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Hello all! :) Thank you all so much for the amazing reception I got for the First Task chapters, I’m so happy at everybody’s reactions.


As ever I couldn’t get the motivation to write without the fantastic support I get from all of you, so I can’t thank you enough for the absolutely lovely reviews you take the time to leave for me.


As many of you will know I got my Trusted Author Status so I’ll be hoping to update as regularly as is possible.


Without further ado, Chapter Eleven; thank you for reading :)



 



11 - Recovery:



 



“To avoid situations in which you might make mistakes,


May be the biggest mistake of all.”


Peter McWilliams



 



Scorpius suddenly started, shaken out of his reverie by a familiar voice. He looked over at the flimsy door to the tent in which he was stood as it flapped eagerly in the slight breeze. A tall and beautiful blonde-haired woman in St Mungo’s robes swiftly entered the temporary hospital, immediately greeting the Hogwarts nurse.



“Mum,” Scorpius said lightly. His mother turned to him, taking in his appearance and although every maternal instinct in her made her want to go to him she knew she couldn’t; Rose was her priority.



Astoria Malfoy crouched beside the bed quickly opening a large battered case she had brought with her, in seconds pulling out a vial of shimmering gold potion. At this point both Hermione and Scorpius were made to leave; the curtains were pulled round Rose’s bed as they were led to chairs on the other side whilst the nurses worked.



The two sat in strained silence for close to three hours before finally an exhausted Astoria Malfoy emerged.



“Rose should be ok,” she said quickly; Scorpius breathed a harsh sigh of relief.



 “But she is still in a bad way. Most of the skin injuries are superficial but the sheer volume of them and the length of time both her head wound and her Grindylow bite were left to bleed caused complications.



“We’ve managed to largely close her wounds and replace the blood she lost. It is the Venomous Tentacula bite which created the most problems. Despite how quickly she was brought back here the plant’s venom still had time to enter her system, already affecting her main organs.



“Luckily we had an antidote which has been working effectively since. There will be traces of the venom in her blood for weeks but there is nothing that can be done about that. Soon enough her body will begin healing itself and removing the last of the poison.



“She is quite a remarkable girl. Few people could have survived this but her body has fought the poison in its veins all the way, consequently despite the intensity of how ill she was, with any luck her recovery will not take long.”



Hermione broke down into tears, thanking Astoria profusely and eventually going around the curtains to sit at her daughter’s bedside. Scorpius sat numbly in his chair, knowing her mother should see Rose first.



Astoria sat down beside her son, wrapping her arms around him as he shook with the shuddering breaths he was still struggling to take.



“I’m just going to get you some Pepper Up potion,” she said quietly, “I’ll only be a second.”



As she gave her son’s shoulder a last squeeze she quickly went back behind the curtains, seconds later they moved again as Hermione came back out. Her face looked pale and tired as she nervously ran her fingers through untidy hair, a gesture her daughter had unknowingly adopted.



“Scorpius,” she said, her voice sounding hoarse and scratchy, “Rose isn’t awake yet but I need to go and contact Ron, could you sit with her please?” Scorpius nodded, not quite sure that he could remember how to speak.



“Of course,” he croaked.



“Thank you,” Hermione replied, “thank you very much for everything you’ve done for Rose leading up to the Tournament and today. You are a good friend to her.” She had gone before Scorpius had time to reply.



He slowly made his way round the curtains dreading what he would see. The cuts on her face and arms were largely healed and the dried blood had been washed off her skin but not her clothes; a stark reminder of what had happened.



One arm was heavily bandaged; the rest of her was carefully concealed under a thick duvet, her visible skin rivalling the quilts pale colour. She looked unbearably small in the sizable bed, like a small ragdoll tucked up in a child’s cot.  



He sat at her side, placing a hand over hers, feeling the soft smoothness of her skin interrupted by scratches from the obstacles she had faced that day. His mother watched as her only son tenderly ran his fingers over the deep scratches on Rose’s hand, his eyes blank and emotionless as he watched her rigid figure. She gently rested her hand on his shoulder as he glanced back at her with a dull gaze, taking the Potion she handed to him and swallowing it quickly.



The Potion worked instantly. It cleared his head of the painful hollow ache which reverberated around the interior of his skull, but couldn’t help to heal his heart which felt several times smaller, as if shrivelling under the weight of fear.



He had been sitting with her nearly an hour when the hand in his twitched slightly; he looked quickly at her face searching for any signs of consciousness to find her as still and peaceful as ever. Her parents returned a few moments later to their still silent daughter. Ron paused at the door, eyeing Scorpius suspiciously.



“Oh,” he said, as soon as he saw the blonde-headed Slytherin. Scorpius wasn’t ready to fight, he felt emotionally drained, all the fight had seeped out of him and been replaced by exhaustion. He stood quickly, ready to leave. Hermione raised a hand to stop him.



