End of April
Rose and Scorpius were walking to the library when they ran into her mother and Uncle Harry.
“All I’m saying is that people put too much stock in athletes,” Rose held her hands up in surrender. “I appreciate that they work hard, but is it right that a Quidditch player should make more than a healer?”
Scorpius huffed, “It’s all about moral and keeping people entertained.”
“As opposed to healers, who simply keep people alive.” Rose knew that Scorpius was simply arguing because he was bored, but he was dedicated to his side of the argument. Not to mention he had to defend the fact that he played Seeker for Slytherin.
“Don’t blame me for what society has deemed the priority.”
“I am dreading this Transfiguration essay. Animagus transformations are so complex.” Rose tilted her head back and groaned. They were almost to the library and Rose was not looking forward to spending her whole weekend hammering out two rolls of parchment.
The only saving grace was that she had a secret stash of pens that she kept hidden for extra long assignments.
“It wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t have to explain the legal process. I mean, we could do two rolls on the actual transformation prep
alone.” Scorpius scowled, turning his full lips down.
“I wish I had my computer,” Rose muttered.
“What would you need that for?”
“Typing is much quicker than writing,” Rose explained.
Scorpius let out a noise of realization, “Like those enchanted typewriters?”
Rose laughed, “Sort of, but you can do so much more on computers. Hasn’t Al ever shown you his?”
“Uh… no.” Scorpius stated.
Before Rose could remark how oblivious boys could be, she saw the last person she was expecting to see wandering the corridors.
“Mum!” Rose let out a gasp and then realized that Uncle Harry was with her. “What are you doing here?” She hugged her mum tightly. When she pulled back, Hermione and Harry’s faces were grim.
“What’s going on?” Uncle Harry looked between Rose and Scorpius.
For a moment, Rose was embarrassed to be caught with Scorpius. “We were on our way to the library,” Scorpius said, sensing Rose’s hesitation. Scorpius looked between the two adults, who were sharing painful looks. “What’s wrong?”
Uncle Harry put a hand on Rose’s shoulder, “We’re here to see Penny.”
Rose’s heart dropped to her stomach, “Her parents—”
“Not her parents,” Hermione said softly, “Her cousin.”
Rose couldn’t help it, she had to grab onto something and Scorpius was the closest thing she could use to hold herself up. He didn’t hesitate in gripping her arm when she put a hand on his forearm. “Oh Merlin,” Scorpius shut his eyes. “Have you told her yet?”
“McGonagall just called Eliza and Penny into her office, we were just heading up.” Hermione said.
Rose couldn’t imagine if one of her cousins died. “How?” She choked out.
“There was an attack in a muggle village.”
Scorpius squeezed Rose’s arm, “We have to go see her—”
“You’ll get a chance, but we have to talk to them first.” Harry insisted. “You should go back to your common room and wait there. I’m sure both Penny and Eliza will need some time together without prying eyes.” Rose wanted to say that Penny would want them to be there for her.
Her mother must’ve seen the argument in her eyes, because Hermione quickly said, “Rose, go on. I promise Penny will come find you when she’s ready.”
Scorpius began tugging on her arm. Rose might’ve been willing to argue with the Savior of the Wizarding World and the Minister of Magic, but Scorpius was not so bold. “C’mon, we shouldn’t hang around. She might want to be alone for a while.”
“On your way,” Hermione stared at her daughter pointedly. “And keep this to yourself until Penny and Eliza are ready to tell people.”
Rose wished that she had more time to speak with her mum, and grill Uncle Harry on the latest developments, but they were gone before she could. Rose stood in shock for several minutes. Her parents had lost many friends during the last war, but Rose never imagined that anyone she knew would die early.
“Rose,” Scorpius gently turned her to face him. “You should go back to the Gryffindor common room and wait for her there.”
“Where are you going?” Rose asked nervously. Her voice still sounded scratchy and her eyes burned as she held back tears. She wasn’t going to cry in front of Malfoy.
“Back to my common room, I suppose. I think Al has the map, so I’ll have him keep an eye out for Penny.” He stared at her for a moment longer and Rose thought that he might try to hug her. Instead, he stepped away.
“Wait,” Rose reached out and grabbed his arm. “What do I say?”
