For Jacqueline. Because it's her birthday, and she asked.
The versions of Rose and Scorpius written about here are completely different from and in no way associated with any other versions of Rose and Scorpius I have written about in the past (which now number seven, in case you were curious).
Thanks to Chase for helping with the ending and to Anne for the phrase 'aggressively neutral.'
Internet brownies to anyone who can name the obscure theatrical work the title comes from, and what it's in reference to. Eternal love and adoration if you can get the song out of my head.
He buys her a birthday present when she turns fourteen. He hadn't even known her birthday was coming up until he'd overheard her friends talking about it at a table at The Three Broomsticks. But the next thing he knows, he's buying this rose pendant carved out of carnelian, so fine and delicate that the stone is translucent when held up to the light.
"That'll capture your sweetheart's heart," the shopkeeper says with a wink when she hands over the wrapped jewelry box. Scorpius mutters something about not having a sweetheart and makes a fast exit out of the store.
What was he thinking? How is he supposed to go up to Rose Weasley and hand her a birthday present? Especially a birthday present like this? He and Rose aren't friends. They don't even like each other. So what the hell is he doing with jewelry in his pocket, and what the hell is he supposed to do with it now?
He strongly considers just stashing the necklace deep in the bottom of his trunk and trying to forget all about this crazy moment of weakness, but he doesn't live with the most privacy-respecting group of boys, and what would he say if one of them ever found it? No, the necklace is safest out of his hands, most easily forgotten if he just sends it. So he takes the gift up to the Owlry the night before her birthday and attaches the package to a school owl's leg. He leaves no note, just writes From An Admirer on the tag.
Not that he admires her. He doesn't. But if you give a gift anonymously, that's how you sign it. And if she thinks it comes from An Admirer, she will never in a million years suspect it comes from him. Everyone knows how they feel about each other. And everyone is right. Rose Weasley and Scorpius Malfoy don't like each other and never will. They are rivals, and their rivalry is fierce and bitter.
And so what if Scorpius sometimes wishes it didn't have to be that way? So what if he sometimes wants to find a way to apologize for how he'd treated her when he was eleven and stupid and trying to fit in? So what if there are times when he thinks they could actually be really good friends if she'd just give him the chance?
She probably won't even like the necklace, that's what he tells himself. She'll probably think it's stupid, like, her name is Rose so let's give her roses because that's completely original. She probably won't even ever wear it.
Scorpius's necklace is Rose's favorite birthday gift that year. She puts it on immediately at the breakfast table, and every time Scorpius sees her in the weeks and months that follow, she is always wearing it. She is also as frosty toward Scorpius as ever.
He isn't planning on buying her a present for her fifteenth birthday, no matter how many times he overhears her friends ask in the weeks leading up to the day if she thinks she'll hear from An Admirer again. It's just not worth the risk. After all, the first present was just an impulse buy in a moment of weakness. He's put it out of his head. It certainly isn't going to happen again.
Then he overhears about an incident that caused her a lot of grief – she'd accidentally overturned her inkwell over an essay she was almost finished with. She hadn't known the siphoning spell to get the ink off without erasing her words underneath, and she'd had to write the whole thing over. And when he was in Hogsmeade two days after hearing that story and came across an inkwell in Scrivenshaft's that's enchanted so that it will never upturn or allow the ink to splash out of it, well, what's he supposed to do? Not buy it?
Feeling a little bolder, he writes her an actual note before he sends the package: Because someone as smart and hard-working as you should never have to worry about redoing an essay for something as silly as an ink spill. From An Admirer.
Her friends complain that it's not nearly as romantic as last year's gift, but Rose just touches the pendant at her throat and argues that this means he's thoughtful and he pays attention and he's practical, not just romantic. She can't stop smiling the whole day.
When Scorpius bumps into her in the corridor outside the Great Hall, she huffs at him and tells him to watch where he's going.
He worries a lot as her sixteenth birthday approaches. An Admirer has sent gifts two years in a row; she'll be expecting one this year, and he doesn't know what to get her. He lucked into the first two gifts. He has no reason to believe he'll luck into a third.
But that's exactly what he does. He's walking through Hogsmeade when he passes Rose and a friend, their noses pressed against a shop window. Rose is admiring a music box on display. Her friend is trying to convince her to buy it, but Rose, ever practical, walks away. She doesn't need it, she says, and it's too expensive. Scorpius is in the shop as soon as Rose and her friend have moved on.
That birthday, Rose finally asks the school owl to wait and scribbles a note to send back to An Admirer. Scorpius high-tails it out of the Great Hall as soon as he realizes what Rose is doing, so that when the owl finds him, it doesn't blow his cover. Rose's note contains only seven words.
Who are you? Will you tell me?
Scorpius doesn't reply, but he does keep the note.
