Hombres. Amigos. Dudes. Fellow Humans. I am excited for ya'll to read this chapter. I smiled while I was writing it. We are back on the banter band wagon and can I just say it is nice to be back. It's always my favourite parts of writing these stories - to show them falling in love by being snarky. I also hope I'm showing that Rose actually has a personality and is a bubbly little fireball. Because she is in my mind.

MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT - SOMEONE DID FANART! AND IT'S AMAZING!

The absolutely marvellous 'bannxnah' has a Tumblr with wonderful artwork of Scorose, including one inspired by Adverse Side Effects. It is more perfect than I could have dreamed and it perfectly encapsulates Rose and Scorpius as I imaged them. Please go and show them some love :)

Now, on with the story :)


Chapter 14: Like a Duck to Water

The sun was shining, birds were singing, children were laughing but he could ignore that grating noise for the most part because today was going to be a beautiful day and he was not going to let a little thing like happy children ruin it. Standing outside on the grass near the Quidditch pitch, Scorpius looked over the heads of the excited students all buzzing with energy at the prospect of going to Hogsmeade for the first time this year.

Under normal circumstances, Scorpius would have offered to cut off his left nut before he subjected himself to supervising students at Hogsmeade for a weekend trip. He didn't enjoy being surrounded by children when he was legally and contractually obligated to, he certainly didn't want to spend his weekends surrounded by the small humans. (Sometimes he honestly questioned why he thought being a teacher was a good career choice - he really did not enjoy the company of these still-developing humans. He couldn't consider the reasoning for too long though, he was sure his father would somehow just know and laud it over him when he saw him next). However, over the recent weeks he had become somewhat of a desperate mess of a man, and when desperate times came, desperate measures were required.

Hence, Saturday morning chaperone duty.

It should be noted that there was precisely one reason why he was somewhat 'happy' to take on the mantle - his buddy in this specific form of torture. Rose. Rose Weasley. His soulmate.

Who was late.

The beast in his brain was pacing, anxious and excited to see her after what felt like an age. She'd been out of her hospital prison cell for weeks now and he was somewhat ashamed to say that he missed her confinement to the infirmary. He had been able to get so much alone time with her in those days. Sneaking in under the cover of darkness, their rendezvouses had always felt a bit like they were having a clandestine affair. Which was endlessly entertaining to him, and perhaps just a little bit of wish fulfilment philosophy coming into play.

But that was weeks ago and things, well, things had been different since. And he didn't like different. In fact he detested it.

Things would be set back on their rightful path, he thought to himself as he scowled out across the sea of giddy youth that were giving him a headache, this was a small price to pay if it meant more time with Rose. However, with each passing moment he questioned whether this scheme was going to meet it's purpose, as there was one thing noticeably absent from his morning so far:

Rose.

She was late.

And she was never late.

It may be only a few minutes past their planned departure time of 10:00am, but that didn't cease the myriad of possible calamities from swimming through his mind attempting to explain her absence. Maybe she fell in the shower and hit her head and was bleeding out on the bathroom floor? Maybe she had been struck by a falling sconce and was lying unconscious and bleeding out in a corridor somewhere? Maybe she'd tripped and fell down a staircase and was lying unconscious and bleeding in a stair well? Maybe-

Maybe he needed to sit down, good Merlin he was feeling faint.

He was starting to panic and think that Rose had somehow either weaselled her way out of this or was moments from death in the castle somewhere, effectively leaving him to supervise the gremlins on his own, when she finally felt ready to grace him with her presence.

Emphasis on the word 'grace'.

Rose Weasley descended the hill in a flurry of blue and floral casual robes that danced on the breeze and had him holding his breath. She wore high waisted, wide legged pants in a corn flower blue that was almost the same shade as her eyes, to match the base colour of her robes which were covered in a tasteful floral print, all topped off by the dainty gold necklace that hung low over her cream coloured gauzy blouse. It was an ensemble that Astoria Malfoy would appreciate, even if she herself would never be caught dead in it. It was a look that had a kind of casual elegance to it, and the way the material caught on the wind made her look like she could take flight at any moment.

How had he taken so long to see just how beautiful she was.

Rose had been smiling and greeting students as she approached, but when her eyes finally found his he was worried he might have blushed. In an attempt to cover the embarrassing reaction his body had the simple action, he looked away quickly at some nearby children that were laughing too loudly and promptly told them to quieten down. The group of fourth year girls gave a variety of reactions - two girls blushed, one girl rolled her eyes, and two just looked at Rose approached and giggled to each other. He sorely wanted to give them detention. They stopped giggling but kept shooting him sideways glances as Rose finally came to stop in front of him.

