"This should be the last of it," said Professor Bray, dropping a large crate of books in front of Scorpius. He'd been tasked with the job of sorting through all the old Muggle Studies texts for the entire week of his detention. Malcolm had explained that he hadn't had a chance to sort through everything that had been left behind by the former Muggle Studies Professor since he'd signed on for the job so late in the summer. It wasn't the worst job in the world, and Scorpius actually had the added company of his cousin the first night. It was a nice office, but at the beginning of the week, it had been a bit of a wreck. Looking around now, Scorpius couldn't help feeling a sense of pride at what they'd accomplished. And he was just about done with not only the project, but his detentions as well.
"I remember going over this," said Scorpius fondly, flipping through a book on various types of Muggle transportation. "This was third year, right?"
Malcolm glanced over as he resumed his place at his desk and nodded. "Those are actually a little outdated so you can put them in the toss pile."
Scorpius continued sorting. He'd enjoyed the company of his Professor throughout the week. Malcolm Bray had spent a lot of time grading and lesson planning while Scorpius worked, but there would be the occasional time where they'd strike up a conversation. He learned about Malcolm's family and his time at Hogwarts, and Scorpius even opened up about his desire to become an Auror once Malcolm asked about it.
"You should talk to Teddy," Malcolm had suggested.
"I've actually written him a few times with questions," said Scorpius. "I haven't told him outright, but I think he got the idea. He sort of hinted at it when I saw him over break."
Tonight, however, they weren't doing much talking. Scorpius was lost in his thoughts about the week as a whole. He'd meant what he said to Rose about a fresh start, and things did seem to be better, but he still hadn't told her he'd applied to the Auror Academy. Now that he wasn't losing his badge, and along with the recommendation letter from the head of the department, all that stood between him and a future as an Auror were his N.E.W.T.s.
Because of his detentions, he hadn't started working on History of Magic yet. Professor Simpson had basically left the choice of whether or not he wanted a tutor up to Scorpius. Either way, he'd have to start writing weekly essays and handing them in to Binns. More likely than not, he'd just study alongside Al and Rose. Which brought him to the point where he simply couldn't put off telling her anymore.
"You're free to go, Mr. Malfoy," said Professor Mac from his desk as soon as the clock on his wall chimed eight. Scorpius put the last few books in their appropriate piles before standing and grabbing his bag. Before he could leave, there was a knock on the door.
Malcolm started at the noise and looked at the door curiously before nodding at Scorpius, who'd stopped on his way out. Taking this to mean he could just answer the door as he left, he went to open it so he could head back to the common room and leave his Professor to his visitor. He just hadn't fully expected to come face to face with a rather nicely put together Alice Longbottom. She did a double take when she saw who answered the door.
"Hi, Scorpius," she said in surprise, glancing past him and into the room. Scorpius grinned, opening the door further and stepping back to let her in the office. A tentative smile appeared on her face when she saw Malcolm, whose eyes widened suddenly at her unexpected appearance. He stood from behind his desk and moved around it.
"Alice," said Malcolm, a half smile of surprise on his face. "Come in."
She smiled at him, giving Scorpius a quick glance as she moved past. "I stuck around after dinner to spend time with my dad and thought I'd stop in before I head out. Is that alright?"
By the look on his professor's face, Scorpius could tell it was very much alright. He began to feel uncomfortable as Professor Mac gave him a pointed look rather than responding to Alice.
"I'll leave you to it then, shall I?" said Scorpius, and Malcolm gave him a nod of appreciation, telling him he needn't worry about serving detention on Saturday since he'd gotten all of the work done. Scorpius thanked him and he quickly left, letting the door snap shut behind him.
Professor Bray's office wasn't that far from the seventh floor, so Scorpius quickly made his way back to his common room, not all that surprised to see his three best friends there when he arrived.
Rose was on the floor with an unreasonable amount of rune charts spread out in front of her, Al was stretched out on the couch with the book Erin had given him for Christmas in his hands, and Erin was making a pot of tea over in the kitchenette.
The events of the first night of term had ensured Al and Erin's knowledge of the password to the common room, and Scorpius and Rose had decided to allow them the privilege again, once they'd promised not to abuse it. Things had actually been a little tense between the two since that night.