A few months later, as their OWLs loom ever closer, Scorpius runs into Rose in the Hospital Wing. He's there because he got in the way of a misfired curse and is growing a pair of horns. He's expecting Rose to fire off some quip at his expense, but she barely notices him as she sweeps out, her face red and her eyes wet. He's pretty sure he recognizes a calming drought in her hand before it disappears into her bag.
The next day, Rose gets a small package at breakfast – a carnelian worry stone – and a note that just says Test season is hard on everyone. Hang in there, and give this a rub when you get overwhelmed. Carnelian is supposed to be good for that. You'll make it. An Admirer.
He watches her read his note, watches her tear up, watches the worry stone slip into one hand while the other goes straight to the pendant she still wears every day, and he finds himself hoping she writes him again, because if she does, he'll write back.
By the time her seventeenth birthday rolls around, they've been corresponding for almost a year. He made her promise in the beginning that she wouldn't try and find out who he is. She promised, and he knows she's been true to that promise because when she interacts with Scorpius Malfoy, she's the same as ever – cold and closed-off and short-tempered and competitive.
But in their letters? She's open and friendly and warm and vulnerable. He feels he knows her now, really knows her, and he feels like she knows him too, the real him, not the person she thinks he is based solely on his name and who he was toward her their first few months at school.
Her seventeenth birthday gift was special-ordered from a magical clockmaker in Diagon Alley four months before her birthday. It's tradition for wizards to be given pocket-watch on their seventeenth birthday, but Scorpius wants to spin that tradition for Rose.
When she opens his gift, a delicate brooch-pin gold filagree watch with a copper rose inlaid on the back, he watches her from across the Great Hall. Of course he does. How could he not? Her reaction is everything he wants it to be, and as he drinks in the letter she writes him that night, it hits him full force that he loves her.
It takes every ounce of willpower not to tell her that when he writes back.
The problem is, he's still Scorpius Malfoy and she's still Rose Weasley, and she still hates him. This whole thing got way more complicated than he'd ever imagined it would when he bought that rose necklace three years before.
His plan for her eighteenth birthday is to tell her who he is. Rose wants to know (she's made that clear in her letters), and Scorpius wants to tell her. But then they get partnered together for an assignment in Advanced Potions, and it becomes clear to Scorpius that Rose's opinion on him has changed very little. When his name is called out after hers, her face goes tight and black, and he thinks he sees her mouth Great. She barely has patience after class to set up a time and a place to meet. It's all he can do not to yell his secret after her, so frustrated is he with her frustration.
He doesn't. He waits for her to write to him, a letter full of complaint and irritation – having to work with Scorpius Malfoy? The one person I truly dislike? What did I do to deserve that? – and he tackles the situation from that directon.
The one person you truly dislike? he asks when he writes back. And what did Scorpius Malfoy ever do to earn such a position in your esteem? It must have been a grievous error indeed, for I've never known you to judge someone harshly or unfairly.
It's Malfoy, she writes back. His family and mine have hated each other for generations. We're not as bad as our fathers or our grandfathers, but the tension and animosity have always been there – and he started it. I was more than willing to try and be friends in our first year, and you know what he did? He laughed in my face and dipped my pigtails in his inkwell.
A first-year was a git? he wrote back. Stop the presses, Rose. An eleven-year-old boy made fun of you, an eleven-year-old girl, when you suggested being friends? I don't honestly think that has much to do with Malfoys and Weasleys. Can you perhaps, for one day, for one interaction, operate under the assumption that he is different at seventeen than he was at eleven? Forgive the inky pigtails and try to judge him on his current behavior?
Slowly but surely, letter by letter, he encourages her to think better of Scorpius Malfoy. And he thinks it might be working. Maybe. She's more cordial to him than she has been before. More polite. But it's also clear that it's not for him.
And then, a week before her birthday, Fate, as she has done so often for him where Rose Weasley was concerned, hands him a gift. At the end of one of their Advanced Potions sessions, the clasp on Rose's necklace breaks. She doesn't notice, but Scorpius finds it on the ground by their table after she has left. He picks it up and pockets it.
Let's meet for your birthday, he writes that night. Let that be my gift to you, or at least part of it. There's a study table in the library, back by the section on the magical uses of gemstones. I'll meet you there at five, on your birthday.
While he waits for the day to arrive, he repairs the clasp on the necklace chain and charms the pendant so that she won't lose it again.
On her birthday, at quarter til five, he arrives in the library, at the specified table, and he just barely makes it there before she does. He's just setting down his bag when a voice from behind him calls, "No, Malfoy, you can't sit there." He turns to see Rose hurrying down the aisle toward him.
"I'm sorry?" he says, willing his heart not to hammer and his voice not to shake.
"I'm supposed to be meeting someone here in a few minutes, at this table specifically, so you need to go study somewhere else."
