Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of its affiliates. I am making no money off of this story.

This piece was done as an attempt to get into a male character's mind for a change. I'm pretty sure it still dips too far into sentimental claptrap to mirror a teenage boy's mental process, but I'm happy with my character dissection. I also love exploring different personalities for Rose. My sincerest apologies for anybody following me—I have a tendency to fall off the face of the literary universe. Also, my sincerest apologies for any and all mistakes, which are my own. I could wibble and whine that writing in present tense is a pain, but nobody wants to hear that!

In first year, all Scorpius notices is that Rose Weasley doesn't have freckles. No, she is a freckle. One giant, walking mess of skin condition.

He is warned about the Weasleys. And the Potters. And the Longbottoms, the Lupins, the list goes on. Growing up, whenever their names get mentioned around the manor, Father becomes... upset. Scorpius doesn't know who the are, just that he shouldn't talk about them. It isn't until he starts spending more time with Vincent Goyle and Dominic Flint that he begins to realize why his Father must hate them: Gryffindors. Do-gooders. Abominations to society. Too big for their own britches. Before he even arrives at Hogwarts, he hates the whole lot of them.

Now, in his first year, he has enough association with Rose Weasley, James Potter, Frank Longbottom, and Teddy Lupin that he can at least hate the lot of them with a clean conscience.

But Rose Weasley is the worst.

It's easy to hate James and Frank. They're in Gryffindor. He's in Slytherin. Their hatred has been in the annals of history for over a millennium.

And Teddy is easy to ignore because he's graduated and gone. Scorpius never openly admits that he's happy for this stroke of luck, because even he grudgingly agrees that Teddy Lupin is cool. Really cool. Curse-breaking, fighting the undead, breaking ancient hexes-sort of cool.

But Rose Weasley. Slytherin and Ravenclaw have always sided together, so he can't hate her for her house. It doesn't help that she's criminally intelligent, friendly—or as friendly as a Ravenclaw could be; the whole lot of them are uppity—and she's considerate, polite, horrendous at Quidditch, all reasons that Scorpius should like her. But she's still a Weasley. She constantly benefits from her family's celebrity. Professor Slughorn gloats over her. Professor Longbottom calls her by her first name and asks about her parents. Headmistress McGonagall has tea with her every other Saturday. Hating her celebrity, Scorpius digs for other plausible reasons to loathe her. Therefore, he grasps at her stupid freckles and her stupid, bushy, muddy-red hair.

He makes sure to let her know at every opportunity. It's worth ending up in the Infirmary with a month's worth of detentions because James Potter couldn't keep his fists to himself and Albus Potter is a snitch and ran to Head Girl Victoire Weasley. As Madame Pomfrey fixes his split lip—he winces as the skin pulls apart and starts to bleed again—he tells himself that it is worth it, just to see Rose Weasley's eyes water up with tears.

By second year, Scorpius Malfoy notices the freckles on the back of Rose Weasley's hands.

A year older, a year wiser, Scorpius no longer needs to grasp at straws for reasons to hate her. He reads enough history books to know that her family has benefited from his family's failure. All of her popularity comes from the fact that her parents humiliated his father. Some grudges are intrinsically inherited.

It's a stupid place to have freckles, he reckons. There, on the back of her hands, they stand out against her pale skin, settling in amongst splotches of ink that have splattered out of her furiously-moving quill. Even though she's sitting two study tables away, he hears every flick of a turning page, every rustle of parchment, every scratch of her quill. His temper flares at the distracting noises. His Transfigurations essay is due tomorrow and he's absolutely bollocks at the subject. He refuses to fail just because Weasley is an inconsiderate cow.

Without even realizing what he's doing, he palms his wand and aims it in her direction. "Silencio."

She instantly realizes she's been spelled silent. She jumps, spilling her inkbottle onto the parchment, and whirls around for the source of the spell. Her eyes settle on him. They glitter ominously. She storms over to his study table, gesturing at her throat, mouthing obscene, if not silent, curses.

