a/n for janey [never-gonna-grow-up] - happy birthday, my lovely, and I hope you have a gorgeous christmas as well!
many thanks to the ever flawless bri [swirling-summernotes] for the fantastic beta job =]
warning: there's one or two swearwords in here, and some sexual references
Sometimes, she wonders what it would be like to live the perfect life that every other little girl dreamed of having when they grew up. She'd be bored, most likely, she decides, though it doesn't matter, because that's not how the story played out, did it?
Let's go back to the beginning of it all, when everything was magic, and a little girl started the journey of a lifetime.
Rose steps into the Great Hall, her eleven year old eyes wide and full of wonder, the other first years crowded around her in equal fascination. The ceiling above them glitters with a thousand diamond stars sewn into the pitch black of the sky, the tiniest sliver of moon hovering in the centre.
"Wow," she hears a voice gasp beside her, and she turns to look at the other person, her smile bright and bold and completely unafraid of anything. She feels smug that she knows something the other little girl doesn't; not everyone has had Hogwarts: A Revised History read to them before bed.
"It's enchanted to reflect the sky outside," she tells them self-importantly, taking in their appearance at the same time. The girl is wearing plain black robes, the same as every other first year, her hair tied in two blonde pigtails that bounce up and down as the girl jumps in excitement.
"I'm Phoebe," the girl says, still bouncing, and Rose's eyes are wide as she stares at her. Phoebe reminds her of her cousin James, who is currently waving enthusiastically at her and Molly, another cousin, and someone has magically secured tape over his mouth, assumedly to stop him from talking until the sorting is over.
"I'm Rose," she replies finally, looking at the girl's hair in open jealousy and wondering what her own hair would look like if it was tied in two pigtails with red and white striped ribbons. Probably rubbish, she thinks gloomily, looking at her frizzy ginger hair with dissatisfaction.
And just like when she was five and made friends with a Muggle girl in the sandbox, friendship is almost instantaneous for them. Phoebe links her arm with Rose's and chats away merrily until her name is called, their conversation varying from trolls to their families to flowers, but always returning to the one thing that brought them both here – magic.
'That's me,' Phoebe murmurs, a bit unnecessarily, Rose thinks as the other girl sits on the three-legged stool and has the Sorting Hat placed on her head, her too-large ears the only things that keep the Hat from slipping down. She is sorted almost immediately, and her designated table applauds as their house is called out.
Rose applauds along with everyone else in the hall, but her mind is elsewhere. A stream of words flow through her head and her hands itch to capture them and write them down, though the Headmistress announcing her name forces her to pay attention to her reality.
She walks over to the stool, and repeats the same process as everyone else before her. She isn't surprised when the hat speaks to her; her Mum had told her that the hat talked, though she hadn't shared this information with Albus. James had bribed her with Every Flavour Beans to keep quiet about the sorting ceremony, claiming that it would be fun, though he hadn't needed to get that far in order for her to agree. He knows of her weakness for jellybeans.
"Another Weasley, eh?" the Hat sneers inside her mind. "When will your relatives stop sending me more Weasleys to sort?"
Her mind races; Lily and Hugo are the youngest, so…
"In two years," she replies aloud in a whisper, a part of her mind wondering whether anyone besides the Hat can hear her. I
"It was a rhetorical question!" it snaps, and she feels her temper rise a little. Why is a Hat talking to her like this? "You would be grumpy too, if you had been burnt to pieces and yet you were still forced to sift through the minds of simpletons!"
"I would be grumpy if that happened to me, and I'm sure you would be grumpy if it happened to you. But clearly, you haven't been burnt to pieces, as you are still whole, pretty much."
"Ah, a logical mind," the Hat says, changing tack and suddenly sounding interested. "A thirst for knowledge… yet you have a strong ambition, and a way with words… Now where to put you?"
Rose doesn't mind, really, which House she goes to; Albus has already been sorted into Slytherin, while Molly is in Gryffindor, Lorcan and Lysander are in Ravenclaw, and some of James' friends are Hufflepuffs. She'll have friends wherever she goes. She's always been able to count on that, though she is confident she could get by without anyone else if she needed to.
She walks to the Ravenclaw table to the sounds of their clapping and cheering, taking a seat beside a dreamy eyed Lorcan, and Phoebe catches her eye from across the room with an overenthusiastic wave. Rose waves back with a broad smile that stretches from ear to ear, and looks up towards the ceiling, revelling in the clear night and the twinkling stars above.
The following morning dawns bright and clear on Ravenclaw tower, and Rose makes her way down the stairs with exhausted, glassy eyes, her bushy hair still rumpled in a very unflattering way from her tossing and turning the night before.
Dropping tiredly into the closest seat to the door at the Ravenclaw table, she is halfway through a delectably crunchy bowl of cereal before she realises that she has company. Turning her head, she sees that there's a boy sitting beside her – the one her dad had pointed out to her on the platform and told her to beat him in every test. Scorpius Malfoy.
"You're a Weasley, aren't you?" the boy asks, initiating conversation, and she wonders if this is how he usually starts his conversations, because it really isn't a great introduction.
"How could you tell? Because I have red hair and more freckles than sprinkles on an ice-cream cone?" she questions dryly, tugging at a lock of scarlet hair in dissatisfaction. She would rather have inherited her mum's hair, because while it was as frizzy as her own, at least she would have stood out in a crowd of Weasleys.
"No, because I was talking to your cousin before we were sorted, and he pointed you out," he clarifies, apparently completely at ease with talking to strangers this way. "Albus, I think he said his name was."
"Did he tell you my first name, or just that I'm a Weasley?" she retorts, inwardly wondering how her cousin was going. He had seemed odd on the train, after a girl in the year above had started fawning over him for no reason they could discern, though it seemed to have something to do with Albus' dad. Actually, no, he had been strange before that, she realises. It must have been the conversation he had with his dad just before they left, though she couldn't imagine what had transpired.
"Just that you were his cousin, and by using a little logic, I figured out that you're a Weasley," the boy responds, his grey eyes abjectly curious. "My name's Scorpius, by the way. Scorpius Malfoy," he adds, extending a hand formally. Rose looks at his hand, unsure why they're acting like business partners sealing a deal, but shakes his hand quickly, just once.
