Everything was a foggy haze. After leaving Scorpius’, I meandered down the road back to where I was staying, thinking. My mind had no idea where to go. It somehow ended up back on Scorpius’ kiss every time it wandered.
What the hell had just happened?
I tried to replay it over in my head. How furious I had been the last few days. My heart beating rapidly when Dad told me what he’d heard from Mr. Malfoy. Pure fear as I ran through the trees. The stinging of cuts on my skin. Scorpius pushing his sweatshirt into my hands. Kissing me. Kissing me again.
He told me he fancied me.
Looking back, I suppose I should have seen there was a different attachment there. When he pushed paint with his thumb across my jaw I should have known that was not regular friendship. I wouldn’t do that with any bloke I was just hanging out with. But with Scorpius, it seemed so natural. I had no reason to think anything else.
He fancied me. Scorpius Malfoy fancied me.
What did that mean?
Who sodding cared? At this particular moment, I didn’t.
I moved up the steps, darkened by the rain, and into the rental. The kitchen was empty and I spotted a trio of mugs in the sink. Dad had brought my painting in as promised and placed it on the center of the table with the box of paints and brushes. I stared at it for a long moment, eyes scanning the colors and the mixtures. I’d left Scorpius’ canvas there after instructing him to sign it.
Something was missing.
I grabbed the painting and tugged it back outside. It was chilly now, so I was thankful for the warm sweatshirt against my shoulders. I secretly couldn’t stop smelling it, which made me feel like a creep. Oh well. No one was around. I’d smell the shit out of this shirt.
I tapped the brush into a mixture of yellow and orange and began spreading it against the previous highlights on each tree. They hadn’t been bright enough. They blended. They let the fog take over. The darkness.
I kept my tongue between my teeth as I painted, careful to use the sunlit trees to my left as guidance. But the colors. Those were from the sunset. From Scorpius’ painting. Something I now associated with him.
After a quarter of an hour I stepped away from the painting. I stared. That is what I always did. Took a step back and just looked for a while. Maybe trying to spot a flaw or something I could improve upon. This time I just stared. Then I packed up the paints and brushes and headed back inside.
“Apparently when you leave you come home with new clothes,” Dad noted. He was at the sink washing out the mugs. “Not quite your style.” He smirked.
I blushed a little, but busied myself with organizing my paint box. “I finished the painting.”
He looked out the window. “How about a hundred fifty Galleons?”
“Sold,” I said with a teasing laugh.
“Did you work things out?” he asked, placing each mug into the drying rack.
I thought about that for a minute. What the correct answer would be. What would be appropriate to tell my father.
“I did.” I nodded and locked the paint box, sliding it onto the table by the door. “I think everything will be all right. Eventually.”
“Ah.” He tossed the dish rag onto the counter. “I take it they haven’t left.”
“They haven’t,” I replied, attempting to hide the grin. I could feel my face begin to heat up. “We’re going out tomorrow. Is that all right?”
“Did you just ask me permission?” Dad made a face that showed he was quite impressed. And was trying to think of just what to do with this newfound power.
“I’m going out,” I explained. “I just wanted to make you feel better.”
“Just avoid Hugo,” Dad said, pulling me into a teddy bear hug. “He’ll be out and about tomorrow as well. I told him I’d drop him off in town and he could walk his happy arse back.”
“Good to know he’ll probably stay the night rather than walk back.” I chuckled and kissed Dad on the cheek.
“Go take a shower,” he muttered. “You smell like rain and Malfoy.”
When I went to sleep, I figured I would just wake up and find something decent (and decent-smelling) to wear before Scorpius arrived. That wasn’t entirely the case. After Hugo burst in to harass me of going on a date (thanks, Dad) I washed my face and stared into my closet.
What was I supposed to wear?
I knew that this was a typical girl move. I’d done it on so many occasions when I got nervous before a date. Or going to dinner when the guy I had a crush on was sitting at the same table. And as I’d had quite a few Gryffindor crushes, this was unfortunate. Usually, though, I had Dom. She would walk over to the wardrobe, grab a cute outfit absently, and throw it at me. Hard.
She would also take great pleasure in my discomfort and suffering. Everything seemed to come much easier to her.
I looked like an awkward mess dressed in kittens as I stared at my clothes. I wasn’t prepared to go on a date. I thought I’d spend the better part of thirty days in sweats, gym shorts, t-shirts, and kittens. I wasn’t anticipating spending time with anyone other than my family. Especially a fit boy who wanted to take me out.
Something told me the tank-top with one burn hole from when I was fourteen was not going to cut it today. The only dress I had was dirty. Ugh.