He crosses his arms over his chest and smirks. "You need to speak up, Weasel. I can't hear you."

She punches him. The force causes him to fall out of his chair, landing on the ground in a sprawl, his lip split again.

It's almost worth the trip to the Infirmary, he tries to rationalize later on. Right up until McGonagall corners him in the Great Hall with one of her Looks. "Perhaps you'd like to explain yourself, Mr. Malfoy." Behind her, Rose Weasley glowers, her arms folded in front of her, glaring at him, her eyes burning in hatred.

He spends a week cleaning bathrooms—without magic—for attacking a fellow student, but by the end of the week, the whole school knows that Rose Weasley is a snitch. This, at least, gives him a sense of satisfaction.

By third year, Scorpius notes the freckles on the back of Rose Weasley's neck. Not that he wants to, mind. It's not his fault that McGonagall crams Ravenclaw and Slytherin together in the same Divination block. He thinks she does this on purpose, considering it means having him and Weasley in a class together. He knows that the Headmistress isn't fond of batty Trelawney. She probably thinks that it's an exercise in patience for everybody—Ravenclaws, Slytherins, and Divination Professor alike. Now, though, it backfires: everybody's too miserable to do much of anything, let alone fight. The room is tight and cramped, and Scorpius is forced to take a seat at a small table directly behind Weasley. He's overheated, miserable, and feels a headache coming on from the incense fumes clogging up the room.

Luckily, the atmosphere is getting to everybody, including the professor. She's close enough that Scorpius can see that a slight twitch twinges above the professor's eye as students attempt to read one another's tealeaves.

Vince darts between his Divination text and Scorpius' cup. "Right. I can't tell if this blob here is a kettle or a cauldron." He pokes a finger into the cup, nudging at the leaves. "You think if I slide this bit around," he jabs at a lump of tea, "It'll make much of a difference?"

Both of them turn to glare at her when Weasley snorts. Scorpius must be better at Divination than he thought because he predicts, before she actually does it, that she'll turn around and stick her unwanted, bushy head into the conversation.

She does. "Poking the leaves into a different shape isn't going to change the future," she states in that arrogant, holier-than-thou voice of hers, the one he can't stand.

Vince rolls his eyes, waving his hands in the air, bits of tealeaf still sticking to his finger. "Because it's cheating, and you can't change fate, and you Slytherins can't ever manage to do things the right way!" he exclaims in a high falsetto, fluttering his eyelashes and doing a poor imitation of the Ravenclaw. He drops the tone and glares at her. "Get off your high-horse, Weasley."

Instead of getting weepy, like the girls in Slytherin would, or getting angry, as Scorpius expects her to, Weasley rolls her eyes. "Actually, I was more referring to the fact that, if the future can be predicted, which has yet to be seen," she glares at Trelawney, surprising them both; Rose Weasley is always polite and considerate of her professors!, "I highly doubt you'll get it from a bunch of soggy leaves in the bottom of a third-rate China cup." She sniffs delicately. "The most you can foretell is that, possibly, in the close future, you'll need to wee."

Unfortunately for her, Trelawney overhears. The professor hurries over with a sharp look on her face. "Miss Weasley." Trelawney drops her wispy, mystical voice for something with a little more bite. Weasley gives her a polite smile, one she normally reserves for Scorpius. "I'm surprised you're still amongst us, for the Fates have told me that you shall not remain for much longer. Neither of your parents were very good at the Divine Arts, I'm afraid, your mother in particular. She too left this course early, her mind as closed and wrinkled as an old woman."

Weasley adopts a perplexed look. Scorpius recognizes it and settles in for some quality entertainment. "Funny you should say so, Professor," Weasley replies, her voice dripping in politeness. "My mother says the same thing about you."