"I'm Rose," she offers, and he nods, turning back to his food. Unbalanced by the strange switch away from conversation, she shovels down the last of her breakfast, taking particular care to conceal some sugar cubes in her pocket for later. She swings her legs around to the other side of the bench and stands, before quickly starting to walk away from the table.
"Nice to meet you, Weasley," the boy calls after her, and she twirls back to see him grinning at her in a way that seems equal parts friendly and dangerous, his oddly large eyes glittering wickedly in a fashion that is far too adult for this eleven year old. She turns to continue her journey out of the hall and walks away without looking back.
The dungeon is already filled with steam by the time Rose arrives at the potions classroom, fumes rising from the various cauldrons scattered throughout the room. Professor Mulchin sighs in exasperation and points mutely to a seat beside the one person in this classroom she doesn't like or hate. Scorpius.
Taking her seat, she frowns in open irritation at being forced to sit in an allocated seat like a tiny first year with no friends. Not only did she get lost this morning because of a wall that decided to move itself directly in front of her usual shortcut, her hair still refuses to lie flat, and she's lost her copy of The Dark Arts: A Study; but now she doesn't even have the hopes of an argument or even a friendly conversation to cheer her up.
Folding her arms, she ignores the professor's instructions – and her glares - for the majority of the lesson in favour of glaring at the blank blackboard, and is only shaken from her reverie by someone repeatedly jabbing her in the side with a very pointed fingernail.
"What?" she asks grumpily, turning her head the slightest degree to the left and directing her gaze at her partner.
"Weasley, in case it has escaped your attention, we're in class right now, and I need your help for a minute," Scorpius responds, his tone walking a fine line between arrogance and friendliness. "Can you go into the storeroom and get some porcupine quills?"
Glancing quickly at his open textbook, her frown deepens as she realises that porcupine quills aren't even recorded on the ingredients list – there shouldn't be any need for them, so why has he asked her to get some?
"They aren't even on the list," she blurts, interrupting Scorpius' stirring of a murky looking green mixture, and he doesn't bother to look at her, though she can see his forehead is creased in irritation. Her temper rises when he still doesn't respond, and her attempt at breathing deeply to calm herself is disrupted by the smell of something burning.
"Well?" she asks, snapping his textbook shut with a thump to punctuate her statement.
"Weasley," she makes a noise of protest, "I'll make a deal with you. If you get the quills from the storeroom without asking any more questions, and it turns out that I've made a mistake, then I'll give you a Galleon. And you can be in charge for the rest of the year," he adds, and though she's still sceptical, she's too curious about what he intends to do to let this opportunity pass her by. "But you owe me a Galleon if it turns out right."
"Fine. Deal. But my name's Rose, you know, not Weasley," she throws over her shoulder as she heads for the storeroom, making a little more noise than she should, causing Professor Mulchin to look up at her in annoyance. She's the youngest and newest of the staff, and the boys worship her blonde hair and blue eyes – especially Albus.
Albus has been acting different lately, Rose muses, her eager brown eyes scanning the shelves for the box of porcupine quills. More confident, somehow. Arrogant, really, a bit like Scorpius. Well, he would, seeing as the two are practically bosom buddies, but it's still a little strange for her to see Albus acting this way. He had mentioned something about not wanting to be in Uncle Harry's shadow the last time they had spoken, but she hadn't paid much attention, absorbed as she was in the tune of a new song that had been haunting her for days on end.
"Aha!" she exclaims under her breath, her hand closing over the box and grabbing it in her admittedly pudgy hands, which are at odds with her altogether too gangly body. Marching back into the humid potions classroom, she plonks the quills onto their desk in the only clear space in front of Scorpius. "Impress me."
"Thanks, Weasley," he replies mildly, not looking up from the cauldron as he adds a pinch of silver coloured powder to the mixture, before dipping the tip of a single porcupine quill into the centre of the mixture.
"It's Rose," she protests again, because any one of her cousins could be Weasley, and she knows that one day she's going to be special, and she might as well start now. He ignores her, muttering something that she suspects is him counting numbers, and she sinks back into her chair and folds her arms.
Later, she is forced to recognise that he knows what he's doing - at least in terms of potions, as the professor pronounces their potion perfect, and says their addition of porcupine quills is 'inspired'. Scorpius smiles smugly as a humiliated Rose shoves a Galleon into his waiting hand, her cheeks blushing a deep scarlet that reaches the tips of her ears.
"I don't get it. Why won't he just ask me out already? I'll never understand boys," Phoebe sighs gloomily, her arms linked with Rose's as the pair wanders around the grounds. They draw to a gradual halt near an empty space in the courtyard and sit down, disturbing a pair of cats curled up together on the bench to soak up the morning sunshine.
"He's Lysander – who even knows what goes through his mind? The boy is completely oblivious, I swear," Rose laughs, wishing she was the giggly sympathetic kind of girl that she's supposed to be right now, who can fix all her best friend's problems with some glitter and neon nail polish. They've been friends for four years, now, since Phoebe sat herself down next to her at the Ravenclaw table one morning in their first year, and refused to move even when the Prefect's threatened to cart her away. Eventually, they just left them alone.
"Still, he's pretty cute," Phoebe giggles, her elbow still tucked in the crook of Rose's arm as they gaze out on the courtyard. A movement at the edge of the pavestones catches Rose's eye and she has to blink multiple times before she registers what she's actually seeing.
"Look," she nudges Phoebe, and the latter searches out what she's supposed to be looking at, before finally locking her eyes on the couple ensconced against a broad-leaved tree that stretches over half the courtyard. They are very clearly kissing, though it appears to be a clumsy sort of kiss, one shared between two people who have no idea what they're doing.
"Why didn't you tell me that Lysander and Molly are going out?" Phoebe demands harshly, and Rose remembers belatedly that the other girl is sitting beside her, with a temper that flares as suddenly as Rose's own.
"I didn't know – I would have told you if I did!" she exclaims heatedly, because the Gryffindor might be her closest friend other than Albus, but there is nothing she hates more than someone wrongly accusing her of something, other than being wrong, which she detests. "The rumour mill mustn't have gotten to them yet."
