For Ramita, who kept on me about finally writing a ScoRose in Rose's POV.
I met Scorpius Malfoy in a boat. We were crossing the lake toward the castle, both eleven, and he told me there was a giant squid below us. I told him I’d heard my dad and mum talking about it. He said that it was literally below us. Then he pointed over the side of the boat. I leaned over, fingers clutching the edge, and spotted a slimy tentacle emerging from under the boat.
“I’m afraid of squid,” Scorpius said, scooting toward the center of the boat.
“I’m not.” I reached into the water, sliding my hand against it. It felt like it looked. Disgusting.
“I’ve eaten squid before,” he announced. The girl in front of us made a face. “What? It’s chewy.”
“And yet you’re afraid of them?” I poked at the tentacle. It moved back under the surface and into the darkness.
“The squid on my plate wasn’t alive,” Scorpius said matter-of-factly. “And it wasn’t bigger than the chair I was sitting in.”
“I thought boys were supposed to be brave.” I settled back into the boat, hands in my lap. At least that was what my cousins had told me. Boys were always brave. Gryffindors were always brave. That only lasted so long until I punched James for teasing me about my moisture-loathing hair and I socked him in the arm. Then boys were criers just like girls.
Or so I thought, as life was pretty black and white as a child.
Scorpius caught my eye in the boat. I could hear Hagrid a few boats over giving orders. Maybe yelling at someone. “Why do boys have to be brave?” he asked.
I faltered. “They’re just supposed to.”
“I think you have it backward,” he replied. The boat docked and the girl in front of us got out, almost falling in the process. “I’ve always been taught it’s girls who have to be brave.”
He shot me a sheepish smile and climbed out of the boat. He didn’t look back.
After that, I spoke to Scorpius Malfoy very little over the span of six years. We had a few classes together. He had plenty of friends, girlfriends, and people willing to do what he asked. It wasn’t because of his family or his bullying, though. No, it was because Scorpius Malfoy was charismatic. He smiled a lot. He said thank you. He smirked.
He wore nice clothes, I never saw him in jeans, and he refused to participate in Halloween. At least I never saw him at any of the parties.
Not that I exactly frequented them either as my thighs refused to cooperate with skirts that barely covered my bum.
He worked as an intern at the Ministry and I heard him complain about getting people tea and filing manila folders. But he liked the suits. He always talked about the suits.
I tried not to pay too much attention to him, which was easy since he didn’t do more than meet my eye for six years, but what he said in the boat still tugged at my mind. Bravery. I was a Gryffindor. I was brave by design, right? The hat told me I was brave, and therefore I was. But what made me brave?
I asked myself this question so many times the word began to lose its meaning.
I didn’t do anything particularly brave. I didn’t play Quidditch like James, I didn’t train dragons like Albus, I didn’t begin a black market WWW trading system like Fred, and I didn’t beat off a mugger with a handbag like Dom. I curled up on the sofa and read books. I flipped through fashion magazines. I sang in the shower and pulled weeds in the summer sun.
I saw Scorpius one time over the summer. It was before fifth year and he was shopping for new robes in Diagon Alley. He was silent, stood as they measured him, and nodded a few times. Then he took his three bags and disappeared for the rest of the summer.
That was why I found it strange he was standing in the middle of a creek in the Smoky Mountains with rain boots up to his knees and a fishing net.
My family went on vacation every summer. Usually Mum insisted we go to Italy, as she loved the culture there. One year we went to Argentina. Another we spent in Greece. Wherever we went, Mum explored the culture, Dad explored the restaurants, and Hugo explored the residents of a female variety. He always came home after promising to come back and marry these girls. He was only fifteen, so I’d never understand.
This year my parents decided on the Smoky Mountains in North America. They said it would be just like roughing it, even though we ended up renting a large two-story house in the mountains with a back deck overlooking a huge pond. When it wasn’t smoky, anyway.
One thing was certain: we were quite alone. Hugo hated it. On the first day he whined and stomped around because there was nothing to do. He settled in front of the televisions and mashed buttons on a video game controller.
I went out to explore.
Each day for the first three days I went a little further into the woods. I couldn’t pretend to be able to live off the land, but I wasn’t bad. I learned quickly which plants to avoid (thanks to a rash) and which trees were ideal to climb. It made the day pass faster and gave me time to think. About what? My cousins, the impending seventh year, and my future? A trail of empty thoughts.