Neither had elaborated on what had happened when Al followed Erin out of the common room, and they'd just continued on like normal, if there ever really was a normal with the two of them. Things did seem fine for the most part, and those who didn't know them very well might not have seen a difference, but Scorpius could. And one thing he had been able to gather, was that something was still bothering Erin, and Al had no clue what it was. Scorpius couldn't figure it out either, because her standoffish attitude always seemed to appear at random. With all the detention, Scorpius had only been able to ask Al in passing one day if he knew what was going on, and the only thing Al said was, "The hell if I know."
Even Rose and Erin seemed a bit at odds with each other for a few days, but Erin had spent hours in Rose's dorm with her the night before, and things had seemed better than ever between them since. And now Scorpius was about to stir the pot even more.
"How'd it go?" Rose asked, sparing him only a glance when he entered as she continued to pour over her rune charts.
"Well enough that I don't have to go back tomorrow," he said with a relieved smile.
"Brilliant," said Al, resting his book down on his chest. "I wanted to get in a training session tomorrow."
Scorpius groaned as he collapsed into one of the armchairs. "Fine. But we're using warming charms."
"Hey, I've had to put off practice for a week because you landed your arse in detention. Least you could do is support your captain."
"Seeing as Scorpius could very well have suffered worse consequences, I think we can lay off him for the detentions," said Rose in his defense. Al merely grumbled as Scorpius gave Rose a small but grateful smile.
"Are you two not going into Hogsmeade, then?" Erin asked as she levitated a tray of tea things onto the floor next to Rose, plopping herself down on the other side of it so she was sat by Al's head where it rested on the arm of the couch.
"Do we need to?" Scorpius asked. They tended to take advantage of their freedom to go into the wizarding village, but there was usually something that at least one of them wanted to do that caused them to go.
"Alice asked me to help her with some shopping so I'm going," said Erin. "Something about updating her wardrobe."
The comment sparked something in Scorpius' memory, and he grinned. "Really? She seemed to look nice enough tonight."
Erin's eyes snapped to him, looking confused and almost concerned by his comment. They'd all seen Alice at dinner, so it wasn't too bizarre of a remark, but it still wasn't something he'd normally say.
"Why the hell were you paying attention to what my sister was wearing tonight?"
Scorpius just shrugged as they all gave him incredulous looks. "I just happened to get a good look at her when she stopped by to see Bray as I was leaving detention tonight."
He got the reaction he was expecting when Erin's jaw dropped.
"What?" Erin asked, a smile breaking out on her face. "She didn't say anything! And I bet this was her plan all along. I thought it was odd she switched dinner to Friday, but it all makes sense now."
"How come?" asked Rose, making herself a cup of tea.
"Because my very responsible sister would never go visit a bloke on a school night," Erin said with a smirk, taking a sip of her own tea before continuing. "And I know I'd want to do what I could to ensure I'd be able to spend as much time as possible with a bloke I went to see. Maybe even all evening."
Rose just about choked on her tea at that statement.
"Point taken," she said once she'd recovered. "Can we move on? I have to get this done or I'll never have time to do that ridiculous essay Binns set us this weekend."
And just like that, Scorpius was reminded of the dreaded task ahead of him. He glanced at Al, who was asking Erin to hand him a biscuit from the tray she'd brought over, and tried to catch his eye. It wasn't until he had the ginger snap in his mouth that he noticed Scorpius' attention on him. His brow rose in question and he followed Scorpius' gaze as he glanced down at Rose, who was once again thoroughly focused on her studies. The blond Slytherin nodded in confirmation once Al seemed to catch on. He'd been pestering Scorpius all week to tell her whenever they'd had a free moment together, so it was with a sigh of relief that Al sat up on the couch, closing his book and struggling for a moment to come up with an excuse to leave and drag Erin with him.
"Actually, you can stay," Scorpius said, and they all looked at him; Erin in startled confusion, Al uncertainly, and Rose perplexed yet annoyed at being interrupted once again. At first he'd wanted to do it alone, but having them there felt right. Not to mention Al could back him up if needed. Rose's expression changed once Scorpius locked eyes with her, appearing more curious and concerned now. He figured he probably looked bloody terrified by what he was about to say.
"There's something I haven't told you yet, and I think it's about time I did."
He sent a glance at Erin, clueing both the girls in that this was something she was unaware of as well. Al was now leaning forward with his arms on his knees, bouncing a leg in agitation. Scorpius appreciated the fact that not only was his friend nervous for him, but the glint in his eyes gave away that there was an underlying excitement felt as well.