“You are more than welcome to stay. Isn’t he Ron?” she looked fiercely at her husband who hesitantly nodded.



“Of course,” he said he answered stiffly, “It’s nice to meet you.” He held out a hand to Scorpius who didn’t stretch out his, Ron frowned.



“I would shake your hand, sir,” Scorpius said apologetically, “but I haven’t exactly had time to wash since earlier.” He showed Ron his blood covered hands; Ron flinched when he saw them and nodded.



“No problem,” he said and nodded gruffly.



The tension still hanging morbidly in the air started to dissipate as the hours crept by and for a time the three of them sat in silence around her bedside just watching as Rose slept peacefully. Suddenly Scorpius felt her fingers move again.



“Rose?” he said quickly, standing slightly. Hermione and Ron looked up at him in confusion.



“Her hand moved,” he replied, “it did it earlier as well, I just thought...” He shrugged and took his seat again just as the red-headed girl whose head was nestled comfortably in her pillow suddenly made a coughing sound in her throat, her eyelids flickering.



Hermione and Ron jumped to their feet instantly bending over her, pushing her hair back from her face and talking quickly, trying to get some kind of response.



“Mum...Dad?” Rose’s hoarse voice replied as she coughed over each word. “What are you doing here?” Hermione grinned at her daughter, completely overjoyed.



“The Tournament,” she said quickly, “you were injured; me and your father came as quickly as we could. Do you remember what happened?” Rose closed her eyes slightly and nodded.



Noticing the warmth on her hand she turned to Scorpius who had been watching her silently.



“I finished!” she said with a laugh. “I finished the First Task!” Scorpius stared at her incredulously for a moment and then let out a choking laugh himself.



“You’re confined to bed, you nearly died, you got attacked by a giant angry plant and the only thing you can worry about is the fact that you finished? You’re completely mad,” he said, continuing to laugh. Rose grinned back at him.



“Speaking of which, where did I finish? I bet I was third wasn’t I?” Scorpius smiled back at her, wanting to laugh at her alertness and energy despite everything that had happened.



“You came first,” he answered quietly, “much to Volkov’s upset, Katalena pulled out after a Hippogriff tried to remove her leg by force and Alexandre finished just after you. You won.” Rose broke out into hysterical, overjoyed laughter which everybody else couldn’t help but join in with.



The rest of the day and evening was spent moving Rose to the more solid Hospital Ward on the ship where she would be able to safely recuperate. Finally accepting her son had recovered himself, Astoria Malfoy returned to St Mungo’s hugging Scorpius strongly before she went.



Much later that night when Rose and Scorpius had both dropped off, Scorpius’ fingers still entangled with Rose’s, Ron looked at the boy in front of him. He could hardly believe how much he had misjudged him although he knew that one meeting could hardly destroy all his prejudices against Malfoy’s son.



However, it had certainly helped to watch the way the young Slytherin made his daughter laugh time after time and how he kept his hand fused to hers, as if scared to let her go.



 Ron’s last few thoughts before he was taken by sleep were that of everyone who could be helping his daughter in this, the most dangerous time of her life, she could do a lot worse than Scorpius Malfoy.                



 



*             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *



 



Rose, Dawn and Hannah stumbled tiredly into the Gryffindor Common Room, thoroughly worn out. They each clutched a large silver bag in their hand, the front emblazoned with a golden dragon which flicked its long jewelled tail occasionally with sparkling elegance.



 It was three days after the First Task and Rose had, thankfully, largely recovered. She had been confined to bed the previous few days as she was fed potions, trying to tease out the traces of Venomous Tentacula poison which still swam through her bloodstream.



She’d been completely sapped of energy and now that she was feeling much brighter was glad to exercise some freedom which she hadn’t been previously allowed. The minute she was out of the miserable white-washed walls of the Hospital Ward she felt instantly happier, especially with Dawn and Hannah at her side.



Being that the Yule Ball was fast approaching, Professor Quila had set up several portkeys throughout the day to transport those who wanted to back to their familiar village of Hogsmeade. Rose, Dawn and Hannah had taken full advantage of this – Eve having politely declined their friendly invitation – and had spent hours sampling the formal dresses available, only settling on their favourites minutes before the last portkey was due to depart.



Luckily they had arrived just in time and now took a well deserved rest, sinking back into chairs in the corner of the room. Over at the far wall Scorpius stood, whispering suspiciously with Albus and glancing over at them every now and then. He had become a common sight recently, spending more time with Albus and visiting the Gryffindor Common Room with increasing regularity.



Artemis sat in a chair by the fireplace almost alone, happily reading a large leather-bound book which lay in his lap, Sebastian opposite him, neither of them paying attention to each other or anybody else.



“Go on!” Dawn whispered and nudged Rose painfully in the ribs. “It’s now or never!”



