A/N: I know it's taken me a couple of weeks to post this chapter. It was a doozy. I rewrote it about five times, and I'm still not happy with it. But I'm tired of fiddling with it, so here it is!
Chapter 5: The Dance
Scorpius and Rose were still, he with his hand offered to her, she staring at the proffered hand, brow scrunched and biting her lip. Both were hoping the other would move, but for very different reason.
Rose was the first to shift, treading backward. "I… I can't… I'm not a very…" she stumbled over her words. "I… I might step on your feet," she finished lamely, a blush spreading over her cheeks as she looked at the ground.
Scorpius took a step towards her, his hand still raised slightly. "I have very strong toes."
Rose took another hesitant step back. She returned her gaze to Scorpius, her face silently pleading with him to drop the idea.
"There's no one here but me," Scorpius gently persuaded, "no one to watch us." He observed Rose nibble on her lower lip again and blink several times. "Just one dance, Rose."
Rose put her arms against her sides and tapped her fingers repeatedly against her thighs. She watched his hand as though it were a snake about to jump up and bite her.
After a few agonizing moments, Rose finally, slowly placed her hand in Scorpius'. Relieved, he gradually pulled her close and put his other hand high on her waist. She rested her free hand just on his shoulder and lowered her head to stare down at their feet. Scorpius began to sway to the muffled beat from the band outside the door, leading Rose in an awkward dance.
"There, that's not so bad, is it?" Scorpius asked the top of Rose's head.
He heard her scoff. "We'll see…"
Scorpius smirked and continued to sway. His heart was beating faster than normal, having her so near. He didn't think there was any way she couldn't hear or feel it. If she did, she never indicated.
They danced quietly, neither saying a word. Rose kept her head bowed. Scorpius watched loose wisps' of her hair flutter as he breathed.
After a few moments of complete silence, a thought appeared before Scorpius, and he hummed at it. Rose raised her head to investigate the noise, but seemed to realize how close they were standing. Her eyes grow wide before she quickly bowed her head to examine their feet again. Deciding to ignore her behavior, Scorpius voiced his thought. "Have you ever realized how our roles are kind of reversed?"
Rose stayed silent, leading Scorpius to believe she was just going to ignore him for the duration of their waltz, until he heard, "How so?"
Scorpius was pleasantly surprised to hear her answer; so much so that his breath caught. Get a hold of yourself, man! "Well, in a perfect world, you, being a Weasley, would be the queen of this Ball- chatting with your thousands of friends, dragging your very popular boyfriend from table to table." He heard Rose huff in derision before continuing. "And I, being a lonely Malfoy, would be in the library, all by myself, probably studying for hours on end."
Rose stayed silent for several seconds, causing Scorpius to think that maybe he had gone too far, pointing out her trait that many would call a flaw. His mind began whirling, trying to think of a way to take his foot out of his mouth, but became distracted by hair tickling his chin. He glanced down and saw Rose shaking her head, her face still pointed down at their moving feet. "I don't always study…"
Scorpius blinked, befuddled by her admission. "No?" he asked.
"No. I actually only study part of the time. Mostly I read for my own enjoyment," she replied softly.
Scorpius tsked. "Sneaking Martin Miggs in your textbooks again, Rose? For shame…"
Rose turned her head up and stuck her tongue out at Scorpius. His heart skipped a beat. "Ha." She turned her gaze to the wall behind him. "Not comic books. I usually read a lot of Muggle literature, like Shakespeare-"
"Shakespeare was a wizard."
Rose shot Scorpius a look, her expression showing that she was clearly concerned about his sanity. "Shakespeare was not a wizard."
"Yes, he was," Scorpius retorted smugly.
"What in the world would make you believe that Shakespeare was a wizard?" Rose asked, slightly exasperated.
"It's obvious that only a mad wizard would write all those 'thee's and 'thou's and expect people to perform his plays without tripping over their tongues and ruining the whole production," Scorpius explained.
