The One Who Was Always There
As he sat watching her still form on the Hospital Wing's crisp white sheets, his chair close beside her bed in case she should stir, Scorpius Malfoy could hear Madam Wilkins bustling around him, the content of her mutterings not lost on him. He supposed he shouldn't have been surprised; never in all of Hogwarts's history have the Malfoys and Weasleys ever gotten along.
He bit back a bitter laugh as he looked down at his hands, fingers intertwined tightly as if in prayer. To say that the Malfoys and Weasleys "never got along" really was an understatement; Scorpius knew that to this day, his father was still unable to utter a decent word about the Weasleys without having to counter with an, however feeble, unpleasant statement.
The only exception to that rule was when his father had revealed, albeit reluctantly, that he owed his life to a man called Harry Potter and, coincidentally the father of the woman lying in front of him, Ron Weasley. That subject matter had then been closed abruptly, but over the years his father had taught him (Scorpius suspected that this was done sub-consciously at times) about the foolishness of having prejudices.
He knew his father had learnt that the hard way during the years when an evil wizard named Lord Voldermort had returned. Draco Malfoy had narrowly survived the war that had followed and his view on a person's blood status had been severely altered. One thing his father had trouble letting go however, was the fact that he thought being a Malfoy meant that they were somehow superior to others. Scorpius supposed it was somehow inborn in all Malfoys. After all, didn't he prove that in his first year on the Hogwarts Express?
Six years ago...
Scorpius, and many others in that section of the train, couldn't help but overhear the commotion outside their compartments. Sharing a look of curiosity with the other inhabitants in his compartment, he cautiously stuck his head out to see what all the fuss was about. At the end of their carriage, a redheaded boy who looked about his age was laughing, his right fist closed around a long silvery chain as he held it tauntingly above the head of a shorter brunette girl. Her back was to him and it was evident that the shrill voice that had seeped through the various cracks in the compartment doors had belonged to her.
"James! Give me my locket!" said the girl, not bothering to keep her annoyance out of her voice as she tried over and over again to grab at her locket, which James was successfully keeping out of her reach.
The boy called James stuck his tongue out at her, a laugh escaping his lips as he avoided an angry kick to his legs. The girl gave a low growl and tried to reach for the elusive locket again. Scorpius stepped out of his compartment and made his way to the pair, justifying his sudden sense of heroism with a pathetic attempt at an excuse; if all went as planned, well, he suppose he'd gain a friend.
"Hey!" Scorpius said loudly. James looked up and the girl turned around at the sound of a new voice. "Why don't you go on and clear off? Leave her alone." Scorpius tried to sound menacing as he sent a reassuring smile in the girl's direction.
James stopped grinning and Scorpius stared back into light brown eyes that had now lost their twinkle, silently willing himself not to falter under their scrutiny. In doing so, he failed to notice the brown-haired girl looking at him with a mixture of something akin to curiosity and hopeful expectation.
"Eh... You're that Malfoy kid, aren't you?" James said, a hint of contempt lacing his words.
Scorpius didn't miss the girl give a subtle kick to James' leg. He tilted his chin up in an effort to look more intimidating. His eyes moved upward to James' brilliant red mop of hair and before he knew it, he found himself saying, "Yeah, so what if I am? Better a Malfoy than a Weasley."
James gave a cry of outrage and moved towards Scorpius. The brown-haired girl snorted in disgust and stopped James before he hit the pale boy. She then stepped forward into the light and Scorpius could now see her properly. Her face was flushed with exertion and her bottom lip was slightly swollen from her biting it in frustration. He noticed that while she had brown eyes like James, hers were several shades darker and Scorpius was struck by the sudden image of swimming in molten dark chocolate. However, that pleasant image vanished when he saw her eyes narrow dangerously as she took a step forward; Scorpius involuntarily took a step back.
"I should've known." She snapped at him. "Listen, Malfoy. I'd much sooner let a Weasley help me than even consider accepting help from someone like you."
Then, promptly taking advantage of James being distracted, she placed a well-aimed punch in his gut. James doubled over gasping and the girl bent over him and pried open his fist, retrieving her precious locket. Scorpius heard her mutter "Idiot" under her breath as she picked James up from the floor and helped him into their compartment. He was left standing by himself in the corridor with his mouth slightly ajar, staring blankly at the spot where only moments ago stood a girl with eyes that flashed like lightning across a dark velvet sky.
