I've never written anything quite like this. Weird. It's not AS cliché. And only 98% of it is angst. WHAT IS THIS AND WHERE DID IT COME FROM?

Word count: 3481

Song to listen to: 'Daydreamer', Adele.

It's wintertime but the air tastes of strawberries and blindingly bright sunlight. She's walking, by herself as always, up to school. The corners of her mouth quirk downwards and her eyes are moist, though she'd swear that was just the cold tearing against them. She's in her uniform of choice, all black, and it sets fire to her hair. Maybe she could be breathtaking, but she's Rose Weasley, so she isn't even the least bit pretty to him.

He grins, eyes alight with something that seems malicious but everyone finds charming. His gloved hands pack around some snow, patting it into a perfect sphere.

"There," he says to a boy standing next to him, "it's perfect," and it is, because he's Scorpius Malfoy and everything he touches is perfect and almost as deadly.

With a smirk he winds his arm back and throws it at her. It flies true, reaching its target almost instantly. He doesn't duck, run, or hide, but just smiles at her cruelly. She shivers as it melts down her neck, sending droplets of still-cold water down her spine. She'd say the wind picked up and tore further at her eyes, but in all actuality, she just began to cry. He laughed, a mean sound that sounded so full of hate that her scattered tears turned to sobs and she ran away, back home to the books and cozy chairs that would never so taunt her.

:::

It had been three years since they met. He was a vicious little boy with a pale complexion and narrowed eyes, as graceful as a snake and just as full of venom. She had been a clumsy child, and never outgrew her bumbling. She was a small girl, the shortest in her class, and as thin as a stick. As the years passed, neither changed. She stayed awkward and he stayed mean and she was fire and he was ice though he was often the one to burn her.

She could never hate anyone. She doesn't believe in hate, the same way some people don't believe in nargles. She doesn't believe in hate in exactly the way he doesn't believe in love. She believes in stories and the healing power of words, she believes in big cups of tea and curling up in velvet chair at odd hours of the night. She believes in day dreams and that the world can be changed if only one tries hard enough.

He could never love anyone. He doesn't believe in love, in all that mushy stuff that makes people stupid. He believes in cutting remarks and sarcastic laughter and winning. He believes that second place is just another name for first loser and he refuses to be anything but the best. And he doesn't believe in fear because fear makes people stupid and he refuses to be made a fool.

:::

He sees her hurry away and pretends that it doesn't bother him that there are tears glistening on her cheeks.

"Do it again!" A blond to his left shrieks. She's outfitted in a green and silver scarf and a twisted smile. She hands him a snowball, "I dare you," she says, her voice high pitched and bordering on a whine.

"As you wish," he takes it from the girl, smoothing an uneven seem to ensure its perfection. The girl hadn't formed it right, she had packed it quite hard, but he figures it'd fly farther and Rose was gaining some distance, anyway. The girl smiles and it seems so cold he thinks that she has frozen to the spot.

She can't breathe. She is sprawled on the ground, her mouth full of snow, and she can't breathe. She hears pathetic gasping noises and realizes slowly that they are coming from her mouth. Her back is aching so badly her thoughts begin to blur and she thinks that this may be the end. She thinks she may hate Malfoy, if this is what hate feels like. She is cold and she's not sure if that's coming from inside or outside of her prostrate form.

"Damn," the blond says, giggling at the prone figure, "you missed her head."

"What was in that," Scorpius faces her, his eyes cloudy with unreadable thoughts, "rocks?" And he starts to feel something akin to panic because it doesn't look like she's breathing and it'll get him a shit-load of detentions if he killed her.

"Just a bit of ice," the girl says, beaming at him.

"Merlin," he mutters, and runs towards the girl. She's just lying there still, and he curses himself for doing something so stupid. His father will kill him if he gets expelled.