“Need some help?” Mum stuck her head in the door. “Your father’s big mouth alerted me.”
I chuckled and pulled the door the rest of the way open. “You don’t think he’s going to give Scorpius some rubbish intentions talk, do you?”
“Who would get more pleasure out of that? Him or you?”
I thought about watching Scorpius squirm and blush. I mentally agreed it would be me.
“Let’s see.” Mum’s fingers moved over the clothes I had hanging in the closet. She kept her expression indifferent until she came to the end. “Come on.” She grabbed my hand and pulled me into the hall.
“Pretty sure I should be getting ready,” I noted.
“You’re your father’s daughter,” Mum said and tugged me up the stairs and into the master bedroom. Their bed was neatly made with white blankets and everything was placed perfectly about the space. Dad had nothing to do with that. And Mum was right, considering I had books, clothes, and paint brushes scattered around my room.
She opened her closet and pulled the dangling chain to illuminate the space. Mum hadn’t brought too many outfits, but enough to pick from. “Let’s find something for you to wear.”
At least Mum didn’t wear ugly things with shoulder pads.
I was surprised at the selection, to be honest. I’d only seen her in a few casual outfits over the last couple weeks. I went through cute silk tops, a thick, knit sweater, and some plain t-shirts.
“Why don’t you try this?” Mum held up a black top with small crystals sewn into where it would lay across my left collar bone. She pulled a skirt with black and white vertical stripes from her dresser. “Casual, but worthy of a date.”
“When was the last time you went on a date?” I took both items from her and vanished into the bathroom.
“Your father takes me out more often than you’d think,” she replied.
I remembered Hugo walking in on them snogging. Gross.
“Okay,” I replied, pulling the skirt up over my hips. “What if it’s going out with a boy you’ve already been friends with and you don’t want it to be weird?”
Mum snorted with laughter. For a while. “You mean like after ah, almost seven years of knowing each other?”
“Then how was it not awkward?” I said defensively.
“Just be yourself,” Mum said. “You don’t need to be anyone else.”
I looked at myself in the mirror, mind wandering back to the boutique with Scorpius. The word ‘beautiful’ on his tongue.
After walking back into the bedroom, I spun and Mum caught me, pulling me into a hug.
“You look lovely,” she said, kissing my forehead. She tossed a pair of black flats to me and smiled. “There. You’re all set.”
I guess I didn’t need Dom after all.
Scorpius arrived when he said he would and to my delight, he looked positively nervous as he knocked on the back door. I pulled it open and was met with a small bouquet of wildflowers. Purples. Pinks. Greens. Oranges. Beautiful.
I grinned. “Hey,” I said.
He choked back a few words and nodded. “You look great,” he said eventually, wiping a little sweat from his brow. Clearly this was a situation Scorpius had not found himself in on a frequent basis. Not that I had, but his parents must not have calmed him down first.
I couldn’t say he didn’t look good, though. He paired his usual khaki trousers with a blue and white striped collared shirt. The sleeves were rolled up to his elbows and he nervously fidgeted with them as I filled a vase with water.
“So where are we going?” I asked with a sheepish smile.
Might as well milk it.
“Scorpius!” Dad cried, bursting into the kitchen.
Scorpius looked positively petrified.
I shot my father a look. “We’re leaving now,” I told him.
“Just a moment.” He grinned like an idiot and nodded to one of the kitchen chairs. Scorpius sat down obediently. “So. Scorpius. You’re taking my daughter out. You know, after spending our entire family vacation with her. My vacation with her.” He narrowed his eyes.
Scorpius stared. He blinked once or twice.
“Where will you be taking her?” Dad asked.
“Into town, sir.”
I almost snorted with laughter.
“Who will be paying for this adventure?” he asked.
“I will, sir.”
Dad needed to stop. But I wasn’t going to stop it.
“When will you have my little turkey home?” Dad asked.
“Before dark, sir.”
Dad slid into the seat across from Scorpius with a very serious expression on his face. Oh, Godric, here it comes. “What are your intentions with my daughter?”
Scorpius’ jaw slacked and I couldn’t help it – I burst out laughing.
“No, really,” Dad said, now laughing as well. “I’d like to know. Just so I can sleep at night. Or discuss a few Ministry methods with your Uncle Harry.” He shot me a grin. “Did you know they used to string you up by your thumbs at Hogwarts?”
I nudged him with my hip. “Come on, Scorpius. You don’t have to tell him your intentions.”
“He does so!” Dad said with a pout. “I’m sure those thumb-hangers are on backorder so I’ll have to get them soon.”
