A/N: Thank you, if you were one of those people who reviewed, telling me to pull myself together and write something (or, if you phrased it much more nicely than this, still, thanks). I have had a turbulent couple of months, and it's made writing near enough impossible. But hopefully, I should be back on track now, even if I am working all the hours I physically can. I suppose I'll just have to use those ones meant for sleeping, for writing. Enjoy.
Disclaimer: Rose and Scorpius feel like they're mine, but they're not really.
20 days later.
"I was really dumb to think that I could pull off studying for all my NEWTs and plan this Ball, wasn't I?"
Despite the fact that I word this as a question, Scorpius knows that it is rhetorical, and rather than an answer, I need his support.
"You're practically finished" he reminds me, crossing out a line in his History of Magic essay with unfounded brutality. "You've only got your final dress fitting, and the day itself to worry about now, haven't you?"
He does, admittedly, speak the truth.
Or, at least, one version of the truth.
Despite all the excitement of finding a band, and writing my speech, and sorting out decorations, I haven't forgotten the reason behind the entire event.
Namely, Hugo and Isabella.
And the reason behind them is two-fold; a) to make DiNozzo squirm as much as physically possible, and b) To get Scorpius back on the Slytherin Quidditch team.
Despite DiNozzo's threat at 'leverage' he has yet to use the kiss that he forced upon me as any sort of deal-breaker.
Mainly, I think, because he realises that he does actually need Scorpius as his Keeper if Slytherin are going to be in with any sort of chance of winning the title this year.
It's just Scorpius that I need to convince now.
It's slightly less about blackmailing DiNozzo, and more about using Hugo and Isabella as the poster couple for the Gryffindor-Slytherin pairing; the fact that DiNozzo has yet to beat Hugo to a bloody pulp is implicitly condoning the situation.
Not, of course, that either Hugo or Isabella play Quidditch, but it's hardly the point.
And so, Scorpius and I have just been plodding along for the past three weeks, being a mercifully conventional couple.
Okay, so I have to dodge the odd poisonous comment from Mariah Salinas, but it's nothing that I can't handle.
I'm on speaking terms with BOTH my parents, Teddy and James, so things could not be going more swimmingly.
Scorpius and I do have the occasional row, mostly about our sleeping arrangements, but nothing that a kiss and a cuddle can't rectify easily.
To put it shortly, my life is about as trouble free as it is physically possible for it to be, and my questioning my ability to juggle all my commitments is nothing more than an attempt to bring a sense of normality to my alarmingly perfect life.
I continue to write my Defence Against the Dark Arts essay, which is about the complex magic behind the conjuring of a Patronus, and smile at myself, more than a little satisfied.
Everything has slotted into place, just as I knew it would, and I can see the rest of this year being a walk in the park.
It is good, I realise, to have Scorpius Malfoy on my side, because it cuts down the time I spend arguing by about seventy five percent each day, which in turn has an amazing effect on my blood pressure.
Who would have thought it?
My relationship with Scorpius Malfoy is genuinely good for my health.
Rose is sleeping with DiNozzo.
Okay, so maybe she's not actually sleeping with him, but there is definitely something going on between the two of them.
The fact that Hugo Weasley is walking around the castle with a full set of teeth is conclusive evidence.
Ever since DiNozzo told me that a gentleman never kisses and tells, I've been completely convinced.
My immediate reaction was, of course, to find the guy and curse, jinx and hex him until I'm blue in the face.
But after calming down, I realised Rose had only done it in order to protect her little brother. I suppose I thought that because she was clearly being emotionally blackmailed, I could let it slide even though the thought of that obnoxious prat with his hands on my girlfriend made me see red.
But that was three weeks ago.
Rose is acting perfectly normally, as though she hasn't a care in the world (well, except for classes, and the Ball, and other things of a girly nature, I guess.)
And, what's more, I keep catching them looking at each other.
It'll only ever be a glance, but it's enough for me.
DiNozzo tries to hide his lust behind a thin veneer of disdain, but, quite frankly, he's useless at it.
I've been acting as though I'm totally oblivious for twenty whole days, but as I sit scribbling away about the development of the Wizarding banking community in the early nineteenth century for my History of Magic paper, I start to convince myself that I have to stop whatever it is that Rose is doing.
Even if it is for Hugo.
I go as far as to tell myself that I'll take the boy's day to day security as a personal responsibility (despite the fact that he has refused to heed my copious warnings about Principessa DiNozzo's poisonous personality) if only it'll get Rose out of Phillipe's slimy grasp.
I don't blame her, I realise, as I watch her scribbling away at her parchment. It was clearly a plan that could be contrived only by an evil genius, and it would take an impossibly strong woman to withstand the charm offensive which I know DiNozzo is capable of employing.
I suppose if I just ask her about it she will confirm my suspicions, and any glimmer of hope that DiNozzo might have a shred of decency in him will disappear.
It oughtn't to even be awkward.
After all, Rose and I trust one another absolutely now, even if we did spend six years constantly trying to rip each others' throats out.
I put down my quill, and Rose looks up at me from her essay, probably wondering if I need a hand.
To be completely honest, I do, but I push my mind-numbingly boring assignment to the back of my mind.
Then, taking a few calming breaths, I announce terrifically casually, "Rosie, I know about you and DiNozzo."