Rose rolled her eyes at Scorpius exaggeratedly, but giggled. He could see her eyes very clearly, being this close to her and without her hair hiding them. They were cerulean, with flecks of light brown in the iris. He couldn't look away- they were gorgeous. He unconsciously held on tighter to her waist. Rose's grin slipped from her face, but her eyes never left his…
The song ended. Rose quickly let go of Scorpius' hand and walked across the room, crossing her arms tightly over her chest and rubbing her biceps. Scorpius moved to stand behind her, took off his robe, and put it over her shoulders.
"Thank you," she whispered. Scorpius hoped that she would turn and face him, eager to continue their encounter, but it seemed that she didn't plan to budge. He bowed his head, disappointed. The young Gryffindor walked over to a nearby wall and leaned his back against it. He tilted his head back and closed his eyes, listening to the new song the Purple Pixies had started. At least I got my one dance, he thought dejectedly. He opened his eyes, intending to put Rose out of her misery and ask if he could walk her back to the Ravenclaw Tower, but was stopped short by Rose looking at him with determination. She opened her mouth to speak, then stopped. She took a deep breath, tried again, but closed her mouth quickly. She pursed her lips and stared at the floor for a moment. Then she slowly looked up at Scorpius, and asked softly, "Why did you want me to come with you?"
Scorpius cocked his head, confused. "What do you mean?"
Rose let out a frustrated sigh, throwing her arms in the air. She walked in a wide circle before facing him again. "You could have… you could have come with anyone! You… You're a Gryffindor, and you're friends with Al, and you… well..." She raised a hand and waved it up and down, at the same time running her eyes up and down Scorpius' tall frame. She stopped her tirade after another blush crossed her face.
Scorpius smirked at the very flustered Rose. He walked in front of her and bent down to look into her eyes. "Are you trying to say that you find me devastatingly handsome?"
Rose gave Scorpius a shove to his chest. "Oh, shut up," she grunted, crossing her arms again and shaking her head.
Scorpius took a step back and grinned widely at Rose. She frowned at him for only a moment before a small smile graced her features. Scorpius chuckled softly, and he received a quiet laugh back from the young woman in front of him.
His heart skipped another beat. He was sure he'd be dead by the end of the night from irregular heart rhythms. "That's the reason."
Rose's mirth was short lived and was replaced with puzzlement. "What's the reason?"
Scorpius took a step forward, standing directly in front of her again. He lightly touched a strand of hair that escaped from behind her shoulder and pushed it back into place. "Last year, when we had the Ancient Runes project together, I must regretfully inform you that I wasn't too happy with whom Professor Babbling paired me with." Rose quickly looked down at the ground, but not before Scorpius saw the hurt look in her eyes. He put a finger under her chin and lifted it so she was looking at him again. "But something changed, Rose. I heard you speak for the first time since I had known you. And then you laughed," Scorpius emphasized. He smiled tenderly at her, which was returned with another perplexed look. "Your laugh is intoxicating." Rose's eyes grew wide and cheeks became bright red at his confession, but her gaze was glued to his. "It's like… it's like wind chimes. It's light and airy and peaceful. It makes your whole face light up. Your eyes crinkle just a little bit in the corners and your smile… Rose, it's the most astounding smile I've ever seen. I knew from your first laugh that I wanted to make you do it as often as I possibly could. It makes me lose my breath and makes my chest tighten and -"
His heartfelt speech was abruptly cut off by a pair of lips pushed harshly against his own. Eyes wide, he looked down and saw Rose attached to the attacking mouth.
Scorpius froze, his system completely shocked. Seconds later, Rose detached from him, her face displaying complete mortification. Both stood absolutely still for a moment, staring into each other's eyes.
"Oh, God…" Rose whispered before running towards the door leading to the Great Hall, the gray robe falling from her shoulders as she ran.
It took Scorpius only a second to snap out of his stupor and run after her. He passed Rose as he ran, only stopping when he nearly crashed into the door. He turned towards her and splayed his body across the entry. "Rose, stop!"
Her eyes were wide, shifting rapidly to try and find another way out. She spotted the door that led to the Entrance Hall, but before she could sprint to it, her breath began to come in quick, irregular bursts. She then began to wheeze.
