Rating: T (for safety)
Universal Disclaimer: I own nothing of note, especially nothing to do with HP or J.K. Rowling.
Author's Note: My first Harry Potter fic. Ever. But Rose and Scorpius beckoned. It's a chance to write Draco and Hermione without all the fuss of messing with canon…which is not outside the realm of possibility, but this seemed like an easier place to start. I confess that I'm just now starting to read the HP fic, so excuse me if someone's fleshed out this particular plot before me. I am a lover of simple plots, though, so it's likely. Regardless, enjoy. Ah, and the bits in italics are flashbacks. I'm playing around with jumping around on a timeline. Hope it's not too confusing.
On most days, Scorpius Malfoy lied so well that even he believed everything that spewed from his mouth. He was his father's child, his grandfather's obedient boy, a product of generations of breeding and ideological browbeating. He sneered with impeccable timing with just the right amount of hauteur. He smirked in the distinct Malfoy-esque manner that plainly said that he was a self-involved twat and there was nothing anyone could do about it. Even his carriage had been perfected to express his wealth and social power.
Yes, he was a Malfoy's Malfoy, and he was so good at it that everyone else believed it too. It was enough to make the boy think he might pursue a career in the West End theatres. But what was he thinking? Malfoys weren't even meant to be cognizant of Muggle arts.
Scorpius learned early on that it was easier to make his family believe that he toed the line rather than try to argue with his Grandfather Lucius about how arcane his beliefs were. The old man was half-demented, and would sooner strike Scorpius down with his ubiquitous serpent-head cane than listen to a wet behind the ears whelp talk back to him, even if he was his only grandson. Only an idiot would court physical abuse and argue with a belligerent old man, and everyone knew that Scorpius was too clever by half.
"What's the tally this week, then?" she asked him, quill poised to parchment.
Scorpius cast his eyes to the ceiling, slowly recounting his transgressions. "Charmed the sticky pudding to explode in Callum McLaggen's face when the ponce stuck his spoon in the dish."
She snorted. "That didn't just explode in Callum's face; it hit everyone within a meter."
"Collateral damage. It was only meant to get him. I'll have to work on adjusting it."
"Only meant to get him? Tut, tut. That kind of admissions means that you only earn half a point. A true Slytherin would celebrate the magnitude of the damage. They would consider it a bonus," she frowned. "You're slipping."
"Sorry. Didn't mean to seem compassionate. I'll be sure to censor myself," he smirked, then sighed before continuing. "Threw a quaffle at Poletey's head when Flint's bludger missed. Attacked Eugenia Smythe's head with an avis…"
"No points. You did us all a favor because she was in the infirmary instead of Potions," she chortled, even as her quill scratched energetically.
"Rubbish. Slytherins often act in their self-interests. It is not my fault that my interests happened to align with everyone else on this particular occasion." He observed her over the tops of his champagne-polished shoes. Scorpius could fairly see the argument she was having with herself.
Rose Weasley rolled her eyes. "Fine, but just this once. Maybe I'm the one slipping if I'm letting you get away with such a flimsy argument."
He wanted to crow in triumph, but he was too busy noticing how her nose wrinkled when she was frustrated…but not too busy to drawl, "Yes, it's positively Hufflepuffian of you."
She did not need to look up to throw a threat at his head. "Bold words from someone who was near tears when I hit him with a furnunculus fourth year. Fancy walking bow-legged for another week?"
Scorpius barely restrained his hand from running over his much-abused privates at the memory. Rose was a dab hand at hexes, but he also had a solid shield charm. "Funny, I was just about to make you the same offer…but for much more pleasurable reasons."
"You're disgusting," she hissed, but the color that flooded her cheeks told another story.
He hadn't expected to find another con artist in Hogwarts. It was a lucky coincidence, really. As a Slytherin, he often gave Gryffindors a wide berth. Some of his housemates subscribed to the theory that Gryffindors were the best targets for taunts, pranks and hexes, but Scorpius and his cronies preferred to relegate them to the category of 'Decidedly Unworthy of Notice.' Really, what was more insulting than indifference?
