scared!”

“Yes, sir, you were!” I giggled. “You mean you didn’t have five hours of tranquil fishing to prepare for it?”

“Skipped that step today,” he grumbled, leading the way down the drive to the winding road. “Hell. I’ve never had that happen before.”

I thought about how many occasions he might have to meet the parents of a girl he was seeing. I briefly wondered if he’d met Danielle’s parents and frowned.

“No,” Scorpius said.

“No what?” I looked around. Had I missed the conversation?

“No, I didn’t meet Danielle’s parents,” he explained.

“Did I say that out loud?” My face was hot almost instantly. Great. Now I sounded like a jealous woman. I would make Dom proud.

He chuckled and pushed some hair away from his forehead. “You didn’t,” he said. “But at least now I know what you were thinking.” Scorpius slipped his hand back into mine and continued on with a shy smile. It was cute.

“Scorpius?”

“Hmm?” He began to swing our arms.

“What’s your biggest fear?” I asked. It certainly couldn’t be the squid.

He pressed his lips together, rolling them like he had on lipstick. It was silent far longer than I expected it to be as we moved around a bend. I began to examine the wildlife closely, picking out shades of green. Jungle green was prominent here, whereas I could never find a use for it as a child.

“Dying without living,” Scorpius said and I jumped, having nearly forgot he was thinking.

“You think?”

He nodded. “I think that is my biggest fear,” he replied softly, eyes on the gravel before us. “I want to do everything I can. I don’t want to leave a stone unturned.”

I wasn’t sure how to respond. I had said storms. It seemed trivial in comparison. “Are you sure you’re not a Ravenclaw?” I asked.

“Full of logic?” he asked. “Hardly.”

I thought about his comments before. Throughout the entire vacation. About satisfaction and happiness and the general dreaminess that followed in his wake.

“Are you happy?” I asked.

This time he replied almost instantly.

“Yes,” he said, grip tightening on my hand. “That I’m certain of. I don’t do anything that doesn’t make me happy, at least in the tiniest bit.”

We were silent again. My mind kept wandering. He was so sure of everything. He had an opinion, a set goal. He knew what he wanted.

I knew very little about what I wanted.

“Do you have to turn over every stone to be happy?” I asked after a while.

“I don’t think so,” he replied in a somber way. “But I’d like to try.”

“I would too,” I added softly, determined to believe it.

*

Scorpius passed the first diner, the one we’d originally been to on our first visit, and continued down the street. We’d been chatting for the better part of a half hour about art. When I got started, it was hard for me to stop. When we entered the town, I was on a long rant about contemporary museums versus traditional ones. He kept snickering. Probably because he knew I was bonkers for being so passionate about one thing.

Especially considering most girls in my year were either passionate about Quidditch, the boys who played Quidditch, or the fashion that would get them asked out by said boys who played Quidditch. Dom fit into all three.

I expected to turn into the second diner, only to have Scorpius pass that one as well. When he turned around the side of the final shop, however, I knew where we were going.

I didn’t say anything, though. Pink-faced, I let him lead me up the ladder and onto the roof where we’d watched the sunset.

What I didn’t expect, however, was what was up there.

“Make yourself at home,” Scorpius said. His face was a little red too, but he wore a brilliant smirk. He even motioned his arms for the full effect of what he’d done.

On the roof was a large orange blanket sprawled out as well as a bottle of wine, two glasses, and a small basket. In front of the blanket, toward where the sunset would be, were two easels. Each had a square canvas, white, and between the two was an assortment of brushes, paint, and pallets.

I stared.

“I know I’m building it up a bit,” Scorpius started, watching me, “But I figured we’ve done so many other amazing things that it had to be special.”

I was having a difficult time wrapping my mind about what he’d done. I thought about the previous blokes I’d dated. I didn’t have to think about Lysander because his version of a date was eating the unpopped kernels of popcorn and scrunching up his face to get them to pop in his stomach. Or so he assumed.

This was something out of a movie. A book. Something I was definitely unfamiliar with.
He cut into the silence again. “I got the stuff from the gallery across the street,” he said. “Leonard lent it to me. He’s a chap.”

I finally nodded a little, coming to my senses. “Wow,” I got out. My throat felt clogged.

“You like it?” he asked.

He looked like a kid on Christmas morning, bouncing on the balls of his feet.

“I do.” I nodded again, trying to verbalize it. I couldn’t. I just kept staring at the colors of paint and the canvases and then to the bottle of wine. I cleared my throat. “I don’t know how my painting will look after that.”

He chuckled and uncorked the wine with ease. “Abstract,” Scorpius replied. “And you can donate it to those contemporary museums you know so much about.” He shot me a tiny wink and handed me a glass. “Cheers.”

The liquid was pinkish. I swirled it a bit. “To what?”

“To me officially fearing your father,” Scorpius said, clinking his glass to mine before taking a sip. “Now quit looking awkward and bloody sit down.”

*

In the basket was a simple dinner of sloppily prepared sandwiches, pasta salad, and cold mashed potatoes. I barely noticed. Instead, we took advantage of the never ending bottle of wine and just talked. It was a relief. A sense of relaxation. Though on more than one occasion we heard someone taking their garbage out down below and had to shush each other repeatedly, eventually dissolving into laughter.

We talked about life and happiness and the embarrassing things my dad had done in the past. We talked about classes and our friends and he did a strangely accurate impression of Professor Longbottom. After that, we talked about fishing and waterfall-jumping and how strange clothespins were.

By that time we’d had a few glasses (bottles) of wine.

Scorpius topped off our glasses, yelping as he spilled some on the blanket. “No way,” he said, shaking his head so pieces of hair flew onto his brows. “There is absolutely no way that clothespins are better than paper clips.”

What conversation were we having?

“Yes, they are,” I insisted. “In the same way that Gryffindor is better than Slytherin.”

“Treason,” he said, throwing back the glass of wine.

“How can it be treason if I’m not a Slytherin?”

“Well, you ought to be,” Scorpius said. “With all the sneaking out and general brilliant-ness that’s been happening lately with you.” He winked in a devilish way.

“Except I won’t use any means to achieve my ends,” I teased, feeling rather smirky.

His head tilted, watching me. He looked almost somber. “If by ends you mean shagging me, you’re out of luck, Juliet. I don’t take off my clothes for Gryffindors.”

I blushed instantly, but then my brows furrowed. “I recall a moment in a shed where you were nearly stark naked.”

Scorpius laughed. “I don’t recall what you’re talking about at all,” he said.

I poured some more wine into my glass. “What are we doing, Scorpius?” I asked with a laugh. “This date has been derailed by alcohol and you staring at my lips more than my eyes.”

“Caught that, did you?”

“You weren’t hiding it.” I shot him his own wink in return.

My back hit the roof hard when Scorpius kissed me, wine flying out of my hands. My fingers tangled into his hair, gripping it as I returned the kiss. Nothing about it was soft and tender. It was fueled by pink wine, heartbeats, and hormones. When his teeth grazed my lip I pushed him back, barely able to breathe.

“Sorry,” he said, laughing a little as he moved back to his side of the blanket in a hurry. The back of his neck was red.

“I’m sorry,” I corrected. “I shouldn’t have winked at a seventeen-year-old boy.” I playfully winked again and he went redder.

I liked that about him. That there were moments his face lit up like a strand of Christmas fairy lights and there were other times he could be smarmy and full of himself. A sense of sensitivity under his exterior. I wondered how many people knew about that. Or how many people he wanted to know.

“Well, I got this stuff for a reason.” Scorpius motioned to the canvases and paint. “We may as well get our hands off each other and put them to good use.”

For once, I disagreed with that logic. But that was because of my empty wine glass.

And that his blush made me want to kiss him. When was the last time I’d seen a guy blush before Scorpius? Even my brother wasn’t one to let his embarrassment show on his face.

I watched him take a pallet and squirt some oranges and reds and whites onto it. Then he grabbed a flat-ended brush and dabbed it between two colors. He seemed to work in a hurry, his body a silhouette against the dying sun.

Oh!

I scrambled to my feet, realizing why Scorpius was working to mix colors in a rush. The sun was setting to the west and the sky was exploding in vibrant shades of color.

“Caught on, have you?” he asked with a laugh.

I ignored him and began mixing colors, my gaze turning to the sunset every so often. I began to smear the brush against the rough canvas over and over again. I added in new colors. I created a seamless variation from the platinum of the sun to the hazy pinks near the top.

“You’re brilliant,” Scorpius said.

I looked over. “What?”

He nodded to the painting. “You just went into this crazy zone and came out with that. It’s wild.”

“It’s not done,” I insisted, grabbing a few greens and the black and mixing them. “Don’t look until it’s done.”

“Mine’s done,” Scorpius announced, hip-bumping me to the side so he was also standing in front of my painting. Then he leaned over, his nose inches from the canvas, and stopped. “Is this what you wanted me not to do? Look?”

“Get out of the way,” I said, elbowing him, though he didn’t budge. “I have a foreground to paint.”

“Forget the foreground,” Scorpius whined. “I want to kiss that concentrated look off your bloody face.”

“Ever the romantic,” I muttered and shoved him away. One lesson he had to learn was not to come between me and a painting.

I began brushing in the trees that lined the sunset and all of their bushy branches. It didn’t take long, just a few strays on each side, a lot of dark shadows since the sun was coming from the other way, and one or two scattered leaves. I stepped back, placing the brush handle between my teeth as a habit.

“See? Brilliant,” Scorpius said, moving next to me.

I couldn’t disagree. It wasn’t horrible. Okay, it wasn’t horrible at all. The colors were accurate, the treescape was executed well. It was a good painting. I couldn’t tear my eyes from the setting sun.

His arm moved around my waist, resting on my hip. “Want to see mine?” He was laughing.

Scorpius’ painting was a canvas full of blocked colors, squares placed all over the surface to signify the setting sun. Orange beside red beside pink beside white. Truthfully, it was brilliant. Very abstract, but beautiful.

I wondered if it mirrored his thoughts.

“Ready to sell it to a museum?” he asked.

I tossed the brush into a glass of water by the pallets. “I think I’ll wait on that,” I said, laughing.

“It’s because you didn’t sign it!” he said, grabbing a thin brush and thrusting in into my hands. “How are you supposed to become a famous painter if you don’t sign your work?”

“All right, all right,” I muttered, dipping the brush in the leftover gold and sprawling my name in the corner. “Are you happy? Now I’m certain to become famous and travel the world painting commissioned works of sunsets. Obviously.”

He smirked. “Obviously,” Scorpius agreed, kissing me lightly. “Since Gryffindors are obviously full of adventure.”

“Is that an insult?” I asked, brows raising as I wiggled away from him. “A knock at my lack of wanting to jump a waterfall or find my way through the woods in the middle of the night?”

He paused. “Yes, that was the intention.”

“You’re lucky you’re cute,” I grumbled and stood on my toes to kiss him.

*

We arrived back much later than ‘just after dark’ as the walk was longer than we remembered. We could have Apparated, as we could have through most of the summer, but Mum would have killed me knowing I could have been seen by the Muggles in the area. So instead we walked and talked and at one point we kept making each other yawn so much I had to push him into the bushes to bloody stop it.

The house was dark and silent when I returned home. Scorpius pressed his lips against mine just off the side of the deck.

“You’re sure you’re okay walking back?” I asked.

“Rose,” he said, “Pretty sure I’ve been doing this for the better part of a month.”

“Right.”

“Good night,” he said. I could see the corners of his lips rising in the reflection from the back porch light. “Thanks for going out with me.”

“Thanks for making up your prattiness,” I said.

“Always keeping me on my toes,” Scorpius muttered, kissing me one last time before disappearing into the trees.

I snuck back into the house, closing all the doors quietly, and flipped on the light in my room. Wow. That was some night. Food, conversation, wine, and painting. I could hardly put it into words. I knew Scorpius wanted it to be grand to make up for being such a jerk before, but I was expecting dinner at the diner and maybe a walk or some cliff-jumping, knowing him.

Not that.

Not that I was complaining. It could have been miserable and it would still be better than Lysander’s date, which consisted of a cotton rally and dinner at this place that only served cold noodles.


Day Twenty - Two


“Rose.”

What the heck time was it? It felt like I was only asleep for a minute or two. The sun was up, but I could tell it had just barely risen. It couldn’t be much later than six and all I wanted to do was sink back into the blankets, but Dad was shaking me.

“What?” I whined, rolling away from him, but he pulled me back.

“Is Scorpius here?”

“What?” I said, opening my eyes to meet his. He looked concerned. “No, he’s not. He left when he dropped me off.”

“And you’re being completely honest?” I couldn’t blame him for asking, especially since I’d hidden Scorpius under the bed before.

I nodded. “Yeah. We got back kind of late and he dropped me off and went home.” I paused, sitting up. “Why?”

“Malfoy is here,” Dad said. “Well, Mr. Malfoy.” He all but rolled his eyes. “Anyway, Scorpius never made it home last night.”




A/N: Happy July! My birthday gift to you this year (on behalf of my own birthday) is this chapter! So I hope you enjoyed it! Up until the end at least... now you probably hate me. Can't blame you. 

Thoughts? Theories? 

NEXT UP: The hunt for Scorpius Malfoy begins.


Chapter 14: Silence
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For squirrelsocks, unknownhorcrux, and Melissa. You are the sweetest.




I shot out of bed before realizing I had nowhere to go. “What do you mean Scorpius never made it home?” I asked, heart racing. “I watched him leave.”

Dad shook his head, straightening up. “Which way did he go?”

“Into the woods,” I said, voice starting to get desperate. “The same way he always goes. It’s the same way. How could he not be back?” I grabbed a clean shirt and pulled it on, rushing out into the kitchen where Mr. Malfoy was at the table with a steaming mug before him. He looked distressed. Rightly so.

His grey eyes turned to me when I entered, almost hopeful, until Dad walked in behind me.

“Said he walked back after he dropped her off late,” Dad said, putting his hand on my shoulder.

I hated that look. The one of urgent sadness in Mr. Malfoy’s eyes. He looked scared. I wondered if my father had ever looked like that. What if I hadn’t come home?

I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I’d watched him walk off. How many things were in those woods that could have prevented Scorpius from getting back? Were there bears? Tigers? Bloody hell, what did the United States have? I should have done more research before this trip.

“I guessed he might have been here,” Mr. Malfoy said, draining what was left in the mug before sliding it across the table to my mother. She looked just as nervous.

“Well, we have to go look!” I shouted quickly. “He can’t be far, can he? I know the way.” I grabbed the sliding door, pulling it open.

“You’re not going outside if something’s there,” Dad ordered, shutting the door immediately. “I’ll look with Malf – Mr. Malfoy.” He made an awkward face. “Hermione?”

“I’ll get my shoes,” Mum said and disappeared into the living room.

“I’m going,” I said stubbornly. How could I sit at home while they went off and looked? They didn’t even know the way. They didn’t know the path to the creek or the berries or any of it. My heart was beating so hard it hurt. Everything hurt and the adrenaline was making me sweat.

“You’re not.” Dad’s eyes were on mine. “Stay here.” He nodded to Mr. Malfoy and before I could get a word in, they walked into the living room, joined Mum, and left.

The kitchen was silent.

Great. Leave a hysterical girl alone with her thoughts.

I could make a list of things that could have killed Scorpius, but somehow that didn’t seem like the best idea.

Bears. Mountain lions. Really rabid skunks.

As opposed to regularly rabid skunks.

The hall door opened and I jumped. “Dad?”

Hugo walked in. “You think I’m balding?” he asked, yawning. “What’s got your knickers in a twist?”

“Scorpius is bloody fucking missing!” I shouted, throwing an apple and hitting him square in the shoulder.

“What? Did they check the bathroom?” He kicked the fruit out of the way.

“I’m serious.”

“So why are you here then?” Hugo asked, grabbing another apple from the basket in the center of the table and taking a bite.

“Dad told me to stay.”

“Why?”

“Might be dangerous.”

His brow raised. “Yeah, okay,” Hugo said, rolling his eyes. “Or you could go find him.”

“And if it is dangerous?” I countered. “It could be a bear or a Muggle with a gun.”

Hugo leaned against the wall, staring at me as he chewed. “You’re a Gryffindor, Rosey,” he said. “Put your brave pants on.”

*

I had no idea which way my parents had gone. The car was gone, so I assumed they took it to check the road and the surrounding brush. Or maybe to check town as well. I, however, ran directly into the woods, crashing through branches and ferns and thick layers of forest.

Everything seemed like it was on fire. The humidity soaked my shirt in minutes, but I didn’t stop to rest. I just kept looking. I called out his name.

Birds. Wind. Crackling of branches. Silence.

I forced my way through more of the forest, careful to check behind trees and rotting logs. It kept getting hotter, though I was sure my running wasn’t helping.

“Scorpius!” I cried, stopping to get my bearings. Nothing. I wasn’t far from the creek at that point, so I moved a little slower, trying to find anything.

What was I, a tracker?

I wouldn’t be able to spot anything unless it was a giant muddy print before me.

Which, you know, it was.

I fell to my knees, examining it. Okay, the print could have been from someone else. It could have also been from earlier in the day, but it was pointing toward the creek. It was pretty deep, though it hadn’t been raining to muddy the area. I frowned.

“Scorpius?” I said. My voice came out as skeptical.

I could hear the creek water and the breeze. Not much else.

I used a tree to help me stand, leaning on it. What the hell was I supposed to do? Scorpius had definitely made it this far last night. He’d come this way. But where had he gone?

Great. I finally get a fun date with an attractive boy and he goes and disappears.

Ugh. Can’t think like that.

I moved toward the creek, one step at a time, and examined the forest floor. Just the regular twigs, mud, leaves, and other oddities I didn’t care to check out. Something looked like a bone. Sick.

Finally I made it to the edge of the water. This was where I found Scorpius in his masculine rubber boots, fishing. There was no sign of him now. Just the water carrying sediment downstream. I liked its murky, brown shade.

Hell. He really wasn’t here. Not that I expected him to be here just floating in the water, splashing about.

I just wanted him to be.

That was when I noticed some odd mud on the opposite bank of the creek. I stared. It wasn’t exactly a shoe print, but it could have been. It looked like someone or something had left the creek using that patch of earth.

Scorpius maybe? He could have gotten into the creek and crossed it. Why, though? His house was the other way.

I let out a disgruntled sigh, slipped off my shoes, and crossed the creek. The water was refreshingly cool on a day that was making it difficult to hold my breath in. I kicked it a little to splash against my thighs before using the same patch of mud to climb back onto land.

What now?

Everything was the same. Bushes. Branches. Tree trunks. Moss. Heat making everything into mirrored waves.

All I wanted to do was sit down.

I kept my mind on how I was going to smack him upside the head when I found him. For getting his parents worried. For scaring me half to death.

Mostly because it kept me from being terrified of any other options.

I hated this. Godric, I hated all of it. I began to walk back into the brush, searching for any other footprints, but there wasn’t more mud and leaves were covering the ground in a crinkled mess. Heart beating so loud it reminded me of the dull roar of thunder through the mountains.

I followed what looked to be a game trail, which began to slope downward. My shirt caught on branches every so often.

Where was I even going? Ugh.

The hill was getting steeper and I kept hold of the textured bark of trees as I descended. I paused, almost hitting a tree, after I heard rustling to my right. It came from down the hill a little – near the bottom – and there was a bush moving.

“Scorpius?” I said, voice not all that confident.

No answer. Great. Now I was going to be mauled by some dragon and killed after my father told me not to go outside. I’d be grounded forever.

I stepped back, gasping as my back hit a tree. Okay. It could very well be a small mammal. A rodent or large insect. Hopefully not a large insect. I pulled my wand. Hugo would never let me live it down if I was attacked by a large rodent.

The bushes shook a little. I kept expecting to see a small deer or bear or large pygmy puff scurry out, but I saw nothing. Just a bush that trembled around thirty meters below me. None of the other bushes were moving.

I slowly crept toward it.

This is the part where if I was watching myself I would dutifully shout out not to go near the scary noise. I’d watched enough Muggle movies in the dark to know the outcome was never positive and always involved blood.

I held my wand tighter. My knuckles were fading to white.

One step after another. Heart racing painfully.

If I was going to die in a forest, at least it was a nice day. A little on the warm, Muggle side though.

When I was within arms reach, I stood on my toes to peer over the leaves to see if there was a thorny tail of a dragon or a tusk of a rhino.

“Shit!” I cried.

What I spotted was khaki.

Scorpius was sprawled out on a bed of crumbling brown leaves and weeds. His legs weren’t moving. There was what looked to be splatters of blood on his left thigh. One hand was grasping his wand, which was snapped in half. The other was against the bush, shaking it gently.

He was a mess. There were pieces of debris stuck to his clothes, dirt everywhere, and he barely looked conscious. The reason why was simple to tell: he was sporting a thick, red gash from his shoulder to his elbow. Blood coated the nearby brush. It was far more graphic than I could stomach.

His face was paler than usual.

I took all of this in as I hit my knees beside him, calculating in my head what needed to be done first. Scorpius was fading fast. His eyelids flickered, perhaps recognizing me. Or just recognizing me as help.

I pulled off my extra t-shirt, covering his arm wound. He winced, which was a good sign. “Shh,” I said, using my wand to hold it there.

Okay. I could do this. Though I wished I’d read more of the books Mum had about Healing. That gash didn’t look like anything I could take on with my wand.

Scorpius whimpered a little, letting the lower half of his wand drop into the dirt. His brows creased in significant pain.

Okay. Next.

I cleaned the dirt and blood mixture from his face and other arm, which seemed to be okay except for some scabbed-over scratches and bruises. Then I looked to his leg and gently pressed a few centimeters from the blood. He winced, so I cleaned away the blood to spot a small hole in his pants. More blood was coming through.

I began to feel queasy with that amount of warm blood and the humidity and heat of the day beginning to take its toll.

“Rose?” Scorpius muttered. His lips were dry and chapped.

“You’re fine,” I blurted, but I knew my expression was giving everything away. I couldn’t stay calm. My fingers shook furiously. “Don’t worry. I’ll get you back.”

We were quite a distance from either rental.

“I’m not worried,” he said, choking a little and blood trailed out the side of his mouth.

I tried not to wonder how he got like this. Instead, I focused on tying the t-shirt to his arm and putting a sticking-charm on it to make sure it would hold up against his wound. I had to be professional about this. All that mattered was getting him back so he could get help. Whatever had happened had put him in really poor shape.

And my entire body was shaking.

“Scorpius?” I whispered, leaning close to him. Even his chest was cold under his collared shirt.

“Hmm?”

“I’m going to levitate you, okay?” I splayed my fingers against the fabric, if only to make myself feel closer to him.

“Whatever you need, Juliet,” Scorpius replied, his voice hoarse. He met my eyes swiftly before closing his. “Next time I’ll do the rescuing.” He spit blood away from me.

I shoved the pieces of his broken wand into my back pocket and stood, carefully lifting him off the ground with a levitation spell. It wasn’t easy. His arm draped away and I had to put it on his chest, which caused him to cry out in pain. Then his legs were heavier than I thought and he almost fell onto his head. I should have paid closer attention in school.

One step at a time, I moved up the hill with Scorpius behind me. I slipped a couple times, but held the wand steady so he moved evenly.

Every maneuver was difficult. There were too many bushes. Too many trees to move him around. He remained silent, but I could see his jaw clenching in pain. I was beginning to feel dizzy.

I moved into the stream, knowing it would be easier to just walk through the water with him than navigate the forest. The rocks weren’t that friendly to my feet, but I kept moving, eyes on the strands of blond hair lifelessly stretching to the ground.

What would I have done if something had happened to him?

What if Dad and Mr. Malfoy didn’t find him?

How much longer did Scorpius have before he started to lose too much blood?

I shook my head. No. I couldn’t think about that. Just had to keep wading upstream to get him back to his house.

If he would have just agreed with his mum to leave, he wouldn’t have gotten injured.

He also wouldn’t have told me he fancied me.

That was a terribly selfish thought.

I was glad the water was cool because the sweat was making the tank top stick to my body.

Please hold on, Scorpius.

*

When I knocked, Mrs. Malfoy was the one who pulled open the door. She looked positively sick and not from her own disease. She took one look at Scorpius levitating behind me and let out a yelp, tearing down the stone steps. She resisted throwing her arms around him and instead took a moment to survey his wounds.

“Where was he?” she asked, not bothering to look at me.

“The bottom of a hill,” I said. “Past the creek.”

Mrs. Malfoy brought her wand out from the front pocket of her tailored pants and quickly undid the sloppy job I’d done on his arm. She created a thin line of stitches bringing the gash together (which made my stomach turn) and tossed the t-shirt onto the porch. Then she muttered a spell.

“Get some water, a cloth, and send an owl to Draco,” she said, moving past me into the house. Scorpius followed, now being levitated by her, and I watched him vanish up the steps.

That was when I released the breath I didn’t realize I’d been holding.

Another breath.

Another.

Okay. Water. Cloth. Owl.

I moved into the house, closing the door behind me and walked straight into the kitchen. Only days before Mr. Malfoy had been at the counter.

An owl first. He’d want to know we found Scorpius so they weren’t still out there looking aimlessly.

Considering this was only my second time in the house, I wasn’t an expert at their owl-keeping preferences. Lucky for me, I spotted a tall metal cage hanging from the ceiling of the large den to my left. Inside was a barn owl with a scowl that reminded me a little of Mr. Malfoy.

I found Scorpius. He’s back at your rental house. Mrs. Malfoy is tending to him.

Rose

I unlocked the cage, thanked Merlin the owl was friendly, and sent it on its way. Then I hurried to get a bowl of water and some cloths from one of the drawers. I took the stairs two at a time and slowly pushed open the door to Scorpius’ bedroom.

