A/N: Written for the Prompt of the Day: stay with me, on the Hogwarts Online forum.

Disclaimer: I don't own anything and I'm not making any money.

They meet for the first time at some "hero function" or other, as she disdainfully calls them. Neither of them wants to be there and they're lonely so and just like that, in an instant, an unshakable friendship is born between them. And from that moment on they're best friends and they're inseparable.

Her parents hate it that her best friend is Scorpius Malfoy, of all people, but there's nothing they can do about it because when she's with him she's happy like she never is otherwise and they can't deny her that. And so Ron mutters under his breath and Hermione shakes her head and looks worried, and Rose absolutely loves it.

Scorpius thinks it's weird, because his father doesn't mind at all that his best friend is a Weasley, although he privately suspects Draco might have sensed it coming, seeing as how his son was sorted into Gryffindor and all. And his Ravenclaw mother might have had something to do with it, too.

She's stayed with him a million times, escaping from her parents and her worries and all the baggage, where she doesn't fit in, because with him she can laugh and feel free and just forget and be Rose. And he sneaks in and sleeps on the floor of her room when she can't get away from them and she needs him. He'd never tell anyone, but the happiest memories he has are of talking until the early hours of the morning and falling asleep listening to her breathing.

The thing is, they're close, they've always been close, so he can't exactly pinpoint when his feelings for her start changing. But one ordinary day he's laughing with her, collapsed on a couch in his basement, and it suddenly strikes him that she looks beautiful and he might like to lean over and kiss her and just like that his whole world is turned upside down.

But for some reason, he's hesitant, afraid that if she doesn't feel the same way that will be the end of their friendship, and he's pretty sure he would survive somehow, but he doesn't think she would.

So he hides how he feels, and keeps hiding, every second of every minute of every day, and things get more and more strained between them, because she knows something's wrong but he won't tell her. They see each other less and less, and Scorpius learns to hang out with others in his year, but it just isn't the same. Slowly, they drift apart, until it gets to the point that it's a good week if they've even talked to each other once. He doesn't understand how it's happened, because nothing is supposed to be able to split them up, but the worst part is that he doesn't know how to fix it. Scorpius doesn't even know if he can.

And he watches her live each day trying harder and harder to please her family and be herself at the same time, and she just can't but of course she'll never accept that. And he feels so helpless, because he doesn't know what to do to help her, and he can see the strain she's under even if no one else can and he knows that one day she's going to crack.

Still, despite everything, it happens sooner than he thought it would, one day in late summer when there's a party or something for all the veterans from the war, and his parents are going but he sneaks away, lonely and tired, and suddenly all he wants to do is see Rose.

Without letting himself think about it, he Apparates to her house and is greeted by an irate Ron, a worried Hermione, and a silent, watchful Hugo.

"Scorpius, I can't believe you're here. I don't know what to do," she tells him, eyes flicking up and down and all around as though she's expecting some kind of bad reaction from him, while Ron glowers and Hugo stares at him in the background. "Rose and I were talking in the kitchen about her future, and what she might want to do after Hogwarts, and the party we were all going to be attending, and all of sudden she started screaming all sorts of horrible things at me. Then I – I told her to stop that immediately, and just at quickly she got really quiet and went up to her room and locked the door, and none of us can get in, and we keep hearing strange sounds, but - but I can't help her if I can't get in, can I?"

Scorpius sighs in exasperation because honestly, he doesn't understand how these people who are supposed to be her family can be so clueless. "You started exactly the wrong conversation," he explains to a startled Hermione. "I'll go see her." He starts up the stairs, but Hermione stops him.

"You can't get in," she says slowly, as though he's deaf or ignoring her or something, and he fights back utter irritation.

"I can," he says simply. "She'll let me in."

"Scorpius…" Hermione says quietly and guiltily, "we're supposed to be going to a dinner tonight, and… we just can't miss it."

He looks at her levelly. "You would put some stupid dinner above your own daughter?"

"Don't speak to my wife that way!" Ron explodes, rapidly turning purple. He turns to Hermione before Scorpius can reply. "I'm not leaving him alone in this house with my daughter!"

"I'll stay, Dad," Hugo interrupts, and everyone turns to him like they've forgotten he's there.

"Hugo," his mother begins uneasily, but he shakes his head. "It'll be fine, Mum. You need to get going, anyway."

Hermione gives in without much more of a fight and lets herself be pushed towards the door, grabbing Ron's arm along the way and bringing him with her. He looks as though he's about to say something threatening to Scorpius, but Hermione finally catches sight of a clock and groans and then they're gone.

The silence is deafening in the kitchen, and Scorpius shifts uneasily and is about to make some excuse and head upstairs when there is a huge crash from overhead as though something heavy is dropped. He looks at Hugo in question, who sighs.

