I've been wanting to work with Scorpius for a while but haven't really had an opportunity yet. I hope it worked out all right.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter. Sorry.
There is a problem with Rose Weasley, Scorpius has decided. A fundamental flaw; an inherent self-destructive, or just generally destructive, quality, and he has come to be certain that this trait will have ramifications far outside anything that Weasley could ever have anticipated, and those ramifications will probably involve his embarrassment, ineptitude, and overall synthesis of misery.
He sees her flaw everyday. He watches her – he used to pretend that it wasn't a habit, but by now he's surrendered any pride he might have once cherished or held onto, which reminds him of the point at hand, which is that he watches her. She's really a sight sometimes (all the time, whatever), but she doesn't inspire the same kind of train wreck fascination that her brother engenders everywhere he stumbles.
As she sits, explaining something, or recounting a joke (it's hard to listen to her and think at the same time, so he's stopped trying), she draws every eye in the room to her. Everyone is enraptured by her words, with the exception of Scorpius, who has only escaped the spell by thinking about how spellbinding she is.
The problem, Scorpius has decided, is that Rose Weasley is magnetic.
And it's really getting on his last nerve.
She is also merciless. Anyone in her situation would certainly realize the power of their mere presence, would account for it, would assume it and work to mitigate it. But Rose Weasley seems to have no idea just how much attention she commands, how she is undoubtedly the coolest person in every room she's ever in, how her self-assuredness is almost unholy. She magnifies her magnetism by actively encouraging others to draw in upon her.
Take Scorpius himself, for example. He has never had the gift of gravitas. The only gift he has, in fact, is the gift of a remarkable capability for ruthless and unceasing self-deprecation. (His father traces it back to his placement in Hufflepuff. His mother traces it back to the fact that his father is his father.) He is unassuming; he recognizes that he is marginally humorous, sometimes wickedly so when he's having a particularly good day, and he knows that he's intelligent. He has his friends, but he was always content with that. He was not the type to spend his Saturdays in the Gryffindor Common Room partying with the Potters. He is still not the type to spend his Saturdays in London partying with the Potters.
The truth is that he only vaguely knew the Potters and Weasleys in school, despite the fact that he was in the same year as Albus and Rose. He had enough of a go with school and his father's infamy without trying to get in good with Boy Who Lived, Jr.
But now that he is a member of the apprenticeship program with the diplomatic and foreign branch of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, now that he has been placed on a team with ten similarly precocious individuals within a few years of his own age, he has come into direct and frequent contact with Rose Weasley. He had known one individual on the team before he joined – Aristophanes Crowley, who had been a year ahead of him in Hufflepuff – but Rose had apparently known everyone. Knowing this, Scorpius would have expected to assume his usual, awkward position on the outside of the group, occasionally sniping good-naturedly at someone's idiocy, but he found that it was too easy to talk in her presence, particularly when he could make her smile.
It turned out his gift of self-deprecation came in handy around Rose Weasley. It had started when Crowley, who had somehow assumed leadership of the group, had asked everyone for scheduling conflicts for an outside weekly conference; when it had been Scorpius's turn, instead of merely saying yes, he could do Tuesdays, thank you, he had remarked, "Well, while this conference may get in the way of my busy schedule of nothing, I think I can make time for it."
Rose had laughed and several others had chortled. And so it had continued, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and then finally Saturday, by which point Scorpius grinned and merely said, "I think we've established by now that I'm pathetic and sorely in need of some company. In case you're wondering, I'm free Sunday and Monday, too."
Rose has a funny habit, he has noticed, of smiling and then drastically widening her smile when she finds something particularly amusing, so that her eyelids nearly shut and her cheeks flush and it's hard to even look at her, she's glowing so brightly. It's really quite distracting, and he has half a mind to report her for being unprofessional, although the other half of his mind realizes this is silly.
The first time she had asked him to dinner he had come close to taking it as a joke.
"Dinner," she had explained, rolling her eyes. "I assume you eat. I thought we could eat together."
"Together." The word sounded funny on his tongue. "Together."
