Author Note: Well blimey, this turned out longer than I imagined, not to mention it really did write itself. It’s so different from my original plan but I just couldn’t help but follow instincts with this one. As ever there’s so much coming up in the next few chapters: the aftermath of what happens here for example, good honest romance, school lessons, arduous spell practice not to mention...the Second Task. Can’t wait to see what you all think of this. Thank you absolutely millions for the wonderful feedback on the last chapter and your awesome support thus far in the story. Your reviews really do mean the world and always brighten my day so continue to leave them as much as you can! Thank you very much for reading; enjoy!
21- Giving In To Temptation:
Rose had her eyes closed tightly as she spun wickedly through the air, her body seemingly squeezing through a hole which was ten times too small as the wind whipped around her in a whirling frenzy. She landed on hard ground with a thump, stumbling slightly but retaining her footing as a rusted silver fork clattered to the ground ahead of her, shirking off its previous portkey duties and becoming an inanimate object once more.
James stood to her left, having been transported back to Durmstrang Institute at the same time as her and still had a slight scowl darkening his face as a hand brushed through his hair roughly. Rose watched him in concern, knowing there was little she could do to convince his stubborn mind that nothing was going on between her and Scorpius.
He’d interrogated the two with a rushed, worried voice and dark, accusing eyes only an hour previously and despite the couple’s explanations he’d found himself unable to believe them. Rose couldn’t blame him, after all her stained t-shirt had disappeared in the chaos that ensued after she and Scorpius had spent their time alone so she could hardly prove what had happened; all her cousin could do was take her sincere word for it.
He’d tried to gain support from his younger brother but Albus had remained passive with an awkward air about him, seemingly torn between thumping Scorpius for what potentially had happened between him and Rose, and patting him on the back. So the issue had been dropped, settling slightly in the backs of all their minds, for how long before it erupted once more Rose did not know.
The wind was still chilling her to the bone so she wrapped the thin, black cloak clutching at her shoulders tightly around her body and winced at the slight shoulder injury she had received earlier. Cooling salve had since been offered and gladly received, thankfully left from her last bout with this illness, soothing the still sore skin.
She threaded her gaze through the sea of students who had portkeyed back to the Host School both before and after her group, searching for familiar faces. She spied the back of Scorpius’ head through the crowd but looked elsewhere, not wanting him to glance back and catch her staring. With all the persuading she’d had to do, all the convincing that there was nothing going on between her and the Slytherin, she’d almost convinced herself that nothing had happened and that near kiss was merely a figment of her overactive imagination.
But then she’d see him. She’d catch just a flash of those gray eyes; the tall rangy frame; the messy blonde hair and remember the feeling of his touch on her skin and his lips grazing against hers. It was haunting her mind like an invited guest and she knew, finally, that she needed to do something, anything, to stop this constant numbing ache in her heart when she saw him.
Her eyes were still picking through the various coloured robes, jumpers and t-shirts as she searched for Dawn and Hannah whom she hadn’t seen since Hannah’s sudden exit from the earlier party but was distracted as her Headmistress strode confidently to front of the moving gathering of students, separating them into their respective school groups.
Soon Professor Volkov was leading his grumbling followers back into the imposing castle they called home for most of the year whilst Professor Arcenau followed in tired suit, directing his own pupils back to their ship which bobbed gently on another lake.
Rose was tired, unbelievably, immeasurably tired, and desired nothing more than to go to bed and just forget about everything which had happened since the school trip to the mountains had begun. She closed her eyes briefly, letting a cold breeze wash over her face with a biting edge as it picked at stray strands of her hair and roped them across her face in an intricate labyrinth of constricting lines. Professor Quila was beginning to encourage people back to their floating accommodation and as the rush surged forward Rose fell back and soon felt a gentle hand on her arm. She turned to see Dawn’s tired face, a sad smile on her lips as her other hand swiped nervously over the ponytail hanging at her pale neck.
“Are you ok?” Dawn asked quickly, “I heard about what happened at the party after Hannah and me left.” Rose nodded reassuringly, her open lips making a smoky cloud on the night air.
“We’re all ok. How’s Hannah?”
“She’ll be fine; at the moment she’s just trying to decide whether to be upset or angry,” Dawn said, testing a smile on her lips.
“And how’re you?” Rose asked in concern, seeing the look of exhaustion on her brown-haired friend’s face.
“I’m fine, I’d better get back to Hannah though, get her back to her room before she gets upset again just at the sight of Albus.” Dawn sighed deeply as she attempted a positive facial expression.
“Meet me out here later,” Rose offered, “we can talk; you can relax and take off some of the strain.”
