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I don't know how long Rose and I simply stood there in each other’s arms. She seemed thoroughly shaken, so as soon as she flew into them and my arms went around her, I then didn't know what to do. I think I stood there in shock for the first ten minutes before I finally started to attempt to decipher the events. Rose was a strong girl; I had no idea what it took to get her so riled up, so seeing her like this really hit home with me. It was a testimony to how upset she truly was.

After she hugged me, I lost all ability to try and wrangle the truth from her. It was a lost cause. I wanted to know, but seeing how upset she was, I knew it would only distress her further. And that was officially the last thing on my to-do list. So I had given up. After I simply accepted that Rose was seeking Malfoy's sympathy, I think I started to rub her back in reassurance. I think I nuzzled my chin into her hair as she balled my shirt into her first. I think that was when I started to smell like her because her tears drenched my shirt.

But I can't really remember. It's all sort of hazy now. I don't know how much time passed from then until the moment when she finally sniffed and made an attempt to move. I don't remember what made me do it, but I scooped her up into my arms and then set her down on her bed. I could tell she hadn't moved so she could go about her day; she had moved so she could sulk more. So I had made the task easier by placing her on her bed. After I did that, I didn't quite know how to continue. I didn't know if I should join her or leave her be? So I think I stood there oddly for a few minutes before I made any progress whatsoever.

That was when she looked at me from her bed feebly, her hands clasped together as she gnawed on the tips of one of her fingers, her sad eyes meeting mine. I gave her a small nod before I said uneasily then, "I'll be out in the living room if you need me."

That was when she grabbed my elbow and how I came to be now standing before her completely dumbfounded. I had forgotten about the door to my bedroom that had been opened when I apparated back, the music that had been turned off that was supposed to be playing. I forgot that I could have completely blown my cover, and at that moment, I did still have the potential to have blown it entirely.

"Where were you?" she had asked.

"I was outside. By the ocean," I added quickly.

She wrinkled her nose in distress. She seemed to be contemplating my answer, trying to determine if my words were true or not. I tried to make my look as pure and honest as I could, even though it was a lie. If I could appear to be giving an honest face, perhaps I could give her little reason to worry. I didn't want her questioning me. If anything, I wanted her to open up to me and tell me what had happened.

"I left my music on and shut my door when I left," I convinced her. "Why?"

She wrinkled her nose. I couldn't tell what exactly her look was trying to say. Was she trying to reprimand me for not being there? Was she wishing I had stayed away for the entire thing? I couldn't read her, but if I could guess I would have said that she was disappointed I hadn't been there for her in her time of need.

She broke eye contact with me so that she could look up at the ceiling. Eyes affixed on the cracks in it, she gave a hefty sigh and tried to beat around the bush. "Just curious," was her emotionless answer.

I tried to work a smile onto my face as I pushed my way onto the edge of her bed. I sat on the edge, feeling the mattress dip with my weight, and her hip slid down to touch my knee. I rolled my shoulders and tried to joke about it, but I found that even I had a serious side. As much as I hate it, there are some times when joking just doesn't cut it and you can't ignore the facts. This was one of those times.

Hell, this entire day had been one of those times.

I had had one hell of a joke-free day with the whole Wizengamot experience and now this. I need a drink, and then I need a full week of nothing but laughter. All of these serious matters really aren't good for my sense of humor; I can honestly feel it taking a heavy blow to me.

"You can answer that question honestly," I said.

"I was just curious," she emphasized again.

She is such a hard ass about some things. I think, in that moment, she just really didn't want to admit that she might have needed me or was relying on me coming in. I could understand why. To her, I was Malfoy, and well, I wouldn't want Malfoy helping me either or to be spilling all of my problems to him.

"No, you weren't," I corrected her. I watched her curl up into the fetal position, and it almost pained me to see her so scared. Rose was never scared in the past. I would watch her be the daring one and climb trees until the bark scraped her knees and hands; I watched her be the one to pounce on a garden gnome at her grandmother's once, the only one brave enough to do so. I watched her be the one to tell the creepy stories for the intention of freaking her cousins out, rather than she be the one being a big baby. Rose was never a baby.

"Listen," I said again, "I don't know what just happened. But you don't have to lie about it. We're here to stay protected. If you think there's a possibility that we aren't safe anymore, then you should say something."

She swallowed and shook her head. I couldn't wait to be alone once more just so I could whip up the further protection charms. I wanted to keep that bastard out, and for an odd reason that I couldn't quite define, I also wanted to keep the Scamander boy out.

