It wasn't the worst break up in the world. Rose had done worse and I'd taken bigger hits to the ego, but it did feel like the end of the world for a few minutes. It was my longest relationship, Rose and I, stretching the full course of eighteen months (and before then the prospect of a relationship had always been on the horizon, just out of reach) and one of the most intense periods of transit – of when we grew up and graduated from Hogwarts, got our first jobs and moved away from our dorm mates. It felt like the end of everything that I knew was certain, just for a little while, before I allowed myself to step back and took in the fact that we'd been rubbish for ages. Fighting, see, not getting on; things had been difficult and I could track Rose's reasoning back to its origin without too much in depth thinking. I wasn't surprised as much as the brutality of the whole thing had shocked me somewhat.
And now, the morning after, and I wasn't quite sure what to think. Something monumental had happened without me giving expression permission, and now it had happened and that was that – I couldn't change history, or else there'd have been plenty I'd have changed by now, but history was a fact and Rose Weasley had broken up with me because we just weren't working out.
Because it started with a breakup in which Rose didn't cry and I nearly didn't either (and I definitely didn't cry in front of her). Well actually, I suppose it all ended with a break up, because before then there was a whole relationship and a whole history that mapped itself across our final two years of education at Hogwarts ( not that we were together all that long, but I considered those two years as belonging solely to Rose). The beginning of the end was that messy period after finishing Hogwarts, but the actual end – or that second beginning – happened in a booth in Dom's favourite pub, where Rose dumped one Scorpius Malfoy. It was glossed over and delivered as a 'mutual agreement' of a relationship that was causing both of us to b unhappy and more than its fair share of arguments, but the bit I remembered was the 'we can be friends again, Scorp. I don't think I could deal with not being friends with you.'
So that night in Dom's favourite pub was the beginning of one of the most complicated minefields I'd ever navigated, because girls often didn't mean what they said and I had every intention of taking Rose Weasley's words as law – we were going to be friends, and that was that. She'd as good as promised.
Mum provided a second alarm call after the actual alarm, which was nice, because without it I was sure I'd have slept well past the start of work and been more than excusably late for my shift – as it was my head felt slightly fuzzy, although I wasn't sure what to attribute that too, and I'd have been more than happy to sleep until way past midday.
I felt like I was floating as I headed to work, spinning through the fireplaces as though that felt any different to the lightheaded, odd feeling that accompanied the morning revelations that after such a long time I was completely and utterly single and not tied to Rose Weasley in the slightest – or, at least, only as far as the basic duties of humanity stretched, or maybe as far as the duties of friendships stretched too – and I entered the office feeling disconnected and separate from my surroundings.
Not that that was particularly unusual, because the office was saturated with woman – other than Michael Piercey – that I usually felt outnumbered and disconcerted, but it was made considerably worse that one of the few woman who were obliged to take my side on things was now cut loose and not a reliable source of back up, so now I almost felt as though Lottie, Natasha and Tahirah were about to rip me apart whist Michael looked on with that blank expression of his.
Today of all days I'd have quite liked to have found myself back in the Hogwarts dorm and surrounding myself with my male, simple dorm mates and not worrying about declarations of friendship or the fact that Natasha, my boss, was absolutely terrifying or the fact that Lottie kept calling my 'Scorpio' for no reason that I could identify (and despite the fact that I'd told her, on multiple occasions, that I really did prefer the straight up and simple – or as close as my name could get to it – 'Scorpius) – because on days like this the whole concept of dealing with women was both alarming, terrifying and intriguing all at once.
Intriguing because, part of me felt, if I could just study someone for one more day I might gain some basic understanding of how the hell woman's mind's worked, and the rest because this belief was continually tainted by perpetual disappointment, which continued for as long as I kept up faith in this state of enlightenment.
But, as it was, Lottie Brookes yet again met me at the door and led me through to my office – as though I still might forget the way – and I sat down and started reading notes about individual cases connected with the floo network.
My job wasn't like Rose's – an internship at the Prophet – but it heralded chance of promotion and a position far enough in the ministry to provide for two. But, even I had to admit – on days like these – that it required little to no brainwork to sign off each separate incident as 'approved' or 'requires further investigation.'
