"I can't believe he did that," Regan whispers, voice barely audible over the snapping of the common room fire. It's Saturday night, and my promised story has enticed her to stay in and talk to me for once. We're in our pajamas, wrapped up in cozy blankets in front of the fire.
I blow on my cocoa, watching the tendrils of steam curl out of the mug. "I can't believe that I waited as long as I did. An hour and a half? That's ridiculous."
She shakes her head in disbelief. "And you really went down to the quidditch field and started yelling?"
"Mhm," I half-smile at the memory. I was so angry, I wanted to do more than yell at him. Beat him senseless, even.
Regan cracks up. "Oh—oh Rose. I'm sorry, but he's so gotten under your skin! Look at you, you're all riled up." She kicks off her blanket and sticks her feet closer to the glowing fire.
"I am not!" I protest. I dip the tip of my tongue into the cocoa and am rewarded with a flash of pain. It's still far too hot to drink, unless I'm interested in scalding my throat. Which I'm not.
She gives me a bemused look. "Sure, you're not. Whatever you say. But hey, how'd he do during tutoring? Miserably?"
And here we come to the part I was hoping to avoid discussing. "Actually…" I begin slowly, "He did well. Really well. He only missed one question."
Gasping, Regan slaps her hand to her mouth. "You're joking. If he did so well, then why is he failing?"
I shrug the best I can while balancing a hot drink on my knee. "Don't ask me. It was easy when he got the right motivation—leaving."
"That, or," She smiles in that wicked way she has, and I brace myself for what's coming. "He's found his new teacher more to his liking than the usual one. You know how helpful visual aids are…"
I snake my foot out of the blanket and kick her. "Shut up, Rae. Don't put ideas into people's heads. It's poor form." But I can't help but smile at my friend as she collapses on the floor in a fit of hysterics. "Come off it, its not that funny."
"Yeah, but—" Regan struggles for control, tears of laughter bright in her eyes. "Can you picture it? Y-you with stony Scorpius?"
Even though I know she's joking, I start to picture it. In my picture, the two of us are outside under the usual tree. He's wearing that white t-shirt he had on today and I'm in a lacy yellow dress. It's cool out, but with his arms wrapped around me the wind loses its bite. I trace my fingers along his arm, and find that it's like silk over steel. I feel him kiss the top of my head…
I shake myself back to reality. It's a lovely picture, but with one major flaw. Scorpius. It's natural to feel a little wistful for those goosebump-inducing feelings, but I can't—won't—let myself project them onto someone completely wrong for me.
To try and shake the image, I take a gulp of the cocoa. As the hot liquid sears its way down my throat, I focus on the pain instead of the lingering feeling of Scorpius's lips against my hair.
"You're late." Are the first word's out of Scorpius's mouth as I enter the library Sunday morning.
I scowl at him and drop my things onto the table. "By fifteen minutes. I think you, of all people, will find it in your heart to forgive me."
Scorpius harrumphs. The moment I get the papers out of my bag, he holds out his hand expectantly. Wordlessly, I pull the worksheet from the stack and cram it into his awaiting hand. It doesn't require an explanation, so I get out the Herbology report I'd neglected yesterday and attempt to buckle down.
I've only been working a few minutes when Scorpius says, "I'm not impressed, by the way."
This is so strange that I stop writing mid-sentence, and direct my gaze up toward him. "Impressed by what?"
"You," He says pointedly, relishing in the admission. "Albus is always prattling on about how fantastic you are, and all your teachers seem to hold you in a class above the rest of us. Then there's Affleck, who's constantly mooning over you. It's quite irritating and, personally, I don't see the appeal."
I fight back the urge to laugh, and slap him upside the head. Who does he think he is, telling me that he doesn't see "the appeal"? I have a whole list of things about him that are lacking—tact, for one.
To throw him off, I flash my sweetest smile. "You don't say. Please, continue, I'm fascinated in hearing your opinion of me."
He doesn't even hesitate. "You're intelligent but nothing special. You succeed because you can, not because you want to. Everyone is of the opinion that you're especially kind and fun, but I think that you're rather stuck-up and don't know how to begin having fun."
"Excuse me?" I scoff, "I know how to have fun." I can't believe he's judging me, really I can't. Scorpius Malfoy, of all people?
