Over the next few years, Rose Weasley and Scorpius Malfoy's 'relationship' went from bad to worse. He never turned down the opportunity to snub her and her parentage, well aware of the low status that those with muggle or part-muggle heritage once had in the wizarding world. Rose, however, gave as good as she got and the cases of insult and jibing between the two were so frequent that the pair had a reputation amongst the teachers for inadvertently causing trouble when in classes together.
Although Rose excelled academically, she was something of a loose canon and whilst she strived to be good and brave and to treat everyone fairly and kindly, she also recognised the concept of 'means to and end' and wasn't afraid to stand up and be difficult when she thought something, or more often than not someone, was wrong. Her father put this strong-willed, stubborn nature down to her mother, who was something of an activist herself, but Rose often took things that step too far and had been branded by those who were against her as "extremely difficult." Scorpius Malfoy often accused her of being "uptight", but although she could sometimes be self-righteous to the point of irritation, this was also because he was one of the laxest pupils in the school, therefore anyone with decent morals gained this branding from him.
A notorious womaniser, Malfoy had had his way with more girls than any other boy in his year by his sixth year. He was responsible for many broken-hearted, simpering females who found it necessary to fling themselves at him and he revelled in the opportunities presented by post-Quidditch parties and school balls, which were rife with Firewhisky and other social lubricants. Rose, who had noted these conquests of his, just found it more fuel to hate him and his masochistic nature even more. Even so, she was also guilty of occasionally staring at his glorious profile during the long, monotonous hours bent over books in the library and the knot that had first tied itself all those years ago in the pit of her stomach simply refused to go away. Again, this just made her dislike for him stronger.
It was something of a surprise, Rose found, when both she and the boy she loathed most were elected to be Prefects of their respective houses in their penultimate year at Hogwarts.
Rose stood in front of the gilt mirror, surveying her appearance. It was the second evening back at Hogwarts after the summer holidays and she was due in Professor McGonagall's office for a Prefects' welcome supper any minute; she suspected she was already running late. She stared at the person in the reflection; her long, auburn hair curled to just over her breasts (which she resolved were just that bit too small for a sixteen-year-old) and she had pinned the top layers up loosely with a diamond-studded clip. Her eyes were indigo-blue and she had dusted their lids with shimmering powder. Her lightly freckled face was home to a lopsided grin and although she didn't consider herself stunningly beautiful, she thought she had come a long way since her first year when she was an awkward, skinny girl with a mass of crazy red hair that seemed to explode on one side of her head. Certain people had never had a problem with pointing that out. If she had a galleon for everytime Malfoy had called her "ginger" or worse - "firecrotch" and "fanta pants" were some especially lewd comments that sprung to mind - Rose would have been the richest witch in the world.
She didn't like to admit it, but sometimes Scorpius Malfoy's words hurt more than she would ever have liked to admit. She pushed any thoughts of him out of her mind and reached for the powder on the shelf next to the mirror.
There was a sharp rapping on the door of the room, and a pretty, dark-haired girl with almond shaped eyes stuck her head around the door.
"Are you ready yet, Rose?"
"Just coming, Leah." She turned around and smoothed down her red, knee-length dress.
"Wow, you look great!" Rose smiled. She felt great for once, too.
"Shall we go?"
The two girls set off for McGonagall's office, arm-in-arm, chattering away excitedly.
Arriving in McGonagall's office, Rose was in awe of how beautiful it looked. The walls had been decorated (with the aid of magic, of course) and extravagant foliage arrangements were hanging from the rafters, fairies and other winged, ethereal creatures flitting between them. Rose and her friend were led into the centre of the room by a silent, peculiarly dressed house elf, to where the other new Prefects were already standing.
"Now that we're all here," began McGonagall in her pleasant, Scottish lilt, "I'd like you to take your places."
Rose knew that comment was directed partially at her and Leah, but it didn't help matters when a familiar hand touched her shoulder and Scorpius Malfoy leaned over and whispered, "Late as usual, Weasley."
