Oh no, it was happening again.
Rose tried to pay attention to whatever inane thing the Deputy Blah of Blah Blah Department was saying, but then the thudding in her head started and it became increasingly harder to concentrate. Next came the splotchy black spots that made it harder to see the person she was talking with, which meant that a collapse was inevitable. Fan-bloody-tastic.
Ms. Blah of course hadn't noticed that Rose was collapsing on her and was still jabbering away. Blah blah blah.
She leaned against the wall for support only to crumple to her knees.
Damn, she thought. She had been having a fantastic week so far and had almost forgotten how these episodes felt like.
Blinding pain bloomed in her chest and radiated to her extremities. She vaguely heard Ms. Blah shriek in horror when Rose fell and barely registered her gesturing to someone to come to her aid.
She laid motionless on the floor, trying to gather her wits about her and was doing all that she could to not scream in pain. Someone scooped her up into his arms. Great, she thought sarcastically, my knight in shining armor. If she weren't consumed by her pain and about to faint, she would have rolled her eyes.
"Weasley. Weasley, are you okay?"
Huh. This gruff voice was familiar. She swiveled her head towards her knight only to see the last face she'd want to see in a state like this. Even in her delirious pain, she struggled against his arms and managed to get him to drop her in an unglorified dump.
She lay motionless on the floor as she concentrated on not howling in pain and her un-knight's face came immediately within her field of vision to ask if she was all right.
The pain was slowly going away, but she would have the after effects to deal with. Headache, sore throat, sore limbs, fatigue… it was all such a lovely package of symptoms. She managed a weak smirk.
"Weasley, I'm going to pick you up and apparate us to St. Mungo's."
When he moved to scoop her into his arms again, she fought as violently as she could against his advances and attempted to get up on her own. She used the wall to move her body up and weakly mumbled, "It's fine. I can get there on my own."
Her un-knight scoffed at that and said, "Weasley. Look at yourself. You can barely stand up and you're in no state to apparate without splinching yourself."
A little more strength had returned to Rose and she used it to wave her hand at the comments to dismiss them. "I can do it myself. Don't worry about me." As she looked about at the empty waiting room, she thanked the heavens that she was in a relatively remote area of the Ministry. This was the floor where the Unspeakables worked.
She attempted to stand on her own. Oops no. That was a mistake. She quickly found herself on the floor again and she had a fit internally at letting the idiot see her in such a frail state. In no planet was she ever going to let him act as her knight and she as a flowering princess in distress.
"Weasley, don't be stupid. Annoying you might be, but you were never stupid." He grabbed my wrists and helped me back up despite my weak protesting. He reached around me with one arm to grab me firmly by the shoulders and said, "Here, I'll only support you. We can side-along apparate and once we get to St. Mungo's I promise I'll leave you be."
Rose made pitiful attempts at resisting his help, but in the next second he had apparated her to the hospital.
She knew this trip to the hospital was semi-pointless. She'd go see a healer, they'd simper and throw pitying glances at her and log her latest episode. She'd go back home sans healing potion, spell or any hint that any of it would get any better. Rinse and repeat.
He helped her walk to the counter and gruffly stated, "Scorpius Malfoy for Rose Weasley here who's collapsed. She needs a healer right away; she can barely stand up or talk and she won't tell me what's wrong."
The Healer looked up and saw the two faces; one worried out of his mind and the other weak with pain. One of the faces was one that she had seen many times before.
"Of course Mr. Malfoy. Ms. Weasley, we'll be with you in just a moment. If you could lay down that empty bed back there- the one close to the window. We'll be with you in just a moment."
"I don't think you understand," said Scorpius, "She can't wait for a healer to take their bloody time to get to her. She needs immediate attention right now."
By this time, Rose had gathered enough strength to extract herself from Scorpius' vice like grip and was leaning on the counter for support.
"Healer Aldridge. I'll wait on the bed. Am I going to be meeting with Gordon today? "
Healer Aldridge smiled up sympathetically at her, not noticing Rose's frown and answered positively to her question. Rose slowly made her way to the empty bed, relying on the wall for help and refusing to look at Scorpius who was hovering around her like a mother duck.