Subsequently, up until that fine winter day, he had never exchanged more than a dozen words with Rose Weasley. Sure, he knew who she was and what she was about. She was in his year and seemed to be hell-bent on competing with him, so he was more than adequately familiar with her smug expressions (and annoyed noises when he managed to best her.) And of course she was a Gryffindor through and through, which only served to reinforce his distaste for any association with the girl.
Until Wesley Goyle pinched a scroll from Rose's satchel, thinking it was the Gryffindor Quidditch playbook, and handed it to him with puppy-like excitement. Scorpius had taken one look at the elementary Quidditch plan before balefully telling Goyle that it wasn't a playbook and sending him to try again.
Scorpius had almost tossed the silly scroll, but thought better of it when he considered the owner of said scroll. This was Rose Weasley – she wasn't the brains of the team, no, that was her cousin James. Nothing from their previous espionage missions indicated that she even cared overly much for the game, playing more out of familial duty than actual enjoyment. So why…?
"Ostendio," he'd murmured, tapping his birchwood wand against the parchment. The lines slithered sinuously across the sheaf, slowly revealing what the author had actually put to ink and paper. Scorpius scanned the writing and let out a surprised bark of laughter. There was indeed a plan laid out, but it was a plan to steal a boy.
"Give it! That's theft, you tosser!" she shrieked, almost elbowing him in the eye as she reached for the scroll that was held far above her head.
Scorpius only took a moment to think how odd it was that she had resorted to childish tactics rather than wield her wand against him. It was vastly more productive to be amused by their height discrepancy, or better yet, enjoy the way her soft bosom brushed against his chest as she jumped. It was a shame that it took him five years to notice her.
"Did you see me steal it, Weasley?" he asked slowly. "No, of course you didn't."
Rose thwacked his arm repeatedly. "It was in my possession in the library, and now it's in yours. You don't need Advanced Arithmancy to see how this adds up. Besides which, moron, it's mine! Now give it or I'll tell!"
"Are you going to run to McGonagall, then? And tell her what? 'Headmistress, help! Malfoy took my plan to sabotage Viola Cheswick! However am I going to go about bamboozling Rafe Thomas now?'" he mocked, not even taking the time to affect a girlish tone. "Or better yet, your Head of House. Isn't Professor Longbottom friends with your parents? Won't he be proud to hear that little Rose Weasley has sorted out how to make a modified Amortentia that doesn't even leave traces of the potion?"
He watched the color leech from her cheeks as her hand paused in mid-air. Had she really believed that he wouldn't have figured out the list of ingredients, or for that matter, how to read her fascinating scroll?
"What's it going to take to shut you up?" she asked, taking a step backwards.
"You think I want a bribe? I'm a Malfoy, you silly girl. What could you possibly have that I'd want?"
A scowl settled across her lips. "If you don't want a bribe, then why are you torturing me?"
"Because, dear Weasley, you have succeeded in intriguing me."
Scorpius tucked the scroll behind his back then took a step closer to his quarry. Her eyes screamed the desire to mimic his movement in the opposite direction, but she held her ground. "What is a Weasley, especially this particular Weasley, doing trying to break up a perfectly sickeningly happy couple by some of the most creative of foul means possible? If I didn't know better, I'd say it was the plot of a Slytherin, not of a Gryffindor whose raison d'être is to be foolishly honest and good? Tell me, Rose Weasley, and the scroll is yours."
He watched the internal battle play across her features. Was her face always so naked? How did she hide her emotions? One thing was for certain: honesty was not part of her strategy. He was almost certain that she was going to try to bribe him yet again when her face did something extraordinary…it seemed to figuratively skid to a halt. Had Rose Weasley tripped over some sort of epiphany?
Her eyes brightened.
Her smile turned sly.
His left eye twitched. Had his mother told him that it was a good omen or ill?
"I have a better deal for you, Malfoy. Give me back my nefarious plot, and I won't tell people you like to free house elves in your spare time."
