And so where does my heart, belong
By the time Rose walked out into the pool area, the contest was about to start. The competitors were lined up and waiting and Rose thought she’d never seen so much skin on display. Dominique’s swimsuit barely covered her; Rose knew instantly she’d avoid photographing that particular cousin, just in case Uncle Bill saw his daughter in next to nothing and went on the rampage. It had happened before and was not a pretty sight.
Rose tried to sneak in, hating being late. What she did not anticipate was the strange silence that fell when she made an appearance. The girls began whispering, Roxanne looked at her like she was mad and Rose wished she’d brought her towel, or something, to cover herself. She was beginning to regret her decision. She may as well be naked she felt that exposed.
Scorpius and Hugo were sitting on the bench seat beneath the willow and Rose made her way towards them, heart thudding. She was suddenly cold, despite the greenhouse conditions: warmth from the sun was leaking through the glass roof of the pool area and a sultry breeze blew from nowhere. Goosebumps were dancing over her skin and she knew she was white as snow, compared to the tanned goddesses on the other side of the pool. She knew also that if she didn’t get warm soon, she would start to go blotchy on her thighs.
Scorpius was very quiet as she sat down; unusual for him. Hugo moved up to make room for her and raised his eyebrows as she sat.
“That is hardly appropriate – you’re my brother,” Rose snapped. The seat was hard on her backside and she was unnervingly uncomfortable and therefore, irritable.
“I was paying you a compliment,” he shot back in a low voice. “Learn to take one.”
“No, a compliment would be something like, ‘you like nice, Rose,’ not...”
“Fine,” he grumbled, folding his arms and turning his attention to the other girls. “Forget I said anything.”
Rose sighed, unfolding her note pad and testing her pen, scribbling little swirls across the top of her page. Scorpius shifted awkwardly beside her; Rose noticed he was not watching the contest – he was watching her. Her skin tightened; the goosebumps increased and she shivered.
“Are you cold?” he asked.
“No. Pay attention – the hens are parading, although, in the animal world, it’s the males who need to compete for the females,” Rose muttered. “This whole thing goes against the laws of nature.”
“You’re full of useless information sometimes; you know that, don’t you?” Scorpius said simply, nudging her leg with his knee.
Rose nudged back. “And you’re nothing but a puffed up bantam rooster.”
He pinched her sharply; a warning, and while she jumped at the sting, she said nothing, forcing herself to pay attention to what was going on across the pool. She realised, some moments later, that Scorpius’ leg was still pressed against hers, and she also realised, with a little jolt, that she was no longer cold. He was radiating heat, and even though she knew she should push him away, Rose relaxed, enjoying the warmth and odd camaraderie.
Lucinda Parker was declared the winner of the contest. She made her way around the pool on her ridiculously long legs to collect a kiss from Scorpius. She smiled at Rose, winked at Hugo, and walked away, hips swaying, her tiny bikini leaving nothing to the imagination. After the announcement, no one seemed to know what to do next. The girls were milling about on the opposite side of the pool and Scorpius was silent, chewing his lip, his eyes on the ground at his feet. Rose followed his gaze, noticing her own feet and shins next to his. He was almost as pale as she was, and for some reason, that gave her satisfaction.
Hugo stretched luxuriously, a cat in a puddle of sunshine, all sharp angles and leonine features. “I’m bored. Hey girls,” he called, standing up, “anyone care to join me in the water?”
Rose rolled her eyes as he jumped in; she just managed to save her camera and notepad from the tidal wave that flowed over the edge of the pool. Hugo swam around, splashing water at the girls until, one by one, they gave up their shrieking and cackling and slipped into the water, but Scorpius stayed where he was.
“I thought you liked to swim,” Rose said pleasantly, stretching her legs out in front of her to catch the sunlight that snuck through the branches above them. The heat had made her feel lazy and full and although she had many words to describe how she felt about swimwear contests, she found she couldn’t be bothered sharing them with him.
He shook his head. “Normally, yes.”
Again, Rose wondered what was wrong with him. The Scorpius she knew would have been the first one in the water; he would have swam around, grabbing girls, perhaps trying to kiss some of them, laughing and grinning like the child he usually was.
“Not getting in?” he asked her, just as Hugo swam past and saturated them both from the waist down. It was Scorpius’ quick thinking that saved her equipment this time and Rose took her camera and notepad back from him gratefully.
“No need to get in now,” she said waspishly, glaring at Hugo across the pool. He shrugged an apology and swam off after Melody. “I think I’ll go inside and get dry.”
“I’d have picked you, you know, not Lucinda,” Scorpius stated, his voice low.
“You...what?” Rose stammered; her hands were shaking, an involuntary action, and she thrust them in her lap. What was he doing now?
Scorpius nodded, reaching over to poke her in the ribs. “You should have entered, instead of sitting around teasing me.”
