Hi everyone. I know a lot of people were asking for a sequel (or none at all!), but I was actually working on this in tandem with The Spectator, and after some thought, decided to share it. If you haven't read The Spectator, please read that before this one—it would make more sense. A sequel is a possibility, although not right away.
Let me know if you liked this! Reviews are appreciated. :D
Gravity Is Quiet
Scorpius Malfoy was missing.
For awhile, Rose tried to pay attention in class. Professor Binns was providing his embellished version of the First Wizarding War, and the topic was likely to be set as their next essay topic. Yet every few minutes her eyes wandered to the seat just in front of her, conspicuously empty of her friend's tousled blond hair.
Most of the class knew how disruptive Scorpius could be around Rose. She couldn't help but think about how Scorpius liked to lean his chair back against her desk in this class and make fun of Professor Binns' fogey accent. They had a thousand silly conversations under their breaths, sending each other notes about their potionmaking exploits in shorthand. Occasionally, they would simply look at each other. And Rose knew, too, how distracting they were to each other. There was nothing to be done. His absence, it seemed, had the same effect on her.
It was not like Scorpius to miss class, but Rose hadn't seen him in the Great Hall for a few days. He didn't show up for their usual Potions session that afternoon either, which was oddest of all. Her mind wandered then, over to the specifics of the draught they'd been working on the past week. When they had begun on the Mopsus Potion, it had seemed like an impossible task. Vard Mopsus, the old master who had concocted the brew that promised temporary Seer-like abilities, had been careless in his recording. Rose was confident she could simplify his convoluted process—she had long discovered her forte in potions was in her systematic understanding of brewing and its methods. But her progress was halted by Vard Mopsus' incomplete list of ingredients, which was where Scorpius came in. He had an excellent memory, and was a walking index of potionmaking ingredients. She needed his help to figure out the missing components.
Which brought Rose back to the problem at hand.
Scorpius Malfoy was missing.
Rose started slightly to see Albus grinning at her, his dark hair unkempt and glasses askew. It was alarming, even to her, how much he resembled her uncle. But, unlike Harry Potter, Albus had a decidedly carefree disposition, his amicable expression unhindered by the trials of a war, but rather nurtured by an abundance of adoration. Albus waved a hand in front of her face. It took Rose a few blinks to return to the present, where students were already sweeping up their books and filing out of the classroom. Albus watched her gaze flicker back to Scorpius' empty seat. He seemed somewhat amused. "Rosie. Class has ended."
She felt her cheeks burn. "Yes, I—of course—"
"You got it, didn't you? The Ministry Open House letter?"
"Yes." She said this with some reluctance, and Albus beamed at her before being led away by his group of boisterous friends. Rose watched them go, her thoughts cloudy. Her friend, Celeste Warnog, was waiting for her by the door, a knowing look on her face.
"Look," she said, nodding towards the hallway, "You can still catch him if you hurry."
"Scorpius?" Rose said stupidly.
Celeste gave her a half-exasperated laugh. "Zabini. Go."
Rose mouthed her thanks as she stumbled out onto the hallway.
Tarquin Zabini cut an intimidating figure, and, to most people, served as the counterpoint to Scorpius' endearing enthusiasm. When Rose caught up to him, he confirmed her suspicions quickly.
"The Ministry Open House invitation? Yeah. He didn't get one." Zabini looked somewhat uncomfortable broaching the subject. "It's not really his fault, just…"
"Oh." Rose's earlier anxiety was compounded by this knowledge. Every year, the invitation to the Ministry Open House was extended to the top students in fifth year, and was aimed at recruiting Hogwart's best for coveted roles in the Ministry. Rose had gotten her letter, of course. As did Albus.
But not Scorpius, apparently. He clearly didn't expect one, considering his family history, but Rose had been so sure. While both Rose and Albus were conventionally book smart, it was no secret, especially among their professors, that Scorpius was uncannily brilliant at everything he put his mind to.