He cleared his throat, turned to smile at her, and promptly forgot how to speak.

Tell her she's beautiful. Tell her she's all the light in the world.

Yeah, sure thing you stupid fucking bird, that's a great way to get kicked in the gonads. No thanks.

Rose spared him the great difficulty of speaking by cocking an eyebrow and surveying his own outfit very slowly. It did more delicious things to his insides and he really wished they weren't surrounding by pubescent witnesses.

"Really, Scorpius? Can't you put the Snake King aesthetic to bed for one day?"

She was undoubtedly referring to his forrest green slacks and matching long cloak, adorned by his specially made cashmere scarf in Slytherin stripes. It took him a second longer to respond then it should have - his brain suffered a momentary malfunction when she said 'put to bed', and he had to fight every instinct in his body telling him to say he'd rather take her to bed.

Witnesses. There were witnesses. Underage witnesses. He was sure everything going through his mind right now was some kind of felony.

"When one is truly proud of their house, they never miss an opportunity to display their pride," he sighed and picked at his nails dramatically, "I wouldn't expect you to understand that though. It's difficult to imagine something you have no experience with."

She responded with a scoff as she crossed her arms across her chest in a show of defiance that warned him without words that more comments like that would result in a war. He kind of wanted it. In an attempt to incite her sparring with him, he grinned broadly and quirked his eyebrow in a challenge. He could see her wrestling with herself and whether she wanted to start arguing; she chewed the inside of her mouth and glared at him but ultimately decided not to.

Shame.

She let out a heavy sigh and looked at the children milling around, some still running down the hill to join the excursion. Where he scowled at the maddening children, Rose smiled and waved hello to a few of them. The Gryffindor kids worshipped the ground she walked on, even more now that stories of her heroics had circulated throughout the student body. Seventh years treated her like their cool aunt; first years thought she was a literal god. He was sure that there'd be a statue of her in their common room before the year was out.

Maybe the kids were smarter than he gave them credit for - it'd taken him an embarrassingly long time to realise what a powerhouse Rose Weasley was. They'd figured it out in a matter of months.

Her sigh interrupted his internal musings.

"I can't believe we're being made to do this," Rose looked at him like she was wanting him to back her up, "It feels a bit unfair."

Rose hadn't exactly been impressed when it had been announced at the staff meeting at the start of the week that the two of them would be required to chaperone the Hogsmeade trips for the next few weeks - a job that had been implemented after a student was attacked back during the second wizarding war. She hadn't argued, but he'd not missed that way her eyes had grown wide and her mouth had opened ready to retort. Neville gave her a look over his glasses and said "if you have any issues with this you are welcome to come and see me after the meeting". Scorpius guessed Rose hadn't taken him up on the offer, the Headmaster having made it clear with his tone that it was almost a challenge.

Come and argue the two of you don't deserve to do detention duty - I dare you

"Oh absolutely," Scorpius agreed without hesitation, although it may have been a tad more convincing if he wasn't grinning like a fool, "Definitely unfair."

"You'd think being attacked by a Chimaera would be enough," she scoffed, and he tried to ignore the quickening of his heart rate and how his body was on edge just by being so close to the forest again, "I don't know why Neville thought this was necessary too."

Scorpius knew why Neville thought it was necessary - Neville thought it was necessary because Scorpius told him it was.

It's not that he wanted to spend his weekends supervising the children - he had already made it abundantly clear how he felt about all of that - it was just that he had become rather desperate. Since her release from the hospital, Rose had not had an abundance of free time like previously. And without the guise of breaking her out of her hospital bed, Scorpius didn't really have a credible reason to spend time with her other than he just really, really wanted to. He wasn't sure whether she liked him enough for that to be seen as a decent reason yet. So over the past few weeks she'd been out of hospital, Rose and Scorpius had basically only seen each other at breakfast and the odd Quidditch match, but even then, he couldn't be guaranteed to get a seat next to her. He tried - Merlin almighty he tried very hard to ensure he did - but Rose it seemed was a prized commodity, and everyone was vying for an ounce of her time. And, similar to himself, they all seemed to only really be able to get said ounce at meal times. It was incredibly annoying, and he found himself cursing her inane efforts to be polite and kind to everyone she met for putting them in this position. If she behaved more like him and was generally unpleasant to people then they would have all the time in the world. No one would want to speak to them and they could maroon themselves at the end of the table and whisper in each other's ears and pretend the rest of the world just didn't exist for a bit.

That would be heaven.