"Hmm," He purses his lips disbelievingly. "I doubt it."
Gnashing my teeth together, I point at his work, "Whatever, Malfoy. Get back to work so I can leave."
This succeeds in shutting him up, but only for a minute. Then, "If you really want to prove me wrong, come to the slytherin party tonight."
"I don't have to prove anything to you—" Is my instinctive response. It's true—I'm comfortable enough with myself that I don't need to go out of my way to disprove Scorpius's opinions of me. Plus, it's a school night.
On the other hand, it would be extremely satisfying to knock that smug little smile clean off his face. And Slytherins do throw the best parties (contrary to popular opinion). "You know what?" I continue, so fast that I almost interrupt myself. "Tell me when. I'll be there."
Something flashes across his face so fast that I can't identify it—surprise? Respect? But he's as cool as usual when he says, "It starts at eleven-thirty. You can bring anyone you want, especially if it's that Regan girl. That would please Albus nicely."
Now he was just throwing things out there. How would bringing Regan please Albus? But I'm tired of arguing with him, so I roll my eyes. "Fine, sure. Now finish that bloody worksheet already."
By the time Regan and I get to the Slytherin party, it's in full swing. There is loud music blasting from everywhere and nowhere at once, with flashing multi-colored lights making every movement look jagged. People have brightly illuminated paint smeared over various body parts, so they stand out in the darkened room. The overall affect is simultaneously hypnotic and overwhelming.
Someone grabs my hand. "Rosie!" They holler in my ear, "Glad you could make it!"
I smile at Albus, a smile that fades as soon as I see Scorpius lurking at his side. "Hey, Al. The party looks great."
"Yeah, it looks great!" Albus repeats boisterously, shoving a cup at me and another at Regan. "So do you, Regan. Look great. I mean, really great! Would you like to dance?"
Regan shrugs out of her jacket and chugs the proffered drink in one fluid motion. "I'd love to!" She shouts back at him, smiling mischievously. As she passes me, she whispers in my ear, "Show him what you're made of, Rose."
Left alone with Scorpius, I follow Regan's lead and knock back the drink all at once. It tastes sharply of berries, and immediately makes my head feel lighter. As soon as its gone, Scorpius comes up with a second drink, handing it to me without a word. I'm a little worried about chugging this one, but do so anyway to avoid Scorpius's weirdly intense stare. As the last drop slips down my throat, I become much more aware of the demanding pull of the music.
"Wanna dance?" I shout over at Scorpius, who maddeningly still hasn't said a word.
He nods, and we walk together toward the throng of pulsing bodies. Normally, I would feel subconscious breaking into dance moves in front of strangers—especially judgmental Slytherins—but the two drinks must have packed more of a punch than I realized, because the transition between walking and dancing feels effortless.
I let the beat dictate my movements, and soon I'm spinning and grinding and completely lost. I smear a fingerful of the luminescent paint in stripes across my cheeks, and at one point I'm handed another drink. I finish it in three long swallows—it burns my throat for minutes after, and seems to set fire to my feet. The one thing I'm vividly aware of in the blur of sound and lights is that Scorpius maintains a careful distance from me.
I catch sight of him a few feet away, watching my escape into the music. I twirl my way over, coming up short just inches from him. Keeping my eyes locked on his, I take his hands and guide them to my waist. Then, still dancing in time to the music, I wrap my arms around his neck. I smile up at him as we move our hips together, a hair's breadth separating our bodies. I can feel his breath on my neck.
Someone bumps into me from behind, knocking my body completely against his. Neither of us breaks apart, or stops moving to the music. When he laughs, I feel it reverberate from his chest to mine—and it's not an entirely unpleasant sensation. Pulling back just enough to see his face, I find him already staring down at me. It's not his usual look—there's no ill will in it—but the same burning intensity is there. It's magnetic. I tilt my face up the same moment he moves his down…
The rest is an indistinguishable blur of faces and sounds.
I hate cliffhanger endings more than anybody, but there you go. I'm a hypocrite. (; Don't worry, the way I'm writing these (*cough* obsessively) there will be a new chapter out very soon. Feel free to leave comments and suggestions, by the way—I'd love to hear what you all think!