He was on the bed, now stripped down to his black boxers. The gash on his arm looked much better now that it had been cleaned and Mrs. Malfoy was concentrating on the leg wound, which looked to be small, but deep. She muttered some incantations and grabbed for the bowl of water, dabbing his leg with a cloth to wipe away more blood.

“How is he?” I said, moving to sit near the window in a winged armchair.

“Alive,” Mrs. Malfoy replied, wiping away additional blood from his leg. “I cleaned his wounds, but he’s barely staying conscious. You said he was at the bottom of a hill?”

“Yes.” I didn’t know what to do with my hands.

“Might explain these.” Mrs. Malfoy brushed the scratches and scabs on his body. She jumped when the door banged open downstairs.

“Scorpius?” That was Mr. Malfoy’s booming voice.

“We’re up here, Draco!” shouted Mrs. Malfoy, kissing her son on the forehead before moving away from him.

I was trying not to look, knowing the prickling behind my eyes would overwhelm me if I did.

The bedroom door hit the back wall when Mr. Malfoy entered. He was covered in a thick sheen of sweat, clothes sticking to him and his hair pressed against his neck and forehead. Immediately he was at Scorpius’ bedside, hands around his son’s.

“He was at the bottom of a hill,” Mrs. Malfoy whispered. “It looks like he took a fall.”

Mr. Malfoy was quiet for a while, before finally noticing Scorpius’ arm. “A fall would hardly do that, don’t you think?”

“I don’t know.” She frowned and turned to the doorway. Had I been paying attention, I would have realized my parents were occupying it.

Dad was giving me a look that suggested he was disappointed I left the house when he told me not to, but thankful that boy was in his bed instead of at the bottom of a hill.

Mum ignored both me and Dad, and began to transfigure some things around the room into equipment that made it look like St. Mungos. I didn’t know what any of it was, but she spread some cream from her bag onto the stitches of his arm and to the cut on his leg. Then she hooked some needle into his wrist. The Malfoys didn’t seem to mind her taking charge; their eyes remained on Scorpius.

For the first time since I arrived, I looked at his face. He was staring right at me, grey eyes sinking into mine. My cheeks warmed.

“Rose,” Mum said, placing her hand on my shoulder. “We should probably get home.”

I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to sit in that chair all night, but I nodded. “Sure,” I said vaguely.

Now that I had found him, I didn’t want to let go of him again.

Mum hugged Mrs. Malfoy. Dad shook hands with Mr. Malfoy. They led me out of the room and down the staircase. My fingers slipped against the rail.

“Rose?”

I looked up, neck almost snapping. Mr. Malfoy was barreling down the steps. Before I knew what was happening, he grabbed me and pulled me into a tight hug, lifting me off the ground. “Thank you,” he said. “For finding him.”

I nodded a little, kind of uncomfortable, but I awkwardly patted his back. “You’re welcome.” My voice was barely there. Maybe I just didn’t trust myself talking about it.

I didn’t want to leave him up there.

Mr. Malfoy squeezed me tight one last time and smiled a little. “When he’s feeling better feel free to come around again.”

“I will; thank you.” I nodded to him and followed my parents out. Since they had Apparated, they left the car in town.

I decided to walk home, kicking stones and finally letting out the hysterics that had been building since Dad shook me awake.

*

A steaming hot shower, fresh non-kitten pajamas, and half a novel later, Hugo entered my bedroom. He looked somber and a little shaken as he sat, sinking the end of the mattress. He ruffled his already shaggy hair. “Mum and Dad said it was bad,” he began.

I dog-eared the page in the book and placed it aside. I didn’t want to have this conversation. Not now. “It wasn’t good,” I said.

“Did he fall down the hill?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t ask.”

“You didn’t?” Hugo said, shifting on the bed.

“I was a little concerned with keeping him alive.” I stared at him. “Is there something else I can help you with other than facts for an article?”

“I just wanted to say I’m glad you went,” Hugo said, kicking me a little. “Glad he’s okay.”

I hoped he was okay.

I shrugged. “Thanks for convincing me.”

“Was it scary?”

I met his eyes, unsure of what he meant. It was the middle of the morning when I went out looking, after all. No creepy night terrors or shadows sneaking behind trees. Just foggy humidity. A light breeze – not enough to cool me off.

Hugo cleared his throat at my silence. “I’m glad you found him, Rose,” he said.

“So am I.” The prickling was back, threatening to send me over the edge. I didn’t want Hugo to seem like a real person as opposed to his usual annoying hormonal self. Just yell about video games or half-naked women or something.

He cleared his throat again and stood awkwardly. “Right. Okay. I’m going to go.”

“All right.” The blankets were a very interesting shade of some color or another.

“I’m just proud of you, okay?” Hugo blurted and stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him in a mess of emotion.

I smiled weakly. Maybe Hugo did have a bit of a heart.

*

Nope.

I wasn’t going to do it. I absolutely was not going to do it.

I couldn’t.

My parents were asleep, which was reason one.

Hugo was asleep, which was reason two.

Reason three had to do with whatever gave Scorpius that branding gash on his arm. It definitely wasn’t a squirrel.

It just didn’t help that it was almost midnight and I was tossing and turning in a dark bedroom wondering if Scorpius was awake. Or even still alive. Or what he was thinking about.

That damn sense of helplessness.

I rolled again, pulling the sheet to my chest. I’d long abandoned the comforter and it was lying forgotten in the corner.

What if I hadn’t found him?

Can’t. Nope. Don’t.

What was out there?

Hell no.

Would he be okay to go home in a week?

Wow. There was only a week left until the vacation was over. Well, my vacation. His mum’s rehabilitation. And then what? We had a little less than a month until we were both scheduled to board the Hogwarts Express on the first of September.

About three weeks of what? He would be at his house in … wherever the Malfoy’s lived. I would be at my house. And probably the Burrow because Dad attacking the stove with his wand and Mum refusing to cook out of spite led us there often.

Not that we had to do anything. It was summer after all. Summer was a time for … flings?

Was I that girl?

Godric. Ugh. I was absolutely not that girl.

Dom was that girl. She kept a journal every summer documenting her flingy boys. I couldn’t blame her. If I was part Veela and shaped like a bloody swimsuit model I’d probably eat up the attention too. But I’d never know so there was no sense in thinking about it.

Besides, someone called me beautiful in front of a boutique mirror.

Someone who was further from me now than he’d ever been.


Day Twenty-Three

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

It was pitch-sodding-dark and I was creeping up the road in jeans and Scorpius’ sweatshirt. I had my wand lit in front of me, scared out of my mind every time I heard something that didn’t sound like it came from the breeze. I was certain the squirrels found my repeated jumping amusing.

I did not. I had to keep reminding myself to breathe.

I hated that the road took me so far out of the way. If I’d gone through the woods, I would have made it in half the time. Instead I was listening to my feet shuffle along on the gravel, scared shitless.

Terrified. Absolutely bloody terrified.

It couldn’t be much longer. I’d been walking for what seemed like hours with nothing but scary noises to keep me company. Curve after curve of the road. I could have been killed a dozen times over.

That was when I heard a subtle growl from somewhere to my right. Granted, it could have been the wind mixed with my own crazy fears if the twigs didn’t begin to snap just after I heard it.

And this is how I die.

More snapping.

I quickened my pace.

More snapping. Bushes rustling. Another growl.

I began to walk faster. Almost at a light jog now, wand light bouncing around the road before me.

I heard something step onto the gravel behind me. It crunched under the weight.

I didn’t even bother looking before I took off at a run, immediately regretting my lack of working out ever. I was winded before I turned the first corner and I couldn’t tell if whatever it was had started going after me. All I could hear was my own feet pounding against the road as my heart beat well up into my throat.

I kept waiting to feel the sting of teeth in my ankle. The pain of muscle ripping away from bone.

Scorpius’ house swam into view at the end of my wand-light, aided by the light above the porch. I ran for it like a sanctuary, ribs stabbing me with overbearing cramps.

I threw myself onto the porch, back resting against the door, and turned my light on the drive.

Nothing.

Whatever it was hadn’t followed me here. I wondered how far it had followed me, if at all.

The memory of that growl chilled my blood.

Okay. Deep breath. Nothing attacked me. Nothing killed me. I was safe on Scorpius’ front porch.

You know, where the door was locked and his room was on the second floor.

This was not my proudest moment.

I moved away from the house and looked up. His window was directly above the porch. The overhang extended the length of the house on both sides, but there wasn’t exactly a ladder sitting around to climb. There wasn’t even a gutter I could shimmy up. Right. Like my arm strength would even suggest more than some grunting noises and falling flat on my arse.

I moved around the left side of the house (since Scorpius’ parents room was on the right) and found nice, flat siding. That was lovely. The back was the same way since the deck wasn’t covered. I even looked out by the shed for a ladder. Nothing. Then, to my utter frustration, I spotted a latticework frame moving up the other side of the house.

Right beside Scorpius’ parents bedroom.

Well, I’d come all this way and had almost been eaten. I might as well try. I placed my wand between my teeth and began to climb, careful to get a steady hold before moving any higher. It was shaky, threatening to detach from the house, but I moved lightly. I grabbed the sill of one of the master bedroom windows and let out a small breath. Thank goodness.

The window was only a meter or two from the porch overhang. If I could balance on the sill and jump it, I would make it to the overhang and then all I would have to do is move under the other two windows facing the front before being at Scorpius’ bedroom.

An awful lot for a boy I wasn’t even dating.

Not that I would have done it for Lysander.

I held my breath, moving the rest of the way up the lattice to get a grip on the top of the window, placing my foot on the sill. Unfortunately, right when I moved my other foot, something dreadful happened.

I felt the frame detach from the house and I peered over my shoulder just in time to see it crash to the ground behind me, breaking into at least a dozen pieces.

Loudly breaking into at least a dozen pieces.

To my horror, I heard shuffling on the other side of the window, which I realized was only covered by a sheer white curtain.

“What was that?” said Mrs. Malfoy. Someone needed to tell them to use the Muggle air conditioner at night and close their damn windows.

I heard more shuffling. That would be Mr. Malfoy approaching to window to see what the noise was.

While I was clinging to the sill.




A/N: Here's another chapter! I hope you enjoyed it. Apologies for the delays as life continues to get crazier and crazier in my happy new state. I am also working on an original novel, which takes a chunk of time. 

Thoughts?

UP NEXT: Scorpius recounts how he got his injuries, Mr. Malfoy has a heart-to-heart with Rose, and pen-palling leads to a few discoveries...and blushing.


Chapter 15: Grounded
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For Pottergirl7 and ohmymerlin for the Dobby noms for this story. It means a lot! 





The list of things I absolutely did not need at this moment:

The latticework frame to fall, crashing to the ground behind me.

The noise waking Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy.

Mr. Malfoy getting out of bed to check the window to see what happened.

Me clinging to the outside of said window.

I looked to my left and right. To the right was nothing now that the lattice was gone. The next window was at least five meters away and was for the guest bedroom. There was no chance of me making that jump. To the left was the porch overhang, but it wasn’t exactly close. In my head, I’d planned to force a bit of the siding away from the house with my wand (currently housed in my mouth), but there was no time for that. I could hear the bed creak as Mr. Malfoy went to check on the noise.

I should have stayed in bed.

“Do you think someone’s robbing us?” Mrs. Malfoy asked. “Sounded like someone loading things into the back of a pickup.”

And now I was a robber. Shit.

I sank midway down the window, thankful it was dark and the woods would shield my frame. I snuck across the bottom, fingers tight to the top of the window for balance. The Malfoys were still talking and I heard Mr. Malfoy say something about getting a bat or a sledgehammer. Yes, that was what I needed.

Once on the side, I stared at the distance between the window and the ledge. If I didn’t move, the moment Mr. Malfoy came to the window he would see me. Even if he didn’t light his wand, being that near would show the pattern in Scorpius’ hoodie and he would hear my own too-heavy breathing. From bloody terror. Then he would probably mistake me for a serial murderer and off me right there. I didn’t blame him. I’d expect Dad to off anyone crawling along windowsills.

“Well, go on and check,” Mrs. Malfoy said. “I’ll get the pepper spray.”

“I’m going.” He was shuffling along the carpet.

It was now or never.

I crouched low and launched myself from the sill, clenching my teeth so my wand didn’t fall. I reached out, searching for the ledge of the overhang and slapped the shingles. They were slippery. Why were they slippery?

My legs didn’t make the jump, but my hands caught the very edge of the porch overhang.

I was hanging off the porch. By my fingers.

“The latticework frame fell,” Mr. Malfoy said from the window. I could see the light from his wand on the ground below. “Must have been a cat or something.”

Yes. Cat. It was definitely a cat.

My arms were burning. I tried to grab further up, but my hands kept slipping. There was nothing to grab onto and my legs dangled toward the grass below. If I didn’t hate working out I could have just hoisted myself up onto the overhang with no difficulties. However, I never even managed a pull-up when James taunted me over the summer. Thankfully, neither did Al but that wasn’t the point. The point was I was sodding dangling from a damn porch roof!

I dug my fingernails into the shingles and pulled myself a little higher. I could feel the gutter cutting my forearm. Okay. Plan. I needed a plan.

I began to swing back and forth like I’d seen on the Muggle movies. My leg missed the first few times, but finally I got my right foot wedged into the gutter and was able to get a better handle on the shingles to pull myself up a little. Then my left foot. It took about ten minutes, but finally I managed to get my entire body on the overhang without dying.

I pressed my face against it, letting out several long breaths. After this, I was going to start working out. Weights and everything. This was absurd for a vacation.

My knees ached as I crawled along the overhang, careful to stay well below the other two windows connected to the master bedroom. I knew the Malfoys were still awake and the last thing I wanted them to see was a shadow move along their window from the light down below. Damn you, porch light. I took a moment to look around in the grass, but saw no beasts or wolves or tigers. No sighting of what had made that distinct growl. I really needed to be informed on what was in the woods before I go on vacation in the middle of the mountains.

Finally.

I sat up, peering at Scorpius’ window. It, of course, was the only one not open. Either he was sweating or hogging the air conditioning. I groaned and placed my hands at the bottom, pulling up.

It was also locked.

“You have got to be bloody kidding me,” I muttered, letting out a disgruntled sigh before remembering Scorpius’ parents.

I did not climb up a lattice frame to go home without seeing this stupid, injured boy.

Biting my lip, I rapped my knuckles very gently on the glass. The last thing I wanted was for Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy to hear some creep knocking on their son’s window. I wondered if they had a shotgun. I hoped to never find out.

I knocked again. Come on, Scorpius. Don’t do this. No answer. I squinted, trying to see if the curtains were open, but the glare from the light made it nearly impossible for me to see anything inside the dark room. Come on. Come on.

Another tiny knock. Another. A little bit louder after listening to make sure no one else had heard me. I timed it carefully with a few owls hooting in the distance. Should have been a fireworks display I could have timed it with.

I heard a nearby owl and then knocked a little harder, careful to quit when the owl did.

Great. Nothing.

I slid a little away from the window and peered out over the front lawn. I’d have to get down somehow, though I assumed climbing down would be much easier as the drop wouldn’t be quite as bad. I could slide off the edge, hold on again with my hands, and then drop into the garden where the dirt would be softer (apologies to the orchids).

Then I could be home in time to get a few hours of sleep before waking up early for a shower and the pretend smile of a well-rested evening.

“Rose?”

I jumped, catching myself before I toppled off the side of the overhang. I spun around. The window was cracked and I could just barely make out Scorpius’ face behind it.

“Surprise?” I said with a half-smile.

He opened the window all the way and took a moment to pop out the screen, pulling it inside. “It’s the middle of the night.”

“Is it?” I asked. It was. I was on his roof in the middle of the night. In his sweatshirt. I just then realized what a crazy girl I must look like.

He jerked his head toward the house. “Get in here,” he said. “I’m not even supposed to be up.” He was smiling.

I crawled in through the window and closed it behind me. He moved toward the bed and flipped on the lamp, watching me.

Scorpius didn’t look much better, but I reminded myself it hadn’t even been an entire day. He was still pale, though he wasn’t attached to the contraptions anymore and he was in fresh pajamas to cover up his scratches and the wound on his arm, though I could see the beige bandage poking out of the end of his white t-shirt.

“I’m sorry,” I said, apologizing in advance because I could think of nothing better to do than throw my arms around him. He winced at first, but pulled me close, his fingers clutching the back of my sweatshirt tight. I buried my face in his chest, heart racing because of how worried I’d been about him. My panic when Dad woke me. Tearing through the trees. Seeing the blood on the leaves under him. The lifelessness of his body was I levitated him back to his house.

We stood there for a while, clinging to each other. I didn’t want to move. I didn’t want to let him go.

“You found me,” Scorpius said after a while, kissing the top of my head.

“You were at the bottom of a hill,” I said, finally pulling away to look into his eyes. I couldn’t hide the terror in my own. What if I hadn’t gotten there? “Covered in blood.”

“I was,” Scorpius agreed. “After I tripped and fell I fractured my ankle and couldn’t walk. Then I got lightheaded and passed out.” He rubbed his lips together, keeping strangely calm.

I hadn’t paid much attention to the hill as I made my way down to investigate the noise, but I assumed branches were snapped in the path of his fall. He must have tripped near the top to fall that far.

“What happened?” I asked, dreading the answer once it came out.

Scorpius kissed my forehead. He sat back on the bed, scooting to lean against the headboard. Then he motioned for me to lay beside him and put his arm around me. “I got the pleasure of interacting with one of nature’s not-so-friendly animals,” he said.

“A tiger?” I guessed stupidly.

“A black bear,” Scorpius said, his nose wrinkling. “It wasn’t enormous, but it was crossing the creek right when I reached it and noticed me thanks to some unfortunate footfalls which cracked sticks. Must have been unlucky fishing or something.” He shrugged. “Went after me. I tried to hex it, but it was fast and swiped my wand, busting it in half, and getting my arm.” He nodded to the bandage. “So I took off, but bears are fast.”

I tried not to imagine the bear crashing through the woods behind Scorpius.

He tightened his grip on my shoulder. “I lost my footing at the top of the hill and fell. The bear didn’t follow. It was probably too steep.”

That growl. Was it a bear? Was I really that close to the creature that had injured Scorpius that bad? I shuddered and moved closer to him, stretching my arm over his torso and pressing my cheek to his chest.

“Lucky you found me,” Scorpius said.

“What if I hadn’t?”

“But you did.” He kissed the top of my head again. “And that’s that. Don’t think about what-ifs.”

I couldn’t help it. It was in my nature.

“Let’s celebrate,” said Scorpius and reached over to grab a plastic cup off his nightstand half-filled with what looked to be lukewarm water. “I’d like to make a toast.”

“About what?” I said, laughing a little as I straightened up.

“About being bloody rescued from the bottom of a hill,” he said, nudging me with his elbow. He raised the cup. “To Rose Weasley.” Scorpius brushed his thumb across my cheek and leaned in, pressing his lips to mine. “The bravest girl I know.”


*


We fell asleep in each others’ arms hours later after I explained what had happened up to that point, how I found him, and what happened after. He had very little memory of the day, but did recall the joke he made when I found him. I changed his bandage and snuck into the bathroom for more water before we snuggled under the blanket and finally drifted off around dawn.

I dreamt we were back at Hogwarts at the welcoming feast. He caught my eye from the Slytherin table. I smirked and waved before Dom starting telling me about the boy she snogged on the train who couldn’t possibly be a Gryffindor because Gryffindors kiss in a hungry, obsessive kind of way. The headmaster was pounding a gavel on the podium to quiet us. We stopped talking, but he kept pounding.

I jerked awake, realizing all too quick that was not a gavel and I was not at the welcoming feast.

It was morning and Scorpius’ parents were knocking at the door. Hard.

“Hell!” I whispered as Scorpius opened his eyes in a groggy way. It was cute, but there was no time to concentrate on that. I rolled off the side of the bed and onto the floor, scooting under it quickly. That was when I realized there were at least five to ten bruises on my legs and arms, complete with two minor scrapes on my arms to go with a cut on my shoulder.

And it hurt.

“Scorpius?” Mrs. Malfoy said. “The door is locked.”

Clearly Scorpius got with the program because he sat up and I heard his wand move from the bedside table. The door unlocked. “Sorry, Mum,” he said, yawning.

“How are you feeling today?” I watched her slippers cross the room.

“Better,” Scorpius replied.

“Did you get enough sleep?” she asked.

“I did, yes.”

She paused. “Where’s your new bandage?”

Shit.

“I changed it last night,” Scorpius said quickly.

“Oh, did you?” Her tone worried me. “That’s very resourceful of you. What time?”

“I didn’t look at the clock.” Good answer. It was certainly not directly after the latticework frame was mysteriously broken into a thousand pieces.

“So.” Mrs. Malfoy sat on the edge of his bed and crossed one leg over the other. “Do I need to look under the bed or not?”

Silence.

Shit.

“Um,” Scorpius said. “Depends on what you think is under there.”

Mrs. Malfoy uncrossed her legs. “Thank you for changing his bandages, Rose.”

Damn.

“Welcome,” I muttered, scooting out from under the bed. I paused to flatten my hair before peeking over the top of the bed. Thankfully, Mrs. Malfoy didn’t look furious. She was smirking a little.

She cleared her throat. “Breakfast will be ready in a half hour,” she said. “I hope you like bacon.”

Was there a person on Earth who didn’t like bacon? What a comment.

With that, Mrs. Malfoy excused herself, closing the door with a soft snap. I heard her move down the steps.

“How is she doing?” I asked Scorpius.

“Better now that she can focus on me,” he replied, scooting over so I could sit beside him. “She hates how much people try to tend to her and do everything for her. My mum is more of a do-things-yourself sort of woman.”

“Did you get that from her?” I said with a smile.

“I know I got my stubbornness from her,” Scorpius said, kissing me for a long moment. “You up for breakfast?”

“I should probably tell my parents I’m alive,” I said, not looking forward to being scolded when they realized I was missing.

“So send an owl.” He kissed me again, fingers tucked under my chin. “I don’t want you to leave.”

I smiled a little against his lips. “I won’t,” I said. “Not yet at least.”

*


I took my place beside Scorpius as the kitchen table nervously. In the center was a vase of fresh daisies on a green fabric runner. Dishes of eggs, bacon, toast, and fruit were placed unceremoniously before me. Mrs. Malfoy was on my left, helping herself to a glass of orange juice. Mr. Malfoy poured himself a mug of coffee before sitting down to Scorpius’ right. He cleared his throat.

“Nice of you to join us, Rose,” he said. No doubt he was briefed about my overnight adventure into his son’s bedroom.

“Thank you for having me,” I said politely and proceeded to grab food to have something to do with my hands. And face. Mr. Malfoy started talking about something from the paper and I allowed myself to calm down. These nerves were beginning to get annoying.

I jumped when Scorpius placed his hand on my thigh, squeezing it a bit. Silence fell, so he coughed and said, “Should we expect the doctor today?”

His parents looked up. “Do you think you need it?” asked Mr. Malfoy.

Scorpius turned his gaze on his mother. “I mean for you.”

She looked annoyed as she poked at the eggs, none of which stuck to her fork. “I think we should be concerned about you, dear. You’re still pale and malnourished.”

Scorpius snorted. “Malnourished? Mum, please.”

Mrs. Malfoy said nothing. Instead, she excused herself for a glass of water.

I placed my hand on Scorpius’.

“I’m serious,” he said after a while. “You’ve been too active this week.”

“I’m fine.” Her tone was cut-throat. She slammed the fridge shut. “You should be in bed.”

“You told me to come down for breakfast,” Scorpius noted.

“Clearly I was wrong.” Mrs. Malfoy moved gracefully back into her chair. “Rose, it was lovely having you. At the risk of you witnessing a Malfoy family dilemma, which we would not like to air, I’d like to offer you a to-go bag and a ride home.”

I blushed. “Thank you,” I said. “But I’ll be fine walking.”

“After what happened to Scorpius? We wouldn’t be responsible if we let you leave.” She pressed her lips together, eyeing her husband.

“I’ll get my shoes,” Mr. Malfoy said and disappeared into the living room.

“I’ll come too,” Scorpius said, but his mother shook her head. “Or not.”

“Back to bed,” she said. “I’ll bring up some more breakfast. You look famished.”

I didn’t have time to shoot him a sympathetic look before Scorpius muttered something darkly and left. His footfalls were heavy on the stairs.

I was silent as I got into the car with Mr. Malfoy, pulling on my seatbelt and placing the white bag of breakfast leftovers in my lap. I felt horrible overhearing what I did. It wasn’t my business. Scorpius shouldn’t have brought it up while I was there. Mrs. Malfoy was probably scolding him for it right now.

The car started with ease and the road was bumpy. I was secretly glad I didn’t have to walk. It was already hot and muggy and the possibility of the bear stalking me home wasn’t in my greatest interest.

After a while, Mr. Malfoy flipped on the radio. Classical music began to play, which startled me. I hadn’t thought about what kind of music the Malfoy family would favor, but classical definitely wasn’t on the list. Maybe I thought Mr. Malfoy would be a closet metal fan.

“Should I attribute the creative destruction of the latticework frame to you?” Mr. Malfoy asked quietly as the car moved around one of the many curves in the road.

“I would be lying if I said no.” Great. Now I was going to have to fund the replacement of a giant goddamn frame.

“It was ugly anyway.” He shrugged. “Honestly, I’d like to know the point of latticework if there aren’t flowers attached.”

I chuckled, letting out the breath I’d been holding. “Can’t say there is a point,” I replied.

“I can’t believe you scaled a building to get to my son,” Mr. Malfoy said, shooting me a look.

“I’m a Gryffindor.” I smiled, shrugging.

“That is clear.” Mr. Malfoy snickered a little and we pulled into the drive. He put the car in park and looked over. “I don’t want to put words in my son’s mouth, but he’s been different lately.”

Immediately, I was worried. Great. “Oh?”

