Disclaimer: I don't own HP. Nuff said.
Chapter 4 – A New Beginning
Something had been wrong for the past two weeks, but Albus could not decipher exactly what it was. Ever since that day where Rose had angrily taken off to the sky, Scorpius had become increasingly quiet; the words that came out of his mouth were rarely longer than a few syllables. Albus had asked countless of times if anything had happened but was always answered with the same monosyllabic 'no'. His cousin, Rose, was slightly better in general, but Albus had noticed that she got a little skittish when ever he tried to approach the topic. Squinting critically at his parchment he rubbed his nose in irritation, successfully marking his nose with a light smudge of black ink.
"You've got something on your nose," Rose remarked, looking up from her own cramped piece of parchment. He looked down at fingers and saw the tell-tale sign that his quill was broken. Black ink had seeped through the casing onto his fingers.
"Oh bugger," he mumbled, rubbing his fingers off a separate piece of parchment. Rose rolled her eyes and reached for her wand, gently tapping his nose before muttering a spell.
"There," she said satisfactorily, slipping her wand back into the pocket of her robes.
"Thanks," he tossed away the broken quill behind his shoulder, not really caring where it fell. "I'm in no mood to work." He said finally, staring at the flickering flames from the fireplace. Rose didn't look up from her work, her quill constantly scratching the surface of her piece of parchment, filling it with more words by the minute. "You've been looking mighty stressed out lately," he remarked, resting his chin in his hands.
"Just tired," she reassured him, briefly stopping her constant scribbling. "I can barely juggle getting good grades, quidditch practice and prefect duties with free time to spare," she admitted with a long sigh, closing her eyes. "I don't know how mum did it."
"Scorpius seems tired too," Albus added, trying to make the reference sound casual. "He doesn't speak much anymore," Her jaw tightened slightly, but she said nothing in response. "I'm not too sure why though."
She brushed a piece of hair behind her ears, bending over her essay again. "So?" she said bluntly, picking up her quill to add a few more corrections to what she had already written. She cast a disdainful look at the entrance to the common room; people had begun to pour back from their lessons and the noise level was steadily increasing.
"So," Albus tried slowly, fiddling with the feathers on his quill, "Maybe you know why?"
She coughed hastily, dropping her quill on to the table. A small splash of ink from the metal tip marred a small corner of her textbook, seeping through the paper. "Well, I don't," she said harshly, brandishing her arm. "I don't know what gave you that idea." Albus flinched and started to inch away.
"Sorry," he muttered, inclining his head. "I was just wondering."
"You've already asked before, and I've already said – don't know, don't care and Merlin Albus, there's nothing I can do about it!" she threw her hands up in frustration, narrowly missing her inkbottle in the process.
He stared at her stonily. "I thought something might have happened between you two. Weren't you trying to get along?"
"I don't want to talk about it," Rose said, turning away slightly from her cousin, her arms folded tightly. "I thought I was too – it's not my fault he thought differently." He scrambled to his feet and was by her side instantly, question marks burning through his bright green eyes. Rose instantly regretted the loud mouth she'd inherited off her equally brash father.
"What do you mean? So something did happen?"
"I said I don't want to talk about it," Rose snapped, stepping away from her cousin. "Forget I said anything."
"But -," Albus started, a frown beginning to form on his face. "You just can't -,"
"Forget it." Rose said bitterly, rolling up her parchment to signal the end of the conversation. Albus stared at her helplessly, his brow creased in worry.
"Rose, stop being so childish – you're a prefect," Beatrix said, tucking a strand of her blond hair behind her left ear coolly. "I don't care if you have personal differences with Malfoy, I'm still expecting you to work with him properly. You can settle your differences outside of prefect duty."
Rose felt like breaking down into a tantrum in the middle of the Hall; the frustration she felt towards her Head Girl was starting to surface, seeping through her calm exterior. "I'm not being childish Beatrix. I'm just saying why can't you ask Rebecca or Lucy to patrol with me? I'm aware this is a last minute replacement and that a few people are busy – but that doesn't mean everyone is."
"Malfoy isn't busy." Beatrix said bluntly, her blue eyes cold.
"Neither is Lucy."
The other girl closed her eyes briefly, as if in pain. "You're being difficult."