"She's your cousin, Rose! You're supposed to know these things, and then you're supposed to let me know, because you're my best friend and we tell each other everything, right? How could you keep this from me?" Phoebe indicts, fury burning hot in her eyes before she turns and flees the courtyard, no doubt heading for her dorm. Rose is left behind with a burning temper and a strong feeling of guilt, because it doesn't seem to matter that she didn't know, or that they're only fourteen anyway, because Phoebe's actually upset and she doesn't know how to fix it. Her irritation quickly cools, as it always does, and she knows she has to at least try to apologise now, before she gets angry again.
With a sudden burst of speed, Rose rushes after the departing girl, hoping she can talk to her before she reaches the Gryffindor tower, because that is one of the only places Rose has never been and can't get into. At the foot of the stairs leading into the castle, she finally catches a glimpse of her, and she dashes up the stairs two at a time and grabs the back of her best friend's robes.
"I'm sorry," she pants, breathless from running and the need to make her understand. "I didn't know about them, and I didn't know you even liked him so much," she confesses, letting go, her declaration made. Phoebe can do as she likes, now – Rose's conscience is clear.
Phoebe turns around, presenting her tearstained face. She is not one of those people who can cry poignantly, still looking beautiful while sobs wrack their body. Her face is a blotchy red and her eyes are puffy, but she looks decidedly calmer now.
"I-I didn't really. I just hoped... that he would like me, 'cause it's been ages since I felt really pretty, and..." she trails off, gratefully accepting the ink-stained tissue that a stunned Rose hands her. Watching her best friend blow her nose while crying over a boy was not something she had thought she would see for a long, long time, if ever. Phoebe always seemed confident and put together, and though she isn't the traditional kind of pretty, she has a love of life that makes her seem prettier than she is, and everyone adores her, it seems.
"It's okay," Rose soothes, patting her awkwardly on the back and wondering what to do next. "Want some ice cream?"
"Sure," Phoebe replies with a shaky laugh through her tears, and they walk off together, their brief fight already forgotten about, because they might be a little dramatic, but they're the kind of friends that can weather through almost anything together. And Rose might not be the girly girl who has a love affair with lipstick and pretty dresses, because Phoebe is girly enough for the both of them, and their faults and flaws and admirable attributes fit together perfectly, like all good friendships do.
Rose walks down the hallway, humming quietly under her breath, and trying to match the tune to the words that spiral through her mind. The corridor is dimly lit by the torches held upright by black metal brackets which are nailed to the wall. One flickers as she passes, wavering until it almost goes out, but recovers once her shadow has moved beyond the flame.
Two boys walk in the opposite direction, but she doesn't stop her humming, as almost any other person would do around these two boys. Despite being mere fifth years, they have captured the attention of the school population with their controversial friendship and even more controversial sorting. One, with messy dark hair that is the envy of many males for its undeniable attraction to females, is silently arrogant as he listens to the other boy speak.
"Hey Albus," she greets her cousin amicably as he reaches her, and fights a smile at his expression when he turns to face her, presumably to deliver a cutting statement about not interrupting other people's conversation. His features change into one of warm friendship, however, when he recognises her, though he does look disappointed that he missed an opportunity to make someone sad. Albus really has no qualms whatsoever, she thinks wryly.
"Rose," he replies, inexplicably shooting a sideways glance at the blonde beside him who has fallen silent, though many times before he has simply carried on talking, not caring that she is standing there. "Aren't you going to say hello to Scorpius?" he asks after a pause, a smile creeping up his face like that of a Cheshire cat, a look she recognises, though she wishes she didn't. It is a look that means danger, a look that makes a villain's underlings cower in fear, because they know a plan is in the works, and if it goes wrong it is they who will be blamed.
"No need," the blonde interrupts, speaking for the first time since she has. "Evening, Weasley."
"Hey, Scorpius," she says with a sigh in her voice, tired of telling him that her first name is actually Rose, not Weasley. It never seems to make any difference.
Albus looks between the two of them, his smile stretching with each rotation of his head. "Well, I'm going to go visit a very dear friend of mine. It's terribly important, otherwise I wouldn't leave you," he says sarcastically, breaking the silence.
"Would this dear friend happen to be named Carla McLaggen?" Scorpius asks, a sardonic smile appearing on his thin lips as he exchanges glances with Albus. Rose wants to sigh again – she has heard of Carla McLaggen, of course. A Gryffindor friend of Phoebe's who is surprisingly catty, Carla isn't exactly the kind of girl that boys seek out for their personalities, and Rose knows all too well what Albus will be doing within the next ten minutes, having been told by Carla about her and Albus' exploits in excruciating detail.
"Possibly," Albus replies, and continues past his cousin and best friend without another word, his strut conveying his utter arrogance and confidence in his allure.
Rose taps her fingers against her robed leg in time with the music playing loudly in her head, trying to think of something to say to Scorpius before the silence drags on too long. She kind of wishes she could pull an Albus and walk off without having to say anything, but Scorpius is her housemate and Albus' best friend, and she should at least attempt to remain on friendly terms with him. Though they sleep less than eight feet apart, she on one side of the wall that divides their dorms, and he on the other, they have never been friends, really. Scorpius is popular and cool and charming, and she has very little interest in being any of those things. The only times they really speak is during Ancient Runes, since there are very few people actually taking that class.
"Did you know that meerkats enjoy eating the stingers of poisonous scorpions?" she blurts, feeling the silence begin to overwhelm her. Much to her dismay, she often finds herself spouting odd fact at the most opportune times, particularly when a silence turns awkward.
He looks at her with an odd expression, though one side of his mouth quirks up as if he feels like laughing, and she feels the back of her neck heat up in a blush. Her eyes drop to the floor, and when she dares to glance up again, he is composed again, one eyebrow raised in a silent question.
"Am I supposed to know what a meerkat is?" he queries, a question she definitely hadn't expected him to ask. But then, he is a pureblood, she reasons, and meerkats aren't exactly the most magical of creatures.
"They're kind of like rats," she explains, and he nods in understanding as she continues to talk. And strangely, that is how their fairytale starts – not in an epic romance like Romeo and Juliet, not two best friends starting to love, but two acquaintances becoming friends, and all because of a meerkat. And Albus, of course.
It's almost summer at Hogwarts castle, the leaves on the trees beginning to grow back again, the birds returning from their yearly migration to roost on the roof of Hagrid's hut, lending colour and sound to the tranquil atmosphere. One young mother builds her nest on the very tip of the thatching, and it is there, surrounded by sticks and limp grass that four students sit together in friendship.