Chances were I'd never find out the results of the investigation, and instead end up wondering about it on late nights when I couldn't sleep, mapping out the faces of the potentially innocent in my mind and trying to pinpoint whether I thought them actually innocent: it was the sort of thing, had I told Rose, that would have driven her crazy.
Rose. We had spent such a long time together – by anyone's standards, eighteen months was a long time – and even my parents had to grudgingly admit that our relationship scoped beyond the boundaries of teenage rebellion (from Rose's side, not from mine; they never doubted me) and instead sat somewhere close to serious, but it was all those mornings we met for breakfast before classes, the study sessions for two and the pub dates that made me feel slightly lost. Rose used to say that I was no good at grounding myself to people (a leftover effect from my less than functional funny), and whilst she had Dom and Albus and all her Hogwarts friends and her Prophet friends my social circles were much smaller than that. And so suddenly I felt cut off from all of it.
"Morning," Lottie said, her hair falling over her eyes as it always did and looking unduly cheerful, as she always did, "cup of coffee, Scorpio?"
I nodded as I made my way towards my desk. There was a picture of Rose and I next to the photo of me with my parents, taken by Imogen in the middle of seventh year (back before Rose and Imogen had fallen out) and the moment it had been taken had been a rare moment of publically displayed affection. Rose always hated that sort of thing, but it had been in the middle of a snowball fight and any occasion where I joined in with things like that with her family she seemed to take the success to heart (she said, on occasions, that in her view I'd missed out on a childhood all together). In that moment, she was tucked under my arm, her bright red hair bigger than normal thanks to Albus rubbing snow into her scalp, her face flushed pink and her hands wrapped around my waist. I'd beamed and kissed her forehead and then the camera flashed. Snap.
"How is Rose?" Lottie asked, approaching my desk with a cup of coffee – doubtless with the number of sugars and an odd amount of milk, as Lottie tended to make up people's orders if she forgot to ask or you didn't tell her, as though not directly stating a preference meant you were indifferent. She pushed her glasses up her nose and nodded towards where I was staring at the photograph.
"Oh," I said, plucking the photo from my desk and placing it face up in my draw. I shut it. Snap.
"Ah," Lottie said.
I'd rather have left the photo on the desk, but that seemed inappropriate and strange now. It was just plain pathetic to have a photo of your ex girlfriend on your desk, however good friends you were after the break up.
My coffee, this time, at least appeared to have milk in it.
"Who else is in?"
"Just Michael and me," Lottie said, "and your documents haven't arrived yet."
Being alone with Lottie also left me feeling slightly disconcerted. Although I couldn't pinpoint why, exactly, she made me want look in the mirror and make sure that someone hadn't drawn something on my face whilst I slept, the feeling was always there whenever she perched on the edge of my desk and chatted away. Which she did just about daily, because despite the fact that the office was comprised of an almost entirely female workforce, the fact that she was the secretary seemed to convince her that she was beneath the other's social standards.
Or, as Rose had said, maybe she just preferred talking to guys. And Michael was certainly not a conversationalist.
"If you ever want to talk about Rose, Scorpio, just let me know," Lottie said, smiling before she left me alone to sample my coffee.
At least three sugars today and about fifty percent milk content which, really, wasn't all that far off how I usually made it for myself.
"Lottie says you're back on the market," Natasha Bevis – my boss – said as she dumped my pile of documents onto my desk, "she warned me to be sensitive to your plight," she continued, raising her thick eyebrows and an expression not unlike a smile tugging at her wide mouth, although not a smile because Natasha Bevis never did anything soft like smiling, "so I'll schedule the Scorpio auction for tomorrow. You're sure to find someone who'll have a Malfoy – personally, I think Piercey's had his eye on you from the second you walked in." And then she laughed loudly, sending an amused glance towards Lottie, before disappearing into her private office.
I glanced in Michael Piercey's direction. He was still slumped over his desk in the corner and showed no signs of acknowledging that anyone else was sharing the same oxygen as him, let alone in showing actual interest in a person.
"Morning," Tahirah said in that silky way of hers, before sitting down at the desk next to me and beginning to scan through her own documents, which meant either Lottie hadn't told her about my 'plight' yet, or she'd deemed Tahirah sensitive enough not to be warned against stomping on my allegedly broken heart.
I wasn't really sure whether I did have a broken heart.
It didn't appear to have sunk in yet.
