Chapter 1: The Spy
Scorpius silently tiptoed through the tomes of the library, positioning himself in the musty Arithmancy section. He slid hardbacks on the shelves this way and that, and to a casual observer, it would appear that the young sixth year was searching for a book to help him with a particularly difficult equation. The observer might be confused, however, when he stopped his hunt and gazed through a space created in the dislodged books. Through this gap, he found what he was looking for.
There she was, only a few meters away from him, just like she was every day. He smiled as he watched her brush her hair out of her eyes, only to have it fall back again. She chewed on her lip as she studied; sliding her finger along the words she read with one hand and tapped her quill on the desk with the other. Her study area was neatly arranged, books she had already learned from on the right, books she still needed to analyze on the left. Empty scrolls of parchment were placed at the top of the desk, ready to have notes and essays written in them, while more scrolls sat in her satchel, already filled with her tiny scrawl.
Scorpius leaned against the bookshelf and laid his chin on the dusty wood. This was his favorite time of day. He would be content to watch her all evening. Maybe he'd even have the courage to leave his hiding spot and—
"Hey what are you doing?!"
It took Scorpius everything in him not to scream like a first year. Heart beating wildly, he spun around, then let out a frustrated growl as he saw his best mate, Albus Potter, standing beside him with a less-than apologetic grin on his face. Trying to calm his breathing, Scorpius gave Albus an irritated look before dashing towards the library doors, hoping against hope that his friend would follow him and not continue to loudly announce their presence to the scholarly Ravenclaw. When he looked over his shoulder, he noticed Albus glancing through the gap he created in the books. Oh, great… he thought to himself.
He exited the library and leaned against the wall next to the doors. A few moments later Albus followed him out into the dim hallway and, as he anticipated, an eyebrow raised into his dark fringe.
"Spying on my cousin again?"
"Al…" Scorpius moaned, covering his face with his hands.
"Listen, Scor," Albus started, leaning against the wall next to him. "You've been doing this all year."
Scorpius rubbed his face before leaning his head back against the wall. "I know, Al."
"And you haven't spoken to her once."
"I know that as well, thank you," Scorpius bit back.
Albus let out a small laugh and clapped his friend on the shoulder. "I just don't know what you see in her, mate."
"Well I should hope not, unless you're quite keen on incest."
Albus punched Scorpius in the arm, causing the blond to fall to the ground, clutching the injured appendage in pain.
"I mean, Rose isn't like other girls," Albus continued, as though his act of violence never occurred.
"I can't feel my arm. I think you killed it."
"I'm just not sure where we went wrong with her…"
Scorpius frowned at Albus from the ground, a twinge of anger he always felt when they discussed Rose forming in his gut. "There's nothing wrong with her."
Albus ignored Scorpius, who was vigorously rubbing his arm. "She just doesn't… I don't know, do anything."
"She does plenty!" Scorpius fumed, quickly getting back to his feet. His strong sense of protectiveness grew stronger by the moment. "She…"
"Studies?" Albus said, stating the obvious answer.
"Well, yes! And she…." Scorpius paused. He wracked his brain, trying to think of any sort of activity in the past that involved Rose not studying. Unfortunately, his brain failed him.
"Face it, mate, she sleeps, she eats, she goes to class, she studies. She doesn't talk to anyone but me. She doesn't want to join us in pick-up games of Quidditch. She doesn't want to go to Hogsmeade with us. I can't even get her to sit in the family compartment on the Hogwarts Express."
"Just because she's studious doesn't mean there's something wrong with her, Albus," Scorpius seethed.
Before Albus could reply, the library doors opened, and out walked the object of Scorpius' unrequited affections. Albus gave his panicked friend a knowing look before walking up to her.
"Hey, Rosie!" he greeted her, throwing an arm over her shoulders to stop her in her tracks.
Rose stood stock-still and stared at the ground, her long red hair curtaining her face. "Hello, Albus."
"Scor and I here were just talking about going back to the Gryffindor Common Room and starting up an Exploding Snaps tournament. Are you game?" Albus asked in an excited manner, as though she would get caught up in the emotion and agree to play.
Rose quickly glanced up at Scorpius before staring back down to the ground. "No thank you," she replied quietly.
Albus gave her shoulder a squeeze. "Come on, Rosie! Where are you headed off to that's more important than a rousing game of Snaps?"
"I'm going to dinner," she nearly whispered.
"Okay, then how about after dinner?"
"I'm going to study," she replied, never moving.
Albus sighed and lifted his arm from her shoulders. "All right. Maybe next time, yeah?" He began to walk away from her and down the hall, but not before shooting a satisfied smirk to Scorpius.
Scorpius' heart beat quickened as his so-called best friend abandoned him with Rose. He peeked at her out of the corner of his eye, noticing that her gaze was still on the ground, her books held tightly against her chest. He kicked at the stone floor, fumbling around for anything to say. Before he could mutter a word, however, Rose began to walk down the hallway.
"Uh… bye, Rose," he mumbled, his heart sinking at another failed attempt to communicate with her.
He shook his head and leaned against the wall again, closing his eyes in defeat.
He barely heard her soft reply in the deserted hallway. He opened his eyes and saw Rose swiftly retreating down the corridor.
Scorpius grinned as a glimmer of hope ignited inside him.