"Truth," Scorpius says in answer to Phoebe's question, having spent the majority of the last minute deliberating between the two options. Albus smirks in anticipation, and Rose suddenly fears for Scorpius' mental state; ever since Phoebe had introduced them to the Muggle game known as 'truth or dare', Albus had insisted on playing it at every opportunity they had.
"Okay..." Phoebe trails off, trying to think of something to ask that won't make either of them uncomfortable. The four of them had only just started hanging out together, and she and Scorpius were the least at ease of the four.
"What's your middle name, Scorpius?" Albus asks, cutting Phoebe off before she can continue. Scorpius pales slightly, a tinge that is fairly unnoticeable since his skin is usually so fair, and Rose tries to deduce what makes him react like that; it's a fairly innocuous question by Albus' standards.
"Hyperion," the Ravenclaw chokes out, looking pained, and Rose burst into laughter, unable to resist needling him. Besides, the expression on his face is rather hilarious. "Your turn, Albus Severus."
"I embrace my name, Scorpius. Besides, I was named after the two greatest headmasters of all time, and you were named after some stars. I think it's clear who has the better name here," Albus responds smugly, before deciding to choose dare.
It is only later, after they've gotten down from the roof using a series of levitated stones like a ladder – a method Rose developed in her fourth year – that Scorpius' name is brought up again.
"So... Hyperion, eh?" she jibes, driving her point home with an elbow to his ribs. He frowns, though whether in jest or honest irritation she doesn't know, and she hopes she hasn't gone too far. Their friendship is still new and shiny right now, and she doesn't want to ruin something that could be great.
"My beloved grandfather requested that I be called Hyperion – as my first name. I'm thoroughly convinced that he did it just to annoy my mother and myself," he elucidates, directing a scowl at Albus' back, where he and Phoebe are chatting away, having formed a tentative friendship after five years of tolerating one another's presence.
"It's not so bad," she responds with a one-shouldered shrug, offering him a smile, though he still looks disgruntled. "Cheer up – just think, one day you can legally change your name to something you actually like. What do you think of Albus Potter's Slave?" she asks, grinning wickedly at him. Their friendship is already comfortable, to her relief. All of her other friendships – Albus, Phoebe, and Lydia Wood, to name a few – have been fairly effortless from the start, which she takes as a sign that they will continue that way. They have so far.
"I thought I was supposed to like the name?" Scorpius retorts, arching an eyebrow in apparent disbelief that she would even suggest that. She doesn't pay much attention, too fascinated by the curve of his brow. She's always wanted to be able to do that, but has never been able to.
"True," she concedes, pushing a tangled lock of ginger hair behind her rather pointed ear.
"Are you lot going to hang around back there all day, or are we going to get to dinner? I hear there's raspberry pudding tonight!" Phoebe exclaims, looking back at the pair, her face the picture of excitement. Rose grins back at her and dashes forward to join her best friend, who immediately links their arms together. They saunter off, chatting merrily, not paying any heed to the duo left behind them.
The spring night is cool and dark, a pitch black tapestry of sky dotted with diamond stars, and four friends walk beneath streams of soft sunlight, each harbouring secrets, each not entirely sure of anything but their friendship. The sun dips below the horizon, a single bird chirps, and then the world is silent.
"Shh," Phoebe giggles, her green eyes wide in the darkness as the two girls peer down through the leaves of the tree they are currently occupying. Rose immediately stops her tirade concerning James' latest prank on her, which involved a goat and some very sticky pink bubblegum, and fingers the tiny silver paintball gun at her waist.
A bush rustles at the foot of the large tree, and Phoebe leans forward with excitement, gun already positioned in her hands, and Rose thinks with a wry smile that her best friend is far too excited for this. A mop of brown hair comes into view, lit by the pale moonlight filtering down from above, and she catches a glimpse of her brother and his best friend standing suspiciously close. She leans forward, one hand gripping onto a nearby branch for support, unable to stop herself from getting a closer look.
The taller of the two moves slightly, pointing at something in the distance Rose can't see from her vantage point, but she doesn't mind that, as Hugo's movement has revealed what she was waiting for: proof that Hugo and Ella are actually together, proof that is evident by the duo's free hands entwined with the other's. Rose grins in triumph, before reality hits her.
Hugo lied to her. Her sweet, honest, very Hufflepuff brother had told her last week that he wasn't dating anyone, and yet now he's holding hands with a girl! She fumbles with the gun at her waist, her fury rising, because she's Rose and she's insightful and logical, and isn't she supposed to know everything? Besides all that, she hates being lied to, a thought she keeps in mind when she shoots three blobs of navy blue paint at the pair below.
Splat! Something hits the back of her blushing crimson neck, and she reaches a tentative hand around to see what it is, her elbow scraping the rough wood of the tree as she does so. The liquid is sticky and thick, almost like melted chocolate, but when she brings her fingers back around to smell them, the scent is acrylic and oily, almost like – paint. The thought hits her like a bolt from the blue, and she squints at her hands, almost groaning aloud when she sees the definite green staining of her skin.
"They're-" she whispers loudly to Phoebe, but is cut off by a cascade of deep green paint the colour of seaweed descending on them, and their squeals carry heavily in the still darkness as the cool paint hits their skin.
Soft laughter sounds from above them, and she twists her neck with a sickening crack to see Albus and Scorpius lounging on a branch not far above them, and she curses herself for not checking their tree for inhabitants other than them earlier.
Of course the two of them would pull something like this.
Scorpius sends up sparks from the play wand each of them had acquired from Uncle George's shop in the event of their team winning, signalling the end of the game. The silent wood fills with chatter as Weasleys, Potters, and random friends alike emerge from their hiding spots, covered in multicoloured paint. Recently, Teddy had added tiny devices to the game, allowing everyone to keep track of who was still 'alive' and who wasn't, so that then they would know when the game was over.
"I have to admit, that was a good trick," Rose comments to her cousin and Scorpius as she drops down from the tree, her feet making imprints in the soft dirt below.
"Admit it. You thought it was genius," Scorpius teases with the slightest of smiles, and she merely laughs and heads towards the barrier that will let them all out of the bubble that the game is played in. Their families had put the barriers in placeto prevent any wildlife from being damaged and any houses from being burnt down. Their wands are banned from the arena for a similar reason.