“It’s not a bad thing,” Mr. Malfoy noted. “So thank you.”

I didn’t know how Scorpius had changed or how he’d been around his parents. I just knew how he was around me. He smiled. He kissed me. He laughed. He made me laugh. That was all I cared about. If he was laughing with me, at least it would lessen what he was going through.

I swallowed hard and nodded a little, unsure of how to respond. I didn’t think there was any real way to respond other than in acknowledgement that I’d helped in some way.

“I’m glad Scorpius ran into you,” Mr. Malfoy continued. “However it happened.” He smiled and put the car in reverse.

“So am I,” I said after a while, waving good-bye and heading into the house.

My parents were at the table, mugs of hot tea before them. Dad looked up.

“Grounded,” he said.

“Ugh. I know.” I pushed my hair away from my face. “I’m sorry.”

“Grounded,” he repeated. “Do you think I wanted to wake up and find you gone, driving over there in a panic to see if you were there? You could have been killed, Rose.” He looked legitimately worried even though I’d owled him when Scorpius suggested it.

“I’m sorry,” I said again. “I couldn’t sleep.”

Mum shook her head. “That doesn’t mean you should leave in the middle of the night and head over to Scorpius’. Your father’s right, Rose. It was foolish. And right after he was hurt. You gambled with your life.”

I was quiet. All I wanted to do was see him. I didn’t intend on gambling with my life. Or hearing that possible bear-growl. All I wanted to do was make sure he was okay. And he was.

I didn’t bother mentioning the growl, the lattice-scaling, or crawling through a window.

“I don’t want you in the woods alone for the rest of the vacation,” Dad said. “You can stay here and spend the rest of the time with your family like you were supposed to do originally when we came here.” He wasn’t looking at me. I was glad because the humiliation was already great enough. “We’ll let you know when lunch is ready.”

I placed the bag of leftovers in the fridge and returned to my room, changing and falling into a dreamless sleep.

*


Grounded was not a word frequently used in the Weasley house. I’d been grounded all of twice in my life. The first was when I was five and I helped Albus dig up the back garden at the Burrow and destroy all the flowers. The second was when I was twelve and had failing grades from the first term of Potions when I got home for Christmas holiday. Both times were miserable.

The third time was not any more enjoyable.

I spent the rest of the day stuck in the bedroom with periodic visits from Mum bringing lunch and dinner and Hugo asking me where the remote was. I leafed through some novels, painted a little, and tossed and turned atop my sheets. Dad didn’t appear.

I didn’t blame him. Where had my head been?

I snuck out in the middle of the night (like I told him I wouldn’t) after Scorpius had been mauled by a bear the previous evening in the same woods.

If I had a kid that had done that, I’d probably lock them away in the basement with some cookies and a television.

Forever.

Being that I was my father’s daughter, he had probably already considered it.


Day Twenty-Five


The owl arrived just before dawn.


Rose,

I painted again yesterday. My mother and I are okay. It took me refusing assistance to get her to return to the way things were. The doctor arrived yesterday evening. They shut my door. I pressed my ear to it. My father and the doctor spoke in hushed voices in the hall. It wasn’t positive.

How can I go one day forgetting about everything to having it thrust back in my face?

I haven’t found a middle ground. All I want to do is leave. Have you ever just wanted to leave? Run away? Never come back?

But my other fear is I’ll run away and have something missing when I do come back.

Because I know I will.

Scorpius


I kept my window open, pretending to enjoy the breeze. I listened hard to see if someone was coming and grabbed the parchment and quill.


Scorpius,

I always want to run away. I feel like my reasons are trivial though. Like I’m confused or heartbroken or disappointed. It never has anything to do with a mystery disease or the failure to find a middle ground. To be honest, I feel like I’m always floating in a strange middle ground.

I’ll move over and share if you’d like.

I feel guilty I’m not there to distract you. I told you I would be.

Instead I’m here. I haven’t painted much of anything. I’m grounded. Even the word is foreign to me, but I can’t blame my parents. I could have just as easily suffered your fate. Could have just as easily not been found.

Rose

*

Rose,

Don’t say that. Don’t even think it because now you’re making me think it and my stomach keeps tensing up. So stop.

I’d appreciate it if I could share your middle ground. It doesn’t sound like such a horrible place to be.

You know what I want to do right now? Go fishing.

S

*

Scorpius,

I could go for some fishing. Unfortunately, the only fishing I’m doing here is for a clean shirt in my wardrobe. My laundry skills are lacking. Still fancy me? That’s not a very attractive quality.

I want to see you again. I miss you.

I’m sure that’s obvious since I scaled the side of a building to see you.

And now I feel like a crazy fangirl.

Rose

*

Juliet,

You teach the torches to burn bright.

Okay, if you get to be a crazy fangirl then I get to be a romantic sod. Deal?

Let’s go fishing.

S

*

Romeo,

Allow me to remind you: You’re injured and I’m grounded. That does not bode well for a fishing adventure, let alone in the middle of the day. I wonder how long I’m actually grounded. I’m not supposed to leave the house. I’m supposed to spend the time with my family. They’re out in the living room watching a game show (loudly).

Am I allowed to say I miss you? I saw you yesterday. That seems weird. We’re not even dating.

I shouldn’t have written that.

Rose

*

Juliet,

Why don’t we?

S

*

Scorpius,

Cut it out.

Rose

*

Rose,

I miss you too.

A lot.

S

*

Scorpius,

You never asked.

Rose

*

Rose,

Neither did you.

S

*

I folded the latest sheet of parchment, my heart hammering against my chest painfully. This was not a conversation I intended to be having via owl post. Or at all. I had left that thought in the back of my mind for a day in the future – if ever. I didn’t want to think about it. I didn’t want to think about what would happen when we were in England and not here.

What would his friends think? What would Dom think? What about the rest of my family? I knew Albus was never exactly fond of Scorpius and his charismatic smile. What would he say?

I figured maybe one day I would just be taken by surprise and I’d have to make a decision right then and there. If I truly fancied him or not. It would be something that just sort of spewed out of my mouth in an uncontrolled way. I didn’t have to dwell or make myself sick over feelings or thoughts or what-ifs.

Now I did.

I stared at the way his writing sprawled across the page. He was right. I didn’t ask either. Then again, I had said I liked him. But I never really explained it, did I? I kept the details inside. Just in case.

In case of what? He was lying?

That was rubbish. He wasn’t lying.

I wasn’t ready to ask. I wanted him to ask. I wanted this to be a fairy tale. I got to be the girl in the pretty dress and Scorpius could be the knight. We were hidden away from prying eyes and this could be an entirely new experience for us both. Swimming. Fishing. Running through creeks. Falling asleep in sheds.

I realized I was smiling.


Scorpius,

Silly me. It must have slipped my mind.

Rose

*

Rose,

Any chance of stuffing pillows under your blankets and going fishing with me? I need a distraction today. I promise to keep my hands to myself. Unless you get your line tangled in the tree again and then I’ll have to provide assistance. And immediate laughter.

Too much romance? Forgive me. I’m terrible at this.

S

*

Scorpius,

I wish I could. I promised my dad I’d stay here. I know he’s sore with me and I feel horrible enough already. I’m going to have to pass today. I don’t want to pass, but I’m going to. School is soon though. Can I ask what you think will happen at school? We’re kind of different. If you haven’t noticed.

Rose

*

Rose,

Different? Hmm. Well, I am blond. So that’s quite different. I have different colored eyes. I am also taller than you, so I see where you get that. I have to admit I am more spontaneous than you are. And my rain boots are far more attractive than yours. Is that what you meant?

S

*

Scorpius,

You are ridiculous. That’s what I meant.

Rose

*

Rose,

I am going to sit next to you on the train. I hope your mates can handle me. I’m going to give them something to gossip about.

S

P.S. Are you blushing yet?


Yes, I was. Git.


Scorpius,

I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Rose


I leaned back in bed, pulling out the novel I’d started the night before. After our letter exchange it was already late morning. I hadn’t bothered changing into legitimate clothes since I was grounded and the most I would do today is shuffle into the kitchen for lunch and dinner and maybe paint on the back deck. I figured I’d get some reading in for a couple hours until I got hungry enough to see my family.

Not that I didn’t want to. I just didn’t exactly want to sit at the table when I still felt guilty for leaving.

“Rose!”

I groaned, rolling over. “Yeah, Dad?”

“I’m thinking board games today!”

Well, at least he wasn’t still furious with me. That was a start.

“No card house?” I asked. Dad used to challenge me to the construction of a house made from playing cards on holiday. He always won because Hugo managed to ‘accidentally’ chuck something at mine.

“Not today! Get dressed.”

“I’m not going outside.” I snapped the book shut and tossed it onto my bedside stand. I stretched, hearing my back pop. That was not at all attractive.

“Trust me.” Dad knocked on the door.

“Allow me to get bloody dressed to play some board games,” I muttered. “Fine! I’ll be right out.”

He knocked again.

“Come in then!” I said, annoyed. “I’m not going to wear anything nice though. Being grounded is a lot like being in prison. Or what I imagine it to be like.” I stuck my head in the closet. I tossed a few shirts onto the bed. “No privacy either. I’m a teenage girl, you know. You never know what I could have been doing in here.”

“Writing snarky letters to a boy?” asked Scorpius and I slammed my head hard on closet door.




A/N: How could I resist love letters? That's right. I can't. Ever.

Thank you all for reading and I hope you continue to enjoy the story! Thank you for the nominations and votes in the Dobby awards -- I really appreciate your support! 

NEXT UP: Scorpius bonds with the fam, Rose tries again at the fishing, there's some yelling, and of course some rain.


Chapter 16: Fight
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For Haley. Just for making me a better person.





My jaw was damn near on the carpet. I pulled away from the closet, taking a step back (while almost tripping over myself), and took in the boy before me. Scorpius was leaning against the doorframe, arms crossed. He was in a light rain jacket, a red polo, and his standard khaki pants. He was smirking and I couldn’t help but smile in return.

“Fancy seeing you here,” I said.

“I may have mentioned a few truths to your father,” he said. “And asked if I could join you today.”

“He agreed?” I remembered the look on Dad’s face when I came home. It didn’t look like he’d be letting anyone join me, let alone the boy I’d snuck out to see.

“He did.” Scorpius nodded, his eyes moving down my body and then back to my face. “You have the most unique selection of pajamas.”

They may have had dogs on them.

“They were a gift,” I muttered. “So are we really playing board games with my family?” I paused, unsure of exactly what to say. “And you are willingly participating in this?”

He nodded. “I’ll wait in the living room while you change.” Scorpius shot me a wink. “It’s high time everyone witnessed you losing to me.”

I threw a pillow at the door. Git.

He was on the sofa when I entered, helping my father set up a wizarding board game about escaping from Gringotts that came out after the wizarding war. He placed each colored pawn on the starting section and smiled when he noticed me.

My stomach exploded with nerves. Well, he never asked either.

I felt like a fourteen-year-old girl talking to her twenty-year-old crush for the first time. Absolute rubbish. I had spent the last almost-month hanging out with him and now I wanted to throw up just looking at him.

Thank Godric he was wearing a shirt.

Not that it wasn’t tight enough against him.

I took a seat across from him on an ottoman, Mum to my right. Hugo sat beside Scorpius and starting giving him skeptical glances like he was suddenly my protector. Or at least gave a damn about me for more than the time it took to acquire the remote.

Mum asked Scorpius about his injuries. He smiled when he answered. He really did look a great deal better than he had the day before. Dad got a bit more clarification on the size of the bear. Hugo made a few snarky comments about tying shoes properly.

I kept mostly to myself, moving my pawn away from dragons and into two or three different carts. I tried not to smile, but it was kind of fun watching Scorpius charm the pants off my parents. It definitely wasn’t something I saw every day, especially with my mum as observant as she was.

Hugo won the first round, which he claimed was because he was the only one actually paying attention. I didn’t disagree. The rest of us were laughing over a story Dad told us about Mr. Malfoy and a ferret. I stopped listening halfway through to take my turn, but Scorpius was doubled over in laughter.

We were like that through the entire first half of the afternoon – laughing, talking, and beating each other. And in Hugo’s case, gloating about it. We paused to refill juice drinks and grab bags of crisps from the kitchen. Dad even demonstrated the proper way of constructing a house from playing cards. This time I had a mysterious sneeze coming on. Then I had fifty-two cards in my lap to pick up.

Eventually, Hugo traipsed back upstairs to start a reading for the fall (yeah right) and my parents began putting on their shoes to head into town and buy the last couple days worth of groceries until we were scheduled to leave.

I poked my head through the kitchen door. “Hey.”

Dad looked up. “You’re going to ask to leave.”

I blushed. The thought of fishing had sounded rather appealing.

“When will you be back?” Mum asked, tying her hair up in an attempt to combat the frizziness.

“She’s grounded,” Dad said.

“Yeah. So grounded her boyfriend can come play games with us all day,” she replied, rolling her eyes. My cheeks darkened. “Sounds like quite a punishment.”

Dad sputtered a little. “We’re supposed to stick to things, you know.”

“Clearly you stuck to them by letting the boy in the house.” Mum grabbed her rain jacket and an umbrella. “Don’t force me to go through the list of times we’ve decided on something only to have you cave to – what do you call it – her big brown eyes? You’re a git. Let’s go.”

Dad grumbled something and looked over at me. “Home before dinner,” he said and held the door for Mum as they left.

I jumped as Scorpius’ arms moved around my waist, pulling me back into his body. “You sure you want to go fishing in the rain?”

“It’s not storming.” I peered through the windows, trying to keep my mind off how good his touch felt. “It’s just a light drizzle. It’s making everything foggier, which is pretty.”

“It is.” He kissed my cheek. “I had fun with your family.”

“I’d hate to see what you consider boring,” I said with a laugh, untangling myself from his grip so I could pull on my rain boots beside the back door. “We’ll have to find some poles though. There might be some in the shed.”

Scorpius chuckled. “I may be spontaneous, Rose, but I always come prepared.” He reached up, running a hand through his light hair, and met my eyes. “I stashed the poles and bait under your deck before I came up here. I had a feeling we might be able to sneak away for some fishing time.”

It boggled my mind how confident Scorpius was. Maybe confident wasn’t the correct word. Sure of himself? Prepared? Smirky?

He made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. He made me completely unsure of myself, but completely sure of myself at the same time. He made my heart race.

Scorpius made me want to kiss that smirk right off his face.

“Are you ready or are you going to stare a bit longer?” he asked and I blushed. Again.

“I’m ready.” I grabbed the extra umbrella from its holder and moved out into the light rain. It pattered against the fabric. Scorpius followed and pulled his hood over his head, smiling a little. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and led the way down to where he had carefully hidden two fishing poles and the same plastic tackle box as before.

“It’s been my experience fish bite better when it’s raining,” Scorpius explained as we moved into the trees. He hoisted the poles over his shoulder so they dangled behind him. I followed a small distance back, not in favor of getting smacked in the face with a hook.

“It’s been my experience I can’t get the bait in the water to get them to bite anyway,” I called. With each step my boots sank a little further into the mud.

“We’ll work on that.” Scorpius chuckled. “You taught me how to paint after all.”

More like I showed you some colors before our mouths were attached for a while. Ugh.

And now my face was reddening again.

“I’ll need quality lessons,” I called, trying to concentrate on the conversation at hand.

Not kissing Scorpius.

In the sand.

A lot.

“I’ll give them to you.” He held a branch so I could move past without getting nailed in the face, and we continued down a steady slope toward the lake. Everything was misty. Even the moss was filled with moisture and dripping down the trunks of trees. The ground squished under my steps. Water fell from leaves when the wind blew.

It was a strangely peaceful day in the mountains.

“Did you mean what you said?” I asked after a while, brushing past a few bushes to stay on the path he’d created. “About school.”

“How I’m blond and you’re not?” he asked, snickering. “I meant that.”

I rolled my eyes. “You might as well tell me what you think is going to happen because I’m at a loss. One minute you’re witty and charming and romantic and the next minute you’re snarky and mysterious.”

“I can’t be both?” Scorpius asked, moving to the left to avoid a sketchy-looking vine.

“When it involves me feelings I’d appreciate being informed.”

“Are you not informed?”

I groaned. “I don’t know what I am. I’m just unsure.” I felt like I was talking in circles. He was answering my questions with more questions and it was making my head hurt. Did he do that with his professors? I thought back to our previous courses together and I couldn’t remember. All I remembered was Dom talking about how fit he would look without a shirt.

“I don’t know what you need to be sure about,” Scorpius said. He stepped out onto the sand, which was damp, and dried it with his wand, creating a canopy of tree branches overhead to keep it dry. He was better with spells than I gave him credit for.

I stared. “Nevermind. Let’s just fish, okay?” I closed the umbrella and tossed it to the side, grabbing a pole from him. I let Scorpius delicately bait the hook and then waited for him to show me (again) the way to cast.

He didn’t reply. Instead, he baited his own hook and moved a few steps into the water. “You press this button, flick your wrist, wait for it to be level with your body, and let go.” Scorpius demonstrated, sending the hook far out into the water. Then he reeled it in, catching a bit of weeds he plucked off with ease.

“Right.” I pressed the button skeptically as I moved into the water. Then I flicked my wrist in the same way he had, releasing the button and sending the bobber out into the water. It wasn’t very far and it was way left of where I had aimed, but it wasn’t in the tree. That was a start.

“Well done, Gryffindor,” Scorpius said, chuckling.

I rolled my eyes and reeled it in. Some weeds, but no fish. I tried again. This time it was a little straighter. I could see the rain hitting the lake and it calmed me a little. I didn’t know why my heart was beating so quickly. Why my breathing was so unsteady.

I didn’t look at him as I cast again, this time leaving the line in the water just enough so that if something bit the bobber would dip under. I dug a hole and stuck the pole in it, retreating to the dry sand under the tree.

Scorpius reeled his line in several more times. He looked content, standing with his legs shoulder-width apart in the water. I watched his posture. Straight-backed. Grandeur. Like he was the one who would tell the fish if they would live or die today.

I wondered if he knew how truly mysterious he could be.

I thought about his answer a couple weeks ago. About how he just wanted satisfaction. I still had no idea what he meant, but I was closer to figuring it out as I laid sprawled out in the sand, eyes on his back. The way the water moved against his rubber boots. How it stretched out onto the sand. I didn’t feel like moving. Or grabbing my pole when the bobber began to sink. Instead, I just let my vision blur and listened to the rain hit the water and leaves and sand around me.

“You caught a fish,” Scorpius said, knocking me back into reality. He was holding my pole. Attached to the hook was a small, grey fish wiggling in the air.

“So I did,” I murmured, not moving.

“Are you going to touch it?” he asked.

“I am not.” I rolled onto my back, looking at him.

Scorpius stuck his own pole into the hole I’d made in the sand and pulled the fish from the hook. He threw it back and then turned to me. “Something on your mind?”

“Nothing,” I replied because it was true.

“Do you want to cast again?” he said.

I moved back to my feet, dusting the sand off my clothes, and cast the line back into the water. I was quiet, examining the treeline surrounding the water. Hopefully there would be no sign of bears. Or mountain lions. I reeled in the line and cast again. Then again.

Scorpius cleared his throat beside me.

I focused on the shades of blues, greens, and greys of the water. The way the rain hit it reminded me of an Impressionist painting.

“I meant what I said,” he said quietly. “About the train. About sitting beside you. I meant every word.”

I thought about what that would mean. Our compartment was usually me, Albus, Dom, Albus’ girl of the summer who would normally be dumped in a matter of hours following the train ride, Louis if his mates hated him that day, and Roxanne. I tried to imagine Scorpius there, beside me. Holding my hand. Telling everyone about playing board games with Hugo and all his snarky comments.

“And at school?” I asked.

“Why don’t you tell me what you think, Rose?” Scorpius asked, dropping his pole. “For a person so caught up in what other people think, maybe you should tell me what you want.”

“I don’t know what I want.”

“I think you’re lying.”

I stared. “I’m not lying,” I shot back. “I’m trying to make sense of it, okay?”

“Make sense of what?” Scorpius said, his voice raising. “Everything is out in the open. Is it not crystal clear? I told you I fancy you. I took you on a pretty damn good date. I came over and played board games with your family. Do you really need me to spell it out in plain English? Are you honestly that daft?”

“Am I –?” I gaped at him. Of all the rude, insufferable things to ask someone. “Just because I don’t want to assume anything about something unsaid does not make me daft,” I snapped. “If I recall, you were seeing someone else up until I found out about it so forgive me if I don’t put weight on anything I can’t put a label on just in case you go home in five days and another girl finds your journal about me and I’m just some girl you’re seeing.” I threw my pole down and marched back to the dry sand, snatching up the umbrella.

“You forgave me for that!” Scorpius cried.

“You can barely even say what you really mean,” I said. “You were right, you know. Boys are just cowards.” I opened the umbrella and walked into the trees, fuming.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he yelled, following me. His footfalls were hard, snapping twigs quickly.

“Did I stutter?” I rolled my eyes, walking faster.

“Oh so now that you jump off waterfalls and save blokes from bleeding to death suddenly you’re a daredevil!” Scorpius said. “Let me tell you something, Rose, you have a long way to go.”

“Like you would know.”

“I would!” he shot back. “You didn’t want to so much as disappoint or disobey anyone a couple weeks ago and now you’re sneaking out after midnight to scale a house and destroy flower frames!”

I rounded on him. “You were injured, okay? If I thought you were fine I would have stayed home and slept.”

“You knew I was fine.” He stopped just feet from me. “You just wanted to see me. So now you’re sneaking out and breaking rules, but you can’t just stop to enjoy what you have. You have to put a label on it or it’s not real.” Scorpius took a step closer. “What part of this isn’t real to you?”

My eyes narrowed. “The same part that keeps you from being truly honest about anything.”

“Why can’t you just be happy now that you’re brave and all-knowing?” Scorpius’ voice was filled with arrogance. I hated it.

“Because I don’t like the idea of happiness resting on an idea.”

“It doesn’t rest on an idea,” he said. “It is the idea. It’s real. You just refuse to see it because you want everything tied with tight little bows and presented to the world.”

“What’s wrong with that?” I said loudly, thrusting my umbrella to the side. “What in the world is wrong with that!”

“That’s what’s not real,” Scorpius seethed, his gray eyes etching into mine. “That’s your stupid mind convincing you of security.” His thumbs pressed into my shoulders and my back hit the tree hard. Then Scorpius was kissing me, his hands in my hair and his body against mine.

I couldn’t think. I kissed him back hungrily, my arms around his neck. His fingers moved against my ribs to my hips and then to my thighs, grabbing my legs and hoisting me up, legs around his torso. He didn’t break the kiss. Nothing broke the kiss. Everything was a blur of mint and rain, soaking my hair and eyelashes.

I tightened my legs around him, back arching as I kissed him. My fingers clutched the collar of his shirt, nails digging into the fabric. I forgot where we were. What we were talking about. My shirt was being ripped by the bark. I didn’t care. I didn’t care about much of anything.

Just the feeling of his lips against mine, hands under my thighs to hold me against the tree. His chest against mine, heaving since it was hard to breathe. It was muggy. Everything was muggy.

When he pulled away, Scorpius held me against the trunk and used his left hand to wipe away rain from my face. He released a breath, laughing a little. His cheeks were pink and his blond hair was sticking up at strange angles, pieces also pressed to his ears and neck. I ran my fingers through it.

“I’m sorry I haven’t asked,” he said in a hoarse voice. He didn’t seem to care the rain was coming down harder now in chilly sheets.

“I’m sorry I made you think you had to.” I leaned in, kissing him again, this time slowly. Everything tasted watery now. “You were right.”

“I think a Gryffindor just admitted she was wrong,” he muttered into my lips.

“Don’t push it.”

Scorpius chuckled and kissed me again. “We’re going to get sick if we stay out in the rain,” he murmured, smirking.

“Is it strange of me to not want to go home for a few weeks before Hogwarts starts?” I asked, moving my arms back around his neck and pressing my forehead against his. I closed my eyes.

“I’m just glad you said it before I did,” he replied. He placed me back on my feet and stepped away. “You’re soaked.”

“Your fault.” I shrugged a little and picked up the umbrella, shaking away the water. “At least this time you can’t see through my clothes.”

“An unfortunate oversight, I confess.” Scorpius wrapped an arm around my shoulders and led the way back through the trees to the beach. “So what do you make of all this?”

“All what?”

“Us.”

I took a moment to listen to the rain on the leaves around us. It reminded me of impatient taps of fingers. “I like you,” I said.

“Yeah?” Scorpius noted with a smirk.

“What do you make of it?”

“Well,” Scorpius said, pausing for drama, “I like you. As you know. And it can be whatever you want it to be.” He squeezed my shoulders. “Just know if someone so much as looks at you in a flirtatious way I may have to accidentally recreate my own bear wounds on them. It will be purely accidental of course.”

I was thankful to reach the canopy of trees and dried myself with my wand. “What did you paint?” I asked.

“The latticework frame,” he replied with a cheeky grin.

“You did not.” I spun, meeting his eyes.

“If you don’t believe me it’s on my dresser.” Scorpius used his wand to extend the trees a bit further in order to grab both our forgotten poles. The bait was gone from the hooks, probably nibbled off by hungry minnows. “It was a valiant move, by the way. Climbing that to get on the porch roof. Can’t say I would have thought of that. And with my parents’ window open. You have guts, Weasley.”

I took my pole from him and replaced the bait. “I didn’t mean to break it. I’ll replace it.”

“Mum already fixed it,” Scorpius replied, laughing. “She needed something to do while she was on forced bed rest this morning.” He cast his line, watching it intently. I did the same. “We have five days left, you know.”

“I can count.” I smirked.

“What do you want to do with it?”

