AN1: Yes, this is a Rose/Scorpius WIP being posted simultaneously with another, different headcanon Rose/Scorpius story. Sorry. I know that's incredibly rude and mean of me, but reveals went up at swrm_ficafest, so I thought I should post this here. Also, this is what took up a decent amount of that six month hiatus in Tending Roses. Fair warning, though, if you read this piece at the fest first - I ran the clock out on the deadline, and I wasn't entirely pleased with the LJ version, so I'll be making some edits to certain chapters as this is posted over here. Section Six is almost entirely different.

AN2: This was written for the 2012 smrw_ficafest over on LiveJournal, and for the second year in a row, my submission was voted one of the most popular submissions. I'm incredibly flattered by this, as I am by all the praise and support I get from all my lovely readers. You all are amazing, and I love every single one of you. Thanks for reading, as always.

AN3: Huge thanks as always to Maggie, without whom I'd be a much poorer writer.

AN4: Hope y'all like Pride and Prejudice, because that's the basis for this one! :) Enjoy!

Prompt: "May I ask to what these questions tend?"
"Merely to the illustration of your character," said she, endeavouring to shake off her gravity. "I am trying to make it out."
"And what is your success?"
She shook her head. "I do not get on at all. I hear such different accounts of you as puzzle me exceedingly." - Pride and Prejudice

Universally Acknowledged or

Five Times Rose Weasley and Scorpius Malfoy Crossed Paths
(and one time their paths converged)


Rose started avoiding Shanti. Not entirely, not on work projects or going out of her way to spend time away from her, but working through lunch, turning down invitations to go out with a stockpile of good, ready excuses.

The Iceland trip had gone off without a hitch, and Scorpius had been right - there was plenty for the team to find and send back, even if the illusive magical link wasn't among it. But Rose started working overtime to try and get through all the cataloguing and research necessary, and eventually Anabel split the shift into two distinct schedules, and Rose and Shanti were on different halves. So it wasn't difficult to avoid her best friend.

And it wasn't that Rose wanted to, necessarily, it was just that she knew the minute she actually talked to Shanti, her secret about Scorpius would come spilling out, and Rose was really trying her best to forget it had ever happened.

She wasn't having much luck. If her attention wandered for even a minute, it went straight to him, and not to the angry words they'd exchanged. Her mind fixated on the night they'd spent together, and how right it had felt, and how upset she was, despite her words that morning, that he hadn't made at least some effort to get in contact with her. He really was content, it seemed, to prove his point by waiting for the universe to supposedly throw them together again, and she wasn't about to give him the satisfaction.

So Shanti wasn't all Rose was avoiding. She kept to a very strict schedule with absolute rigidity - same grocer, same apothecary, same Apparation Point, same track through the Ministry every day. She didn't grab coffee or lunch with anyone, didn't go out to supper, didn't go out after work, none of it. She wasn't about to prove Scorpius right. If she ran into him on one of her daily tasks, it didn't count because she hadn't changed her routine at all. But just to be on the safe side, she spent as little time outside work or her flat as possible, to minimize the chances of randomly encountering Scorpius Malfoy.

Yes, she was aware that her life had become insane.

It didn't help that she missed Shanti, a lot, and had almost cracked and spilled everything on more than one occasion. But she held firm to her convictions for a whole month after the Iceland expedition, until Shanti finally took matters into her own hands and cornered Rose after work one night.

"Are you mad at me?" she asked straight off, since Shanti didn't believe in beating around the bush.

Rose was taken aback. "No," was her immediate and genuine response. "No, of course not, Shanti. I've just been busy, is all."

Shanti nodded, her focus on the floor. "Thanks for confirming that you have, in fact, been avoiding me," she said softly, and Rose colored.

"Shanti-" she tried to say, but Shanti cut her off.

"Is it about Iceland?" she asked. "Are you still upset about getting cut? I wouldn't blame you for being upset still, I'd probably be, but at least let me know what I can do to help."

Rose shook her head. "It's not Iceland," she said.

"Then what is it?" Shanti asked, and it was the concern in her voice that broke Rose down. If she'd demanded or been angry, Rose might have kept her silence. But she could do nothing in the face of the knowledge that her best friend was worried about her.

"I slept with Scorpius Malfoy," she said in a rush, and because she refused to look at Shanti as she said it, she missed her friend's reaction.