But alas, that was not the world they were living in, and so Scorpius had had to take some desperate steps to orchestrate this whole set up. He'd approached Neville outside of a staff meeting and had very casually enquired as to when Rose and he would next be doing detention. Neville had looked at him strangely, before telling him that after the debacle of their last round of late night detention, not only where detentions in the Forbidden Forest not going to be happening, but also that he and Rose were no longer required to do them. Scorpius' heart had been in his throat for a minute, but he had prepared himself for this response. So he played his part brilliantly.

He'd let out a heavy sigh of relief before smiling brightly and chuckling to himself.

"Oh wonderful!" He'd crowed melodiously as his grin widened, "I can finally stop being polite to Weasley."

Neville's brow had hardened as he gave him a quizzical look.

"I was only playing nice with her because I thought we'd be doing the rounds again and I rather fancied not having her hex me or leave me in a body bind on a floor somewhere again," he gave a dramatic wave of his hand, "Thank heavens that's not the case! Things can finally get back to normal. Thanks Neville, appreciate it!"

Scorpius had turned and walked away, confident that his boss had fallen for his display hook, line, and sinker. To really sell the story, he made sure to ignore Rose at the next meal and shot her a glare or two just for old times' sake. It therefore came as absolutely no surprise the next morning when Neville had changed his mind and announced that he and Rose would be responsible for accompanying the children on their Hogsmeade trip for the next few weeks.

Really, his plans were so brilliantly executed it was a shame he couldn't be paid to just be devious for a living.

"Well, no point arguing about it now," Scorpius said to Rose with a shrug, "We'll just have to do our best to survive the next six weeks worth of Saturday trips."

Rose was about to say something when a nearby student ran past squealing in excitement. Scorpius couldn't stop the way his entire body tensed and shuddered at the ear-piercing affront to his hearing. He glared vaguely in the direction of where the student had run off to, only to turn back to see Rose smiling brightly at him.

It was like a sucker punch to the heart. But, oddly, in a good way.

"Of the two of us, I know who's going to have a harder time surviving," she said knowingly. Scorpius grinned back at her.

"Guess I'll need my friend to help me through."

"Why do I feel like I'm going to regret making nice with you?"

"I don't know, but there's no backsies so too bad."

"Never thought I'd hear the his royal aristocratic asshole Scorpius Malfoy use the term 'backsies'."

"Seems you've got a lot to learn about me yet. Now," he clapped his hands together and gestured in the general direction of the walk to Hogsmeade with a nod of his head, "Shall we begin this torture?"

Rose proceeded to try to call everyone's attention to them and was embarrassingly unsuccessful. Those closest turned to face them, but after her fourth 'excuse me!' garnered next to no attention, Scorpius tapped her shoulder, rolled his eyes at her, and stepped forward, wand to his throat.

"YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE!"

His voice game out in such a booming command that he was almost sure that the children who had stayed behind in the main buildings would have heard him. He thought he heard Rose call him an arrogant show pony under her breath, but he ignored it. Scorpius gestured for Rose to continue giving instructions and stepped back to let her take the lead. She gave everyone the spiel about being on their best behaviour, how this trip was a privilege not a right, and anyone who was caught misbehaving would be reported and barred from future excursions. The children managed to pretend they were listening as they buzzed with excitement and whispered amongst themselves before Rose finally dismissed them. Although Rose and Scorpius were technically supposed to be leading them to the little magical town, the older kids took off ahead and everyone else just seemed to follow them blindly. Scorpius wasn't complaining, it meant he and Rose got to meander along towards the back of the crowd. Which meant he could be a bit more daring than he would have been had the entire attention of the group been on them.

"Shall we?" he offered her his arm and tried not to get offended by the way her eyebrows almost shot into her hairline. She hesitated for a long moment before eventually taking his arm tentatively, very clearly a bit unsure about the notion of being escorted. She looked painfully uncomfortable and he immediately regretted the gesture - his intention was not to make her so awkward that she wouldn't speak to him. This was supposed to be charming and suave, not creepy and overly familiar. He was about to figure out some way to retract his arm when she spoke.

"I don't think anyone's ever offered me their arm before," she muttered to him, very self consciously, "I feel a bit…silly."

So it was nervousness that caused her trepidation. Nervousness he could deal with. Most easily. The perfect response - confidence. Which he just so happened to have in spades.

"I understand that behaving like a proper lady is a foreign concept for you, Rose, but never fear," he gave her hand a gentle tap, "I shall guide you."

She was about to retort with some expletive riddled response when a group of fourth year girls hurried past them, stopped, stared at where they were touching, and then - honest to Merlin - swooned.

"Sooo romantic," one of the girls sighed, before they all skipped off in a whispering huddle that kept glancing back at him and Rose. Rose promptly removed her hand from his arm.

He was going to give each of those girls detention for the rest of their lives.

Graduated Hogwarts? Don't care - Detention.