Scorpius realized what was happening and quickly conjured a chair, gently pushing her into it. "Deep breaths, Rose, deep breaths," he instructed. Rose leaned her elbows on her knees as she gulped for air. Scorpius kneeled down beside her and rubbed her back. "Man, I've heard that my talents take a girl's breath away, but this…."
Rose glared her deepest glower at him. Scorpius smiled apologetically and continued to run his hand along her back.
After a few moments, Rose's breathing slowed and returned to a normal pace. She covered her face with her hands and took a final deep sigh.
"Are you okay now?" Scorpius asked, leaving his hand on her back.
Rose, face still covered, huffed. "Fan-bloody-tastic."
Scorpius leaned back on his heels and watched her. She was shaking her head ever so slightly.
"Why don't you go out there and enjoy yourself?" She asked this quietly, but in a tone that let him know that she wanted to be alone.
His mind immediately flashed back to last year. He walked out of the library after being dismissed by Rose feeling depressed, his chest filled with a newfound, unwanted ache. He thought about all the time he stood behind that blasted bookshelf, wishing he only had the courage to talk to her again. And now that he finally had her with him, and she kissed him, she wanted him to leave again?
"I'd much rather be in here, thank you very much."
His stout answer made Rose uncover her face. "Why?" she moaned, obviously not happy with his respond.
Scorpius leaned towards her and looked into her eyes. "Do I need to go on about how you make me feel again? Because I can if you would really like me to."
Rose groaned and covered her face again.
"Perhaps I should repeat myself. The outcome last time was rather pleasant, and I would very much like a chance to participate." He reached up to take one of her hands in his own. Before he could pull it from her face, however, she quickly snapped her hands against her chest.
"Scorpius, we… this won't…"
Scorpius leaned back to sit on his heels again. His resolve was strong—he wasn't going to accept defeat so easily this time around. "Why not?"
Rose stared at him, her face growing redder and redder as the seconds passed, until—
"Because!" she shouted, throwing her arms in the air again, causing Scorpius to fling himself backward to avoid having his eye poked by her flailing hands. "Because I'm me!"
He worked her statement in his mind for a moment as he steadied himself, and determined that he had no idea what she meant. "I'm going to need a little more than that."
Rose let out a small grunt of frustration and rose from her chair. Scorpius stood up as she began to pace the room.
"You're right, in a perfect world I would be out there enjoying the ball with my friends," she muttered, her hair become disarrayed as she unconsciously ran her hands through it. "But I don't want it to be a perfect world."
Scorpius stepped closer to his perturbed date. "Why not?"
"Because I just want to be left alone!" Rose yelled, stopping her continuous pacing. She balled her fists at her side as she stared Scorpius down.
Scorpius was taken aback by her outburst, but quickly recovered. He sat in her abandoned chair and folded his hands on his lap. He said nothing, simply watched her look at him, her shoulders rising up and down hastily with each angry breath.
They stayed like that, Scorpius watching and Rose glaring, for several long seconds. Finally, Rose took a calming breath, closed her eyes and shook her head. She took her wand from her sleeve again and conjured another chair, then plopped down. After taking a few more steadying breaths, she began talking. "When Albus and I first came to Hogwarts, people were fascinated with us. They used to follow us around, asking question after question about our parents and our family, all of the years hounding us to join their groups and cliques. Albus, of course, loved the attention," she huffed, and Scorpius laughed with her. "James had already taken the brunt of the inquisition when he came here, so he didn't have it so bad. I was the first born to two of the Golden Trio, though." Rose timidly picked at her nails. "At first I would try to answer their questions, but it was the same thing, the same questions over and over again. I just wanted to go to my classes, enjoy meals with my family. I just…. I wanted…" Rose sighed and closed her eyes. "What I really wanted… I just wanted someone to ask me about me."
Scorpius scrunched his brow. "What do you mean?"
Rose lowered her head. "During first year, whenever I received high marks on a test, I would hear about my mother's intelligence. During the first flying lesson, when I was the only person able to hover on a broom without falling off, I was told about my father's amazing flying ability. 'Just like your mother.' 'Just like your father.' I heard it from the professors, other students… even my own family would make the comparisons," she stated spitefully. She then shook her head and looked up at Scorpius. "Please don't think that I don't love my parents. I do. They're both great, albeit weird, people, and I wouldn't trade them in for anything. But I just want…" She bit her lip as she thought, trying to compose the right words, but instead ended her sentence with a huff of frustration.