She clutched at her book bag, her mind racing for alternatives. She could write her mother, tell her it's a mistake, ask for special permission—surely the Ministry couldn't say no to inviting Scorpius if Hermione Granger-Weasley vouched for him…
Tarquin was studying Rose's crestfallen expression, and his usually aloof demeanor gave way to the smallest of smiles. Whether or not she knew it, Rose had that effect on people. "Well," he said finally, breaking the silence, "he's moping about it in the dorms. If you'd like, I'll let him know you want to see him."
Rose brightened at this, looking up to Tarquin as though she just remembered he was there. "Would you really? It's just… he hasn't shown up for our Potions workshops either."
They walked together toward the dungeons, where the Slytherin common room was located. It got increasingly chilly as they approached the entrance. "Wait here," Tarquin said crisply, disappearing into a passageway behind stone walls.
Rose let out a small puff of white air, trembling slightly at the dip in temperature. A few Slytherin girls passed her, watching her curiously. She felt her cheeks heat up at the attention. It was about fifteen minutes before the stone walls opened up once more, this time revealing sleepy-looking Scorpius, his cotton shirt rumpled and hair tousled. His eyes were red-rimmed, and he looked paler than ever. For a moment, he blinked at her, as though his eyes were adjusting to the light, before quirking a warm smile.
"Rose," he said blearily.
She was not impulsive by nature, yet she couldn't hold back; she threw her arms around her best friend, hugging him so tightly that he stumbled backwards.
"Whoa, hey, not that I'm complaining," he said, fondness lacing his words. "Tarquin told me you needed to see me. You alright?"
Rose merely nodded. She couldn't explain the heaviness in her chest as she held him, nor the overwhelming ache she felt at the sight of his smile. Scorpius rested his cheek against her hair, his fingers lingering in the red strands as he rocked her gently. Even now, she had the distinct feeling that he was comforting her instead.
"Don't look so sad," he murmured, pressing a kiss on her temple. "Whatever it is, it'll be alright."
Rose swallowed, the words she planned to say now lodged within the lump in her throat. She had never hoped so hard for something to be true.
She wanted the world to be alright for Scorpius.
Scorpius pulled away then, tweaking her nose gently. "Come with me," he said.
She had never been inside the Slytherin dungeon. Rose was used to a cheery fireplace and invitingly squashy armchairs. The Slytherin common room, however, exuded a more glacial grandeur, forgoing the signature warmth of the Gryffindor common room. It was sombre and chilly, and less raucous than she was used to. The Slytherins were a generally taciturn bunch, and most of them immersed themselves in quiet conversation or a bit of reading. A few of them glanced up coolly at her as she followed Scorpius past luxurious chaise longues upholstered by crushed velvet, chairs and tables embellished with ornate skull carvings. Around them, antique lamps hung midair, posing a sinister green glow across the dungeon. Outside the dusky windows, odd water creatures of the Great Lake glided past at leisure, peering through the glass with gleaming, beady eyes.
Scorpius reached for her hand, and she found herself walking down a narrow flight of stairs, coming to a series of doors. Scorpius pushed open the one closest to them, and led her in.
The dormitory was dimly lit and quiet, with the only sounds coming from the swishing of the lake. Across the room, she recognised Fabius Fawley, the Keeper for the Slytherin Quidditch Team. Parchments with markings were strewn across his bed; he seemed to be in the midst of studying tactics for the next game. He nodded politely at Rose—gentleman that he was—before raising an eyebrow at Scorpius and discreetly shifting in his spot so he wasn't looking directly at his friend's bed. From a distance, she could hear Tarquin humming monotonously—perhaps from the shower. The thought made her blush.
Scorpius shot Rose a rakish grin, kicking off his shoes and patting the spot beside him. His bed was unmade; she supposed he must have spent the past few days holed up in the dorm. He yanked the curtains shut, murmuring a Silencing Charm before tossing his wand towards the end of the bed.
Then, wordlessly, he pulled Rose down beside him and engulfed her in a hug, his nose in her hair. Despite the frigidity of the dormitory, Scorpius' embrace was heated, her entire being thawing against his fervent hold. She closed her eyes as he buried his face her shoulder, his breaths warm against her neck. His presence was hypnotic; Rose felt a familiar flutter in her stomach as they came nose-to-nose, his grey eyes locked on her blue ones. The dim light of the room couldn't hide his pallid complexion and dark eye circles.
