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Having an excuse to try and make Scorpius’s life hell was the best thing that had happened to me all year.

I was having entirely too much fun plotting ways to make him look like the jerk I knew he was. I’d had trouble falling asleep after the captain’s meeting due to the onslaught of witty insults that crept into my head. It was just so easy to find ways to make him mad. I’d found this out firsthand, when he’d dated Pippa in our sixth year.

At first it had been a sort of game: I couldn’t very well insult him outright while he was Pippa’s boyfriend, but I’d heard enough about him to be wary. I made him think it was all in fun, all the names and jibes and whatever else I did to him. And the great thing was, it all paid off last summer, when Scorpius sent Pippa a letter saying he’d found some girl on holiday and snogged her senseless.

At least, that’s how I read it. Pippa wasn’t quite as dramatic about it – sent off a quick breakup letter without so much as a how-do-you-do and that was that. She’s fine with it now, but I still can’t get over what an arse he turned out to be. Added to the fact that he is, in general, arrogant and annoying, there’s a lot to loathe.

I carry a lot of chips on my shoulders. They keep me company.

The next day’s Potions lesson drew my mind from the subject of verbal abuse, however, despite the fact that Scorpius had that class at the same time. The distraction came in the form of Julian Murdock. Who was, unfortunately, Scorpius’s best friend, but a boy can make mistakes.

There is something about the dungeons that makes Julian Murdock look even better than normal. I don’t care if he is a Slytherin – he is every kind of hot.

And this is why my grades are slipping.

Professor Slughorn stood at the front of the classroom before a large cauldron, which was emitting some kind of pea-green smoke. I’d already forgotten whatever it was we were supposed to be making, because Julian had positioned himself right in my line of vision today. It was hard to concentrate on elixirs when I was watching him brush his hair out of his eyes. Pippa had already had to elbow me several times just to keep me somewhat focused.

“And so,” Slughorn said now, clapping his hands together and rubbing them briskly. “Each of you should divide into pairs and begin working on your Wound-Cleaning Concoctions. To work, then!” Pippa popped a Drooble’s bubble loudly next to me, and I jumped.

“Come on,” she said, rolling her eyes and grinning at me. She knew exactly what I was doing – it was what I had been doing ever since first year. Back then, of course, I hadn’t known what a git Scorpius was, and so becoming smitten with Julian had been perfectly sane.

Now, of course, I slightly regret the fact that I’m still hopeless over his best friend. But, again, I suppose a girl can make a mistake now and again.

Pippa dragged her cauldron over to the space between two desks, and I sat down, taking out my textbook and ingredients. I really hoped Pippa had paid attention, even through all her gum-smacking, because I didn’t even know what page Wound-Cleaning Concoctions were supposed to be on, much less how I was supposed to make one. But she was glancing somewhere behind me and, turning in my seat, saw her eyes locked with Al’s.

As if I needed to lose my breakfast.

“Hey,” I hissed, poking her in the side with my wand when Slughorn had turned his back. She gave a small yelp and whipped her head back around, hitting me full in the face with her long black hair. I gave her the same sort of withering scowl I’d bestowed upon Hugo the previous day.

“Stop ogling my cousin,” I said fiercely, scooting the cauldron a bit closer in an attempt to look like I was working, “and help me out here.” Pippa rolled her eyes.

“Please,” she said, with a rather undignified snort. But she flipped right to the Wound-Cleaning Concoction in the textbook, and I breathed a small sigh of relief. My daily Potions grade was saved. Pippa had pulled me out of many a sticky spot – unfortunately, sometimes literally – in this class.

While she kindled the fire under the cauldron and began shredding fairy wings on the desk, my eyes roved back to Julian, who was sitting next to Scorpius across the aisle and three desks up. It was the perfect spot to watch that adorable little crease between his eyebrows as he studied the book. This was arguably my favorite thing about him, although choosing my favorite part of Julian Murdock is like choosing which finger I’d choose to save if the other nine had to be cut off.

I’d probably choose my right thumb, if you must know. Hugo broke it once by slamming it in the door, and I feel it’s had its share of misery already.

Subconsciously I scooted forward on my seat, edging sideways slightly so as to get the perfect view in the dim light the dungeon offered. He had the most attractive hands in the history of forever – all long and thin and white, and the way they clutched his quill as he scrawled something down on a scrap of parchment made me swoon.