Rose tugged habitually on her bottom lip, forcing herself to slowly count to ten before speaking again. "All I'm saying, Beatrix, is that it's very hard for me to work with him. Surely you can compromise? Lucy wouldn't mind -,"
Beatrix shook her head, cutting Rose off. "This isn't about Lucy minding or not – she just patrolled last night, you haven't yet. Malfoy last paroled a week and a half ago. This is about being fair to other people."
"Yes, but – what if Malfoy's busy too?" Rose began protesting.
"Oh, look, Malfoy's here. Why don't we ask him now?" Beatrix said, casting a look over her own shoulder, deftly fixing her book bag in its place. Rose blanched as she spotted the fair-headed boy enter the Hall from the doors that led outside, completely drenched. "Malfoy! Oi! Over here, can you spare a minute?"
He looked up in their direction briefly. Rose thought she saw him flinch. "Uh - hey," he called from whilst walking towards them, "what's up?" he said, sweeping his dripping wet hair away from his eyes.
"Gosh, what happened?" Beatrix muttered, taking her wand out. "Did you get pushed into the lake?"
He managed a fleeting grin at her, "No. I got caught in the rain – a sudden storm, actually."
"Here, let me help." Beatrix said with a smile, drying off his clothes and hair with an incantation.
"T-thanks," he said, blushing, "Should have bought you along with me – I'm rubbish at spells to do with water."
Beatrix laughed. "Maybe next time,"
Rose pointedly looked away, her lips bit together. How dare they flirt in front of her– she thought angrily, her emotions hidden under her sleeves as she balled her hands into fists. She swallowed, hearing them strike up irrelevant conversation. "Sorry," she bit out, immediately stepping between them and pretending to show a sudden interest in the newly polished floor, "But I'd like to go to the Library as soon as possible."
"Of course," Beatrix said calmly, "You are free for patrol tonight, right Malfoy? I'm sorry that it's such late notice…I know I asked you before, but Rose just wants to confirm."
"No problem. I don't have anything pressing to do," Scorpius said, shrugging lightly. Beatrix immediately clasped her hands together, her attention diverted to the red-head.
"Now that we've gotten a definite answer, I don't see a problem with the arrangement,"
Rose cast the older girl a dirty look. "Fine," she said, crumpling a small piece of paper into a tight ball in her pocket. "You win,"
"Win? Rose – it's not a game. I was just trying to get you to see reason," Beatrix said, shaking her head.
"Sorry, but what are we talking about exactly?" Scorpius said, his stormy eyes darting relentlessly.
"You'll be patrolling with Rose," Beatrix said simply, nodding at the other girl. She gave a sarcastic smile, rolling her eyes and pursing her lips. Out of the corner of her eye, Rose could see the colour start to drain Scorpius' face. It was evident that he wasn't pleased with the arrangement either. "Is there a problem?" Beatrix asked after he'd been silent for a few moments.
"Well, uh – no, it doesn't matter." Scorpius finally said. Rose looked away; she knew it did.
Lily sat in the armchair across Rose, patiently listening to her older cousin rant on about her sudden predicament. They'd finished dinner a little earlier than everyone else and the common room was currently empty, save for the two of them. The rather large room had always been decorated with gold and deep red accents; rich velvet curtains draped languidly across the windows and pillows adorned with gold coiling were scattered evenly throughout the room. A comforting fire continually crackled in the lit fireplace, regularly basking the entire room in a warm glow.
Rose had been pacing up and down the rug for the past fifteen minutes despite her tired self, frantic worry framing her normally alert chocolate brown eyes. "I still don't understand why you don't want to tell Albus what happened," Lily said, leaning back in her armchair. "He'll find out in the end anyway. He always does."
"I just feel bad, I know he really wanted us to get along. Anyway, when I spoke to him before I wasn't dealing with the possibility of spending hours with Malfoy." Rose said as her pacing came to a stop.
"I'm surprised Scorpius hasn't told Al anything," Lily said, moving so she could comfortably tuck her legs under herself. "They're really close. Maybe Al knows already and just hasn't said?"
"Lily," Rose moaned, flopping down onto the empty couch. "What am I supposed to do?"