Scorpius reached across to Rose and took one of the hands that rested in her lap. He squeezed it, causing her to quickly glance at him. "I understand."
And he did. When he first arrived at Hogwarts, he was in the opposite situation- people weren't too keen to get to know him. But once he was sorted into Gryffindor and became friends with Albus Potter, almost all of the Malfoy propaganda was forgotten. He didn't imagine it was possible for Rose to escape the confines of being a Weasley.
Scorpius cleared his throat. "Does my opinion count?" Rose shrugged her shoulders. "I think you should leave the library and finally let the people get to know the real you."
Rose shook her head vigorously. "No. The library is safe. It's quiet. No one is in there looking for answer on horcruxes or how to fly on a dragon's back."
"There's an instruction manual for flying on a dragon's back?" Scorpius grinned. Rose rolled her eyes and smiled.
Scorpius reached out and took her other hand in his free one. "You said you want people to get to know the real you, but how are they supposed to do that if you won't let them?"
Rose huffed. "People don't want to get to know the real me."
"You're basing this off how they acted six years ago, Rose." He squeezed her hands to reassure her. "There's about forty nine thousand Weasley's and Potter's here now. I really don't think that anyone's going to ask you something about your family that they don't already know. They're probably tired of you lot by now, anyway."
Rose smirked. They sat quietly. Scorpius watched Rose chew on the inside of her cheek as she thought. Finally, she took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. "I'm scared," she whispered.
Scorpius felt his chest tighten. He stood, lifting Rose with him, and wrapped his arms around her shoulders. He felt Rose stiffen against him, but relax after a moment. She hesitantly wrapped her arms around his back and laid her head on his shoulder.
"No need to fear. I'll be by your side no matter what you decide to do," Scorpius said, laying his chin on top of her head.
"That's partially what I'm afraid of."
Scorpius lifted his head, stunned at what he just heard. Did this mean… He looked down at Rose, so near to him, and saw only the top of her head. He gingerly placed his palm against her cheek, and ran his thumb along her cheekbone. Slowly, agonizingly, Rose lifted her head. Her eyes met his, hesitation shining from them, but also, deep inside, there was a hint of hope.
Before another word could be stumbled over, before crippling doubt could fill either mind, Scorpius leaned in and kissed her.
He felt like his heart stopped. He held his breath, waiting for her to pull away, but was pleasantly surprised when he felt her lips move against his. He brought his other hand to the side of her throat and ran a finger along her jaw. His breath caught as he felt both of her hands rest against his chest. Scorpius had a lot of moments in his life that he was happy with and proud of. They all failed in comparison to this one perfect instant.
They broke apart seconds later. They rested their foreheads against each other, both breathing erratically. Scorpius ran his hands down her arms and took hold of her hands again. Not a word was said between them, but it was anything but awkward.
Their moment of perfection was broken by Rose pulling back. Scorpius lifted his face to smile at her, but stopped when he noticed her raised eyebrow and calculating look. "You didn't really need help with all of your classes last year, did you?"
Scorpius smirked. "Finally catching on, are you?"
Rose playfully glared at him. "Clever."
"That's me," Scorpius smiled triumphantly. He squeezed her hands. "Ready to go out and join the rest of the world?"
Rose turned to look at the door. She took a deep breath and held it for a second, then said, "No." Scorpius laughed and pulled her towards him, enveloping her in his arms again. She reciprocated without hesitation this time, and laid her head on his chest. He knew that she could hear his increased heart rate, and for once he didn't mind it. "But I suppose if we don't make an appearance, my father will come and find us. Then he'll probably see us in this compromising position and will most likely kill you."
"All right, let's go!" Scorpius pulled away from her quickly and grabbed her hand, dragging them to the door. Rose giggled at his urgency.