She reached the bed, laid down and looked up at her un-knight and said bluntly, "Well, you've taken me to the hospital. Thank you very much. I believe you said you would be leaving now."
Scorpius rolled his eyes. "You know Weasley, usually people would treat their rescuers with more gratefulness. I'm beginning to think that I should have just left you there on the floor."
"Maybe you should have. I'll be perfectly fine and I didn't need any of your white knight heroics. What were you doing there anyways? That floor is for Unspeakables."
"I am an Unspeakable so the question is what were you doing on that floor. And next time I see you crumpled on the floor, unable to move in blinding pain I'll be sure to just leave you there." With that he walked out of the hospital and left Rose to herself.
It had been a week since he'd found her on his floor, collapsed on the ground and he couldn't stop thinking about the curious incident.
He knew that they had had their quarrels in the past and that she had a healthy dislike for him, but he couldn't believe how fiercely she had resisted his help. It had been nearly a year out of school and he thought school grudges were now behind him. Apparently Rose Weasley didn't think the same way, but then again her hatred didn't stem from average school rivalries.
She always brought out sides of him he didn't know he had.
He wasn't normally competitive or felt the need to brag, but with Rose around he somehow felt compelled to do so. When he had told her he was an Unspeakable, he hadn't exactly been telling her the truth. He was in the training program to be an Unspeakable and the acceptance rate from the training program was about 2%. Not the highest of chances. As a trainee, he wasn't allowed access to any of the cool things that true Unspeakables had and he wasn't allowed to peruse the bookshelves past row 10. Basically, he was treated as if he was a regular civilian with the two exceptions of being allowed to roam the training grounds and having limited access to the library.
He was midway through a book on Nargles in the library when the thought of Rose Weasley once again invaded his thoughts.
Honestly, she didn't have to resist his help that much. With every refusal to acquiesce to his help, she had drilled the point home that she very much disliked him. Maybe even hated him.
Scorpius shook his head and went back to his reading.
…only to have his thoughts again invaded by a certain red headed female of the Weasley clan.
It was odd, he thought, that the healers had known her name and that she had known the exact healer on schedule. It was also odd that she had been on his floor. He asked around with the other trainees and they had told him that for the past few weeks, Rose had done a lot of loitering on the Unspeakables floor. Overall her entire behavior was quite perplexing.
He turned his attention back to his studies only to have his attentions turned again, in record time, to a red headed mind parasite aka, Rose Weasley.
"I'll never get anything done in this state," he grumbled as he packed up his books and charmed them to their shelves.
He apparated to St, Mungo's and hunted down Healer Aldridge.
"Hello Healer Aldridge. Do you remember me?" He flashed his super charm grin at maximum power in the hopes that she wouldn't remember his mildly rude behavior a week ago.
"Oh yes, I do remember you," she flushed and Scorpius smirked internally in triumph. "You came with Ms. Weasley."
"Yes, I came with Ms. Weasley. I was wondering if you had been seeing a lot of Ms. Weasley here at the hospital. You two seemed quite familiar the other day."
"Oh well, I can't really give away confidential patient information…" she blushed again.
"Oh I didn't mean to pry and I'm certainly not asking you to give away confidential patient information. I was just wondering if you saw a lot of her at the hospital. You see, I'm planning a little surprise for her and I need to know if she's in the hospital on certain days…" It was a flimsy excuse, but Scorpius flashed his smile once again at maximum wattage and triumphed when he saw the healer waver.
"Well, I guess I'm not breaking any rules… We do see a lot of Ms. Weasley, but I don't think you're going to be able to work around her hospital visits for your surprise. She never plans her visits, they just happen out of necessity."
Interesting, thought Scorpius as he mulled over the information. He quickly parted ways with the healer and went back to the Unspeakables library to organize his thoughts.