He didn't see her again until the Sorting Ceremony in the Great Hall. Scorpius sat at the Slytherin table, waiting for the rest of his fellow First Years to be sorted. He tilted his head and lazily surveyed the group of frightened looking First Years who were transfixed at the large Sorting Hat perched on the head of a boy called Albus Potter. After a few moments the Hat yelled to the rest of the school, "GRYFFINDOR!" and Albus Potter made his way to a familiar looking redhead already sat at the Gryffindor table. As James ruffled Albus' dark hair affectionately by way of congratulating his getting into Gryffindor, Scorpius couldn't help but notice several resemblances between the two boys.
All thoughts were put on hold, however, when the name "Weasley, Rose!" was called and Scorpius noticed a dark head of hair making its way to the Sorting Hat. Rose was sitting on the edge of her seat, both hands gripping the sides of her chair tightly as she waited for the Hat to sort her. The Hat covered most of her face and Scorpius could just make out Rose nervously chewing her bottom lip again. Rose was promptly sorted into Gryffindor to the cheering whoops of James and Albus, and she beamed as she made her way to sit across the two boys. By then Scorpius had realised that James and Albus were the sons of Harry Potter and cousins to Rose Weasley, daughter of Ron Weasley.
He stabbed at his meat and silently cursed at his luck. He really had been an idiot. His act of heroism had backfired and not only had he offended the girl he had been trying to help, but he had also insulted the children of the two men who had saved his father's life. Scorpius pushed away his plate and wearily plunked his head down on the table. Thanks to his name, he was going to have one bloody fantastic year.
A faint rustling of leaves could be heard outside and Scorpius caught sight of a bird's nest balanced precariously on the branch of the tree outside the Hospital Wing's window, three eggs sitting solidly in the centre, still and unmoving. He watched the nest distractedly as he recalled that first year. Rose had determinedly avoided him for the rest of the year, practically ignoring his existence, and when forced to, spoke as coolly as possible to him. Not wanting to be outdone, Scorpius had done the same and their first year had been spent without any reoccurrence of the incident on the train.
He shook his head with wonder at how they had responded to the Hogwarts Express episode with such childish solutions. Although, he mused, you did have to take into account that they had been mere eleven year olds; with the exception of James who, Scorpius had later found out, was a Second Year. Besides, things hadn't exactly been conducted in the most adult of manners during their third year at Hogwarts.
Four years ago...
He heard the voices before he actually saw the bodies they belonged to. Rounding the corner with his friends, Scorpius saw Rose engaged in a fiery argument with Aaron Andrews, a stocky Slytherin boy in their year, in front of their Transfiguration classroom. He shook his head in amusement; every time he saw that girl she seemed to be smack in the middle of some sort of trouble. It really was a wonder that she had friends with that volatile temper of hers. As they walked closer to the squabbling pair, Scorpius could decipher fragments of their heated discussion.
"...that Mudblood mother of yours..."
"...no right to speak about my mother in that way!"
"...no better than..."
"...how dare you!"
Scorpius sighed. It didn't look like the argument would have a happy ending, and based on personal experience; he was placing all bets on Rose coming out the winner. Rose looked like she was trying to restrain herself from physically hitting the Slytherin boy – she was flushed pink with anger and her fists were clenched tightly at her sides. Thankfully, Professor Pine came out in time to call them in and Andrews sauntered inside, curling his lip in an unpleasant sneer at Rose as he walked past her. Rose huffed in frustration and turned to see Scorpius watching. She must have mistaken his look of sympathy for something else, for she swiftly turned her back to him and stalked off into the classroom. Scorpius rolled his eyes; he was used to this sort of treatment from her by now, and followed her in for their Transfiguration lesson.
Andrews kept up a quiet stream of insults towards Rose during the lesson and Scorpius could see her nibbling on her bottom lip again in an effort to ignore him. She may be a feisty girl, but she still was her mother's daughter and would not do anything to jeopardise her classes. Andrews then whispered loudly to an equally burly friend and they both snickered nastily. Scorpius had no doubt who they were talking about and Rose seemed to have heard them too; her eyes looked suspiciously bright as she bent over the tortoises they were supposed to be turning into teapots.