"What's going on?" Rose asked, her tone demanding as she watched him closely.
"You know how you asked about what I wanted to do when I left Hogwarts? And how you wondered if going to work for my dad was what I really wanted to do?"
Rose nodded. "You said it wasn't."
Scorpius slowly nodded in confirmation, summoning the strength to continue. Once he said it, he couldn't take it back, and he was risking a hell of a lot. But what mattered beyond anything, - whether Rose was upset or thought she couldn't handle it - was that he was doing what he knew he should. He was becoming who he was supposed to be. Did he want Rose to be a part of that? Yes, but he needed to be someone apart from who he was with Rose. He couldn't let any potential future with her define him, and he couldn't be only half a person. Ever since he'd made the choice to send in his application, he'd felt a sense of peace, knowing he'd made the right decision. He just hoped she thought so too.
"I've thought long and hard about what I want to do; what I feel like I'm supposed to do with my life."
He paused one last time and sat foreword in his chair, mimicking the position Albus was in. His hesitant eyes met Rose's curious ones.
"I sent in my application for the Auror Academy."
The silence in the room was stifling; the only noise coming from the clock that hung above the mantle. Where she had been curious before, Rose now looked shocked and almost helpless as her warm brown eyes searched his.
"When?" she asked, the word coming out hoarse and unsteady.
"Same day as Al. Day before the wedding."
Rose turned to look at her cousin, her long fiery hair whipping around her shoulders. Al gave her an apologetic grimace as Erin glanced between the three of them, entirely unsure of what to say or do. Rose's gaze moved back to Scorpius, and this time her eyes were hard.
"Um…" he began. "I'm not entirely sure I understand-"
"How long have you wanted to do this?"
He paused, knowing she wouldn't be happy with how long he'd kept it from her.
"For awhile. But it's only been the last few months that-"
He couldn't read her expression or her tone anymore, nor could he think of anything else to say. She didn't really give him the option, though, and she roughly grabbed a few books off the floor before standing up and storming into her dorm, slamming the door behind her with a deafening thud.
"Shit," Scorpius bit out, burying his head in his hands and wishing he could rewind the moment. What he would do differently, he had no clue.
The other two remained silent, but he could tell that they were silently communicating with each other. It didn't matter right now. All that mattered was that Rose was most definitely not supportive of his decision.
"She'll come around, mate," Al said in a soothing tone, and Scorpius looked up to see his friend looking at him with an optimistic yet sympathetic expression on his face. "I reckon she's only pissed because you didn't tell her sooner."
"Come on, Al," said Scorpius with a resigned sigh. "You've heard what she's said whenever it's come up. She can barely handle it that you're going to be an Auror, but both of us?"
"Not to mention how much she cares about you," Erin put in, busying herself with making another cup of tea.
"What about me?" Al asked, sounding slightly offended.
"She cares about you too, of course," said Erin, handing Al the cup of tea she'd been making before starting another one. "But it's different."
She stood with the other cup of tea in hand and moved to give it to Scorpius, a knowing look on her face.
"We're not together, Erin," said Scorpius.
"I know," she said, sitting in the other armchair rather than back on the floor. "But we've all known for a while there's a good possibility it'll happen eventually."
Scorpius tried not to blush under Erin's scrutinizing look. He cleared his throat and took a sip of tea rather than respond.
"You heard what she said about how hard it was on her mum when her dad was still an Auror," Erin continued. "It's hard enough sometimes knowing my brother would risk his life any day. I imagine it would be bloody difficult to be with someone who chose a path that made you terrified for them."
At her words, Al looked at her in confusion.
"What do you mean 'you imagine?' "
Erin merely gave him a withering look before turning back to Scorpius.
"The point is, she has every reason to be upset right now. You caught her completely off guard with something she never expected. But that doesn't mean she won't get used to the idea. Give her time, alright?"
Scorpius nodded, grateful for Erin's unusually cool head.
"Congratulations, by the way," said Erin with a small smile. "I'm happy you've found what you want to do. I'm sure you'll be brilliant."
Scorpius gave her a grateful smile.
"Thanks, but I have to get in first."
"Don't let the modesty fool you," Al said, standing and grabbing the tea tray before heading into the kitchen. "My dad wrote the most beautiful letter of recommendation. He's practically a shoe in. Assuming he doesn't fail all his N.E.W.T.s."