Rose opened her mouth but nothing came out except a strangled gasp. Scorpius laughed lightly.
“You’re practically indecent, Weasley, in that thing.” Like a fourteen year old boy, he flicked the strap of her bikini top, jumped up and dove into the water. Rose watched him a moment, stunned, before scooping up her belongings and practically running from the pool area.
Up in her room, Rose’s heart was still pounding ridiculously fast. She could not believe he’d even noticed her when they were surrounded by such beauty. She shook her head, slipping out of her bikini and into dry clothes. Perhaps he didn’t; he was probably just trying to get a rise out of her, as he normally did. And what did she do? Sit there gaping like a fish, her brain unable to conjure up any suitable insults.
“Good one, Rose,” she snapped, flinging herself face down on her bed. “Idiot, idiot, idiot.”
After dinner that night, Scorpius did what his mother asked and eliminated Dominique. Roxanne could not keep the glee from her face, smiling radiantly at her cousin. She was not the only one – Dominique, it appeared, had not been too popular among the contestants. She was a direct threat, Rose could see that. Tall and slender, Dominique looked like she would float away on the lightest breeze. There was an ethereal quality to her features, a fairy face, and her eyes were such a light blue there were almost unnerving. She radiated glamour and sophistication without having to try. Dominique could sit languidly for hours and appear the perfect picture of demure femininity. She looked sweet and innocent, but Rose knew, as did Roxanne, what lurked under the surface. Fiercely possessive, competitive and stubborn, she would be a challenge for whatever man was insane enough to marry her.
Dominique got up from the table graciously, collected her trunk and made her way to the front door, where a car was waiting to take her to the main gates. From there, she would disapparate home.
Rose caught her at the door. “I’m sorry,” she mumbled, feeling guilty. Dominique smiled, reaching up to smooth back her luscious curtain of strawberry blonde hair.
“Don’t feel bad, Rose. You were right, earlier. I don’t want to be here. Scorpius is an immature child; it’s better if I go,” she said, still smiling. Rose knew what it must have cost her to be so composed. Dominique did not like to loose anything, especially a competition over a boy.
“See you soon, then,” Rose said, smiling. Dominique gave her a shrewd look.
“Perhaps; maybe you’ll be Lady of the Manor,” she said simply.
Dominique laughed at Rose’s shocked face. “Come on. I saw you two, by the pool, and I’m not the only one. You’d better watch out – some of those girls are nutters, that Melody in particular. She’ll probably put a bubotuber or fanged geranium in your bed. Oh, and Roxanne has a nasty left hook; can you still see my bruise? I think I fixed it up rather well.”
“No, you can’t see it and you’re crazy! I cannot stand Scorpius!” Rose was flabbergasted. She felt hot all over.
Her cousin only grinned. “There’s a fine line between love and hate, Rosie.”
“In this case, it’s a canyon,” Rose snapped, folding her arms. Her cousin didn’t say any more but Rose did not like the smugness of her expression. “Just Owl me when you get home, alright?” she added, always the mother hen.
After Dominique had gone, Rose realised Roxanne’s chances had improved – eight girls had been sent home, and Roxanne, as far as Rose could tell, had been sailing through all the tasks. Rose sighed. She didn’t think she wanted Scorpius Malfoy as a relative and she was pretty certain Uncle George didn’t want it either, although he’d be set for jokes for years to come; family dinners would definitely have more appeal if she got to witness Scorpius being ruthlessly tormented.
Rose rubbed at her eyes, deciding she may as well sleep. It was not late, but there was nothing else to do. The girls were given the evenings to themselves and on those occasions, they usually spent their time in their rooms, alone. This was not the sort of contest that fostered friendships. Rose thought briefly of Lucinda; she’d not had the chance to interview her after she won the swimwear contest but figured she’d take the time to do so tomorrow.
Dressing for bed, Rose found her thoughts straying to Scorpius, and to the ridiculous things Dominique had said. Okay, she had to admit he was alright to look at, but the moment he opened his mouth she wanted to slap him. She was sick of the games he played with her – it may have been cute when they were fourteen, but definitely not now. They were adults; at least, she was. She could not speak for Scorpius. Rose also had to admit she liked Draco and Astoria. Both had surprised her – she was not expecting wit or charm from either of them; Draco was smooth and careful, while Astoria seemed very open and not afraid to say what she was thinking. Rose liked that. It reminded her of her mother.
Rose had almost succumbed to sleep, embraced by the cloud of doona, when her door opened. She grasped her wand, lying beneath her pillow where her father had told her to keep it, especially while in Malfoy Manor. She stopped breathing as a body slid into her room, nothing but a shape that was immediately lost in the darkness. She was about to shoot first and ask questions later, when the shape spoke.
“Rose? You awake?”
She fired a shot at him anyway. “You idiot, Hugo. I could have really hurt you.”