Getting married? Not today - Detention.

50 year old women who haven't studied in over 30 years? Irrelevant. Detention. Always Detention.

Rose laughed and nervously tugged at her robes as they continued towards Hogsmeade.

"We really aren't helping those 'they're totally sleeping together' rumours Pomfrey started with that bloody howler," she grumbled, "They'll probably tell everyone we're secretly married."

Secretly married.

His veela whined in euphoria.

Scorpius cleared his throat and thought very unsexy thoughts to distract his bird brain from focusing too hard on the prospect.

"Nonsense," Scorpius scoffed, "No wife of mine would be caught dead walking around-"

"I swear to Merlin if you make fun of my outfit I'll hex your ears off."

"I was going to say 'without an obnoxiously large ring', thank you very much," he pondered her comment for a moment, "Hex my ears off? You can do that?"

Rose's face was painted with a smirk that looked so alarmingly similar to his own that he was almost proud.

"I can do anything."

"Bullshit."

"I can."

"Ok," he stopped and looked at her, arms crossed and challenge clear on his features, "Do a backflip."

"What?"

"Do. A. Backflip."

They stared each other down for several long moments, Scorpius' face an image of passive challenge as Rose scrunched up her features and ground her teeth in frustration.

"I hate you."

"You don't."

"I want to."

"Guess that's two things you can't do."

She swatted at his arm and began stomping off at a faster pace. A laugh escaped him as he jogged to catch up to her. Him. Jogging. In these shoes! She'd speared her little hooks right into his heart it appeared, for nothing else could explain such a brazen display of affection as ignoring the wellbeing of his leather loafers in favour of walking beside her. He made mental note to see if there were any good cobblers in Hogsmeade. Maybe the worst of the damage could be abetted if they caught it quick enough. They walked in time together for a few moments before Scorpius spoke.

"I wouldn't mock your outfit," he said glancing at her and giving her a once over like he hadn't spent a ridiculous amount of time memorising her every move as she'd descended the hill this morning, "You look beautiful."

He couldn't be sure, but he thought her step might have faltered for a minute there. She didn't look at him when she muttered her thanks, but when he glanced at her he could see through the curls framing her face that she was blushing. He wondered if it would always be like this; if she would still be blushing when he called her beautiful when they were eighty?

OK AND YEP, THOSE THOUGHTS NEEDED TO CALM RIGHT THE VERY FUCK DOWN.

When she continued stomping in silence, Scorpius finally relented and apologised.

"Rose, I'm sorry."

She smiled and turned to look at him, "I accept-"

He cut her off with a cheeky smile, "That you can't do a backflip."

She huffed loudly and shot him a glare with no heat behind it. "These are going to be a long few weeks."

And Scorpius was looking forward to every minute of it.


The day had been, quite simply, lovely.

Once they'd gotten to Hogsmeade, they did a casual lap of the main shopping district to ensure no children were causing too much damage. How the townspeople put up with them all was beyond him - imagine enjoying your Saturday morning only to be set upon by hordes of schoolchildren. It was the thing of nightmares. Satisfied that there was only minimal mischief, and nothing that needed immediate intervention, Scorpius and Rose had ended up casually strolling through shops and chatting politely. Scorpius bought more stationary and pointedly ignored Rose's scoffs and eye-rolls when he tested the thickness of the paper and smelt it to make sure it didn't smell too processed, while Rose packed her pockets full of sweets from Honeydukes and pointedly ignored his mutterings about rotted teeth and clogged arteries.

When Rose started to suck on a sugar quill and smile to herself he seriously contemplated suing the place for endangering life because Scorpius was minutes away from an aneurysm, he was sure of it.

They'd found themselves wondering along the back streets, away from the bustle of the town centre where many of the children were congregating, and instead had some semblance of privacy as they walked along paths lined by trees and shrubs. It was, in a word, romantic as fuck, and Scorpius thought that for a date one half of the couple wasn't even aware they were on, it was going quite well.

Beneath the heavy canopy of trees, Scorpius noticed that Rose had pulled her robes tighter around herself and her laugh (which he had heard often and wasn't that just marvellous for his heart and his gonads) was often accompanied by a puff of smoke indicating the chill in the air. She hadn't mentioned being cold, and hadn't cast warming charms on them either for that matter, but it didn't escape his notice that she appeared to be struggling with the weather more than he was. He noticed her shiver again out of the corner of his eye and saw the perfect opportunity to be a right gentleman and assist her with her problem. After all, what kind of prospective partner would he be if he didn't offer her his scarf.

Trying not to make too much of a spectacle of what he was about to do, Scorpius unwrapped his scarf from around his neck and stepped in front of Rose, halting her shivering progression down the path.