Everyone troops down the slope and piles into the Burrow's backyard, draping themselves over tables and patches of grass, and chasing away the gnomes that always infest the garden during summer. Even Scorpius of the hated Malfoy family has gradually been integrated into the general pack of family friends, though Ron tends to avoid him as if he has Dragon Pox. Caught up in admonishing Hugo for not telling her about his new relationship sooner, it is a while before Rose realises that Phoebe has gone missing. Excusing herself, she traipses around the backyard looking for her best friend and wondering where she had gotten to. Usually after a game, they-
Her internal monologue is cut short as she encounters the most bizarre thing she has ever seen: her cousin Roxanne and her best friend kissing against the side of the broom shed like they have done this many times before. She watches with wide eyes as Phoebe's hand traces lines on Roxanne's bare shoulder, her temper rising dangerously until she can't stop herself from talking.
"What the fuck is going on here?" she asks, eyes dangerously bright and her hands digging into her hips as she glares at the duo.
"Rose, you need to calm down," Roxanne cautions, and Rose turns her glare on her cousin, the fire in her eyes enough to sear skin.
"Don't tell me to calm down!" she snaps, and strides forward to force her way between the pair, splitting them apart while she tries to deal with her best friend – or so she thought. "Why, Phoebe – why are you – no, more than that. Are you with Roxanne?"
"Yes, Rose, we're together!" Phoebe retorts with a smouldering look like she is barely restraining her own temper.
"Why didn't you tell me? I didn't even know you liked girls like that – you never told me. Why didn't you?" Rose accuses, stepping forward and closing the sparse distance between them to gain the advantage. She is leading this fight, but only just, only because her fear of betrayal is greater than Phoebe's surprise and hurt.
"Because I knew you would react like this, Rose!" Phoebe explodes, gesturing emphatically, her words tumbling from between her lips. "And I didn't know what I was feeling, and there was just never the right time to say anything! What would you have said, anyway, if I had told you before?"
Rose is silent, unsure of how she would have reacted if Phoebe had simply told her, rather than letting her find out like this. "You still should have told me," she murmurs, her temper deserting her. She leans against the wall and slides down until she is sitting in the dirt, her arms folded across her chest as she gazes intently at her hands.
"I know," Phoebe responds equally quietly, as if she doesn't quite know how to proceed or what she is supposed to say. Roxanne takes her hand gently and squeezes it once, letting her know that she is there for her if she needs support.
Long minutes pass which stretch into endless days in Rose's mind, trying to work out what she should do, what she should say to break the silence, knowing that she should but not being able to bring herself to do it.
"Congratulations, I guess," she says after a while, looking up from her freckled hands to see Roxanne and Phoebe jump apart, looking guilty at even holding hands.
"Thanks," Phoebe responds slowly, a smile gradually growing on her face at the implication that Rose has accepted her and Roxanne's relationship, as well as her newly announced sexuality. "Want some ice cream?"
"Sure," Rose replies, and takes Phoebe's hand with only the slightest of hesitations when she is offered it. They start to walk off, Phoebe throwing a look over her shoulder at her girlfriend, when Rose stops. "Are you coming?" she asks her cousin, because they're family after all and she might as well accept the fact that Phoebe and Roxanne love each other, for whatever reason.
Roxanne shakes her head, "I'm good here." Rose smiles waveringly back at her, and continues to walk, linking Phoebe's arm with hers in a familiar way. She will never quite be sure if Phoebe is always telling the truth, after this, but their friendship is too strong to let go. Still, there is one thing that bothers her.
"I can't believe you're dating my cousin. She's nineteen, Phoebe, and you're only just sixteen," she reminds her, but Phoebe only smiles, and tugs her inside the house for ice cream.
The library is quiet and still, the only sound the turning of pages and the dull thump of ancient books hitting the desk, the only movement coming from students shifting to find more comfortable positions in which to write or scribble notes on scrap pieces of parchment.
"Did you know that dragon blood is a more effective oven cleaner than Mrs. Scower's Magical Mess Remover?" Rose asks idly, her legs swinging on the edge of her chair. She ignores the feeling of her skirt riding a little higher on her legs in favour of scribbling down the fact on a bit of parchment torn from Scorpius' ream of notes.
"Really?" he responds vaguely, flicking the page to reveal another wrinkled page stained with ink and what looks disturbingly like blood. "Can you pass me that book over there? The Potions one with the navy blue cover," he adds, pointing at the book over the top of his current one, his eyes not leaving the page.
Rose sighs. She might be a Ravenclaw, and she might love to learn, but Scorpius' studying habits always get on her nerves. From a few weeks before the beginning of exams until the end, he is rarely torn apart from his beloved books – except for Quidditch, of course. Deciding that her time would be better spent irritating him into going outside, since he's far too pasty for a boy of sixteen, she leans over the rough side of her seat and jabs him just under the ribs like he enjoys doing to her. He refuses to look at her, and she's annoyed enough to increase her force to make him pay attention to her.
"What are you doing?" Scorpius asks, looking up and raising a perfectly arched platinum eyebrow in derision.
"I'm stabbing you in the side with my fingernails, what does it look like I'm doing?" she quips, raising her neck to look awkwardly up at him, still sprawled across the chair.
"Why would you do that? Really, Rose," he chides, returning to his studying like there are magnets connecting his eyes and the book perched in his hands.
"Really, Scorpius," she mimics childishly in a high pitched tone, and sighs again, searching around the room for something to do. Catching a glimpse of Molly and Lysander curled up on the floor together at the back of the library, a tune starts playing in her head, and her fingers itch to write down the score like they haven't done for a while. She remembers being twelve or thirteen, and writing hundreds of songs that she and Lydia would sing in silly voices as they danced around their dorm. She hasn't sung since then, except for the obligatory happy birthday song, and it is only now that she realises how much she misses it.
The next hour is spent coiled up on the floor beside her chair, writing frantically on both sides of any parchment she can get her hands on, lyrics and melodies spilling out of her and onto the page until her quill breaks and her hands are stained black with ink.