Scorpius frowned, “There’s not a script. Just be there for her.”
And then he did hug her and she revelled in the contact. He was tall and warm and smelled like a burning fire. “We’ll catch up on the essay later.” He muttered into her ear and then backed away. Was it her imagination or were his cheeks turning red?
It took everything Scorpius had not to insist that he escort Rose back to Gryffindor tower, but he didn’t feel like being shot down. Rose would never allow him to enter Gryffindor’s common room and if she did, then anyone there would know something was wrong.
There were students meandering through the halls, but none paid any attention to Scorpius. He shrunk a little when he saw Tanzy sitting in the common room. He didn’t really want to field her questions about why he was so sad.
But he couldn’t ignore her when she waved to him.
“Hi, where were you? I looked for you at dinner,” Tanzy moved her magazines so Scorpius could sit.
“I was working on an essay with Rose.”
Tanzy paused, “Did you two have a fight?”
“No,” he said slowly, the question in his voice was unmistakable.
“Oh, you had that look on your face… like you want to punch someone.” She spoke with caution. “If it wasn’t Rose, then what happened?”
Scorpius didn’t respond for several moments. He thought about what Hermione said about letting Penny tell people in her own time.
“I can’t tell you. It’s not about me.”
Tanzy pulled away and frowned, “Does Rose know?”
“Well, yes because—”
“Why are you so obsessed with her?”
Scorpius’s eyes widened and he noted several students awkwardly glance at them. “Excuse me?” He hissed. “You have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Because you won’t tell me!” Tanzy stood up. “When you’re around her it’s like you have tunnel vision!”
“It’s not as dramatic as all that,” Scorpius scoffed, not trying to belittle her, but not understanding how she could think he wanted to be around Rose more than Tanzy.
“Oh yeah?” Tanzy snapped, “What’s my favorite flower?”
Scorpius rolled his eyes, “What’s that going to prove? It’s never come up…”
“Do you know Rose’s favorite flower?” She demanded, her face now bright red and her eyes welling with tears.
Bleeding hearts. Scorpius froze at the thought that popped from his subconscious. He didn’t even realize that he had known that. How do I know that? Tanzy took his silence as confirmation that he did in fact know what Rose liked and her lips trembled. “My favorite flowers are sunflowers, that was even my father’s nickname for me! But you can’t be bothered. And I’m sure Rose knows all about your secrets.”
“It’s not a personal secret that I don’t want you to know! It doesn’t have anything to do with you.” Scorpius insisted. He couldn’t keep up with her train of through or how he was supposed to know anything about her family since she never shared personal details. “Let’s go somewhere more private—”
“Nothing you do anymore has anything to do with me!” Tanzy pulled her hand away when he reached for her. “You’re more interested in your little fued than you are in me. Don’t ask me to stick around while you constantly put everyone else before me!” Scorpius stood up and Tanzy stepped back from his intimidating height.
“I have other friends—”
Tanzy’s eyes became furious, “I don’t care about that. You know that I’ve never been possessive or needy, but every once in a while it would be nice if you could at least pretend like I’m a priority. You’d rather spend time with everyone but me.”
Scorpius’s lips thinned, “You want to talk about neglect? How about the fact that you don’t seem to want to kiss me or let me hold you? I keep trying to be close to you, but every time I take a step forward, you step back.”
“Trying to snog me in the library isn’t you getting closer,” Tanzy whispered.
“I just wanted some heat… anything resembling passion.” Scorpius said, not realizing how true that was until right then. They simply had two different ideas about what relationships should be about. Tanzy wanted to sit and talk and Scorpius wanted action. It wasn’t even that he wanted to jump her bones every minute of the day, but he wanted her to kiss him like she couldn’t stay away.
He wanted to feel close with her emotionally and physically.
“So that’s what you care more about?” Tanzy asked.
Scorpius pressed his lips together. “Yes. I need someone who wants me as badly as I want them. And I want to hear about your family,” Tanzy recoiled, “you have your fair share of secrets as well.”
A single tear fell onto her cheek, “I suppose that’s it then.”
Scorpius let out a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding. An odd weight felt as though it had been lifted from his chest. “I’m sorry, but it’s probably for the best.” Tanzy’s breath caught like she had been expecting him to put up more of a fight. She turned without a word and went to her dormitory.