"We don't know what she's doing, those sounds have been happening on and off for about an hour now." He looks at Scorpius uncertainly. "You can help her, can't you?"

"I think so," Scorpius, says, trying to sound more confident than he feels – and failing miserably.

Another crash sounds from above, and Scorpius isn't about to waste another second so he takes the stairs two at a time. He's about to burst into her room when Hugo calls him and he turns around. "Be careful, okay?

He's a bit lost at that, but he nods for Hugo's sake. "I will."

"No, I mean-" Hugo clears his throat. "She likes you. She really likes you. I can tell." He blushes, but continues on gamely. "I don't know what you did to her, but she's hurting and it's your fault. Fix it," he demands, sounding for once like the angry, overprotective younger brother, and it's all for his sister because Scorpius knows that Hugo is maybe just at little scared of him.

Scorpius feels the hurt and pain and guilt rise up inside him and then he's choking, choking on the tears because he never meant to hurt her, he thought he was helping her, but he did, anyway, and like Hugo said, he absolutely has to fix this because this might be his only chance.

Hugo waits until he's cleared his throat and says, "Thanks." Then her brother nods and disappears into the kitchen.

Hesitantly, Scorpius goes back down the hall, reaches up a hand and knocks softly on her door. "Leave me alone!" comes shrieking through the door.

"It's me, Rose," he calls, and the room goes suddenly silent.

He waits for a long time, sitting on the floor with his back against the door and the heels of his hands pressed into his eyes. Finally the door swings open and he's so startled that he falls backwards into the room, scrambling onto his hands and knees as quickly as he can just in case she tries to hex him. And he won't blame her if she does.

Her eyes are red and her clothes are old sweats and her red hair is spread out like fire and her room is torn into a million pieces, and she's never looked more beautiful.

"Oh, Rosie," he whispers, using the nickname he used to tease her with when they were both little and not nearly this complicated, and gathers her small form into his arms. Her shoulders are shaking and within seconds the front of his shirt is soaking wet, but she doesn't make a sound.

So he just pulls her down unto his lap and lets her cry, rubbing her back and whispering nonsense words of comfort – he hopes – and thinking that he's never loved her more in all his life.

Finally the shaking slows, then stops all together. She raises her head slowly to look at him, tears still leaking out of her eyes, and he brushes a piece of hair away from her forehead and attempts a smile, moving her off of his lap and starting to stand up so he can move them both to somewhere more comfortable, preferably somewhere that isn't a hard floor.

Rose lets out a shriek and grabs his hand. "No!"

He drops to his knees once again – or maybe she pulled him back down, he's not sure – in a little fear and quite a lot of puzzlement and squeezes her ice-cold hands together between his in reassurance. "Shh, it's okay. I'm not leaving, Rose, I promise."

"You did already," she whispers, turning away from him, and Scorpius's heart is absolutely breaking into a million tiny pieces and he's do anything, anything to make her believe. "How do I know that you won't again?"

Really, there's only one answer he can give or could have ever given. And maybe, just maybe, it's the one that can save them both. "Because I love you."

Her breath catches and she looks up at him through a curtain of hair. He can't figure out her expression and he hopes like anything that it's not angry or upset or disbelieving or any of the other thousand emotions that would mean the end.

"You do?"

His throat doesn't seem to be working and so he simply nods. She looks down and says nothing and finally he stands up to leave, fighting back tears yet again, because he thinks the silence is more damning than any words of spite.

"Don't leave me," she demands instantly, fiercely, and he freezes in disbelief and a tiny bit of hope. "Don't ever leave me again. I need you," she whispers, and he turns back to her stunned because if there's one thing Rose Weasley doesn't do, it's weakness. "Stay with me," she says, and he doesn't know whether the words are a command or a request so instead of trying to figure it out he kisses her.

When she wakes the next morning, instead of being on the floor below her like he always was he's lying in her bed with her like she's always wanted, with one arm wrapped around her waist and the other fisted in her hair, and she knows he's not asleep because she can feel the feather-light kisses he's placing on her neck that make her shiver.

She turns around so that they're facing each other and she can see his eyes. The hint of a smile ghosts over her face, and her heart swells when she's rewarded with a smile so huge he lights up her whole being.

"Hey," she says, and his smile gets wider as he laughs.

"Hi," he answers her.

"What happens now?" She can't help but ask, scared of breaking the mood, but it's okay because he just keeps smiling.

"Well, I'm not leaving you," Scorpius says firmly, "so I suppose that we'll just-"

"I love you, too," she interrupts him, and instantly words are no longer necessary and are completely forgotten as he kisses her, but she knows what he's thinking, anyway. As long as they have each other, they'll make it through, because when push comes to shove and it really matters, they're inseparable and they always will be.

A/N: Please leave a review!