"Rose, c'mon, we have to go. Curfew is in a few minutes," she hears a voice say, and she opens bleary eyes to see Scorpius' face hovering inches above hers, and she wonders drowsily how he would react if she just reached up and kissed him. She must have fallen asleep, she assumes and brushes off her earlier dim thoughts, scooping up her sheaf of scattered parchment to follow him blindly out of the library and up the stairs to their respective dorm rooms.
"Goodnight Scor," she sleepily bids him goodbye, loitering in the entrance to her dormitory, papers in hand.
"Goodnight Rose. Sleep well," he replies, his voice soft and warm and maybe a little amused, and his eyes linger a little too long on her drowsy form. She doesn't think too much about it, though, and falls asleep the minute her head hits her pillow, her conscience whispering of things she would never imagine if she were awake.
A broom swoops above her head, and everyone in the stand ducks to get out of the seeker's way, the harsh giggles of a few insipid girls tearing at the gorgeous blue sky above them. Rose wraps her blue and silver scarf tightly around her neck and cheers loudly as Lyndon scores, the Gryffindor keeper barely missing the Ravenclaw's shot by the tips of his outstretched fingers.
"And Malfoy seems to have spotted the Snitch!" Louis commentates, the crowd turning as one to stare as the Ravenclaw seeker streaks across the sky in pursuit. Rose smirks at Phoebe in victory, a terrible habit she hasn't been able to avoid picking up after spending so much time with the likes of Albus and Scorpius, though she feels as if her look is justified. She's just about to win her yearlong bet with Phoebe that Ravenclaw will win the Quidditch Cup, though Phoebe is backing Gryffindor, of course.
"You better win, Scorpius!" she screeches as the crowd roars around her, her words torn away by the wind, though she swears that he looks back at her and winks before diving for the ground, chasing a tiny speck of gold dust through the long grass. His hand closes around the Snitch seconds later, and he raises his arm as the whistle blows, the crowd erupting in cheers, apart from most of the Gryffindors.
She rushes down the steps and onto the pitch, Albus and Phoebe following close behind her. The multitude of spectators spill onto the pitch and surround the players, consoling, booing or celebrating, depending on their respective teams or houses. One lean player is still airborne, and their knot of loyal Ravenclaws (and Albus and Phoebe) waits until their winning seeker's feet have barely touched the ground before descending on him, the squeals of the banal girls from earlier echoing in the wind.
Rose is the closest, and she rushes towards him, flinging her arms around his neck in triumph. "We won! We won!" she exclaims, unable to decipher where exactly this excitement is coming from, because she's never been the greatest fan of Quidditch, particularly when compared to her Quidditch obsessed family. "You did great," she whispers in his ear, feeling his arms encircle her waist.
"Thanks," he breathes back, the eye of the storm that is the celebrating fans jumping around them. Feeling slightly strange, she draws away and presses a flamboyant kiss to Scorpius' cheek, not noticing the dull flush that spreads over his cheek at the contact.
"Well, I'm going to go collect my galleons before Phoebe forgets like last year. She's worse than Professor Longbottom sometimes," she tells him with a grin and bounces away to link her arm with Phoebe's and remind the Gryffindor that she owes her five Galleons.
The trio burst through the doorway of the Burrow in a disharmony of sound, Phoebe's high pitched giggles clear above Rose and Scorpius's huskier laughter as they collapse into a heap in the doorway. Albus follows sedately behind with his newest girlfriend, who has been invited over for the day and looks distinctly unimpressed, as does Albus. Rose looks up at the two and is endlessly amused by the matching raised eyebrows adorning their expressions, her laughter beginning anew.
"Ignore my cousin and honorary cousins – they seem to have misplaced their sanity this summer," he tells his girlfriend dryly, who nods sagely, looking away from the tangle of bodies. She grabs onto his arm and pulls him away, claiming to want to see his collection of snitches, and Albus throws a wink in Rose's direction before allowing himself to be towed away.
"Rose... you're sitting... on my stomach," a voice wheezes from beneath the chuckling pair, and Rose remembers with a start how she dragged Scorpius through the doorway by the hand, and blushes a guilty red.
"Whoops!" she exclaims, leaping off him and then helping Phoebe to her feet. Scorpius stands, raking a hand through his hair with a strange look in his eyes, which Rose has no time to ask about. There is a far more urgent matter at hand – namely, Scorpius' appearance.
She and Phoebe look him up and down, exchange glances, and start laughing again, clutching their stomachs and each other for support at the sight of the usually elegant Scorpius Malfoy with his hair sticking up on end, his shirt halfway off one shoulder. Taking pity on him, a decision swayed by his puppy eyes and completely miserable expression, Rose holds back her laughter for long enough to help him, though Phoebe is not so merciful.
Rose quickly tugs his shirt back on his shoulder, her fingers brushing his collarbone which makes him blush for some reason, a trait they both share. Running a hand through his platinum locks with significantly more success than he had, she steps back and surveys him with satisfaction.
"You look lovely, oh vain one," she teases with a wink, so intent on making fun of him that she doesn't see Roxanne slipping into the room behind her and greeting Phoebe, so it is with great shock that she turns around to find the two mid-lip lock. It's still a bit strange for her, even after two years, but she knows that Phoebe needs her to at least act supportive, so she makes sure her grin is lazy and friendly and everything it should be.
"Oh, off with you two - Scorpius and I will have to make do with each other for company," she waves them off with a mock sigh, though she when she turns to Scorpius her smile is genuine. "Care to accompany me into the garden, good sir?"
"I would love to, beautiful lady," he replies, his gaze a little too intense for her, and she looks away on the pretence of heading for the door, comfortably linking her arm with his, the staple of her and Phoebe's friendship.
"Excellent. Shall we proceed?" she queries with a laugh, and without waiting for an answer she pulls him towards the door, ignoring the sounds they can hear coming from upstairs, and draws him out into the garden. Since she was a little girl, she has always loved sitting in the shadow of the giant tree that supports their treehouse, so it is there that she leads him, chatting all the while.
Conversation between them is always easy, and she ignores his constant need to have some part of him touching her, deciding that it probably stems from a lack of physical affection as a kid.
"Why do you all come to the Burrow in summer?" Scorpius asks suddenly, fluidly switching topics and looking at her in interest. "You, Albus – all your cousins treat this place like you live here, rather than your actual homes."