“Because security won’t be impossibly tight tonight of all nights will it?” Dawn laughed in response. “Thank you but really I’ll be fine. I just need a good night’s sleep, as do you. You aren’t half a magnet for trouble, Rose Weasley.”
Rose’s smile was reluctant but she let her friend go, feeling like she should be doing more but knowing Dawn was the best person to help Hannah in her current state. She watched as the dark-haired Gryffindor crossed back towards a dishevelled and bedraggled looking Hannah whose eyes were ringed with a thick red layer.
Dawn was already giving calm reassurances as she threw a comforting arm around the blonde’s petite shoulders and started leading her back onto the Hogwarts ship and out of view of Rose’s watching eyes. She worried about Dawn and couldn’t help but feel that her friend wouldn’t ever say if she had a problem, concerned as she was with solving everybody else’s issues.
Rose had known Dawn since a few weeks into her first year when both girls were still shyly treading through new experiences and hesitantly meeting people they’d never seen before. They’d been paired together in a particularly bland Potions lesson where they had instantly formed a bond in the midst of intense boredom; they hadn’t looked back since.
Dawn always had an aura of seriousness and strictness about her, but it had grown out of a life of responsibility having had to almost single-handedly bring up her younger brother and sister, Michael and Freya. Her father had died when she was young; her mother wasn’t an alcoholic, she didn’t take drugs, smoke heavily or follow any kind of lifestyle which might hint at the later neglect of her children she demonstrated.
She just wasn’t cut out for motherhood. She’d struggled coping with caring for three young children and so the oldest of the group had been forced unwillingly into taking a motherly role over the young boy and girl who had little idea of what was happening. So even whilst at school Dawn was always seen owling her muggle family repeatedly in a frenzied worry that something might go wrong, and it might be her fault because she wasn’t there to help.
Rose knew her guilt at being away for so much of the year, particularly this year when getting home was nearly impossible, was grating away at Dawn and would never quite lie dormant.
She’d consequently grown into a young woman who cared very much for the people close to her with boundless patience. Rose knew she was always there to listen, whenever there was a person in need of it, and the altruistic nature of the brown-haired Gryffindor never ceased to amaze her. So she watched her disappearing into the depths of the floating wooden ship with a sense of both pride and worry before her view was obscured by other people following their route away from the bitter night air.
Rose was reluctant to move, cold as it was the wind was refreshing and started to tease away the worries of the evening. Soon she caught a flash of movement in the corner of her eye as Scorpius started walking over to her, scuffing his shoes as he went and only glancing up in small, jerky movements.
Rose watched him with a controlled, emotionless expression until he was only a matter of metres away, at which point she gave a small smile which he returned, breaking some of the ice resting over their awkward relationship. As they met they immediately started walking across the uneven ground to the Hogwarts ship, being some of the last people who still remained in the cold outdoors.
“Happy to be back?” Scorpius enquired, his eyes gazing down at her.
“I am,” she replied, “I honestly thought I’d never be happy to see Durmstrang, yet it’s good to be back, it just feels...more comfortable I guess, more secure.”
“I know what you mean,” Scorpius said. “Although being back here does mean we’re back to the Tournament, it’s creeping up on us horribly quickly.” Rose had jolted slightly at the mention of the upcoming Second Task. Being away from it all, up in the desolate mountain, it was easy to ignore it, pushing it to the back of her mind because she felt a million miles away from her problems; now being back at the centre of this competition meant it became, once again, a living, breathing thing which took over all aspects of her life.
She and Scorpius hadn’t even attempted to, or as yet found the time to, explore any aspect of what the Second Task could be or how they should prepare for it; Rose couldn’t help but feel that what with working on “battling the elements”, two long months of detention and her usual lessons, the following weeks were going to be sensationally busy.
Her feet padded almost silently over the carpeted floors she now crossed with Scorpius in tow, the sounds of life elsewhere on the ship quickly fading as they made their way further and further from their fellow students and towards their own quarters, on the Professors’ level.
They had lapsed into slightly awkward silence as they rounded onto their own corridor and Rose smiled at the sight of her handle-less dark wooden door which gleamed in its newly polished glory; she was more than ready to sleep in a comfortable bed once again. Scorpius had paused at his own door as the two turned to look at each other, opening their mouths identically to speak. Rose snapped her lips shut as Scorpius began in rushed, quiet tones.