“You nearly did! What are you shooting at me for?”
“What do you want?” Rose hissed, not in the mood for his stupidity. He hesitated, before sighing and illuminating the room with a sharply muttered ‘lumos.’ Uninvited, he climbed onto her bed.
“I’m worried about Scorpius.”
“You woke me up to tell me that? Hugo...” Rose sighed, pulling her legs up to her chest and wrapping her arms around them. In the weird half-light she could see her brother chewing his lip, a sure sign that he was really concerned and not just here to annoy her. “I must admit he looks like death at the moment, and he has been acting...odd, for Scorpius that is. Most people would call his behaviour normal.” Her joke fell on deaf ears; Hugo got up to pace the room.
“He’s not sleeping.”
“Oh for Merlin’s...okay why isn’t he sleeping?”
“Don’t know; bad dreams, or something,” Hugo murmured.
“Bad dreams?” Rose repeated and Hugo nodded. “How bad?”
“He didn’t sleep last night at all; he told me he just walked around his room all night, trying to stay awake,” Hugo answered quietly, his voice not much more than a whisper.
“Did he tell you about these dreams?” Rose asked, curious despite herself. She didn’t care much for Scorpius, but Hugo was her brother and if carefree, happy-go-lucky Hugo was worried then it must be a serious matter.
Hugo hesitated again, before casting Rose a quick, almost skeptical look. “In his dreams, Scorpius is convinced he is his grandfather.”
“Lucius? But that doesn’t make any sense,” Rose murmured, pulling her bottom lip between her teeth.
“I know,” Hugo replied, coming to sit on the edge of the bed once more. “Rose...” he began, in a tone she knew and hated. It meant he wanted something. “You’re smart, right.”
“Can you...I don’t know. Put him to sleep?”
“You want me to sing him a lullaby?” she snapped, pushing at her brother with her foot. Hugo caught her toes and squeezed and she pulled her foot free and kicked him harder.
“Ouch! I’d never inflict that sort of torture on a friend. I meant with magic. Please?”
Rose let the insult slide; she was used to them from Hugo. “Why can’t you do it?”
“I offered, but he won’t let me,” Hugo mumbled and Rose sighed. Stupid, stubborn Scorpius. Hugo would probably die for him, and he didn’t realise it. “Do it for me?”
“Only so you go away and let me sleep,” she growled. She had to admit, these dreams of Scorpius’ were intriguing and she wanted to ask him about them herself. She had never heard of such a thing, never come across it in her wide reading and it was certainly never mentioned in any classes at Hogwarts. She recalled the dream she had had, nights earlier. It had not revisited her, and she had not thought about it again, but she remembered now: the horrible sense that something was wrong, and she was powerless to stop it. And Scorpius; why had he been in her dreams in the first place? It seemed too coincidental, but Rose could think of no reason why she would dream of him in danger. She remembered also that Uncle Harry had always told them to listen to their dreams, to not ignore anything, because it might be important. Rose shook off the strange feeling building in her gut and turned her attention back to her brother. “Where is he?”
“His room,” Hugo grinned. “I’ll take you.” He lunged forward, dragged her out of bed and spun them both around, disapparating them across the Manor in an instant. Rose clutched the wall for support, slowly opening her eyes.
“How did you ever pass your tests?” she gasped. The door she was looking at was much the same as the one for her room and she had the sudden suspicion that Hugo had played a joke on her. Hugo hugged her; she pushed him off, struggling for air.
“Thanks, Rosie. See ya,” Hugo winked, and vanished.
“Hugo!” Rose hissed into the darkness. What did he expect her to do? Simply walk in and pull out her wand? “Oh for the love of Merlin, this is ridiculous.” Rose chewed her lip, waiting, hoping that Scorpius would just open the door without her having to knock, and hoping that no one would find her outside his room. It was late; the Manor was silent and Rose guessed all sensible people were sleeping. Not one to break a promise, even to her moronic brother, Rose sighed, reaching for the door handle. It was unlocked, and she slowly pushed it open. If he was sleeping, she didn’t want to be the one to wake him up.
“Scorpius?” she whispered; the room was cast in darkness. Maybe Hugo had gotten it wrong and he was perfectly fine. Rose stepped further into the room warily. “Malfoy?”
There was movement on what Rose assumed was the bed. She blinked, waiting for her eyes to adjust. When they didn’t, her impatience got the better of her and she held out her wand, illuminating the room. It took a minute for Rose to realise what was going on – Scorpius was indeed in bed, and he was not alone. The blood drained from her face; fire shot from her toes to her cheeks and she knew she was blushing already.
The figures on the bed disentangled themselves hurriedly. Rose saw the stunned, beautiful face of Lucinda Parker and the equally shocked face of Scorpius. She didn’t hang around, turning and bolting out the door, hoping that in the semi-darkness neither had been able to recognise her. From down the hall, she heard their voices, his angry, hers pleading, and seconds later he was out in the hall.