"It's gorgeous out here in summer, and everyone just comes here. We used to stay with our grandparents a lot when we were younger, and I guess we just got used to being around each other all the time. Mum says Grandma Molly used to get lonely with just her and Granddad around," she replies with a laugh, settling into the curve of the tree and stretching out her feet. "Besides, we couldn't miss our paintball games, could we?" she adds, grinning wryly, an expression he matches.
"We couldn't have that." His response is both amused and fond, and with a start she realises that Scorpius has become as much part of the family as Teddy is. The thought is both strange and welcome, and she stands up, feeling a little restless.
"C'mon," she says, tugging on his hand until he reluctantly gets up. "I want to show you something." She pulls him round to the other side of the tree, where a long twisted rope ladder lies against the trunk, secured by gigantic metal staples that hold it to the tree. "Come one, then!" she urges, and starts to climb. Halfway up the tree, she realises that she's badly out of practice of tree climbing, and resolves to practice more before the next paintball contest. There's an awkward moment at the top of the ladder when she has difficulty getting her foot untangled from the ladder so she can actually get into the treehouse, Scorpius' head bumping against her legs, but they sort it out eventually, and soon enough they're lying side by side on the floor of the treehouse and facing the window.
"What time is it?" she questions, and with a brief glance at his watch, he tells her that it's half past five in the afternoon. "Just wait," she adds, and refuses to answer his questions. He'll know it when he sees it.
It's two past six in the evening when it happens, the blue sky darkening slowly, the sun dipping below the horizon in a blaze like ink stained fire, and from their vantage point in the treetops it looks like magic. Even better than magic.
"It's amazing, isn't it?" she asks, titling her head in Scorpius' direction, and he nods slowly, returning her glance.
"It's beautiful," he says, and there is nothing for them to say after that. They sit in a comfortable silence, her mind swirling with flashes of the sunset and snatches of song lyrics that blur together perfectly, and for the first time since that moment the previous year in the library, she has a fully formed song dancing in her mind.
She scrabbles around in the lopsidedly stacked crates and table drawers for a notebook and a quill, even a pen – she knows she must have left some here from her last visit, even if it was years ago. She thinks she hears Scorpius sigh, but pays little attention, having just come across a sheaf of parchment and an old Muggle pen.
And so they sit until Grandma Molly calls them down for dinner, Rose resting against Scorpius and pouring out her thoughts onto sheets of crushed parchment with a leaking pen, looking up every now and then to find Scorpius glancing at her, his eyes as dark as the sky.
Rose pauses midway through a mouthful of Pumpkin juice as an owl wings its way towards her and lands on Scorpius' plate, its claws sinking into his bacon, which it promptly starts pecking at.
"Bad Hera," she murmurs absently, her eyes scanning the letter as Scorpius tries unsuccessfully to remove the owl from his breakfast, though it seems as stubborn as its owner, and refuses to move.
"Rose," he complains, and she mutely pushes her own plate across, to which he has apparently no objections, since he doesn't make another sound as she continues to read.
Since we haven't heard from you since Easter, I thought I would remind you that the Ministry Ball is occurring on the second of May, as per usual, and since you are of age now you're expected to come. That's in three weeks.
I know you hate dancing, but it's to celebrate your Uncle, and Phoebe can always come with you. There's raspberry pudding, if that incites you to come.
Parvati will be sending along some dresses for the both of you to try on – don't rip them, Rose!
Hoping you are all right,
Rose puts the letter down, scowling at it as if hoping it will spontaneously combust.
"That's the best thing about coming of age – all the adults assume that means you're grown up enough to go to all the parties," Phoebe remarks excitedly, apparently having read the entire letter over Rose's shoulder.
"You know I hate parties, Phee. Can't we poison ourselves, or something? Scorpius is brilliant at potions, I'm sure he can come up with something that won't kill us," Rose responds enthusiastically, waving in Scorpius' direction, who adopts a deer in the headlights look.
"Well, I'm going anyway. Roxy asked me while we were at the Burrow, and I've got a dress already," Phoebe responds, shrugging her shoulders at the look her best friend gives her. "What? I like dancing. Take Scorpius, or Lydia, or someone."
"You can't take Lydia," Albus interrupts, pushing a tiny first year out of his seat and replacing him. "I'm going with her."
"Really, Lydia? You hate Lydia. You think she's the most insipid Head Girl that ever existed," Rose comments, glancing suspiciously at her cousin, who is looking incredibly smug for this time of the morning. "Have you even asked her?"
In answer, he stands up and walks a few steps down the table, bending down to whisper something in the Ravenclaw girl's ear, to which she nods emphatically. Returning to the group, he sits elegantly back down in his seat, looking for all the world like a prince without a crown.
"Of course I've asked her," he replies smoothly, and Rose gapes incredulously at him. Shaking her head at his antics, she returns to the more important matter at hand.
"Guess I'll go with Scorpius, then. What do you say, sir? Want to accompany Cinderella to the ball?" she asks, mentioning a Muggle fairytale she had been forced to read as a little girl.
"What's a Cinderella?" Scorpius asks, confused, but then nods. "Sure, Rose, I'd love to," he replies, and it hits her then that she's going to a dance, where it's quite likely she'll make a fool of herself, with Scorpius, no less.
"Will I have to wear dress robes?" he queries, drawing her attention back to him.
"I think Astoria might kill you if you disgraced her by showing up wearing regular robes," she teases him light-heartedly, because Astoria might be strict, but she isn't as irrational as her sister was when Rose met her that one time two summers ago. Her mind snaps back to the last fifteen seconds of their conversation; Scorpius will be wearing dress robes for the third time since they've met, and the first two were when they were much younger, so it doesn't really count. They'll be black, most likely, knowing him, and he'll probably look really handsome. Of course he will, he's Scorpius, he always looks handsome, she thinks, and is completely taken aback by her thoughts. Yeah, she's always thought that Scorpius was cute, but never handsome, and she's never imagined dancing with him or kissing him – at least not in a favourable light.
She glances sidelong at him, trying to discern if he was wearing anything different that made her think like this, because it's wrong and it has to stop, because he won't like her back at all, of course he won't.
She slumps back in her chair, completely stunned, as the chatter continues around her. Merlin, what is her life? She's going to a ball with one of her best male friends who she may or may not like as more than a friend, a fact that she only realised just this second, and she's fairly certain that he doesn't think of her in that way at all.
