A/N: So here comes Chapter 21 2.0! I like this version much better - less arguing, more snogging, which I think everyone should like. I saw character regression rather than character progression in the first version of this chapter, so I decided to rewrite it. Hope you like this one equally or more than the last!
The beginning is the same, but a lot of it has been changed so please read though at least to the middle!
I awoke the next morning feeling refreshed and happy. I took a moment for me to realise why I was wearing a goofy smile on my face, and then all the memories started pouring in.
I quickly pulled on a pair of jeans and a top and tried unsuccessfully to comb my hair into some semblance of order.
When I was all done getting myself ready for the day, I left my room, humming quietly to myself. I passed various family members in all states of morning grumpiness and cheerily waved them a good morning to which I got all sorts of responses.
The most mundane being a reluctant, "'Lo Rose."
And the most offensive being the middle finger coming unsurprisingly from James as he shuffled back into his room with a cup of coffee.
"Rosie! How was last night?" I heard a shrill voice screech behind me just as I began to pour myself a glass of orange juice from a breakfast buffet arranged on the kitchen table. Apparently we were all supposed to come in at our leisure at whatever time we wanted. I got the sense that most people hadn't awoken yet, as the plate of bacon was relatively intact and the jug of orange juice mostly full.
"It was great," I gasped as I found myself in the centre of a very enthused hug from Victoire. I hurriedly replaced the jug on the table before I dropped it.
"That's so nice to hear," she gushed, pulling away to examine me critically. "Did he take you to la Tour Eiffel?"
"The Eiffel Tower? Oh yeah," I said.
"And that secluded beach I recommended?"
"That too," I told her.
She grinned, a mischievous glint appearing in her sky blue eyes. "And I take it I can add Scorpius as your plus one?"
"But I didn't check plus one," I argued, remembering the wedding invitation that had come by owl post months prior.
"I did," she said flippantly. "So, it's fine if Scorpius sits next to you for all of the wedding proceedings?"
"Would my answer change anything at all?"
"Not really," mused Victoire.
"Then no, I wouldn't mind."
"You're a peach, Rose."
I smiled. "Anything for you, Victoire."
She grinned. "So what are your plans for today?"
"I don't have any," I confessed. "Unless you count that voluntary late lunch Aunt Fleur has planned."
Victoire grimaced. "Don't go. All of her old work friends are going to be there and all of them are drier than burnt toast."
I smiled and toasted her with my glass. "I'll keep that in mind."
"So where's Scorpius this morning? Not still in your room, I take it?"
"My room?" I nearly shrieked, choking on my juice. "Why in Merlin's name would he be in my room Victoire?"
"I don't know," she said innocently, grabbing a piece of fruit to mask her gleeful expression. "Late night… romantic dinner…"
"Both of which do not lead to men sleeping my room!" I hissed. "Merlin, Victoire."
"Fine, fine," Victoire said, popping the raspberry in her mouth and holding up her empty hands as a sign of surrender. "Don't tell me, Rosie."
"That's because there's nothing to tell!" I nearly wailed.
She laughed. "I'll stop teasing you, Rosie, although it is really too fun. Ta for now," she said before sauntering off, giggling to herself.
I hated her.
It was official.
How in Merlin's name Teddy ever withstood her meddling… That man must be a saint.
At the sound of my name I turned to behold Louis, yawning and blinking slowly at me.
"Hey Louis," I greeted.
"Morning," he said, reaching for a banana. "How was your night?"
"Good," I replied.
"You came in awfully late," he said, narrowing his eyes.
I crossed my arms over my chest defensively. "How did you know?"
His eyes widened. "So you admit you did!" he cried, waving the banana madly at me. "Al told me, but I didn't believe him!"
I swatted the banana impatiently out of my face. "Honestly, why is it any of your business?"
"I'm your cousin. You're big manly cousin. I should be defending your honour against fiends like Malfoy!" he said.
"Oh Merlin, just grow up," I exclaimed exasperatedly. "You don't need to defend me against anything. And Scorpius is certainly not a fiend!" I said, finally swiping the banana out of Louis's grasp and throwing back in the general direction of the table.
"You've just had your banana privileges revoked for unwarranted gesticulation with foodstuffs!"