She storms out of the classroom before the lesson is finished, leaving the whole class—Professor Trelawney in particular—gaping.

Weasley never comes back.

In forth year, something is wrong with Scorpius. Something horribly wrong. Puberty slams into their entire year over the summer, but when he's on his way back to Hogwarts in the fall, he gets the short end of the stick, it seems.

At first, everything is going fine. He is in a compartment with Vince, Dom, and Kamalia Avery, bragging about his trip to Paris, Venice, and Berlin. Kamalia, a year younger than the rest of them, is settling into puberty too. Her shirt has curves where it didn't before. Scorpius, a hot-blooded chap of fourteen, is beginning to realize he wants to take a moment to discover how pronounced those curves are.

Then, all hell breaks loose. It happens without any warning. One moment, he's contemplating a subtle way to get even closer to Kamalia, while Vince and Dom snicker from the other side of the train compartment, running their silent, knut-bets on how far Scorpius will get. Then, the compartment door crashes open. The noise of the busy train corridor slides in. Rose Weasley stands in the doorway, just as surprised as those in the compartment. She's still wearing her Muggle street-clothes, an olive-green sleeveless blouse and a denim skirt. Her coppery-brown, bushy hair is tied back from her face and her copious freckles are testament that, wherever she spent her summer, there was a lot of sun.

Scorpius barely notes her stupid, Muggle clothes or the giggles coming from the train hallway, where several other girls stand—though Vince sits a little straighter at the sight of Lily Potter and Dom's keen eyes snap to the giggling Dominque Weasley. No, his eyes stick to the very obvious swell of breast that the green blouse does not mask.

There is no way that those were there last year.

Rose Weasley is not a girl. He lectures himself on this as he fights to move his eyes up and off her mysteriously appearing... he will not call them "breasts." Weasleys, Rose in particular, do not have breasts, because Weasleys, namely Rose, are not girls.

Disobediently, his eyes only move up to settle on her cleavage.

It is in fourth year that Scorpius notices the line of freckles that dip beneath the modestly cut neckline of her blouse. Breathing is made a little more difficult.

An awkward silence reigns over the train compartment. Kamalia sulks at the loss of attention, Dom and Vince preen for the giggling girls, and Scorpius cannot, for the life of him, tear his eyes away from those damn freckles.

"Er... Sorry," Rose mutters, the first to break the silence, her tone as awkward as he's feeling. Her chest rises and falls with each breath, making the freckles dance. He wonders how far past the shirt neckline they continue. "James said that he'd be in... well." She flounders for words. "Sorry. Wrong compartment."

And then, the freckles are gone. The door slams shut behind her. Scorpius blinks owlishly, as if waking up from a long dream.

Now, for some reason, the mysterious curves hiding under Kamalia's uniform are no longer as interesting.

As fifth year rolls around, Scorpius has to congratulate himself because he's done a damn good job at both avoiding and insulting Rose Weasley. It covers up for the awkwardness he otherwise feels, just because he spends entirely too much time wanking to the fantasy of all the other interesting places she might have freckles.

Sadly, fifth year is also the year that he, no holds barred, straight-up trolls Transfigurations. Pince tires of helping him pick out the "best" Transfiguration texts in the library. Now, she sits behind her desk, glaring at him, daring him to ask for assistance, condemning him to failure, if only because he'll finally leave her in peace.

Scorpius, however, is not a quitter. Instead, he spends nearly every waking moment between the library, working on Transfiguration theory, and an abandoned classroom on the fifth floor, trying to force out the spells. He doesn't know which is worse: that the theory leaves him baffled, or that the spells refuse to work. Fifth year is the year that Scorpius feels like a failure.

It doesn't help that fucking Weasley is a bloody natural at the subject. While he struggles to make his porcupine wobble about the desk, she transforms an entire menagerie into a choreographed fruit ensemble that tap dances about the professor's desk.