"You could apologize for a start," Lily said seriously, her voice sounding far too old for her age. Rose sometimes felt a little silly whenever she asked Lily for advice – Rose was two years her senior – but there was no doubt that Albus' little sister was often mature beyond her age. "You know you're in the wrong."
"I'm not in the wrong," Rose said in an instant reflex, standing up. Her eyes flashed guiltily, "Sorry, I know it's a bad habit." she mumbled, sitting back down and placing her hands in her lap. "I feel sick to the stomach when I think about me apologizing to him," she admitted, gathering her knees and slowly pulling them up to her chest, her gaze averted to the fireplace.
"It's obvious you feel badly about it." Lily said pensively, watching her cousin sulk. "You've still got awhile to pull yourself together," she added when Rose said nothing in response.
"Lily, I'm bad at apologies as it is, and now I'm meant to apologise to someone I've always despised? I don't think I'll ever be ready," Rose said, turning around and looking over her shoulder. She buried her face in her hands with a gentle sigh. Lily stood up and went over to comfort her silently, patting her back as she did so.
"I think you're being over-dramatic about this, you don't have to apologise tonight." Lily said comfortingly, "Just let it come to you naturally."
"Right, right. Naturally," Rose repeated, lifting her head up, clearly not convinced.
Rose had been fidgety for the past silent twenty minutes as she patrolled the hallways with Scorpius, careful not to look in his direction. If the space had permitted them, they would have unanimously chosen to walk further apart from each other. Out of the corner of his eye Scorpius could tell that she getting more agitated by the minute; her body was completely tense and her hands were balled into tight fists. Scorpius just hoped he'd be able to get through tonight in one piece.
Unexpected cries suddenly reverberated across the corridor as soon as the pair set foot on the second floor, causing the two of them to sprint towards the voice, concern flooding their thoughts. A hunched form sat crouched in the furthest corner as two other figures stood over it, wands pulled out, their faces barely illuminated by the solitary candle that hung to the right of them; the other torches had been blown out.
"WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?" Rose yelled at the two standing figures, rushing forward with her wand raised. The two boys instantly buckled and fell forwards onto their faces, their bodies paralyzed by Rose's spell. Scorpius quietly re-lit the surrounding torches with his own wand, carefully watching her as he did so.
"It wasn't us!" the shorter of the two boys said, casting a quick look at the crouched figure.
"We didn't do anything," the taller one said, glaring in no particular direction. Rose ignored them and moved to kneel beside the supposed victim, gathering up the hem of her robes so she could sit comfortably.
"What happened?" she asked softly, touching the dark-haired boy's arm gently to try and persuade him to speak. He looked up from his arms, eyes swollen and red with tears. "You can tell me, they can't do anything now." she added after following his anxious gaze to the two other boys.
"I…I dunno," muttered the boy, "I was just walking back from d-detention…and t-they cornered me…"
"Did they hurtyou?" Rose coaxed.
"We did nothing," shouted the shorter boy as he struggled in his bind. "He's just a wimp."
"I…dunno…it don't hurt anywhere," the boy continued, hugging his knees closer to his chest. "I just want to go back to my dorm."
"What year are you in?" Rose asked, pulling the younger boy up with her as she stood up. "We'll take you to the Hospital Wing,"
"Second year, S-S-Slytherin…" the boy said, clearly shaken. "I-I don't want to go to the Hospital Wing – can't I just go back to my dormitory?"
Rose frowned in concern, "Are you sure you don't want to go to the Hospital Wing?" she asked, "I know you said you're not hurt but you might rest better there."
He shook his head vigorously. "No… …I just want to go to my dorm," he said, looking at the floor again. "It don't like it in Hospital Wing – I…wouldn't b-be able to sleep proper."
"Hurry up then, you know your way, right?" Scorpius said gently, getting down on one knee so that he was at the same eye-level as the boy. The boy's eyes widened, flicking to and fro from the two prefects. "Or do you need me to bring you back?"
"I-I can go by myself…" the boy said, gathering up the belongings that had fallen out of his pocket before hastily rushing away, his feet tapping loudly against the tiles. Rose said nothing as she brushed the front of her robes, slipping away her wand.