Although neither of them had been shouting, everyone in the common room had heard. A few students shot Scorpius pitiful looks.
The worst part was that Tanzy had been right… he cared more about arguing with Rose than being with Tanzy. It took Tanzy pointing it out, but Scorpius knew far more about Rose than Tanzy and somehow Rose actually confided in him.
Penny sat alone for hours after speaking with Mrs. Weasley and Mr. Potter. No matter how many times they insisted on her calling them by their first names, Penny couldn’t imagine calling the most important people in the world ‘Hermione’ and ‘Harry.’ Sometimes it was hard to believe that she was friends with Rose and Al and…
Penny smiled when she thought of James, but it didn’t reach her eyes.
Her eyes were irritated and red from silently crying.
The Astronomy Tower was the most beautiful place at Hogwarts. Other than the Quidditch Pitch. Penny loved going to the Astronomy Tower and lying on the mats to look up at the stars. She loved London, but there was nothing that compared to the clear skies of the countryside.
She was so lost in thought that she didn’t hear the footsteps coming up the stairs until the person said her name. “Penny,” James sounded relieved. “What are you doing up here?” Penny didn’t move to sit up or look at him.
“Thinking. How did you find me?”
James came and sat next to where she lay, sounding out of breath like he had run up all twenty flights of stairs to get to the tower. “I saw you on the map. I thought you might be doing homework, but you’ve been up here for hours. I kept waiting for you to come to dinner... ”
Penny folded her hands on her stomach and looked at the constellations, “I needed time to think. Some time alone.” James reached over and brushed stray hairs out of her face.
“Have you been crying?” He was clearly surprised. When she didn’t respond, James lay down next to her and balanced on his side so he could look at her. She didn’t want him to see her like this, but she couldn’t bear for him to leave. It felt nice when he stroked her arm and kissed her temple in an attempt to make her feel better.
“My cousin died last night,” She said after a while.
James’s breath caught as he was lacing his hand through hers. “I’m so sorry….” he sounded like he wanted to say more but wasn’t sure what would help.
Several tears fell from Penny’s eyes but she didn’t make a noise or move to brush them away. She just took several deep breaths because if she sobbed anymore she would throw up. Her stomach couldn’t handle the grief anymore.
“She was killed… by those—those bastards.” Penny whispered.
James jerked upright, startling Penny. “Sorry,” he muttered and then lay back down, wrapping her in a crush embrace. “Was your cousin a muggleborn or…”
“She was a muggle. From my mum’s side.” Penny put a hand over her chest like that would stop her heart from beating erratically or the bile from rising up her throat. “It was a wrong time, wrong place sort of thing. I’m sure it’ll be all over the papers tomorrow.” Penny let out a choked laugh.
James didn’t say anything for a long time. He held her and kept his arms wrapped tightly around her shoulders and cocked one of his legs over hers. She revelled in the contact and gripped the front of his shirt, burying her face in his shoulder.
“This shouldn’t be happening.” James mumbled. “You shouldn’t have to go through the same shit our parents went through.”
“You dad spoke to me for a little,” Penny said.
James looked alarmed, “What did he say? Was it wise and profound ‘Savior of the World’ stuff? He didn’t tell you any embarrassing stories from my childhood, did he?” Penny let out a short laugh, which had no doubt been his goal.
“We talked about random stuff. He knows what it’s like to lose family tragically… obviously.” Penny felt a little stupid telling James about his dad’s backstory. “Unfortunately, I didn’t get any embarrassing stories about you.” Penny pressed a kiss to his jaw.
“I was sure he would try to make you feel better with stories of my running around naked.” James grumbled.
Penny pulled back from him, “Wait, why would he tell me stories about you?”
James looked like he was about to be in trouble, “I told him we were dating.”
Penny’s eyes widened and he seemed nervous. “You told your dad about us?”
A defensive look passed over his features, but he spoke softly. “Is that wrong? You’re important and I care about you.” Penny’s initial shock over his admission faded. In truth, she was a bit surprised that Mr. Potter had said anything about it to her when they were talking. Of course, that might’ve been because Eliza was sitting there and he had to be aware of James’s previous fancy.