"How's your sister holding up?" I asked to change the subject.
Louis shrugged. "You know her, always has to be on top of everything."
I nodded. "I saw her earlier, and her most pressing concern was where Scorpius took me last night."
"Yeah," he said, shrugging. "She's not worried about the wedding at all. I think it'll all go fine, what with Victoire running the show. That's assuming Teddy doesn't do something stupid to his hair before the ceremony – that'll drive mum nuts," he added. "Mum's the only wildcard in the plans."
I grinned. "What, Aunt Fleur has something against blue?"
"If it clashes with the flower arrangements she does," Louis retorted. "Anyway," he said, dumping his dishes on the counter, "I've got to run, I promised Hugo a game of Quidditch in the backyard in fifteen minutes."
"Hugo's conscious at this hour?" I asked with a raised eyebrow.
Louis shrugged. "The ceremony's going to take up all of tomorrow so he figures he needs to cram in some extra practice now to make up."
"Well, alright then," I said, waving him off.
After my chat with Louis ended I made my way slowly back to my room. I passed a few more bleary-eyed redheads and good mornings were tossed around.
"Rosie!" I heard someone shout behind me.
I turned, grinning to see Scorpius jogging to me.
"The bedhead frizz becomes you; it really does," he said sardonically once he was within earshot. "Forget what everyone else has been saying. It doesn't look like you got hexed by several Shocking Jinxes at once."
"Arse," I declared, turning on my heel and stalking off in the other direction.
Laughing, he caught up with me within moments. I felt his hand entwine in mine as he turned me around and pulled me to him. "Take that back," he whispered, his breath warming my face due to his close proximity.
"Make me," I breathed.
True, it was a terribly clichéd line, but at least I said something. It wouldn't be all fine and dandy if I just stood there, basking in his inexplicable attraction and my good fortune while he wondered what the hell was wrong with me. It wasn't like I haven't done that enough for the both of us, after all.
I mentally congratulated myself. It wasn't every day that I was this smooth.
Okay, self-indulgent mental celebratory rant aside, it was a moment before I realised that Scorpius wasn't doing anything.
We were just standing there in the hallway in that same embrace.
Actually, it looked a little bit like he was basking in my attraction and his good fortune by the way his eyes were caressing my face and gradually pulling me closer so I was flush against him.
Which was ridiculous.
Impatient for more snogging, I decided to hell with it. I was a busy girl; I had people to do, things to see. If he wasn't going to snog me any time soon, then I surely wasn't going to be wasting my time staring dreamily into his eyes.
I raised my arms up to snake around them around his neck. With a deep breath, I simultaneously tilted my mouth up and gently pressed his head down to meet mine. I saw the barest flash of a grin before his lips descended upon my mouth.
And then all thoughts were wiped from my mind.
Well, all coherent thoughts, at any rate.
I had plenty of thoughts that didn't make an iota of sense.
All I could register was the feel of his mouth on mine, the way our lips moulded together and the heat of his hands as they gently made their way down my torso and skimmed along my hips. He sucked lightly on my bottom lip before directing me blindly along the hallway so that my back was pressed up against the wall after a few paces, all the while our lips never breaking contact. One of his hands left my arse to steady himself; his palm came to rest flat against the wall near my left ear. His lips moved sensuously against mine, and I felt the familiar tingle of pleasure shoot up from the pit of my stomach. I moaned slightly, and he pulled back momentarily to smirk before his hand slipped underneath my shirt to lie skin against skin at the small of my back. I grinned slightly against his mouth as I remembered this same hand position from months before. His fingers ghosted against my skin, and I trembled against his touch. I drew back as my eyes flew open to stare into his grey irises, filled with amusement as he took in my reaction. I caught the beginnings of a satisfied smirk, and I pushed my slightly swollen lips against his once more – if to just wipe that stupid expression off his face.
"Oi! Get a room!"
Honestly, that boy had the worst timing ever.
"Fuck off, Al," Scorpius exclaimed, turning to glare at the current bane of my existence.
"Get a room," Al repeated, grimacing in disgust. "I don't want to see this right before I have to eat breakfast."
"Then run along, and you won't have to see anything," I pointed out, peering at Al over Scorpius's shoulder.
"Damage is already done, coz," he replied drily.
"Well then, what was the bloody point of interrupting us?" I demanded.
"Go away, Potter."
Al grinned at Scorpius. "See? Didn't I tell you she fancied you?"
Scorpius let out a long-suffering sigh. "Yes, you were right and I was wrong. Now shove off," he growled.
Al shook his head, his emerald eyes mischievous. "Now was that too hard?"
"Go away," Scorpius repeated.
"Fine," Al said finally, "But if you're going to go any further, you might want to get a room. You never know who might be wandering the halls this morning. They might not be as, er, friendly as me."
I snorted disbelievingly.
Al let out a loud cough that sounded suspiciously like 'Uncle Ron.'
"Point taken," Scorpius said sourly. "Now go away."
"Fine, fine," Al said, waving us off. "I'm going. Don't do anything I wouldn't do!"
"Is that honestly supposed to be our rule of wand?" I asked dubiously, turning to Scorpius.
He shrugged. "That's for him to decide and us to ignore." He smirked and gave my appearance a once over.
More like he was mentally undressing me with his eyes.
I immediately became self-conscious under his lust-filled gaze. I felt the beginnings of a blush emerge, and I swiped my hand through my hair nervously, making my curls even more haphazard than they usually were. Of course he looked perfect as ever, even in his casual shirt and trousers, and I couldn't help comparing my dishevelled appearance to his pristine one. No wonder the insults had never stopped. Obviously because they still applied.
Scorpius grinned. "Your hair's all mussed. Like you just got shagged."
Merlin, he didn't even bother trying to make his innuendo subvert anymore. I felt my hand rise to hurriedly smooth down my wild curs. My eyes refused to meet his, and I shuffled nervously from foot to foot as I tried desperately to think of what exactly to do.
"Rose?" he asked after a beat, his confident expression falling slightly.
"I… er…" I said, eyes darting everywhere but him. "I, er, have to go," I stumbled out. "You know, fix my hair, and things," I invented wildly, my thoughts entirely jumbled and an entirely unpleasant sensation coursing through my system. I quickly, if clumsily, bypassed Scorpius and hurried down the hall.
It took him a moment to respond, but respond he did.
"Rose, oh bloody hell, Rose, wait!"
Of course I had no inclination of doing that in the slightest.
He caught up with me, though, as he usually did.
Once he was satisfied he had my attention once more, he shook his head and sighed. "What is it now, Rose? Why are you running away?" His sharp grey eyes bore into mine, but I blinked and looked away.
"Because, I need to fix my hair," I repeated lamely, staring intently at the swaying yellow curtains covering an open window behind Scorpius's right ear.
"It looks like it always does," he said impatiently. "Fess up, Rose. What's got you all hot and bothered?"
I sucked in a breath. "I dunno," I said in a rush.
"I don't believe you," he accused. "Everything was going fine." He paused, his eyes searching. "Right?" he faltered, his face dimming slightly. "Right?"
I shrugged my shoulders and looked down. "I just… never mind. I need time to think," and before he could protest, I hurried on, "Without you. I can't think when I'm around you."
"Is that right?" he drawled, backing up a step so that he could lean with his back against the wall.
"It is," I said stoically, before turning to march down the hallway away from him for a second time.
Almost instantaneously his hand shot out to wrap, vice-like, around my wrist.
I blamed his Quidditch reflexes.
"Hold on just one second, Weasley," he said, retaining his firm grip to ensure I didn't run off again. "Just try to concentrate then, yeah?" he asked, a smirk hidden behind his serious expression. "I'll try to be as not distracting as possible, even. Just tell me what's wrong, Rose. I can't help fix anything if I don't know what's broken in the first place," he finished quietly.
"I… it's just…" I stuttered, completely lost.
"Take your time, Weasley," he said calmly, "I'm in no hurry."
"But I can't!" I exclaimed, exasperated. "Because I have no idea what is going on! I'm sick of all the mixed signals – last night you failed to tell me we were on a date until just about ever. Instead, you lured me away under all that personal slave nonsense which was more than a little bizarre. Then, you surprise me with the news that you not only fancy me, but that you have been doing it for years and kept me entirely in the dark. We snuggled and snogged on that romantic beach in the moonlight for hours, but come this morning you're all 'Rose you have stupid hair.' Then we were snogging like mad, which was beyond excellent, but then you gave me this look like you wanted to tear my clothes off right then and there! Scorpius, you just don't make any sense." I took a couple of deep breaths as I finished my rather long list of Scorpius's misdemeanours.
He looked rather stumped for a moment; the smirk fell and the serious expression settled in rather ominously in the lines of his frown and the resigned light in his eyes. Finally, he grimaced and said, "Look, Rose, I admit I haven't been the best example of sensibility, but you have to believe I do care about you. Al's been telling me things," he said in a quieter voice.
"Oh yeah?" I asked, my face heating up in embarrassment as I realised his implication.
Damn you Al.
"And I can't help but think that you have some glorified version of me envisioned in your mind," he continued, sighing and shaking his head. "I'm not perfect, far from it – actually when it comes to you. Fancying you has been the most frustrating, wonderful thing I've ever experienced… usually in equal amounts. Most of the time you were completely oblivious to my intentions, so forgive me if I was a little thrown when you suddenly said you fancied me."
"But you always seemed so… so… collected," I argued. "Thrown?" I quoted, my eyebrows drawing together in confusion.
He rolled his eyes. "Of course I was thrown. I'm only human, after all," he said. "Appearances are crucial, Rose. I've known that for years. Even if I could, to a reasonable degree, control my outward appearance, I was still a complete wreck inside last night. Nervous, anxious or any synonym therefore definitely applied. Still does, in fact," he added in a low voice.
"So forgive me, Rose, I've been acting a little strange lately," he said, shoving his hands in his pockets. "I don't know how to respond to you sometimes, and my gut instinct is not usually the right one." He scowled. "Plus, you yourself haven't been the most open with me, anyway," Scorpius said, the slightest note of accusation in his voice.
"Me?" I squeaked.
"Yeah," he scoffed. "For instance, our first kiss: you were all over me, and then poof, vanished into the night-"
"Oi! That was not my fa-"
Scorpius sighed, cutting me off. "Yeah, I know that now. But I didn't know it then, did I? And then you never explained-"
"Because I thought it was obvious!" I said sharply. "There were at least a dozen family members that saw us leave. I figured you heard what happened and you just didn't care!"
"Of course I cared!"
"How was I supposed to know that?" I challenged. "And it especially didn't look like you cared when you were snogging Jade Li in front of the whole bloody school the first moment you could!"
Scorpius gaped at me. "You saw that?" he breathed.
"Yes I did," I said hotly. "And, let me tell you Scorpius, it didn't look like there was any need to explain anything since you obviously weren't dwelling like I was!"
"Fuck," he swore, "Rose, I was miserable because I thought our kiss didn't mean anything to you."
"Of course it did-"
He interrupted, "But I didn't know that, did I? You left me alone at the Potter's. I figured that as soon as I was gone, you realised what a giant mistake you made snogging me in the first place and bolted. Alright, so maybe I should have stayed around and heard the rest of the story, but can you blame me for not wanting to stick around just to get pitying looks from Al or Victoire? So I made a run for it."
"That still doesn't explain why you were snogging Jade the first opportunity you could," I grumbled.
Scorpius shook his head. "Look, I was beyond miserable. I thought I had blown any shot I had with you to hell and back. Jade was there, and I couldn't very well turn her down in front of the entire school, could I? So sue me, I pretended she was you for a little while and snogged her. I'm not proud of it," he finished. "Plus, you had been going on about that mystery bloke that you fancied the whole evening," he finished bitterly. "Who was I to know that you weren't thinking about him the whole time?"
"Jealous?" I asked, a smile spreading over my face. Oh the irony.
"No," he said shortly.
"Quite," he said sardonically, grimacing.
"So am I," I murmured, taking a step closer to him.
"You're a liar?" he asked, raising an eyebrow questioningly. "Since when, Rosie?"
"'Mystery bloke'?" I said, laughing slightly. "Please, there was no mystery there. Come on, it was you all along."
"Me?" he asked, his eyes widening.
"Yes you," I said, grinning.
"Me?" he repeated, looking a little dazed.
"Uh huh," I said, reaching out to touch his arm reassuringly. "I lied. I don't do it often, but I did do it that one time. I just didn't think you'd appreciate your best mate complicating things and making things awkward with talk of fancying."
"Oh I would've," he said fervently. He grinned. "Complication and awkwardness? So glad we missed all of that in our friendship after New Years," he said sarcastically.
I laughed. "Well, I didn't know that then, did I?" I asked, mimicking his tone from earlier.
"No, I suppose not," he said, rolling his eyes. "So… so we're good?" he asked after a moment, daring a look into my eyes.
I deliberated over his question for a second. Were we good? I didn't know. He just gave me so much to think about. It felt like our whole relationship had just been turned on its head… again.
"I dunno, Scorpius," I said, shaking my head as I watched his expression fall slightly. "I need some time alone, okay? I still need to think."
For a moment he looked like he was about to argue with me, but then he sighed resignedly. "Alright," he said. "I'll be around if you need me, Rosie," he called as I turned away from him.
I down the hallway and left Scorpius, a bad feeling growing in the pit of my stomach. It wasn't rejecting him or anything, but there was a decidedly defeated air to his stance that I noticed as I snuck a peek behind me. I needed to sort though all the things in my mind, that much I knew. I still couldn't figure out how Scorpius could have fancied me for so damn long. Three years? That was just ridiculous. How could I not have noticed anything? How could he have stood being my best mate, and only my best mate for so long?
I wandered out the front door and sat on a bench placed on the side of the front garden. I tucked my feet underneath me and turned my face toward the morning sun as I tried to relax and simply think.
I remembered certain things that had never added up with Scorpius. Things I just brushed off as weird quirks that he had.
Like the way he was completely unable to absorb any lesson I taught to him about girls, despite being one of the brightest wizards in our year. For some reason, he could never keep anything I told him in his head for more than a couple of weeks. I'd explicitly tell him something as simple as, don't ever tell her about your ex girlfriends, but he'd do it anyway and keep running to me as soon as he mucked it up.
I thought for a moment.
Maybe… he didn't want to remember. Maybe he'd mess up just so that he could talk to me again. Because then I'd insult his intelligence, he'd insult my hair, and we'd just end up joking and laughing and having a wonderful time. Come to think of it, I could count on one hand the number of dates that didn't feature a harassed-looking Scorpius demanding a meeting with me at one in the morning to fix something he said or did to offend her.
As loathe as I was to admit the possibility that Scorpius was so illogical as to bond with me over other girls, the explanation seemed to fit with everything I'd been through with him.
It felt… right.
There was no other way to explain it. True, he did seem more than a little mad with the way he went about doing things, but he really wasn't perfect. I mean, would any ideal bloke be completely blind to my feelings for a good four straight months?
And then there was that time in fourth year when he insisted on keeping up our friendship even though the summer was over and he was no longer living next-door to me at Al's. He spent nearly an hour convincing me that he wasn't a terrible bloke to be mates with. Of course, I thought he was completely mad, but he eventually brought me around in the end.
Finally, there were the constant hair insults.
I thought long and hard.
I fiddled with a vine that was growing up the back of the bench as my mind whirled through possible explanations, each growing more ridiculous than the last.
There was nothing else for it. I would just have to ask Scorpius. Everything else he did made sense, I suppose. He fancied me. He had been fancying me for a long time. He just had a completely arse-backwards way of showing it. I hurriedly jumped up from my seat, my half-asleep legs protesting, and dashed into the house in search of Scorpius.
I first checked his room, but it was empty of any human life. Next I dropped by the Quidditch game that was in full swing behind the house. However, I couldn't spot any blonds among either the players or the chattering audience that was amassed around the fringes of the garden. I wandered aimlessly around the house, eyes peeled for any sign of him. I even doubled back to the kitchen to make sure he hadn't crept past me as I was looking the other way.
I circled around the house for a bit, anticipation making my nerves hum dually with excitement and dread at the prospect of seeing him. After listening to Al's advice and looking for the bloody bloke in the first place, nearly an hour had passed since I had last seen him. I quickly swung by his room again.
I grimaced in disappointment. Well, I reasoned, he must come back here sometime. Either to grab something or sleep in – oh bloody hell – ten hours or so.
I slipped into his room and perched myself somewhat hesitantly at the foot of his bed, as there wasn't really anywhere else to sit. Scorpius's room was probably the smallest of the bedrooms, so small that he hadn't be forced to share a room with anyone else. It was a narrow rectangular room with one window with a view of the street at the far end and the door at the other. Along the right side of the wall was the bed. On the right side a narrow dresser was placed, although its position only allowed about four feet of passing space to the window. I stared around the cupboard of a room for a moment, utterly bored out of my mind after sitting for approximately five minutes.
I sighed and flopped down on the bed, curling into his covers and burrowing my nose into his pillow.
I grinned. It smelled of him.
A while later a soft, embarrassed cough interrupted my burrowing.
I flinched and hid my face in the pillow, hoping against hope that I had just imagined the noise.
And then it happened again.
I promptly unstuck my face from Scorpius's pillow and tried to chirp out a sufficiently normal, "Hi!" in response to the intruder.
Blushing beet red and trying to forget the fact that I had just been rolling around in his bed for the past minute and a half, I reluctantly met the eyes of Scorpius Malfoy as he stood, disbelieving, in doorframe.
"Rose," he said, confused.
"Yep that's me," I said quickly, jumping up and trying to put as much distance between his bed and my person before remembering that there was actually no room to speak of in this cramped bedroom.
Damn it all to hell.
"Er, I was just…" he started, his eyes not deviating from where, a second ago, my hair had been splayed fiery red against his cream coloured sheets.
"Just…" I prompted when he failed to finish his sentence.
He cleared his throat, blinking hard. His eyes shifted to where I was standing awkwardly against the wall. "I was just going to get a book," he said. "I just finished my last one," he added, holding up a small paperback volume which he had previously been holding innocently at his side.
"So you were in the library?" I asked, shifting nervously from foot to foot.
He nodded as he strode forward to grab a book that was resting on the dresser.
"The library!" I murmured, shaking my head as I jumped up to follow him as he left the room. "The one place I forgot."
He looked mildly astonished to find me trailing after him out of his room. "You forgot about a library?" he asked as we turned a corner towards the stairs.
"There are many floors in this house!" I said defensively as we began climbing up to the very top of the house and the attic library. "You are a very hard man to find, Scorpius," I said accusingly.
He stopped short on the landing and stared at me. "You were looking for me?" he asked, baffled.
"Uh huh," I said, an uneasiness settling into the air around us. "All morning."
"Oh," he said, clearly at a loss for words. "Why?"
"Wanted to talk," I mumbled, looking out of the window above the stairs, the floor below and my shoes. Anywhere but at him.
He smiled at that one. "I never would have guessed. Er, what was it you wanted to talk about?" he asked cautiously.
"Do you really think my hair is that bad?" I asked, absentmindedly tugging on my plait.
"No," he said emphatically.
I threw him a dubious look.
"Honestly I don't," he said, his tone baring his sincerity. "I just… well, I…. damn," he drifted off. His expression was decidedly conflicted.
"That's a terrifically unhelpful answer, Scorpius," I observed.
I sighed. "Alright, the insults not nearly as grating or annoying as I've been letting on. I kind of almost like them, in a way," I said.
I think I confused him even more with that one.
"So I don't mind if you keep saying them, but what I need to know is you mean them or not," I said, eyes trained on the navy blue carpet underneath my feet. "Because I've been thinking. Everything else I can explain away, but not this." I grimaced. "So do you really think my hair is as awful as you let on?"
He was silent for a moment.
"It was either that or tell you how much I liked it," he said so quietly I almost didn't catch his words.
"What?" I blurted out, head snapping up to stare at him in response.
"Years ago, I chose the lesser of two evils," he said, scuffing his foot against the floor embarrassedly. "I knew you'd figure out I fancied you if I said that it looked nice, so I chose to take the mick instead."
"He used it as a coping mechanism," a voice piped up from in front of us. "He'd say something stupid instead of nice to remove himself from his feelings for you."
Albus had suddenly appeared on floor above us. How he could be so loud last night and so silent this morning was unfathomable. That boy was such a conundrum.
"Oh," I repeated, quite at a loss for words.