Rose swallowed uncomfortably. The two girls had badgered her throughout the day over who she was going to ask to the Yule Ball. She’d already turned down several boys all of who she was sure only asked because she was the School Champion and they wanted some publicity.



This, to Dawn and Hannah, meant that she must have a person in mind and the two Gryffindors had relentlessly interrogated their friend until she finally gave in and hesitantly admitted that maybe she would prefer to go with Scorpius.



Their squeals of delight were enough to make Rose wince and roll her eyes as they danced about in celebration amidst declarations of “I knew it!” Eventually the two of them had calmed down and sat with Rose on the floor of the vast changing rooms in their current choice of dress shop, the floor littered with fabrics of every colour of the rainbow.



Rose had run the various textured materials through her fingers as she explained to her willing audience what had happened the day before the Tournament. She still wasn’t sure herself what it all really meant, nor what she wanted it to mean. Confronting her feelings for Scorpius wasn’t something she had tried, or was willing, to do.



Nonetheless Dawn and Eve had demanded to know everything down to the last detail leaving Rose thoroughly exhausted by the end of it and the two girls practically brimming with excitement.



Before long Rose couldn’t help but join in with their happiness; as yet she wasn’t entirely sure of her feelings for Scorpius or, in fact, his feelings for her, but it couldn’t hurt to go to the Yule Ball together, surely? Just for the sake of the Tournament and them being partners of course, Rose kept trying to convince herself.



Despite how rational her explanation was for them attending the Ball together Rose still shifted uncomfortably in her seat and felt her palms sweating alarmingly as she knew now was the perfect opportunity to ask him. She stood from her chair suddenly and took a deep breath, about to walk over to Scorpius and Albus when another girl beat her to it.



She strode directly over to Scorpius, fluttering her eyelashes and flicking her long silky blonde hair over her shoulder as Rose watched her smiling at the Slytherin in front of her. A hand with long fingernails, painted pink to perfection settled itself on Scorpius’ shoulder as she giggled, her lips coated in shiny gloss stretching into a kittenish smile.



Rose had seen girls fawning over Scorpius for years before now and she had never cared less, but now, now she felt hurt building up inside her. Never before had she felt this overwhelming sea of humiliation washing over her; feelings of fear, anger and inferiority consuming her and trying to force reluctant tears, physical proof of her distress, cascading down her cheeks.



She held back, controlled herself as she always did. Rose watched for what could have been minutes or hours as the two of them laughed together, Scorpius doing nothing to dissuade her from her efforts.



The girl, whom Rose had never seen before, continued to touch Scorpius’ arm as she spoke and leaned towards him as she laughed. Albus who stood beside the two quickly went and joined Artemis and Sebastian at the fireplace, shaking his head slightly as he went. Rose became like a statue, fixed in her place as her eyes froze on the laughing couple. 



Her mouth set in a thin line, feeling humiliated. How on earth had she ever considered that her rational explanation would be enough? Why had she kidded herself that a multitude of beautiful blondes wouldn’t have thrown themselves at him already?



How could she have thought he would ever be interested in her, when there were so many girls available to him? She felt she’d awoken from a dream where anything was possible, back to reality where these ideas were shattered into glittering shards disappearing before her eyes.



She’d never been a person to doubt herself, or feel inadequate next to other girls but right at this moment she realised she could never be anything more to Scorpius than a friend, because she would, in her eyes, never be good enough.



She was unsure what to do; she couldn’t stand Dawn and Hannah’s commiserations and insults against Scorpius which she knew she would endure if she returned to her two friends who sat a few metres behind her. Instead she walked forwards, to where Albus and Artemis sat, taking a seat defiantly next to Artemis.



She immediately got his attention and as he looked up from his book Rose acted on a complete whim and looked directly into his eyes, beginning to speak.



“Artemis, I was wondering if you were going to the Ball with anyone. If not, would you go with me?” Rose heard Albus’ gasp from behind Artemis as clearly as if he had shouted in her ear; she ignored him. Artemis looked confused for a moment before trying a tentative smile.



“I’d love to go with you,” he confirmed.



Rose felt shocked, not that he had said yes but that she felt nothing, absolutely nothing. No sense of happiness that she finally had a partner, no happy anticipation for the Ball, just a sense of loss and finality as this meant she had a partner and not the one she wanted.



Unable to hold back any longer, Albus moved his chair closer to the two, frowning at Rose.



“Rose... well... don’t you already have a partner?” Assuming he was talking about Scorpius, Rose shook her head swiftly, scowling at him.



“I don’t think so,” she replied, her voice edged with a hint of anger at her cousin’s interference.



“It’s just...well...me and Scorpius, we were told you were going with Alexandre?” This certainly got Rose’s attention; she looked up at Albus in disbelief.