He's coming towards her and she wants to curl into a ball, but she still can't seem to breathe or even move and the world is spinning and she's so, so cold. She finally takes one shuddering breath and all the clear air rushes to her relieved lungs. She can feel a bruise blooming on her back, green and black and purple creeping across her pale skin, claiming territory marked by freckled borders. He leans down and peers at her.

"Why are you so mean?" She asks him, and then there's a flurry of people they're all asking her if she's alright, and she tries to tell them no, because this feeling of hating someone is so bitter and cold and she doesn't like it one bit, but they don't listen because they're not really wondering if she's alright but they feel like they should ask. Someone helps her up and escorts her to the hospital wing though she'll never find the remedy she needs there.

:::

He can't stop thinking about her simple words and the perplexed expression on her face as she uttered them. He can't stop thinking about how she looked like she was broken and he felt like he was weak.

He had won but something didn't feel right and he couldn't place exactly what was off.

When he dreams that night, it is of fire sprawled across a plane of ice, gradually swallowing it into nothingness.

:::

A professor with no hair save for a few unnaturally long strands that stick from his nose and ears tells her that the boy has gotten two months detention. She protests, telling the man that he didn't mean to. He doesn't listen.

She finds it exceptionally easy to get lost, and enjoys every peaceful moment of it. She wanders the deserted castle, thankful for being one of the handful of students to stay home over break, thankful for the tranquility of emptiness. Silence is good, the absence of noise is the absence of cruel jeers and mean taunts. Emptiness is its own vesicle, allowing from enough quiet to truly enjoy the pleasures of a good book and a daydream.

"Weasley?" He asks, seeing the girl wandering down a hall. He's stayed at school over the holiday because home is hostile, filled with the hissing serpents of his father's words, and he hates the way they worm into his ears and never leave his mind. In Hogwarts he is revered, admired for his viciousness and cool attitude, so he stays.

She stops abruptly at the sound of his voice.

He doesn't know why he called out to her, but he can't stop thinking about her gray eyes, glassy with tears and he can't rid himself of the image of her hair blooming out over the crisp whiteness of the snow and the quiet sound of her penetrating words.

"Please don't," she whispers, and it sounds like a prayer but he knows she's not the deity she's begging to.

"I just wanted to say," he starts, but she interrupts him, keeping her back turned in his direction to hide that face that he's just now remembering to be rather pretty.

"Please don't," she says again, "just don't. You've done your damage. Please, just let me alone," she takes a step forward, and then another and another, escaping first tentatively, but then faster.

He wants to touch her shoulder, to look her in the eye and tell her he's so sorry for everything, but she sounds desperate to be rid of him. He doesn't blame her. "Rose," her name sounds familiar in his mouth, like he's said it a thousand times before. She freezes in her retreat. "Rose,"

Her hair flies out in an arc, a ring of fire flinging through the air as she turns on her heel to face him. "Stop it, stop it, stop it. Don't you dare. Haven't you put me through enough? Aren't you satisfied? I can't," her voice breaks and she's angrier than she's ever been in her entire life, but also rather sad and the combination makes her feel more vulnerable than every before, "I can't handle this right now. Just stop."

"I'm sorry," he says simply, trying to meet her eyes, but she trains them on the ground and he thinks they would look like a storm if only they were visible.

She takes a shuddering breath, "I think that's the cruelest thing you've ever said to me."

She leaves and he stands there for an hour, dumbfounded. His chest feels funny, like it's tightening painfully and it occurs to him that she might be right.

:::

She doesn't cry because she's promised herself that she will never shed another tear for him and his mean, mean words. She finds a corner and hides herself in it and sets herself to the impossible task of forgetting all of her thoughts. The silence is lovely and she thinks that she could handle an existence such as this one, hidden away in a secret crevice for the rest of eternity. She had been planning on going to the library, but it now feels like a place for people, and she's decided she doesn't want to be a person. She wants to be a wall, or a bench, or a cat with white whiskers and jet black fur. She wants to never think or feel because all she can think about is that queer inflection of his voice when he apologized and all she can feel is hatred. And she hates it. And she hates him more because she's not supposed to hate people, and now look at what he's done to her. And she hates him even more for not doing as he's supposed to and making an idiotic but obvious insult. He's now turned to lying and she can't handle it because it sounds too close to honesty. It's easier to hate him when he's being outrightly mean.