Most days had been entirely unplanned. Going to town. Walking through the woods. Running from storms. Eating grilled cheese. Trying on zebra tops at boutique. I made a face. “Hang out?” I offered, laughing.

“Thrilling,” Scorpius teased, reeling in his line and casting it out again after untangling a few weeds from the hook. “We’ll have plenty to tell people when we get back to Hogwarts. A month of trees, humidity, and hanging out.” He waved his arms in the air dramatically. “Yes, you should have been there! A lot of casual conversation about Rose’s younger brother, some thrilling devouring of mystery berries, and we even discussed the giant squid at great length.”

I slapped his shoulder (not the hurt one). “What are you going to tell them about me, hmm?”

“I’ll tell them you’re not as sheltered as originally anticipated?” He smirked and dodged a second hit. “I’m only teasing. I’ll tell them you often fish for compliments.” He didn’t dodge well enough the third time. “Kidding! What do you want me to tell them?”

“How I’m the most wonderful person you’ve ever met,” I said with a confident nod.

“And the most modest,” I noted.

“Modesty is little more than a white lie,” I shot back. “As someone once told me.” I cast my line again and reeled it in, though this time there was a pull to the hook, bending the pole forward. I squeaked and Scorpius dropped his own pole to help me reel it in.

“Reel!” he said, laughing as he held the pole, arms around my middle.

“I bloody am!” The pole was bending forward so far I was sure it would snap until I heard a loud crack and both of us were thrown backward onto the sand. Lucky for me, Scorpius broke my fall with an unceremonious “ompf!”

It did snap. Three quarters from the end.

That damn fish snapped my pole right in half and the line was still spewing out of the holder. All I could do was stare, open-mouthed.

“Sorry about your pole,” I said, stunned.

“Maybe it’s better this way.” He put his arms around me as we sat in the sand and watched the water swallow the rest of it. “It may have eaten us too.” I heard him chuckle in my ear, tightening his hold.

The rain settled into a steady drizzle, sounding more like a bathroom shower than a storm. I let out a sigh. “I can’t say when I saw you in a creek with your silly rain boots I expected to be here, now.”

He leaned back onto his palms and I lounged against his chest. “Considering you ran off with my clothes, how could you possibly have expected that?”

I did do that, didn’t I? And then he showed up at my house in his knickers, something I would be sure to make note of when explaining what a good time we had over the summer.

“You deserved it.” I chuckled, digging my heels into the sand. I tilted my chin to find his gaze. “I’m glad we visited the same place.”

“For completely different reasons.” Scorpius smiled a little. “Thank you, Rose.”

“For?” I raised a brow. After all, I was pretty sure that sentiment should be the other way around.

“Everything.” He kissed me and went back to staring at the lake. A scene from a painting.


*

As promised, I made it home before dinner. Scorpius stayed through the meal after helping Mum tear the lettuce for salad and peel carrots. He humored her by wearing a spare apron and modeling it like on a catwalk.

I tried to focus on chopping potatoes, but I kept getting distracted by him. Not in the way I had before – shirtless. No, this time I kept looking over with a smile. That was one thing about Scorpius: I was always smiling. I guess before the vacation I hadn’t really given him the time of day. Not that he had given me more than a boat ride.

While he stirred the potatoes in boiling water I thought about the ride before our first year began. Touching the squid. Talking with Scorpius.

Things were so black and white back then. At eleven, isn’t everything?

What had I considered my first year? I didn’t care about the way my thighs looked. I hadn’t really looked into the other houses (except what I knew of Gryffindor from James). I hadn’t been exposed to diseases or terror or sleepless nights or the pull behind your navel when you begin to fancy someone so much they’re all you think about. No, on that boat ride everything was innocent. Either you did or you didn’t. Either you liked squid or you didn’t. You were brave or you weren’t.

I remembered his eyes. The way he stared back at me, hair looking blonder by the light of the boathouse.

“I’ve always been taught it’s girls who have to be brave.”

Did he still think that? After all, he was the one venturing into the woods alone, pushing people off cliffs, jumping off waterfalls, and talking to a girl with a very protective father (who may or may not own a shotgun).

Then again, he also closed off his feelings, often didn’t confront things head-on, and got antsy when he had to try on something not from a department store.

Why would girls have to be braver?

Was I braver now, at seventeen? Or was I the same girl from the boat. Was he the same boy? Hardly. How could I be?

I took my House seriously. I wanted to make my parents proud. I wanted to make everyone proud.

Except myself? Why were these things so complicated? How had I only just now realized I wanted to paint forever? I wanted to paint everything. Every wrinkled expression and shade of the sky. I wanted to paint water and tinted glass bottles and fountain pens.

I wanted to paint bravery. But if I had to paint bravery, it would be in the image of the canvas Scorpius already had on his dresser.




A/N: Thank you all for your continued support! 

I hope you enjoyed the chapter. Also - because I've been asked, the story will be 22 chapters total.

UP NEXT: Someone goes missing. Thirty days are cut short.


Chapter 17: Okay
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]



For Penelope Inkwell, for noticing my intentions with this story. 





Day Twenty-Six


Dad and I spent last night turning the television up too-loud while Hugo and Mum were on the back deck and dancing around the living room in our socks and slippers. We practiced our swing dancing, which wasn’t any better than it had been last time. I had a feeling it wasn’t going to get much better. We’d peaked. He told me when I got married we would swing-dance for our first dance. I told him to sod off.

Not that I would hate it.

I just didn’t want to think about a wedding at seventeen.

We had breakfast in fits of laughter the next day. Even Hugo seemed to be in a good mood when he challenged me to a race on the game console. I played, lost valiantly, and took my supplies outside to paint for a bit. The sun was out and it wasn’t excruciatingly hot, so I welcomed the fresh air.

Mum brought a glass of iced tea and placed it on the table. She paused behind me for a minute, watching me paint.

“You should teach your father to paint,” she said with a knowing smile.

“You don’t like his scribbles? He calls them abstract.”

She snorted. “He’s in such denial,” Mum said. She kissed my shoulder. “What is Scorpius up to today?”

My cheeks colored a little. I wondered how much my parents had discussed my relationship with Scorpius while alone. Probably a lot. I bet Hugo even got into the conversation at times. “I’m not sure,” I replied. “He said he was going to try to spend the day with his parents. He said a Healer was coming in from England today to check on his mum again. One of the specialized ones.”

“I hope it’s good news.” Mum moved around the side of the easel and looked out over the trees to the mountains. “He’s gone through a lot for a boy.”

“That’s quite an impact coming from you.” I chuckled. She had so many stories when I was growing up. I should say, Dad did. Mum was always skeptical of telling us everything they did while in Hogwarts. She felt it would give us the idea that we could disregard authority if we thought it was the correct thing to do.

Maybe it did give me that idea, given my behavior the last couple weeks.

“Well, if he gets too stressed he can always come over for lunch or dinner.” Mum shrugged and straightened the wrinkles out of her shirt. “I’m pretty sure your father is going to tackle the grill tonight. We’ll see how that works out. I have pasta just in case.”

I laughed, switching over to a soft, powdery blue on the canvas. It reminded me of the reflection on the tips of the waves at the lake. “I’ll let you know,” I said, referring to Scorpius. I hadn’t heard from him yet that morning so I figured he’d just stay home and tend to his mother since she was bound to be irritable about being locked away so long. It took a lot of self-control not to run for the owl to tell him to ditch all that and come over.

But he’d do the same.

I painted well into the early afternoon, pausing to eat, replace the iced tea, and slather on more sunscreen. The last thing I needed was my final five days filled with excruciating pain, aloe, and whining.

I finished a painting and started another. This was of the town from memory. I didn’t like painting from memory, but I decided to give it a shot or I’d keep painting the same landscape and trees over and over again. It turned out more impressionistic on the canvas and I stared at it for a while. More blobs of solid color. Less mixing and shading. I liked it.

I sprawled my name along the bottom corner and went inside for dinner.

“Where’d Mum go?” I noticed the car wasn’t in the drive and Dad was adding sauce to the pasta.

“Got a call about something,” Hugo replied. He was being pouty because Dad insisted he stay and eat with the family instead of stalking the raven-haired girl around town again like he had a couple days ago. He didn’t take it very well. You’d think he was older than fifteen. Ick.

I shrugged and plopped down at the table. “Win at your games?”

“Of course I did,” Hugo said irritably. “I was playing against the computer.”

“Thrilling.” Right. The computer. How could I be so daft?

“So what was her name anyway, Hugo?” Dad asked, warming the pot on the stove while he placed a bowl of salad in the center of the table. It had baby tomatoes and carrots in it. “Something wonderful, no doubt.”

“I don’t know,” he snapped. “I was going to find out today.”

“I bet it was Persephone or the like,” I said with a cheeky grin. He kicked me under the table. “Aphrodite. Belle. Beauty.”

“With his luck it would be Rose,” Dad muttered, smirking as he spooned pasta onto our plates. He left some in the pot for Mum. “Could you do that, son? Date a girl with your sister’s name?”

“No. Ew.”

“Cooties,” I said with a laugh and Dad nudged me. He was trying not to humiliate Hugo by laughing, but it was far too late. His shoulders shook in silent giggles. I glanced over my shoulder again. “How long’s Mum going to be gone?”

Dad shrugged. “Couldn’t tell you,” he said. “She asked me to save her some dinner though. That all depends on how hungry I am.” He grinned and sat at the head of the table. “Why? Think her car will be overtaken by the bear monster? Pretty sure the automatic locks will keep it out.”

I shot him a look. “Did she say who called?”

“Nope. Just that she had to go for a bit and to save her some food.” Dad began formally stuffing his face with pasta. Hugo followed suit. For a second, I watched their similar mannerisms.

Thankfully, I acquired my table tact from my mother.

*

The car pulled back in the drive while I was outside enjoying a novel and a glass of lemonade. The evening was cool and the sun was still high enough to read by so I had put up my feet to enjoy the breeze and the summer. It was certainly different from traipsing through the woods.

I heard her footsteps on the deck. “Dad ate the rest of the pasta for dessert,” I called.

“He would,” she muttered, moving around my chair to the one across from me. Mum removed my legs and sat, replacing them on her lap. “We should have a talk.”

My eyes snapped up. That had never preceded positive information.

Mum cleared her throat and took a moment to stuff some of her brown hair behind an ear. The wind blew it out of place and she ignored it a second time. “I was just at the Malfoy’s.”

“And?” I asked, a little too quick. Why had she gone to Scorpius’ without telling me first? I could have gone with her. She probably would have refused, but I could have snuck into the trunk with my wand and spied on what was happening. At the very least!

“Mrs. Malfoy isn’t doing as well as they hoped,” she explained calmly. “I spoke with the Healers and tried to do a few things, but the truth is she just isn’t doing well.”

“Did they figure out exactly what it was? Why isn’t the humidity working like they said it would?” My chest hurt. Everything hurt. I thought about the way Mr. Malfoy must have been reacting to that news. And Scorpius.

“Like they hoped it would,” Mum corrected. She busied herself straightening the cuff at the bottom of my jeans. “She couldn’t get herself to stand today.”

The thought sickened me. Mrs. Malfoy was one of those unique types of women who looked poised in any situation. She was beautiful and lean and elegant, but she didn’t look frightening about it. The idea of her with her hair out of place along a pillow, expression strained, struck a chord with me. It put a horrible taste in my mouth.

Mum cleared her throat and continued. “The Healer spent quite a bit of time with her, but after a while told us it would be best to cut the trip short of the full thirty days and go back to England. They’ll be leaving in the morning. I believe they want Mrs. Malfoy to return to St. Mungos for additional treatment.” She was frowning.

I hated St. Mungos. It was not a place I’d frequented, nor had I had many family members stuck there for long periods of time (Albus when he got his foot stuck in the toilet, cracked open his head trying to get out, and James trying to stitch it up and then Uncle Percy when he had that ulcer). It had this smell to it. Like everything was sad. Polished. It didn’t have a heart. Just blank, white walls with some portraits that spoke in hushed tones.

I imagined Scorpius being ushered into the hall while the Healers spoke to his parents. Sitting on the long, wooden bench with his elbows resting on his thighs, staring at a medical cart or empty wheelchair left in front of him. Alone.

“Can I say goodbye?” I asked, finally letting out a held breath.

“I was going to offer to drive you over,” Mum said, grabbing the keys from her pocket.

*

I damn near jumped out of the car when we pulled into the drive of the Malfoy rental. However, I noticed something was off immediately. It was quiet.

Mum’s car door shut. “They may have gone into town,” she said.

I approached the door, knocking a few times, though it garnered no response. “Do you think Mrs. Malfoy is upstairs?” I asked. “And maybe Scorpius and Mr. Malfoy went to get something?” Even as it came out of my mouth, it rang false.

Mum shrugged. “Let’s check around back, hmm?” She led the way and we moved past the fixed latticework frame and into the yard. She was the first to peer in the back window.

They were gone.

Though the rental furniture was still there, everything of the Malfoy’s was gone including the grill they’d brought with them. The lights were off, the tables were shiny, and there were no dishes in the sink.

Scorpius Malfoy was gone.

*

“D’you think something happened?” Hugo asked. We were in the living room shortly after Mum and I returned from the empty Malfoy house. A few lamps and the muted television lit the dark space. “Like with his mum?”

“I don’t know,” Mum replied with a frown. “She wasn’t doing well when I was there, but they had every intention of leaving tomorrow. I can only guess there was a significant reason for them leaving today.”

There had to have been a significant reason. Scorpius wouldn’t have left without saying good-bye. Would he? Of course not, which just made me worry that it was far more serious than I was letting myself think.

What if something happened to him? And that was why they had to go so suddenly?

Rubbish. There couldn’t be.

I just hated not knowing. Sitting on the overstuffed chair with my knees to my chest with every possible option floating through my head.

Dad brought me a bowl of soft vanilla ice cream. He kissed my head before sitting on the couch with his own bowl. Hugo shot him a look, holding up his empty hands. Dad ignored him.

“I’m sure everything is fine,” Mum said, channel surfing now, though she didn’t turn the volume back up. “If they went to St. Mungos the Healers are more than qualified to handle whatever is thrown at them.”

“Except mystery diseases,” I muttered.

All I could see was Scorpius pacing outside a hospital room, eyes flickering to the thin, rectangular window shielded by vertical shades. He would repeatedly run his fingers through his hair, nerves getting the best of him. The idea of him standing out there alone was enough to dissolve my appetite.

“Where are you headed?” Dad asked, glancing up at my retreating back.

“Anywhere but here,” I said, shoving through the door to the kitchen. I tossed the bowl into the sink and walked out the back door, not stopping as I hopped off the end of the deck and headed into the trees. I didn’t care what was in there.

Let it come. I needed something to release these emotions that were straining my rib cage and making it hard to breathe.

Nothing came. I made it to the lake unscathed and piled wood into a pyramid, lighting it soon after. Then I moved beside it, staring out into the water that reflected the painted sunset.

I hated this. All of it. I hated being here sitting in the sand when I had no idea what was happening to Scorpius or his parents. Something horrible could be happening and I’d have no idea. Instead, I had a good idea of how often fish skimmed the surface of the lake for a snack. Nothing to write home about.

Was it selfish to want him here? I’d only just really realized how I felt about him.

Of course it was selfish.

I didn’t care.

I’d grown used to him accompanying me around the mountains. Making me laugh. Making me angry. Making me want to repeatedly kiss him. Among other things when we went swimming.

It was obvious I fancied him and he said he’d be sitting with me on the train (Dom would get a kick out of that), but now what? What if he wasn’t even on the train because something happened to him? That was why they had to leave early. Or what if something happened to his mum so he emotionally shuts down and avoids everyone? Or if he goes home and Danielle is there to comfort him at St. Mungos and I am a distant summer fling memory.

Ugh.

I really needed to stop thinking.

I scooted a little closer to the fire as the natural light died around me. It felt good, just sitting here, but I was still anxious and nervous. I hated not knowing what was happening.

I wanted to be back on that boat again.

I wanted to convince Scorpius touching a slimy squid wasn’t horrible.

I couldn’t do this. I used my wand to extinguish the fire and headed back in the dark, careful not to trip over and roots on the way. At that point I’d made the walk enough times I didn’t get any new injuries.

My parents were in the kitchen and shot me strange looks, but I moved into the bedroom, looked around for the owl who wasn’t there, and went to sleep.


Day Twenty-Seven


“Rose.”

“I hate you leave me alone.”

“Rose. Get up.”

“Ihateeverythingaboutyouandthatincludesyourvoice.”

I rolled over, tugging the blanket up over my head. The last thing I needed this early was Hugo asking me to help him put the dishes away or if he could have the rest of the orange juice. I didn’t care. Shut up, Hugo.

“Dad said get up.”

“Why isn’t he in here then?” I kicked him off the bed and heard a loud thud as he sailed onto the floor. Gracefully, I was sure. “Go away now, thank you.”

“He’s packing the sodding car,” snapped Hugo. He hoisted himself back onto the bed. “Now get UP.”

“Packing the car for what? I don’t want to go to breakfast.”

He grabbed the blanket and pulled. Damn. “We’re going home.”

“What?” I spun around. “We have three more days here. Dad had that big dinner planned. We were supposed to hunt for berries and do other family things.”

Hugo shrugged. He was fully dressed and it had to be eight in the morning by the sun coming in. “The place is packed. We have to drive down to give them the keys back and then we’re going home. So get the hell up.”

I kicked him off the bed again. “Why?”

Hugo straightened, wiping his shirt absently. “Pretty obvious you’re the one spoiling the party.”

“Me? You’ve been sitting in front of the television bitching about the lack of girls in bikinis to follow around,” I snapped back.

“Yes, well, that’s a legitimate concern.” Hugo shrugged and pulled open the door. “I think Mum and Dad are a bit concerned.”

“Concerned?”

“About your sodding mental health. Get UP. Let’s GO. Maybe they’ll give me some money to hang out in London instead of go to St. Mungos.”

“We’re going to St. Mungos?” I asked.

“How did you even make it to your seventh year?” Hugo shouted, slamming the door behind him.

Whoa.

I pulled on some clothes, shoved all my things into bags, and shrunk the easels. Once everything was zipped, I tugged it into the pristine kitchen. Everything had been cleaned and scrubbed and left in the condition we found it in. The back door was open and a bag of trash was on the deck.

“Ready, chicken nugget?” Dad asked, patting my shoulder as he moved past me. He was carrying a large suitcase with floral print.

“I don’t understand,” was all I got out.

He chuckled and walked out back. “You didn’t get enough sleep. Hugo is catching on faster than you.”

“I’m catching on!” I said, following him with my bags. It was another hot, muggy day and my hair was not treating me well. “I just don’t understand!”

Dad shot a confused glance over his shoulder and moved down the steps toward the car. The trunk was open, so he just shoved the suitcase inside. “Isn’t your nose always in a book?”

“Sure.” I shrugged and threw my bags in the car.

“Then imagine a story where the girl is sad and dumpy-looking for the last three days of vacation because her parents are so attached to being out of the country,” Dad said. “Then imagine that girl has no idea what’s happening to this boy she fancies, Godric knows why, or that boy’s family. I don’t think you’d finish that book, do you?”

“Of course I would.” I crossed my arms stubbornly. “Because it would work out eventually.”

He laughed and kissed my head. “Do you have everything? Your mum is getting the rest of the clothes from upstairs. I have no idea why she brought that much. The most we did was get it soaked in sweat from being outside or go to dinner in town.”

“We’re girls.” I smiled, especially since I’d wished on more than one occasion I brought more clothes than I did.

Case and point: kittens.

*

The doors were locked and I took a moment to look out at the skyline from the back deck, admiring the colors I’d painted on several occasions that month. It was beautiful and though we had trees in England, it was definitely an entirely different experience. Not that my body would miss the humidity and constant heat. Clouds began to roll in just as we pulled out of the drive and halfway down the mountain it began to rain. Dad took a different route and passed through the tiny town, buying Hugo and me ice cream cones. My eyes strayed to the art gallery.

Hmm.

“I’ll be right back.” I grabbed the umbrella and opened it as I popped the trunk.

“What’re you doing?” Hugo was holding both cones. And eating from both. Thanks.

“I just need to do something.” I grabbed three paintings, keeping the best from the back deck on top. The one with the sunset reflecting off the trees. Then I checked for cars and dashed across the road and into the shop. “Leonard?”

The man poked his head out from the door at the back of the shop. “Hello!” he said. “Here to analyze more beautiful brush strokes?”

“Erm, not exactly.” My face went a little red. “I had a question.”

“You have paintings!” he said, hurriedly closing the distance between us. “Look at your modesty! Let me see them.” He all but snatched them from me and took a few steps back, holding them out again against his belly. “Oh!”

I wasn’t sure what that meant. I wished it was lighter in there. At least I wished I didn’t feel so awkward just standing, fiddling with my fingers while he looked over my work. My paintings. The canvases I’d poured so many emotions into.

He was still quiet.

Why was he being so quiet?

I began to rock back and forth on the balls of my feet. My parents were probably waiting rather impatiently. My ice cream would be melted.

I cleared my throat.

“So tell me,” Leonard said. “Why did you bring these in?”

I faltered. I hadn’t exactly thought that part through. I thought he would be able to tell me that. I’d walk in, he’d explain why I was there.

“I’ll take these two.” He held my painting of the sunset from the date and another from the back deck of the view.

“What?” I choked.

“I’ll take them,” Leonard replied. “Of course I’ll need you to fill out a form with your information. Artists get seventy percent to my thirty to keep the shop open and functioning.”

I stared. “What?” I repeated.

“The forms are on my podium over there.” Leonard pointed in a haphazard way. “I’m thinking two hundred for this one and three for this one.” He was already holding them against empty spaces on the wall, tilting his head to each side. Then he looked back toward me. “Are you going to fill out the form or did you just come in here to show me you could paint?”

I shook my head, still dumbfounded. “No – okay, yeah!” I hurried to the podium and flipped on the small desk lamp, locating the forms immediately. It was just a bunch of nonsense. Name. Address. Date of birth. My scribbles were barely legible.

Leonard placed each of the two paintings on the floor against the wall where they would hang. His shoes clicked against the hardwood floor as he made his way back to the podium. “It was a pleasure doing business with you,” he said when I signed the bottom.

I shook his hand and scooped up the other few paintings, moving back into the drizzly rain. I didn’t bother opening the umbrella.

“What were you doing?” Dad shouted out the cracked window as I quickly crossed the street, placed the paintings back in the trunk, and climbed in beside Hugo. As predicted, my cone was gone. It hadn’t melted, though. He shot me a guilty look.

“What I should have done a while ago.” I buckled my seatbelt and settled in as the car took us to the owner’s house at the bottom of the mountain.

For as concerned as I was, I couldn’t stop smiling.

*

The house hadn’t changed in a month. Not that I expected it to. I walked in the door, bag dragging behind me, and flopped on the couch. I had to do side-along Apparation since I still wasn’t good enough to go overseas and Hugo wasn’t of age yet anyway, so it took a lot out of me.

“Your grandmum’s been here to water the plants,” Mum said, examining the leafy greens we had in terra cotta pots flanking the television.

Hugo immediately shoved my feet over and turned it on. “I’m going into the village today,” he announced.

“It’ll be getting late soon.” Mum motioned to the window. “You should probably just stay home and play board games with your father and I.” She was grinning.

Dad nodded. “Yeah. Actually, I have a good puzzle we could do.”

“I hate puzzles!” Hugo cried. “I am not doing a sodding puzzle!”

Yeah, like Dad would be caught dead doing a puzzle.

“But it has a girl on it,” Dad said, his lips shaking as he tried not to laugh.

“It’s probably a baby or something stupid!” Hugo whined. “Then I’m going to see Louis or something. I’m not staying in here. You can’t trap me!”

Dad looked around. “He says it like we’re keeping him in a cage,” he replied. “I think this place is rather roomy, don’t you, turkey?”

I nodded. “The roomiest of cages,” I said, burying my face into the pillow.

Mum nudged me. “You need some dinner before you leave?”

I shook my head. The hospital would have something to eat. Truth was, my stomach was in so many knots I knew I wouldn’t be able to get anything down. I was dreading what I might find. I had wanted to try Scorpius’ house first, but then I kindly reminded myself he never told me where he lived.

“She gets to go!” Hugo cried.

“Go read a book,” Dad muttered. He kissed my head and then retreated into the kitchen.

Probably to pour himself a large brandy.

Hugo made a disgruntled noise and stomped up the staircase to the left. Then he slammed his bedroom door. You know, for good measure.

What a sod.

“You think he’ll grow out of that?” Mum asked.

“I hope so,” I grumbled. “No girl in her right mind will have him.”

I considered going to my room and getting a few things. I probably should have, but the couch was comfortable. One of my favorite parts about the house, really. Big, plush, and cozy. I rolled onto my side. The room was a neutral beige with pops of blues on pillows and picture frames. A large gold frame hung over the fireplace to the right with our family portrait from a few years ago before Hugo started looking surly and uncomfortable each year.

“How are you getting to the hospital?” Mum asked, breaking into the silence.

“Figured I’d Floo,” I replied. “It’s easier.” Only it wasn’t. I just didn’t trust myself to Apparate right now. Not when my legs felt like jelly.

“Need anything?” she asked.

I shook my head. I needed a lot.

“Owl if you need something, okay?” Mum said, smoothing some hair away from my face. “Or if you need some company.” She smiled a little.

“Thanks.”

Once she left the room, I sat up, elbows on my knees. I just had to get to St. Mungos and find Scorpius’ mum and I would surely find him there. Unless they were already back home.

One step at a time.

I took a deep breath, threw my purse over my shoulder, and flicked my wand to create a roaring fire in the hearth. The warmth felt good, but I drove it out of my mind and tossed a handful of Floo Powder in.

“St. Mungos!” I said and stepped into the flames.