“What?” She said quickly. “I’m not going with Alexandre?!?! Why would you think that?”



Albus’ expression changed to that of worry as he looked at his cousin. “Somebody told Scorpius that yesterday; he thought you had a partner.”



Rose didn’t know what to say, so remained silent for a moment, whilst Albus looked at Scorpius across the room who was watching Rose intently, not taking the slightest notice of the blonde speaking to him. Rose muttered apologies to Albus and Artemis before she quickly got to her feet and left the room.



 



*             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *



 



Scorpius had observed with confusion as Rose had made her way across to Artemis and Albus and had continued to watch with increasing anxiety as she leaned in close to the dark haired Gryffindor and asked him to the Ball.



He knew she had, he’d seen her rosy lips shaping the words and the look of confusion on Albus’ face. Now she had suddenly stormed from the room so he followed decisively, not leaving so much as a “goodbye” to the young girl who had been talking to him.



Scorpius exited the Common Room quickly and could see Rose rounding a corner ahead, he shouted out to her, halting her progress. She turned back impatiently, waiting whilst Scorpius caught up with her, giving him a questioning look. His face showed embarrassment as he ran worried hands through his hair and ducked his head slightly, not meeting her eyes.



“Did you just ask that Artemis kid to the Ball?” he asked bluntly, finally making eye contact. Rose nodded defiantly.



“Yes, I did. I’m surprised you could see past that blonde draped over your arm.” Scorpius frowned at her sharp tone and emotionless face.



“Excuse me?” he said in confusion.



“That blonde all over you just now. I thought she’d be taking all of your attention.” Rose stood rigidly straight in the corridor as if squaring up for a fight. A fight against what Scorpius had no idea; it was as if she had built up some wall around herself, protecting herself from him. Scorpius shook his head in disbelief as he watched Rose, wide-eyed.



“And since when did it bother you which girls I spend my time with?” he shot back.



“And since when did it bother you who I am going to the Ball with?” Rose replied with equal aggression.



“Oh don’t worry I wasn’t bothered,” Scorpius replied, steely-eyed, “It’s just you seem to have so many men in your life at the moment, I thought I’d check which was number one right now.”



Rose choked over her reply, anger clearly reflected in the swirling depths of her shining eyes. “It’s not my fault if you listen to the pernicious rumours spread about me around here, nor that I’ve had male attention. You’re such a hypocrite; you must have a different girl every day of the week! Let me guess, you’ve had a partner for the Yule Ball for weeks because you’re just so popular with the ladies.”



“And once again Rose Weasley plunges in feet first making accusations with no proof. How about you judge me when you know me, take the advice you gave your parents. Until you do, I’m not wasting my time on you.”



Within seconds Scorpius had moved once again down the corridor and returned to the Common Room, anger coursing through his veins which he felt desperate to release. He just couldn’t get his head around her and he was sick of trying.



She was the only person he wanted to go to this Ball with, because he knew if he went with anyone else he would just spend the night with his mind solely focussed on that fiery redhead. He’d been building up the courage to ask her, afraid she would turn him down and it would ruin the relationship they needed to work together in the Tournament.



The day that one of his Slytherin friends slipped into conversation the revelation that he had heard Alexandre and Rose would be going together his heart clenched a little, panic and fear were his only companions as she tried to act nonchalant. But the brutal, hard truth was there; she already had a partner, a partner who wasn’t him and there was nothing he could do about it.



That was until she had asked Artemis of course and he realised the rumours circulating were exactly that: rumours. He could have kicked himself and started turning the fury he felt at their argument in on himself.



He had his chance, he could have asked her the second she entered the Common Room if only he had known. Not that he would want to go with her now; now that he knew what she really thought of him.



Did she just expect him to ignore every girl who came and spoke to him? Why should he when she’d never really shown the smallest inclination towards him anyway? She didn’t own him; he could do what he wanted.



It was with this thought that he briskly observed the room full of people, searching for someone, anyone, to take to the Ball. He knew it was stupid, some sad attempt at revenge or to create jealously in a girl who couldn’t care less about him.



He did it anyway.



Anger was all that was driving him on as he ran his eyes over every girl in the room, knowing he would find someone eventually who was single and willing. Suddenly he caught a flash of green in the corner, two Slytherin girls wearing their robes emblazoned with the green serpent of their house talked to a dark-haired Gryffindor surreptitiously in the corner, whispering together as if keen to not be overheard.



Although this was the Gryffindor Common Room explicitly, students from any house were allowed to enter, some inter-house unity project from the Headmistress. Scorpius’ eyes settled on the Gryffindor girl and knew the instant he saw her that she was the one.



If anyone would make Rose jealous it would be her; if there was anyone guaranteed not to reject him, it was her.



He swaggered over, a lopsided smile in place, his battered heart holding itself defiantly together.



 

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