Shanti was stunned, to say the least. Of all the things she had been fearing, that was not even close to being one of them. "What?" she asked breathlessly. "When?"

"The day I found out about the trip," Rose confessed, glancing up at her friend, bracing for censure. "He found me right after, and I was upset, and-"

"Did he take advantage of you?" Shanti demanded in a much harsher voice. "Because if he took advantage of you, I don't care if he's an Unspeakable, I'll end him."

Rose laughed, and realized with a start that she hadn't done that in quite some time. "No," she assured Shanti. "He didn't take advantage, I wanted it, or at least, I did then. But the next morning, I regretted it, and we got into a huge argument, and he started spouting this nonsense about inevitability and our souls being linked and just crazy things like that, and I left and I haven't seen or heard from him since, despite the fact that he said he wasn't done with me, but I guess that's just par for the course at this point."

Rose was well aware that she was rambling and probably not making any sense, but because Shanti was a good friend, she didn't point any of this out. Instead, she just said, "Why don't we go somewhere so you can tell me everything?"

Rose agreed, so long as the place they went was her flat or Shanti's, and though Shanti raised her eyebrows at that, she didn't ask or argue. Back at Shanti's flat, Rose told her best friend everything, from punching the wall in the corridor to her exit from Scorpius's the next morning. Shanti sat silent through the whole telling, and when Rose was done, she waited anxiously for Shanti's reaction, but Shanti just took a moment, nodded, and said, "Okay."

"Okay?" Rose repeated, a bit surprised. "That's it?"

"Look, I need time to process all this, and you're worked up enough that I don't think you're really going to listen to anything I say, even if I could get it out coherently, so yeah. For now, okay."

On some level, Rose was relieved. Reliving the experience she'd been trying so hard to forget had been bad enough. She was more than happy to continue putting off about thinking about what had happened in any sort of depth.

"Just tell me one thing," Shanti said, interrupting Rose's train of thought. "Is Scorpius as good a shag as I imagine he is?"

Rose colored immediately. "Shanti!" she exclaimed, shocked and embarrassed.

"What?" Shanti questioned, all innocence. "He's fit, and very nice to look at, so I just -"

"I am not answering that question," Rose said, trying to maintain some dignity. Shanti gave her a long and shrewd look.

"Best shag of your life?" she said after a moment, and Rose looked down.

"Shut up," was the only answer she gave.

But the end of the conversation aside, just telling Shanti had helped, and she actually waited three more months before broaching the subject again. When she did finally speak up, Rose's birthday had just passed, another day in the long string with no word from Scorpius, and by this point she was resigned and relieved and angry and worried and it was really starting to affect her life and her work.

And so she wasn't entirely surprised when Shanti plopped down on Rose's desk at the end of one work day, and said nothing more than, "Okay." But this okay was far different from the one of three months prior, because this okay was starting a conversation rather than ending one.

"Okay?" Rose questioned, and Shanti nodded.

"I have been thinking this through for three months now, and I have come to three conclusions."

"This ought to be good," Rose said, leaning back in her chair and crossing her arms. But Shanti was unfazed.

"Though I say so myself, yes I certainly think so. Conclusion number one - Scorpius has a point. He's absolutely horrible at wooing women, but he does have a point."

Rose's jaw dropped in stunned, betrayed surprise. "What?" she sputtered. "About what, his ridiculous inevitability theory?"

"Yeah, it's not so ridiculous when you think about it," Shanti said evenly. "Of the, oh we'll say, thousand students you went to school with over our seven years at Hogwarts, how many would you say you were really close to? As in, spent a substantial amount of time with them, knew them well, sought them out for conversations?"

"Shanti, what does this have to do with anything?"

"Humor me."

Rose sighed and considered. "I don't know, maybe . . . 20-25? Counting my cousins."

"Okay, and how many more would you call close acquaintances? People who you'd have a conversation with, were on decently good terms with, and spoke to on a regular basis, even if you wouldn't call them close friends?"

"Seventy-five or so? Shanti, what's your point?"

"And finally," she continued, ignoring Rose's question, "how many would you call casual acquaintances? People whose names you knew or faces you recognized, but not really anything more?"