*

Hospitals didn’t make me uncomfortable like they did some people, though I still wasn’t their biggest fan. The walls of the lobby were painfully white and plain. The main waiting room seats were an ivory plastic. I passed several people with injuries, one spouting steam from his ears.

The line for the information desk was long and each clerk looked bored. One was popping her gum. My fingers kept clutching at the bottom of my shirt, twisting the fabric.

“Hi,” I said, leaning against the counter once it was my turn. The man in front of me was in navy scrubs. “I’m here to see a patient. Or who I think may be a patient.” My cheeks colored.

“Can I have the name of the person you think may be a patient?” he asked, bored.

“Astoria Malfoy.” I swallowed hard. I didn’t want her to be here, but I also didn’t exactly want to have to traipse all over England trying to find Scorpius’ house.

The man pursed his lips to one side, scrolling through the system before him. He typed a couple things, silent.

Come on. Come on. What are you even doing on that computer?

Probably looking at funny videos of cats.

At last, he took a breath. “We don’t have a patient in house under the name of Astoria Malfoy.”

“Damn.” Great. Well, at least I knew she wasn’t in the hospital. I just had to figure out where they lived so I could see Scorpius. Maybe Albus would know. He had to do Prefect rubbish with Scorpius.

“Miss?”

I turned back to the guy, who had his arm raised toward me. “Hmm?”

“We have a patient under the name of Scorpius Malfoy,” he said. “Any relation?”

I stared, heart sinking into my stomach. “What?” I breathed.

“Scorpius Malfoy.”

He was in the hospital. Scorpius was in the hospital.

“Room number,” I barely got out.

“Are you of some relation?” the man asked. “Generally we are only supposed to let relatives up since it’s after visiting hours.”

“I’m his girlfriend,” I said quickly.

He made a face that suggested he really wasn’t supposed to be letting me up, but then sighed. “Two-ten.”

Everything was spinning. I was running before I knew it and three Healers scolded me for it. I didn’t stop. I took the stairs three at a time and threw open the heavy door. I dodged carts in the hallway and snarky remarks from portraits.

I couldn’t breathe.

Two hundred one.

Two hundred three.

Two hundred five.

Another Healer scolded me for running in the halls. A patient stepped back into his room, hands around a bar with some liquid packages connected.

Two hundred seven.

Two hundred eight.

Two hundred nine.

My shoes squealed to a stop just before the tenth door, the sight of Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy on the bench outside of the room snapping me out of my fearful trance. His hands were folded in his lap, suit a little wrinkled. Mrs. Malfoy was in a pristine grey dress, but the collar was at an odd angle. Their hair wasn’t tamed.

Both spotted me immediately. Probably because I wasn’t exactly being quiet running down the corridor.

“Rose?” Mr. Malfoy said, his blond brow arching. “What’re you doing here?”

“They –” I tried to catch my breath. Running was not my best life decision. “At the desk – said Scorpius – Two-ten.” I leaned forward, fingers wrapped around my knees.

Please let him be okay.

“He’s not awake right now,” Mrs. Malfoy said calmly. Her eyes were red and puffy.

“What happened?” I asked.

Please let him be okay.

Her lips pressed together like she was smearing lipstick. “We don’t exactly know,” she replied. “We found him unconscious after falling down the stairs. He’s been in and out of surgery all day.”

I blinked, stunned. I wanted to ask a thousand questions. How had he fallen down the stairs? Was it just that? If it was just him falling down the stairs, he wouldn’t have been in the hospital this long, right? Unless it was a brain injury. Right? Godric, what if Scorpius had a brain injury? What if he wasn’t okay?

“Can I go in?” I stammered.

Mr. Malfoy was quiet, but nodded. “If you would like to.”

Of course I bloody would.

I pulled open the door and stepped into the semi-darkness. The room had a narrow hallway (a bathroom was to the left) and it opened into a small room with a dresser, television, two beside stands, and a bed in the center. There was a window on the far wall, but the shades were pulled.

Scorpius was unconscious on the bed. The blankets were over his middle, hands on either side of him, just over the fabric. His lips were parted ever so slightly and his hair was messy.

My heart was breaking. Tubes were coming out of his arms. Any sun he’d gotten in the mountains was gone.

And then I was crying. I had no idea why, but standing at the foot of a hospital bed watching the boy I fancied sleep away these drugs was enough to just send me over the edge. I attempted to wipe them away before finally just letting it go, sinking down into the armchair to Scorpius’ left.

I curled my legs up to my chest and focused my blurry eyes on his face. He looked calm. It reminded me of when he fell asleep on my leg, fingers curled around my thigh.

Please be okay.




A/N: Thank you all for following along!

Next up: A cafeteria conversation, Danielle, and the hospital bed.


Chapter 18: Awake
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 For Dancing Mooncalf. And Moonlight. I hope you caught that fly.





When I woke a few hours later, my face was cold from the settled tears. The room was the same, just darker now that the sun had set. I turned on a couple lights and noticed a hot mug of tea beside me. Thank Godric. I took a sip and a breath, trying to relax all over again.

He was so still, the only movement coming from the rise and fall of his chest.

My stomach made an obnoxious noise and I groaned. Great. Hunger. I placed the tea back on the bedside stand and examined Scorpius for a moment longer. I just wanted to know that he was okay. I wanted him to tell me he was okay. I wanted to teach him to paint again. This overly white, sterile room wasn’t exactly the most romantic setting in the world.

I leaned over, kissing him gently. I hated that he couldn’t kiss me back. After moving his hair away from his sweaty forehead, I left the room. The hallway was blinding with its loud lights. Horrible. How long had I been asleep?

It was mostly empty except a Healer at the far end of the hall pushing a cart into a room. This would be an excellent moment for a cart of food to materialize.

My stomach grumbled again.

Attractive. Really.

Cafeteria. I need you.

According to the sign posted at the end of the hall, the food was located on the fifth floor. I didn’t really want to leave Scorpius, but I was hungry and he was still unconscious. I couldn’t just not eat. I could even get some extra food to bring back with me so I wouldn’t get hungry later.

How late was I staying?

I didn’t want to think of that now. I began walking upstairs, pausing on the third floor to send Mum a quick owl about what had happened and how I was staying, and was thankful to smell all sorts of horrible fried foods when I opened the door to the fifth floor.

The cafeteria was massive. Tables stretched from one side to the other and the stack of trays was taller than me. It was a giant buffet of food, plus some a la carte options at the end.

I just started shoveling food onto my tray. Chicken. Crisps. Sandwiches. Salad.

“You’re awake.” Mrs. Malfoy was at my shoulder, her tray holding salad and a water.

“I am.” I nodded. “Thank you for letting me in to see him.”

Mrs. Malfoy smiled a little. “Why don’t you sit with us?”

“Really?” I said before I could stop myself.

“Sure.” Mrs. Malfoy led the way to the register where she paid for her food and my own, despite my protests, and then to the far windows where Mr. Malfoy had secured a table. He looked just as tired.

“Good to see you, Rose,” Mr. Malfoy said with a confident nod. He didn’t look at me as he began to eat.

So I was eating with Scorpius’ parents. Awkward.

I busied myself with putting condiments on my sandwich.

“So,” Mrs. Malfoy said after a while. “How did you manage to get the room number out of the clerks downstairs? They were even tight-lipped when my sister was here during visiting hours.”

My cheeks burned. “I told them I was Scorpius’ girlfriend. I guess they felt bad for me.” I tried to shrug it off. No big deal. Lied to get my way.

Used any means to achieve my ends.

Scorpius would be proud.

“Are you?” Mrs. Malfoy asked quietly.

Shit. Shit. Shit. What?

I nearly choked on the sandwich I had just bitten into. “No,” I said with my mouth full. “I’m not.”

“Why?” she asked.

I shrugged. “Neither of us asked.”

Mrs. Malfoy nodded a little. She was absolutely bloody terrifying when she was like this. “Do you like my son?”

This felt like a trap. I glanced over my shoulder just in case there was a master in archery waiting to off me at the answer.

“I do,” I replied. Honesty was the best policy. And bravery in the face of horrifying situations. I could do this. I could.

The Malfoys exchanged a glance I couldn’t read. Wasn’t it obvious I liked their son? I was in the hospital. I damn near tore through that hallway to see him. I must have looked like a complete loon. I sobbed and fell asleep beside his bed. If that wasn’t obvious I didn’t know what was.

“So, Rose, are you excited for your final year at Hogwarts?” Mr. Malfoy asked.

His son was unconscious in the hospital and he wanted to know if I was excited for seventh year. Bloody NO. Not now anyway.

“I am,” I replied, trying to keep my smile calm. “I can’t believe it’s my last year.” That’s the general answer, isn’t it? Can’t believe it’s my last year. It’s flown by. Not looking forward to the NEWTS. Blah blah blah.

“What’s your best class?”

“My best class is Charms,” I replied. “My favorite is History of Magic, which is certainly not my best.”

“They still teach that?” Mr. Malfoy said, his nose wrinkling. “That class was horrible.” He looked like there was a bad taste in his mouth. Mrs. Malfoy shot him a look.

“I kind of view it like a story,” I explained, cheeks warm again. “Like a book I’m reading. It’s interesting knowing a lot of those rebellions actually happened.”

He looked at me and I knew exactly what that expression meant: You are your mother’s daughter. I’d received it on more than one occasion.

“So tell me,” Mrs. Malfoy began, balancing some pineapple on the end of her fork. “Have you and Scorpius spent the whole month together?”

I wished he was here to field these questions. My feet rubbed against the floor anxiously. I had no idea exactly what he told his parents.

“A lot of it,” I admitted. I couldn’t lie to them. That was not a great way to begin a relationship. “We found each other by the creek and just started hanging out.” I shrugged a bit, trying to sound casual. I was pretty sure I failed considering the whole ‘yes, I was the one your son left your sick side to see’ wasn’t a great selling point on my behalf.

“And you were there for a vacation?”

“I was,” I replied.

“Did you have a good vacation?” Mrs. Malfoy asked. I had no idea if this was sarcastic or not, so I merely nodded. She ate her pineapple, but something made me think she wasn’t saying everything she wanted to.

I cleared my throat. “I’m sorry,” I said finally. “Do you not want me to be here?”

“What?” Mrs. Malfoy said, almost spitting pineapple all over the table. She paused to swallow. “Of course that’s not the case. I’m sorry if you felt that way.”

“I don’t want to intrude,” I said.

Mr. Malfoy looked over and to my surprise, he smiled. “You’re not intruding,” he said. “You found Scorpius after he was attacked. You couldn’t possibly be intruding.”

I relaxed a little, shoulders falling from their former stiff position. “I just wanted to make sure,” I said. “Have you … heard anything yet?”

Mrs. Malfoy’s lips tightened. “The Healers said he has some of the same symptoms I did at the beginning,” she explained. My stomach dropped. “But they aren’t sure. They’re running some more tests.”

“Scorpius told me you were in America because the Healers recommended the humidity,” I said.

She nodded, moving her food around the plate. “It didn’t do much of anything. At most, it made me sweatier than usual and gave Draco a reason to complain more.” Mr. Malfoy huffed. “I’m doing okay now that we’re back, but some days are better than others.”

I opened my mouth to ask a question, but then stopped myself. It wasn’t my business.

Unfortunately, she was watching me like a bloody hawk. “Go ahead.”

“What’s it like?” I blurted. It wasn’t my business. Part of me didn’t want to know, but with Scorpius being a private person and me leafing through a few articles about her illness it was something that drew out my curiosity.

“Hard,” she replied simply. “It’s hardest not knowing what it is. I have another round of tests scheduled for this evening.”

“Ah.” I couldn’t think of anything constructive to add to the conversation. They hadn’t figured it out in the years Mrs. Malfoy has had the disease. And now Scorpius could have whatever it was. He could have good days and bad days. They could ship him off to the United States to try and vacation in the humidity.

I had no words.

“I hope they go well,” I stammered out, my mind fuzzy with Scorpius’ fate.

Mrs. Malfoy lifted her wrist and checked her watch. “Actually, it’s getting close to the time I have to be upstairs. Are you okay here, Rose?”

“I’ll be fine.” I smiled a little, but it wasn’t genuine.

The Malfoys excused themselves to throw away their garbage and left the cafeteria. It was getting louder in the room since more people had filed in for a late dinner, but I kept my eyes outside. There were pinpricks of lights in the distance, but otherwise it was dark.

I wished I’d known more about Mrs. Malfoy’s disease, but with no one knowing much of anything, I didn’t feel left out. I didn’t even know if it was a real disease. Or what the symptoms were. Passing out on the stairs? Hell.

Eventually I excused myself back to Scorpius’ room. It was exactly how I left it, including the light on his bedside stand. He hadn’t been moved so I settled back into the chair and pulled a book from my purse and began to read.

Somewhere around page ten I started to read out loud. It wasn’t a very exciting book, just something fun and leisurely. A love story about two people who wouldn’t fall in love until the very last pages of the book. Awkward encounters. Laughter. Stares across the room.

Every so often I glanced up at Scorpius. His chest continued to rise and fall.

I wished this was a fairy tale. That I could be the princess who wakes the prince from sleeping. That I could just kiss him and he would grin at me in that cheeky way I enjoyed so much. What was that called? True love’s kiss? Something like that.
But it wasn’t that. It wasn’t love.

It was something, though.

I closed the book and reached out, taking Scorpius’ hand in my own. It was cold, but not freezing. Probably because he had tubes in his wrists. I looked away to his face. The tubes made my stomach churn.

“I guess this is why you didn’t say good-bye,” I said with a small laugh. It felt odd talking to him, but the silence was unbearable. “I freaked out. You probably figured that, though. I’m not exactly stable when it comes to things like that. Mum drove me back to your place to say good-bye and you weren’t there. The colorful words out of my mouth were definitely worthy of Slytherin. Not you, though, as I’m pretty sure your vocabulary isn’t as crude as a lot of other people’s.” My thumb pressed into his palm.

“I wish you would wake up,” I continued softly. “I just had an awkward conversation with your parents in which they asked why I wasn’t your girlfriend. I lied about it to get up here. I think the bloke took pity on me. I said I was.” I frowned. “I should have asked. A thousand times. When I saw you in that creek in your stupid rubber boots I should have just asked you right then and there. I couldn’t help it, though. I got distracted. You were stripping, remember?”

I glanced over at the clock. It was close to eleven. I wasn’t tired since it wasn’t too late in America so I pulled the chair beside Scorpius’ bed and placed my feet on the edge. “I miss you, Scorpius,” I said, blinking quickly. “More than I probably should.”

I opened the book and continued to read again.

*

“Rose?”

I opened my eyes. The book was still in my lap and the room was still dark. It couldn’t have been more than a tiny catnap. I was being shaken awake by Mrs. Malfoy.

“Yeah?” I said, yawning. Scorpius, once again, hadn’t moved.

“Would you mind waiting in the hallway for a moment? Scorpius has another visitor who has requested a little alone-time,” she said.

I nodded. I could understand that. Though it was strange this late at night, I grabbed my bag and the book and followed her out into the hall.

I expected to see someone who looked like Scorpius. A relative. A grandmother or aunt or uncle. Maybe someone I recognized from Hogwarts.

I didn’t expect to see a stunning blond girl with bright eyes and a charming smile.

Whoa.

She was in a pretty sundress and strappy shoes with her hair in perfect waves down her shoulders and onto her back.

I was suddenly very aware of my own wrinkled clothes and the mustard stain on my shirt.

Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy went back to the bench they had originally occupied. She looked exhausted after whatever tests she’d had done. Whatever they were hadn’t kept her from her son, however.

The girl extended her hand almost immediately.

“Hi,” I said, shaking it. Even her handshake was firm, professional, and awake. “I’m Rose.”

The girl smiled. “I’m Danielle,” she said sweetly. “Scorpius’ girlfriend.”

Never in my life had I gone from smiling to wanting to throttle someone so quickly.

Scorpius had mentioned during our date he wanted to break things to her in person. But he had also insisted they were not an actual couple. That they were just going on a couple of casual dates. This girl did not look like the casual dating kind of girl. She looked like the kind of girl you brought home to Mum and Dad and then proposed to the next day.

Hell, I would bring her home to my parents. Even her teeth were straighter than mine.

“Pleasure,” I managed to get out before Danielle brushed past me and into Scorpius’ room without so much as a second glance.

The door closed and I jumped, looking over at the Malfoys.

“That’s who I’m competing against?” I blurted.

Mr. Malfoy cracked a brief smile. “Well, if we’re being open about it, I’m not quite sure there’s even a competition.”

“What’s she doing in there then?” I peeked through the thin rectangular window in the door, but all I could see was darkness.

“Did you want to break the news to her?” he asked, still fighting against a bigger smile. “I’m sure she’d love hearing that from you.”

“I quite like not adding to my bruise collection,” I mumbled. Why was she still in there? What was she doing? Was she kissing him? Holding his hand? Reading to him?

I hated her already.

“I can hardly break anything to her when it’s not official,” I mumbled, beginning to pace. Just as I imagined Scorpius had been.

More bloody official than she was with him. Introducing herself as his girlfriend. Over my bloody dead body, girl.

I turned back to Scorpius’ parents. “She’s a Muggle,” I said. “How is she here? He told me she didn’t know he was a wizard.”

“Draco went home while I was in my tests to get a change of clothes and she was there,” Mrs. Malfoy replied. “He has already modified her memory so she assumes it’s a normal hospital.”

“She looked all pathetic just sitting on the porch,” Mr. Malfoy said with a shrug. “I couldn’t just leave her there. It was starting to rain.”

Should have effing left her.

She was still in there. Scorpius was unconscious. What in blazes was she still doing in there?

Great. She was probably on top of him making out with him.

Stupid Danielle and her stupid sundress.

“See anything?” Mr. Malfoy said, eyeing me.

“Just dark,” I replied, frowning.

He chuckled. “Why don’t you go on in?”

I stared. “Because she’s in there with him.”

“Ah.” The look he gave me reminded me of the one he had given me at dinner, just a little different. Then he laughed and said something quiet to Mrs. Malfoy.

I knew that look.

I was my father’s daughter.

“Fine,” I said and walked right back into two-ten. I marched down the hallway. “Danielle, we need to have a chat.” I turned and stopped dead in my tracks.

Danielle was seated on the edge of the bed, her hand in Scorpius’. Her hair was shining against the light and I hated her for it. That wasn’t what had stopped me, though. It was Scorpius. His eyes were open and he was looking at her before realizing I was there.

The hell?

Scorpius raised his right hand and held his finger toward me. “One moment, Rose,” he said. Then he looked back at Danielle.

I stared. What?

I had been here half the bloody day. I read to him. And he was conscious and not dead and using that moment to talk to bloody Danielle the goddess.

I was standing here awkwardly, not knowing what to do with my hands. Great.

At least he remembered who I was. That was positive. Right?

Scorpius cleared his voice. “Do you understand?” he asked her.

Danielle didn’t so much as glance back at me. “Of course not,” she said. “You only left for a month. Did your mother say something?”

Scorpius shook his head. “I’m sorry, Danielle. I didn’t mean for things to happen like this.”

“So all of those kisses meant nothing?” she asked.

Oh Godric Gryffindor I did not want to hear this. The thought of this blond bint snogging Scorpius made me sick. Go away now, please. I considered just leaving, but part of me was curious. Who was I kidding? I was always curious.

“It’s not like that,” Scorpius said with a sigh. “Look, I think you’d rather not hear me explain it. Just please take my word for it.”

“You can’t just do this!” Danielle said, her voice rising.

What a bint.

Scorpius frowned. “Look--”

“No!” Danielle cried. “This was something. We were together!”

“You bloody were not!”

Both of them turned and looked at me, considering the words came out of my mouth. Whoops.

“Excuse me?” Danielle said, a brow raising. “Who are you again?”

“Short memory span probably isn’t your most attractive quality,” I said, taking a step forward. “Look, Danielle, Scorpius is in the hospital so if you could kindly not raise your voice.”

“You’re not in this conversation,” she shot back. “So wait outside until we work it out.”

“Actually,” Scorpius began, his voice still calm, “she is in this conversation.”

Danielle looked back at me again and then to Scorpius. “Oh, you have got to be kidding me,” she said and I could practically hear the eyeroll in her voice. “Her? Seriously?”

Nope.

Danielle went flying onto the chair, knocking it over.

Scorpius looked over. “Did you have to hex her?” he asked patiently.

I shrugged. “You looked a bit like a damsel in distress.” I smirked. “She okay?”

Scorpius ran his fingers through his hair and glanced over. “She’s alive.”

Danielle hoisted herself up, blond bombshell hair all over the place. “What the hell did you just DO to me?” she shrieked. “What did you throw?” She looked around, but as I hexed her while her back was turned, she found nothing. I had long stuffed my wand away. “Scorpius, this is madness!”

He could only shrug. “Sorry, Danielle,” he replied. “You really are a lovely person.”

“Oh fuck off,” she snapped, turning on her heel and marching out of the room, careful to shoulder-check me as she went. The door slammed and I heard her yell something, presumably at Scorpius’ parents.

My eyes moved back to him. “You’re awake.”

“How long have I been out?” he asked, looking around.

“What do you remember?” I said, moving back toward him and sitting where Danielle had been. I took his hand, thankful he could hold mine in return.

Scorpius moved back into the pillows and rubbed his lips together. He looked like he was concentrating hard. “Being upstairs,” he said. “I was upset we were leaving. I was writing about it and then I got annoyed and threw the journal. I went to get a drink, but I was in the hallway and I started to get lightheaded...” He paused, eyes on the ceiling. “I figured I was dehydrated. After that I can’t remember anything. I just woke up and Danielle was singing something. It was strange.”

“She told me she was your girlfriend,” I said pointedly.

“She told me that too.” Scorpius wrinkled his nose.

I grinned a little, squeezing his hand. “You’ve been out since yesterday.” I took a moment and explained how we went back to say good-bye and he was gone.

“So you’ve been here since you got back to England?” Scorpius asked. “Your parents brought you back early?”

“I make a very convincing panicked face,” I explained. “I thought it was your mum. But I also figured if it was your mum you would have sent me an owl. Any owl.”

“You know me well.” Scorpius smiled.

“I should call the Healers.” I reached for the buttons on the side of his bed, but he stopped me.

“Wait.” He pulled me down against him. “I’d rather not.”

“Why?” I brushed some hair away from his face just as I’d done when he was asleep.

“I’d rather just live in a fairy tale for a while.” Scorpius wrapped his other arm around me, ignoring the fact that tubes were still in his wrists. “When they come in here it’ll be all bad news and tests and nonsense. Just let me live in this for a while longer.”

I watched his eyes. They were a bit glassier than usual, so I nodded. “Did you know?” I asked.

He shrugged. “I assumed,” he said. “When I started to get lightheaded a year or so ago. Some headaches. The occasional blood when I coughed. I figured.” Scorpius shrugged a little. “It was only a matter of time until something big happened, right?”

I couldn’t help it. I kissed him, fingers tangling in the fabric of his dressing gown. “I want to be your girlfriend,” I said in an almost stubborn way.

“Yeah?” he asked, grinning. I’d never seen his eyes light up so fast. “Is that because you want to or just because I may have a mystery disease?”

“Both?” I teased, kissing him again.

“Is this you asking?” he said against my lips.

“This is me asking.” My fingers trailed up his chest and into his hair. “So say yes.”

“All right. Twist my arm.” Scorpius chuckled and we kissed for a while, making up for lost time.

His parents came in a little while later and talked to him about what had happened. The Healers did some tests, but scheduled most for the morning when the rest of them would be in (and awake). Scorpius was very diligent and attentive, doing everything he was asked, though he glanced over at me often.

The Healers told Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy to go home and get some rest since he was awake and stable. They refused, so the Healers offered them a cot in the waiting room down the hall. I grabbed a thin blanket and curled up into the armchair.

Once the door was shut, Scorpius chuckled. “Right,” he said. “Like you’re going to sleep there.”

“Have a better idea?” I asked.

“Turn the light off on your way over here,” he said and so I did and curled up beside him.


Day Twenty-Eight


We woke somewhere around four, the room still shrouded in darkness. Scorpius pressed his lips to mine. “She’s usually not like that, you know,” he whispered.

“Who? Danielle?” My fingers absently trailed against his chest.

“Mmhm.” He wrapped his arms around me, pulling me against him.

I left it in silence for a moment. “I can’t blame her,” I said at last. “I guess to be so sure of one thing only to have it tossed in your face … and the girl standing right there.” My nose wrinkled. “She reacted less than I would have. Hell, I hit you and I didn’t even think we were together.”

Scorpius laughed lightly, though it was clear he didn’t have much of his strength back. “I shouldn’t have done it like that,” he said. “Do you see why it was so hard for me before? I hate hurting people.” He kissed my forehead. “But I knew if I didn’t it would only hurt you more.”

“And that’s the thought you had after waking up?” I rolled my eyes. “Leave it to you not to be concerned about your own safety and health.”

“I’d much rather be concerned about you.” Scorpius let out a sigh and squeezed my hip.

“Aren’t you sweet?” I snorted.

“The very sweetest.” Scorpius was quiet for a while and I concentrated on his breathing. The movement of his chest in the darkness. “How long can you stay?”

“Here?”

“Mhmm.”

I shrugged. “I owled Mum and told her what happened,” I explained. “I don’t think she’ll come hunting for me any time soon.”

“Good.” Scorpius moved his hand to my hair, brushing each set of locks with his fingers. “I’m not the greatest fan of hospitals, so it’s nice to have a friendly face.”

“You have your parents,” I countered.

“Allow me to rephrase,” Scorpius whispered, placing his free hand under my chin and tilting my head toward him. “A friendly face I can kiss.” He brought his lips to mine for a moment, smirking into the kiss.

I couldn’t get enough of him to the point where it almost freaked me out. But in this moment I didn’t care. I just wanted to kiss him.