“About earlier...” he said softly, “before all the chaos at the party.” He didn’t look at her and she was glad, it was an obstacle they needed to discuss but now that the moment had come she felt strangely tongue-tied and worried about revealing any of her feelings, just in case it was all mistake in Scorpius’ eyes. In the lack of voiced agreement or disagreement from Rose, Scorpius continued. “Well we....I mean, when we...we almost...” he trailed off with agitation. “It doesn’t matter,” he said swiftly as he pressed an angry palm against the smooth grain of his door and spoke his name to seek sanctuary from the stilted unspoken words hanging in the air.
Rose bit down hard on her lip and screamed at herself to speak out and stop him from walking away from a conversation which could have so many endings; the second it took for him to swing open the creaking ancient wood stretched through the air almost visibly, giving her time to act. Her heart was crying out for her to do something, finally take the opportunity which had leapt up at her, to question what had passed between them earlier, for better or for worse.
She remained silent. Her voice was choking in her throat as she watched him slam his door behind him without looking back, she gritted her teeth, creasing her forehead with a maze of lines showing her disappointment and frustration. She was motionless for several moments, watching with blank eyes as she willed the door in front of her to open and the familiar face of Scorpius to appear once more. Her eyes dropped lower, her heartbeat pumping slowly with every second that passed.
She was furious with herself as she entered her own room and threw the bag she’d been carrying onto the floor with a loud crash that echoed thunderously.
So few words were needed, a couple of trembling syllables and tenuous tones as she finally voiced her feelings against the onslaught of the strangling prevention which had crept up in her throat. How painfully easy it now seemed and how childishly embarrassed she now felt.
With an unusual lack of care she soon dragged herself back to her feet and opened her case, dropping the contents unceremoniously on the floor, flicking her wand at them to change them back to their larger sizes which had been previously lessened for more effective packing. She attempted to unpack but soon found herself sitting on the floor, amongst her many belongings, with her back against the foot of her bed as she went over and over in her head everything she could have said to Scorpius.
Kicking the items on her messy floor aside as she arose, she collapsed onto her bed once more and wrapped herself in a cosy duvet cocoon which was all too soon thrown off as she twisted and turned in bed, half dozing and half awake as she padded through vague dreams for countless hours. She awoke suddenly, her mind fearful from a bright nightmare she knew she’d had but had no knowledge of, only the lingering dark feelings creeping over her goose-pimpled skin.
She lay back, examining the fabric canopy above her whilst moving agitatedly trying to find some of the comfort she knew was possible. With a frustrated groan she swung her legs out of the quickly stifling bed, curling her toes in enjoyment of the breath of cold playing over the pale skin of her feet. Slowly, she pushed herself into a sitting position and left the now useless bed to cross to the window darkened by the night sky. She swept the cushions from the vast sill with a jerk of her impatient hands and settled herself comfortably on its solid wooden platform, leaning against the pane of glass which chilled her warm skin.
Rose sighed deeply as she leant her head back against the window frame, tilting slightly to see into the darkness beyond which remained resolutely black as far as the eye could see. Her fingers trailed smudged cloudy patterns down the see-through surface before her as she traced the journeys of stray raindrops thundering down with heightening intensity as time progressed on the other side of the glass.
She pushed the window open, gasping at the influx of icy fingers of air which whipped over her skin and bit chillingly whilst dragging her clothing around her body with dizzying intensity. She breathed it in; the cold breeze seeping down her throat and drying it as much as a winter cold, filling her nose with its pungent freshness as she released the breath again, expelling it to where it once again flew off to rejoin the landscape.
Dark navy water lapped a few metres below her window, disturbed as it was by the night-time rain. It was beautiful, and a lifetime away from the English countryside of Hogwarts with the rustling hedgerows and beautiful smooth lush hills of jade blades of grass which wafted in the soft summer breezes.
Here everything was hard, angled and bitter. It resonated in the hearts of its observers like a painting completed in anger; like a moment of cruel revenge; like a crude, harsh word in the ear of young child. It was a complete and unbroken world; a circle of unstoppable nature which fought against itself, the remains of rocky mountains from yesteryear now clothed in thick moss, bright lichens and determined tufts of dark grass but still fighting to see the light and dominate once more with their marred grey surfaces.
A constant wind grabbed and tugged at the resistant trees in their statuesque stances, their whispering leaves like sordid secrets being passed from person to person on a crowded street – each bending to its willing neighbour, its thick boughs and branches moving to cover its leafy mouth and forbidden words.
An unbelievable amount seemed to have happened in such a short space of time and Rose hardly knew how to stop the torrent of new emotions, situations and experiences which were bombarding her life this year. There was a strange new warmth in her, which only hummed with contentment when Scorpius was around; she couldn’t help but look forward to every minute they had together, furiously cataloguing in her mind what he said, the way he looked, the way he spoke.