The memory makes Scorpius stab at his parchment, sending his quill right through. The open text next to him mocks him, its wordy, dusty pages reminding him that he has to finish this bloody essay for Monday and that none of the words make any sense.


The unexpected announcement makes him jump. His quill snaps in his fingers. Ink drips down his palm and slowly, a strong desire for murder racing through every muscle, Scorpius turns to glare at Weasley. She takes advantage of his preoccupation with the text to sneak up behind him and read over his shoulder. She glares at the words, her face expressing a look of strong distaste. She's close enough that he can smell her, a mix between ink, vanilla, and the laundry detergent the house-elves use.

Weasley swoops down and snatches the textbook off the table before he can protest. It doesn't stop the ire that courses through him. "For fuck's sake, Weasley. I was using that!" He pushes out of his chair and advances on her, his desire for blood growing.

She rolls her eyes and steps back. "Yes, and really, it's no wonder that you're taking all evening to write Professor Smith's essay. That book is absolutely dreadful." She turns about face, her stupid, bushy curls bouncing with the movement, catching the light and shining a deep copper. She flounces towards the Charms section of the library, Pince watching from the front desk with a hawk-like glower.

He follows her with a full intent to fight back. "Yeah, well, not everybody can be as wonderfully gifted as Rose fucking Weasley. She is the daughter of Hermione Granger, Girl Genius. Can't let mummy down, can she?"

Weasley stops in front of a Charms bookshelf and tilts her head up to scan the titles, ignoring Scorpius' comments. He crosses his arms and glares at her. A distant part of his brain is surprised at how short she is. Her head barely comes up to his shoulders, and he's still growing. Her temper has always made her seem so much taller. "You're not even in the right section," he mutters, mostly to himself, glaring at the Charms books.

Weasley continues to ignore him, and instead, grips at the rungs of a ladder and climbs up, the Transfiguration text still clutched in her arms. She stops climbing when her torso is at his eye-level and reaches up for a book on the next shelf. Scorpius' eyes were lazily following her movements, but now, they glue to the strip of skin at the small of her back where her oxford rises up with her outstretched arms. That small strip reveals a sparse scatter of pale freckles, lighter than the ones on her arms and face.

Scorpius swallows. Hard.

"The problem with Transfiguration texts is that, a lot of the time, the authors are too busy trying to prove their own sufficiency that they forget that not everybody is a Transfiguration master. They spend too much time arguing why their theory is correct and everybody else's is wrong that they don't spend enough time focusing on the working concepts," she exclaims. She retracts her arm, a new leather book in her grasp, and her shirt rides back down. She steps down from the ladder. "Charms is the opposite. Charms masters are much happier focusing on the working concepts, showing off their spell work and not really caring about the theory." She thrusts the new book into his arms and he clutches it. "This particular author mastered in Transfiguration before the excessive theoretical academia forced him into to Charms. Here, he does a comprehensive breakdown of the two fields and 'translates' Transfiguration in Charms-like terms. That's probably why Madam Pince sorts it in the Charms section."

Scorpius blinks once, twice, his brain lagging several minutes behind. It's still stuck on the rare glimpse of Rose Weasley's back freckles. "Huh?"

She glares at him, her hands on her hips. "You're having trouble in Transfiguration, aren't you? Well, your Charms scores are decent, so I thought that this book might help at the transition between the two fields. If you're good at Charms, this'll help translate Transfiguration." With one last pointed look, she tosses her hair over her shoulder and turns away, taking the "bollocks"-Transfiguration text with her.

His brain still lags. "Why?" is the only thing he can ask. He hopes it doesn't sound as lame to her as it does to him.

She stops and looks at him from over her shoulder. "I'm not the only one who's got pressure to live up to her family name."

He scoffs. "You're a Weasley. What could you possibly know about that sort of pressure? Society hasn't given you any."

