So, an explanation about this whole war thingy, just in case anybody was at all interested. I thought that, sometime in the future, it's kind of plausible that a war would break out. I mean, you can only get so many people on the planet before we start to fight for resources (food, water, oil, etc.). Obviously, I'm no expert, but I thought it would be interesting to include it into the story as I've never read a wartime Scorpius/Rose story before. I tried to make them both as different as I could from the other Scorpiuses and Roses that I've done previously, and I have to say that these were my favourites to write.
Nothing really prepared her for it, even though she had known it was going to happen since she had first had that conversation with him. The reality of it was something so different to the imagined version that she felt like both laughing and crying.
They had been sitting at the Gryffindor table - students frequently sat on other tables now; the teachers just didn't have the time or energy to care - when Albus has casually slipped into the conversation that he had signed up and was going to fight once term ended. The table immediately broke into an uproar, most of the people worried and at the same time excited, others shaking their heads in disappointment. One or two found his announcement so uninteresting that they didn't even acknowledge it.
"But you're not finished with Hogwarts yet!" Rose cried in horror. Next to her, Lily was nodding speechlessly, staring at her brother in shock.
"Pfft. I'm seventeen. I'm allowed to sign up if I want to," Albus waved his hand dismissively. "It's not as if I'm going to be alone, anyway. Eric and Scorpius are coming with me."
Another uproar as Eric, a brash seventh-year who was known for acting before thinking, and Scorpius were beset by questions by their fellow students. Rose didn't notice the sudden rise in volume around her, though. To her, the world had gone incredibly silent and slow. Her heart was pounding uncomfortably in her chest. She stabbed weakly at a potato on her plate. He hadn't even told her himself. It wasn't as though she could just be told gently, little bit by little bit, was it? No. She had to be told all at once that Albus and Scorpius were both going.
She felt tears prick at her eyes. Those stupid, stupid children. Did they think it was all a game? People weredying out there, yet all they could do was boast about how they had signed up and were going to avenge all those deaths. Oh, she was sure that had thought a bit about the hardships, but to them it wasn't real enough. It wasn't real to her, either, but the difference was that she at least acknowledged that she didn't know it all. They thought they that they knew all of it, that it would be as simple as reading those war books. She had seen Victoire's face when her cousin had received news that Teddy was hurt, had watched as Victoire made the decision to fight by her husband's side.
Her heart feeling as though hundreds of stones had been placed upon it, she chewed her potato and swallowed. Then she pushed her plate away and politely excused herself - not that anybody heard; they were too busy talking about that stupid war. Rose stumbled away from the Great Hall, walking blindly. She just wanted to be away from it all, away from that noise and enthusiasm, away from the pain of the students who had had family members die as a result of the fighting. Her own pain was enough at the moment.
She opened the door of an empty classroom, shutting it softly behind her. Rose didn't even bother to cast a Silencing spell on the door - it didn't matter; enough students cried nowadays that people would walk on by without being too suspicious. That stupid dictionary word, 'jingoism', flew through her head again. This time, though, she associated it with not just Scorpius but with Albus, Eric and the many others who had leaned forwards at that table and declared that they wished they could fight.
Fighting wasn't always a bad thing, Rose was sure. Victoire's choice to fight with her husband was noble, devoted. Some who fought did so because they truly wanted to help, truly believed there was no other choice. Albus, Scorpius, Eric and those others... they wanted to fight for the glory of it, because the idea appealed to them. All their generation had grown up with the tale of heroic Harry Potter who had fought and won against the Dark Lord. It sounded so simple, so easy. Rose knew it wasn't and she hated that Albus didn't seem to realise that. Harry was his father, after all. He should know better than anybody that war wasn't so easily solved.
The tears slid down her cheeks, cold and unfeeling. She was crying unlike she had ever cried before. These tears were distant, there only because she had to vent her hurt in some way and Rose had never been the kind to resort to physical violence or loud tantrums. Normally, crying offered her some kind of comfort, a way to escape and then feel better afterwards. This time, she would just emerge from tears knowing that the situation hadn't gotten any better.