"Maybe . . . three hundred, three fifty? Seriously, Shanti, what -"

"So of that . . . 47 percent of the people you went to school with, how many do you encounter on a regular basis now that you've been out of school?" Rose felt her stomach start to sink. "Of even the 25 people you called closed friends, leave out the ones related to you, how many do you keep in contact with?" Rose didn't answer, because she was almost certain she knew where this was going. "And the rest," Shanti continued. "People unconnected with work, how many have you run into more than once or twice? And yet, here's Scorpius. A guy you barely knew in school. You two have one chance meeting, and now? Comparatively speaking, you two run into each other all the time, Rose. And it's not planned, it's not connected to work, it just happens. So yeah. He's got a point."

"And conclusion two?" Rose asked because she really didn't want to spend any more time on Shanti's logical and well-reasoned point.

"Conclusion two is that you're head over heels in love with the guy, and you really need to admit it." Rose's head snapped up in panic.

"I - I'm not," she started, her mouth dry, and Shanti looked at her with a mixture of sympathy and pity.

"Rose," she said gently.

"I barely know him," Rose whispered, desperate to believe that meant anything, but Shanti called her on it.

"Not a pre-requisite," she said, not unkindly. "Also not true. I think you probably know him better than anyone. Look at everything he's shared with you."

"Knowing him better than anyone doesn't mean I know him, Shanti, he told me that himself-"

"Rose, you're avoiding the point," Shanti said bluntly. "And the point is this - you don't see your one-night stand in the Mirror of Erised." That silenced Rose, and she looked down at her hands. "Rose, avoiding it doesn't make it less true, and ignoring it doesn't make it go away. Just answer this - can you look me in the eye and deny that you're in love with him?"

"No, I can't!" Rose said, almost angrily, because Shanti was right, and Rose knew it, and she hated it. She was in love with him, and she'd thought he was in love with her, too, but he'd never said it, despite the plethora of opportunities she"d given him, and he'd let her walk away and hadn't gotten in contact with her for four months, so maybe she was wrong. Maybe the Mirror hadn't meant what she'd thought, but she really couldn't bear the idea of that being true. "And what's conclusion three?" she asked. "That I need to suck it up and just talk to him?"

"No, but that's probably true, too," Shanti said. "Conclusion three is that you need to stop being a hermit and come out with me tonight."

"Shanti," Rose said with a sigh, "I'm really not up for it."

"Which is partly why you have to," Shanti said. "Let me guess - you've been avoiding leaving work or your flat so that you don't risk running into Scorpius and potentially proving his theories right, yeah?" Rose didn't answer, but she didn't need to. "Yeah, that's dumb, Rose. And what's more, you know it's dumb. You can't spend your life hiding in your apartment. You'll go crazy. So come out with me tonight. It's my cousin's birthday. She's a Muggle. She's hosting her party in a Muggle bar in Muggle London. It is the very last place you are going to run into Scorpius Malfoy."

And Shanti was right. A Muggle bar in the middle of Muggle London overrun with guests at a Muggle birthday party was the last place to find Scorpius Malfoy. And so, of course, that was where Rose ran into him for the first time in four months.

He wasn't there right away. Rose had been awkwardly nursing a drink at the bar while Shanti hung out with her cousin on the dance floor for almost half an hour before Scorpius walked in, shaking snow from his hair. He looked exhausted, his face red from the cold outside, but Rose was too busy staring in shock to really notice much more about him.

He walked up to the bar and had just placed a drink order when looked around and saw her.

He froze, his eyes widening as Rose's look hardened into a glare. Abandoning her drink, she marched over to him. "Are you following me?" she demanded, and he shook his head, still staring at her.

"No," he said faintly.

"Seriously," she hissed. "Did you know I would be here? Did Shanti tell you?"

"Rose, I - am stunned to see you," he said, and he was, she realized. "What are you doing here?"

"Shanti's cousin," Rose said haltingly. "Birthday party." The full magnitude of the situation hit her as her anger faded away. She swallowed hard, looking anywhere but at him, but eventually she had to ask in a small and hopeless voice, "Inevitable?"

He gave her half a smile, all apologetic, and said, "Yeah."

Rose shook her head. "I need to sit down," she said, because it was all too much. Scorpius signaled to the bartender, then led Rose gently to a nearby table. Rose slid into the seat and pressed a hand to her forehead, her head spinning.

"So," Scorpius said after a slight hesitation as the bartender brought their drinks over. "How have you been?"