There was just something in his very nature which drew her to him like an inevitable magnetic pull which thrilled her as much as it worried her. She was only a teenager and always aware that she didn’t yet live in a world of forevers, and I love you’s and marriage.
Instead it was emotions, and attraction, and need; it was a raw passionate craving for him which had rooted itself in the pit of her stomach, for how long she couldn’t remember, which had manifested into an addiction, a need to be with him.
Everything she’d thought of him before the Tournament began was a million miles away from what she knew of him now, but then if she really admitted it to herself; she felt she had created that image of him, a negative persona so she could dislike him with reason. As any person would, she fought against liking what people wanted her to like; for years her mother pushed her to befriend Scorpius any time their paths crossed and the constant pressure on them as a physical, innocent symbol of changing times and ending feuds wasn’t bearable for children.
It was easier for her to dislike him, to let certain aspects of his life or personality be twisted into deep flaws in his character which she could use against him. She was afraid; she was very afraid that all along she’d judged him with a false view she’d created herself, branded him with a reputation that wasn’t his and in some way contributed to the stubborn negative image her parents had of him now.
It had been so easy, when they were forced to be alone to work on the Tournament, to see what a good person he was if only she had of taken the time to see it and not played on the stereotypes and prejudices against the Malfoy family, commonplace in the conversations of Ex-Order members who had consumed Rose’s childhood.
And yet Albus realised; it was a cold, stark fact which made her crimes feel even worse that her cousin had so quickly and easily taken to Scorpius and never questioned his motives or upbringing. She could remember the infrequent shy conversations between the two boys before Hogwarts, but even then it wasn’t really anything at all, it was when they started their First year that the friendship bloomed; why, Rose didn’t know. There had just been a natural and innate connection between the two which even the most determined and brutal of Slytherin and Gryffindor rivalry couldn’t diffuse.
Another pang of guilt resonated through Rose’s chest as she realised yet another glaring hole in her relationship with Scorpius, that she could know about his friendship with Albus, if only she’d asked. Yet she never had, she’d always made assumptions and assertions but never taken the time to consider the truth of the matter. She knew his upbringing must have been hard with the discrimination against the name of Malfoy, but the story had always been from the Wotter family perspective, never Scorpius’.
To this day she still acted as if she knew, really knew how he felt, but never did she ask or find out more, learn about his true character and how those early years of his life really mattered. It was only now, sitting on a chilly window seat late at night and closing with a thud a heavy window, that she realised the mistakes she’d made and that, desire Scorpius as she might, she rarely considered how he felt.
Her mind swarmed with persistent conflicting thoughts as her cheek pressed against the cold window pane, her breath ghosting against its surface; completely unaware of the blonde-haired boy who sat identically next door at his window, his arms wrapped around knees drawn up to his chin as he thought about the girl with fiery red hair and a temper to match who had a hold on his heart, and wouldn’t let go.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Scorpius awoke lazily, yawning widely as he rubbed at eyes which blinked in the midst of morning light streaming in through the window, heralding a clear, bright day to come. His limbs were numb and awkwardly positioned as he unfolded himself from the window seat where he had, somehow, slept fitfully after an uncomfortably awake night.
He glanced up at the clock in his room to see it was already eleven, the chaos of the evening before had obviously taken its toll, so he wasted no time in showering and pulling on clean clothes. He knew his previous inability to sleep was his own fault; he’d had powerful throngs of noisy, questioning thoughts bombarding his mind which refused to rest until he confronted the issues he’d been pleasantly ignoring.
So instead of slipping peacefully into a relaxing state of sleep he knew his tired body needed, he’d been plagued by the insistent thoughts which fought within his mind as they swirled around the central issue: Rose Weasley. He could still smell her scent on the air when he thought of her, no brash, overpowering perfume or bright floral aroma, but a simple citrusy kick which caught on the breeze and reminded him starkly of her whenever he smelt it.
She was always there, resting in the back of his mind as he muddled his way through how to approach any tiny facet of the feelings he had for her, wondering whether their set-backs and interruptions thus far were a sign...and a bad one at that. He’d had girlfriends before and he had liked them each for their individual merits.
But like was as far as it went, the attraction he felt to Rose was an overwhelming, pounding, thundering of his blood through his veins like a runaway train, rushing just fast enough every now and then to give Scorpius a jolt, a moment of shock, in case it suddenly derailed and he lost complete control.
He needed her, deeply, passionately and wholly, and he feared nothing could sate that addiction until he finally revealed how he felt. She took his breath away, quite literally, and made his heart beat just that little bit faster, his palms sweat that little bit more, and his confidence falter just slightly when she was near.