Rose was pacing up and down the lobby of the Unspeakable floor. Every time she heard someone walking to her general direction, she dove behind a chair and cast a Disillusionment charm on herself and half hoped that it would be her un-knight's face walking towards her.
She hated hated hated the fact that she needed him, but she had to face the facts. It was getting increasingly harder for her to handle the episodes and he was someone that could help.
Rose dove behind her chair and cast a disillusionment charm.
It was Scorpius Malfoy.
Rose fretted behind the chair and in the five seconds it took for him to walk to the lobby she vacillated a hundred times on whether to greet him or to ignore him and just leave.
Finally, she decided to hell with it all and uncast the charm and popped out behind the chair to Scorpius' shock.
"Merlin! What the hell were you doing back there?" yelled Scorpius as he took a giant leap back.
"I…" she lost her nerve and she wasn't a girl who normally lost her nerves. "Er, I just wanted to…" She didn't know it would be this difficult to get over her stupid pride and actually ask Scorpius Malfoy for help. C'mon Rose, she told herself, be rational. You need this git's help.
"Did you come here to thank me for that other day?"
"Hah!" she huffed. "Most definitely not."
"Then what are you loitering on the Unspeakables floor for?"
"If you must know I came here to meet with you."
"Meet with me? Well Weasley it certainly took you a while to hop aboard the Malfoy charm train, but I welcome you aboard at last."
"Ugh, don't disgust me already Malfoy. I am not in the least charmed by you; I just need to talk to you. Preferably not on this floor and certainly not in this lobby where anyone can walk in on us."
Scorpius was most definitely intrigued by this point. Perhaps if he did talk with her, he could wheedle out the details of her St. Mungo's visits and finally get her out of his brain so he could concentrate on his work. As he was pondering upon this, he was rudely interrupted by a fierce poke to his shoulder.
"Malfoy. Did you hear me? I said, are you busy?" An impatient face stared up at him.
"Right now? You want to talk right now? Well I guess I'm not that busy-"
As soon as he uttered those words, he felt himself being apparated away by Rose and he found himself in front of a very popular, casual wizarding restaurant, packed to the brim.
She silenced him with a glare and a finger pressed to her mouth and dragged, yes dragged, Scorpius to the maître d'.
Three steps before she got to the maître d', her expression changed completely. She put on a more relaxed pose and looped her arm through Scorpius', giving him a slight pinch when he protested. He could tell she just wanted him to go along with whatever she was doing so he stayed silent, observing just how well this witch could act.
"Hello welcome to The Eatery!" said the maître d' as cheerful as a jackrabbit on ten different kinds of medication.
"Hi!" said Rose equally as brightly. "Can we get a table for a party of two?" She held up her hand with a sparkly ring on it and said, "Preferably one of the tables partially hidden by those giant pillars?"
"Aw, you two are so cute together!" The maître d' was completely buying Rose's act and said, "I know just the table! If you'll follow me…" she prattled on about the specials of the day and how she hoped we'd have a very enjoyable meal here. Rose kept up the act and smile and simpered on cue while a very confused Scorpius trailed along behind her.
When they finally got to their table, Scorpius waited to question her on her very odd behavior while Rose cast a few charms to hinder listeners.
"So," he said. It was all it took.
"I know. The ring is something I carry around with me and by acting the foolish couple that are young, in love and newly engaged we fit the profile of about half the clientele at this place," she gestured around them to show her evidence. "I wasn't about to go to your place to discuss this and I certainly wasn't going to allow you to know where I lived so I came here. It's not very well known, but crowded areas are oftentimes the best places to discuss clandestine topics. People will assume that we're just another couple who're whispering nonsense to each other, and even if they were curious they won't be able to hear our conversation due to my eavesdropping charms which are disguised by the general noisiness of this place."
"But it seems-"
"Unnecessary? A couple in love are the stupidest people in the world. No one wants to listen to a couple prattle on about how much they love each other so no one will even attempt to listen to our conversation. The best place to hide is in a couple."