"What are yo-"

Her question died on her lips as he draped the scarf behind her neck before gently wrapping it around her. Rose looked at the green material and raised an eyebrow.

"This really doesn't go with my outfit," she drawled with a knowing smile.

Scorpius scoffed, "It's representing the best house at Hogwarts - it goes with everything."

He finished wrapping her up, satisfied that she wasn't shivering anymore, but kept hold of the ends of the scarf, unsure why he didn't want to let it go yet. Maybe it was so Rose couldn't take it off straight away and stomp on it in some display of Gryffindor dominance. Or maybe it was because this way he got to stand close to her and it felt intimate, almost like he was holding her.

He was very certain his motivation lay in the latter of the two options.

Rose was looking at him with an expression he thought he might clarify as 'coy', but that didn't seem right - Rose had never been this soft with him, certainly not out in public where other people might witness the display. He didn't mind it. He was almost certain he wasn't at risk of getting hexed, which was an incredibly nice surprise. Look at them, making progress.

Rose fiddled with the scarf, taking hold of it just above where he was. She made no efforts to pull it away from him, so he kept hold, enjoying this nice little bubble of comfort they'd found themselves in. If he raised his hands a bit he could almost touch her. The bird in his skull screeched excitedly at the prospect.

"You know, if my students see me wearing this I'll be tried for treason," she said it with a smile, "They'll drag me to the Common Room and force me to recite the house song wearing a lion hat until I've repented."

"I've already broken you out of the Hospital Wing," he said with a wide smile, his eyes traitorously darting to her mouth as she spoke before flitting back up to her gaze, "I'm sure I'd be able to smuggle you out of the Gryffindor Common Room as well."

"And then what - provide refuge in the dungeons?" She quirked an expressive eyebrow before adding sarcastically, "How chivalrous."

"No, I couldn't risk the students giving away your location." He could lift his finger and brush it against hers. Surely that would be ok. Surely she wouldn't hate him if he did that.

"Don't trust your underlings to keep quiet?" She teased, and was it all in his head or was she leaning forward a tad? If he learn forward too they would almost certainly almost be touching. He felt a fluttering at the base of his skull as his veela fought to push forward. He held it back with a strength of will he had no idea he was capable of.

"We Slytherins are ambitious by nature Rose," his voice had deepened as he continued to tease her, like he was sharing some funny little secret, "they wouldn't be able to keep quiet about having Gryffindor's pride and glory in their clutches."

"Clutches?" She quirked an expressive eyebrow, "This doesn't sound like a rescue; it seems more like a prisoner transfer."

"I wouldn't stash you in the dungeons -"

She spoke over him, feigning outrage, "Stash? I'm not contraband."

"-You could take refuge in my quarters."

Whatever she was about to say was cut off and she looked at him with her mouth ajar. He wasn't sure if it was the cold or what he'd just suggested, but Scorpius was fairly sure her cheeks took on a particularly rosy hue. She cleared her throat and broke eye contact, staring instead at her toes and letting out a forced kind of a huff.

"Right. Like I'd let you keep me locked up in there. I know you'd just be waiting to take revenge for that time I kind of knocked you out a bit."

"A bit?" Rose finally looked back up at him, mirth dancing in her eyes, "I was down for almost an hour."

"You got to have a nice rest," she sniffed and raised her nose, "You're welcome."

Scorpius finally let go of the scarf so he could cross his arms and better sell his outrage, "Those robes were irreparably damaged."

She let out an indelicate snort and crossed her arms to mirror him in a way that he couldn't say for certain wasn't meant to mock him, "How?"

"They got disastrously creased."

That earned him another snort, "Oh, like that's not fixable."

"Yes but I'll always know what they went through," he gazed dramatically into the distance, "The trauma they suffered."

Rose's posture changed once more as she jutted out one hip and assessed him. He tried not to find it irrationally erotic but it was basically useless. He couldn't keep the smile off his face as he looked directly at her once more. So much attitude in such a tiny package. Their children would be absolute terrors to any authority figure that dared show weakness or incompetence.

Yes, Mate will bear us wonderful children

OK YEP, ADD CHILDREN TO THE LIST OF THINGS OFF-FUCKING-LIMITS TO THINK ABOUT YOU STUPID OVERGROWN PIGEON.

Scorpius was pulled back out of his reverie by Rose teasing him once more.

"Is there a word for someone who's sexually attracted to expensive inanimate objects?" She pondered, eyes sparkling, "Because I think that's you."

"I am not sexually attracted to my robes," he drawled, more amused at the idea that the one and only object of his affection was suggesting such a bogus claim.

"Right. You just feel personally attacked when they get damaged."