She turns to face him, her eyebrows raised. "Are you serious?" She doesn't wait for an answer. "You must've ignored all of your recent history if you have to ask that. Up until twenty-odd years ago, the wizarding world only cared about bloodlines. As far as they were concerned, the Weasleys were blood-traitors, Harry Potter was a half-blood, Hermione Granger was a 'Mudblood.' They fought tooth and nail through the status quo and won. So now, I'm living the trial-run on whether their success is true, or whether they were just lucky. If I manage to live up to Harry Potter and Ron Weasley's limelight—not to mention Hermione Granger's academic one, it's because I'm a Granger-Weasley child. But if I don't succeed, I'm a let-down, living proof that my parents are merely anomalies to the blood-line debate. With the first, I get none of the credit, and with the second, I help prove that their role during the war was pointless." She laughs bitterly and turns away. "What don't I know about that sort of pressure, Malfoy?"

In sixth year, Scorpius gets close enough to pinpoint each individual freckle on Weasley's tear-stained cheeks. It's also the year he loses his prefect standing and nearly gets expelled for attacking a fellow student. As McGonagall lectures him from behind her desk, her face stern, her gaze stern, his parents flank him, silent. He's too cowardly to turn and see for himself the expression on his father's face. Very few things are worth that dejected look of disapproval his father has mastered, the one that makes Scorpius cower and crumble and drift apart in the wind.

In this instance, he doesn't care. It is totally worth that look.

It all starts with a Quidditch game. Gryffindor versus Slytherin. The most anticipated event of the year. Scorpius dances with nervous anticipation for months, ever since, in August, the school owl brings both his prefect badge and the announcement that he'd been made Quidditch captain.

He spends three months forcing his team through rigorous training. Twice now, James Potter complains to Hooch that Scorpius is planning sabotage by commandeering the Quidditch Pitch for Slytherin. Personally, Scorpius is surprised that Potter even knows words like "sabotage" and "commandeer," two concepts that haven't even occurred to Scorpius. He might be a Slytherin, but he fully intends on winning this match fairly. It'll make rubbing the salt in Potter's gaping wounds all the more sweet.

The day of the match, Scorpius is prepared. The fall weather is optimal for a good game. The skies are perfectly blue, not a cloud about. There is no wind to throw off the players. He's surrounded by a good team, one of the best Slytherin's had in years, and he's flying the newest Nimbus model, a gift from his parents for making captaincy. Scorpius is all but bouncing on his heels, waiting for the game to start.

So is the rest of the school, which is more divided than usual. Slytherin and Gryffindor are both on edge, publicly hissing at one another, privately casting minor hexes and jinxes when they feel they can get away with it.

(Scorpius advises his players to avoid the petty hexing. He prefers they save their animosity for the field. Plus, all he needs is for them to get caught and kicked off the team because they can't keep their wand to their side)

Conversations keep flying around his head like Snitches—yes, he's a Chaser, he can't help but make the reference. He ignores them, focusing on his inner thoughts instead. He notes that it doesn't even bother him that some of Ravenclaw have opted out of their tradition of siding with Slytherin. Doesn't bother him much, at least. Anyway, he considers as he lugs his broom over his shoulder and follows a group of them out to the pitch. It makes sense that Weasley wears a Gryffindor scarf to the match. Her cousin is the captain and her brother the Keeper.

The game itself hurls past Scorpius' conscience, flitting about like a fast-paced action sequence. It is fleeting. It is violent. Scorpius does his best to juggle Chasing, fair play, and captaincy, all in one. Twice, he yells at Vince for excessive Bludgering. Up until this game, he isn't even aware there is such a thing as excessive Bludgering! And there's bloody McLaggen. Brilliant Seeker, but he insists on performing everybody else's job. After this game, Scorpius is certain that the cunt will be booted from the team. If Scorpius doesn't do it, the other players will stage an intervention and do it themselves.

