For the 2012 Hogwarts Games – Men's Football, Round 1.1. Assigned pairing – Rose/Scorpius (romance not required).

Also for the Pairing Diversity Boot Camp – Prompt 9: walk.

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His footsteps are too fast up the stone steps to the Astronomy tower, but still whisper-silent – because that's how he always is. He pushes open the door with the same ferocity that his steps carry, but then he freezes in the doorway, his fury at the closed-mindedness of his classmates immediately draining at the sight.

Oh, for the love of Merlin.

He's not good with crying girls.

She looks up at the sound of the door, and he curses the upbringing that refuses to let him walk away.

"All right, Weasley?" he asks, and he knows the minute the words are out of his mouth that it's a stupid question, but he cannot recapture them.

Something bubbles up her throat that's halfway between a laugh and a sob. Awkwardly, he rubs the back of his neck.

"Sorry," he mutters. Still, something instinctive keeps him from fleeing, as he so desperately wants to. Instead, he takes a hesitant step forward as she attempts to unobtrusively wipe away her tears on the sleeve of her robe. Without thinking, he sighs, pulling a piece of fluff out of his pocket and transfiguring it into a handkerchief. He offers it to her, and she reciprocates by giving him a suspicious look.

Lovely.

She takes it, though, and she uses it to wipe away the last of the streaks down her cheeks. "Thanks," she mumbles, and he can tell she'd rather he hadn't seen her at all, but now that he has, she's at least grateful he's being kind about it.

Now that she isn't crying anymore, he feels a bit more at ease – not that he'll ever be entirely at ease around her. He knows what the Weasleys are likely to think about him – what they think of his father.

He slides down the tower wall, sitting beside her, a perfectly safe yet still polite distance away. "Are you okay, Weasley?"

She gives him another suspicious look, and he scowls, adding, "I can be nice, you know. It's not a sign of the apocalypse."

She scowls back, which he takes to mean that her mood is improving, at least. "It's nothing you'd understand, Malfoy." She ducks her head toward her knees, which are pulled up toward her chest. "I thought Al would get it," she murmurs, more to herself than to him. "But then he went and got sorted into Slytherin!"

He's really scowling now. "There's nothing wrong with Slytherin!"

She laughs, bitterly. It's an unnerving sound from someone so young – still eleven, probably, or maybe just twelve, like him. "I never said there was. I almost wish I'd been Slytherin. At least then they wouldn't expect me to be her!"

"Weasley, be clear, would you?"

She narrows her eyes at him. "I'm sick of people expecting me to be my mum, okay? I'm sick of people thinking that just because I'm clever and in Gryffindor and have frizzy hair and too-big teeth that I'm the know-it-all who always has her head stuck in a book! I don't read non-fiction for fun – I prefer muggle fantasy, thank you very much – but no one's ever asked! URGH!" She tugs at her hair, dropping her forehead to her knees.

He finds he's caught up now. "And you expected Albus to understand because people expect him to be his father, but not anymore because he's a Slytherin, and there's no way the Golden Boy could be a snake, right?"

She nods, not lifting her head. Her red hair cascades around her, almost completely covering her, so that all he can see is a mass of red.

"Weasley, I understand."

His voice is neither louder nor softer than it has been, but all the same it makes her head snap up.

"You do?"

"Just because I look like him, does not mean that I am like my father. The Sorting Hat very nearly put me in Ravenclaw, after all. Mum thinks I'm more like her than Father." He sighs. "But I'm a Slytherin and a Malfoy with blonde hair and silver eyes, and that means I must be Father reincarnated."

Now she looks indignant on his behalf – moments ago she was prejudging him just like everyone else. He smiles inside, bemused, and doesn't say anything.

"You know what, Malfoy? I think you're all right."

The corner of his mouth twitches. "Mind telling your cousin Albus that one? It's been two weeks; the constant hostility is getting a bit dull."

He smirks, and she snickers, and he wonders if he's honestly just attained a Weasley as his first friend.

Father will be so proud.

He smiles at the sardonic thought.