On the fourth day I came to the edge of a stream. I couldn’t have been too high, but the water was moving at a quick pace. It lapped at the edges of a downed tree. I slipped off my shoes and socks, placing them on the trunk, and moved into the cold water. It was refreshing to be in the sun again after what seemed like days bathed in the dim light flickering through branches.
I lost my footing, damn near falling in the water, but saved myself on the tree. I grabbed onto it, restoring my balance, and looked up through dark brown bangs.
There he was. Right in the middle of the stream. Black rubber boots. Khaki trousers. Red polo shirt. Messy blond hair. And a net in his right hand. Everything about his expression told me he was just as confused as I was.
“Oh!” I looked down. Jean shorts. Tank top I bought when I was twelve that still fit. “Hey.” The water was spraying up against my knees, but I held my ground.
He stared for a minute. “Am I going to have to be the one to ask what you’re doing here?” Scorpius laughed a little. His teeth were really white.
“I’m on vacation.” I took a few steps away from the tree, but the bottom of the creek was lined with stones. Very uncomfortable on bare feet. “With my family.”
“Clearly.” He motioned, emphasising my being alone. “Where are they?”
“Back at the house.” I nervously pulled my hair up and tied it into a knot. “What are you doing here?” Why was the water so cold? WAS THAT A FISH?
No, seaweed. Creekweed?
“The very same.” Scorpius kept smiling. He swiped the net at the water. “Except I’m assuming your little brother may be able to amuse you. I’m only with my parents. Mum’s sunning herself. My father is attempting to use the grill.”
“A charcoal grill?” I asked.
“The very same.”
I had seen Mr. Malfoy on a lot of occasions. Mostly on the platform to see Scorpius off to school. I’d never seen him without a tie, so the image of him trying to work a charcoal-fed grill was amusing. Scorpius saw my smile and added, “Mum got him an apron that had ‘kiss the cook’ written on it, but it was scribbled out and is now replaced with ‘I can’t cook.’”
“Very classy,” I commented. I glanced around us. The stream curved a quarter mile down and it was flanked by tall trees. I could hear all sorts of wildlife I didn’t trust.
Brave? Yeah right.
“Having a fun vacation so far?” Scorpius asked. He turned his attention back to the water and his teeth tugged at his bottom lip. “I’m not a big fan of the humidity, myself. Sweat is pouring out of absurd places.”
“You look okay,” I said. At least he didn’t have sweat stains on his armpits, which I was certain I did. I made a mental note to keep my arms down.
“Thank you.” He met my eye for a moment and winked.
I blushed. Stupidly.
And then lost my footing on a stone and fell in.
The water was freezing and when I surfaced, my face was the color of his shirt. Very, very red. I must have looked like a fool, sitting up to my shoulders in cold mountain water, staring at the very calm and collected Scorpius Malfoy.
Not to my surprise, he laughed. “Having a bit of a hard time?”
“You could tell, huh?” I hoisted myself out of the water and the breeze made it worse. Thank Godric for wands.
Scorpius immediately turned, facing away, and busied himself with finding fish or crabs or whatever he had in a bucket on the shore.
I looked down. It was because my tank top was now transparent. Today was not the ideal day to wear a lime green bra.
After I was dried and forced the color to move back to normal, I walked down the shore and sat on a small log beside his bucket. I peered inside. It was empty.
“How long have you been out here?” I called.
“Few hours.” Scorpius shrugged.
“How long is a few?” I looked around to see if any creatures had escaped the bucket.
“I heard you,” I said. “Do you think maybe a net might not be the best option for what you’re trying to accomplish?”
Scorpius looked over and then glanced at his net. “And what if I’m not trying to accomplish anything?”
“Then why do it?” I asked.
“Satisfaction.” He shrugged and went back to peering into the water.
“Five hours of that kind of satisfaction? Sounds mental to me.” I was struggling to figure out the point. Five hours in the sun waving a net around into freezing water. Catching nothing. Nope, didn’t understand.
“It would sound mental to you.” He smiled a little and tossed the net up into the mixture of sand and plant particles on the shore. Then he pulled off his shirt and tossed it as well.
I wasn’t sheltered. I had boyfriends. I had Dominique as a cousin and she had more boyfriends than the rest of us combined. But every time a fit boy pulled off his shirt, it was my duty as a seventeen-year-old girl to stare. Right? Of course.
Scorpius was just that: fit. He didn’t play sports, but he didn’t need to. He wasn’t pale, but he wasn’t tan either. He stepped out of the rubber boots and unzipped his khakis.