Scorpius decided to teach them a lesson. He aimed his wand carefully in Andrews' direction, a wicked grin on his face. As he muttered under his breath, he was violently nudged by his neighbour; his wand arm jerked and the hex hit Rose, who was sitting at the desk beside Andrews, causing her to topple off her chair and onto the floor with a shriek. Whilst trying to hoist herself up, she caught sight of her hand and a shrill scream sounded throughout the classroom. A hard crust had formed on the back of her hand and Scorpius could only stare in dismay as it spread up her arms and to her face, giving her the appearance of an oddly-shaped rock.
Rose whirled around to give Scorpius a familiar look, though strangely altered due to the spell, of pure hatred before turning her wand on him. He gave a startled cry and ducked under the table, feeling her spell miss his head by inches. The class gasped in fright as the cupboard at the back of the classroom exploded with the force of Rose's jinx.
"Well, really!" Professor Pine exclaimed. The class was silent and the only sound that could be heard was the muffled whimpering coming from behind Rose's stony hands. "Ten points from both your houses! Miss Weasley, hospital wing, now. And both of you will be attending detention this Friday at eight. No excuses."
That Friday, Scorpius reluctantly pushed away his half-eaten dinner and made his way to Filch's office for his detention. He walked into the dingy old room and wrinkled his nose. There was a strange musty smell about it. Scorpius rolled his eyes as he saw a now normal-looking Rose already waiting there with her arms crossed impatiently – she clearly did not want to be here anymore than he did. Across the room, Filch was sitting in a rickety old chair and patting down a pile of matted fur in his lap. The straggly heap gave a pitiful yowl as Filch placed it on the ground, soothing it with an "It's alright, pretty kitty", and stood up with the help of a cane as ancient-looking as he was. Scorpius raised an eyebrow. Evidently, Filch thought really bad hair pieces made pretty cats.
Filch jerked his head towards the door and hobbled out, his cat at his heels. They walked down a long, dark hallway before stopping in front of the room where medals and trophies for everything imaginable were kept. Scorpius heard Rose give a small sigh of relief as they stepped in and Filch curtly told them that they were supposed to polish every single award without magic. He let out a barely audible groan himself as Filch locked them in the room.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Rose's lips twitch at his obvious displeasure at the task at hand.
Both Scorpius and Rose moved silently towards the awards and began polishing. They didn't talk for at least two hours, with only the clinking of awards, the occasional sneeze, and Scorpius' muttered complaints and curses punctuating the silence. They worked quickly and soon there was only a small pile left. As Scorpius sneezed for the third time in a row, he dropped the Quidditch cup he was holding and heard a stifled giggle coming from Rose's direction. Scowling, he bent to pick up the gold cup.
"Somehow, I don't think you do this often." Rose quipped suddenly, turning to him. Scorpius' hand froze in its path; after two hours of silence he hadn't been expecting her to say a word to him, especially after what he had done. He scooped up the trophy, awkwardly cleared his throat, and replied as he straightened up, "It's just not something that I've had the... uh... opportunity to do at home."
Rose snorted as if she had expected that answer and turned back to her polishing. Scorpius looked back at the medals he was supposed to be cleaning and toyed with the idea of bringing up the Transfiguration incident. They had just managed to exchange civil words with one another without her throwing something hard at him and he was afraid that the peace wouldn't last long if she was reminded of what he had done to deserve this detention. Scorpius stood there for a while, repeatedly turning the Quidditch cup over in his hands. Somehow plucking up the courage, he set the cup down and walked over to where Rose was sitting, surrounded by gold, silver and bronze metals.
He stood there for a while before blurting out, "Sorry." Rose got up and stood in front of him; they were about the same height now and her deep brown eyes stared directly into his grey ones as she quirked an eyebrow. Scorpius felt quite sure that she was about to hit him and was reminded of the image of James groaning on the floor of the Hogwarts Express. Just then, the door clicked and swung open and they immediately stepped a good distance away from one another. Filch hobbled in, jerked his head out the door and left. Scorpius had never been more relieved to see the old caretaker and chanced a quick glance at Rose before walking towards the open door. Her dark eyes looked mystified at his sudden apology.
