Everyone could sense a change in Rose.
The normally rule abiding, slightly uptight girl was now lazing around, laughing loudly and telling jokes that would make her Uncle George proud. Instead of yelling at First Years, she joined in on their games. Yes, something was seriously different.
Rose's family was anxious to discover what- or who- was behind Rose's ever present good mood. But she refused to tell anyone. Not even Albus, who could keep a secret better than anyone.
There were many speculations, but it was James who was on the money.
"You're in love," he said assuredly during Christmas Break. Rose rolled her eyes. Lily laughed.
"Love? Rosie isn't in love."
"How do you know?" Albus asked.
"Because," James said, around a mouthful of sandwich, "she's acting the same way girls act whenever I ask them out."
Nobody took James's words to heart, and everyone simply went back to speculating. Rosie couldn't be in love. Rose didn't think with her heart. She thought with her brain. She was too focused. She would have told someone. They would have heard about it.
"Rose! Rose, I need help."
Lily ran up to Rose as she was walking to the library. "Please Rosie, I need 12 inches on this potions essay and I don't know where to start. I don't even remember what the topic is."
Rose shot her a scolding look. "Lily-"
"I know, I know, scold me later, after you help me. Please?"
Rose sighed. "Figure out the topic and I'll help you tonight."
Lily squealed. Rose winced.
"Thank you Rose! You're the greatest ever!"
Rose smiled. "Don't mention it."
Suddenly a deep male voice sounded out from behind them.
Lily couldn't believe her eyes as a tall, muscled blond with gray eyes sauntered up to the pair and began to walk with them.
"Malfoy," Rose greeted. Scorpius dug around in his bag.
"Alright, tell it to me straight. Potions essay. What did you get?"
Rose tried- and failed- not to look smug.
Scorpius let out a low whistle. "Merlin's pants. Ninety-six. I wasn't even close."
Rose laughed. "When are you going to give up, Malfoy?"
Scorpius smiled widely. "Not until I beat you. It'll happen one day. I've waited seven years for this. It will happen."
Rose laughed. "Whatever you say, Malfoy."
"You'll see," he assured her, then added, "oh, and Weasley? It's been seven years. I think you should call me Scorpius."
Scorpius raised an eyebrow. "You want me to call you Scorpius?"
She blushed. "I meant-"
He reached out and tucked a stray curl behind her ear. "I know what you meant. Bye Rose."
"Bye," she said. He waited, eyebrows raised. She smiled. "Scorpius."
He smiled, turned, and walked away. As soon as he was out of earshot, Lily, who had been scrutinizing the conversation, began to laugh loudly.
"What are you laughing at?" Rose demanded.
"James was right! I never thought I would say those words, but it's true! James was right! You're in love!"
Rose scoffed. "I am not!"
"Don't lie. You love him."
"I do not."
"I am not in love with Scorpius Malfoy!"
Lily held up her hands in mock defeat. "Alright, alright, fine." With a smirk, Lily reached up and tucked a curl behind Rose's ear. "Bye Rose."
Rose rolled her eyes and walked away.
She turned around and saw Scorpius walking towards her. She already had her assignment ready.
He caught up with her and gestured at the parchment in her hand.
"Well? It's the last assignment, and I'm quite confident that this time, I've got you beat. There's no way-"
Scorpius was cut short.
"One hundred," Rose replied, as though this was no great feat.
"I don't bloody believe it."
"McGonagall said it was the best she's seen in a while."
"I got a ninety-nine. A ninety-nine! I worked my arse off. I was certain!"
"Looks like this is the end of the line for you, Scorpius."
He cursed. "Drat. I guess it is. This totally ruined my plans."
Scorpius stopped suddenly in the middle of the corridor. Rose followed suit.
"What are you doing?"
Scorpius reached out and twirled a stray curl around his finger.
"You see Rose, I had a plan. A plan I developed, in fact, in fourth year. Needless to say, I haven't had the chance to act on it yet."
Rose was very much distracted by Scorpius's close proximity and his finger in her hair and his breath in her face that all she did was make an unintelligible sound, something like, "uh-ungh." Scorpius took this as a sign to go on.
"You see Rose, I must admit I've had quite a fierce crush on you since fourth year."
Her mouth fell open. "You… you what?"
He smiled in such a way that Rose's heart skipped a beat.
"A crush on you. Anyway, my plan was that finally, finally, I would get a higher mark than you. And you would be distraught. Absolutely heartbroken. And then- simply in the interest of making you feel better, I assure you- I would sweep you off your feet and kiss you until you couldn't even remember your mark."
Rose stared into his gray eyes. She wasn't quite sure what to say. Her heart was lodged in her throat and her stomach was churning. She was certain she was dreaming.
"Quite a plan, Scorpius," she whispered. She couldn't seem to break eye contact with him. "There's just one minor flaw."
"And what's that?" Scorpius's voice also dropped to a whisper, a husky, extremely sexy whisper that made Rose's heart beat fast and her brain spin.
"You never beat me."
He laughed breathily. "Yes, that's a problem. And there's only one solution."
"And what's that?"
Scorpius smiled, a beautiful smile, his teeth so bright they almost blinded her. Or they would have, had she been able to tear her eyes away from his.
"You have to kiss me. You know, because I am so distraught."
"Yes," she remarked. "You look absolutely heartbroken."
Scorpius mock pouted. "I am." He took her hand and placed it on his chest, right over his heart. "Can't you feel the pain? My heart is barely beating, it's so broken."
Rose laughed. "However will you live?"
One side of his mouth came up in a kind of crooked smile that made Rose swoon.
"You must help me, Rose," he whispered, inching his face forward. "You are, after all, the smart one."
She smiled, standing up on tiptoes so her lips were almost touching his. "I suppose I have to. Simply in the interest of making you feel better, I assure you."
He laughed as she pressed her lips to his. His hand still held hers against his chest while his other entangled in her curly hair.
When he finally pulled away, she whispered against his lips, "how are you now?"
"Significantly less distraught, but I can still feel a slight twinge of pain."
"Let me help you with that."
When Rose finally got around to telling her family, the general consensus wasn't disbelief over her having a boyfriend, or over it being Malfoy.
For the most part, when Rose told them, people's reaction was, "so James was right?"
James, for his part, when he found out, smirked widely and then proceeded to do what was supposedly a happy dance but looked more like someone had set fire to his feet. He also did it upon sight of Rose for three weeks before she finally got fed up and really did set his feet on fire.