"I was personally attacked. By you."

"It would also explain your weird hang ups about that mahogany table of yours," she continued, ignoring his comment as she reasoned with herself.

"I have no hang ups about mahogany tables."

"Right, right. You're attracted to mahogany, you have hang ups about oak."

"I am not attracted to inanimate objects!" Scorpius exclaimed, voice raised loud enough that an old woman walking past them gave him an odd look. Which, of course, Rose found endlessly entertaining. She snickered into his scarf as he smiled at the woman and tried to erase this event from his memory.

"It's ok if you are," Rose said with mock seriousness when the woman had past and Scorpius was done shooing her daggers, "I won't judge. I will, however, tease you. Relentlessly."

"You already tease me relentlessly."

"It's what friends do Scorpius, you signed up for this when you wanted us to be amicable."

With that comment, Rose began walking down the path again, this time with a very obvious spring in her step. In fact it appeared she was basically skipping. Pre-veela Scorpius probably would have found the display childish and embarrassing. As it were, he found himself oddly tempted to mirror her.

He didn't, obviously. He was half-bird, not half-mad.

"I never pictured being your friend would be so astoundingly similar to being your enemy," he called out to her, barely a step behind her. She spun and smiled brightly, skipping unimpaired by the fact she was now moving backwards.

"The key difference is when I tease you now I do it with a smile."

"Instead of that frown you used to make that made you look like you had a unibrow?"

Her smile dropped, "You're not funny."

His smile widened, "I'm hilarious."

"You sure you can manage to part with this scarf," she played with the edges of the clothing item and set her face in an expression of mock-concern, "you won't cry over the loss of a loved one?"

He raised an eyebrow at her and sauntered along the path to her. "I'm tempted to take it back just to watch you shiver again."

"Such a sadist," she teased, obviously unconcerned with his threat. Were they flirting now? He was fairly sure they were flirting.

"You should talk," he teased her back, "you're the one that's hellbent on humiliating me."

"Again, that's what friends do."

She turned and continued towards the town, Scorpius easily falling in time beside her, tucking his hands in his pockets to stop himself from acting on the overwhelming urge to hold her hand as it swung between them.

"I'm starting to think you really do have awful friends," he commented, shooting her a sideways smirk. Rose turned her nose up at him and scoffed.

"My friends are amazing. You're an exception I'm willing to take a chance on."

"Oh please, I will be your best friend by the end of this year," he said it was a confidence he was surprised to find he truly had. She would be his best friend, he'd make sure of it. Everything else would follow easily if he could achieve such a feat.

Scorpius tried not to be insulted when she scoffed at him again.

"You won't even be top ten by the end of this year," she responded with a teasing twinkle in her eye.

Scorpius stopped dead in his tracks and stared at her in disbelief.

"You have more than ten friends?!" He exclaimed, his voice embarrassingly emotive. Rose gave him the same look in return.

"You don't?!"

"Rose I'm not sure I could confidently name ten people I don't hate," he told her honestly.

Her face softened into one of pity that he did not appreciate, but still made something tingly erupt low in his stomach. She looked like she wanted to hug him. He wanted her to.

"Why do you hate people so much?" She asked gently.

"Have you met people?" He countered automatically. His retort broke some of her concern, a smile blooming across her features that felt honest and true. He watched as it vanished moments later, replaced by that same teasing glint she'd worn most of the day. He was finding it was soon becoming his favourite expression of hers.

"One day," Rose said, holding eye contact as she spoke, "someone is going to melt that cold dead heart of yours Scorpius Malfoy, just you wait."

It was almost funny just how right she was whilst also being so painfully oblivious.

"Oh really?"

"Yes, and I bet she'll be bland as batshit."

A laugh erupted from him before he could stop it. He hoped that one day - once everything was out in the open and he'd convinced Rose to love him - he would bring up this conversation for them to laugh over. The thought made something in his chest warm pleasantly. Probably that cold dead heart of his beating back to life.

"One thing's for sure," Scorpius leant closer to her to speak conspiratorially about this hypothetical girl who didn't exist, "she'd never tease me."

"Course not! I bet she'd really respect all of your opinions."

"We'd never argue, because she'd understand that I am always right about everything."

"And she wouldn't care you spend most of your fortune on glamour potions," Rose gestured to his hair, and looked like she was going to reach to touch it before catching herself. He was embarrassingly close to asking her to run her hands through it. Lucky she didn't - he had no idea what was going to happen if she did. His stupid veela would probably preen and jump forward and propose marriage or something.

Which would be bad. Mostly.

"She'd encourage it in fact," he wrapped a stray strand of his hair around his finger and watched as she tracked the motion with her eyes. Interesting, "because she'd only want me because of my beautiful hair."