An hour into the game, Slytherin is down thirty points. Sweat plasters his hair to his forehead and he can feel droplets stinging his eyes. However, he's got the Quaffle under one arm, a Bludger coming at him, and two Gryffindors on either side. He doesn't have time to look over his shoulder when the crowd breaks into a loud roar. He barely has the time to score a goal before Hooch's whistle goes off.

The second his feet touch the ground, chaos ensues. Crowds pour onto the field. Soon, he is surrounded by jubilant Slytherins—his house, his team, McLaggen, and Snitch. Through the yelling, the grins, or in Kamalia Avery's case, the crying, and the confusion, he's sure of one thing. Slytherin has won the game. The Quidditch cup may as well be theirs.

Perhaps he'll let McLaggen stay on until after the Ravenclaw match.

There is a celebration in the dorms. All of Slytherin parties hard. McLaggen stands at the centre of attention, recalling second-by-second plays. "See, there was a Bludger hot on my tail, right from Longbottom. Wicked arm, but that's all he's got going for him. Anyway, I'm racing from the Bludger, trying to keep a look-out for Potter because the fuckwit doesn't care whether his bat hits a Bludger or a Slytherin and Merlin only knows Hooch could care less, when I see the Snitch. It's hovering near the Gryffindor goal post. I don't even stop to think—I switch direction in mid-air, nearly hit Finnegan, who's trailing Scorp; don't ask me why he thought he could catch up with the Quaffle when Scorp's on a Nimbus and Finnegan's on a Comet. I'm halfway across the field when I notice that Jordan's spotted the Snitch too, is maybe the same distance from it as I am but on the other side of the pitch. So we're both racing towards the Gryffindor goal post, the Snitch is maybe an arm's length away from Weasley's shoulder, but he's just sitting there like he's daft, blind, and deaf, hovering over the centre goal, watching us both careening towards him. My mind is like an arrow on the Snitch, I'm not paying attention to, like, anything but it, and I barely notice Jordan, and Weasley isn't even an afterthought. I mean, the poor fuckwit is literally just sitting there, watching us racing right for him, and he's just staring at us like we're a fucking portrait or something. Well, the Snitch is like, sitting on Weasley's shoulder. Jordan begins to slow down—if she hadn't, she might have gotten to the Snitch first, but she was probably afraid of crashing into Weasley, but I don't fucking care. At this point, I can only think of that bloody Snitch. So I zoom right in there, not caring if I hit Weasley, or Jordan, or the goal post, or anything anymore, just so long as I catch the Snitch, and I almost, and I mean almost, like, milliseconds away from slamming right into him, nearly run right into Weasley. Not even milliseconds but like, milli-milliseconds, but at the last possible moment, I manage to pull up and bounce off of Weasley, and the next thing I know, the Snitch all but flies right into my hand and I've won the fucking game."

Each time McLaggen tells the story, it gets longer. By the fifth time, McLaggen's giving a speech and Scorpius loses his patience. He volunteers to sneak to the kitchens for more pastries, if only to get away from the 101 Saves By Craiftin McLaggen.

On his way there, he runs into Rose Weasley. Literally.

"For fuck's sake, Weasley," he mutters, picking himself off the hard, stone floor and readjusting his robes, which are matching his personality and starting to look a little worse for wear. "Watch where you're..." His words trail off.

If Scorpius is feeling worse for wear, Weasley looks like she's been chewed up and spat out before ground under somebody's heel. As she struggles upright, Scorpius can see that she's a mess. Her clothes—Muggle, in accordance with the lax weekend dress code, are wrinkled and dirty. Her denims are streaked with mud and grass stains, particularly at the knees, as if she's been kneeling in fresh dirt. There's a clean rip in the denim covering her right thigh, an area Scorpius forces himself to look away from. Her Muggle shirt isn't doing much better. It's wrinkled in a way that looks as if she's been wringing it in her hands, bunching it up and letting it go in a nervous manner. His eyes dart to a dark, crusty stain near her right shoulder. In the correct light, it might pass as dried blood. There is no sign of her robes, or her Gryffindor scarf, both things he's positive she'd been wearing at the Quidditch match.