“I’m going to be okay, you know,” Scorpius said when the kiss broke.

“I believe you.”

“Do you trust me?” he asked.

“I do.” I nodded and kissed him again.

“Took you long enough.” He pulled me on top of him, his hands on my thighs. “If my heart rate rises don’t call the Healers.”

I kissed the pompous smirk right off his face.




A/N: Thank you all for the amazing words and putting up with my plot twists. I realized at one time, all 3 of my stories had ended on chapters with plot-twists. WHOOPS. Sorry about that! 

UP NEXT: More letters, home, and Rose needs to handle something herself.


Chapter 19: Home
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For pinkpunzel.





The morning was chaotic. Lots of tests, Healers, and requests, whether it be breakfast or clothing or that I wait outside while they examined Scorpius for a physical. I blushed and all but ran into the hallway. I could hear Scorpius’ laughter through the door.

He was released around nine with the promise of results by the next day and only if he was on bedrest. Scorpius was quick to nod, but when we were out of earshot he asked if I wanted to jump any waterfalls. I told him I was waterfalled out and maybe we should just have a lazy day. Reluctantly, he agreed.

I accompanied the Malfoys to their home, nestled on a cute country road where there were big yards with giant trees and hills. It wasn’t too far outside of the city, but far enough to have some peace and quiet. His house was very nice, though obviously nothing like the manor Dad told me about. It was three levels with large windows and a grand porch that wrapped around the whole place, decorated with rocking chairs and lush, green plants.

“This means I can’t avoid you now,” Scorpius said with a smirk as I helped him up the stairs. His parents had already transported his things back to his room and were holding open the door.

The living room was just as chic with stylish furniture and a large television placed over the mantle. Everything was in creamy shades of beige.

“It’s just upstairs,” he said, nodding to the stairs. He made a face.

“I’m sure you don’t want me to levitate you,” I said.

“Yeah I’m certain I had some added bruises because of that.” Scorpius gripped the railing with one hand and we took the stairs one at a time. His parents disappeared into the kitchen to put away some groceries and make tea.

One step at a time. I kept my arm steady around his middle.

“You’d think I’d be okay after a day of being out,” Scorpius said, gritting his teeth. “I guess the waterfall jumping was a poor idea.”

“Just maybe.” I smirked as we reached the landing and moved to the right and down a small hallway. He nodded to the door on the left and I pushed it open, helping him inside.

Scorpius’ room wasn’t what I expected. His room in the mountains was empty and plain. It was boring. This was anything but. The walls were a shiny silver with green vertical stripes. His furniture was a deep chocolate brown and each lampshade was a different shade of green. He didn’t have posters, but he did have a collage of photo frames over his desk featuring his family and friends from Hogwarts. There was one of him and Danielle.

“Well, this is it,” he said, stumbling over to his bed, which was made up of plush bottle green blankets and pillows. He sank right into them and let out a content sigh. “I don’t think I’ll be moving for the remainder of the day.”

“You look exhausted,” I said, taking off my shoes and beginning to look around the room.

“Can’t say I’m not,” he said with a brief shrug.

“Do you want me to put your things away?” I nodded to the bag from the mountains.

“You don’t have to do that.” Scorpius tugged the blanket up around him. “Just relax, love.”

His voice tugged at my heartstrings. “You relax,” I said with a grin. I grabbed his clothes. The dirty ones I tossed into his hamper and I hung the few clean shirts he had left. His wardrobe fascinated me. It was a coordinated row of collared shirts and polos as well as blazers, ties, and vests.

This boy knew how to dress.

And I wanted to take it off with my teeth.

I flushed. Shit. That was not at all what I should be thinking about when he was ill and in bed.

I concentrated on putting his things away, tossing his bathroom accessories into his ensuite and then grabbed a familiar book from the bottom of the bag. “Scorpius?”

A snore signaled I was very much alone in the awake department.

I passed the book between my fingers. There was no way I could do it. I would lose it if I knew he’d read my journal. Not that I kept a journal. But if I did, I wouldn’t be happy if he’d been nosing around in it. Then again, that was how I found out about Danielle.

What if there was another girl he was seeing?

Okay, that was rubbish.

But it was practically burning my hands. I wanted to know what he’d written. All I would have to do was glance at a few lines of every couple entries.

I didn’t even have to really read it all.

Just enough to see. You know, if he actually fancied me. Right. Because what if he didn’t? I should leave if he didn’t fancy me. So that was definitely a reason to read it.

And to see if he really liked my paintings or if he was just being nice.

See? Plenty of reasons to read his journal.


I’m fairly certain she hates me. Not just fairly certain. Very certain. Just fairly certain she’s never going to speak to me again.


She hit me today. I’ve made a mental note to never again underestimate the power of a slap to the face. I’ve had frozen peas on it for the better part of two hours and it still stings.



Date ideas:


Picnic by the waterfall

Fishing at the lake

Dinner at the diner?

Get lost in the woods

Cooking dinner for her

Painting

Painting that sunset

Dinner on the roof with the easels

Done.


Everything is set. I leave to pick her up in a few minutes. I keep thinking the collar of my shirt is too tight. I haven’t been this nervous in ages. I have no idea why I’m this nervous. We’ve been spending time together almost every day for the better part of a month. I told her that I want to be a television host. No one knows that.


Salazar, she makes me nervous.

Everything is perfect, though. Everything is set. I don’t see how anything could possibly go wrong. I hope it doesn’t, as she hasn’t forgiven me yet.

I hope she does. There’s something about her I can’t quite explain.

I don’t want to explain it. She makes me want to stop dreaming and think.


The list of people who have saved my life is very thin. In fact, there is only one name on it: Rose Weasley.



She got in trouble for coming to see me. In the middle of the night! I still can’t believe it. How does she not realize? How does she not understand who she is? She is the bravest girl I’ve ever met. It just takes a little bit to get her out of her shell and she is fearless. She scaled a house to spend the night with me.


I wish she could have stayed forever. I like everything about her. The way she smells. The way she laughs at me. The way she made me confess my love for a giant fish. The way she broke the house’s latticework frame to get to me after going through a forest when I had just been chased by a bloody bear.

That girl. She’s something else, isn’t she? I just hope she’s not in too much trouble.

Maybe I’ll write to her.


I never asked. Why did I never ask?



She’s crazy if she thinks I wouldn’t get on with her family. Though her brother is more than difficult, her parents are charming. They’re just protective over her. I can’t blame them. If Rose was my daughter I wouldn’t let her out of my sight.


I tried not to stare at her, but it was difficult. I kept having to concentrate on the game pieces and her parents. She kept smiling at me. I tried not to let it get to me, but all I wanted to do was throw the sodding game across the room and kiss her. That was something about Rose - I always want to kiss her. Always.

 

I blame male hormones for that kiss against the tree. And the fact that I never wanted it to stop. And the fact that I have never been so bloody turned on in my entire life.

All I want is her.


More than anyone, I wanted this treatment to help Mum. I feel like I’ve done nothing but run the house for years as Father tended to her. All I want is for her to be better, but nothing seems to be working. We can throw all the gold in the world at the Healers, but they’re going in blind. They’re just offering up remedies they aren’t even sure of anymore because nothing is working.


And this, once again, isn’t working.

We’re leaving in the morning. Mrs. Weasley just left a few minutes ago.

I couldn’t be more furious. Can’t they wait it out a little longer? Keep my mother on bed rest? Just a few more days.

When did I become so selfish?

If it’s not working I should be striving to find the next thing that is. I’ve made such a long list of all the treatments they have tried that have failed. It seems to be never-ending. I really want her to be okay. Hell, I want me to be okay. The more I get dizzy and cough up blood, the more I worry. I haven’t told Mum yet, but I have the dates documented in the beginning of the journal. I can only hope it’s a coincidence, but I’m an intelligent person. I know it’s not.

Maybe Rose will be willing to just skip seventh year and travel around the world with me. We could see all the exotic countries and lounge on the beach and eat the strangest food. She would make faces at all of it and I would tell her that she has to take more risks.

But I’m not going to be able to say good-bye. Hopefully Mrs. Weasley tells her that it wasn’t my idea. It was my parents’. I just hate the thought of leaving her here for the rest of her vacation, however short it may be. Being at home or the hospital sounds horrible as an alternative to spending the day with her.

Since when did I become such a romantic sap? The guys are going to tear me a new one for it.

I don’t care. I’ve never wanted to spend so much time with one person. That has to be special, right? After my dates with Danielle I wanted my own time and space to do my own things. After my dates with Rose I want to fall asleep beside her and never let go.

That’s something.

I just wish I could say good-bye. Tell her that I’ll miss her. Tell her I want to go to Diagon Alley and shop for the world’s most boring books together. Tell her everything I’ve been avoiding saying for a month.

I just wish I could find the words.


I was in a similar state of not being able to find the words as I stared at his sprawling script. I didn’t know whether to smile or cry or laugh or sink down into a puddle of myself. I glanced behind me, but Scorpius was still fast asleep. The blanket was clutched tight in his fist.

I closed the book and placed it on his dresser. And then, even though I wasn’t tired, I crawled into bed and wrapped my arms around him, for once being the one to pull him close to me.

I didn’t want to let go.

*

We woke around noon, his eyes filled with sleepiness. We stayed in bed for a while, our eyes on each other, a stray kiss every so often. I kept considering admitting I read his journal, but the words stuck to the back of my throat like a bad cold. Instead, I remained silent. I ran my fingers through his hair and appreciated his smile and eyes and cheekbones.

In any other situation I would have wanted to get up and leave, to move around at the least. I always wanted to keep busy. Do something productive.

This, though, was ideal.

My gaze slipped from his back to his lips and from there to the lines of his face, strands of his hair, and the tiny sunspot freckles on each earlobe. So many things I had not taken the time to notice about him before.

My grip found his shirt. His arm. The back of his neck as the hairs stood on end when I touched him.

It reminded me of standing in the middle of a creek with a net.

“Your parents might be missing you,” Scorpius said at last, clearing his throat after.

“They might be,” I agreed. My heart was thumping again, loud.

“You think Hugo will take you cliff-jumping while I’m on bed rest?”

I smiled. “I’ll be sure to ask.” The thought of Hugo doing something that didn’t involve winning, women, or video games baffled me enough to laugh. I wondered if Mum and Dad let him go into the village to talk to his teenie-bopper girls that followed him around. I’d never understand so I didn’t attempt to.

“You don’t have to stay.” Scorpius’ hand moved to my hip, thumb brushing against the exposed skin from where my shirt had ridden up.

“I know.” I kissed him again. “I’m not staying because I have to.”

“Why are you, then? I’m not much fun.” He nodded to the bed with a smirky smile. That was how he won over every professor at Hogwarts. That charming grin that made my stomach explode with nerves.

“I don’t need to be traipsing through the forest to have a good time with you.”

He squeezed my hip gently and pulled me against his chest. “Let’s do something tomorrow,” he said in a rough voice, right in my ear.

“What kind of something?”

“Go somewhere.” His lips found my neck and a sharp chill shot through my spine.

“What kind of somewhere?” I fought to steady my voice.

“Anywhere,” Scorpius murmured. “Anywhere that isn’t here.” I noticed the strain in his tone. He didn’t want to be there, so I nodded. “I’ll figure it out. Can you write me tonight?”

“If you want me to,” I replied as he kissed my neck again. He really needed to stop as my face was now on fire. Everything was on fire.

“I’m not as good at talking as I am at writing things down,” Scorpius explained.

“I don’t know that I believe that,” I said, laughing a little. “Especially considering you have won the heart of most people at Hogwarts by talking.”

He shrugged a little. “Maybe just not where it counts,” he said. “You make me forget what I’m going to say.”

“Pretty sure you’ve had a lot to say this month.”

He chuckled and kissed the space behind my ear. My body melted into his like a puddle of chocolate in the heat. “Pretty sure you’ve had a lot more,” he countered in a low growl.

Oh, hell.

What were we talking about again?

Something about talking or cheesecake or how much I wanted to snog his face off.

Was that even a thing?

“Something wrong, Weasley?” Scorpius asked with a snicker. He pulled away, grey eyes fixed on mine.

“You could say that.” My fingers gripped his hair, still messy from the hospital stay, and pulled him back toward me. I kissed him hard, my own head spinning. I could be content like that for hours, breathless like I’d run a marathon, hands tangled in his hair. He returned the kiss just as hungrily, grip tightening on my thighs as he pulled me on top of him. My hair fell around him and onto the pillow, part of it into my eyes, but I made no move to fix it. All I wanted was him.

Scorpius tugged on my shirt to bring my chest to his, arms wrapping around me as the kiss deepened to the point where our breathing was heavy and uncontrolled. My fingers curled around the collar of his shirt, holding it tight as if I was afraid I would float away. Everything felt as if it was floating away.

I don’t remember how long I kissed him. Long enough for my hands to find his bare stomach and his to brush my cheek and send chills through my entire body. When we pulled apart, we were breathless, our lips plump and our faces pink.

We would have kept at it had we not heard footsteps on the staircase.

“Do you two want lunch?”

It was Mrs. Malfoy. I practically leapt off Scorpius and moved to the chair beside the window, grabbing a random magazine and opening it to the center page. It was some entertainment piece on a famous singer. Boring.

“Not all that hungry, Mum!” Scorpius called just as the door opened and his mother walked in. She smiled. “But thank you.”

“When does Rose need to be home?” she asked.

That was my cue. Parent code for ‘she should probably leave soon because I know you two are up here attached at the lips.’

“I’ll be heading out soon,” I said with a small smile. “Thank you again for letting me help.”

Yeah, as soon as I catch my breath. I couldn’t look at Scorpius.

“You’re welcome.” Mrs. Malfoy smiled pleasantly. “Scorpius, just yell if there’s anything I can get you.”

“I’ll probably go back to sleep for a bit.”

He was probably tired again from all that. My skin was still burning from his touch.

Once she left his face exploded in color and he pulled the blanket to his chest. “I don’t want you to leave,” he noted.

“You’re just spoiled.” I grabbed my purse and leaned over the bed, kissing him slowly. “I’ll write to you tonight, okay?”

“Just stay a little longer.” His brows raised and he demonstrated the most pathetic excuse for a puppy-dog face I’d ever seen. Truly, it was dreadful.

But it did its job. I groaned and kicked my legs onto the bed. I put my arm around his shoulder and let him drift into a calm sleep as I moved my hands through his hair. He needed it.

Before leaving, I paused, searching the room with my eyes. Was I forgetting anything? I hadn’t brought anything and I already put everything away, but something caught my gaze just before my hand turned the doorknob.

Scorpius’ journal.

I needed to take care of something.

*

I double-checked the scrap of parchment in my hand and knocked on the door a second time. The house was relatively large with green shutters and a fresh coat of white paint. The garden out front was much more well-kept than anything I could come up with, which made everything smell wonderful. I had always considered gardening, but when I went outside to try it once I found myself with a canvas and paint, pressing together the different browns in the dirt, seeds forgotten.

Gardening just wasn’t for me.

I checked the drive. There was a car so I waited another minute before walking back down the steps. It was worth a shot.

I almost tripped over a crack in the sidewalk when I heard the door open behind me and a familiar face against the screen door. “Rose?”

“Hey,” I said, moving back onto the porch nervously. This had not been the smartest idea I’d come up with. “Listen, I want to apologize for yesterday.”

Danielle pushed open the door and stepped outside. She didn’t look as put-together as she had at the hospital. Her hair was in a knot on top of her head and she was wearing grey yoga pants and a pink t-shirt. She just looked sort of regular, which made me wonder how put-together she even looked last night and how much of that was my own paranoia.

“You want to apologize?” she said, closing the door with a thud behind her. She took a few steps and leaned against the brick side of the porch between two potted plants.

I shrugged, feeling awkward. “I’m not apologizing for Scorpius because he has his own issues to deal with, but I feel guilty last night happened like it did. Suddenly.”

Danielle tried to look unfazed. “It’s fine,” she said. “It just caught me off guard.”

“Trust me,” I damn-near blurted. “I’ve been caught off guard before.”

Like when I found out about her. Casually-seeing girl. Ugh.

She rubbed her pink lips together. “Did you meet on vacation?” she asked.

“We met at school,” I explained. I didn’t have to, but I knew if I had fallen for someone only to have them not feel the same way, I would appreciate a little explanation other than a simple apology while I sat on the side of a hospital bed. “We just happened to run into each other on vacation.”

“He told me he couldn’t be with anyone because of his mum,” Danielle said, her arms crossing over her chest.

“I’m pretty sure he felt the same way until a couple days ago,” I said.

I couldn’t help it. I felt bad for her even after her snarky remarks at the hospital. Granted, she didn’t have to lie and say she was Scorpius’ girlfriend, but after building it up for a month when he was gone maybe the excitement just got to her. I’d never know. I didn’t ask. I just gave her the benefit of the doubt.

“So are you two together?” Danielle frowned.

I nodded. “Yeah,” I said. “I just wanted to apologize because up until not too long ago, I didn’t know you existed and I didn’t want the first time I met you to go like that. Scorpius spoke very highly of you.”

“Could have at least written me,” she said, tone laced with bitterness.

“I wish he would have,” I agreed. “Though I know he wanted to do it in person.”

“How very Scorpius of him.” Danielle rolled her eyes. “It doesn’t matter. It’s over. I’ll get over it and he has to go back to school in the fall so it’s not like I’ll see him at the corner store anymore.” She shrugged. “But thanks for coming over here.”

I hated the hurt in her eyes. The heartbreak. It was all there – under the mask of anger last night.

“Right.” I cleared my throat awkwardly since it was randomly full of saliva and gross. “I’ll, erm, see you around.”

She nodded and without a word, moved back into the house. The door closed and I walked down the sidewalk to the street and toward Scorpius’ house so I could Apparate from there.

I wasn’t sure if I should tell Scorpius yet, but I was glad I went and saw her again. First impressions aren’t always the best, though sometimes they can be.

Like the first impression of a little boy on a boat.

*

“And here I was thinking you had moved in,” Dad said when I walked in the back door, spotting him at the kitchen table. “I told Hugo to go pack your things.”

“He would have thrown a bra, Transfig book, and a bar of soap in a bag,” I said, pulling open the fridge and grabbing the juice. Unlike my charming brother, I didn’t drink directly from the carton. Instead, I poured it into a tall glass and took a seat opposite my father.

“Isn’t that all you have?” Dad asked, making a face and returning his gaze to the Prophet. He didn’t look interested and eventually turned to the classifieds. He had been talking about a motorbike for the last few months. “So what’s the news? How is he? Your mum showed me that sorry excuse for a letter you wrote from the hospital. I didn’t recall you couldn’t spell properly under anxiety.”

I rolled my eyes. “I was on my way to eat.”

“Food? Oh. That’s different. No one needs to spell properly when hungry.”

I took a sip of juice. “Scorpius blacked out and fell down the stairs,” I explained. “They think he might have the same thing his mum has. Same symptoms and such.”

Dad’s eyes found mine. “Does he think so?”

I nodded. “He’s been thinking it for a while. He didn’t mention it to me, but I’m guessing that shaped a lot of his mentality.”

“Mentality?” Dad raised a brow.

“Like his obsession with risk-taking,” I said offhandedly. “Jumping off cliffs and doing daring things.”

He stared. “Did you jump off a cliff?”

“That depends,” I replied. “Do you still have that shotgun?”

“Maybe.”

“Then maybe I did.” I smirked.

Dad folded the paper and placed it on the table neatly. “How am I supposed to threaten the life of a boy who might have a sodding disease?”

“You’re not.” I grinned.

“You planned this.”

“Of course, Dad, I planned Scorpius getting sick and falling down a flight of stairs,” I replied dryly.

“Yes, well, I wouldn’t put it past you.” Dad threw the paper, hitting my shoulder. “So how’s he doing now? Out of the hospital?”

“At home on bed rest,” I said, grabbing the paper and opening it. Nothing interesting.

“So he’s being boring and you came home.”

“Don’t look so gleeful about it,” I said. “He’ll have his test results tomorrow. He wants to go do something, but I don’t know if he’ll be able to. He might have to go back in.”

I didn’t want to think about it because if he had the same thing as his mum, they had spent years trying to figure out what it was and she wasn’t getting any better. The idea of watching the same thing happened to him made my body cold. It made me want to go back to his house right now and search for a latticework frame to climb to get into his room.

It being the middle of the day, though, I could just shoot sparks into his window. Or against his window. That could be fun.

Dad reached across the table, stole my glass, and downed the rest of my juice. “He okay?”

I shrugged, unsure of what to say. “I don’t know,” I finally replied when he sat the glass back down. “I’m trying not to think about it.”

“You can think about how good of a father I am instead.” Dad smirked. “I told Hugo we’d make ourselves scarce because a girl is coming over tonight. I’m locking myself in my room in case they start snogging. Something I’d rather not see.”

“Didn’t know Hugo knew how to snog,” I noted.

“I sure as hell hope you don’t.” He narrowed his eyes.

“Not one bit.” My face went red.

*


As promised, I did make myself scarce. After I made sure all of Hugo’s chunky baby pictures were on display around the room. Just as I locked my bedroom door, I peeked out the window to see my brother leading a leggy teenie-bopper up the drive with his arm around her. She looked like she was giggling.

Godric. Thanks for the warning, Dad.

My room wasn’t anything special. I didn’t have my walls plastered in Quidditch posters like some of my cousins and it wasn’t littered with bottles of colorful nail polish like Dom’s. It was just a bedroom.

My bed, covered in old scarlet and gold bedding my parents got me when I arrived home from my first year, was flanked by two large bookshelves. They were mostly packed, through scattered frames made for decoration to show off my friends over the years, family gatherings, and vacations. The window was opposite the door and three easels leaned against the wall beside it. Blank canvases piled in the corner. Seven painted canvases donned the walls, but were frequently replaced with newer, better works. The old ones sat in my wardrobe undisturbed.

My bags from the States had been tossed in the center of the room, but I ignored them. Unpacking for Scorpius was enough for one day. Instead I grabbed a stack of parchment and flopped down on my bed.

Hey, I promised.




UP NEXT:

More letters, cousins, and some news


Chapter 20: Positive
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Happy 2014! This chapter is for pinkpunzel too just because they thought it was unfathomable their name would appear at the top of a chapter. Believe it.





Scorpius,

My brother is currently downstairs with a girl. I have no idea what’s happening and frankly, I don’t want to know. Please entertain me.

Rose


It only took ten minutes, which was surprising considering we lived a much greater distance away than we did in the mountains.


Rose,

I wasn’t aware your brother knew how to talk to women, let alone spend time with one. Kudos to him. Is that pride I feel?

Right now I’m doing the same thing I was when you left this morning. I am lying in bed staring at the ceiling daydreaming. Wishing I was back in the States. I’m kind of sad we didn’t get to do more, you know? I wanted to explore the forest. And stay away from bears. Very far away from bears.

Maybe I just wanted to get away.

I think I did a rather good job of that, don’t you?

S

*

Scorpius,

Try not to think about it. Pretend your room is the mountains, but please don’t climb on anything as I don’t want to have to explain your re-admittance to the hospital to your parents.

I do wish we were back there. I would give just about anything to be back in that creek with no damn fish anywhere around.

Maybe we should plan some new adventures before Hogwarts, don’t you think? It’s our seventh year. Maybe Diagon Alley? I don’t have my books yet. I don’t think you could handle book shopping with me. We should settle for something like new robes or potions ingredients. Are you doing Potions this year? Scratch that question. We are not using our summer to buy ingredients.

I do know something we can do in Diagon Alley.

Buy a drink at the pub and snog in the corner.

What do you think?

Rose

*

Rose,

How convenient your thoughts mirror my own.

I wish you were here right now. Tell me if it gets too clingy, as I have precious little else to occupy my mind. Just the last twenty-some-odd days of climbing mountains and going swimming. I miss swimming. Do you think we could recreate that in a ditch somewhere? Bring your swimsuit. I’ll bring mine. Do you have a shed we can escape into?

My parents are probably going to wonder why I’m laughing when I’m supposed to be relaxing. I hope they don’t catch me writing romantic notes to my girlfriend.

How do you feel about that anyway? Have you been apart from me long enough to regret it?

S

*

Scorpius,

I’ll let you know if you get too clingy. I’m still getting used to you actually telling me how you feel.

I haven’t broken up with you yet, have I?

Rose

*

Juliet,

When can I see you?

S

*

Scorpius,

The sooner the better.

Rose


We wrote late into the night. Around nine I turned up the radio to drown out the laughing girl downstairs. For minutes on end I waited by the window while sketching out a design on my canvas.

I couldn’t believe I’d be going back to Hogwarts so soon. Less than a month away. It made me think about the last six years of classes, friends, laughter, and tears. And then this summer. This strange summer. I kind of wished Dom was around for me to talk to. I definitely didn’t want to talk to Albus about this. He was still bitter about Scorpius being the favorite in third year Charms.

I wrote until I drifted in and out of sleep somewhere around midnight. Eventually I got up to turn off the lights and write Scorpius one last note telling him good-night. I blushed while writing it.


Day Twenty-Nine


When we went home early because of Scorpius being in the hospital, I didn’t expect anyone to know about it. Actually, I didn’t expect to be bothered for another two days. However, when I woke the house wasn’t only occupied by my family. And unlike in the States, it didn’t have an attractive blond visitor.

Instead, my door was violently kicked open and several of my cousins filed in unceremoniously.

Great.

“GET UP!” Albus launched himself onto my bed, throwing away the covers and plopping on top of me. He was a little taller, though thin like Uncle Harry. “You’re home early! Why didn’t you write and say you’d be home early?”

I had a few other things on my mind.

James, Louis, Lily, and Roxanne were at the door looking like they’d rather be anywhere else in the world. I didn’t blame them. My room wasn’t thrilling and the garden didn’t offer gnome-throwing like the Burrow. It was clear their parents dragged them here. They were easy to ignore.

