From the story "The Mercury Chronicles: Rules of Engagement:"

"Right. How long has this been going on, then?" I asked. They looked at each other sheepishly before Scorpius answered.

"Er, about a month, mate."

Here we have the tale of how Rose and Scorpius finally did get together a month before Christmas Hols. Please enjoy

The Mercury Chronicles Outtakes: Homework

12:30 AM on a Wednesday morning in November saw Scorpius Malfoy pacing back and forth in front of the bookshelves in the deserted Ravenclaw common room. His mind, normally so sharp, was clouded, and he reckoned there was nothing like a good book to settle things upstairs. There were books on advanced Charms, books on Transfiguration theory and more History books than he imagined existed. Most were in Middle English, but a couple were in Modern English, which was easier to read. None of them, however, grabbed the 11-year-old's fancy at that moment. Later that morning was Charms class, in which he needed to make a feather spin at pitch, roll and yaw; something he'd mastered a week after learning how to levitate that feather. He was two weeks ahead in the reading for his other classes, and knew that pushing further ahead than that had diminishing returns. So, this First Year student was left without any homework whatsoever to take his mind off of whatever it was that was keeping him up at that unhealthy hour. Rose Weasley had seen to that.

Scorpius sighed heavily and took a seat on the couch facing the fireplace. The common room was heated, but November in Scotland brought an unholy chill to the air that his silk pyjamas and housecoat simply did not ward off. The fire helped, and soon Scorpius's heart rate slowed to a manageable 70 or so beats per minute. He enjoyed the silence. For all his ruminating through his younger years (everything up until 1st September of that year) about his loneliness as an only child, he wasn't used to the constant company he was in at Hogwarts. He thought about his sorting – what the Hat told him nearly three months earlier:

"You've got a sharp mind, young man. There's no denying that. But both of your parents were Slytherin, as have been your ancestors on your father's side going back centuries. Are you certain this is what you want? Your life will be much, much different if I put you in Ravenclaw."

And somehow, Scorpius knew the hat had been right. Originally it was just to cheese off his parents. But the longer the Hogwarts Express took to get to Scotland, the more he knew he wanted to be with his two new friends. Albus Potter, the mastermind of the operations, who'd simply had it with expectations and pre-determined life paths based on a resemblance to his (rightfully) famous father. And Rose. Rose, with her bright eyes, brilliant mind and effervescent personality. Rose, with whom he had gone to every meal since he'd arrived. Rose, whose mere presence next to him had seemingly staved off any ill-will he could have received due to his rather infamous surname. Rose, who (outside of the other Ravenclaw firsties) was the first person he greeted each morning, and the last person he bade goodnight. Yes, Scorpius had a lot on his mind all right. And he certainly wasn't going to figure it out staring into a fire.

Scorpius got up from the couch and walked over to the writing table. There were parchment and quills available for use there, as well as an inkwell. He began to list sensations – nervous stomach, frequent smiling, and a sense of ease when she was around, her dimples when she smi-

"Oh dear," he said aloud to no one in particular. "Well, there it is. Nothing for it then than to see if she reciprocates, is there?" Scorpius put the excess paper, quill and inkwell back into the writing table, balled up the list he'd started and walked to the fireplace to dispose of it. He knew that any relationship between friends as close as he and Rose was dangerous for the friendship, and also knew that Albus would feel like a third wheel. He resolved to analyze those points with Rose should the need arise. Scorpius put the wadded-up paper into his housecoat pocket as he jumped at the sound of a door opening behind him.

"Oh dear. Didn't mean to startle you, Scorpius," Rose called from the staircase. She, too, was clad in pyjamas and housecoat. Her hair was a bit wilder than he normally saw it, but that was tamed quickly by use of an elastic band she had in her housecoat's pocket.

"No bother," Scorpius replied. "Are you having trouble sleeping, or trying to get further ahead in revision?"

Rose let out a yawn and stretched. "Couldn't sleep, actually," she said, walking down the stairs and towards the fireplace where Scorpius stood. "What about you?"

"Same. Seems there was a lot on my mind. All sussed out, though." Scorpius once again noticed Rose's dimples as she smiled in response. "It leaves me with some homework, though. There are a few things that need to be sorted out as a result."

"Really?" Rose was intrigued. Revision was her specialty. "What kind of homework?"

Scorpius took a deep breath. He was a bit nervous, but knew that the only way to do something was to do it. His voice quivered a bit as he answered.

"Well, turns out I'm rather fond of a girl, in a romantic way, that is. You, to be more specific, and – "

"Wait - come again? Me?" Rose's face showed real surprise.

"Of course you. I don't really spend enough time with any other girls to be interested in them now, do I?"