:::

It's three days later and the hours have stretched on infinitely for him, every minute seeming to continue for a century. He can't stop thinking about her and it's driving him insane because he can't catch more than a glimpse of the girl before she whips around a corner and is gone. His mind is playing tricks on him, playing back all the cruel jabs he's thrown her way and how every time he'd say something she wouldn't look surprised. She rarely reacted, but he kept pushing at her to see what would happen when she did. She never talked to him, but the moment she opened her lips and asked him the most honest question he had ever heard, he found out what would happen when she reacted. He had finally solved the mystery that had been casually plaguing him for years. She talked to him and he-

He didn't fall in love with her.

He didn't.

No, really, he didn't fall in love with her.

He just felt rather odd and his heart felt rather strange and all of a sudden everything was very, very complicated. He just thought about her all the time, and longed to tell her that she wouldn't leave his mind.

But he wasn't in love with her.

Three am finds her curled up in a chair in the library, fast asleep among the books. The librarian, a petite woman with spindly limbs and hair that looked like a bird had nested in it, often recommended books to the avid reader. The two were as close to friendship as one could ever be with an authority figure, and so the librarian didn't mind if Rose stayed in the library after hours so long as she didn't cause any trouble.

He's in the library looking for a sign, wandering aimlessly among the thousands of stories just to get away from his own. His perfect life feels shallow and stupid under the dim lights, all those he calls friends seem more like admirers and he honestly can't remember the last time he told anyone how he felt.

He thinks he imagined her. He encounters her in the fiction section, a collection of silly muggle stories about friendship and love and other things that he might dismiss as nonsense but he can't even bother to because there she is, fast asleep. She looks angelic, the moonlight hitting her face in all the right places. She's luminous and his stomach sinks as he realizes he's getting very, very stupid because all he's thought about for the past week has been her.

Once upon a time, at this discovery he would've drawn on her face or else cast a spell to dye her hair chartreuse. He observes her for a few moments more before extracting his wand from his back pocket. He considers her peaceful figure and then casts a spell will a pained expression.

:::

She wakes up and something feels different. Her hand instinctively reaches to her hair, trying to twist it around her fingers to make sense of the change. She can't find a fiery strand. She reaches higher, beginning to panic.

She screams.

Her hair is a few centimeters long, not even brushing the pale expanse of her forehead.

:::

"You asshole!" She shrieks when she finds him in a hallway. His head moves so quickly that she thinks his neck might snap. She hopes it does.

"You look nice," he says pleasantly and she turns red with fury.

"I hate you!" She screams and angry tears prickle at her eyes.

"I love you," he tells her mildly.

She starts sobbing and he can't find any more words. He takes long strides and gets so close to her that he can smell the strawberry of her shampoo. Without thinking, he kisses her.

She pushes him back, her nails pressing into his chest as she shoves him away. "I was wrong," she says after a moment of composing herself, "that was the meanest thing you've ever said to me."

And he feels like he's splitting in two because, for once, he really did mean it.

:::

She speaks to another girl, a pretty third year with black hair and green slanted eyes that make the teen look beautifully feline. The conversation begins when the latter compliments her short crop, telling her it frames her face perfectly. Rose accepts the compliment with a blush and the two talk for hours.

He watches from a shadowed corner, smiling to himself. Her hair frames her face instead of hiding it now. She looks beautiful.

:::

"I meant it," he tells her one afternoon when she stumbles upon him on the grounds.

"As did I," she tells him, and that's that.

:::

It's Christmas eve and snow is falling silently, painting the land a flawless silver. It had snowed earlier in the year, but this is different, special, because there's no magic like a white Christmas.