"I told him he was being a prat, but he wouldn't listen to me," Al continued conversationally.
"Why couldn't you have told me earlier?" I asked my eyes flicking to Scorpius then back to Al.
Al shrugged. "Not my place," he explained.
I turned to face Scorpius.
Scorpius's eyes flicked to Al. "Pride, I suppose. I fucked up. Didn't want you to know." He sighed.
"That's… well… that's interesting."
Brilliant reflection of events, Weasley.
"Look, I couldn't very well say how pretty you were every time I saw you," Scorpius explained angrily while I blushed a vivid red. "So I made up some shite about your hair instead. Every. Damn. Time. Happy?"
"So you're saying that you'd insult me every time you wanted to compliment me?" I asked, raising my eyebrows.
"Pretty much," Scorpius said, reaching a hand to rub the back of his neck nervously as he averted his eyes. "Fucked up, right?"
"Yeah," I muttered, a small smile touching the corners of my mouth.
"Look," he said, taking a deep breath. "I'll go, it's been a long day."
"It's two thirty," Al said flatly, descending the stairs to reach our landing.
I blinked. I had almost forgotten he was there.
"Long day," Scorpius repeated with a significant look to Al. And with those last words, he turned around and started back down the stairs we had just climbed.
Al turned to face me, an outraged expression plastered on his face. "That's it? You're just going to let him go like that?"
"You moron! He's going to pack and then leave!" Al threw up his hands in the air, frustrated.
"After that?" I asked, bemused.
Al let out a noisy breath. "Of course after that. He just admitted that he's basically been wooing you through his own messed up way of wooing for the past three years and you threw it back in his face! So yeah, he's leaving after that."
"Well I'd better go after him?" I said, phrasing it as a question as I hadn't quite registered what was going on.
"Yeah," Al said as thought it was obvious.
Which it kind of was, I was just too dazed to notice.
Who knew that every time he was making fun of me he was really holding back how much he fancied me?
Before I had quite planned on what I was going to say, I found myself at Scorpius's door. I knocked once, and it was immediately followed by a gruff, "Not now, Albus."
"Scorpius? It's Rose," I called through the wood.
I heard a barely perceptible sigh. "Come in then, Weasley."
I turned the knob and entered. The room was very much in the same state that I left it not twenty minutes ago, save for the smallish bag which was laying open in the middle of his bed.
"You're leaving?" I asked, leaning against the doorframe.
Scorpius turned away from me to grab a couple of items on the vanity. "Yeah," he said, his eyes steadily following his hands
"Where are you going?"
"Home," he said shortly. "Mum's Easter ball is in two days. I originally planned to see Victoire off, but I think it'd be best if I left early to help prepare."
"But I'm not there," I observed quietly.
Scorpius sighed. "Kind of the point, Rose."
I pushed off the doorframe and walked to sit on his bed. I not-so-surreptitiously shoved his bag onto the floor where its contents spilled out along the hardwood and under the bed.
"Oi I just packed that!" he exclaimed.
"I want to talk," I told him straightforwardly.
Scorpius scowled. "You always want to talk."
"I always want to run away," I corrected him quietly. "And you didn't give me a chance to do that last time."
"So you came here so you could leave?" he asked, narrowing his eyes.
"No, you prat," I said, crawling over his covers so that I could sit against the headboard. "Sit next to me," I commanded.
"I'm fine right here," he said warily.
"Don't make me get out my wand," I threatened.
I saw him roll his eyes before moving to sit next to me on the bed
"Like I was saying," I began, "I'm usually the one running away. A few minutes ago you stole my move when you left me down there with Al. And do you know what?"
"Nobody in their right mind would want to be alone with Al?"
"Surprisingly not in this instance," I said, smiling. "I realised that being left behind after the bloke I fancy walks away from me is kind of awful. I don't know how you stood it."
"Well, for starters, I don't fancy any bloke, I fancy you, so I wouldn't know," he said cautiously.
"Shut up, I'm trying to be all deep and understanding," I chided, hitting him lightly on the arm and grinning.
He managed the ghost of a smile in response.
"Anyway," I continued, "I decided that the best course of action would be to chase after you and make you stay here. With me," I added. "Because I was under the impression that you wanted some sort of second date arrangement which requires my presence."