She didn't really answer my question. Well, I could tell it took her a while to debate whether or not she wanted to even answer truthfully. Soon enough she answered and I then knew that she just flat-out wanted to change the subject.

"Why are you being so nice to me?" she asked almost painfully.

"Can I not be nice to you?" I asked in a repulsive tone. I didn't really quite know how to go about the situation, but I figured this could be one of Malfoy's more sympathetic and emotional moments. I think I had some wiggle room to be my actual-caring self.

"It's weird," she said bleakly.

"Sorry if the years have changed me," I joked. I was pleased when I could feel a smile work onto my face, and she believed every word I said. When there was silence I thought I could be persnickety enough to add, "And besides. Here, your safety means my safety."

"Of course," she sighed with an eye roll. "That's the heart of it all, isn't it? Everything you want benefits you in some way."

I joked as I crouched down in front of her. "Don't make me look like the bad guy here."

Rose sighed and then nodded. I think I was somewhat surprised when she didn't tease me back. "You're right. Sorry. I know you aren't trying to be rude. You're just using it as an excuse to not show your actual worry for me. Aren't I right?"

I pursed my lips and didn't want to show her how truly accurate she was. She was dead-on. Nailed it.

"That's a lie," I said with no emotion.

"Lie," she stated firmly without a moment's hesitation.

"Mmm-mmm," I mumbled, shaking my head.

"You're the one lying here," she stated again.

Knowing this could on go forever, I simply sighed and gave up. There was no use in arguing it. I couldn't prove it to Rose, so there was no point in winning. I rose from my crouched position by her bedside and wiped my sweaty palms on my jeans. I sighed and said in a more dismissive tone, knowing it would arouse something from her. "Well, then, if you won't tell me what's going on then I'll just assume you're going crazy. Get some sleep; then maybe you'll clear your head."

"I'm not crazy!" she shouted in a defensive tone as soon as I had finished speaking.

"Oh, really?" I tested, turning back towards her in hopes of igniting her urge to tell me what actually happened in here. That way I could feel productive in this case again. After my sitting in the Wizengamot I almost felt as if I had come to a dead end. I had given away all the information I had; now I had a thirst for more.

"You heard it yourself!"

Aha! It was almost the key phrase I needed to instigate something. I turned completely towards her and began a slow walk back to her. I lowered myself onto the foot of her bed as she watched me uneasily. I could finally see it in her eyes. That desperate urge to tell me.

"It wasn't a bad dream." It was somewhat a question, but it was more so a statement. I was trying to pry something further from her.

She then didn't know what to say. She stared at me for a few minutes, and for some reason, I hoped our eye contact would get her to tell me the truth. But she was strong and adamant. I should have known that Rose was stronger than simple eye contact. She realized she had made a mistake with what she had previously said to me. She had dug herself a hole and now she looked as if it were time to bury herself in it. She was trying to find a way to climb out.

She could try to pass it off as a dream again; I believe that she knows I wouldn't accept that. But she was not yet ready to tell me about what had just happened. That much I could tell.

She finally broke eye contact and buried her face into her knees. "Just leave me alone."

I pursed my lips. I wish that you could always know what to do in a situation. I wish that you could go through the event, take only a moment to analyze it, and then know exactly how to act to get a certain reaction. I wish things were that easy, but they aren't. And I'm not good at playing off of people's emotions anyway. I'm good at joking. Leave the jokes to me and everything will be fine, but when it comes to all the other stuff...

Well, let's face it. I suck.

But I think I do know one thing for sure: leaving Rose alone at this point won't get anything done. Sure, it will help Rose figure out what to say to me in the future. But that's not what either of us need right now. I need to help progress this case, and I also want to support Rose. I hate seeing her like this. Having a conversation about this or at least trying to wiggle a conversation out of her is clearly the best choice right now.

"Rose..." I muttered as a sign that I wasn't quite ready to leave.

"Scorpius," she groaned in irritation. I wrinkled my nose at the name, temporarily forgetting, and then I remembered that I was him.

Knowing she wouldn't do or say anything else, I took the initiative. I crawled up to the head of her bed and sat smack in front of her. She was lying on her side in the fetal position, so once I was near her, I sat cross legged and then leaned over my legs. I placed my elbows on the bed and then supported my chin in my palms so that I was eye-level with her. I huffed under my breath, the position making for an odd-speaking angle for me. "Mmmhmm?"

"Go away."

"Nuh uh," I said, and trying to lighten the mood, I took it in a more positive direction. "I'll be bored. I want to play a game."

