Mr. & Mrs. Percy Weasley
request the honour of your presence at the marriage of their daughter,
Frank Alastor Longbottom
on Friday, 16th August, 11 o'clock
Reception to follow at The Three Broomsticks.
The following two weeks were truly awful. Rose absolutely did not want to be the one to make the first move and neither, it seemed, did Scorpius. There were no nightly Floo calls, no mid-afternoon coffees, not even an overpriced dinner at their favourite Muggle restaurant. Both parties seemed to have gone officially incommunicado, and Rose didn't quite know whether to feel hurt by this or just out-right furious.
On three separate occasions she'd thought she'd seen him loitering outside her flat. Twice, she'd hidden beneath the window, the third time though she'd actually gone out, approached what turned out to be a total stranger and kicked him very hard in the shins.
With Molly and Frank's wedding inching closer day by day, Rose was really starting to panic. She was a bridesmaid, an honour she'd been trying very hard to weasel out of for months now, and as one of Frank's closest friends, Scorpius had also been asked to be a groomsman which meant that no matter how determined or how hard they tried, there was no way they'd be able to avoid each other for long.
By the time she found herself being pinned into a hideous fuchsia pink dress, her Aunt Audrey fussing over everyone's hair and Uncle Percy sitting quietly in a corner looking oddly green, Rose herself was a nervous wreck and about ready to hex the face off of the first blonde she set eyes on. She hoped for her Aunt Fleur's sake that she kept her distance.
To make matters that little bit worse, Molly and Frank had really gone overboard with the decorations. An army of miniature cherubs hovered over the rows of guests in the Burrow's back garden, potted Flutterby bushes lurked in every corner and there were so many self-playing harps that Rose could barely hear herself think which, at approximately ten to eleven, was probably actually a very good thing...
"Malfoy! You're late!" Albus, Frank's best man, practically pounced on Scorpius as he skulked into the kitchen. Rose, who had her back to him, felt her whole body stiffen at the first whiff of that all-too familiar cologne. "We've got fifteen minutes. Go help Rosie with her dress."
"Potter, can't you-?"
Rose refused to turn and face him, choosing instead to stare intently at the mirror in front her which, unfortunately, offered an equally good view of the blonde as he marched over. She couldn't deny he looked ridiculously handsome in his dark green dress robes, hair perfectly tamed, bow-tie still hanging loose around his neck. Of course, the scowl he was wearing and his apparent distaste for her general proximity was a tad off-putting.
"Stand still," he muttered, gruffly, placing a warm hand on her waist and making goosebumps erupt all down her arms. He didn't once look up or meet her gaze in the reflection as he set to work on her buttons, Rose's entire body tingling with electricity each time his fingers brushed over freckled skin. She couldn't help but stare at him though, wrestling internally with the desire to wring the git's neck with both ends of his bow-tie, whilst all the while re-playing their last conversation together. The way he had stared at her, the intoxicating smell of his cologne mixed with whiskey and mud, the taste of him on her tongue- heady and sweet- as he'd brought his lips to hers—
Buggering Hell, she cursed, Louis was right. She was well and truly loved up on Scorpius Malfoy and he was choosing this mile-stone moment to be a complete and utter prick.
"Need a hand?" she muttered, cheeks hot, gesturing to his tie.
He shook his head quickly. "I'll manage," not looking up. Rose felt as if someone had punched her in the gut, her throat suddenly full of cotton wool. "How was your date with Macmillan?" he asked quietly, feigning indifference.
Rose frowned. "Not that it's any of your business, but I didn't go."
"Why not?" he asked, quickly.
"I've actually been rather pre-occupied lately,"
"Nothing too troubling I hope."
"Oh, you know," she muttered, off-hand, "just a complete git deciding to ignore me for a fortnight even though he's supposed to be my best friend. Nothing important."
She felt him tense at the snub, pausing over her last button. "I wasn't ignoring you."
"No, of course not. You just couldn't quite manage to get your head out of your arse long enough to speak to me."
Swearing under his breath, he suddenly grabbed Rose by the elbow, steering her quickly and un-noticed past the others and out into the Burrow's front yard, both tripping over the usual mountain of Wellingtons on the top step. He slammed the door shut firmly behind them and rounded on her, eyes narrowed.
"Before you get too comfortable on your high horse, Weasley, I don't seem to recall you trying that hard to talk to me either! And, for your information, I did come to your flat-,"
"I knew that was you!" she hissed, jabbing a finger at him.
"And I saw you dive behind that hideous couch of yours! I assumed you didn't want to see me!"
"Is that why you're being such a prat?" she shouted. "Because you think I don't like you anymore? That's moronic!"
He arched an eyebrow. "Well, there's also the fact that your hair and that dress are burning my corneas beyond repair. That outfit would put anyone in a foul mood."
"I could hex your balls off right now, Malfoy."
"Hardly, your aim's worse than Frank's,"
She clenched her fists. "Merlin, I hate you."
Scorpius sighed angrily, raking a hand through his hair and fixing her with a scowl. "Don't say that."
"Why shouldn't I?" Rose could feel her face growing hot, her chest already tight. "I thought we were into declaring all our feelings without thinking these days? Or don't you remember your little alcohol fuelled confession?"
"Of course I remember," he muttered.
"Is it true?"
He took a moment, dark greys eyes surveying hazel. "I don't suppose there's any point denying it now. The boggart's well and truly out the cupboard, as they say."
Rose let out the breath she hadn't realised she'd been holding, her stomach doing an uneasy little flip. "For how long?" she asked, nervously.
Scorpius shrugged. "On and off since we were eighteen."