"Well, no, I don't suppose." Rose answered. The two first years stood in silence facing each other. After a moment, Scorpius took Rose's hand and led her to the couch.

"So, the first thing I need to do is to determine whether my feelings are reciprocated."

"Where did you learn that?" Rose asked.

"Literature. It seems to be the way society works. Should one party notice he or she has feelings for another, it must be determined whether those feelings are reciprocated." Scorpius answered, strangely confident.

"Scorpius, I honestly don't know whether I feel the same way. I might need to take some time to figure that out for myself. You understand, right?"

Scorpius's heart sank. He knew he really oughtn't rush her – these were things that did require time. After all, he'd just figured things out for himself that morning. But still, he'd taken a bit of a risk by letting her know what had been troubling him – a necessary risk, but a risk nonetheless – and that risk seemed to have backfired on him.

"Of course, Rose. Take all the time you need. I found making a list helpful in my musings on the subject. Here, you can use mine as a template." Scorpius flattened out the list that was still in his pocket and handed it to Rose. A moment later, he got up to leave, but was stopped by Rose's hand around his wrist.

"What's this word here?" she asked.

"Dimples. I was trying to list sensations I was experiencing, but I kept coming back to the dimples in your cheeks when you smile. Wasn't sure how to categorize any related sensations, but when I got that far, I realised what was keeping my mind so active."

Rose smiled broadly, giving Scorpius a full view of the dimples he'd just been talking about. "You – you like my dimples?" she asked.

"Yes. Very much so," Scorpius replied, returning her smile. Scorpius was anxious to leave, so that Rose could have time to sort things out for herself. He reckoned that the quicker she did that, the quicker this terrible nervousness he was feeling would go away. He stood up to leave, and Rose stood up as well. They embraced each other, as they'd done most nights since they started at Hogwarts. This time, however, neither of them wanted to leave the embrace. As a hug that normally lasted three seconds went on into its second minute, Rose broke the silence, still holding her best friend tightly.

"Er, Scorpius? Let's just say for argument's sake that I do return your feelings. What – what other revision did you have?"

"Well," Scorpius began. His voice was failing him, and his heart was threatening to pound straight out of his chest, but he soldiered on. "There's the question of Albus. Should you and I begin a romantic relationship, I think it best he not know about it. Were I in his position, I think I'd feel very much like a third wheel, and I wouldn't want to do that to him."

Rose let out a sigh. "I was thinking the same thing. Regrettably, this situation reminds me rather of stories of my parents and Uncle Harry. My parents decided not to act on their feelings for years, and it really did warp their relationship. Yes, I think a bit of subterfuge is in order. What else?"

"There's the question of us. We need to pledge to each other that our plans for Hogwarts domination take precedence over anything that might happen to us whilst together romantically. I don't care if you throw me off for that third-year, Slocum, we're still going to run this school."

Rose smiled wickedly. "He is rather dishy though, isn't he?"

Scorpius smiled back. "Yes, well, that's beside the point now, isn't it? Are we agreed, then?"

"Mm-hmm."

Rose and Scorpius stayed like that for another two minutes or so. Their grip on each other had tightened, and they'd brought their bodies closer together, resting their chins on each other's shoulders. Scorpius didn't want to go anywhere. What he really wanted to do was kiss her, but she hadn't definitively said that she had romantic feelings for him (although he was beginning to think she might), and he certainly didn't want to jeopardise that possibility by rushing her through her decision-making process. Similarly, he realised (with some slight horror) that he'd never kissed a girl before. He imagined the process to be rather self explanatory; 1) place lips on lips, 2) hold, 3) release, but he didn't want to discover he'd missed an important nuance mid-snog. Thankfully, Rose broke the silence.

"Any other homework then, Scorpius?" she asked.

"Just one thing. I've- I've never kissed a girl before, and I reckon I should really learn how before I make a fool of myself with you."

Rose laughed.

"What's so funny about that?"

"Do you really think I've ever kissed a boy? Besides, how hard could it be?" They fell into silence again.

Impossible to tell whose head started leaning in first, but after a very slow approach, Rose and Scorpius were kissing. Scorpius recalled something he had once heard about using one's tongue in the process, but thought better of trying anything any more advanced than what he was doing – which, he remarked to himself, was absolutely brilliant.

Both Rose and Scorpius had rather loopy grins on their faces as they broke apart from the kiss. They squeezed each other even tighter and broke apart.

"That's your homework done then, Scorpius," Rose remarked, her voice strangely soft and low-pitched.

"Yes," Scorpius replied. "But we should probably do some further revision, as this is rather a new subject for both of us, don't you think?"

Rose agreed.