I don’t think a body part on that boy is unattractive. Unfortunately, I can’t say for sure about all of them. Maybe someday…

“Rose, hand me that little vial of fluxweed,” Pippa muttered, blowing a large blue bubble and scowling in concentration. The liquid inside the cauldron was a mustard sort of yellow, which frankly wasn’t pleasant at all to look at. Without looking, I reached around and thrust the bottle in her general direction.

My hands met something thin and sticky, and instantly there was a loud crack. Pippa and I were instantly covered in spidery strands of Drooble’s, our mouths hanging open.

Scorpius and Julian whirled around to see what the noise was, and I was embarrassed to find that I was still gazing rather avidly at the latter. He raised one eyebrow slightly and turned back to his desk. My eyes slid over to Scorpius, who was now doubled over with silent laughter.

He was so in for it tonight at practice.


“Tut, tut,” Professor Slughorn said, after a little pause to evaluate the noise. He waddled over, smiling maddeningly behind his walrus mustache and wagging a finger in reproach. “I see some of you haven’t been concentrating too hard on your potions! You have thirty minutes left to complete them, you know, and I don’t think I need to remind you that this is your N.E.W.T. year?”

He winked at us, as though he’d just let us in on a very good joke. I think I missed the punch line.

“Come, now, clean up these sweets and try and make a dash at it,” he finished, patting my shoulder a bit heavily and moving back off through the dungeons, hands clasped behind his back. I crossed my eyes at him and began to work to get the Drooble’s out of my hair.

Pippa was mumbling sourly under her breath, rubbing furiously at the long blue strings of gum that now covered our desk and cauldron. My eyes slid over to Julian again, who hadn’t turned back around since he was startled by the bubble popping. He was writing something on his parchment again.

I honestly think I could watch him write forever, that beautiful human specimen.

Something crashed into the side of my head at the moment, but it was so light it didn’t hurt. I reached my hand up and snatched a tiny airplane, folded from parchment, out of the air, where it had been bewitched to fly at me. Pippa was now bent over the potions book again, working furiously to make up for lost time. I snuck the airplane into my lap without her seeing and opened it casually.

Thin, spidery, totally unfamiliar handwriting covered only one line:

Stop staring at Murdock and get back to your potion, Teaseley.

I scowled, and my head snapped up to glare at Scorpius. His eyes were trained in my direction, and a smirk of epic proportions was twisting his mouth. He pointed at the cauldron significantly, and I crossed my eyes and stuck out my tongue at him. He just laughed irritatingly and turned back to help Julian with their work.

I think I hate that boy.

By the time class ended, Pippa, who had decided not to speak to me for the rest of the lesson, had made a passable attempt at our Wound-Cleaning Concoction. It was emitting slightly blue bubbles every now and again, and I think a bit of the Drooble’s had gotten into the cauldron and messed it up.

But honestly, it really wasn’t totally my fault. It’s Pippa who chews the stuff nonstop. And she was the one who’d blown the bubble at precisely that moment. So really, I’m totally off the hook.

It was only after she’d filled a bottle with the potion and given it to Slughorn that Pippa looked at me. “Honestly, Rose, how you passed your potions O.W.L. is sort of beyond me,” she said a bit wearily, waving her wand; the leftover potion vanished.

“You weren’t next to me smacking away at your Drooble’s,” I said cheerfully, scraping my things into my bag and slinging it over my shoulder. She rolled her eyes and popped a fresh piece in her mouth.

Albus sauntered over, tailed closely by Evan Fredericks, his best friend and another Gryffindor seventh year. He’s decent-looking, but a bit too pimpled for my liking, although Pippa got a bit put out when I told her that. She says I shouldn’t be picky.

But even Rose Weasley has standards, and unfortunately for Evan, they don’t include acne.

“Smooth move today, Rose,” Albus snickered, wrapping his arm around Pippa’s shoulders. She put hers about his waist, and I looked at them in disgust.

“A foot of space in between, please,” I said, placing one hand on each of their shoulders and trying to force them apart, all while totally ignoring Albus. Not that that was new, of course. They both rolled their eyes and tried their hardest to pretend I didn’t exist.

The bell clanged, and in a rush everyone in the dungeons swarmed toward the door. Albus and Pippa swept away, arms still around each other, leaving me to trail them with Evan, who was shooting me covert looks from under his sand-colored fringe as though he thought we should be doing the same thing. I pretended to have a rock in my shoe, and slowed down. He was swept away with the tide of people before he realized I’d bent down.

What the boy didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him.

I wasn’t naturally a vindictive and spiteful person, although I suppose strangers might have been fooled. I might have enjoyed sarcasm more than the average girl, but I grew up with my cousins Albus, James, and Fred, not to mention my own brother, and they emit dry humor like Professor Hagrid’s salamanders emit smoke. Lily and Dominique were my only choices for girl companions anywhere close to my own age, and they were too engrossed in frills and dresses to interest me much.