"And her hair would be just like yours obviously," he didn't imagine the edge of spite to her tone, "all blonde and straight and it would touch her ass and sway unnaturally."

"Definitely! Because I'd never find anyone attractive unless they looked freakishly similar to myself."

The overly sarcastic tone to his voice seemed to bring a bit of her spark back.

"She'd never belch or fart."

"And she certainly wouldn't steal the last cinnamon roll at breakfast," he said with an accusatory tone, a reference to yesterday morning when she'd nabbed the last scroll before he could claim it, "In fact she'd save it just for me."

"She'd have a great set of legs that she'd show off all the time."

Scorpius nodded in mock agreement, "Exactly how I like my women - not mouthy and very leggy."

"You could pile all your shit on her and she wouldn't care," she added, a glint in her eyes he couldn't quite name.

"Naturally - I need a live-in therapist, not a companion"

"And she'd have no discernible personality."

"Definitely not."

"One might even call her, wooden."

"Don't."

"Because she'd be a table."

He'd walked right into that one. Scorpius let out a heavy sigh and rubbed at his temples as if he was getting the beginnings of a headache.

"You are impossible."

Rose cackled brightly at seemingly besting him in this game she'd made, and he would be slightly put out by the fact that she thought he was attracted to furniture if it wasn't so blindingly obvious that there was only one thing in existence he wanted right now. And it wasn't his table.

Once she'd recovered from her mad cackling, Rose let out a sigh and beamed up at him with a cheeky glint in her eye.

"Still think you could stand being my best friend?" She asked, "Because this is all it would be, constantly, forever"

Yes. This is all we want. Forever.

Scorpius acknowledged his veela, agreed with it silently before eventually saying, "I think I could handle it."


They found themselves back in the town centre, the sun getting lower in the sky as the afternoon hours passed. Realising they hadn't had anything of substance to eat during their chaperone duties, Scorpius and Rose decided it was probably best to find something to eat before they started the long process of rounding up the children and herding them back to the castle. Scorpius had planned to just go to the Hogshead, maybe have a sneaky butter beer or two (technically they were working, but he was sure they could get away with it just this once) and some nice pub food. Maybe a pie. He could really go a pie right now. He was about to propose his plan to Rose when she paused, pointing ahead of them.

"Hey, is that…?" She let the question hang in the air as he looked to where she was gesturing.

And promptly felt terror grip him by the throat.

Standing there in the centre of the town's square, dressed as if he was about to attend his own funeral, was a very familiar shock of white blonde hair atop pitch black robes. A very familial shock of blonde hair.

As if sensing his eyes on him, and before Scorpius could grab Rose by the arm and dive behind the nearest building, Draco Malfoy turned towards them, eyes scanning the crowd in a bored perusal of his surroundings before landing squarely on them. Scorpius felt like he'd been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Only instead of getting yelled at, he was going to be mocked. Mercilessly. Which was infinitely worse.

He watched as his father's eyes widened in surprise at the sight of him, before shifting to where Rose was standing next to him, still pointing at his father awkwardly. It was minute, the movement of emotion that crossed his father's features, and had he not grown up with the man he might have missed it. As it were, Scorpius saw it and knew instantly what his father was thinking - he was amused. Very amused and very smug about it.

Merlin be merciful, please let this encounter pass with minimal casualties.

"I guess - I mean," Scorpius swallowed and adopted an air of self importance and confidence he did not currently possess, "I should probably say hi."

"Should I…" Rose paused, reconsidering her words and looking painfully uncomfortable, "I mean, uh, I can just stay here if you want to go see your dad on your own?"

"Well, you- you can if you'd like," Scorpius felt heat rise in his face and he might be sweating. On the one hand, he really didn't want her to interact with his father, but he also didn't want her to feel like he was ashamed of their friendship, "If you'd rather not see my dad, I mean, I, uh, I know that things between your parents and, uh…"

This was the least eloquent he could ever recall being and he honestly wanted to slap himself in the face for embarrassing his legacy so thoroughly.

Both of them were saved from deciding whether or not they would both engage in conversation with Draco, however, when the patriarch himself was suddenly in front of them, apparently having taken it upon himself to approach them as they'd been awkwardly debating.

"Scorpius," he greeted with as much warmth and affection as he ever did. Which is to say, not much.

"Father!" Scorpius said with genuine surprise, and mild discomfort. It was weird standing in front of his father while he was standing next to Rose. There was just something unsettling about speaking with your father in the company of the woman he knew you'd been fantasising about, "What a, uh, pleasant surprise."