"Why did you-"
Rose cut him off, anticipating his question. "I needed an Unspeakable. I'm smart enough to know you couldn't possibly be a true Unspeakable right now and that you're probably just a trainee who can't do anything-"
"I can do-"
"Whatever, no use protesting. It's common knowledge that the trainees don't get access to anything but I know you have the right turn of mind towards the sneaky. Don't quark your eyebrows at me. You might have been in Ravenclaw with me, but I know you have devious sneak side of you which I ordinarily detest, but might be useful to me at the moment since-"
"If you would just-"
"No I will not just. Shut up and pay attention Malfoy because as much as I hate, loathe, despise the idea of actually relying on a stupid overinflated egotistical coward like you, I actually have no choice and-"
This time Rose was the one interrupted, but by the waitress and Scorpius again saw how quickly she could change faces.
"Hello, what can I get you two?" She smiled at the young couple.
"Well," said Rose, moving to hold Scorpius' hand on the table, "I think we're going to have the lover's special. Soup for me, and for you honey?" she kicked him under the table.
"Well honey," he said, looking the part of loving fiancé completely, "I think I'll have the soup as well and we can get the chocolate soufflé for dessert."
"My favorite!" Rose trilled.
"Always for you."
With a few more comments from the waitress about how a "cute" and "completely adorable" couple the two were, she finally left. The minute she crossed the boundary of the charms, Rose began talking again.
"As I was saying, I have no choice but to rely on your egotistical self for some information since only an Unspeakable can get me this and no self respecting truly inducted Unspeakable would ever say aloud that he or she is an Unspeakable, I'll have to make do with you, the idiotic trainee who probably won't make it past training."
"Excuse me, but-"
"Fine, fine," she waved her hand as if (key point being "as if") she was declaring defeat. She then barged on with her babbling insult train and rolled over whatever Scorpius was about to say. "Maybe you will make it past training. I don't really care if you do or you don't, but I do care that you have access to the Unspeakables library. I need some information from the library and seeing as how I'm not really an Unspeakable, I can't exactly waltz in and peruse the shelves. So here's the deal: I need information from the shelves. What am I going to have to give you so that you'll do this for me?"
Finally, she was giving him a chance to talk. He made to lean back in his chair, but was stopped by the fact that Rose was still holding his hand. He lifted up their joined hands with a question in his eyes.
"I cast eavesdropping charms, not blinding charms. If we don't keep up the pretense of at least looking like a couple in love, someone might think something's off and we don't want to bring any suspicion."
"I know you're not an Unspeakable- wait, what are you anyways?" asked Scorpius.
"I'm a freelance curse breaker."
"Oh, freelance curse breaker… so do you work for Gringott's?"
"They are one of my many clients. Stop asking about my work life and hurry it up with what you were going to say. What will it take for you to bring me what I need?"
"Okay first of all, it's kind of universally known that you're supposed to be nice when asking for a favor. Merlin. Also, aren't you a member of the legendary Weasley clan and niece to the great Harry Potter? Can't you use your family connections to get the information you need? Surely the savior of the wizarding world could help you out a lot more than… how did you put it? "a stupid overinflated egotistical coward" like me."
This was actually puzzling young Scorpius. Rose had a very extensive, powerful family. Though her family had taken great pains to keep her name and appearance out of the press, everyone knew that the daughter of Ronald and Hermione Weasley was named Rose and Scorpius was certain that all it would take for her to the information she needed was to say she was Rose Weasley. The secretary would probably call her immediate superior, who would call her immediate superior, who would call his until it got to the Department Head of the Unspeakables who would get a call from the Minister of Magic to give young Rose whatever she needed.
"Let's just say that I don't want people to know about the information I need."
"Does this have anything to do with your frequent trips to the hospital?"
Rose's grip on Scorpius' hand became three times stronger and she muttered, "Mr. Malfoy, have you been following me?"
"No, I haven't been following you, you paranoid freak. I happened to be at St. Mungo's and saw that healer that was at the counter and we got to talking. She mentioned that you were a frequent visitor." That was sort of the truth, he reasoned with himself.