"You shouldn't have let him go," she said at last, crossing her arms. "He'd get better care in the infirmary,"
Scorpius shrugged. "Not necessarily. He said he doesn't like it there-,"
"Can we go too?" A voice from the floor complained, stopping Scorpius short. "The floor's cold,"
"Not until you tell us what you did," Rose said, giving the owner of the offensive voice a little shove with her foot as Scorpius muttered a counter-spell to free the boys. "Why was he crying?"
"Like we said, we didn't do anything." the shorter one said, scrambling to his feet. "The little bugger knew he was going to have to deal with us sooner or later,"
"Why? Did he do anything to provoke you?"
"Yes, actually, he's always getting me into trouble. Bad blood, the Slytherin lot." the taller boy said, rubbing his wrists angrily.
"That's a despicable thing to say," Rose snapped, looking like she was about to slap the living daylights out of the younger boy. "You shouldn't judge someone just because of their House –,"
"You do," he said, obnoxiously jutting his chin out and pointing at Scorpius. "Everyone knows you hate him just because he's a Malfoy," Scorpius looked away politely, taking a step back from the action.
"You're both are in Ravenclaw, aren't you? That'll be fifteen points off each, thank-you very much." She said coldly, watching the two boys grow pale. "Go straight to bed now – unless you want even more points off."
Scorpius began to walk as soon as the boys had scuttled away, making sure all the torches were relit, his facial expression unreadable. "Malfoy -," Rose suddenly said, looking up from the floor and tugging on his sleeve to get his attention. He turned around, questioning her with his eyes. "We – we need to talk,"
"We do?" Scorpius asked, unable to cover up the surprise in his tone. Without answering him, Rose gave the remainder of the hallway a quick glance before advancing forwards to grab him by the hand and pull him into an empty classroom at the end of the corridor, shutting the door behind her quietly. He did not say anything, but continued to stare at her instead, his eyes searching hers for answers.
She took a deep breath, pushing herself up on the teacher's desk. "I…just, I know I should apologize for before-,"
"You should?" Scorpius asked, moving to stand directly in front of her. "What's that supposed to mean?"
She continued to look at her feet, unable to meet his steady gaze. "Look - I'm finding it really hard to say sorry," she admitted, wringing her hands just above her lap. "So…"
"Then don't apologize," Scorpius muttered, crossing his arms and looking away. "There's no point if it's not genuine."
"I never said it wasn't genuine," Rose argued, her head snapping up to glare. "I just said I was having a hard time – and you're making it even harder now."
His hard gaze softened, "What makes it so hard to apologize to me? I don't get why you don't treat me like you treat everyone else," he asked quietly.
She could feel her own cheeks set on fire. "What do you mean?" she finally asked, looking up from the floor. He ruffled his hair thoughtfully, messing up his normally sleek blond hair.
"Well, you seem nice to everyone else, regardless of family or house ties," he said a little awkwardly, "but you've never been able to look at me for who I am instead of who I'm related to."
"Malfoy," she began, hesitant, "Your grandfather tried to kill my aunt when she was twelve and tortured my mum, your father almost killed my father with poison when they were sixteen, your aunt murdered my uncle's godfather, your family's friends killed my uncle and Teddy's parents." she looked close to tears, pressing her fingers to her eyes before heavily exhaling. "Your 'friends' and family basically wiped out just about half of mine,"
"What I'm trying to get at, Rose, is that I personally didn't do any of that. Can't you look at me like blank, clean canvas?" Scorpius said, shaking his head. "I know you think I was bought up to hate you and your family, but I wasn't. My father doesn't like your father, but he didn't tell me to hate you,"
"My dad's a bit brash but would never tell me to do anything like that, if that's what you're thinking," Rose said, rushing to her father's defense. "I don't hate you. I just really dislike you,"
"Right." He said, obviously skeptical.
"What do you want me to do?" Rose said caustically. "Lie?"
"No," he responded immediately, "I want you to try and get to know me better."
"Okay…how?" Rose said slowly; it was her turn to be skeptical.
"How about…going to Hogsmeade this weekend?" he said, after a long pause of thought. "It's not too cold out yet,"
Her eyes widened. "Uh…"
"As friends, of course," he added with a smile.
"S-sure…" she said, her mind officially grinding to a halting stop. It only caught up half an hour later, just as she was getting ready to sleep. Color instantly drained from her face – what had she just done?
A/N: Edited - 03/12/2014 Please read and review - it keeps me motivated! (: