Brief Author's Note: Some readers may find this piece a bit familiar. There's a reason for that: it is an expansion of a story from an earlier piece called "among velleities and carefully caught regrets," which focused solely on the library scene. Please enjoy.
Rose Weasley Grows Up.
For most people, growing up is something that takes time. One doesn't have a date on which one can look back and say "this was the day I grew up." Of course, when one is the daughter of two-thirds of the Golden Trio; saviours of the world extraordinaire and heads of Tintagel's Favourite Family fourteen years running, one isn't 'most people.' Rose Weasley, for example, grew up on 12 October, 2022.
Growing up is a painful, often humiliating process, and as scions of the sudden wealth and privilege granted those who brought an end to the institutional marginalization of half-blood and muggle-born witches and wizards - for the Children of the Burrow - it was all too often an option not taken. Appear with the name "Weasley" or "Potter" anywhere in Magical Britain, and one could expect gifts, tokens of appreciation and affection for things that happened long before one's birth. One had access to all strata of society. One's failings were downplayed, and one's successes were heralded beyond reasonable measure by an honestly grateful society. It was a charmed life.
Rose Weasley was blessed, however, to have a muggleborn mother, and a muggle grandmother with a subscription to Hello Magazine. While Hermione Weasley hadn't had much time for gossip magazines, she was familiar enough with society's ability to build up and tear down heroes on a whim, and tried her level best to keep her children grounded. For the most part, this had worked. Rose and Hugo understood that their place in society was not one of their own making; that they was born into their name and status, and that they ought to learn a bit about what had to happen for them to benefit from those things. All her cousins knew was that their parents were famous people, that they never had to ask twice for anything, and that it didn't get much better than to be a Child of the Burrow.
The aftermath of what would come to be known as The Second Wizarding War was, much as one would find with wars in the muggle world, not quite as kind to the children of those on the losing side. For the Burrow Children, these people weren't quite of the same quality. Their names weren't currency. Their robes were dated, and would occasionally sport evidence of lengthening spells in the seams. Their brooms didn't fly as quickly, and they were never invited to galas at the Ministry. Burrow Children would be polite to this sort, but their paths wouldn't often cross, except to borrow notes from a class, ask for help with proofreading an assignment, or a refill on their butterbeer while on holiday in Penzance over the summer hols, which is the setting for Rose Weasley meeting Scorpius Malfoy for the first time.
Scorpius's grandfather was forced to sell his properties as part of reparations ordered through the Reconciliation Committee. By the time Scorpius entered the world, the Malfoy name – once the epitome of high society – was no longer even fit to adorn the family's last remaining property, a public house along the waterfront in Magical Penzance that was both the Malfoy's residence and sole source of income. Eleven-year-old Scorpius hadn't noticed his father slip into the kitchen when the large, mostly red-haired family ducked out of the rain into the restaurant of the Headless Serpent Inn, but he had heard his mother's admonition to make sure their glasses remained filled, and with it a look from her suggesting that these were a particularly special clientele. So when a girl about his own age gave him an earnest smile as he took her glass in for a refill, he remembered it. And when he saw that same girl on Platform 9¾ of King's Cross Station a month and a half later, he introduced himself, and made a fast friend.
Rose and Scorpius were nigh on inseparable their first two years at Hogwarts. The two Ravenclaws shared a desk and top marks in every class. They sat together every meal, had secret names for her cousins and made great plans for summers in Cornwall. When those plans were dashed summer after First Year, they were heartbroken, but no less friends, and were caught up in a matter of moments on the Hogwarts Express on 1st September of their Second Year. Before Third Year, Ron Weasley had told his daughter a bit more about why the family was loathe to see her spend so much time with a Malfoy. Rose used some language that evening that got her sent straight to her room without pudding as a reply. But even after such resolute defence, it was Third Year in which the ties that bound Rose and Scorpius began to loosen. Rose took Arithmancy and Astronomy, while Scorpius took Care of Magical Creatures and Divination. Rose took Scorpius's hand while walking through Hogsmeade, but Scorpius didn't take the hint. Instead, he sat at the end of the Ravenclaw table as Rose spent more and more meals with her Arithmancy colleagues. By Fourth Year she was spending more and more time first with Adrian Finnegan, then Kenneth Bones. Scorpius was spending more and more time with his schoolbooks. On the first day of classes Fifth Year, Rose had every intention of partnering up with Alice Longbottom in Charms, but her fellow newly-minted Ravenclaw prefect had arrived in the room before her and sat at their usual desks. When he waved her over, she couldn't bear to ignore him. Sixth Year began similarly.
And it's in Sixth Year that Rose experienced growing up. And like most growing-up stories, Rose's is painful and humiliating. Her cousins were having a discussion – a typically Burrow, typically loud discussion – in the library, where Scorpius was proctoring on a Saturday. Scorpius had come to their table, where Head Boy James Potter was holding court. Scorpius had asked the table to quiet down a bit, and gave Rose a weak smile in the process, as one does with friends. And James saw the smile, and the even weaker one Rose returned, and rounded on her, egging the rest of the Burrow Children on to do the same. And that's when it happened.
"I wouldn't be caught dead in a broomcloset with that swotty old pauper."
And the words were about half-way through her mouth she thought better of saying them, and they trailed off in volume and intensity. But the damage had been done, and Rose was left in her seat, watching helplessly as Scorpius gathered his dignity and walked out of the library. The silence lasted only a moment or two after he'd left, but to Rose it seemed much longer before James blurted out
"Maybe now he'll know to leave his betters alone, what?"
This gave Rose all the clarity she needed. She bounded up out of her chair and sprinted down the Hogwarts corridor. Her cries of "Scorpius! Scorpius! Wait!" echoed loudly against the ancient stone interior. Scorpius stopped and waited for her to catch up.
"I thought you made your position perfectly clear earlier," he said, icily.
A very breathless Rose huffed out a heartfelt apology, which Scorpius rebuffed. Then another, and another. Scorpius left her kneeling on the stone floor, gasping for air as she sobbed out apologies. Rose didn't want to be that girl. The one that was pleasant to people's faces, but had a few good knocks queued up for when they were out of earshot. And she so desperately didn't want to be defined by her cousins; the princes of Hogwarts who smiled their way to passable grades and feigned kindness to their classmates out of noblesse oblige. She didn't want to be that girl, and she would do what it took not to become her.
Breakfast the following morning saw Rose sitting next to Scorpius, who paid her no attention. She tried to engage him in conversation over Sunday Dinner, but he had none of it. She confronted him in the Ravenclaw common room after supper that evening.
"Scorpius? Damnit, Scorpius Malfoy, I just want to apologise to you, alright? I was a complete cow to you, and you don't deserve that."
"You're right," he said, and he began walking up the boys' staircase to the sixth year dormitory.
"When will you let me apologise to you, Scorpius?" Rose called out, nearly in tears again. "Look, I'm here making an arse of myself – when will you accept my apology?"
"When there's something in it for me," Scorpius replied. He paused for a moment, reckoned that any perceived double-entendre was her own business, and closed the sixth-year door heavily behind himself.
Charms and Potions were handled professionally, if a bit icily, through Monday and Tuesday. By Wednesday afternoon, Rose was ready to break. The Highlands were starting to get chilly, so Rose knew there wouldn't be too many more Wednesdays for her to take her walk to the Lake. She got about half-way there only to find Scorpius waiting for her. The afternoon sun was in their eyes, and Scorpius seemed annoyed.
"Why do you want to apologise to me, Rose?" he asked, clearly leading Rose somewhere.
"Because you deserve it," she replied. "Because no one deserves to be belittled like that." Scorpius began to walk away.
"Wait!" Rose continued. "Wait. Scorpius – I, I miss you. Really I do. I like having you as a friend."
"We've never been friends," Scorpius answered her. "How could we – how could two people as different as you and I have ever been friends?"
"Well, I –"
"Look, Rose. The last three years have been much more honest than the first two, wouldn't you say? I mean, we had a couple of laughs together as kids and all, but really." Scorpius took a deep breath. "Rose, the Hogwarts Express first year. You were immediately friendly to me when I came up to you. Why?"
"Because my father told me not to?" Rose answered with a laugh that died quickly once she saw Scorpius's stone face. "No, really. Because you seemed so nice, so earnest."