Erin seemed impressed by this news, and Scorpius fought hard to keep himself from blushing. He cast a glance towards the closed door that led to Rose's room, wondering just how much time he should give her. Was he supposed to leave it until she came to him? He supposed he could, but part of him was starting to feel irritated at how she'd reacted. Erin might have had a point, but his decision wasn't about Rose. It was about his life and his future. It might have been selfish to think that way, but he found he didn't care.
Hardly thinking about what he was doing, he set down his cup and stood from his seat, marching towards her door. Ignoring the sound of Erin and Al questioning him, he knocked quickly, not even waiting for her to respond before he let himself in.
She wasn't there, but the light from under the bathroom door gave away her location. He paused for a moment, deciding if he should continue. He'd never actually been in her room before. Scorpius heard Erin heading towards him and saying his name, so he quickly closed the door before she could get to him. Striding confidently across the room, he rapped his knuckles against the bathroom door.
There was a hesitant "yes?" and he suddenly knew exactly what he wanted to say.
"It's me. Open up."
There was silence for a moment, before the sound of movement reached his ears. He only had to wait about a minute before the door opened and an uncertain Rose stood before him, her long red hair, wet and plaited, hanging over her shoulder. She was dressed in a simple white vest that was wet where her hair was resting against it, and she wore tartan flannel pants. What he really noticed was the despondent look on her face.
"What do you want?"
He crossed his arms and looked down at her sternly. Scorpius could tell she hadn't been expecting the attitude he'd assumed.
"I want a lot, actually," he said, and she started a bit at his honesty. "But you hearing me out and then maybe explaining why you stormed away would be a good start."
She sighed and moved past him into her room. He followed and stood awkwardly at the foot of her bed as she plopped down on it, pulling one leg up and tucking her foot under her, the other one dangling over the side. She looked blankly at Scorpius, and it all just came pouring out of him.
"I don't understand why you can't just support me in this. I knew this might be hard for you, but all last term, all you did was encourage me to be what I wanted and to not let anyone else tell me who to be. Well, this is me figuring it out and this is something I not only want to do, but feel like I'm supposed to do. God, Rose, I've finally got my head on straight and you're likely to do me in again."
He'd been pacing along the end of her bed, but stopped and gripped the rail at the foot, ducking his head down and letting out a frustrated sigh.
"That's not it."
He snapped his head up and met her eyes. They were warmer and softer now as she turned to face him more fully.
"I know you'll be a brilliant Auror," she began in a shaky voice. "In fact, I'm surprised it never even crossed my mind. It might terrify me a bit, but you're right. I do want you to be exactly who you're supposed to, and I won't stand in the way of that."
He wasn't sure what exactly she meant by that last bit, and he was scared of the possibilities, but he let it go for now as she continued.
"I just don't know why you couldn't have told me sooner," she said in a small voice. Scorpius felt a sense of relief that Al had been right. Releasing his grip on the end of the bed, he moved around so he stood in front of her.
"Because I know how you feel about Al being an Auror, and I knew you'd worry. I wanted to put that off for as long as possible."
She nodded. "It's not cause you don't trust me, then?"
"No," he assured her, sitting next to her. "I know you have a reason to think I wouldn't since I sort of kept quite a bit from you last term." He rubbed the back of his neck in agitation. "But that wasn't it. I just felt like I needed this to be mine, you know? I felt like I had to tell Al, and my parents as well, but the decision was all mine. If I'd told you as soon as I started entertaining the idea, you'd have been involved in the decision making process. It's not that I don't appreciate your input, it's that I might appreciate it too much. I needed to know this was my choice."
He held his breath as he waited for her to respond in some way, hoping his honesty hadn't rubbed her the wrong way or been a little too blunt. But Scorpius wouldn't take it back even if he could have. He felt like he'd needed to say it.
She watched him closely, chewing her lip as she studied his sincere face. Eventually, she moved, and his eyes widened in surprise as she rose up onto her knees and moved towards him, pulling him into a hug so that her arms went around his neck and his chin rested on her shoulder. He only hesitated for a moment before he wrapped his arms around her slender waist. It was hard not to be overwhelmed by not only her close proximity, but the familiar flowery scent of her hair, which was even stronger than normal as she'd just washed it. He didn't even care that the front of his jumper was getting wet from her hair caught between them.