This seemed to amuse her. "As strange as it may sound, I enjoy your company, Scorpius."
"Oh, I enjoy my company, too," he had replied. "Ever so much, in fact. I'm just wondering how I'm going to go about being lonely and pitiable when you're eating with me. It's going to be quite a challenge."
"I have faith in you," she'd laughed, and dinner had been wonderful.
The first time she had invited him to a party with her friends had been similarly disconcerting in the most wonderful fashion. It had been a working Saturday night, a dinner meeting with the group, Aristophanes arguing half-heartedly with Bianca Davies about dragon scales and the value of the Muggle pound; Scorpius had contented himself with his butterbeer and watched as Gregory Medvedev and Anthony Bones played some complicated game that involved ink, a conjured rubber ball, and shots of butterbeer (he had a feeling that outside of the casual working atmosphere butterbeer would be replaced with vodka or firewhisky).
His mistake had been asking Rose of her plans for the evening.
"Oh, Al and the lot are playing this great new game that my Uncle George created; I haven't had the chance to try it out yet, so. There you go, I suppose. And you?"
He'd smiled and raised his bottle to his lips. "Sitting down with a good book or procrastinating on my tax forms. If that fails to amuse I will proceed to either measure, yet again, whether my right leg is longer than my left, or perhaps listen to my next-door neighbor give a rousing concert in tandem with WWW's Saturday night oldies show."
"You live a life of danger, Scorpius Malfoy," Rose had said.
"You know, your legs look quite even to me. In length, I mean."
"Mm, do they?" He'd looked down, as if to check. "That's interesting. I had sincerely felt that the right leg had grown since Tuesday."
"Alas, no." Ah, her smile; her teeth – damn it all to hell and back. "Now, unless you are quite excited about this oldies concert, or your taxes, or your book, you could always accompany me to my flat for a game with my favorite relatives and my friends."
"Your famous relatives and friends? I already feel inadequate."
She'd grinned wider at this point. "My relatives and friends are amazing - they'll love you. I like you well enough, don't I? And I promise much excitement and possibly even embarrassment, if George or little Fred is feeling especially rambunctious."
Of course, he hadn't been able to deny her. And she'd been right. The only one who had bristled at his name had been George Weasley, but by the end of the night George had laughed at Scorpius's remarks more than anyone, and all in all it had been a rousing success.
There are parts of Scorpius that want to believe that Rose feels something special for him, something distinctly unfriendly but not at all unfavorable, but the logical part of him crushes that desire. Her behavior towards him is not unlike her behavior toward any of her friends, male or female; she acts the same around her cousin Albus, or around Aristophanes, or Brooks Longbottom – and so on. It bothers him, to a degree, but he's beginning to get over it. Kind of.
He willingly confesses that watching Anthony hug her from behind as she giggles about some joke Bianca has made gives him no small amount of displeasure. Which is a problem.
But then again, it's always been the Malfoy credo to want things you can't have.
He refills his glass of water and makes it a point not to continue this worthless pursuit of self-pity. It's not a quality he finds attractive in himself, nor that anyone else should. While the fact may be that Rose Weasley is too good for him – and she is – it doesn't serve him well to continually think he's not good enough in any aspect of his life. It encourages apathy and laziness. Self-pity is an excuse, and not a good one.
Merlin, he's turning into his mother.
"Sickle for your thoughts."
"I'm thinking that I forgot to turn off the heater." He turns to his left, where Rose has perched herself, and holds out his hand. "Sickle, if you will. Seeing as I forgot to turn off the heater, I'll need it to pay my utilities bill."
"I'm not stupid, I know your dad personally manages your utilities." Unfortunately, she's right. "How's life, Scorpius?"
"The same. And yourself?"
"Wonderful!" she exclaims. She holds up a jar of something to his nose, and he stares at it. "It's glimmering paint. I've been having so much fun all day just putting it on people, files, cats –"
"Cats?" he asks.
"Yes," she says, frowning, "I can't say that the cat was pleased."