"I made you some more coffee, Scorpio!" Lottie said, arriving with another cup –which looked to have been blessed with about a teaspoon worth of milk. She gave me an extra intense smile and I took the coffee as Lottie's misguided attempt to make me feel better, although I imagined all her efforts would only lead to a lot more jokes from my female co-workers and a caffeine overdose.
"Thanks," I said, grudgingly.
You couldn't tell Lottie that sort of thing though; it was just to akin to kicking a puppy to even consider it. Even Natasha didn't outwardly mock Lottie, instead choosing a subtle tone of mockery clearly laced with a lot of affection.
There was a very large part of me that cared even less about the floo network than usual and it was really quite difficult to not take the photograph of Rose and me out of my desk draw just to look at it for awhile.
I couldn't pinpoint the exact moment that Rose and I became friends.
I was never the most sociable person at Hogwarts. Mostly, I found it easier in respect to avoid the reaction that accompanied the name 'Malfoy' by not drawing attention to myself. Instead, I existed happily in the background, working hard to achieve good results from average intelligence, talking to everyone a little without forming any real close relationship with anyone.
And it was okay. I never felt lonely – I spent half my childhood alone in Malfoy Manor and, after that was sold, the rest in a house that was still a little too big for the three of us – so I was quite happy existing mainly in my own company and not having to worry about other people. That, Rose later said, was my personal brand of Slytherin because, as she pointed out, no one could really accuse me of being ambitious in terms of career or my situation at Hogwarts, but by avoiding tying myself to people I avoided having to deal with their problems on top of my own.
I was my own Scorpius Island and absolutely and perfectly happy.
And then Rose came tumbling into my life and seemed to care that during most games of Hide and Seek in my childhood I'd cram myself into a small space and wait, and wait, and only give up on my father actually trying to find me once I'd fallen asleep there and woken up with a crook in my neck and not to my father's looming face, either, but to the same blank walls of whatever hiding space it had been. It wasn't like my Dad was a bad father, because he wasn't, it was just that he'd once been pushed into being a bad person and had been somewhat damaged ever since – so, whilst my Mum would dote on me, Dad would look at me with this odd expression like he couldn't quite believe I existed, as if searching in me for something of himself and hoping to hell that no resemblance was there.
I hadn't expected her to be so fixated on the lack of fun in my childhood, because on the outside one simply didn't immediately associate Rose with having fun anyway; her family were all so much louder and more attention seeking with their need for everyone to know that they were enjoying themselves, so I never related Rose to the pranks and the Quidditch insanity and the general chaos that, say, seemed to follow Roxanne and Fred in their wake. But, according to Rose, just because she occasionally opted out that didn't mean she didn't think it was important, or that she didn't participate in it at all, it just meant that sometimes she didn't feel like it.
And so then Rose set about trying to teach me that flying was fun, and not just a discipline, and that it was never too late for a first snow fight, and that it was practically a law that you had to carve a pumpkin near Halloween, and pull a prank – at least once – and wear stupid novelty jumpers at Christmas just because. I hadn't expected to be swept along so by it all, or to find myself so fixated on the way Rose laughed or the fact that she seemed to care about all these missed experiences whereas no one else could give a crap.
I was still a teenager who probably ought to have more fun but couldn't quite bring himself too, and I still took things too seriously and couldn't quite see where the fun was to be had in dodging bludgers and starting food fights, but with Rose by my side I was able to enjoy myself. And we had our own private jokes and our moments and then, it hit me all at once, that I was completely in love with her.
That revelation had led to me enlisting Imogen to help me out. I'd dated before, but never very successfully, and this was the first time where I'd really wanted things to work out. After it had all worked itself out, which took some time, I was pulled into socialising with Rose's Gryffindor friends more often and they became my friends too – although I'm sure nearly all of them but Imogen thought that I was boring – and then I wasn't such a social recluse and I realised that I quite liked it, really.
And even after that it was hard to pinpoint exactly Rose took over my life but it had, at some point, happened. But that was okay, because I wasn't going to lose her, because she'd promised me – flat out – that we were going to be friends.
Hullo! This is my current NaNo project and is being written entirely for my best fanfiction bud, Hanzi. I'm currently a day ahead of schedule with 15k, but the past few years I've had a much better lead so I'm a little apprehensive... but I've never lost so it should all be fine. Please review :)