"Oh," she answered and her grip on his hand loosened a bit. Then she muttered something about how she'd have to have a good talk about healer-patient confidentiality with Healer Aldridge before being interrupted again by the waitress who had brought their soups.
"So what kind of information would you want from the Department of Mysteries?"
"If you want to know you're going to have to agree to get me the stuff I need."
"That's preposterous. You're asking me to agree to get you confidential material from the Department of Mysteries without knowing what you want and why you need it."
"And I'm also saying that I'll make it worth the risk. I'll give you whatever you want in return."
"Weasley. Haven't you heard that you never say that phrase to a man?"
"'I'll give you whatever you want.'"
"What? Oh Merlin. Don't tell me you're lecherous on top of being a pretentious dick."
"I'm not saying that! Don't jump to conclusions, I was just saying that it's not a good idea to go around saying that sort of stuff to people."
"Well fine. I'm saying that I'll owe you one. And before you say anything I mean within reason."
"You could find the excuse for anything not to be reasonable. If you're expecting me to take such a huge risk, I'll want to know that I'll be getting a proper return."
Rose gave an enormous sigh and trained her brown eyes at him, desperately trying to convey the truth in her words. "I promise that I'm not trying to pull one over on you. Tell me what kind of favor you want and I'll make it happen as long as it's not completely against the law. As you noted before, I have an extremely powerful family. I can most likely get you anything you want, even an acceptance to the Unspeakables program."
"Acceptance into the Unspeakables program? Guaranteed?"
"And no one could know that I made… arrangements to get into the program."
He mulled it over. The entrance rate was impossibly low and as much as he hated to admit it, chances that he was going to be accepted were very low. Extremely low.
"You have yourself a deal."
After all, getting the texts that Rose wanted couldn't possibly be more trouble than getting through the Unspeakables program.
The waitress came with their entrees and the two quickly finished up the meal, acting like a couple when needed, and throwing biting comments at each other when no one was looking.
Scorpius sat back in his flat as he ruminated on what Rose had detailed. She had been extremely vague and he had also learned that she was very paranoid. All he knew at this point was that she went to the hospital often and needed information that only the Department of Mysteries could give her and that somehow the two were connected.
She was so paranoid that she told him that she wasn't going to tell him a thing until she could arrange for him to sign a binding agreement. She didn't go as far as requiring him to make and Unbreakable Vow, but she had basically settled for the second best thing and promised that if he broke their agreement, she'd use her considerable family connections to arrange for a lifelong prison sentence in Azkaban for him and his family. When he mentioned that this was quite corrupt behavior for someone from such an illustrious background, she had smirked.
He'd tried to charm her in school for it had made sense to his adolescent brain. By fifth year he was fairly popular for his decent looks and smarts. Being in the same year, it made sense for him to befriend her and make the right connections for later on in life, but no matter what he tried, she had refused his attempts at friendship. It seemed that they just couldn't get over that incident in the past. It probably didn't help that Rose was also known for being the coldest of the Weasley clan, but even that excuse wore thin when she became equally as popular as he in seventh year. He just had to face it in Hogwarts; he and Rose were never going to be friends.
By the time he has resigned all efforts to win friendship with Rose in school, he had developed a taste for the bickering fights they had. They had kept his wits sharp and had honed his biting insults. Yes, thanks to Rose Weasley, he had not only learned the limits of his charm, but he had also learned how to utterly piss off a human being.
He was curious as to what information she needed and why she couldn't turn to her family, but he came to terms with the fact that he wouldn't know anything till he signed. Ordinarily, he'd be a sneaky bastard and hunt down whatever information he needed, but observing Rose's paranoia firsthand, he knew that there wouldn't be the slightest chance to ferreting out anything she didn't want him to know. He turned over in his bed and settled down for a deep sleep.
AN: Meanwhile, Rose... Ha! You'll find out what's happening on her side of the story next chapter! This is a bit of a break from my usual fare, but I was inspired! There's a whole lot more to this mysterious illness of Rose's! Please review and let me know what you thought.