Then her frown transforms into a guilty grin and he grins back, and then she does that thing where she smiles wider at him like he's the only thing in the world and – ah bloody everything, he's really well and screwed over, isn't he? He read once that attractive people are attractive because they find interest in others and don't worry about being interesting themselves. It could've all been bollocks, but he's starting to think that's Rose Weasley's secret.
"It changes colors," she adds.
"It sounds magnificent. I'm surprised you don't have it all over your face by now."
She tosses the jar in the air and catches it smoothly. "Huh, that's a great idea. Here –" she stuffs the jar in his hands "– you put it on. Make my face look special, okay? It's really great, too, it changes colors and everything."
He stares at the jar, and at her face, and at the jar. And then he opens it, gets a small amount of paint on his finger, and smears it across Rose's left cheek. She laughs, and he goes for the right cheek.
"How do I look?"
"Brilliant," he breathes, and catches himself. "You most definitely are glimmering."
"Great! Now, you can get rid of the paint on my face if you want and go for different patterns. I'm thinking that I want to look like a fairy, see? If not that a cat."
"In memory of the cat you violated with your paint earlier in the day," he muses.
So he obliges her. The fact that it necessitates such close proximity, that their eyes aren't more than inches apart, that his hands are constantly on her face – he's trying not to think about that fact, because he and Rose are friends, working colleagues, and that's that.
"We're out," he finally says, indicating the empty jar.
"Aw," she pouts, and he feels twice as sad as she.
"Should I remove...?"
"No," she says, looking like a fool and a saint at the same time with her cheeks glittering green and forehead bright pink, "no, I think I quite like this."
"Yes, it is a fetching look on you. The boys will go wild."
She leans back against the wall next to him and watches the room with a slight uptick to her mouth. "Hm, yes. So, Scorpius, what are your plans for the morrow?"
"Yes, that's tomorrow. Good work."
"I do try."
"That you do," she says, and he feels a flighting sense of panic, but then he realizes that the comment is innocuous, and not at all indicative of her knowing exactly how pathetic he is. He scowls. He needs to stop thinking like that. He's a perfectly attractive, nice fellow, and everyone knows that. It's time he started acting like it. (He really is turning into his mother.)
"So," she continues, "what's on the schedule for tomorrow? Taxes? Watching paint dry? Attempting sleep with your eyes open?"
And he realizes just how sad that makes him sound. At what point does it make him stop sounding comically self-deprecating and start making him sound depressingly self-pitying? Enough.
"Actually, I was planning on attending a get-together with one of my friends from Hogwarts." Which he wasn't, and in fact there is no get-together, but he can get on the Floo when he gets home and schedule something. It wouldn't hurt him to take the initiative for the first time in his life. "So that should be a laugh. You?"
"I was going to go to the Wasps game," she says. "And I was going to invite you, if you had nothing else to do, but seeing as you do..."
The way she looks at him, it's almost a challenge. As if she's calling his bluff. As if she wants him to say it's all a lie and that of course he can attend the Wasps game with her.
"Yes, that's unfortunate," he finds himself saying. "I really would've loved to go to that, but I already promised..."
"That's fine," she replies, and she beams at him. Almost as if she's proud of him. Or she's just beaming at him. She does that a lot. "I can ask Albus or something. He's annoying because he never stops shouting the entire game, but we can't all be Scorpius Malfoy, man of mystery, can we?"
"No," he says, attempting a smile, "I suppose we can't."
"Right on. Anyway, I'm heading home. I'm knackered." She picks up her coat and gives him one last blinding smile. "Have fun tomorrow! I'll see you later."
He murmurs a goodbye and then she's off, disappearing into hugs and embraces and then the emerald green fire. He stands with his water and stares at the space she'd previously occupied, thinks about how he for once he took initiative and how it would have been so much easier to have nothing to do and hope against hope that Rose would want to spend time with him. Which she did, incidentally. The irony doesn't escape him.
But he's not the same, is he? He's making a choice. Turning a page. All that nonsense. Enough being hopeless. It's time to get started with being confident. Maybe he can try being magnetic, even.
He smiles at the empty paint jar in his hand and flips it into the air, catching it smoothly on the downturn.