“No, I just wasn’t thinking. You haven’t seen them so I didn’t think you’d have the opportunity to tell your dad.”
“I write to my parents every week.” James told her.
For some reason, Penny was surprised. She had always imagined James as someone who would push away from his family name and try to subvert the world’s expectation. She thought of him as somewhat of a rebel.
“That’s sweet,” she leaned over and kissed his cheek.
“Are you going to see your parents soon?” James trailed his fingers up and down her back. “I’m sure you could get off for a few days and spend some time at home.”
“Eliza is going to write them—or she already has. I don’t know what I would say.” Penny’s throat clogged. “I don’t know what I’ll say to my aunt and uncle… Tamara was 19, barely an adult in the muggle world.”
“They’ll catch the people who did.” James said with complete confidence.
“Your dad said it was hard to track because the attacks are totally random and disorganized. The group doesn’t have a purpose… they only want to stir up fear and hate.”
“Which means they’ll up,” James said reassuringly.
Penny closed her eyes, “After how many more people die?”
James sat up and wrapped his arms around her midsection from behind. He nuzzled his nose into her hair and she settled back against him. Penny wanted nothing more than to cuddle and kiss her boyfriend, but it felt wrong to be happy. And she didn’t want to use snogging as a strategy to avoid grief.
“What time is it?”
James smiled into her hair, “It’s nearly ten o’clock.”
Penny turned around so quickly she almost elbowed James and looked around as if she was expecting a professor to jump out and bust them for being up past curfew. “Merlin, I had no idea how long it had been! How are we going to get back to Gryffindor Tower?”
James smirked, “It hurts that you doubt me.” He reached into his bag and produced an antique cloak.
“You brought your invisibility cloak!”
James shrugged, “I had to use it to get up here. Don’t worry, with the cloak and the map, we’ll be able to make it back to the common room without a problem.” He helped her stand and then kissed her forehead before wrapping them in the cloak around them.
James was right that with his secret weapons, it was easy to get around the castle without being discovered. When they arrived in the common room, almost everyone was asleep. Rose was sitting in front of the fire alone and she looked rather terrible.
“Penny!” Rose jumped up when they came through the portrait hole. She looked taken back by the sight of James. “Jamie, what are you doing out?”
“I saw Penny on the map,” he saw without any more explanation. Penny knew that James was trying to protect Penny, because she had wanted to keep their relationship under the radar for a little while. He wouldn’t do anything in front of Rose, but Penny had the sudden urge to kiss him.
It seemed silly to want to hide their relationship when there were so many more important things happening.
Penny turned towards James and pressed her lips to his mouth softly. When she pulled away he was smiling and Rose was staring at them like they had turned into Horntails. James squeezed her hand and then went up to his dormitory with a quick ‘goodnight’ to Rose.
Rose looked at Penny with wide eyes, “Um… something you want to share?”
Penny touched her lips, “James and I have been dating for about two weeks.”
Rose gasped, even though it couldn’t be too much a shock after seeing them kiss. “Two weeks? Why didn’t you say anything?” Penny sat down next to Rose and soaked up the warmth of the fire.
“I wanted to have some time without the rumors.”
Rose grinned, “That’s great! And it’s serious?”
Penny shrugged, “We haven’t exactly had a chat about what we mean to each other, but I think it’s serious. We’re not just messing around.”
Rose bit her lip like she wanted to say more. Penny couldn’t imagine Rose being disappointed with her and James dating. “I ran into my mum and Uncle Harry today,” Rose said quietly, at last.
Penny’s breath caught and her eyes began to burn again. “They told you?”
Rose nodded hesitantly, “I don’t mean to pry. I waited for you to come back, but you never did.”
“I went to the Astronomy Tower. I didn’t realize how long I had been up there.”
Rose took Penny’s hand, “I was worried when you didn’t come back with Eliza.”
Penny didn’t know what to say about her cousin, Serena’s death. She couldn’t remember the last time she had seen Serena and now felt guilty for not spending more time with her cousin. It was tricky since her cousin was a muggle and they weren’t able to hang out while Penny was away at Hogwarts for most of the year.
“Is there anything I can do?” Rose asked.