"Wh – why did you do it?" her clear voice demanded just as he was about to leave.
Scorpius stopped at the open doorway and half-turned his head to answer, "No one should ever say what he said about you." He walked swiftly out the room, not daring to meet her eyes again, as Rose realised what he had meant.
In the quiet of the Hospital Wing, Scorpius thought back on how an unfortunate accident had dramatically changed Rose's behaviour towards him. She talked to him more, although very cautiously at first, and they actually became friends. A faint squeaking interrupted his thoughts and he looked up for the source of the sound. At first, he thought that it might have been Rose waking up, but he soon realised that the squeaking came from the eggs, now slightly wobbling, outside the window.
Sitting up and stretching his limbs, stiff from sitting for so long, Scorpius looked down at Rose's pale face. Her eyes were closed and her lips were parted slightly; if not for the purplish bruise on her forehead, you would've thought she was just sleeping. Scorpius raised his hand to gently push aside a tendril of soft brown hair from her face, brushing his knuckles against her creamy cheek. He was overcome with yet another memory from their past, one that caused him to grit his teeth angrily as his eyes flashed a dark stormy grey.
Two years ago...
The clouds were rolling in. Scorpius was on his way into the castle when he met Rose on her way out in a hurry. She didn't see him and walked straight into his chest; he had grown over the summer and was now a foot taller than she was. When Scorpius stopped her to ask where she was heading, she replied happily, "Damien's asked me to meet him by the old tree by the lake! I think Lizzie knows something about it, she's been so secretive lately, but she absolutely refuses to tell me anything. Can you believe it's been a year since he first asked me to go to Hogsmeade with him?"
Scorpius felt a small prick in his chest, but smothered the strange sensation as he saw how enthusiastic Rose was about seeing her boyfriend, Damien Payne. He seemed to make Rose happy, so why did he feel like throttling Payne every time he saw him? He grinned and congratulated her and sent her on her way, watching as she practically flew out the great doors. He let out a breath he didn't realise he had been holding and readjusted his book bag strap on his shoulder as he walked back to the Slytherin common room.
He was halfway through his Charms essay when he remembered that he had to send a letter to his mother. He needed more quills and he could never find quills of a good enough quality in Hogsmeade. On his way up to the Owlery, he saw that it was just beginning to rain; fat drops were coming in through the window and Scorpius decided to wrap up his letter in a waterproof skin before sending it off with his owl. He was too busy watching his owl soar through the stormy sky that he nearly slipped on the wet steps and had to grab onto the side of the stone banister to keep his balance.
Leaning over the side and squinting, he could make out a familiar small form still under the old tree. Scorpius raced down as fast as the slippery steps would allow him to, all the while wondering why Rose was out in the middle of a storm and not celebrating with Damien as she said she would be. As he got closer to the lake, he could see Rose huddled under the tree, her knees drawn up and her arms wrapped around them. She looked up as he ran towards her and he was met with the most forlorn face he had ever seen. It was obvious that she had been crying; her eyes were slightly puffy and her nose was a blotchy red. He felt a deep anger towards Payne, whom he felt sure was the cause of her crying. Those Gryffindors were most definitely not as perfect as everyone thought they were. However, everything melted away when Rose looked up at him with her dark, wet eyes.
"He's with Lizzie now." She whispered miserably, shivering due to the cold.
Looking at her tear-stained face, Scorpius couldn't help himself; noiselessly, he sat down and put a consoling arm around her. He was soaked from the run to the tree and the wind blowing in sheets of rain didn't help with the cold. He mumbled something under his breath and they both immediately felt a warmth come over them as the charm dried their clothes. He picked a stray tendril off Rose's face and just held her in silence as she put her head on his shoulder and sobbed into his shirt until dinner.
The next day in Potions, Damien tripped heavily and the flask of the antidote that he had been carefully brewing for the past hour flew through the air and shattered loudly by Scorpius's feet. The blond boy grinned and drawled lazily, "Oy, watch it, Payne. Some things just cannot be replaced, if you know what I mean." Turning his head slightly, Scorpius thought he saw the tiniest of smiles appear on Rose's face and he winked at her as he watched Damien try to salvage his antidote.
Scorpius watched a crack appear in one of the eggs as it wobbled furiously, the chick inside trying desperately to break through its shell. Damien had broken her heart, and Rose only dared to go out with a couple boys after that, none of them ever amounting to anything serious. Scorpius himself never stepped past the line defining their friendship, although he knew he would never do anything to make her feel the way she had that day; he would never hurt her. That was the last thing he ever wanted.
The day before...
The sun was high in the sky as the crowd below him roared wildly. Slytherin had just scored a goal. Scorpius, the Slytherin seeker, did a victory lap around the pitch as Rose stuck out her tongue at him. She was Gryffindor keeper and had let that Quaffle in. He laughed and flew past her, tugging on her braid as he passed. They resumed play and the Slytherin chasers were tossing the red Quaffle to each other so quickly that the Gryffindor chasers were unable to steal it away. They sped to Gryffindor's side of the pitch where Rose was flying around the hoops, anticipating their next move.
Then the Bludger came out of nowhere. It zoomed towards Rose, who was so focused on blocking the Quaffle that she didn't see the heavy black ball flying in her direction. Scorpius tried to warn her, but he was at the opposite end of the pitch and the deafening cries of the crowd drowned out his frantic yells. Rose darted to the left as the Quaffle was thrown and caught it to the cheers of the Gryffindors, but she noticed the Bludger too late and it smashed into the front of her broom, sending her spiralling around. Screams and gasps could be heard from the stands as the crowd realised what had happened. Scorpius bent over his broom and raced as fast as he could to the Gryffindor hoops, willing with every fibre of his being that Rose was okay.
The Bludger wasn't done yet. It ricocheted off the pole and crashed into Rose's broom again with an incredible force. Scorpius watched in horror as Rose lost control of her broom and flew straight into the pole with a sickening smack. She fell to the ground and the Quaffle rolled out of her limp arms. He was too late. Scorpius all but leapt off his broom before it reached the ground and rushed to Rose's side. Wordlessly, he picked her lifeless form off the ground and carried her into the Hospital Wing. People swarmed around him, but no one dared to stop him. Not when his steely grey eyes promised murder to the first one who got in his way.
She had hit her head badly. Her right wrist was fractured. The bones in her right leg were shattered. She still hadn't woken up.
He never left her side.
It was getting late, and Scorpius was beginning to feel the strain of not sleeping properly. He rested his head on her bed but had only just closed his eyes when he heard a weak, "Scorpius?" His eyes snapped open and he looked up to see a pair of large, brown eyes, wide open and searching. He sat up and scooted his chair closer to where Rose's head was.
"Hey," he murmured. "How are you feeling?"
She seemed to relax at the sound of his voice and turned her head to look at him. "I feel like an angry Hippogriff stomped all over me." Rose gave a weak chuckle and winced as the slight movement hurt her. Scorpius watched her eyes, trying to gauge if he needed to call Madam Wilkins over. She smiled at the intensity of his gaze. "Some birthday this turned out to be huh."
At her words, Scorpius looked away angrily. He was furious with himself. It was his Slytherin beater after all who had hit the Bludger her way. It was his job as Captain to ensure that things like this didn't happen. If only he had seen the Bludger first, he could have whisked Rose away to safety. Merlin knows his flying skills were nothing like his father's. If only he had pushed his broom to go faster, Rose would have been unharmed. If only, if only, if only... Rose could see him beating himself up about it and placed a cool hand on his.
"Thank you." She said sincerely. "For always being there."
Scorpius locked eyes with her for what seemed like an eternity. Then, he placed his arms on either side of her and leaned over until he was inches away from her face and saw her deep brown eyes widen slightly in surprise. He could feel her pulse quickening and a slow grin spread across his face. She was biting her lip again. He smirked and replied huskily, "Took you long enough to notice."
Before she could reply, he leant down and kissed her gently on those plump lips that had eluded him for so long. He felt her stiffen for a split second, and then her hand found its way to his shirt and he was pulled in closer as their kiss deepened.
Outside, Scorpius could hear the tiny cheeping of the chick as it finally broke out of its shell into the new world. He pulled away with a smile.
"Happy birthday, Rose."