The next few weeks fly by faster than she wants them too, with far more dresses and make up than she wants them to contain, and far less Scorpius than she wants there to be. She hasn't been alone for too long – if it isn't Phoebe forcing her to try on yet another dress Parvati, the owner of Madam Malkin's and long-time friend of her parents, has sent over, it's Lydia asking questions about how much Albus likes her, to which she always replies that she has no idea.
"Rosie!" someone calls behind her, and she groans because it's probably another family member asking yet another favour of her, because only her family, minus Albus, calls her Rosie.
"Rosie, Rosie, will you do me a favour?" pants a breathless Hugo as he catches up to her, and she stops in the middle of the corridor to listen to him, resisting the urge to just say no as she knows Albus would have done. She shakes her head; clearly she has spent way too much with this harsher version of Albus over the years.
"What do you need?" she asks, unwilling to betray her weariness in front of her happy-go-lucky brother, who takes every sigh as a personal accusation.
"Can you be Ella's back up for the Ministry Ball? You know how they usually get that lady singer for it, but she contracted some kind of fever disease, so she can't do it this year? Well, Mum suggested our band, which is awesome," Hugo exclaims excitedly, waving his hands around for emphasis.
"Hugo, what do you need?" she repeats, trying to get their conversation back on track so she can meet Scorpius in the library for the first time in a week.
"Oh, right. Well, me and Ella were thinking that we might like to, y'know, dance and stuff, but we need someone to sing in her place for like an hour. Will you do it, Rosie? Please?" he pleads, and he looks so desperate that she doesn't have the heart to say no. It gets her out of dancing for a while, anyway.
"Yes, Hugo, I'll cover for you while you sneak off and snog your girlfriend while she wears a moderately revealing dress," she agrees with a laugh, and hugs him back when he leaps on her. The two of them really are too cute, and Hugo, unlike her, actually likes these ball things, though he's usually not allowed to go.
"I expect you to do my chores over the summer!" she calls after him as he dashes off, presumably to tell Ella the news. Looking at her dented watch, she sighs when she realises it's twenty minutes until curfew, and heads off for the library. Maybe she'll be able to catch Scorpius before he leaves.
The last notes of the song die away, and Rose inhales deeply in a futile attempt to get her breath back, her cheeks flushing crimson. Over the course of the last hour, she's realised just how out of practice she is, and much like her tree climbing, resolves to practice much, much more, because every time she sings she falls more and more in love with the feeling of it.
She steps down from the dais, the ends of her long silver dress swirling around her feet, and looks up at Scorpius' approach.
"Want to get out of here?" he greets her, looking over his shoulder, where she can see the outline of a very female figure determinedly making her way towards the two of them, and she's surprised at the rush of possessiveness she feels at the thought of Scorpius and someone other than her.
"Sure. Ella and Hugo should be here soon, anyway," she replies cheerfully, pulling herself together enough to wave at the approaching pair, who are also coming towards them. She links her arm with Scorpius' and lets him lead the way to wherever he wants to go, her arm slipping slightly to curve around his wrist when he moves.
They end up in the courtyard near the Great Hall, the wind rustling fiercely through the trees and scattering leaves to the ground. He pulls her over to a bench leaning against the wall, ignoring her complaints about the weather, and she gratefully takes a seat, immediately pulling off her glittery shoes and throwing them into the closest bush. They exist in a comfortable silence for a while, Rose trying to accomplish sitting down in a dress, something she hadn't had much practice at before.
"Why was she-"
"I didn't get to-"
Rose laughs as their voices overlap, both of them attempting to speak at the same time. "You first," she tells him with a grand gesture and a failure of a posh accent.
"I didn't have the chance to tell you earlier – you look beautiful," he says with that intense gaze of his, but unlike all those other times she doesn't look away. She smiles, and the ensuing silence is overwhelming as she tries to figure out whether he means it, what he means by it, all the different responses and reasons colliding and crashing until she says the first thing that comes to mind.
"Did you know I think I like you as more than friends?" she blurts, and immediately looks horrified at herself, her cheeks and ear burning a bright, unflattering scarlet that seems stained into her skin.
"Did you know I do too?" he replies, his eyes burning more intensely than ever, and leans imperceptibly closer, his eyes on her lips.
"You like yourself as more than friends?" she tries to joke, because there's too much to deal with and the pressure is getting to her. Every sound seems amplified to her ears – the howling of the wind, a little bird squalling in a nearby nest, all of it.
"No, Rose," he corrects her gently, an amused smile flitting across his lips and some of his intensity drops away, leaving him the same Scorpius she knows and might one day love. "I like you."
"I really want to kiss you right now," she confesses, the barrier between her mind and her mouth, while usually quite thin, seems completely gone right now. "But I've never kissed anyone before."
His breath is warm and tingly on her lips as he leans closer, stopping when they are inches apart, reminiscent of a moment in a library long ago. "Neither have I," he confesses, and unlike in that moment a year before, she has the motivation to kiss him. She places her hand on the back of his head, curling her fingers in his hair because she knows he'll hate it, and pushes their faces together so their lips almost touch. There is only a tiny sliver of air between them, and the intensity is back again, so she's far from surprised when he makes the final move and bonds them together in a kiss that is all teeth and lips and clumsiness. She's breathless when she pulls back, and for the first time she thinks she might understand what love means.
"I think we might need some practice," Scorpius remarks, sounding incredibly composed, and she wants to hate him for it but she can't, because his hands are lingering on her waist and his eyes betray the fact that he's as high on kissing as she is.
"Practice is good," she replies shakily, and leans forward to kiss him again. Later, she remembers to ask if they're actually together now, and his look confirms all the things that words could say but don't express well enough, but he answers anyway ("yes, of course").
They've gotten it right on the first try, without drama or heartbreak or true hatred getting in the way, and she can only hope that they can always be this effortless. They won't, of course, but she can hope. They're an almost perfect fairytale with an imperfect princess and a flawed prince charming, but she's never really been the damsel in distress type anyway, and this unfairytale is more than enough for her.
a/n2 Ahh, my first 10K is finished, and my first ever RoseScorpius. I would just adore some feedback for this fic, as I'm actually quite nervous about it.
If you're confused about the paintballing segment, it's explained much more clearly in these endless days of summer.
Please review, and please no favouriting without reviewing! =]