“No,” Penny whispered. “She’ll never graduate university or have a family…”
“Penny, you know we’re here for you, right? Me and Al and James… and Scorpius, we’re all here with you.”
Penny paled thinking about everyone knowing the details of her family’s tragedy. “Do Al and Scor know?” She didn’t want looks of pity as she walked down the halls and it was inevitable that her friend group would be the center of attention. They always were, even without recent events. Between Al and Scorpius being among Hogwarts’ fittest boys and then Rose and Scor’s tumultuous relationship, everyone watched them like a reality show.
“Scorpius was with me when I ran into my mum and uncle.” Rose said hesitantly.
Penny was momentarily distracted from her sadness. “What were you doing with Scorpius?”
“We were going to study.”
Penny couldn’t help but let out a sniffly laugh, “I guess the end times really are here.”
Rose nudged her playfully, “We needed to work on an essay.”
“We’re not animals,” Rose scowled, “we are capable of controlling our emotions.”
Penny snorted, “Since when?”
Rose didn’t respond, but Penny was glad to hear that her friends were finally getting along. No doubt it would blow up in some spectacular fashion, but in the meantime they could all spend time together. Penny was going to need all of them in the upcoming weeks. And now that Rose knew about her and James, they could move their relationship more into the open.
“Tell me about you and James,” Rose said excitedly.
Penny told her about the Quidditch game and then events that followed in the Hospital Wing. “But we actually kissed the first time over Christmas break.” Rose let out a girly squeal and Penny shushed her so that no one else would wake up.
“Five months ago! I can’t believe you didn’t tell me!” Rose flung herself back into the couch and covered her eyes in disbelief.
They stayed up talking for at least another hour, before they retreated to their beds. Thankfully, their roommates were already asleep and Penny didn’t have to explain why her eyes were puffy and red. She was grateful that Rose and James had sought her out, despite her initial instinct to be alone.
She dreaded the stares that would come after tomorrow’s papers arrived and she fell asleep wishing that she could stay in bed all day.
“Everyone is staring,” Scorpius let his head drop into his hands. He was sitting with his friends at the Gryffindor table and was trying to melt into the table. Penny was sitting next to him and Al and Rose were across from them.
Penny patted his shoulder with mock comfort.
“How did it get around so quickly?”
Al gave Scorpius a dumb-founded look, “Maybe because you had a row right in the middle of the common room?” Scorpius was so glad that not many people got up early on Saturday morning, but even still, news of his breakup with Tanzy had spread throughout the castle overnight.
The only good thing that came out of it was that Penny was mildly distracted and people were more interested in Scorpius’s lovelife than the recent attack.
“Do you think she hates me?”
Rose leaned forward. “Didn’t she break up with you?”
Scorpius shook his head, “I dunno, I think it just sort of spontaneously imploded and we both walked away.”
“What a shite way to start the weekend,” Penny murmured, picking at her muffin. She hadn’t eaten anything, even though they had been in the Great Hall for almost an hour. Scorpius wanted to press Penny about her feelings, but sensed that she wasn’t ready to delve into it.
Albus gave her a sympathetic smile, “Have you seen Eliza this morning?”
“I went to see her this morning… it’s strange, but I think we’re feeling…” Penny paused like she couldn’t grasp the correct word.
“Like you’re in shock?” Rose offered.
Penny frowned, “Like I should be more upset. Maybe I would feel better if I just curled up on the floor and sobbed for a week. Is it weird that things seem sort of normal?”
Scorpius wrapped an arm around her shoulder, “I think that’s what shock is.”
“Uh-oh.” Albus muttered into a cup of tea, glancing towards the Great Hall’s entrance.
Scorpius saw Tanzy come in with several other sixth year Slytherins. She pointedly didn’t look at him and he couldn’t be sure if she even saw him. At the very least, she was decidedly not looking for him, keeping her eyes pinned to the floor and then sitting with her back facing towards the rest of the Great Hall.
“What did you two fight about?” Penny asked.
Scorpius didn’t risk looking at Rose, worried that his eyes might betray something. “We just have different priorities. She didn’t think I paid her enough attention and I felt like she didn’t want to open up.”