"And all I want to do is nap, so leave me alone." After she finished, she took the covers and pulled them over her head. Her mess of red hair peaked from the pillow, but I could make out the shape of her face perfectly beneath the peach colored duvet.

I pulled one of my hands away from my face, and with two fingers I grabbed the top of the duvet and peeled it away from her face. She winced and squeezed her eye shut as they began to dilate with the sunlight. Knowing she wouldn't open her eyes, I let the duvet flutter down to her stomach. Then I slowly reached for her eyes. I think she could feel my arm moving close above her, for she wrinkled her nose and tried to press deeper into her bed. She awaited what I was about to do apprehensively, and when she felt the tips of my fingers gently run over the skin of her closed eyes, tickling her eye lashes, she groaned. "Don'ttttt."

But I didn't listen. With two fingers, I opened one of her eyes and she yanked her arms from beneath the covers. She swatted my hand away and then pressed her palms firmly against her eyes. "Come onnnn," I groaned in frustration, and I then continued to grab hold of her wrists and weakly try to pry them away from her face. "Don't be so anti-social!"

"Let me sleep!" she grunted, but I could tell it wasn't in all seriousness. There was a hint of laughter in her voice, and all I wanted to do was see a smile touch her face and hear her laughter.

"You can sleep later," I said weakly in an attempt to convince her.

I managed to pull her hands away from her head, and I pinned her arms by her side so that I could see her face. I could feel her smile beginning to grow; I just had to work up to it. Hoping that my holding her down wouldn't hit too close to home to the events that took place earlier today for her, I pulled my chest over her stomach so that would do the job instead of my hands. Then with my hands I began to tickle her.

She squealed and squirmed, but my weight on top of her was too heavy for her to escape. There was no way she could. Her laughter finally broke free from her lungs, and it rung about the room. It was loud, pure, and whole, and I felt relieved to hear it. I knew everything would be okay after that. When she began to plea for me to stop tickling her, I did and went limp on top of her.

I don't think Rose realized that I was still lying on top of her for a while. I didn't even notice it right away. She lay there simply, trying to gain her breath back. I could feel my body rising on hers as she sucked in deep breaths, my face mushed against the duvet of the bed. I had to make sure I wasn't crazy when I actually felt one of her hands wiggle free from under me, and her palm pressed against the back of my head.

I was surprised and rather taken aback, but I thought before I reacted. I knew that I couldn't show my surprise, for that action had the potential to frighten her away. I knew this was progress, and I only wanted to make sure it continued.

Her hand rubbed my head, and her fingers began to weave through my locks. I lifted myself from her, moved to look her in the eye, and I went to stroke her shoulder in a friendly fashion. I smile reached my face. It also reached hers, but when our eyes met, I think she came back to reality. It faded just as quickly as it had come, and she blinked as if trying to end a dream. She withdrew her hand and shuddered, finally pushing me off of her.

I huffed under my breath. I was all right with returning to her wanting her space. I was simply glad that we had made a decent amount of progress.

I cleared my throat and slid off the bed. I tried to not make the situation awkward, but I wasn't too good in that department either. "I will - uh - let you sleep now."

Rose was much better at trying to make things as normal as possible. In fact, she quite succeeded. She didn't pay my awkwardness any mind. I opened the door and was prepared to leave, but her voice stopped me. A smile came fluttering back, and her voice was joking when she said, "Thanks. Then we'll play Egyptian Rat Screw or something. Promise."

"I'll take your word for it."

"Oh, and Malfoy?" she asked when I thought the conversation was over.


"If you start to like me, I will hex you in your sleep."

I think I didn't quite know what to say after that. I was rather confused. I had never looked at Rose like that before. She was always little Rosie to me. She was the rose I pulled from the sand years ago. But then I remembered I was Malfoy to her. She had snogged Malfoy.

Confirmed Fact #2: That line that separated me from being myself to acting like Malfoy was slowly diminishing. I could hardly see the lines anymore. It was fading into the distance, and it was becoming all too hard to know when to say or do something in particular. I was becoming a mix of myself and Malfoy.

I didn't really know where the comment had come from. I guess it was from the fact that I had just been lying on top of her and tickling her. To me, it had been simply platonic, and now I remembered that I wasn't supposed to be myself, and that made me realize that my actions could have appeared to be different than simply platonic. As I thought about it and was hit with this realization, I didn't know I felt about that. I didn't want her to come to the conclusion that I was getting feelings for her.

But I couldn't just stand there in the door way like an idiot. I would have to say something. So I tried to seem less caught off-guard, and I straightened up, cleared my throat, and said with much assertion, "I'll hex you right back."

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