“What’re you doing?” I said, startled. My face was burning again.
“Getting undressed.” Thank you. I had no idea. Really.
“Is there a reason? Or is this part of your satisfaction thing?” My leg was bouncing nervously.
“I’m hot.” He shrugged and stepped out of his khakis. His boxers were a deep plum purple. “Temperature, I mean. The sun is warm.” He glanced over. “Are you blushing?”
“No!” I cried. All lies, my face was on fire.
“Didn’t you date Lysander Scamander last year?” he asked. “Pretty sure he was naked all the time.”
Truth. Lysander just hated clothes. He was great, smart, and funny. And enjoyed his body being uncovered.
Yes, even at my family’s Christmas party.
Dad threatened his life.
“So what?” I said. “It doesn’t mean I can’t blush. I can’t control it, you know.”
“Sure you can.” Scorpius bunched up his pants and tossed them onto the shirt. “Go on. Have a look.”
“What?” My eyes snapped up again. Oh, hell.
Don’t get me wrong. Scorpius Malfoy wasn’t some Greek God. He wasn’t tall and bronze and beautiful by every standard. Girls didn’t flock to him just for grinning. But hell, my eyes were still stuck on his collarbone and torso and arms the faint outline of muscles.
May not have been a God, but he was very good-looking.
“Feel better?” Scorpius shot me a smirk and submerged himself into the stream. He cringed, then moved all the way under and surfaced, blond hair sticking to the back of his neck. “I know I do.”
“Are you usually this arrogant?” I asked.
“In so many cases, modesty is no more than a white lie,” Scorpius explained with a shrug.
“What? No, it’s not.”
“Am I not supposed to be ambitious to achieve my ends?” he said, eyes on the blue sky. “Maybe I’m just trying to achieve ends here.”
“What are you trying to achieve?” I moved to my feet. My hair was frizzing again.
“Satisfaction.” Scorpius shot me a very arrogant smirk.
“I hope you achieve it then, considering purple is such a good color for you.” I mirrored his smirk, grabbed his pants and shirt, and headed back to the house. At least now if I fell into a stream, I had a change of clothes that looked less like a tween’s mall shopping spree.
“Hungry?” Mum was at the kitchen counter with two wooden spoons, mixing a salad together. Her hair, the same texture, color, and stubbornness as mine, was up and poofing in the back. She smiled. Dad was beside her, attacking the stove with his wand as he attempted to get it to light.
“I am.” I plopped down at the kitchen table, exhausted from the walk back. Most of it had been uphill. I stashed Scorpius’ clothes in the bushes before emerging into the kitchen. “Did you not want to try the grill?”
“Do you trust him with the grill?” Mum asked, making a face.
“So much confidence,” Dad mumbled, stepping back as one of the burners flipped on. “Look! See, I’m practically a professional cook.”
“Very professional, Daddy,” I said with a nod. “Can’t we order out in the mountains?”
“Hugo already asked.” Mum smirked, gave Dad a pat on the bum (eugh), and placed the salad in the center of the table. “There’s nothing wrong with eating healthy.”
“Except it tastes like--” Dad paused, freckled nose wrinkling. “Yeah, well, let’s all live wonderful, healthy lives and bike together and participate in marathons.” He rolled his eyes and started searching for pans. “Your mother wants me to start jogging.”
“Do you even know how to jog?” I asked.
“I’ve heard it’s just walking quickly.”
“Or running slow,” I said, shrugging.
“I’ll take the first.” Dad grabbed a pan and tossed it on the burner. “Rosey, do you know how to cook? Can you teach me? Can I go school Hugo in video games?”
“You agreed to help.” Mum narrowed her eyes. “Get Hugo out here too. HUGO.”
Hugo was fifteen years old. He had fifteen-year-old hormones. Therefore, he was dramatic about everything. This included putting his plate in the sink, putting clean pillowcases onto his pillows, and doing any kind of homework. He shuffled into the kitchen, looking annoyed.
Mum was a professional eye-roller at his dramatics. “Help your father with the chicken.”
“I don’t want chicken,” Hugo announced.
I scoffed. “Well, I didn’t want you, but we don’t always get what we want.”
“Go read a book,” he snapped.
“Go fall off a mountain.”
“And go read a book was?”