With those thoughts being carefully considered in his mind all the while he made his way across the short hallway outside his bedroom and into the shared room where a sight bombarded his eyes with hideous shock.
The room was largely consumed by a massive glass tank, entirely translucent, and obviously filled to the brim with clear, sparking water. Its transparency was starkly interrupted by the tendrils of rich red floating hypnotically, bobbling with the gentle natural rhythm of the water.
She was face down in the brutal liquid, her body floating motionless, her exposed skin deathly white and that shock of bright hair gliding effortlessly through the liquid with limitless freedom as Rose’s floating figure remained unmoving.
Scorpius didn’t move, he was frozen, his heart quite literally stopped beating in his chest as he waited for fatal moments, urging with a desperate mind for her to jump up and declare it all a big joke. His breath choked in his throat as he hurriedly found the wand tucked in his waistband and swept it forward with shaking hands, yelling a spell his mind soon forgot to disappear the glass.
He sprinted forward as the water, now released, smelt the freedom and bolted from its now removed restraints; he caught her cold body before it hit the floor, laying her carefully on the ground before him as he tested her pulse with rigid fingers. After several heartbreaking seconds he finally felt the dull thumping under his fingers and she suddenly burst back into life, coughing and spluttering as water was expelled from her open mouth.
Scorpius smoothed her wet hair back from her face, laying her across his knees as he made sure she maintained her steady breathing.
“What did you do?!” Rose accused as she took in her surroundings and Scorpius’ worried face staring down at her. “Why did you take me out of the water?” Scorpius looked at her with incredulity bright on his face.
“You were drowning! What the hell did you expect me to do? Just leave you there?!” he questioned with rising volume and broad shock, blood pumping with astonishment as it only just recovered from the previous jolt to his system. Immediate defensive anger started to flood out of his mouth to hide his now embarrassing fear of only a few moments ago.
“Well, yes!” Rose shot back as she climbed quickly up to her feet; he followed in suit. “I was trying out some Slatherweed, it’s meant to make you breathe underwater,” she explained, her voice clearly patronising. “My parents got hold of some for me after I told them about the “elements” aspect of the Second Task. What did you think I was doing?!”
“Well drowning, obviously,” Scorpius said with barely repressed mocking sarcasm. “You didn’t think a note might be good? Some indication to anybody passing by that your lifeless body wasn’t drowned in a tank of water but actually just trying out a bit of an experiment?” He was shouting now, his voice loud in the quiet room as the fear and anxiety he’d felt and the cold blood coursing through his veins when he saw her floating body, shot to the surface of his feelings and blinded him to anything else.
“Maybe normal people wouldn’t have jumped to conclusions like you! Honestly, why would I actively try to drown myself?” she asked with impatience.
“You tell me!” he shot back, eyes bright with fury. “Who the hell goes around trying out some newly classified plant by themself in a potentially life-threatening situation? Talk about stupid.” “Rose’s lips drew into a thin line and her eyes narrowed dangerously as anger bubbled up from the depths of her stomach.
“Maybe if you weren’t such a pathetic partner and actually helped me once in a while! There are meant to be the two of us in this Tournament!” she screeched in a high-pitched, aggressive reply.
Scorpius’ eyes hardened drastically at the accusation.
“How am I meant to help you when you don’t tell me what you’re doing? You are utterly impossible.”
“And you’re completely useless,” she snarled back.
“You’re beyond infuriating,” he commented before he pulled her body hard against his and met her lips in a kiss of anger, desperation and impossible passion. Their lips duelled together as much as their previous words had, fighting with each press, stroke and pull at the mouth of the other.
They moved together with harsh speed and rough movements in the aftermath of their furious argument, still mindlessly channelling their frustrations from the past few days through the intimate moment.
A tiny whimper sounded in Rose’s throat as he continued to kiss her deeply, his hot lips speeding furiously across hers as one of his hands cupped her neck tightly, stroking the sensitive skin behind her ear as the other grasped at the small of her back, keeping her body flush against his.
They surrendered to each other their body and soul as the rawness of their feelings was finally thrown into the open, and starkly confronted by both. She threaded eager fingers through his messy blonde hair, fisting and grasping the fine fair strands it as if to keep herself anchored; anchored to him.
The other hand pressed firmly at his back, soaked by the previous water, leaving it to rest coldly against his warm skin as if there were no fabric barrier. His lips left hers as shockingly quickly as they had arrived, leaving her gasping for breath.
“I thought I infuriated you?” she asked, breathless.
“You do,” he shot back, his voice rough, “you really, really do. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want you so much that it’s driving me crazy.”
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