Rose stared at him, then shook her head. "No," she said in a hard voice. "We're not going to do that. It's been four months, Scorpius, we're not just going to pick up where we left off."

Scorpius nodded, then said, "Okay. Then . . . where would you like to pick up?"

Rose stared at him again, incredulous this time. "How about the part where you say you're not done with me, and then four months pass?" she said angrily.

Scorpius looked down into his drink. "I just finished an undercover assignment," he said. "As a Muggle. I can't tell you why, obviously, but I got the assignment the day we — that's why I haven't been in touch. I couldn't. Rotten timing, I was so angry I couldn't tell you — but we got the information tonight. I was heading home, but it was cold, and I fancied a drink, and this was the nearest place. I get it if you don't believe that, but I swear it's the truth."

"Inevitable," Rose said again and closed her eyes. "I don't know if I can live in a world where things like this happen," she admitted then. "It's just . . . it's too much. I don't want the universe controlling my life."

"Don't think of it as the universe controlling your life. Think of it as the universe . . . trying to tell you something." He said it with just the tiniest hint of a smirk, and something shifted in that moment. The shift threw Rose off balance until she could identify what had happened.

And then it hit her - he was flirting with her. In a way he hadn't, not once, in their last interaction, or the interaction before. He was flirting with her, and that was how all this had started, and she realized in that moment that she missed it. So she returned his smirk with one of her own and said, "Yeah, Mr. Self-Assured? And what exactly do you think the universe is saying?"

"A soul expires or the paths converge," he said cryptically, but Rose knew what he meant. "That's how this ends, Rose."

"God, you really are bad at this," she said, and he lifted an eyebrow in confusion. "Wooing women," she clarified. "You kind of suck at it." She leaned forward over the tabletop and beckoned him closer. "Do you know what you never said when you were talking about souls and inevitability and all those other big, scary ideas? You never said anything about loving me."

He sat back, a look on his face like that had never really occurred to him. "I guess . . . he said slowly, "I thought it went without saying."

The statement made her heartbeat quicken, and for a moment it was hard to breathe, but she managed to say, "That never goes without saying." He nodded.

"All right, then," he said, leaning across the table so that their faces were only inches apart. He reached between them and took her hand in both of his, and looked at her with that intensity that had stolen her breath and inhibitions four months before. "I'll say it. But have to warn you first: I've been patient for a long time. I know how terrifying this is, loving someone so seemingly unknown, so seemingly ill-suited. I know the struggle you're battling with because I went through the same battle. And I know I have to give you time, but . . ." He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "It is becoming much harder to keep waiting," he admitted. "And if I say this, then you have to know that I'm committing to a future with you. And if you say it back, you're committing to one with me. Because if this night ends with you in my bed again, I don't want to be faced with you trying to sneak away tomorrow morning."

Her cheeks flushed with shame, and she looked away. He reached forward gently and touched her chin, lifting her face back to his. "Rose Weasley," he said in a voice barely louder than a whisper, "You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire-"

"I'll hit you," she said, but she couldn't stop the smile, and he laughed.

"Rose," he said, more serious now, "I love you. I have loved you for so long now. Someday I'll tell you just how long. But at this moment, I want to look to the future. The future I get to spend with you. The future I've been worked toward for so long."

She peered at him and shook her head. "You are laying it on really thick."

"That's because Shanti caught sight of us about twenty seconds ago, and I'm trying to see if I can get her to roll her eyes at us from all the way across the room," he confessed.

"Keep on in that vein, and I have no doubt you'll succeed." He smiled.

"You want to get out of here?" he asked, and she nodded. As he gathered his coat, Rose caught Shanti's eye from across the room. Shanti raised her eyebrows and nodded in Scorpius's direction, a question clear in her eyes. Rose shrugged and nodded, and Shanti smiled. Then Scorpius came up behind Rose and reached for her hand. Rose took it, and smiled up at him, lost in the intensity of his gaze. After a self-indulgent moment, she turned back to find Shanti again, who was gagging in Rose's general direction.

"Success," Scorpius said in her ear, and Rose grinned. "Though I meant every word, my dearest, loveliest-"

"Seriously, I will hurt you," she said with a laugh. He grinned down at her.

"Come on," he said, taking her hand, and together, they headed out into the night.

Thank you all for reading! Please review!