Her face is what holds his attention. Her skin is pale, almost too pale, and her nose is red. Her eyes are bloodshot and puffy. She's been crying.

"Fuck, Weasley." He helps her up and steadies her with a hand on her shoulder. "What the hell happened?" He no longer cares that his concern slips through. His eyes dart over her, looking for sign of injury.

"Nothing. I just..." she shakes away his hand. Her voice is raspy and shot, as if she's been crying for a while now. "I'm fine." She turns away and shuffles down the part of the corridor he's vacated.

He refuses to let this pass. Something's wrong. He's almost positive that the dark spot on her shoulder is blood. In two easy strides, he catches up to her. He grabs her shoulder—her left one, and gently, just in case she is hurt, and turns her around. "Bullshite." He looks down into her face, or at least tries to, because she's clenching her jaw and staring at the ground. He can see the unshed tears well up in her eyes. "Look, I know we haven't always gotten along, and I know you think I'm an arse, and half the time, you're an absolute cow, but something is wrong." She opens her mouth to protest and he silences her. "And don't insult me by acting as if everything's okay. Your clothes are utterly destroyed. They're wrinkled and torn, covered in dirt, and I'm pretty sure that's blood on your shoulder, and I can tell you've been crying. You need to see Madam Pomfrey, and if you're not comfortable telling me who did this to you, then you need to let somebody else know."

Her chin wobbles. "I'm fine," she insists. A tear slips down her cheek, bringing attention to the light dusting of freckles it tracks through.

He's at a loss. His exasperated sigh escapes without warning. "You're bloody and your trousers are ripped. I'm not a healer, but I know enough. If you won't see Madam Pomfrey, at least let me..."

She pulls away and turns from him, but not before another tear slips down. "I'm not hurt. I'm perfectly fine." He scoffs, ready to refute the statement. She spins about, her jaw clenched, her chin in the air, poised in an act of defiance. "I've just come from the Infirmary. Madam Pomfrey wouldn't have left me leave if I were injured." Her whole demeanour deflates and her jaw wobbles again. "I haven't had a chance to change since the match. I've been a little preoccupied." Even as the tears slip down her cheeks, her voice is tight and clipped.

He's confused. "You weren't playing. How did end up looking like this?" He pauses, trying to remember if any of the bystanders were harmed by stray Bludgers.

Her look is one of incredulity. "Hugo?" she asks, as if giving the obvious answer to a stupid question.

He blinks at her once, twice. The connection is slow to come. "Your brother did this to you?" His tone is incredulous too. While he's never met her brother, he knows enough to understand that Hugo Weasley is well liked amongst all the houses for his easy-going, pacifist nature. Hugo may be the only chap in Hogwarts to never get detention for hexing a fellow student.

Her scathing look is answer enough to show that his line of thought is just as ridiculous to her as it is to him. "He didn't do this to me, I did this to me. I—"She trails off as he continues to stare at her. "You really don't know?"

"I've lost track of reality ever since Hooch blew the end-game whistle," he admits. For good measure, he adds, "And I'm pretty sure I'm losing my sanity, too, but that's mostly bloody McLaggen's fault."

A dark flush rises from the depths, transforming Rose's face. Her eyes knit together in disgust, her nostrils flare, and the only thing more clenched than her jaw are her fists at her sides. For a second, Scorpius fears she might punch him. "That arsewipe doesn't deserve to brag over jack shit." He jumps at her tone. He's not sure which is more alarming—her belligerent pitch, or the fact that it turns him on. "You know how that... that fuckwit won the game?" She doesn't pause for an answer. "He waited until Hooch didn't have a clear view, and then pushed Hugo off his broom." An angry sob rips out of her throat. "While he took advantage of having a clear playing field, Hugo fell thirty feet to the ground. Madam Pomfrey says he's lucky to be alive. He hasn't regained consciousness and they're talking about having to send him to St. Mungo's. They're not sure how badly hurt his brain is."