I rolled my eyes. “His intentions are to take your daughter on a nice date.” I looked at Scorpius. “And apparently sweat a lot.” I smirked. “I’ll be back before it gets too dark.”
“Too dark or dark?” Dad asked. “There’s a difference.”
“Pretty sure I’ve been back well after midnight during the vacation,” I said. “Too dark if I want to watch a sunset.” I grinned, grabbed Scorpius’ hand, and tugged him out into the sunlight. Then of course I burst out laughing yet again.
“That’s not funny!” he said, shoving me playfully. “I was seriously scared!”
“Yes, sir, you were!” I giggled. “You mean you didn’t have five hours of tranquil fishing to prepare for it?”
“Skipped that step today,” he grumbled, leading the way down the drive to the winding road. “Hell. I’ve never had that happen before.”
I thought about how many occasions he might have to meet the parents of a girl he was seeing. I briefly wondered if he’d met Danielle’s parents and frowned.
“No,” Scorpius said.
“No what?” I looked around. Had I missed the conversation?
“No, I didn’t meet Danielle’s parents,” he explained.
“Did I say that out loud?” My face was hot almost instantly. Great. Now I sounded like a jealous woman. I would make Dom proud.
He chuckled and pushed some hair away from his forehead. “You didn’t,” he said. “But at least now I know what you were thinking.” Scorpius slipped his hand back into mine and continued on with a shy smile. It was cute.
“Hmm?” He began to swing our arms.
“What’s your biggest fear?” I asked. It certainly couldn’t be the squid.
He pressed his lips together, rolling them like he had on lipstick. It was silent far longer than I expected it to be as we moved around a bend. I began to examine the wildlife closely, picking out shades of green. Jungle green was prominent here, whereas I could never find a use for it as a child.
“Dying without living,” Scorpius said and I jumped, having nearly forgot he was thinking.
He nodded. “I think that is my biggest fear,” he replied softly, eyes on the gravel before us. “I want to do everything I can. I don’t want to leave a stone unturned.”
I wasn’t sure how to respond. I had said storms. It seemed trivial in comparison. “Are you sure you’re not a Ravenclaw?” I asked.
“Full of logic?” he asked. “Hardly.”
I thought about his comments before. Throughout the entire vacation. About satisfaction and happiness and the general dreaminess that followed in his wake.
“Are you happy?” I asked.
This time he replied almost instantly.
“Yes,” he said, grip tightening on my hand. “That I’m certain of. I don’t do anything that doesn’t make me happy, at least in the tiniest bit.”
We were silent again. My mind kept wandering. He was so sure of everything. He had an opinion, a set goal. He knew what he wanted.
I knew very little about what I wanted.
“Do you have to turn over every stone to be happy?” I asked after a while.
“I don’t think so,” he replied in a somber way. “But I’d like to try.”
“I would too,” I added softly, determined to believe it.
Scorpius passed the first diner, the one we’d originally been to on our first visit, and continued down the street. We’d been chatting for the better part of a half hour about art. When I got started, it was hard for me to stop. When we entered the town, I was on a long rant about contemporary museums versus traditional ones. He kept snickering. Probably because he knew I was bonkers for being so passionate about one thing.
Especially considering most girls in my year were either passionate about Quidditch, the boys who played Quidditch, or the fashion that would get them asked out by said boys who played Quidditch. Dom fit into all three.
I expected to turn into the second diner, only to have Scorpius pass that one as well. When he turned around the side of the final shop, however, I knew where we were going.
I didn’t say anything, though. Pink-faced, I let him lead me up the ladder and onto the roof where we’d watched the sunset.
What I didn’t expect, however, was what was up there.
“Make yourself at home,” Scorpius said. His face was a little red too, but he wore a brilliant smirk. He even motioned his arms for the full effect of what he’d done.
On the roof was a large orange blanket sprawled out as well as a bottle of wine, two glasses, and a small basket. In front of the blanket, toward where the sunset would be, were two easels. Each had a square canvas, white, and between the two was an assortment of brushes, paint, and pallets.
“I know I’m building it up a bit,” Scorpius started, watching me, “But I figured we’ve done so many other amazing things that it had to be special.”
I was having a difficult time wrapping my mind about what he’d done. I thought about the previous blokes I’d dated. I didn’t have to think about Lysander because his version of a date was eating the unpopped kernels of popcorn and scrunching up his face to get them to pop in his stomach. Or so he assumed.
This was something out of a movie. A book. Something I was definitely unfamiliar with.
He cut into the silence again. “I got the stuff from the gallery across the street,” he said. “Leonard lent it to me. He’s a chap.”
I finally nodded a little, coming to my senses. “Wow,” I got out. My throat felt clogged.