The door opened softly, and Rose turned to look at the blond boy who had been one of her reasons for crying. He was smiling, actually smiling. When he saw that she was crying, however, the smile disappeared and was replaced by a look of concern. "Rosie, what's wrong?"
Rosie. It was the first time he had ever called her that. "I thought you were meant to be smart, Scorpius."
He sat down beside her, looking slightly sheepish. He gazed at his fingers, not entirely sure of what to say but talking anyway. "You shouldn't be so pessimistic. It's only going to be for a little while. Just a year or so; they say the war should be over soon, anyway."
"They've been saying that since it started," Rose said in a melancholy tone, a tear dripping off her nose and landing on the dark stone floor, turning the floor even darker.
Scorpius swallowed uncomfortably. "Look, if it makes any difference to you... I did think about it before I decided to actually do it. I know that you don't want me to go, but I need to do this, Rose. I need to fight. I want to do this."
"I know you do," Rose snorted inelegantly, wiping her nose on her sleeve. "Doesn't stop me from not liking it."
Scorpius stared at her for a long time, not saying anything. There wasn't much that he could really say, unless he told her he had changed his mind and was going to complete his seventh-year at Hogwarts. Looking at him made her feel unpleasantly weak in the knees, even though she was sitting down, so Rose stared at one of the many classroom chairs instead.
They stayed like that for a long time, him staring at her and her staring at the chair. When finally Albus opened the door to yell to Scorpius that two more people had decided to sign up, Rose had come to the conclusion that she was going to enjoy the next months as much as possible. It was the last time she would be at Hogwarts with Albus and Scorpius anyway.
On the last day of her sixth-year at Hogwarts, Scorpius asked Rose to walk with him around the grounds. For the first half an hour, they talked of NEWTs, careers, gossip, even magical beasts and how Rolf Scamander thought he had found proof for the existence of the Crumple-Horned Snorkack. Then, as they paused at the entrance to the Forbidden Forest, Scorpius turned to her and said something that she had never believed he would really say to her.
"Rose... I know this is really sudden and it's stupid me telling you now," Scorpius murmured, his eyes staring at her. Rose felt her heart-beat increase tenfold as she stared back. "I'm still going to go to war, and I still want to go... but I thought it'd be better for me to say this now than to write it in a letter. I'm shit at letter-writing anyway."
"What is it?" her voice was soft, barely audible.
"I love you," Scorpius breathed, and then suddenly he couldn't look at her anymore. He was staring at a tree nearby, then the lake in the distance, then the ground. "I know that you might not feel that way back, but I thought I might get it out into the open before another bloke started going out with you. Maybe you're right and the war will last a lot longer than we all think, and when I come back you'll be married and have kids or something... so I just want to let you know... I mean..."
He was rambling, but Rose found she didn't care. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders. She had dreamed of this moment so many times, yet once again life didn't seem to want to listen to her fantasies and she was hit with the rock hardness of reality. He was staring back at her now, and she could feel a small smile breaking out across her face. The situation might not be ideal, but then Rose found that she didn't mind settling for this. The fact that he was here now, and had said that, was enough.
"I love you, too," she whispered. Words that had been said countless times before, by so many people in so many countries, in so many different situations. Yet these words seemed brand new to her, and she marvelled at how she knew she would never grow tired of hearing him say it to her, even if he chose to say it a thousand times.
She kissed him. It wasn't passionate; she didn't feel as though it was the right time for a passionate kiss. It was more tender, more thoughtful. It was so horrible of her to think it, yet this might be the only time she would ever - could ever - kiss him and so she didn't want to be enveloped in a cloud of passion and longing. She wanted it to be free from that.
When they broke away from each other, she found that she was now smiling fully. They walked up to Hogwarts together, slowly, talking of things that, to an outsider, seemed so utterly normal. To Rose, though, every little thing they talked about, every little moment they shared as they walked, seemed more important than anything else in the world.