“Slipped my mind,” I replied after a minute, shoving Albus off me and sitting up. “What’re you lot doing here?”

“Visiting,” James said dryly.

“And what a visit it is.” I leaned over the side of the bed and quickly shoved my letters from Scorpius under. That was something I didn’t want to advertise.

“Did you have fun?” Albus asked. For as long as we’d been doing family vacations he had wanted to go. My parents always invited him, but Uncle Harry told him to stay home so we could have family time. Our relay teams would have been uneven anyway.

Then again, I would have just let him play for me.

That was the kind of nice person I was.

“It was fun,” I said with a nod.

“Hugo drive you crazy?”

“Something like that.” I threw my pillow at James, who was nosing through the paintings. His hand was on the one I liked. Of the forest. With the sunset. I didn’t know why I had such an attachment to it, other than it was beautiful. “But we’re back now.”

“Why’d you come back early?”

“Emergency,” I said, though wished I hadn’t.

Everyone looked at me.

“What kind?” Albus asked, his dark brow arching.

Oh hell. Umm.

Lucky for me, the doorbell rang and everyone looked around at each other. Then James went for the window.

“Can’t see,” he grumbled. “Dad didn’t say anyone else was coming.”

“I didn’t get word anyone else was home early from their wicked vacation,” Albus shot me a look. He was still trying to get his parents to take them to New Zealand.

“ROSE.” Dad was at the bottom of the stairs.

Everyone then turned to look at me. Again.

“Who’s here for you?” Albus asked. “I’m already here. Aren’t I all you need?” He shot me a cheeky smile and ran for the door.

I pulled myself out of bed and hurriedly put on a sweatshirt over my tank top.

“ROSE.” That one was Albus. He had turned in the hall and come to a stop at the top of the staircase. “Can you answer a question.”

“Yeah?” I pulled my hair up and secured it in a hideous knot on the top of my head.

“Can you tell me why Scorpius Malfoy is in your living room?”

I hurried to pull my hair from the knot, heart immediately racing. Shit. Hell. Godric. “Uh!” I said. “Well, it’s a funny story.”

“I have time.” Albus was still in the hallway. He was by no means protective of me (That role was all Hugo’s when he cared), but when he was shocked it was no surprise to anyone what his reactions would be. Disbelief. Mild anger. Stuttering over certain phrases.

“For another time,” I added quickly, glancing around the room. Lily and Roxanne were snickering at me behind their hands. Little bloody princesses. They were great to have as cousins, but I had a hard time seeing eye-to-eye with them with as much time as they spent around Hugo. They probably heard all the dirt on me and that was why they rarely looked me in the eye. I wondered why they weren’t off bugging Hugo and then realized he was intelligent enough to bolt his door in the morning.

Albus appeared in the doorway again as James shoved past him to see if it was really true. Louis started to laugh. Yeah. Scorpius was definitely there. I had no idea how many of my relatives were in the living room, but I groaned as I heard James barrel down the stairs. “A story for right now,” Albus noted, his tone littered with annoyance.

“He was in the Smoky Mountains,” I said dryly, glancing at the mirror to make sure my hair looked okay. It was a mess. Damn.

“In the mountains?” Albus pressed, staring. “You mean the place you went on vacation?”

“The very same mountains.” I grabbed a glittery clip and pulled back part of my hair, snapping it into place. Maybe that would distract him from the frizz. James was laughing downstairs. “He was there. We hung out. Talked.”

Are together.

“Ah.” Albus cleared his throat. “And he’s visiting you now. Since you hung out.”

“Right.” I looked in the mirror again. Presentable. Someone was calling for me downstairs.

“Did you two even talk in school?”

“We just talked for a month,” I countered. Well, almost.

“I heard he was seeing someone,” Albus said as I moved toward the doorway.

I glanced over my shoulder at him. I could have gone into the long-winded explanation of Danielle and the ordeal that took place in the mountains. I could have told him all about the shed and the scaling rooftops and the kissing after painting each other. But instead I smirked a little.

“Yeah,” I said casually, disappearing into the hall. “That would be me.”

Scorpius was by the door and I was pleased to see he looked a little nervous. James was to his left, practically drilling him with questions about his hobbies, spare time, and what color he thought was better out of red and gold. Louis and the two princesses were giggling, all pressed together on the chair. Thankfully, my parents had ushered any of our relatives in the kitchen, though I could see Dad’s head poking out from the far hallway. Of course.

“Rose!” James called when I made it to the bottom of the stairs. “He’s saying red, but I really think he’s wrong.”

“Everyone has flaws,” I said with a smirky smile, finally meeting Scorpius’ eyes. My cheeks reddened as I saw the grin light up his face. He didn’t seem to mind my hair looked like a bird’s nest. “Nice of you to visit while my family invades my privacy.”

“Can you think of a better time?” Scorpius asked. He looked a lot better than he had the day before. He wasn’t as pale and he didn’t seem as tired. “I came to ask if you’d fancy a walk.”

“I’d fancy a walk,” Roxanne piped up with a shrill laugh.

I’d almost forgotten Scorpius had a few fans in the younger years. It wasn’t just teachers he won over.

I shot Roxanne a look. “Yeah, that would be preferable.” I could hear Albus coming down the stairs behind me.

Scorpius pulled open the door and closed it behind me as we began a very fast-paced walk down the drive and onto the rural street. Once we were out of sight of the house, I grabbed his hand.

“Were they unbearable?” I asked.

“Your cousins?” He made a face. “I have a thick skin. They didn’t bother me.”

“Even James?”

“It’s Albus I’m looking forward to,” Scorpius said with a brief laugh. “He’s never forgiven me for getting better scores in Charms for the last four years.”

“I’m not surprised.”

A few cars passed, but mostly we were alone passing house after house with dark fences and shuttered windows. He swung our arms between us.

“Are you supposed to be out?” I asked as we passed the second stop sign.

“Do you want the honest answer or the better answer?”

I rolled my eyes. “Scorpius,” I warned. “I don’t want you getting in trouble or getting worse.”

“I feel fine.” He dropped my hand and draped his arm around my shoulders, pulling me against him. “Really. Don’t worry so much. It’ll wrinkle your face.”

“I’ll wrinkle my face all I please.” I wanted to elbow him, but resisted. I didn’t know what I could do. He seemed so different now. Fragile. Scorpius picked up on my hesitation and stopped, wrapping his other arm around me.

“Stop.” He kissed my hair. “I’m fine.”

“You don’t know that.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Scorpius said, his fingers tightening around my shirt. We stayed there for a moment, standing in the gravel on the side of the empty road. “It doesn’t matter if I am physically fine or not. It matters if I am mentally fine.” He leaned down and found my lips with his own. “So stop worrying.”

How was I even supposed to respond to that? I’d just seen him in the hospital a couple days before. He was unconscious.

But looking at him now … now he was the bravest person I’d ever seen.

When we began to walk again he smiled. “Tell me what I should expect from your cousins.”

I did. I told him every twist and turn he should expect from Albus and Dom and even Victoire. We walked for what felt like ages, but it was nothing compared to the trip into town from my family’s rental or even all the walks we made back and forth to the lake or the creek. I missed the scenery, though. The grassy hills were far less appealing than the thick forest, even if there was less humidity.

We stopped at the park several blocks away and he pushed me on the swings for a while as we talked. We didn’t really talk about anything significant. Not about him in the hospital or Danielle or what my reaction had been to anything. Just laughed about the children nearby and I teased him about the state of his hair.

When my stomach started to make embarrassing noises, we made our way down a crumbling road toward a small village that reminded me a little of the mountains. The only difference was the land around it was strikingly bare compared to the tall trees that gave way to the sunset.

“Shall we?” Scorpius pulled open the door to a small cafe I’d frequented growing up. It had a chocolate ice cream that melted me to my seat.

The cafe hadn’t changed much since last summer. The walls were still a dark wood paneling from decades ago and photographs of how the village had changed lined the walls above the booths. The place wasn’t crowded, just a few scattered people at tables by the window, so we had our pick of seats. I decided on a familiar favorite, a booth in the back corner next to the only painting in the cafe. An oil portrait of a dark-haired man.

Scorpius pulled both menus from behind the salt and pepper shakers and handed me one. “Anything you recommend?”

“Everything,” I replied with a smile. It was true. I’d tested and tried most things on the menu at some point or another.

“This could take a while.” He leaned back against the cushion and propped the menu in front of his face, shielding him from view.

It was strange having him in here. I took Lysander here once, but he complained through lunch about how stifling it was so we left before dessert. Scorpius seemed rather at home, humming after a while as he read. Eventually, he dropped the menu back to the table.

“I’ve decided,” he announced.

The waitress, a slender woman around my mother’s age, smiled. “And what can I get you?”

I decided on a thick turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomatoes. Scorpius favored a grilled ham and cheese. Once the woman left to put in our orders, he leaned over the table and kissed me.

“We should go somewhere,” he said.

“Pretty sure we are somewhere.” I brushed some stray hair away from my cheek and looked at him. “Or somewhere else?”

“Anywhere,” Scorpius said. “More mountains or beaches or skyscrapers.”

“We do have school relatively soon,” I said. How could we possibly visit all those places before school? Let alone before we had to start shopping for school supplies? I needed new robes.

“Let’s just skip school.” He grinned.

I raised a brow. “Relatively certain we can’t do that,” I said with a laugh. “But I admire your thought process. It would be nice, wouldn’t it? Just to get up and go.”

“We could do it.”

“But we won’t,” I said.

“Why not?” Scorpius was twirling the salt and pepper shakers around each other.

I shot him a look. Was it that farfetched? He seemed to think we could just pick up and travel the world without a second thought. I wasn’t exactly hurting for funds, but that didn’t mean my parents would give me the money and it definitely didn’t mean they would allow me to go. After all, I’d rarely spent our vacation with them and I couldn’t trust Hugo to pick out the correct books at Flourish and Blotts.

“What?” Scorpius pressed. “Why don’t you like the idea?”

“Scorpius,” I said, frowning and tearing the straw wrapper into confetti. “You know as well as I do it’s not possible. You get your tests results today and we both need to go to school.”

He was bathed in silence. “I don’t think we do,” he replied.

I wasn’t sure how to respond. I knew what this was. I recognized his hesitation. He was scared.

Our drinks came, followed quickly by our food.

“It’s great,” Scorpius commented, though his heart wasn’t in it.

I agreed.

It was like there was a thick wall between us now. He wanted to leave and travel the world. And for once I wanted to stay with reality. Maybe he just didn’t want the vacation to end. But it did. He got sick and it was over.

“What time do you find out?” I said.

He glanced down at his wristwatch and tilted it toward the light. “Two hours.”

“Do your parents know you’re out?”

“They didn’t stop me.”

It was hard to blame them.

I reached across the table and took his hand. “How about we plan a little adventure for the first Hogsmeade weekend, hmm? Walk to the outskirts of the village and have a picnic in the trees? Just the two of us.”

“Albus will probably follow.” I noticed a smirk tugging at his lips. “All right, Rose. As you wish.”

We paid and began the walk back, fingers twisted together until he decided that wasn’t enough and draped his arm over my shoulders. “Would you think less of me if I told you I was nervous?”

“I’d think more of you.”

“Then I’m nervous.”

*

Scorpius’ house had a somber glow to it when we entered. It smelled like stale air. His parents were in the kitchen, sitting opposite from each other with two cups of steaming tea. Neither glanced up when we entered, probably because they assumed where he had escaped to.

“It came early,” Mrs. Malfoy said, sliding a thick envelope in her son’s direction.

Scorpius froze. He stiffened, staring at the envelope. I squeezed his hand.

“Did you look?” he asked.

They shook their heads. “We thought you’d rather,” Mr. Malfoy replied. It was clear he had wanted to see, but his wife stopped him.

I could feel my throat closing up, stomach exploding with nerves. I didn’t want to be here, but my feet were rooted to the tile. I should have left to give them family time. Or at least tried to get my fingers to stop trembling. Of course I was nervous. I was petrified for him and it only frustrated me further being helpless.

Scorpius slid his finger under the envelope’s closure, tearing it. There were droplets of sweat on his brow and some hair stuck to the back of his neck.

He pulled out a thick packet of paper with a staple in the corner and unfolded it. His jaw clenched as he took a deep breath in through his nose and began to skim the letter on top.

The silence was something I had not witnessed before. It wasn’t a pleasant, calming silence. It was scary. The clock was louder than I remembered clocks ever being. Mrs. Malfoy tapped her index finger against the hard wood of the table. Mr. Malfoy slid his mug to the left and then back to the right. My heart was louder than all of them.

Scorpius inhaled sharply. “It’s positive,” he said, lips parting gingerly. “The results are positive.” His eyes moved to his mother, brows creased in confusion. He looked at a loss for words.

I stepped back, allowing Mrs. Malfoy to slide out of her chair and embrace her son. Even my temples were throbbing now.

What did this mean? Scorpius now had some mystery disease?

It felt like the room was on fire. The stale air had morphed into humid, wet surroundings and made me want to throw open a window and choke.

Scorpius’ fingers clutched his mum’s shirt tight. He wasn’t showing much emotion, but I didn’t expect him to. It was the finality of a diagnosis he’d already assumed.

Positive.

What an unrelenting word. It wasn’t positive at all. Nothing about this situation was positive.

“I should go,” I blurted, suddenly aware of my sweaty palms and the way my teeth tugged at my bottom lip.

Scorpius pulled away from his mother. I hadn’t seen his eyes look like that before – fearful. Strained. Like he was having a difficult time so much as taking a breath. “Don’t,” he managed to say, reaching out and taking my hand. “Can she stay?” His skin paled and now looked a sickly blue.

“She should.” Mrs. Malfoy pressed her lips tight together. “We’re going to St. Mungos to make sense of this.” She nodded to her husband. “We’ll return shortly.”

Just like that, they were gone. Before they left, Mr. Malfoy ruffled his son’s hair, but didn’t look at him. I almost couldn’t look at him.

The door closed with a sharp snap and Scorpius turned to me, pulling me into his arms. “Rose,” he said, grip tightening. “It’s positive.”

“I know.” I smoothed out his hair with my palm and pressed a few stray kisses to his neck and cheek. I was horrible at comforting people. And awkward. I didn’t think Scorpius minded, though. “It’s going to be fine.”

Empty words.

He knew, but he nodded regardless. “Can we leave?”

I hesitated. “Do you think that’s a good idea?”

“Not at all.” Scorpius kissed me briefly and grabbed my hand again, tugging me out the back door and into the garden. It was worthy of the name, flowers sprouting toward the sky and vines hanging in sheets off trees. It was truly beautiful. He had mentioned his mother tending to it when her health allowed, though clearly someone had been keeping up in her absence.

We moved in silence along a stone walkway and I admired the variety of flowers and the way their colors blended together so it was difficult to tell which was purple and which was pink and how it separated from the green. Everything was wild, but manicured. I had an urge to paint it, but instead focused on Scorpius’ tight grip and where we were going.

He stopped at the base of an old tree. The bark was flaking off near the bottom and a few branches hung low, masked by vines.

“I used to sit up there as a kid.” He pointed about halfway up. I noticed his eyes were glassy and his breathing was short. Hell, so was mine.

“Is that where you’d like to go?” I was wearing the wrong shoes for this.

“If possible.” Scorpius gripped the lowest branch and easily hoisted himself up. He offered his hand.

Pfft.

I swatted it away and clamored onto the branch, though far less gracefully.

I followed him up and onto a few more branches, my fingers protesting against the sharp twigs and pieces of bark. At last Scorpius settled on a thick branch, swinging his legs over each side to face me. He leaned against the base of the tree and took a deep breath.

I did the same, careful to call upon whatever balance I had, and placed my hand on his thigh. We were fairly high up and I knew if I slipped sideways I’d have more damage than I cared for on the way down. It was a great sight, though, looking through the branches at the garden below and the back of Scorpius’ house. Peaceful, almost.

I could see why he spent time up here as a kid.

“How do you think I should feel?” Scorpius asked after a while, head still leaning back against the tree. “Shocked? Angry? Relieved?”

“How do you feel?”

He shrugged. “Not sure.” He groaned a little. “Angry. Angry is definitely it.”

“How so?” I brushed my thumb against his pants, heart rate picking up again.

“At the unfairness of it all,” Scorpius snapped, though not at me. “Isn’t it horrible enough I’ve had to watch my mother suffer for years, only to have it thrust back on me? After taking care of everything and seeing my father the way he was … and now he’ll just have to watch me and take care of me when I’m too weak to get out of bed.” He squeezed his eyes shut. “How can this be the way things turn out?”

“Maybe it’s not,” I offered, though I knew I wasn’t much help. “They’re working hard. Maybe they’ll find something. A medicine. A spell.”

He shot me a look and I shrugged.

“It’s a thought,” I said. “And better than nothing at all.”

“I’d rather have nothing at all than false hope,” he grunted.

“You don’t mean that.” I squeezed his leg. “Scorpius, you are more of a dreamer than anyone I’ve ever met. You are built on hope. Things I don’t understand. You need to believe.” I scooted forward on the tree and leaned in, kissing him. “If not for you, for me.”

He looked tired. Like he’d been awake all night and run a marathon.

“Are you going to leave me?” Scorpius asked.

I stared. “Leave you? What? You’re daft.”

“Answer the question.” His head moved back against the tree and Scorpius closed his eyes, letting out a small sigh.

“No,” I replied, though I thought it was more than obvious. “No, I’m not going to leave you. I was just about to ask you if you’d like to go fishing.” I was happy to see his smirk return. “Come on. Try to stay positive, okay?”

Wrong word choice.

“Just let me know what you need.” I took a chance with the tree and lifted my legs onto the branch spinning so I was facing away from Scorpius. Then I scooted back and he wrapped his arms around me as I leaned into him.

“You’ve already figured it out,” he said softly, kissing my ear before falling into silence again.




A/N: Happy 2014 to everyone and I hope you're all kicking off the year the way you'd hoped! 

Thank you for reading this chapter, though I'm sure some unhappy comments are coming my way ;) 

I wanted to let you all know to be on the look out for something new from me. As I mentioned on social media, I've been working on a Georgiana Wood / Albus (aka Albus/OC) story about Jane and Oliver's eldest daughter, Georgiana (the Jane and Oliver from Keep Away). So if that sounds like something you'd be interested in, keep an eye out! 

 

UP NEXT:

"Ah." Dad started to scratch my back a little, which calmed me. "Be brave, Rosey. We'll figure it out." 

"Easier said than done," I grumbled.

"No one ever said it was going to be easy." He kissed my forehead. 

THEN: Rose decides to go on an adventure.

 


Chapter 21: Hope
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

 

For ohmymerlin, for hissing angrily at me.





We stayed in the tree for hours, kissing a little but mostly staring off into the garden, lost in our own thoughts. I let the colors take over my subconscious, lifting me away from the scenario. I was jolted back to reality each time Scorpius sniffed or shifted on the branch.

“Your parents are probably home,” I said as the sun began to sink into the trees.

“Probably,” he echoed.

“We should head inside.”

“Probably,” Scorpius repeated. I had never heard his voice so empty.

I twisted around to kiss him and then moved away, steadying myself before hopping down a few branches and onto the ground. It wasn’t a classy landing, but I managed to hold my balance enough not to fall. He slid down easily, dusting off his trousers in a nonchalant way. I envied that, but said nothing.

The kitchen light was on and I could see Mrs. Malfoy at the table with a mug before her.

“Do we have to?” Scorpius asked.

“Buck up,” I said with a smile. A false smile, but it was what I could muster at the time.

“Remember when life was simple?”

“Life was never simple,” I said with a brief laugh. “It was just simpler.”

Mrs. Malfoy turned when we entered, trying to disguise her look of restlessness. “Scorpius,” she said. “Where were you?”

“Garden,” he said, brushing past her and into the sitting room.

I paused, not following. “We were in the tree out back,” I explained. “Any news?” I lowered my voice.

“They’re doing all they can.” She took a sip of whatever was in the mug. It smelled like cinnamon. “Researching new medication. New treatments.” Mrs. Malfoy didn’t sound convinced.

“Ah.”

“Would you like to stay for supper?” Mrs. Malfoy asked.

“I think I’d better get home. My parents didn’t know I’d be gone all day.” I frowned. “Thank you for everything.” Before she could respond, I moved into the sitting room, but Scorpius wasn’t there.

Hmm.

I was going to check the front porch, but heard a pair of voices upstairs. Him and his father.

Eavesdropping wasn’t something I prided myself on, but I couldn’t say I wasn’t curious. I moved up a few steps and pressed myself against the wall, lurking in the shadows.

“They have a team of Healers researching it,” Mr. Malfoy said in a gruff voice I barely recognized.

“They’ve had a team on Mum’s for years!” Scorpius shot back. “They going to send me to the Smoky Mountains to breathe in the humid air? Or is the next step the Caribbean? Come on. This is ridiculous. They’re not going to find anything and I’m going to be coughing up blood for five years and die.”

“You’re not,” Mr. Malfoy snapped. “I will not have that.”

“What’re you going to do about it?”

“Something. Anything.” He paused when his voice choked. “Have hope, Scorpius.”

“Impossible.”

“Make it possible.”

I slid back down the stairs, eyes welling up, and moved out the front door. It felt like the world was breaking around me. Like just a few months ago everything was stacked so neatly, and now the cloth was being pulled out from under my life. Pieces were falling. Shattering.

I apparated home, barely making it in one piece, and ignored my family. Hugo was complaining about having to do the dishes by hand when I had a perfectly good wand. I closed and locked the bedroom door.

Everything was different. It had crashed so quickly. What a blur.

I fell onto the bed, tears exploding into the pillow.

I couldn’t help but think how incredibly selfish it was of me to cry. I was crying for me. For Scorpius. For his family. For the unknown. I didn’t know why I was crying, but I was. Hard. Hysterically. My fingers gripped the pillowcase, crushing it in my grip.

Simpler. I wanted it to be simpler.

Fishing. A shed in the rain. A rooftop and a sunset.

The door squeaked behind me.

“It was locked for a reason,” I sobbed, shoulders shaking.

“That’s the funny thing about wands. They open locks.” The mattress sank when Dad sat beside me. He began to rub my back. “Anything I can do, turkey?”

“Not really.” I hiccuped in a very unattractive way and rolled onto my side to face him. “He got his results back. They’re positive. Whatever his mum has, he has it too.” I dissolved into unwanted tears again.

“Ah.” Dad started to scratch my back a little, which calmed me down. “Be brave, Rosey. We’ll figure it out.”

“Easier said than done,” I grumbled.

“No one ever said it was going to be easy.” He kissed my forehead.


Day Thirty


It was late. Sometime in the middle of the night. The window was snapping at me.

Okay, it wasn’t the window.

It was something on the other side of the window.

In the shape of a boy.

I blinked a few times, rubbing the sleep from my eyes. Scorpius was on the roof of the porch, crouching low and dressed in black. Of course, the black consisted of nice trouser pants, a collared shirt, and a vest. He really was a piece of work.

I shuffled over and opened the screen, letting him climb in gracefully.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered. Before I could turn on a lamp, he pulled me into his arms. “We need to talk.”

“What?” I was still half-asleep. The digital clock told me it was after three in the morning.

Scorpius tugged me tight against him. He was cold from the night air, but it woke me up.

“What?” I repeated. “What’s going on?”

He sighed. “I’m leaving, Rose.”

I could barely make out the features of his face. “Excuse me?”

His fingers moved up to my hair as he kissed me. “I’m sorry,” he said again. “I have to. I have to go.”

“Where?” I asked, confusion setting in. It was the middle of the night. Why was he telling me this now?

“Somewhere,” Scorpius said. “Overseas probably.”

“For what? Testing? Humidity?” I asked, pulling away. “What did they say?”

“Nothing.” He shook his head, strands of hair falling into his head. “My father is talking about donating organs to help me since we’re a match. He’s talking about doing so much. I have to go. I’m not going to let him do it. I’ll find a healer somewhere else. I’ll get through it.”

“Alone?” I asked.

“Yes. Alone. I’m done hurting people.”

My lips parted, but nothing came out. My chest was aching. Everything was aching.

“I’m sorry, Rose.” He kissed my forehead, but I jerked away before he could hug me. “Say something, will you?”

“What do you expect me to say?” Suddenly I was angry. It was three in the morning and my boyfriend was in my room telling me he was leaving. Somewhere. Anywhere but here. Going alone with a disease. “Thanks for sparing my feelings? Thanks for being a complete and utter douchebag?”

He looked startled. “What?”

“You heard me,” I snapped. “I don’t know who you think you are, Scorpius Malfoy, but you’re being a bit of a jerk.”

“A what?” Scorpius stammered, his jaw falling. “I’m trying to do the right thing.”

“You’re being selfish!” I cried. “Selfish by leaving in the middle of the night! Pfft. Sparing feelings my arse. The right thing my arse. You’re going to make everything worse and you couldn’t give two shits!”

He stared, taking a few steps back. “Look,” he said, voice sharp, “This isn’t easy for me.”

“Easier than to stay.” I shook my head. “Just leave, okay? Just leave and find your healer and be alone. Just do me a favor and don’t owl me.”

“Rose,” Scorpius began.

“Don’t,” I said. “Just leave. If you’re going to leave, just leave.”

“Come on.”

“Leave,” I said, louder this time. My fists were shaking.

Scorpius frowned and climbed out the window. I saw his gray eyes one last time before he disappeared down the porch and back to the ground. There was a crack and I knew he was gone.

I slammed the window shut, locking it, and returned to bed.


*


“Where’s Dad?” I walked into the kitchen the following morning, fully-dressed and trying to pretend the previous night had been a dream. A really bad, emotionally-draining dream. Mum and Hugo were at the table, Mum reading the paper and Hugo stirring his oatmeal around to make it seem like he was eating. There was a chocolate bar in his lap.