It was completely unwarranted, as Rose was rarely late. She could be a little scatty sometimes, but she really thought her organisational skills were perfectly fine. Unable to think of a comeback, she scowled at him darkly. He just smirked and made his way to his seat, which was, regrettably, next to hers. This was going to be a long evening.
Before the banquet came a lengthy lecture from Professor McGonagall about the virtues of delegation and leadership, and the pitfalls of the abuse of power. Rose noted, somewhat smugly, that when she talked to the group of Prefects about how power can corrupt, her line of vision seemed to be directed at Scorpius Malfoy. The other Prefect for Gryffindor was called Matthias Tatiana and was an Italian looking boy who was the best friend of Lysander Lovegood. Rose liked him well enough and thought that they would make a good team this year, as he was responsible, good-natured and funny, and nothing like Scorpius.
The meal itself was extravagant and decadent. The starters rivalled that of the feast the night before, and for the main course there was a roast pheasant with all the trimmings, intricate seafood dishes, pumpkin pies, jellied veal, spicy garlicky potatoes, buttered carrots, mint peas and three different types of rice. The pudding presented itself in the form of a hovering chocolate fountain, which set itself down amongst silver dishes piled high with pineapple chunks, marshmallows the size of a fist, grapes, banana pieces and strawberries that had been bewitched to release a puff of sugary air when you bit into them. All in all, it was delicious and everyone seemed quite pleased that they had been assigned their posts just for this meal. Wine flowed all evening and the atmosphere was merry. Rose noted that it was nice for once that some of her year group were able to spend an evening together when they all came from different houses.
It was only Scorpius Malfoy's presence that marred the evening for her. She was doing everything in her power not to brush hands with him or worse, legs, throughout the meal, because every time he got too close it was as if there were electric sparks flying between them. She could practically feel heat radiating from his body and it made her queasy to think which of them might be producing that energy. What made her feel even worse was the fact that he was able to get to her like this in the first place.
"So then the Centaur said to the unicorn, I wouldn't stick that two-headed knackstog there if you paid me!"
The evening had been going on long enough and Rose was getting pretty tired now, but everyone guffawed with laughter at the joke made by Edward Lincoln, the pompous Prefect of Hufflepuff. She didn't really get it, but laughed along politely anyway. She caught Scorpius' eye, whose stony-face echoed what she was feeling. He looked at her sharply, almost inquisitively; something about his expression burned into hers and she had to look away, almost embarrassed.
"Well, thank you all for a delightful evening, but I think we had best be turning in. After all, there are lessons tomorrow!" McGonagall, ever the voice of reason, had at last sent them to bed. On the way out, Scorpius' body brushed against hers and she shivered slightly.
Walking home with Leah, Rose got to thinking, but was interrupted by her friend, who asked curiously, "What was going on between you and Malfoy tonight?"
"What?" said Rose.
"Oh, come on, I saw you making eyes at each other all evening."
"No we weren't!"
"You were. Is that what 'enemies' do these days? 'Cause if it is, I should start investigating them …"
Rose snorted. "Like you'd need to. You've got every boy in the year swooning over you!"
"Oh, so you're admitting Malfoy was 'swooning' over you, then?"
Leah laughed and gave her friend a playful punch on the shoulder. "See you tomorrow, Rose. Sleep well … I'm sure you will, dreaming of your blonde-haired angel …" she crooned, swanning off to the Ravenclaw tower.
Rose, standing stoically alone in the corridor, was glad that no one was around to see her blushing.
In Rose's opinion, becoming a Prefect hadn't made any difference to Malfoy's character. He was still as rude as ever, insulting her and making her feel like an idiot. Potions lessons were the worst.
"Hey, Weasley, why don't you do us all a favour and jump in your cauldron? I bet the taste of you would work as a better deterrent for werewolves –"
"Shut up, Malfoy."