A shoddily wrapped parcel appears at her door, its bow crooked and its wrapping paper wrinkled. She leaves it be until curiosity overcomes her and she has to lift a corner for a small peek. A box, a plain cardboard box. That's all it is, and a box isn't tempting at all, right? It's ugly and usual and not in the least mysterious.

She pulls one seam, watching the latched top come apart to reveal its contents.

Another box. Smaller, and covered in black velvet.

"Earrings," a voice purrs- his, of course. He hates himself for spoiling the surprise, but he couldn't stand the indifferent look on her face. He wants her to be impressed, to be dazzled. He wants her to love him back.

She whirls around to face him, and her face is a tempest and her eyes are two storms and he thinks that she's never looked fiercer and never looked more beautiful than she does right now.

"Just stop this, it isn't funny anymore." She snaps.

"Good!" He says, his voice low, "it was never meant to be."

She exhales loudly, fighting to keep her emotions in check, "why won't you just let me alone?"

"Because I'm in love with you!" He screams and it's louder than any sound he's ever heard. The words echo back to her ears, sounding cruel and false and she can't help it, she begins to cry.

She had always loved romance novels, pretty stories with heroines that swooned and men that declared passionately their love. She had always hoped for someone to love her enough to scream it from the mountaintops, cry it where the whole world could hear that this awkward, bumbling, ugly girl was the subject of someone gloriously brave's attentions.

And he was mocking all that with his awful sneer and malicious eyes.

"Just stop mocking me," she whispers, gulping down tears, "just stop. Please, just let me alone."

"Rose," her name tastes sweet in his mouth and he feels his stomach soar and he's never been more sure that this is love, "I'm not lying. I'm not mocking you. I love you. And I'm sorry for everything before but-"

"There are no 'but's, Malfoy," she hisses, her eyes narrowing, "you made my life a living hell. You taunted me and jeered at me and actually hit me with a ball of ice! You made me hate myself and you made me hate you and neither was supposed to happen. It was all your fault and it is all your fault and I will never, not ever, forgive you for that. I don't hate people but now I hate both of us, though, to be clear, I do, and always will, hate you most of all. So there are no 'but's. If you loved me, you wouldn't have made my life so miserable, you flea infested, dirty bag of b-"

He's kissing her and she tastes like peppermint and smells like strawberries. Everything inside of him is quivering and he thinks his skin is the only thing holding him to the earth right now. "I mean it, I mean it, I mean it," he mutters against the warm skin of her neck. "And," his lips graze her ear, "I am so, so sorry." He pulls her back for a moment, studying her with his bright blue eyes, "Let me help you make me make it up to you."

He could've sworn she smiled a little.

:::

"You're crazy," her cheeks are red with cold and her eyelashes are glittering with delicate snowflakes.

"Do it!" He calls from a few meters away, arms spread straight out. She squeezes her eyes shut and pulls her arm back, "you aren't going to hit me that way!" He yells, and she touches her left index finger to her lips. After a moment, her eyes still closed, the snowball leaves her ungloved hand and arcs through the air.

"Bloody hell," he shrieks, "that's cold!"

"I know," she tells him, moving just a little closer.

He closes the gap between the two, taking her cold hand into his own. "I am so, unimaginably sorry."

She kisses him this time, and he thinks that the freckles across the bridge of her nose may form more significant constellations than the stars in the sky. They break apart to breathe for a moment, foreheads still touching. Her hands rest on his chest, rising and falling with his breath. With a smirk so minuscule it's almost invisible, she pushes.

"Holy shit!" He screams. She grins and lays down next to him, the cold ice cooling her flushed skin.

"Don't be such a baby," she tells him, kissing his cheek.

"Dear world," he calls up to the sky, "I am in love with the most beautiful girl in the entire universe, Rose Weasley!"

She clears her throat a little, "and I don't think Scorpius Malfoy is too terrible," she tells the stars.

"Hey!" He grins, pushing a little snow onto still frame.

She sighs loudly, "okay, I guess I might like him a little bit."

:::

And, of course, they live happily ever after.