“Shut it,” Dad said. “You can both cook and I’ll go snog your mum.” His cheeks tinted pink, but he was grinning. Mum swatted at him. “What? Do you even want to cook?”
“Not the point.” Mum’s face was red now too. I lived in a family of red faces.
Dad leaned over, kissing her in an exaggerated way, prompting another whine from Hugo.
“I would have just stayed in there!” he cried.
Yes, I had given my brother bruises on more than one occasion. Not that seventeen didn’t make me whiny on occasion, or emotional, or annoying, but Hugo took it to an entirely different level.
Mum and Dad told me we weren’t allowed to leave him with Grandmum as she would leave him in the basement and lock him in.
I inquired about what was wrong with that.
The back deck was my favorite part of the house. Half was covered, the other half protruding out from the mountain, overlooking the sparkling pond. There were trees everywhere. I could see up onto the rolling hills of the other nearby peaks. Well, they weren’t peaks. They were just like giant, smoky hills.
They were less smoky now that the sun was sinking. I could see the yellows and oranges reflect of leaves and pine needles. I pulled those colors from my box of pastels and started smearing them onto a piece of paper. I wasn’t very good at painting, but there was something about blending colors I always appreciated. No matter how different things were, they could always be blended in some capacity.
My feet were propped on an ottoman in front of me as I stared at the landscape, trying to calm down after Hugo throwing a fit. He was frustrated Dad got two pieces of cake and he got one. He may have used the phrase ‘I’m a growing boy.’ Funny. When he talks to girls, he’s nothing but a man.
The pastels went flying. The paper flew off my lap and the pad crashed onto the deck below. That, and I damn near toppled over the side of the deck, which was at least five feet down. My eyes snapped over at the voice and I spotted Scorpius Malfoy standing at the very edge. I could only see his head.
Nothing quite like having an almost-naked Scorpius Malfoy surprising you in the evening. I wondered what my friends would say.
“What are you bloody doing here?” I breathed, glancing over my shoulder. No one was on the deck and I didn’t see my parents in the kitchen windows.
“Someone walked off with my clothes.”
“That was hours ago!” I said. I scrambled to grab the pastels before they rolled off.
“What’re you drawing?” Scorpius stood on his toes, but made a face when I snatched the paper up. “Are you any good?”
“I’m all right. What do you want?”
His blond brow arched. “I thought you were smarter than that.”
“I thought you were smarter than to be arrogant to someone who had access to your clothes,” I noted, closing the notebook and placing it on the table beside me, careful not to knock over my iced tea. “Clearly I was mistaken. Did you find your inner satisfaction or whatever rubbish you were talking about?”
He met my eyes. His were a strange grey. Not cold, but the stony grey of a fireplace hearth. A warm color. They were intense, though. Enough to make my ears warm. “I did,” he replied. “And now I want my clothes back.”
Scorpius paused. He glanced over his shoulder and into the woods before turning his attention back to me. “Are you happy, Rose?”
“What?” What kind of bleeding question was that? At least, why is the sky blue had a legitimate answer.
“Well, are you?”
“Sure.” I shrugged.
He looked unconvinced. Maybe I was unconvinced. I’d done a lot, hadn’t I? Maybe.
“C’mon. Let’s leave.”
I stared. “It’s late.” I pointed to the very obvious setting sun.
“I’m failing to see your point.” Scorpius’ voice was dry. “Come on. Just come with me.”
I looked past him. The spaces between the trees were already so dark I couldn’t see very far back into them. The light was fading fast. Even the lamps inside were starting to illuminate the rooms.
“Rose,” Scorpius said as I hesitated. “Just trust me, okay?”
My lips pressed together. “Let me tell my parents I’m going to sleep and I’ll sneak out the window.”
“Want to grab my clothes too?” he asked.
I picked up the pastels, my paper, and the glass of tea and finally looked at him. It was still in the nineties and it had to be almost nine in the evening. I smirked. “You’re going to learn a lesson tonight, Malfoy,” I said. “Trust me, okay?”
He looked down. “You wouldn’t.”
“There’s a lot you’re going to learn this summer.” With that, I headed inside to lie to my parents and hear Hugo talk about hating five television programs in a row.
A/N: I want to thank you for reading this. I've been having a great deal of fun with it, especially since it is VERY different from what I usually write. So I hope you enjoyed it! I welcome comments / opinions!
Bonus points for a shirtless guy in the first chapter. That may be a record for me ...
NEXT: A lake, squid, and Scorpius gets back at Rose.
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