Scorpius reached the door and put a hand on the handle, but was stopped by Rose pulling him back. He turned to her and saw her shoulders hunched, her face etched with worry.
"No matter what?" she asked.
Scorpius didn't need clarification. He placed both hands on her cheeks and gave her a short, sweet kiss. "No matter what."
Rose let out a happy sigh as Scorpius released her face and grabbed her hand. He gave it a comforting squeeze before opening the door. He poked his head out first, browsing for irate redheaded fathers. Seeing that the coast was clear, he walked out, bringing Rose with him.
"Al is sitting across the hall. Care to join him?" Scorpius asked into her ear. He saw her take a deep breath, then nodded.
He tightened his grip on her hand and began to walk. Instead of skirting around the tables and pushing against the walls, though, they travelled around the edge of the dance floor, through chatting couples and laughing friends. When they finally arrived at Albus' table, Scorpius' hand was hurting from Rose's increasing tightened clasp. He looked down at her and grinned widely. She reciprocated with an uneasy smile of her own.
Scorpius looked up and found his best friend staring at them, completely agog by the presence of the couple standing in front of him. He blinked several times before his bewildered expression turned into an impish smile. "I see all that stalking has finally paid off."
Scorpius' eyes widened. He stared Albus down, trying his hardest to perform any non-verbal curse that decided to work. Al simply smiled smugly back at him.
Scorpius glanced down at Rose, whose eyebrow was raised skeptically in his direction. "He's obviously had too much Butterbeer, has no idea what he's talking about," he muttered.
"Mmhmm." Disbelief evident in her tone. She squeezed his hand, however, letting him know that nothing had changed. No matter what, he thought to himself as he beamed down at her.
He'd just have to kill his best friend later.
Scorpius was at the punch table, getting a beverage for Rose. She was still with Albus, chatting amicably with him and his date. It took some time, and a lot of persuasion, but Rose finally, timidly, joined in on the friends' conversation. Rose and Al's date found they had a lot in common, and eventually annexed the entire exchange.
Scorpius saw someone grab a glass as he poured the punch into Rose's crystal goblet. He looked up and he saw Ron Weasley glowering at him.
Scorpius cleared his throat. "Good evening, Mr. Weasley."
Ron narrowed his eyes. "Malfoy."
Scorpius smiled at him and returned his attention to the punch. He had known for a while that Mr. Weasley didn't like him by association. He was okay with that, though. The older man wasn't the Weasley he was trying to impress.
"Lovely ball, isn't it?" Scorpius asked amiably, swirling the punch around the cup.
Ron only hummed. Scorpius stood next to the man, feeling slightly awkward. He distracted himself by scanning the crowded Great Hall for familiar faces. He peeked out of the corner of his eye to Ron, only to see him still glaring. Scorpius chuckled silently. "It was nice speaking with you, Mr. Weasley," he said to Rose's father, bowing his head before walking away.
"You know, I'm obligated to hate you."
Scorpius turned back to Ron, whose attention was now across room. "Yes sir, I understand that."
"But then I look at my little girl…" he murmured, shaking his head in defeat. Scorpius looked over to Rose, who was laughing along with Albus' date while Albus looked on, bored. "I haven't seen her laugh like that since she was ten. I'm assuming you had something to do with that?" Ron asked, frowning at Scorpius.
The young Malfoy smirked and looked back at Rose. "We had a discussion, yes."
Ron heaved a great sigh before offering his hand to Scorpius. Scorpius, looked down at it, astonished, before shaking it. Before he could pull away, Ron gripped his hand tightly. "If you hurt her, I will kill you," the very tall, very intimidating man said slowly, making sure that Scorpius understood every word.
Scorpius nodded his head quickly. He was extremely aware that Mr. Weasley was a well trained Auror and could very easily make a death look like an accident. "Yes, sir," he mumbled.
Ron released the blondes hand and walked away, leaving Scorpius to try to calm his sudden erratic heartbeat. Extreme shyness? Panic attacks? Death threats? Who ever knew that being in a relationship would be so difficult?
He turned back to Rose and saw that she was looking at him, the most beautiful smile on her lips, making him tingle all over.
She was worth it.