His chest feels tight, like there's not enough room in it for all the things it's supposed to hold. Because she's here, and she's looking at him, and it's not even occurring to her for one second that he might be who she's here to meet. It hurts worse than he thought it ever could.
"Rose, I–" he starts, not sure where the sentence is going. Is he going to argue his right to sit here? Tell her that he's An Admirer and she doesn't have to wait for anything? He doesn't know, and she doesn't give him a chance to decide. She sighs in irritation and cuts him off.
"Gods, Malfoy, please? Just once could you please do this thing for me and not argue about it?"
So he snaps his mouth closed and shoulders his bag without a word, mind and stomach both churning. He thinks about just walking away, but decides to at least give her her gift. "Before I go," he says, "I have something for you."
She looks up at him, brows knit, impatient. "Yes?" she asks. He pulls her necklace from his pocket.
"You dropped this last week," he says, holding it out to her. "In Potions. The clasp broke. I fixed it for you, and I put a locator charm on it for you, so you won't lose it again."
She takes it from him as if no longer certain who she is or who he is. She holds the small rose in one palm and traces the petals with the fingers of her other hand. "I–I don't know what to say."
He grunts and bites his tongue. "You don't need to say anything," he says, his voice aggressively neutral. He adjusts the bag on his shoulder and turns to go.
"Scorpius!" she calls after him. He stops mid-stride and looks over his shoulder. "I – thank you."
He nods, brusquely. "Have a good time with your friend," is all he says.
The next morning, he gets a note. Why didn't you come last night? And he's done pretending. The answer he sends back is short and to the point.
I did. You asked me to leave.
He sends the owl straight back across the Great Hall. When it flutters down at Rose's place, she looks startled. She pulls the paper off the owl's leg and reads his words. He watches as her brows knit in confusion, then her face pales in understanding. Her head snaps up, and she finds him across the Hall as if she could feel the power of his stony gaze. He holds it for one heartbeat, two, three, then stands and walks out of the Hall.
His name floats after him a few seconds later, but he keeps walking until he's back in his dorm room and has left Rose Weasley far behind.
The next morning, he's on the train, heading home for Christmas holiday. He had originally planned to stay at the castle, thinking that the quiet of his Common Room and the library would be more conducive to revising for his NEWTs than staying home with his parents, but now, knowing that Rose also plans to stay at the castle? His family's manor home is sounding more and more preferable.
He was expecting to hear from her, but she seems to understand that he needs his space. She sent one letter the morning he left. She's been silent since then. It's infuriating, but he's finding that he misses her.
On Christmas morning, he wakes to an owl at his window, bearing a small package and a short note. Happy Christmas, from An Admirer. I don't know that there is a stone that is supposed to be good for dealing with someone who should have been a friend to you blindly clinging to a seven-year-old grudge and acting like a right idiot instead. But this stone has gotten me through a lot in the past two years, and I hope it can, in some way, help you.
Inside the package is the carnelian worry stone he gave her so long ago. He picks it up and runs his thumb along the depression in the center. The stone seems to warm under his touch, and he finds himself almost smiling.
The night before he is to return to school, he gets another letter. Let's meet for your birthday, it says. On the platform of Hogsmeade Station, when the Hogwarts Express gets in. I'll be waiting there for you. I hope you'll be waiting there for me.
How she found out tomorrow is his birthday, he doesn't know.
She's standing on the platform when the train pulls in. Her eyes watch the passing cars with care, looking for him, but the train is moving too fast, and she misses him. He doesn't miss her, though. He waits, giving his classmates plenty of time to disembark first, and when he steps down to the platform with his trunk in tow, they are almost the only ones left. The air is chilly and her face is red, and when she sees him approaching, she tucks one curl of her red hair awkwardly behind her ear. He stops a few paces away from her, and waits.
"Hi," she eventually says.
"Hi," he replies.
"I'm supposed to meet a friend of mine here," she says then, her nerves clear in her voice. "But I don't know if he'll show."
"And why wouldn't he show?"
"Because I was an idiot to him the last time we were supposed to meet," she says then, "and I don't know if he'll forgive me."
Scorpius chooses his words carefully before he speaks them, weighing them in his mind and his mouth before he chooses to give them life and breath, because he knows that once they're out in the open, there will be no taking them back. But, he decides, it's time to give them life.
"He loves you," he says. "So of course he'll forgive you." Because that is the decision he's come to, sitting in his house all those long, lonely days, missing her words and her voice and her presence.
Her eyebrows shoot up in surprise, and when she speaks, it's in a whisper. "He loves me?" she repeats, sounding stunned. Scorpius manages a small, shy smile.
"Yeah," he says. "Is – is that all right?"
She is quiet for one heartbeat, then two, then three, and then she smiles and holds out her hand to him. "More than all right," she says.
He fits his hand into hers and together, they head for the castle.
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