"I'm sorry," she said softly, her mouth somewhere near his ear. Scorpius made a concerted effort not to let a shiver round down his spine as he focused on her words, trying to ignore the fact that they were pressed against each other on her bed.
"You're right," she continued, still holding him tightly. "I was being selfish."
He shook his head and she released him slightly, moving back so she could look him in the eye.
"It's alright," he assured her. "But are you sure that's the only reason you were bothered?"
A trace of fear grew in her eyes and she sank back down onto the bed. "Erin and I got into a bit of a row when we were waiting for you and Al the other night. I don't know if you noticed things were rocky for a few days."
Scorpius nodded, unsure what this had to do with his question. Her eyes were focused on her comforter while she tugged at a loose string as she spoke.
"It was my fault. I was stressed and anxious and worried about you and I let it get to me. She's one of my best friends, but so's Al. More than that, he's family. And I didn't realize how much this thing between them has been affecting me. I guess I was blaming her for letting things just be the way they are and I let myself believe she didn't really care for him. I sort of snapped."
She paused for breath, her gaze momentarily flickering to his as if to check if he was still listening.
"We talked it out last night, and she might not appreciate me telling you this, but she really cares about him. More than I thought. And it scares her to think that he could be one stupid mistake away from getting himself killed. And I didn't fully understand how that felt. Until tonight."
Time seemed to stand still for a moment as her words sunk in. Scorpius had no clue what to say to that. It was the most honest either of them had been about how they truly felt, and that wasn't where he thought this conversation would go. Along with this revelation, came his fear that she wouldn't be able to handle him being an Auror. Had he been right? Was that what she was about to tell him?
"I'm not going to pretend it doesn't scare me," she continued, "but I'd never try and talk you out of it. The way you just came in here and told me off is enough to convince me that you want to do this."
She said it with a bit of a smirk, and he allowed himself a slight smile, the moment where he thought she'd crush his hopes now passed.
"I figured it was best not to beat around the bush."
"Well you definitely got your point across," said Rose with a sigh. She moved to stand and started gathering up the books she'd brought in earlier and discarded on her bed.
"Are we okay?" Scorpius couldn't help but ask. Rose nodded, giving him a small smile before turning to set her books on a desk by the window.
"Of course we are," she said, moving to stand in front of him. "You were right and I overreacted. But you might have to give me some time to get used to it."
He stood and hugged her one more time, risking a kiss to the top of her head before pulling back.
"I can do that," he told her, "but it would go a long way in helping me know I could do this if you trusted me."
Rose gave him a small smile. "I do. I'm sorry. Just one more drop in the bucket and another reminder that this will all be over soon."
She was looking up at him with an indiscernible expression, and he realized how close they were standing. Scorpius thought back to what she'd just said only moments ago, and then to the end of last school year. Her words rattled around in his mind. He vividly remembered talking to her in the library not long before their final exams, their conversation about making the most of the time they had left feeling so important in that moment and this.
It would be so easy to just duck his head down and kiss her, and a huge part of him wanted to do it. So why couldn't he? There was something holding him back, and it almost made him feel like a coward, but he didn't know what it was. Maybe it just wasn't the right moment, and this was important enough that he knew when they finally crossed that line, the moment had to be right.
Instead of pulling her closer to him, he gripped her shoulder, noticing her eyes were heavy with exhaustion.
"You should get some sleep," he said in a soft voice, trying not to notice her slight disappointment as she nodded before he bid her goodnight and made his way back out into the common room. Scorpius had almost forgotten that Al and Erin had been there when he'd gone to talk to Rose. They stood from the couch when they heard him close Rose's door.
"Everything's fine," he assured them. "You can go."
Erin nodded and packed up her things, but Al hesitated.
"Seriously," Scorpius assured him. "It's fine. She's knackered and frankly, so am I. I'm not keen on talking it to death at this point."
Al nodded in understanding, and he and Erin left the common room. Scorpius was barely able to strip down to his boxers before he collapsed onto his bed from exhaustion, overwhelmed yet finally feeling peace about not only making the right decision, but no longer keeping any secrets. Things between them might still be in a rather delicate limbo, but something told him even that would work itself out in the end. He just had to wait for the moment to be right.
A/N: Sorry for being a day late! Yesterday was a rough one for me and grief sucks. Hug the ones you love extra tight today. Thanks for all your reviews! Hope you enjoy the ScoRose interaction :)