“I should have knocked, I’m sorry,” she blustered, turning away as he pulled his shirt over his head. Face burning, Rose hurried from him, not knowing or caring where she was going.
She was going to kill Hugo; that much was certain.
“Where are you going?” Scorpius caught up and grabbed at her arm, his fingers brushing her skin.
“Away from you,” she snapped, not knowing why she was so angry. Her cheeks were hot, her breathing short and she wanted to punch him. She shook herself away from him, folding her arms, realising she was wearing nothing but her pyjamas. She felt naked, exposed and strangely vulnerable.
“What did you want?” he said quietly. His hair was falling into his eyes and sticking up at the back; his lips were plump, his breathing still erratic and Rose closed her eyes momentarily, trying not to think about what he had just been doing. She could sense him waiting, watching her, and she opened her eyes, giving him the glare her mother said would boil water.
“Apparently you’re not sleeping,” Rose snapped; the colour drained from his cheeks. “But it seems like you’re doing just fine to me!”
“Hugo told you?” His voice was low, pained, and she nodded, surprised out of her anger by his reaction. He appeared almost scared, wary, and she suddenly wanted to know why.
“He’s worried about you.”
Scorpius smiled and Rose had the unfathomable sense he was about to say something to infuriate her. “You must be too, to come to my room in the middle of the night.”
“I didn’t realise you had company,” she replied with heavy sarcasm. “Shall I make an appointment next time?”
Scorpius tipped his head on the side, studying her. “Why are you angry? Is this because of what I said -”
“You’ll have to be more specific, Scorpius; you say a lot of things that make me mad.”
His face softened suddenly. “Or you’re jealous.”
Rose backed away a pace. “In your dreams, Malfoy.”
He grinned triumphantly. “You are. You’re actually jealous. I can’t believe it.”
“Believe what you want,” Rose said coolly, not liking the way his words sounded in her head. They sat there, messing with her common sense and taunting her. She bit her lip; he was just teasing her again, that was all. There was no way in Hell she was jealous! He was still grinning and she growled. “Get out of my way.”
Rose stormed past him; he caught her arm this time, swinging her around until her back was pressed against the wall. She experienced a moment of panic when he stepped closer to her, and then, it passed and Rose was aware of something that frightened her even more: he had never been this close to her before, and she liked it. She could see every line, every delicate line, on his face; every eyelash and every tiny speck of colour in his eyes. His hair hung across his forehead and she wanted to reach up and brush it away. He was more real like this, more human, so close and so exposed. Her mouth went dry.
“Rose...” Scorpius inched closer, closer, until his body was touching hers. Rose was hyper aware that his chest was pressed against hers, that his hips were in line with hers, and that his leg was wedged between her knees, pinning her to the wall. He was only an inch or two taller, though he had always seemed more. The hair stood up on her arms and she shivered – he was so close it was painful! She clenched her fists, mortified that her body, of all things, was betraying her so completely. She hoped he couldn’t tell; she’d never hear the end of it.
“You should get back,” she managed to say; it hurt to talk. “It’s not nice to leave a lady waiting.”
“I can always ask her to leave,” he said simply.
“That would be rude,” Rose found herself saying weakly.
She nodded. “Most definitely. There is nothing worse than a man who doesn’t finish what he started.” The moment the words were out of her mouth, she regretted them. Scorpius gave her an odd look; Rose saw surprise, confusion, contemplation and finally, something she thought could be desire. She had never spoken to him like that before and was horrified she had done so now; especially now. She took a deep breath, lifting both hands and placing them against either side of his heart, feeling the firmness of his muscles and the broad plain of his chest through his shirt. She could feel his heartbeat under her fingertips; so rhythmical and alive and warm and something in her blood stirred, something deep and as equally alive, feral and wild. She swallowed.
His hands tightened on her waist, fingers burning her through her clothing, branding her. “I don’t want her,” Scorpius whispered; there was frustration in his voice now, and his eyes bored holes into Rose’s head. “Don’t you know?”
“Know what?” Rose gave him a little shove and he stepped back. Her body screamed in protest, howled with indignation, and she ignored it, taking a deep breath and racing away down the hall before he could speak again. She knew it was a childish thing to do, but she had to get away from him. She could feel him looking after her, and she bit her lip, the urge to turn back to him so powerful it was like a thing with claws inside her head.
In the morning, she could not look at him, and two girls were absent from breakfast. Elspeth Avery had vanished, leaving all her belongings behind, and Isobelle Thomas was found minutes later, unconscious on the floor of her room.
Chapter title from the song, Undenied, by Portishead.
Thanks for all the reviews and favourites guys - I really appreciate it.
Edited 19.10 for new chapter image and correction of some typos.
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