My stomach sinks into my shoes.
I drop the quill onto the table, and squeak "What did you say?"
The expression in Scorpius' eyes is best described as stony.
He repeats. "I know about you and DiNozzo."
I'm stunned for a second or two.
I have absolutely no idea what to reply, or how he found out, or what to do.
In the end, I blurt out, "I have no idea what you're talking about, Scorpius."
Then, I pick up my quill, dip it into my inkpot, and scribble down the first words that spring to mind.
None of them relate vaguely to DADA.
I can feel Scorpius' eyes watching me. But then he too continues to write his homework assignment.
I peek at him as my writing becomes less panicked and frantic.
He looks hurt.
I hate lying to him.
But to explain the whole story (Hugo and Isabella getting together, blackmailing DiNozzo, DiNozzo throwing himself at me) would take an age, and make him angry.
Angry enough to do something extremely stupid, like throw DiNozzo off the Astronomy Tower.
Or boil his head in a cauldron (I know it is his lifelong ambition to do that to SOMEONE.)
"Why would you even say something like that?" I ask, still looking at my parchment.
I'm confused as to which act I should be pulling.
Offended? Surprised? Mortified?
It's just that he said it with such conviction.
It wasn't even a question.
Just an "I know."
He shrugs at me, but doesn't look up.
"Sometimes I open my mouth before I think" he drawls coldly.
It has been a long time since I've heard him drawl.
In fact, my Scorpius Malfoy only ever drawls when he is teasing me, and it does not sound like he is teasing me.
I try to shake the feeling off. I try to convince myself that I'm not doing anything wrong.
I'm not cheating.
I'm not romantically involved with DiNozzo.
I love Scorpius. I love him so much that I am letting Phillipe DiNozzo blackmail me so that he can play Quidditch.
And I can tell myself this because I know that DiNozzo is not looking for a new Keeper.
The Slytherin team aren't even using a substitute in their practices.
And how do I know this?
Because DiNozzo told Isabella, Isabella told Hugo, and Hugo told me.
"Well, the only thing DiNozzo is to me is my little brother's girlfriend's brother" I insist faux-cheerily, flipping to a new chapter in my textbook.
A darkness passes behind his silver eyes, and I shiver.
"I give it another couple of weeks" he predicts shortly, "She's a hard faced harpy, and he's a teenage boy. It won't last."
Oddly, it sounds as if he is trying to reassure himself more than me.
"I wouldn't bet on it" I return quietly, "Hugo's much less like James than he'd like to think. I'm sure he can hold down as actual relationship where my cousin never could."
The thought sort of astonishes me.
Not that Hugo is any more mature than James; of course that's not it. But that 'Hugo-and-Isabella' could actually function as a relationship, independent of my meddling.
I feel like a bit of a hypocrite actually.
She looked straight into my face with those charming hazel eyes of hers, and pretended that she and DiNozzo were nothing more than mortal enemies. When I know that there has got to be something more to it than that.
If I didn't know it before, I certainly knew by the way that she dropped that quill, as though it were suddenly red-hot. As though she'd been caught red-handed.
And you know what?
That's totally fine.
My relationship is built on a bedrock of deceit.
Hey, it works for my parents, right?
And so what if she's just broken my heart.
Just because I always believed that Rose Weasley had integrity.
On Platform nine and three quarters that day seven years ago, when my father picked her out as the one amongst all of them that I should consider a threat. The day she made it clear that she wouldn't be taking a place on the Gryffindor Quidditch team just because her surname was 'Weasley' and that she'd have to earn it like everybody else. The time she insisted that her Herbology homework had not been marked without bias, making sure that it was recorded as a B-, rather than the A it was graded.
I was totally sure that she'd have it until the day she died.
Apparently, I was wrong.
The most painful thing is that she's still sitting opposite me looking perfectly comfortable with her lie.
"Do you need my notes for that?" she offers, seeing that I'm not writing anymore.
"No" I return shortly, "I'll do just fine without them."
She looks hurt as she turns her attention back to her own work.
Whilst I hadn't intended to sound so tart, I do not regret it. The hurt in her eyes mirrors the hurt that I feel.
She doesn't even seem to realise that we are having a row, because she replies, "Well, you know where they are if you do need them, darling" and tidies away her own things with a flick of her wand.
I nod sulkily, but cannot seem to concentrate on the task at hand.
Damn her for getting under my skin.
That's the thing with having a girlfriend that I actually care for. When it comes to thinking about her with other guys, it makes me feel so angry that it's really not possible to explain.
And he obviously means something to her, or she wouldn't have lied about it.
I feel like punching a wall, or screaming at someone, or giving a first year a week of detention.
But I am a rational human being, and I know that none of those things would truly help.
I sort of feel like talking to somebody, but there is no one to turn to.
Rose has no idea how lucky she is to be able to get advice from Victoire or Potter or Lupin almost instantaneously by owl, or help from Albus simply by visiting Gryffindor Tower.
It makes it painfully obvious that I have nobody to talk to.
I doubt even Salinas would descend to speak to me; I know how dreadfully she detests my guts.
Which leaves me stuck in a room with a girl that I love with all my heart. A girl who is lying to me.
Thinking about it, I would give anything to go back a few months and have her use the Imperius on me again.
Because, in comparison to this hell, that was easy.