“You like it?” he asked.
He looked like a kid on Christmas morning, bouncing on the balls of his feet.
“I do.” I nodded again, trying to verbalize it. I couldn’t. I just kept staring at the colors of paint and the canvases and then to the bottle of wine. I cleared my throat. “I don’t know how my painting will look after that.”
He chuckled and uncorked the wine with ease. “Abstract,” Scorpius replied. “And you can donate it to those contemporary museums you know so much about.” He shot me a tiny wink and handed me a glass. “Cheers.”
The liquid was pinkish. I swirled it a bit. “To what?”
“To me officially fearing your father,” Scorpius said, clinking his glass to mine before taking a sip. “Now quit looking awkward and bloody sit down.”
In the basket was a simple dinner of sloppily prepared sandwiches, pasta salad, and cold mashed potatoes. I barely noticed. Instead, we took advantage of the never ending bottle of wine and just talked. It was a relief. A sense of relaxation. Though on more than one occasion we heard someone taking their garbage out down below and had to shush each other repeatedly, eventually dissolving into laughter.
We talked about life and happiness and the embarrassing things my dad had done in the past. We talked about classes and our friends and he did a strangely accurate impression of Professor Longbottom. After that, we talked about fishing and waterfall-jumping and how strange clothespins were.
By that time we’d had a few glasses (bottles) of wine.
Scorpius topped off our glasses, yelping as he spilled some on the blanket. “No way,” he said, shaking his head so pieces of hair flew onto his brows. “There is absolutely no way that clothespins are better than paper clips.”
What conversation were we having?
“Yes, they are,” I insisted. “In the same way that Gryffindor is better than Slytherin.”
“Treason,” he said, throwing back the glass of wine.
“How can it be treason if I’m not a Slytherin?”
“Well, you ought to be,” Scorpius said. “With all the sneaking out and general brilliant-ness that’s been happening lately with you.” He winked in a devilish way.
“Except I won’t use any means to achieve my ends,” I teased, feeling rather smirky.
His head tilted, watching me. He looked almost somber. “If by ends you mean shagging me, you’re out of luck, Juliet. I don’t take off my clothes for Gryffindors.”
I blushed instantly, but then my brows furrowed. “I recall a moment in a shed where you were nearly stark naked.”
Scorpius laughed. “I don’t recall what you’re talking about at all,” he said.
I poured some more wine into my glass. “What are we doing, Scorpius?” I asked with a laugh. “This date has been derailed by alcohol and you staring at my lips more than my eyes.”
“Caught that, did you?”
“You weren’t hiding it.” I shot him his own wink in return.
My back hit the roof hard when Scorpius kissed me, wine flying out of my hands. My fingers tangled into his hair, gripping it as I returned the kiss. Nothing about it was soft and tender. It was fueled by pink wine, heartbeats, and hormones. When his teeth grazed my lip I pushed him back, barely able to breathe.
“Sorry,” he said, laughing a little as he moved back to his side of the blanket in a hurry. The back of his neck was red.
“I’m sorry,” I corrected. “I shouldn’t have winked at a seventeen-year-old boy.” I playfully winked again and he went redder.
I liked that about him. That there were moments his face lit up like a strand of Christmas fairy lights and there were other times he could be smarmy and full of himself. A sense of sensitivity under his exterior. I wondered how many people knew about that. Or how many people he wanted to know.
“Well, I got this stuff for a reason.” Scorpius motioned to the canvases and paint. “We may as well get our hands off each other and put them to good use.”
For once, I disagreed with that logic. But that was because of my empty wine glass.
And that his blush made me want to kiss him. When was the last time I’d seen a guy blush before Scorpius? Even my brother wasn’t one to let his embarrassment show on his face.
I watched him take a pallet and squirt some oranges and reds and whites onto it. Then he grabbed a flat-ended brush and dabbed it between two colors. He seemed to work in a hurry, his body a silhouette against the dying sun.
I scrambled to my feet, realizing why Scorpius was working to mix colors in a rush. The sun was setting to the west and the sky was exploding in vibrant shades of color.
“Caught on, have you?” he asked with a laugh.
I ignored him and began mixing colors, my gaze turning to the sunset every so often. I began to smear the brush against the rough canvas over and over again. I added in new colors. I created a seamless variation from the platinum of the sun to the hazy pinks near the top.
“You’re brilliant,” Scorpius said.
I looked over. “What?”
He nodded to the painting. “You just went into this crazy zone and came out with that. It’s wild.”
“It’s not done,” I insisted, grabbing a few greens and the black and mixing them. “Don’t look until it’s done.”