Scorpius sighed. Decidedly ill.
Whenever he thought back to that moment, Scorpius never failed to puzzle over his miscalculation. How had he lost control so quickly? What happened to the master plan? He was just meant to tease her a bit, force her to admit that she was The Decidedly Evil Weasley. It was a spot of fun, or something like it. But that was the trouble with convincing the Sorting Hat to put you in Slytherin (familial expectations and all that rot) instead of Ravenclaw where you belonged. Instead of overanalyzing and looking at a plan from every which angle, he was plotting for the sake of plotting, acting like a prat just to keep up appearances. It was exhausting, and probably the cause of his slip-up.
There had been no use in lying to her. All right, initially he'd tried. Scorpius hedged some excuse about throwing out old socks and using the scarves as blankets to smother the old creatures, but then she trumped him with a memory of the time he put a wooly beanie on Bitsy's head. That had been the nail in the coffin. His own careless kindness was his undoing.
They were both frauds, and they both knew it.
It should have turned awkward. It had turned awkward. So he handed her the damning parchment and walked away, chalking this idea in the Abject Failure column. It was a waste of a perfectly good piece of blackmail. He had bungled it, and now he had reason to think about Rose Weasley where once he had none.
He would be fine. He would recover, he thought.
But then a week later she cornered after Defense Against the Dark Arts. Apparently, something about their (in)fortuitous coincidental event must have made Rose Weasley brave – made her tap into the wee bit of true Gryffindor in her devious little heart. She tempted him with a challenge.
"What are you going on about, Weasley?"
Rose rolled her eyes. "Look, it's simple really. I propose we take our long-standing – if unacknowledged – rivalry to another playing field. It's rather boring to just compete academically, don't you think?"
"Not at all. I rather enjoy your ineptitude at Charms and Arithmancy."
She leveled a glare at him that would make a lesser boy curl into him and shrivel on the spot. "Charming, Malfoy. Is that how you get the slags to bend over for you?"
He felt an unusual desire to chortle, but quelled it. Malfoys did not chortle. They cackled, they scoffed, they guffawed, but they did not chortle…not like the girl in front of him. "Why? Feeling the sudden urge to join the queue?"
"Stop. You're making me blush," she deadpanned. "Honestly, Malfoy, pay attention for a second."
"Why even suggest something like this?"
"Because it would be brilliant fun, don't you think?"
He furrowed his brow in a way that many told him was intimidating. "It's mad is what it is."
"What? Afraid that you can't beat me?"
Scorpius saw the challenge that sparkled in Rose Weasley's eyes. This wasn't just taunting to get his back up; she was genuinely interested in her idea. If he was completely honest with himself, the prospect amused him. And maybe, for once, he wouldn't be so damn bored all the time.
"Okay. Fine. What's the forfeit?"
"Forfeit? What do you mean?"
"Weasley, you're betting me that you're better at faking at being a Gryffindor than I am at being a Slytherin. This is a competition. As such, there is generally a wager or a forfeit," he explained slowly, as if to an infant. "Or did you think we were doing this for the sheer pleasure of it?"
For the first time since she brought up this idea, her confidence wavered. "Of course not," she scowled. "What are you suggesting?"
Scorpius took a moment to think. The answer was simple, really. "Every week we meet to compare notes. Only actions of note, with witnesses outside of our own houses, will count. The winner is allowed to ask one wish of the loser, and before you get your knickers in a twist, it can't be anything – be still my Slytherin heart – immoral or dangerous. It's just meant to be fun."
Her brow lifted in a manner that even his father might approve of. "Now what's the fun in putting parameters on the forfeit?"
Scorpius grinned. "So speaketh the true Slytherin in you. Fine. Whatever the lady wishes. No rules."
"Then we have a deal," she said, sticking her hand out.
It was a Muggle gesture, and for a second she faltered, thought he wouldn't know how to respond. Scorpius reached out and grabbed her hand in his before he could change his mind. Her palm was dry and warm, her pulse even.
"We have a deal."