He looked exhausted, and the sight hurt her.
She reached out and touched his cheek, her fingertips delicate against his skin. Without thought, he rested his hand gently over hers.
"I haven't been seeing you in the Great Hall," Rose murmured. "Have you been skipping meals?"
Scorpius smiled; there was a manic quality in his gaze. "Were you looking?"
"I haven't much of an appetite lately," he admitted, his voice quiet.
"Sit with me at lunch tomorrow," she said.
"Will you feed me?" he teased.
"As long as you eat."
Scorpius scrunched up his nose. "What if they serve that awful shepherd's pie again?"
"Then we'll steal something else from the kitchens. You're such a brat."
He hummed with laughter, propping himself up on one elbow and leaning in to kiss her jawline. "I'll eat whatever you want me to. Even runny shepherd's pie."
"Please, Scorpius. Be good to yourself. Promise me you will."
His smile was cheeky, but it didn't quite reach his eyes. "I rather you be good to me."
She cradled his face gently in her hands. He closed his eyes, as though relishing her warmth.
"I'm going to talk to mum," she said softly. "Scorpius, you're one of the brightest students in our year. The Ministry Open House… you deserve to be there."
He said nothing for a long moment. "Tarquin told you?"
"Rose, my love." He smiled wryly then, catching her fingers in his. "Don't trouble your mother. Honestly, it's not the thing I'm most upset about." He shifted slightly, reaching under his pillow to pull out a folded piece of parchment. Rose recognised the crest of Puddlemere United. Scorpius' favourite Quidditch club.
There was sinking feeling in her stomach.
"My childhood team, you know?" Scorpius' voice had cracked slightly, and Rose could tell it affected him deeply that the club he loved had refused him. "When I was a kid, I begged my parents for season tickets. They wouldn't buy me one—my parents are stubborn Falmouth fans—so I saved up over three summers to afford it. Never missed a game since. Stuck through the trophy-less seasons. Stayed to cheer even when we were getting humiliated by the Harpies." He stared blankly at the letter. "So. This one hurt more."
All her life, Rose's Quidditch-playing cousins were inundated with invitations to trial for the League's teams. She remembered Dominique, James and Fred carelessly tossing around their options: Harpies, Cannons, Catapults, the list went on and on. They treated their acceptance letters with none of reverence Scorpius had for the letter that rejected him. She swallowed, suddenly ashamed. Not once had any of the Potters or Weasleys considered their circumstances as anything but normal. To them, such grand opportunities were a matter of course.
Scorpius had no such privilege.
"I'm sorry, Scorpius." She genuinely was.
"None of it is your fault. Is that why you're here? Because I didn't get an invitation to the Ministry Open House?" She could hear the affection in his voice. "Silly girl."
"Well, you haven't turned up for classes the past three days," Rose protested, her voice muffled in his sleeve. "I was worried."
Scorpius tightened his hold on her. "You noticed?"
"You didn't come for our workshops either. I had to start on the draught you said you'd help me with."
"Not that your absence mattered, you know. I'm getting somewhere with it."
She could feel a teasing smile nuzzled against her neck. "But…?"
"But nothing. Maybe I've figured it out. Maybe I don't need you."
A hum of laughter, and then Scorpius was above her, his blond hair tickling her cheek as he studied her closely, a most wicked glint in his eye.
"You need me," he whispered, and the sureness in his words sent a shiver down her spine. "Admit it already."
Rose bit down on her lip, her breath hitching in her throat. Even at his worst, he was devastating. How many girls looked at him the way she watched him now, and wanted him for herself? She felt the same soft tremble in her heart whenever he looked at her this way—the kind of expression he reserved for the most private of moments.
As though she was already his, somehow.
Rose swallowed, forcing the littlest of smiles to undo the tension that had found its way into the spaces between them.
"Well," she relented, "we have two options after stirring in the Salamander blood."
Scorpius returned her smile with a deliberate little quirk in the corner of his lips.