Scorpius's eyes lit up, but his face remained impassive. "You're sure?" he asked quietly.
"Yep," I said, leaning against him so that I could rest my head against his shoulder.
"You… I don't know… still want to see me?"
I threw him a disbelieving look. "Of course I do, you great prat. Why else would I be here?"
He looked a little stumped at that.
"I don't know how to be a proper boyfriend, Rose," he admitted after a moment.
I laughed and reached for his hand. "That's quite alright. I have been there with you for all of your relationships. You're forgetting that you used to come to me for advice."
"Which you never responded to," he cut in sharply.
"Ever think the advice was meant to work two ways?" he drawled.
Scorpius actually smiled. "Well then, you'll just have to be more observant next time."
"I-I will then," I said tremulously.
"So you're not leaving?" I asked hopefully.
He grabbed his wand from where it had been resting on the bed near his feet and waved his wand, making the contents of his spilled suitcase fly back to their appropriate places around the room. "Nope," he said when he was done. "I've decided to wait out my stay in full."
"So, this date, you were talking about," Scorpius began, "When is it, exactly?"
"I dunno," I said, surreptitiously stealing peeks over at him. "Next weekend? Tomorrow's the wedding, and that'll take the whole day plus the small hours of the morning. Then you're going back to England to be with your mum and dad while I'll still be here. We won't even be on the same continent until next Thursday at the earliest." I scowled.
"Hey now," Scorpius said, tilting up my chin so that I could peer into his clear grey eyes. "How about now?"
"Now?" I repeated.
"It's lunchtime," he said, sparing a glance at his watch, "I'm hungry. I'd wager you are too. What do we say we ditch this gaggle of gingers and get out of here?"
I grinned. "Okay. Do you have anywhere planned?"
Scorpius shook his head. "I figure we'll head back to Paris – they have the best food there."
"Sounds good," I said jumping up. "I'll be fifteen minutes, meet me downstairs, okay?" I pecked him lightly on the cheek and dashed out of the room without waiting for a response.
I hurried back to my room and quickly went through all of my clothes, deliberating what to wear. After about a minute of ridiculous darting back and forth between my closet and the full-length mirror, I stopped and thought.
I was being silly. Scorpius had seen me on bad hair days, bad skin days and a fair amount of bad everything days too. One date wasn't going to change his opinion of my physical attraction, I reasoned.
After that I abruptly decided on a sky blue summer dress with a plunging neckline – the better to show off his necklace.
Grimacing, I spent a good five minutes preforming all sorts of spells on my hair to keep the frizz level to a minimum and all the curls intact. I let it hang loose though, as by now I realised how often he liked playing with it and twisting it this way and that around his slender hands.
Finally, I was ready.
I eagerly flew down the hallway and skipped lightly down the stairs to where he was pacing impatiently in the entranceway. He looked up as I approached, and his face broke out into a beaming smile.
"Hey," he said as I stepped closer.
"Hey yourself," I said, blushing.
"You look nice," Scorpius whispered, his hand tangling in my loose curls as he put his arm around me.
I felt the beginnings of an outrageous blush spread across my cheeks. "Thanks," I muttered, embarrassed. I felt his arm tense around me, and I looked up to peer at his face. His eyebrows were drawn together in an expression of deep thought, but his eyes were light, clear and unmistakably revealing.
"You do," Scorpius said firmly, tilting his head to study me further. "I know I don't say it enough," he continued, clearly contrite, "but you are looking especially beautiful today, Rose Weasley."
I knew I liked his insults because they made me feel special.
But his compliments?
So much better.
A/N: And that's it! Compliments is over and my whole bizarre reason for choosing the title of my epic fic is revealed!
A million thanks to everyone who's ever reviewed or got in touch with me to talk about my story - both with critique and compliments alike. It's invaluable feedback, and each review is lovingly cherished.
Anyway, if you're reading for Compliments for the 1st time, the 21st or anywhere in between, please review. I'd love to get your criticisms and advice as to how to improve. From the broad, "I think you're descriptions are lacking - you focus too much on dialogue" to the specific, "you spelled 'you're' wrong in chapter X" is welcome!