"No, really, I've heard especially ugly girls can be useful for that kind of thing, and seeing as how you're the ugliest of them all –"
"Oh, give it a break, Malfoy," Leah chimed in, defending her friend. He made a faux-surrendering gesture and went back to his work, smirking to his friend, Lucio Blaise. The two were rarely seen without each other.
Walking from the dungeons to the Great Hall, Rose had kept up a continuous complaint about Scorpius Malfoy.
"He's just always so foul to me! I can't understand why!"
"Oh, he's like that with practically every girl who's not in Slytherin ... or who he doesn't want to shag. Besides, I think his friend Blaise is actually pretty cute."
Rose spluttered. "Leah, please don't tell me you like Lucio Blaise!"
"Who likes Blaise?" Albus had come strolling up behind the two girls without them realising.
"No one," Leah said, in a mind-your-own-business sort of way. "Malfoy's just being a prick to Rose again."
"Ah, cuz ... just give me the word and enlist our dear brothers' help to sort him out."
"Oh, because you couldn't all by yourself?"
Albus feigned hurt. "Moi? Too puny? You must be joking ...."
The two girls laughed. Rose loved Albus dearly, but he was a little on the small side for his age ... Uncle Harry had promised him he'd have a growth spurt in his sixth year, but they were all still waiting for it. Had it not been for his good sense of humour and sly wit, he could easily have been a victim at Hogwarts. Her elder cousin, James, however, was much more beefy and travelling in Europe instead of doing anything "productive" (as the family put it) with his time. Hugo, however, was fiercely protective of his sister and also incredibly ambitious. Nothing could stop him from achieving something if he put his mind to it. Rose felt like she should remind Malfoy of this the next time he decided to get smart with her.
The three friends walked into the Great Hall. "Bye Rose, Albus," Leah called as she swanned off to the Ravenclaw table. Rose and Albus meandered over to the Gryffindor table and sat down, next to Albus' sister, Lily.
In Rose's opinion, Lily was far too pretty for her own good. She was petite – yet curvy – with a shock of red hair, glittering green eyes, creamy pale skin and an exceptionally beautiful face. She turned boys' heads wherever she went and had been asked out by, what Rose predicted was, the majority of the boys in every House.
"Hey, Lil'" Albus said through a mouthful of the chicken sandwich that he had already grabbed and stuffed in his mouth before sitting down.
Lily waved lazily at the two of them, engrossed in a book.
"Anyway, seriously, Rose, if he does get really bad, just come and tell me."
"Who're you talking about?"
"Merlin, Lily – not you too!" Rose cried.
"Please, I do not want to hear this kind of thing from my little sister ..." Albus was frantically trying to stick his fingers in his ears whilst still clutching onto the remainders of his sandwich.
Lily rolled her eyes. "Oh, come on ... he is good-looking. It's an animal attraction thing –" Albus gagged, "- I'm not saying he's a nice person or anything ..." The three joked around, teasing each other and causing much embarrassment.
"Well, ladies, I'm going to have to love you and leave you," Albus said, jumping up.
"Is this because of my inappropriate comments?" Lily asked.
"Ha, ha. No. I've got Quidditch practise. See you later!" he added, dashing off.
"I swear, that boy doesn't even pause to breathe, let alone eat."
"I know. He should've learnt from the last time, when he got hiccoughs on his broomstick."
Rose laughed. "Still didn't stop him catching the snitch, mind ..."
"Oh, hello Weasley,"
Rose had been by the lake, studying. It was still early September and she wanted to make use of the good weather while she still could, but still had a lot of work to do. Combining the two had seemed like the best idea, until she bumped into Scorpius Malfoy on the way back to the Gryffindor common room. He had been leaning against the wall of the arch leading to one of the school's courtyards when he stood up straight and ambled over to her, apparently looking for conversation.
"Hello Malfoy. Not got any other girls to harass today?"
He smirked. "You know you're my favourite."