“Mine’s done,” Scorpius announced, hip-bumping me to the side so he was also standing in front of my painting. Then he leaned over, his nose inches from the canvas, and stopped. “Is this what you wanted me not to do? Look?”
“Get out of the way,” I said, elbowing him, though he didn’t budge. “I have a foreground to paint.”
“Forget the foreground,” Scorpius whined. “I want to kiss that concentrated look off your bloody face.”
“Ever the romantic,” I muttered and shoved him away. One lesson he had to learn was not to come between me and a painting.
I began brushing in the trees that lined the sunset and all of their bushy branches. It didn’t take long, just a few strays on each side, a lot of dark shadows since the sun was coming from the other way, and one or two scattered leaves. I stepped back, placing the brush handle between my teeth as a habit.
“See? Brilliant,” Scorpius said, moving next to me.
I couldn’t disagree. It wasn’t horrible. Okay, it wasn’t horrible at all. The colors were accurate, the treescape was executed well. It was a good painting. I couldn’t tear my eyes from the setting sun.
His arm moved around my waist, resting on my hip. “Want to see mine?” He was laughing.
Scorpius’ painting was a canvas full of blocked colors, squares placed all over the surface to signify the setting sun. Orange beside red beside pink beside white. Truthfully, it was brilliant. Very abstract, but beautiful.
I wondered if it mirrored his thoughts.
“Ready to sell it to a museum?” he asked.
I tossed the brush into a glass of water by the pallets. “I think I’ll wait on that,” I said, laughing.
“It’s because you didn’t sign it!” he said, grabbing a thin brush and thrusting in into my hands. “How are you supposed to become a famous painter if you don’t sign your work?”
“All right, all right,” I muttered, dipping the brush in the leftover gold and sprawling my name in the corner. “Are you happy? Now I’m certain to become famous and travel the world painting commissioned works of sunsets. Obviously.”
He smirked. “Obviously,” Scorpius agreed, kissing me lightly. “Since Gryffindors are obviously full of adventure.”
“Is that an insult?” I asked, brows raising as I wiggled away from him. “A knock at my lack of wanting to jump a waterfall or find my way through the woods in the middle of the night?”
He paused. “Yes, that was the intention.”
“You’re lucky you’re cute,” I grumbled and stood on my toes to kiss him.
We arrived back much later than ‘just after dark’ as the walk was longer than we remembered. We could have Apparated, as we could have through most of the summer, but Mum would have killed me knowing I could have been seen by the Muggles in the area. So instead we walked and talked and at one point we kept making each other yawn so much I had to push him into the bushes to bloody stop it.
The house was dark and silent when I returned home. Scorpius pressed his lips against mine just off the side of the deck.
“You’re sure you’re okay walking back?” I asked.
“Rose,” he said, “Pretty sure I’ve been doing this for the better part of a month.”
“Good night,” he said. I could see the corners of his lips rising in the reflection from the back porch light. “Thanks for going out with me.”
“Thanks for making up your prattiness,” I said.
“Always keeping me on my toes,” Scorpius muttered, kissing me one last time before disappearing into the trees.
I snuck back into the house, closing all the doors quietly, and flipped on the light in my room. Wow. That was some night. Food, conversation, wine, and painting. I could hardly put it into words. I knew Scorpius wanted it to be grand to make up for being such a jerk before, but I was expecting dinner at the diner and maybe a walk or some cliff-jumping, knowing him.
Not that I was complaining. It could have been miserable and it would still be better than Lysander’s date, which consisted of a cotton rally and dinner at this place that only served cold noodles.
Day Twenty - Two
What the heck time was it? It felt like I was only asleep for a minute or two. The sun was up, but I could tell it had just barely risen. It couldn’t be much later than six and all I wanted to do was sink back into the blankets, but Dad was shaking me.
“What?” I whined, rolling away from him, but he pulled me back.
“Is Scorpius here?”
“What?” I said, opening my eyes to meet his. He looked concerned. “No, he’s not. He left when he dropped me off.”
“And you’re being completely honest?” I couldn’t blame him for asking, especially since I’d hidden Scorpius under the bed before.
I nodded. “Yeah. We got back kind of late and he dropped me off and went home.” I paused, sitting up. “Why?”
“Malfoy is here,” Dad said. “Well, Mr. Malfoy.” He all but rolled his eyes. “Anyway, Scorpius never made it home last night.”
A/N: Happy July! My birthday gift to you this year (on behalf of my own birthday) is this chapter! So I hope you enjoyed it! Up until the end at least... now you probably hate me. Can't blame you.
NEXT UP: The hunt for Scorpius Malfoy begins.
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