I am wrongly blamed for my biting sense of humor.

I stood up after making sure Evan was gone, but before I’d even taken two steps further, who should appear at my elbow but Scorpius Malfoy himself. And what was worse, Julian wasn’t even with him to make the scene a bit more pleasing to the eye. I scowled mightily and continued walking, hoping he would disappear the next time I looked around.

“Couldn’t keep your eyes to yourself, eh, Peasley?” he said brightly, walking with a certain spring in his step. I scowled at him from out of the corner of my eye and held my nose a bit higher in the air, trying to look like he wasn’t getting to me just by walking next to me.

“Ah, I love the silent treatment,” he said, grinning. I stuck my tongue out at him again for lack of anything else to do. He raised an eyebrow.

“So attractive.”

“I try,” I said, and gave him what I hoped was a ferocious glare. “Don’t you have children’s lives to ruin?”

“Not until after lunch,” he said. “Aren’t you going to ask me where Julian is?”

“I don’t care where your little friend is,” I said haughtily, tipping my nose a bit further back and looking at him disdainfully as best I could.

“You’d best hope it doesn’t rain,” he said, gesturing toward me. My chin instantly snapped back to my chest and I nearly stuck my tongue out a third time – luckily, I had the presence of mind to refrain. “Anyway, the way you goggled at him all hour tells me differently,” he added, stuffing his hands in his pockets and promptly beginning to whistle.

“Shut up, Malfoy,” I snapped, and without a backward glance flounced away, shoving some people aside as I ascended the steps to the entrance hall. They looked a bit offended, but my pride was hurt, and that trumped offensive behavior any day.

I couldn’t say exactly why Snake Boy’s words bothered me as much as they did, because, if I was honest, he hadn’t really said anything that wasn’t either blatantly true, or any different from his normal behavior. But something about his teasing poked a very raw nerve today.

It was Charms next, and that was all the way at the other end of the castle. Glancing at my watch and knowing I’d be late no matter how fast I ran, I sighed and dragged my feet up the grand staircase. I’d barely cleared the last step, however, when a voice from down below called my name.

“Miss Weasley!” Madam Hooch was marching imperiously up the stairs, clutching a small note in her gloved fist and looking at me directly.

I don’t think that woman ever changes out of her Quidditch things.

“I need you to go to the headmistress’s office and make an announcement about the Slytherin practice tonight,” she said, handing over the note and straightening the goggles perched on her short gray hair. Without quite meaning to, I gave a little groan – Slytherins and Quidditch reminded me of Scorpius. She frowned.

“Without delay, please,” she said crisply. I saluted her.

She studied me a second longer, her yellow eyes narrowed as though she couldn’t tell whether I was joking or not, before finally walking back down the stairs and out through the large double doors. I changed courses, heading for McGonagall’s office, where the public announcement microphone was located.

You’d think in a school of magic, we’d have a better system than a microphone. Granted, we didn’t have to deal with all the plugs and wires and whatever else Granddad Weasley was always so excited about, but still. Microphones.

I quickly let myself into the office, not bothering to let anyone know I was there – McGonagall would figure it out soon enough, anyway, it wasn’t like being an announcer was a quiet job. I flung myself into the desk chair, flattened Hooch’s note on the desk, and tapped the microphone with my wand.

“Attention, all faculty and students,” I said crisply, sitting up a bit straighter although no one could see me. “The Slytherin Quidditch team will be practicing on the pitch tonight at six o’ clock. All members of the team must attend this mandatory practice.”

A sudden idea blossomed in my head, and I paused, gathering my words.

“Students need not be alarmed at the rumors of early snowfall. Measures are currently being taken to treat Scorpius Malfoy’s hideous dandruff. Proceed with caution, and be aware.”

Smiling with satisfaction, I tapped the microphone once more with my wand, and it turned off with a slight click. That ought to teach Snake Boy to keep his pointy nose where it belonged, instead of interfering into my affairs regarding the beautiful Julian Murdock.

I so should have been a Ravenclaw. I positively ooze wit.

A/N: Ah, Rose. She's a lot more fun to write than I anticipated -- as is Scorpius. I think he's my favorite character here! And, while I'm thinking about it, thank you for the incredible reaction that the first chapter received! I couldn't have been more pleased -- you guys are incredible. If you have the time to let me know what you thought of this chapter, too, I'd really appreciate it!

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