"The Hot Plums, or the Bogey Nuts. Mopsus noted both, but didn't specify which. I could have tested both ingredients… but I'm out of Salamander and Pangroot, unless I sneak out to the Forbidden Forest again—"
"Obviously it's the Hot Plums. Bogey Nuts will ruin the brew."
Rose blinked at him, incredulous. "…Wha—how do you make deductions like this without an ounce of research? Are you making stuff up again?"
"Salamanders are allergic to nuts." Scorpius laughed at Rose's stunned expression. "What? I swear I'm not making this up. I remember reading it, all too clearly. Somewhere in my grandfather's restricted literature… the Odd and Odder Creatures series by Odian Hogarth, to be exact." He looked thoughtful for a moment. "Though if you really think about it, Bogey Nuts do look rather suspect, don't they?"
Rose opened her mouth to protest, but Scorpius turned his head to her, their noses brushing.
"Try the Hot Plums," he murmured against her mouth. "I've used the Bogey Nuts in something else before—a Sleep Draught, two summers ago. They're best used in that time of the year. But Hot Plums are an acceptable replacement in any season, unless you're using Dragon's Tail. Don't mix the two."
Rose considered this and nodded slowly, committing the information to memory. Scorpius smiled, the riddle solved. "I'll join you for the next workshop. I want to see how far you've gone without me."
"…Why did you need a Sleep Draught?"
"Couldn't sleep. Couldn't stop thinking of you."
"So am I." His lips met hers, a warm hand slipping under her blouse and caressing her naked back. "Go to Hogsmeade with me this weekend."
"I promised I'd go with Jonah."
"Newell?" Scorpius was pressing butterfly kisses across her mouth, his eyes fluttering shut. "Your Charms partner?"
"Yes," Rose murmured, as Scorpius drew her closer to him, his hand now running up the side of her body, the contact of his fingertips on her bare skin leaving a trail of heat in its wake.
"So he likes you."
"We're just going to Hogsmeade, Scorpius."
"You're not exclusive though."
She felt a kiss in her hair, his arms wrapping tightly around her. "No," she managed.
"Then I can kiss you, can't I?" Rose felt her breath hitch as Scorpius shifted them, his face above hers. "Can't I, Rose?"
She couldn't say no. She didn't know how to. He possessed her just by looking at her. The goose bumps rose on her skin, blood humming in her ears, and she wanted, longed to kiss him, and so she did. Her fingers curling into the front of his shirt, pulling him down to her. Her kiss soft and delicate, because it was tenderness he deserved.
It was all the encouragement he needed. He returned her kiss, urgent and wanting—the way he felt for her, his fervour demanding her surrender as he pinned her against him. Rose tried to rein her tender heart, to keep it from singing as they kissed hungrily, attempting—and failing—to satiate the terrible craving their souls hid away in the daytime, between the guises of friendship and propriety. Being under him like this felt right. With Scorpius, she was cocooned, safe, and utterly lost. He pressed a line of kisses along the curve of her neck, his darkened eyes fixing on her heavy-lidded gaze.
"Rose," he whispered against her mouth, "I love you."
She knew this, had long memorised the way he said it, hoarse and needy. His feelings for her escaped him every time he held her close like this; in an empty classroom, behind the stairs, in the shadows of halls. And, like always, the words disappeared into another kiss, and another, until she no longer remembered where he began, and where she ended. Her reply sat on the tip of her tongue and nettled her from within, as though hoping to escape her, to find an audience with the man kissing her. As he pulled away, his gaze bored into hers, drenched with longing and adoration and all the awful things that felt too wonderful for words. Rose felt the discord clutch within her chest, trying to keep her heart from falling apart. Because despite everything they felt for each other, he didn't want her—not the way she needed to be wanted. To Scorpius, everything was temporary, and so was she in the grand scheme of things. She still recalled the day in fourth year when he told her he would leave, because there was nothing here for him.
The Open House rejection was proof enough.
And she would stay, because that was the right thing for her. She was Rose Weasley. She would find a safe, decent man. And he would be nothing like Scorpius Malfoy.