She knew she shouldn't have done, but her insides squirmed at this. Not in a bad way, either. She went faintly pink and hoped he wouldn't pick up on this rather embarrassing fact.
"Where've you been, anyway?" He eyed her suspiciously.
"By the lake, doing some work."
"I should've guessed, swotting up as usual. You do realise we've not even been back a fortnight?"
"There's nothing wrong with working hard. Not all of us are okay with cheating to get by."
Rose tried to walk on ahead of him, but Scorpius' stride matched hers easily and he kept up. "Can you please leave me alone?"
"Why? Can't we talk civilly after all these years? We are both Prefects now, and we wouldn't want a stupid tiff to get in the way of the school's good standards, would we?"
"Shut up, Malfoy. You must think I'm so stupid to believe all your crap."
"No, I don't."
Rose was taken aback. This was possibly the first nice thing Scorpius had said to her in her entire school career.
"Oh, so you're finally acknowledging I'm clever, are you?"
"Perhaps." He smirked again. Rose wished she could come up with some witty retort, but words failed her.
"Where're you going, anyway?"
"I had Quidditch practise at lunch, and there's not much else to do today."
"Oh, so you're stalking me instead then, are you?"
"Shut up …"
If Rose hadn't known better, she'd have thought they were almost joking together. They walked without talking for twenty seconds or so until Rose was almost squirming with the awkwardness of the silence, especially after the rare case of amicable behaviour between the two of them.
"So … what did you do this summer?
"Taking an interest are we, Weasley?" Rose gave him an exasperated glare. "Well …" he drew out the word, "I spent the first couple of weeks at home. Zabini was staying, it was all right, not too dull."
"What about your parents?"
"My father is away on business a lot. Mother often goes with him."
"How about you?"
"I stayed at my grandparents' for a while. The others were there, too – my brother just finished a work experience placement at the Ministry. We spent most of the time mucking around with James, Lily and Al." Rose smiled at the memory. It had been really quite enjoyable.
"Oh yes. How's the famous Hugo getting on? Still the self-righteous prick he always was?" He always did that. Always said something cutting and hurtful, even when she thought he was being nice for once. "Takes after your dad, doesn't he?" he went on, "Adding to the Great Weasleys' new money-"
"Shut up Malfoy."
"I mean it. Just shut up and don't talk about my family that way." She was spitting mad now, every word laced with anger and venom. He'd pushed this button one too many times. "You think you're so big and clever, just because you live in that stupid massive mansion all by yourself – well guess what? No one's jealous of you, rolling around like a lonesome pea in a can, all alone because your parents hate you – no one loves you and I don't see why anyone would!" She was close to tears now and couldn't hold back. "No wonder they're always away, if I had to live with you I'd go 'on business'" - she made melodramatic air quotation signs with her fingers - "too." She was about to lay into him with another acid insult, when he grabbed her forcefully by the shoulders and slammed her into the corridor wall.
His voice was barely a whisper, dripping with fury and danger; "I would be very careful, Weasley, about saying another word." Their faces weren't even an inch apart and Rose was petrified. There was no sound of anyone, not even a portrait, to witness what was going on. He could do anything – beat her up, curse her, gouge out her eyes - and no one would be able to stop him. Maybe she was being slightly melodramatic, but she wouldn't have put it past him to do something that shocking.
"Malfoy …" she whispered.
His eyes glinted and he smirked wickedly. He let go of her violently and stood back, watching. She staggered slightly.
"You are the most …"
He laughed again, but it was cruel and mocking.
"See you around, Weasley."
Rose was left standing alone in the corridor, as the blond-haired boy disappeared into the darkness of the passage.
She's always known he can be violent. Right now, she knows that more than ever. The things she's seen him do … and yet inspite of it, she can't curb her addiction. She can't let go of the boy who she's seen do the most unspeakable things, because sometimes, just sometimes, she witnesses him do something so wonderful, so out of character from what everyone else thinks of him, that it makes her remember that she'd rather die than let him go.