"Then why didn't you tell me sooner?" she shouted, suddenly furious. Despite finally beginning to acknowledge her own desires, it was still a horrible feeling, discovering that three years of solid friendship had somehow all been a lie. "And why wait until you were blind drunk to just blurt it out like that?"
"Well, what did you expect me to do?" He glared at her. "Maybe if you weren't always harping on about how you loathe commitment and think love and marriage is for fools, then you wouldn't be quite so intimidating to potential suitors!"
"I've never used that exact phrase,"
He arched an eyebrow. "You wrote that in my parents' anniversary card: 'Dear Malfoys. Love and marriage is for fools. Sincerely, Rose.' It was one of your more poetic attempts, I believe."
"Anyone ever told you it's the thought that counts?" she sulked.
"Anyone ever told you that you're a twisted young woman, Weasley?"
She folded her arms and huffed, indignantly, turning away from him to stare at the crumbling, old broom-shed. This wasn't right- this wasn't something two people were supposed to argue about. When someone you adore tells you that they're in love with you, Rose thought, getting annoyed probably wasn't a typical reaction and yet here they were. She could feel that hot simmer bubbling away in her chest, the heavy pounding of her pulse in her ears and she knew it wasn't just because she'd been ignored and left to stress for a few weeks.
She felt abandoned, like Scorpius had jumped ship on her and left her to fight for their friendship alone. Louis, for all his many inaccuracies, had been right about one thing- she was terrified of losing her best friend, and surely change meant just that? You couldn't be best friends and lovers at the same time; no-one gets to have their cauldron cake and eat it too.
"I don't understand," Rose muttered, tersely, scuffing a satin shoe against the flagstones. "I thought you felt the same way? 'Sacrifice at the altar,' and all that."
"Turns out its surprisingly easy to change your mind for the right person." His voice was soft and flat, and made Rose feel as though she'd just swallowed a snitch. "Look, Weaslette, its simple. I'm in love with you and there's not much I can do about that, I'm afraid. I just need to know how you feel."
And wasn't that just the million galleon question?
Rose sighed in frustration. "I feel like this isn't the right time to be talking about this."
"Oh, don't give me that," Scorpius groaned, angrily.
"We're at a wedding, emotions are running high, that's all,"
"Rose, it's taken us almost five years to have this conversation!" He grabbed her hand as she marched back towards the house. "I couldn't give a damn where we are, just tell me whether you feel the same? Do you love me, yes or no?"
"I can't just-,"
"Fine! Yes!" she hissed. "Yes, of course I do, you intolerable git! But that isn't the point!"
"That is completely the point!" he laughed, incredulously.
"No, it isn't!" she shoved him away. "Obviously I'm in love with you and yes, those four nights we've spent together were probably the best four nights of my life- oh, don't look so smug." She swatted at him as he began to smirk. "But that doesn't mean I want to be with you!"
"Well, why the bloody Hell not?" he frowned.
"Because we're friends, Malfoy! People aren't allowed to be in love with their friends, it doesn't work like that."
Scorpius appeared to consider this for a moment. "Fine, then I officially de-friend you."
Rose blinked at him, affronted. "Well… that's not very nice,"
He shrugged, the corners of his mouth twitching into a grin. "Now, if you ever want to see me again, you'll have to ask me out on a date."
"Don't be absurd-,"
"You're right, we can probably skip that part. Do you prefer the term girlfriend, or significant other?"
"Oh for Merlin's sake," she dragged her fingers through her hair, trying to pretend she didn't get a serious thrill out of either option. "Don't you understand? If we were together we'd get sick of each other within a month, I'd do something annoying that you just couldn't stand, or I'd start to get mad whenever you told one of your awful jokes-,"
He scoffed. "My jokes are not awful,"
She ignored him. "We'd end up resenting each other and then I wouldn't just lose a boyfriend, I'd lose my best friend as well. As we are now, we're perfect. When we fight I know we'll always come back to each other but if that were to change…" her voice hitched as her eyes began to mist. "I- I can't lose you, Scorpius, I wouldn't know what to do without you."
Suddenly, his arms were around her, his fingers running through her auburn curls as he pulled her tightly against him. She buried her dampening cheeks in the crook of his neck, breathing in that wonderful scent, and clung to the front of his dress robes as if any moment he might just turn on his heel and flee.
"Rose," he muttered, kissing her forehead lightly, "I know everything about you, I spend more time with you than I do by myself. If I haven't been put off or got sick of you yet, I don't think that's likely to change just because I get to see you naked more often." She made a muffled sound of protest. "Besides, I'd take that chance any day rather than let you date that sod, Macmillan. I've heard he doesn't even wear anything under that kilt, the man's totally uncivilised!"
Rose couldn't help but burst out laughing and peered up at him, eyes streaming. He grinned and brushed her hair away from mascara stained cheeks.
"There's no-one else for me, Weaslette, you know that."
She nodded and took a deep breath. "Me neither," she muttered, before standing up on her tip-toes and pressing her lips tentatively against his. Scorpius responded with fervour, squeezing her gently at the waist as he kissed her back earnestly and insistently, till he had her mewing in his arms.
Reluctantly, Rose tore herself away, laughing nervously as she tried to hide her rosy cheeks. "If we're going to do this properly," she sniffed, "you have to promise me one thing?"
He arched an eyebrow, apprehensively. "Go on?"
She fixed him with a firm stare. "Never, ever, ask me to marry you."
"You can't be serious?"
"Those are my terms. Take them or leave them."
Scorpius eyed her in amusement for a moment and sighed. "I'll take you anyway I can, Weasley. You have my word." And then he set about snogging her silly in her grandparents' garden.
Scorpius broke his promise seven times over the next two years. Eventually, Rose proposed to him, just to shut him up. Or so she says…