And yet, she couldn't look away from him. They simply watched each other, mesmerised, the same way he sometimes caught her eye in History of Magic, his chair leaning back to meet her desk as his gaze lingered on her face…
He wrapped his arms around her and tugged her close, their breaths warm on each other's skin. Noses touching; gold and red splashed across a single pillow. Even now, just the sight of him, tousled and ardent, gave her the same jolt she felt when they saw each other the first time those many years ago, across a crowded train platform. Even then, he devastated her. Perhaps he always would.
Then, against her better judgment, she heard herself say, "Tell me not to go with Jonah. And I won't."
It was unwise of her and she regretted her words at once, because she already knew his answer. Scorpius made a soft sound between a sigh and a laugh, the expression in his eyes strangely sombre. Instead, his palm clasped gently at her hip, drawing her to him once more as he kissed her, his mouth hot and languid against hers.
She understood exactly what he meant by it.
One day you'll find somebody who finally deserves you. And he'll be nothing like me.
His eyes fluttered open to the sight of her unshed tears. Rose blinked back to him, took in the storm of his gaze and the redness of a mouth that had just marked her as his. His adam's apple bobbed as he swallowed. His pride, his hopes, his love for her. The overwhelming urge to kiss him there settled within her instead, like a paperweight in her gut. Scorpius leaned in, brushing the tips of her wet eyelashes with his thumb.
"You know I'm proud of you, don't you," he murmured at last. "For getting an invitation to the Open House. You deserve it."
You deserve better than me.
"I have to go," Rose said with false cheer in her voice, her smile barely reaching her eyes. "Promise you'll come to class."
"Of course." Scorpius paused as she moved to untangle herself from him, a hand belatedly reaching out to her—"Rose, wait."
But Rose had already turned away from him, her legs swinging to the side of the bed. Fabius Fawley looked surprised when the curtains swung open, starting in his bed as Rose hurried past him and a wide-eyed Tarquin without so much as a goodbye. She would apologise for her poor manners tomorrow, of course. But for now, she had to go, before—
Before he could spot her broken heart.
No, Rose thought, a fist clutched at the fabric of her jumper as she tried not to cry.
That wouldn't do at all.
Perhaps this time, on this perfectly chilly November's day, Rose would find love.
Perhaps Jonah Newell was the one, with his toothy grin and uninhibited chatter. Perhaps all she had to do was try to fall in love with this man, wholehearted and true, the way she tried so hard with her ex-boyfriends. Because there was absolutely nothing wrong with any of them.
And when Jonah bought her the most delicious chocolate ice-cream cone, Rose promised her soft heart that she would at least try.
Scorpius was in Hogsmeade with a girl from Ravenclaw. Rose knew, because Celeste told her. It's just one of his many girl admirers, her friend insisted. You know it's nothing to him, don't you, Rose?
She was waiting for Jonah outside Honeydukes, licking at her ice-cream cone, when their gazes locked from across the snowy street. Instantly, she could feel the heat rise up her cheeks, the warmth pooling from her centre. How was it that after all these years, Rose wondered desperately, just the sight of Scorpius still made her so shy?
It didn't help that Scorpius was moving towards her with long, purposeful strides, blond hair tousled in the wind, his Slytherin scarf hiding his smile. As though he hadn't already broken her heart a thousand times. Despite the lacklustre temperament that plagued him of late, being outdoors had obviously worked its magic. He looked more relaxed than she remembered him from a few days ago, the colour high on his cheekbones, his stare alight with razor-sharp mischief… In other words, recklessly handsome as always.
Rose felt her back hit the wall as he approached, a soft gasp at the back of her throat as Scorpius reached for her free hand and squeezed it, an almost-smile tugging at his lips… before wordlessly moving past her to join the crowd in Honeydukes.
"Scorpius," his date called crossly, weaving through the throngs of people as she hurried to follow him into the store, "wait up, won't you?"
Rose watched them disappear past the wooden doors, her face warm from the brief contact. It took her a moment to feel the bit of parchment within her gloved palm.
She unfolded it. And wished it didn't hurt to be so happy.
I bought the Hot Plums.
Dungeons, 8 o'clock.
You need me.