“Had to run some errands,” Mum said. “How are you?”

I shrugged. “I’ve been better.” I didn’t bother to tell them about Scorpius visiting. They’d find out soon enough he was gone. The Malfoys would probably be over shortly to ask if he was here unless he left a note. He probably did.

I hated him for it.

“Oatmeal?” Hugo smirked, waving his spoon around. The contents were dripping onto the table.

“I’ll pass.” I grabbed a banana and slid into a seat.

“Plans for the day?” Mum asked.

It had been to return to Scorpius’ house and take two nets and find a stream.

“Avoid Hugo,” I said with a smirk. He threw a piece of chocolate at my forehead. “I don’t know. I’ll probably paint. Or take a walk.” I shrugged and ran my fingers over the wood grooves in the table.

“Let me know if you need something,” Mum said. She dipped the paper so I could see her eyes, the same color as my own. “I mean it.”

I shrugged. “Yeah.” I moved from the table, abandoning breakfast, and retreated upstairs to grab my paint bag and a canvas. After hoisting it under my arm, I returned outside and went around back.

It wasn’t the kind of garden Scorpius had. In fact, it wasn’t maintained all that well either. Mum kept it looking charming with a few waves of her wand, but she was too busy to concentrate on blooming flowers and obnoxious weeds. And Dad knew little about plants other than which ones to pick for Mum when he made her mad.

Instead it was a garden full of greenery and a few small sculptures we’d purchased at farmers’ markets. It was home. I liked that about it.

I occupied a bench toward the back, facing the house. A line of trees was behind me, casting a shadow so I didn’t get sun burn. Not that the clouds were going to let me burn today. They were getting grayer with each passing minute.

I pulled out the yellows and blues and grays and sank into the painting.

This was ridiculous. How could Scorpius just up and leave? He was faced with a tough position and people who wanted to help him, and he abandoned it all. He ran away.

What a coward.

A coward I may never see again. How was that possible?

I had to stop thinking about it. He left. There was nothing I could do about it. And I yelled at him before he went. Ugh. He deserved it. For everything we’d been through the last month and he comes in at three in the morning to tell me to forget it and he’s leaving to not hurt people more.

Guess what, Scorpius? You hurt me more.

Jerk.

I glanced down at the painting. It was the back of my house, green leaves littering the roof. A window box of flowers offered some new hues outside my parents’ bedroom. I dipped my brush into a deep orange, draping it across the sky.

I had a strange infatuation with sunsets. Might as well include one.

I thought about the painting Scorpius did on the rooftop in town. How he really tried to mix the colors and learn. How much he smiled.

Ugh. Stop thinking.

“Rose?”

My head jerked up, nearly pulling a muscle in my neck. Dad pushed open the screen door, rendering my canvas false. “Yeah?”

He didn’t respond. Instead, Dad ruffled his hair and walked toward me, pausing to wipe some mud from the bottom of his shoe. He peered down at the canvas propped against my leg. “Preparing for later?” he asked, pointing out the orange and yellow in the sky.

“Just a memory.” I shrugged.

“Listen, I’ve been to St. Mungos,” Dad said, clearing his throat and sliding beside me on the bench. “I had a talk with your Aunt Audrey.”

Aunt Audrey was a Healer. One of the best in the biz, according to the portrait in the front lobby of the hospital. James always talked about how she made so much money Uncle Percy could be a stay at home dad, but he could never handle it. Then we made a storyline involving Uncle Percy with cats and bunny slippers. Which were chased by said cats.

“Oh?” I didn’t know how to respond.

“She’s agreed to head the department dedicated to finding the cure or some kind of treatment for whatever it is the Malfoys have,” Dad said. “They’ve formed a committee and have signed a confidentiality contract to keep it out of the papers. Before, they were going to some swanky specialist in Scotland.” He brushed some hair behind my ear. “Don’t worry, turkey. It’ll be fine.”

“You didn’t have to do all that,” I murmured, cheeks heating up.

“Yeah, I did.” Dad shot me a sideways smile. “Otherwise I’d have to put up with your grumpy damn attitude until school started. Then I’d have to hear about it in letters.”

“Ye of little faith,” I said, nudging him with my elbow. I leaned my head against him. “Thanks.”

Dad draped an arm around my shoulder and I took a moment to appreciate him. Aunt Ginny had told me a lot of stories about how Dad used to be as a kid. Headstrong. Jealous. Brave. Loyal. As many brilliant things as he accomplished while at school and during the war, I was pretty sure he was the proudest of us.

Though it was hard to know how he could be proud of Hugo, the dolt.

“So where is young Malfoy today?” Dad asked.

I faltered. Somewhere overseas. Maybe Europe.

“Probably still processing everything,” I eventually replied.

“Does that have anything to do with you yelling in the middle of the night?”

I blushed. “More than likely.”

Dad ruffled my hair again. “Do what you think is right,” he said. “But don’t wait too long to do it, okay?” He kissed my forehead. “And I think it should be a sunrise.” He dipped his finger into the orange paint and smeared it down my nose. Then he smirked and left.

I added some yellow highlights to the house.

A sunrise would be nice.


*


It didn’t take me long to figure out where Scorpius had gone once I committed to considering it. I set the painting to dry on the back deck and threw a few things into a tote. Mum and Dad were snuggled up on the sofa since it was our last vacation day and Hugo was in his room listening to music that made the floor thump.

I didn’t bother telling them I was leaving.

It hadn’t been long, but I’d already forgotten the way the humidity in the Smoky Mountains could plaster fabric to my skin. It was a hazy day, the sun stuck behind a few clouds, and everything felt like it was on fire.

So a normal August day.

The rental home was vacant, but it had been cleaned and the deck was restained. I moved quickly down the steps and into the woods, careful to avoid bears.

I missed the trees. Sure, we had trees at home, but it wasn’t the same. Perhaps that was the point. None of it was the same. I paused to pluck a few wildflowers out of the brush and place them behind my ear. It wouldn’t mask the frizz of my hair, but I could try.

Scorpius was exactly where I thought he would be, sitting on a log beside the creek with no shoes and his khaki pants rolled up to his knees. There was a bag beside him in the dirt, its contents spilling out. His back was to me, but I could see his hair sticking up at strange angles like he’d slept there.

A twig snapped under my shoe and he spun around, blade in his hand.

“Are you really going to cut me?” I said, bored.

“Rose,” he breathed, face mirroring the shock. “How did you–?”

I rolled my eyes. “Here. I brought entertainment.” I stopped just short of the log and took two nets from the tote. They weren’t large or fancy like the one he’d used when I first spotted him here, but they were nets. I handed one to him.

This time, the smile reached his eyes. “What’re you doing here?”

“What? A girl can’t be in the mood to fish?” I asked. I tossed the bag beside his and slipped off my shoes. Then I waded into the creek. It had rained recently because the water level was higher than it had been. It skimmed the bottom of my knees.

He followed me into the water, dumbstruck look still on his face. “Rose,” he started again, “Let me explain.”

“I’d rather you didn’t,” I replied. My eyes focused on the water, but there were no fish. Of course there were no bleeding fish!

“Why are you here?” he said, dipping his net absently into the stream.

I chuckled. “I didn’t get my full thirty days,” I said.

“I’m serious.”

“So am I.” I pulled the net up. Empty.

“Rose.”

“Scorpius.” I paused. “Romeo.”

A smile cracked on his lips. “Don’t,” he said. “I’m trying to be sincere.”

“Maybe we can catch another fish for you to fall in love with,” I said, kicking water at him so his pants turned dark brown.

“You can’t love two things at once,” he said.

I stared. “I don’t see why not.” My voice was a little breathless, something I hadn’t anticipated.

Scorpius tossed his net into the water, grabbed me around the middle, and kissed me hard.

Somehow we fell back into the stream, my legs tangled around him, and everything was soaked. My knees were pressed between stones and all I could do was kiss him. My teeth grazed against his bottom lip, fingers in his hair. His hands strayed to my hips, holding my body against his under the water. We gasped for breath and the sun moved out from behind some clouds, heating everything.

Scorpius pressed small kisses up my jaw line to my ear and my neck, down to my collar bone. The forest was a dreamy blur and my hair was sticking to my body. And him. My breathing mirrored the beat of my heart, near painful.

“Thank you for finding me,” Scorpius said, pressing more kisses on my chin and lips.

“You’re not all that good at hiding,” I mused, my fingers running up his arms. The stream was like bath water now. It could start boiling any minute now.

“We’re going to be okay, right?” he breathed. He pulled at my shirt a little before stopping and meeting my eyes. “Right?” he pressed.

“We’re going to be fine,” I said, kissing him. “And you’re still going to have to sit with me on the train.”

“I’d be honored,” Scorpius said, breaking away from my lips to kiss my collarbone. Sharp tingles shot up my spine.

I tilted his chin toward me and kissed him again, this time slowly as the water moved past our shoulders. “Did you mean what you said?” I asked. “About the fish?”

“I don’t say things I don’t mean, Juliet.” Scorpius smiled into my lips and pulled me against him again.


*


After we hauled ourselves onto shore, I told him what my Dad had said. He nodded a few times, used his wand to dry us, and vowed to purchased a large brandy as a thank you to my father. What a strange boy.

At least he took his shirt off before he was dry.

That was something I would appreciate for a long, long time.

I grabbed a few sandwiches from my bag and handed him one, which was gone almost instantly. “So are you coming back?”

“Nope. I thought I’d just stay here and live off the land,” Scorpius said, trying not to laugh. “Don’t you think I could do it?”

“Considering you almost pulled a knife on me? No. Not at all.” I glanced over. “Besides. There are no department stores for pleated pants in the forest.”

“I resent that.” He wrinkled his nose and kicked some dirt at me. “Do you want to stay? We can build some sort of hut and catch giant fish and slay bears.”

“I’d rather not,” I said. “But I appreciate the offer.”

He leaned over to kiss me and he smelled like ham and turkey deli meat. “Fine, fine. Let’s go home. But at least I’m starting a vegetable garden.”

“I’ll inform the headmaster,” I mumbled and tossed the tote over my arm. I laced my fingers with his. “Ready?”

Scorpius chuckled to himself.

“What?”

“Nothing. Let’s just go.”

“Really. What?”

He ran his fingers through his hair. “I was just thinking about something.”

“What were you thinking about?” I pressed. It better not be the way my hair was drying because he would have to get used to that.

“Do you remember that time on the boat?” Scorpius asked. “First year?”

Right. Like I would forget the boat. I nodded.

“It’s just funny, don’t you think?” He squeezed my hand. “Everything we went through this summer. I was right about it all.”

“About what?”

“It’s girls who have to be brave.” Scorpius smiled a little, his finger under my chin as he leaned in to kiss me again. “You’re quite the Gryffindor, Rose Weasley.” I could feel his breath against my skin.

“That’s where the hat put me.” I kissed him again.

There was a crack and we were gone.




A/N: Thank you SO much to everyone for trying out my new Albus/OC "The Keeper's Daughter." It means a lot! I knew I needed another story in the POV of a girl as this one comes to a close.

UP NEXT: The final chapter of 30 Days. 


Chapter 22: Together
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 This chapter is the final chapter of 30 Days. I want to dedicate this chapter to (predictably) everyone who has read and reviewed this story. It was a totally different thing for me to do - a short novel in a girl's POV with way more fluff than I'm used to. It means a lot you all got on board. Also to Ramita, Haley, Gaia, and Ali for reading while I was writing and keeping me going. 




There are many things I expected when we arrived back in England. One I didn’t, however, was thunder to shake the house so violently I lost my footing and crumbled beside my bed. Scorpius hoisted me up. “C’mon, love,” he said. “No time for lying around.”

“It’s raining.” I removed my hand from his and pulled back the curtains. Sure enough, everything in the drive was soaked and puddles were forming on the lawn. Typical rainy day.

“Good observation.” Scorpius moved his hands around my middle and pulled me into his stomach, chin resting unceremoniously on my shoulder. “It does look rather dreary.”

I watched the droplets cascade down the window for a moment before gasping. “My painting!”

“This is a window,” Scorpius replied. “Though it does look rather artistic...”

“It’s outside!” I cried, wiggling away from him and bolting out the door. I heard his footfalls behind me as I raced down the stairs. My parents were still curled up on the sofa, though Dad was snoring. Hugo occupied the television now, mashing buttons as Mum attempted to look interested. There was a magazine in her lap.

“Blocking the TV!” shouted Hugo as I ran in front of it.

“This is important!” I skidded into the kitchen and yanked open the back door.

Everything was soaked.

Scorpius put a hand on my shoulder, having come up at a slower pace behind me. Both of us could see the painting clearly on the deck. It had been knocked off the patio table and the rain was pounding onto the paint. Most of it had chipped off since it wasn’t dry, but the canvas itself was ruined. The middle sank toward the decking. I sighed.

“It’s abstract,” Scorpius commented, kissing my temple.

“It’s rubbish.” I closed the door since the rain was starting to find its way onto my toes.

“I’ll paint you a new one,” he said. “You probably shouldn’t be around when I do it, though. Remember what happened before.”

How could I forget? Sand. Paint. Kissing.

“What happened?”

Dad was in the doorway to the kitchen, leaning against the frame. He was looking very smirky.

Scorpius’ face lit up like a Christmas tree.

“He spilled the paint!” I cried. Obviously. “Got on my outfit. It was ruined.”

“What outfit?” Dad said.

“The one with the... shirt.”

“Oh, that one.” He chuckled and moved to the fridge, grabbing an apple. “What are you kids up to today?”

“Not painting,” Scorpius blurted.

Dad arched a brow. “Right. Stay out of trouble. The last thing I want is to have to threaten anyone today.” He wiggled his eyebrows at Scorpius, who looked petrified. “Yes, I mean you. Look after my daughter.”

“I’m fairly certain she looks after me, sir.”

Ha. My dad was called sir.

He grimaced. “You make me sound like a granddad.” Dad yawned. “Oh. This came for you, turtle soup.” He tossed me an envelope with shiny green writing on the front. “You may as well go now or you’ll be forced to tag along with Hugo and your boring parents. What would that do for your street cred?”

“Very little, as I have a father who uses the term ‘street cred,’” I stated dully.

“I’m very hip,” Dad said with a nod, disappearing into the living room. Hugo shouted at him for walking in front of the television.

I slid my finger along the envelope to open it. “What do you think?” I asked. “Are you up for some shopping?”

“The last time we went shopping I ended up in horrible clothes made out of polyester or crup fur,” Scorpius groaned.

“I’ll let you pick out a piece of slinky lingerie you won’t see for a long time.”

“We should probably leave right now.”


*


Diagon Alley was bright and sunny in comparison with my own backyard. Its cobbled street was crowded with shoppers and I recognized several faces from school and several new faces I assumed to be First Years judging by their lip-biting and general terror.

We picked out books first, pausing for a while to fill our baskets with pleasure-reading. Scorpius stuffed a glossy magazine into my pile and said, “Give it a try.” Later I looked to find it was geared toward modern artists with facts about museums and galleries around Europe.

He carried the bags and we purchased some new robes and potions ingredients. I even convinced him to stay with me while I replenished my oil collection and bought a new pallet. It was much cheaper than owl order.

We returned to the pub to eat, laughing over the locals in the corner. It was nice. Relaxing. Comfortable.

“You’re sure you don’t want to wait for Hugo?” Scorpius opened the door to a boutique a few shops down from Quality Quidditch Supplies. It first appeared three years ago and had been setting a lot of fashion trends for the witch population since.

“I’ll pass.”

The place was enormous. It featured rows of color-coordinated tops and skirts, dresses in the back, and slinky lingerie to the side. The last few times I was in Diagon Alley, Dad was tagging along so I made no effort to so much as breathe in that direction. He knew I was quickly becoming an adult, but I was stupid to think he would picture me as anything other than his little girl for decades to come.

“How about this?” Scorpius was already surrounded in silk and lace. He held up a little black number.

“Why don’t you tell me how you really feel?” I rolled my eyes a little, trying not to let my cheeks heat up. They fought back, however, and the entire room was hotter.

Scorpius must have noticed, because he laughed. “Or this?” A red lace corset.

Bollocks.

“Maybe this was a mistake.” I busied myself with the yellow shirts nearby. Very yellow. Screamed happiness and sunshine. Summery.

He tossed fishnet stockings at the back of my head.

“How about we put together an entire outfit?” Scorpius said gleefully.

Part of me wanted to swat him in the shoulder for suggesting it, but it was nice to get him back to where he had been in the mountains. Laughing and happy. He looked positively delighted to pick out some barely-there outfit. Not that he would be seeing it anytime soon.

Not that he hadn’t seen quite enough while swimming.

On multiple occasions.

My face reddened.

“You pick out what you want,” I said at last. “I’ll keep it in my wardrobe hidden away.”

“What d’you think Dom will do when she finds it?” he asked, fingers running along the material of several bras.

“Ask me who I was and how I acquired the Polyjuice Potion.”

He laughed. “It doesn’t matter if you have any of this on,” he said, examining a pair of stockings. “I’ll still kiss you inappropriately in the hallway to the point of detention.”

I had to admit, that didn’t sound terrible.

What did sound terrible was when Scorpius gathered an armful of garments and insisted I try them on.

I stared. “Like, in the store?”

“No. Outside in the street. Let me gather a crowd.” He rolled his eyes and jerked his head toward the dressing room.

I grumbled, took the clothes, and stomped off toward the curtained rooms. “I’m not showing you, though!”

“Wouldn’t dream of seeing.” His voice was laced with sarcasm.

Once in the fitting room, I stared at the pile. Lots of lace and silk and very little fabric. I grimaced. I’d never worn something like this in my life. The closest I came was a pair of underwear with “Don’t Peek” written on the bum in glitter I got from Dom for Christmas last year.

I hadn’t exactly had many people to show undergarments.

Okay. I could do this. No big deal.

I tugged on the first bra, which barely fit. Well, it fit. But it didn’t fit.

So awkward.

“How’s it going in there?” He was stifling his laughter.

“I am not amused,” I grumbled, latching a corset into place. My waist looked like a stick of celery. “Okay, maybe a little amused.”

“Corset?” he asked.

“Yeah.”

“Can I see?”

“Absolutely not.”

I smirked a little, twirling some hair around my index finger.

“Please?”

“Fine.”

“Really?” he asked.

“Nope.”

Scorpius mumbled something and I heard him shuffle off.

The rest were easier to wiggle on, but it was strange seeing myself in lingerie. I kept staring at the bulky parts of my frame I wasn’t proud of. But I had to admit, they made me look rather film noir.

“Scorpius?” I said, placing the ones I liked in a pile to the left. He didn’t respond, so I finished dressing and poked my head out of the curtain to find an empty sitting area.

After placing the discarded garments on a rack, I returned to the sales floor. He wasn’t there. Just some women shopping, one girl trying to get reception on a mobile phone, and the cashier reading a book.

“Excuse me,” I said, placing my purchases on the counter.

The girl glanced up from the book, blinking. I felt bad for disturbing her, especially if it was an exciting part in the story. “I came in here with a boy...”

“He walked out,” she replied. “Did you find everything okay?”

“He walked out?” I said, glancing to the window. I couldn’t see much with the thick crowd outside.

“Yeah. Find everything okay?” she repeated, scanning the clothes and wrapping them delicately in tissue paper.

“Sure.” I didn’t see him standing around anywhere. What if something bad happened to him? What if he was kidnapped? Or killed? Or in the hospital?

I shoved money at the girl. “Are we set?”

“Do you want change?” she asked plainly.

“Keep it.” I grabbed the bag and rushed out the door. Left. Right. No Scorpius.

Great. I just went and got him from the States and he’s disappeared again.

I elbowed through the crowd, attempting to avoid burly men with body odors and the sticky women with children. An owl cage slammed me in the hip. Shopping today wasn’t the best idea I’d ever had. Dad ever had.

A little girl begged her mum for a packet of cheese, whatever that meant. Some unruly preteens were discussing Exploding Snap and the newest racing broom to hit the market. I only made it two shops down before I sunk against the window of Quality Quidditch Supplies.

I wasn’t comfortable with standing in the street of Diagon Alley with a bag of lingerie draped over my arm.

The glass slammed behind me and I spun, nearly being taken out by a little old lady and a poodle. Scorpius was on the inside, rapping the window with his fingers, grin lighting up his face.

“What are you doing?” I shouted, clutching my heart, which was now racing.

Thanks, jerkface.

He motioned for me to come inside.

Into a Quidditch store. How strange.

Lingerie and Quidditch all in one day. Dad would be disgusted and proud.

I heard the bell as I walked inside, turning to where the newest broom model was surrounded by gaping fans (some of which were drooling). Scorpius moved toward me and then in one quick motion picked me up around the middle and spun me around.

“I got it!” he cried happily, kissing my cheek several times before my feet touched the ground.

“What? Crazy pills?” People were staring.

“I was looking at shirts and they grabbed me,” Scorpius said, a little out of breath. His hair was all over the place. “I went on this audition earlier in the summer – and I didn’t get it – but they wanted me for something else – then they couldn’t contact me – we were in America – they found me! I got it!”

“I am even more confused than I was before,” I said. The shop was stifling hot.

Scorpius took a deep, heaving breath. “I’ve got a commercial!” he said loudly, his face exploding with laughter. “The Firebolt XL wants me to do their commercial for the new model!” He was bouncing on the balls of his feet.

I stared. “What?”

He threw his arms around me again, kissing me hard. Repeatedly. “I can’t believe it!” he said finally, squeezing my ribcage. “Rose, this is insane.”

I was dumbfounded. And amazed. And ridiculously impressed.

“You’re going to be in a commercial,” I said and the words sounded great. “My boyfriend is going to star in – no, be the star OF a commercial! For a Firebolt! Which is a broom, right?”

He laughed. “Your cousins can tell you all about it.” He kissed me again and grabbed the lingerie bag from my arm to put it with the others beside the window.

“So when does this happen?” I asked, peering over at the shiny new broom, which I could barely see between the heads of second years.

“Next week,” Scorpius replied. “I have to go to London and shoot in a studio.” He was bouncing again. “This is wild, Rose.”

“Let’s celebrate.” I kissed him.

“How?”

“I can show you that lingerie...”

“Really?”

“No, you sod.” I smacked him on the back of the head. “But I know a place.”


*


We were there for hours. Scorpius and I spent the afternoon and evening without shoes, painting the lake and the surrounding trees, some of which were shrouded in fog. He pointed out that I painted with my tongue between my teeth. I pointed out he was a git.

We ate the packed dinner, sandwiches and salads, and shared a bottle of champagne which filled itself after each glass.

The paintings dried by the trees and Scorpius built a fire. I maneuvered worms onto hooks and was lucky enough to keep my own out of a tree. Scorpius caught three fish to my one. He unhooked four, tossing all of them back. No Godzilla-fish this time, though he expressed gratitude at not being smacked with any smaller fish.

We kissed beside the fire until the coals were low and far too much sand was up the back of my shirt.

Scorpius tossed a few logs onto the dying embers and glanced over. “Pretty nice vacation, hmm?” he said, grinning. Part of me wondered if he was still thinking about the lingerie.

“I’d say I had a good time.” I turned away, pulling off my shirt and shaking away the sand. Once I turned back, flattening the material against me, I noticed he was blushing.

Good. About time.

“Did you?” he stammered.

“I’m glad we ended up here.” I twisted my hair around my finger again. “I’m glad I went to the creek and I’m glad I stole your clothes.”

His cheeks darkened a little. “You just wanted to see me naked.”

I kicked some sand at him and a bit went into the fire. “You do know everything is going to be okay, right?” I said eventually, watching his intricate movements.

His eyes switched from the logs to me. “Yeah,” he replied eventually, voice empty of the enthusiasm it had before. “Yeah, I know.” Scorpius tossed another log on the fire and shuffled the coals with a stick.

“I mean it.” I closed the distance, placing a hand on his shoulder. “We’ll just do this together. It’s much easier with two people.”

“A lot of things are much easier with two people.” He shot me a wink. I pinched him. “Relax, Rose. I know it’ll be okay. I have you if I fall.” He straightened and kissed me.

“Literally,” I said, kissing his cheek. “I love you, you know that?”

Scorpius didn’t reply right away. He slipped his hand into mine and brought me closer, his other hand finding my hip. “I do,” he said. “You just told me.”

It was true. Everything about that moment was honest. The kiss that followed his words, the colors of the air around us, and knowing that whatever happened in the future, we would face it together.




A/N: *sobs* 

Okay. Many of you asked if there would be an epilogue or sequel. Unfortunately, the answer to that is no. It's always possible I'll come back to them again later on or in a one shot, but as of right now there is no planned sequel (but look what happened with The Keeper's Daughter being based off Keep Away). This is mostly because I wrote this story in a span of just over 30 days and during that time I was only writing this and only in Rose's head. I'm not in that place anymore and I can't do her justice.

Regardless, I want to thank everyone for following this story and giving it a shot. Who doesn't like a little fluff, hmm? 

Thank you to those of you who found this and then went to look at my other stories. Those of you who heard about this from my A/Ns on other stories and gave it a chance. Those of you who reviewed and let me know what you thought of Rose and Scorpius. 

No matter how many of these notes I write when I finish stories, I will never begin to put into words what it means to have people reading what I write for fun. 

So thank you. A zillion times. 

I hope you enjoyed the final chapter of 30 Days and aren't too mad for the ambiguous ending. Sometimes things aren't wrapped up in neat bows in life. Some things are left to mystery and I like that about life. Do with that what you will. I like to think it turned out in a nice happily ever situation. 


Thanks, HPFF. Now back to updating 3 stories at once in stead of a thousand ... 


http://www.harrypotterfanfiction.com