The tears now trickle down her cheeks. "Professor McGonagall says she can't do anything because the only person who saw McLaggen push Hugo is Tracy Jordan, and because it was at the climax of the game, and because Tracy was on the losing team, nobody will actually buy her story." Rose's chins wobbles, as if the words are being ripped from her mouth. "They're not even letting me stay with him anymore. My parents just got here and the Headmistress... kicked me out of the room."

She dissolves into body-wrenching sobs.

As she talks, a cold detachment rises through him, starting with his feet and, much like a badly cast Disillusionment Charm, it trickles down his spine. The part of Scorpius' body that acts separately from his mind gathers her into his arms. She allows herself to be pulled into his chest. There, he holds her to him, letting her cry into his shoulder as one arm curls around her waist and the other gathers at the nape of her neck, twining and cradling around her messy curls. She wails incoherent comments into his shoulder, her entire body shaking with her tears, and all he can do is grasp her tighter, offering whatever comfort he has to give.

Later that night, the Slytherin Quidditch Celebration stops when a dishevelled, furious Scorpius returns from the kitchens empty-handed, storms across the Slytherin Common Room, and hurls himself at Craiftin McLaggen. By the time they're able to pull him off, Craiftin is minus three teeth, has two split lips, two black eyes, and his nose is broken so badly, no Healer will ever be able to set it straight.

After Scorpius loses his prefect privileges, after he receives three months of detention with Filch, after he is suspended from Quidditch for the rest of the year, and after, with that cool, clipped tone of hers that doesn't quite match the displeasure she should be portraying, McGonagall states that the only reason he has not been expelled from Hogwarts is because Rose Weasley explained her part of The Situation, Scorpius stands in the hallway outside of the Headmistress's office, trying to ignore his parents and very much wishing he could dig his own grave.

A hand settles on his shoulder. Scorpius jumps and looks up from the ground in surprise. Draco Malfoy stares back at his son, his features devoid of any disappointment. Instead, there, in his eyes, is a quiet pride and air of approval.

Seventh year flies by. It is a year full of angst, and emotion, and it's not until after he receives his NEWTs scores—Six "O"s, Four "E"s, one of them in Transfiguration, that Scorpius catches his breath.

One early morning, as the sun streams through his bedroom window, Scorpius makes a discovery he's known since first year: Rose Weasley has a lot of freckles. However, unlike first year, he knows better than to make the assumption that she is a single entity of freckles. Instead, in the early morning light, his fingers trail over her skin, mapping them, connecting the dots. From the freckles on her hands, which will soon share their space with spattered ink, to the ones on the back of her neck, right where he loves to rub his nose. The teasing freckles on her cleavage, the ones she's self-conscious about but he adores—he loves to trace them with his fingers, following their trail down her body. Those are the ones he'd murder another bloke for discovering. To the freckles on the small of her back, the ones he traces with his tongue because it causes her to arch up and moan into him, leaving heady promises for the imminent future. But it's the freckles on her cheeks that make his breath stop, the ones that dust across and define the girl underneath, because they tell the best story.

For the past seven years, he has lined up all the dots. Only now do the pieces link and form an image. In a way, he's lucky that Rose Weasley has so many freckles. It means he's constantly finding new ones to add to the picture. If he's lucky, it'll be another seventy years before he's found them all.

Later on, Scorpius blames the early-morning-sentimental-nonsense on the blasted sunlight streaming through the window. In a petulant, well-practiced voice, he accuses Rose for not having shut the curtains the night before. Her face flushes with indignant anger and he smiles with an inward smirk. It's worth it the quarrel, if only because he knows they'll wind up in bed again, scoring him another chance to connect the dots.