"Indeed," he didn't like his father's smile. It was too sly, too cunning. The man knew something. Probably the aforementioned fantasies. And the fact that he'd been right all those weeks ago when he'd guessed Rose was his soul mate. Merlin Almighty this was awkward.

"I didn't think you frequented Hogsmeade," Draco gave a brief glance to school children who were yelling profanities and throwing mud at each other. He wore an expression of disgust that Scorpius was sure his own features reflected, "Especially not during the school year."

His father knew him so well.

"We're on chaperone duty for the next few weeks," Scorpius explained, trying desperately to think of a way to end this conversation as quickly as possible so they could get the hell out of here before his father said anything too embarrassing. Scorpius failed to realise, however, that he had inadvertently given his father the perfect opportunity to engage with Rose.

"And by 'we' I assume you mean yourself and your colleague here," Draco's smile was bright as he shot his son a knowing glance before turning his attentions to Rose, plastering on a smile that was the closest thing to 'pleasant' Scorpius had ever seen his father display when not in the immediate vicinity of his mother, "Miss. Weasley, I presume?"

"Uh, yes," Rose stuttered adorably, flustered and a touch self conscious if the way she was pushing her hair behind her ear was anything to go by, "It's lovely to meet you Mr. Malfoy."

Rose held out her hand to shake. Scorpius watched in abject horror as his father - his very own father, he who spawned him and cursed him with his existence - took Rose's hand and then - and then! - bent to kiss it.

Scorpius felt his eye twitch at the casual affection his father displayed, his fist clenching and teeth grinding. Rose smiled warmly in response, her discomfort evaporating.

"It's a pleasure to finally meet you, Miss. Weasley. And please," his father smiled at her as he inclined his head in way that suggested that he would have bowed if his back wasn't so bad, "Call me Draco."

Call me Draco?

Right, so, he might have to punch his dad in the face.

"Finally?" Rose asked with a warm smile before raising an eyebrow at Scorpius. And that did things to him that he really didn't need to happen in front of his father, "Been talking about me to your dad, Scorpius?"

Oh it was funny because it was so very painfully true in a multitude of ways she'd never know.

"I had to make sure he knew who to question if I turned up hog-tied in the bottom of a well."

"Come on, I wouldn't leave you anywhere someone would be able to find you," she playfully nudged him with her shoulder, "What am I, some kind of rookie?"

Scorpius was going to reply when he caught a look at his father, who had a stupid smug smile on his face. Did all Malfoy men have such supremely punchable faces? He cleared his throat and returned his attention to getting rid of his father as soon as possible.

"So, what brings you to Hogsmeade?" He asked in a very blatant misdirect, "Just a quick browse? On you way someplace else? Heading home? Right now?"

Scorpius was not subtle with his hints. His father's smile just grew more smug, which he was very surprised was even possible.

"Just a quick shop," Draco maintained eye contact with Scorpius before quirking an eyebrow and saying meaningfully, "We were hoping to pick up a Samhain gift for your Aunt Daphne."

Scorpius felt the blood drain from his face as his heart skipped a beat. There was one word in that sentence that sent terror through his system, had his heart beating wildly, and his legs itching to start running, running, running very far away from here.

He swallowed discretely as his face got more pale.

"We?"

"DARLING!" A voice he would recognise anywhere came calling from across the road, "What a lovely surprise!"

Scorpius twisted, face set in a painfully fake smile as Astoria Malfoy came prancing across the town centre towards them, arms full of bags overflowing with purchases.

"Mother," Scorpius swallowed heavily and prayed to be smote from existence before this could continue, "How lovely to see you."

His mother was glowing, practically bouncing with glee and delight which was odd, even for someone as chaotically excitable as his mother. She was vibrating with a kind of frenetic energy Scorpius had never borne witness to and he momentarily considered enquiring if she'd had a few too many sweets from Honeydukes. It was then that Scorpius noticed Astoria wasn't looking at him - she was looking directly at Rose. She was looking directly at Rose and beaming so brightly she was rivalling the sun. Which meant one thing:

Astoria knew. Everything.

Fuck.

Fuck.

Fuckety.

Fuck.


Aaaaand scene. We ready for some awkward parent interaction? Because its a-coming! Honestly this scene kind of came out of nowhere, and from the necessities of speeding the story along a bit. I hope you all enjoyed it!

It would probably be too meta to include a scene of Rose making Scorpius listen to 'I love you like a table' from Waitress Musical, but just know that that's a head cannon of my head cannon that I've accepted.

I hope you're all staying safe and well. My love and well wishes are with you all. And to everyone who has left lovely messages or reviews saying how they've been going through a rough times and reading my stories has helped them smile - you have no idea how much that warms my heart. I love you all and I hope we all get through this together.

Much love until next time

Grae xo