Rose scowled, “She was mad at you for spending time with other people? ‘Cause it seemed like you tripped over yourself to chase after her.” Scorpius didn’t pay attention to her words, so much as her tone. She sounded jealous. Like she was upset that their feud had taken a backseat to his relationship attempt. Tanzy and Rose should talk and then maybe figure out that he had done his best to balance both endeavors.
“It just wasn’t a good fit.” Scorpius was truly disappointed that their relationship hadn’t lasted more than a few months. He had worked up so much courage to ask her out and desperately wanted to make her happy. “We weren’t as good together as I thought we would be.”
“I suppose everyone has one relationship that just doesn’t work,” Penny said diplomatically.
“I know you’re disappointed mate, but it’ll work out for the best.” Albus reassured.
Rose smiled into her goblet, “At least it wasn’t an all around bad night for romance.” She gave Penny a teasing look and then hid her grin in her drink.
Scorpius and Albus gave Penny questioning looks, because obviously they were missing something. “Who are you dating?” Albus demanded, clearly upset being left out of the loop.
Penny picked at her muffin, “Um… well, I’ve actually been seeing,” she paused and braced herself, “James.” Scorpius’s fork dropped out of his hand and clattered against the table.
Albus started choking on his own spit, “What?” He wheezed. “You and James? Together? Snogging?”
Penny rubbed her temple, “Yes.”
“And this happened last night?”
Rose snickered and Scorpius had a feeling this news was about to get even more shocking.
Penny folded her arms, hugging herself protectively. “For a couple weeks.”
“Weeks?” Albus’s jaw flopped open.
“Since the Quidditch game.” Penny told them. “Don’t you dare make fun of me. He’s a good person.” Scorpius was very confused about how this had all come about because last he checked, Penny and James didn’t spend much time together outside of Quidditch. And whenever they had interacted outside of Quidditch, Penny was chastising him for chasing after her sister.
“I know he’s a good person,” Albus argued. “I just didn’t know you even liked him… as a friend.”
“It’s been good and I like him.”
“Since when?” Scorpius blurted. “You fell for him in the middle of the Quidditch game?”
“It gets better,” Rose laughed. Penny shot her a dirty look.
Penny recounted how their relationship had developed since Christmas and Scorpius could see he wasn’t the only one in shock. And while he thought Rose was enjoying the drama a little too much, he was grateful that the spotlight was off of him.
Albus buried his face in his hands and laughed, “This year is the most batshit year of my life.”
“What about Eliza?” Scorpius couldn’t help but ask. “Does she know about this?”
“Not yet,” Penny admitted, “she’s been feeling down lately and I don’t want to add to it.”
Scorpius could see why Penny hadn’t wanted to telegraph her relationship with James. It wasn’t exactly a good look for her to start dating a boy who had been obsessed with her sister. Scorpius had to wonder what Penny saw in James that made her want to try a relationship. Perhaps it had just been the sexual tension. But what did Scorpius know? He had never seen them interact in a casual manner.
“Speak of the devil,” Al grinned as his brother, who looked like he had just rolled out of bed.
James strode towards the group and sat down next to Penny. Scorpius couldn’t be sure, but he thought he saw James squeeze Penny’s leg under the table. It seemed to be a comforting gesture.
“How are you feeling?” James asked Penny quietly, no doubt trying to draw Penny into their own conversation. But Al, Rose, and
Scorpius didn’t resume talking with each other and instead watching James and Penny expectantly.
After a few exchanges, James seemed to notice that the others were staring at him.
“What are you staring at, you dolts?” James asked accusingly.
“You,” Albus laughed. “Tell us if you’re going to start snogging.”
“Shh!” Penny hissed. “We don’t want the whole school to know, not yet.” Scorpius thought that was rather impractical considering
James looked ready to kiss her right there. James looked at her longingly, as if he was desperate to hold her.
Scorpius was a bit jealous of the heat that existed between them.
“You finally told them,” James said teasingly.
“Well, once Rose knew it was only a matter of time.”
James grinned devilishly, “We could give the rest of the Hall a show.”
The rest of breakfast was uneventful. Penny didn’t eat, James attempted to cheer her up, and Albus looked amazed by Rose and Scorpius continuing to co-exist peacefully. Scorpius hoped that the rest of the year would continue on this boring trajectory. There was no need for anymore exciting events.
A/N: Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think about the latest developments.
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