"Do you know why I did?" Scorpius asked. When Rose looked at him blankly, he continued. "Because you smiled at me at our inn that summer. Your whole family was pleasant enough, but you were the only one who took the time to smile and thank me."
"When were we at your –?" As she saw the first tear run down Scorpius's cheek, she turned on her heel and ran back to the castle, not stopping until she bounded into her bed, her own tears liberally staining her pillow.
Rose slept through dinner, and through free time. Her roommates, knowing she wasn't feeling well, let her sleep, and sleep she did, for eight straight hours. She woke up with a start at 12:30am, with the sixth-year girls' room dark and the moon shining through the window by her bed. She got up quietly, not to disturb her sleeping roommates, and just as quietly closed the door behind her as she walked onto the landing.
Rose looked down into the common room and noticed Scorpius alone, sitting on the couch in front of the fireplace. He had a set of Divination texts next to him, and his eyes were closed, deep in thought. She thought back to that day in Penzance that Scorpius had mentioned, and with all her might conjured a mental image of an eleven-year-old Scorpius carrying a glass of butterbeer to her at the table where her family sat. She remarked that his hair had gotten longer in the intervening years, and that he no longer sported the page-boy cut he wore in her mind's eye. They'd made plans to meet at his inn after First Year – how could she have forgotten that she'd already been there? And why was he sitting there with his eyes closed that long? Was that part of his Divination revision? Was he asleep? Should she wake him? Other thoughts, regrets mostly, came flooding into her. How had he known she'd be at the lake on a Wednesday afternoon? Had they talked about that, too, and she'd missed it? Who was this amazingly perceptive person?
Rose walked down the stairs to the common room. She stood next to the couch where Scorpius sat, and waited. After a moment, Scorpius opened his eyes, feeling someone else's presence. He didn't immediately leave when he saw Rose standing there, but he didn't say anything for a minute.
"I was meditating," he said. "It's for Divination. Did you need something?"
"Meditating?" Rose asked.
"Yes, it helps clear one's mind of preconceptions, which can disturb the Sight. It's something I've been working on with Professor Trelawney for a year now."
"Oh, really? That does sound interesting." Rose wondered why she'd never seen him do this before, but before she could start berating herself for this, she noticed an interested eyebrow arch upward on Scorpius's face. Rose saw her opening and took it.
"Hi there," she said, offering a hand. "My name's Rose – Rose Weasley." Scorpius was amused enough to accept her hand.
"I believe the entire school knows who you are, Miss Weasley. My name is Scorpius Malfoy; pleased to meet you."
Rose fought back tears as she saw Scorpius's face soften. She wanted to hug him so badly, to cry into his housecoat and have him tell her it was all forgiven, but she wasn't sure she deserved it. She pressed on with her charade.
"May I sit down, Scorpius?" she asked, and Scorpius made room for her on the couch. "I really would like to hear more about your Divination studies," she continued. "Perhaps you wouldn't mind accompanying me to Hogsmeade this weekend, where you could tell me about them in more detail."
Scorpius was taken aback, but his discipline had given him a bit of leeway with his facial features, so he kept his shock hidden.
"Are you asking me on a date, Rose?" he asked.
"Why yes. Yes I am," she nodded.
"Because you're quite interesting, quite fit, and I'd like to get to know you better," Rose choked out, losing the battle with her tears.
It was all Scorpius could do not to break down himself. "You do know that my parents warned me about you Weasleys," he said. "Father says your folks were dreadfully aloof while he was here, and from what I've seen of most Weasleys, the apples really haven't fallen far from the tree."
Rose straightened her spine, sniffled rather ungracefully, and looked Scorpius dead in the eye. "I'm not my family, Scorpius. No more than you are yours." As she watched Scorpius tremble, fighting his own tears, she continued. "And, for what it's worth, I'm sorry not just for what I've said, but for the friend I haven't been to you."
When Scorpius gently grabbed her face and kissed her, she stopped trying to maintain, and they kissed longingly through their tears, sniffling, crying, and kissing some more. When they'd caught their breath, Scorpius brushed the hair that had become plastered to her face by tears away. They sat there for a few minutes – or maybe hours – just watching the flames flicker in the fireplace.
Rose was honoured to be the Malfoy's guest at the Headless Serpent that summer.