Chapter Five, Part Two
Fifth Year: A Covert Operation
"I feel like this could probably be a much better thought-out plan," Scorpius said with a slight grimace. They were still in the Room of Requirement and had spent the past two hours coming up with a plan that would successfully end with their respective best friends dating and thus distracted from what Rose and Scorpius were doing with their time.
"You worry too much," Rose informed him, looking up from the piece of parchment she had been examining until his interruption. "We've accounted for every possible scenario; not even a Ravenclaw could come up with a more well-thought-out plan. Everything is going to be just fine."
"I'll believe that when I see it," Scorpius muttered.
Rose grinned widely at him. "And lucky for you, you're up first. Tomorrow you'll get to see our incredibly well-thought-out plan up close and personal in action."
"Have I mentioned yet that I'm not completely fond of out plan?"
"No," Rose replied shortly. "And this is a really poor time to first bring it up."
"I only mean I feel semi-bad about tricking Al into doing something," Scorpius clarified swiftly. "Because he's my best mate and we…well, we…"
Scorpius bit his lip, contemplating how best to explain his minor bit of resistance (and firmly ignoring the voice in his head, which sounded suspiciously like his grandfather, telling him that such an action was highly undignified, especially for a Malfoy). Disregarding the fact that he was currently attempting to secretly date the other boy's cousin, Scorpius knew Al would be upset if one of the reasons their friendship was so important was revealed, thus revealing the diabolical plan they had come up with way back in first year. Though, of course, their friendship had progressed to the point that they were beyond relying on such things, but it was still the thought that counted…
Rose's expression softened by this point, however. She reached out the short distance separating them and covered one of his hands with her own. "I would agree with you—the whole guilt trip about tricking our best friends into something—except I wouldn't have suggested this plan if I didn't think it would work. And I don't think it will work unless they want it to, and I am pretty positive that they do want our plan to work; they just don't know it yet."
"So, what you're saying," Scorpius began slowly, "Is that Al and Longbottom have secret crushes on each other, but they're so secret they don't even know they have them?"
"Yep. That's it exactly."
"Well, then, I stand corrected. I think this is going to be very interesting to watch unfold."
"So…" Scorpius began slowly, relaxing into his seat in the corner of the Slytherin Common Room on Wednesday night. "How's your life going?"
Al looked up from the Charms book he had been casually perusing, a single eyebrow raised. "Really? I'm pretty sure we just spent all day together. You're really asking how I am?"
Scorpius rolled his eyes. "Well, fine, then, I see how it is."
Now it was Al's turn to roll his eyes. "My life is just grand Scorpius, why do you ask?"
"I was thinking," Scorpius began after a slight pause. "There's a Hogsmeade visit this weekend."
"Yes. Yes, there is," Al agreed when Scorpius didn't continue.
"Well," Scorpius continued, "What are we doing for it?"
"Doing for it?" Al repeated.
"Merlin, you're being difficult today," Scorpius stated. "Yes, doing for it. Do you have another date with that Hufflepuff? Or are you dragging me along with you again?"
"I hope this isn't about to turn into another conspiracy theory rant," Al said warningly, "Because I really thought we were past that point in our lives."
"Funny you should mention that, actually," Scorpius said, and continued over Al's groan of dismay, "I've been thinking: it was fun that time we spent the day in Hogsmeade with Rose and Longbottom that one time last year. We should do that again sometime; this weekend, if you're up for it."
"Oh," Al said shortly, slight taken aback. "Well, okay then. I'll talk to Rosie tomorrow and convince her and Longbottom to come with us."
Scorpius allowed a small smirk to cross his features.
"So…" Rose began, flopping gracelessly onto her bed in Gryffindor Tower, "Did you have a good time today?"
"Yes," Alice conceded with a good-natured roll of her eyes. "Thank you ever so much for forcing me to join your family bonding time."
Rose rolled her eyes in response. "It was just Al; spending time in Gryffindor Tower is more family bonding time for me than today in Hogsmeade was, especially since Scorpius was there, too, and he is definitely not one of my many cousins."
"Actually, I really did have a good time today," Alice said, not meeting Rose's eyes as she turned to remove her jacket. "I'm glad you decided to invite the boys along. I mean, Malfoy was just as quiet and mysterious as always, but I never knew how hilarious Al is. And he's so much more handsome than James…"
Doing her best not to cringe at the fact her best friend had previously thought one of Rose's cousins was attractive—because, after all, broadly speaking that was the objective here—Rose couldn't help by smirk slightly as she relaxed into her pillows as Alice continued on about all of Al's apparently wonderful attributes that she had discovered today.
The plan was definitely working.
"You know," Al began thoughtfully, unbuttoning his jacket slowly as he spoke, "I was almost starting to think you and Rosie were back to hating each other."
"Er…what?" Scorpius looked up from the book he'd purchased earlier that day in the village.
"Well, you have to admit the two of you have been acting weird lately when we've all been studying together," Al stated. "What else was I supposed to think other than a relapse of your intense hatred for each other?"
"But you don't think that anymore?" Scorpius questioned.
"Not after the day we just had," Al smiled.
"Have a good time, then?" "Scorpius said, amused at his friend's silly grin.
Al nodded readily. "I have no idea why we didn't try this again sooner. I mean, I'm always up for spending time with Rosie, but Alice was brilliant. Rose should really bring her around more often."
"So you can stare at her constantly like you kept doing today?"
"Oi! I'm swearing you to best mate secrecy. You didn't see a thing."
And as Al turned back to emptying out his pockets of the day's purchases—and gifts from Uncle George—a smirk spread across Scorpius's face. Nope, he hadn't seen a single thing…
At the sound—rather, shriek—of her name across the Gryffindor Common Room, Rose looked up from the essay she'd been looking over for her brother to see Alice heading in her direction, having just entered the room through the portrait hole. Her eyes widened slightly in alarm as she took in the manic gleam in Alice's.
"Ah—I think I'll just be going now," Hugo said swiftly, snatching his essay from his sister's hands as he took in the sight of her best friend's rapid approach. He nearly tripped over his feet as he stood up quickly in his haste to get away. "Thanks for the help, Rosie!" He called over his shoulder as he speedily walked away.
"Knew that would work," Alice said smugly, collapsing gracefully into the seat Hugo had just vacated.
"Is there any particular reason you were trying to get rid of my brother?" Rose asked with a touch of humor in her voice. "Or did it just suddenly strike your fancy?"
Alice jolted upright in her seat, the near-manic glint back in her eyes. "I have something to tell you!"
"Go on, then," Rose said with a nod.
"Well, I know this weekend is the last Hogsmeade visit of the year, and of course we always go together, but would you be terribly upset if we maybe didn't do that this weekend?" Alice said all in one breath.
"Well…" Rose said, looking just a bit overwhelmed by her friend's overpowering exuberance. "I know you're definitely not that excited over the prospect of helping your mum out in the pub this weekend instead, that's for sure."
"Hardly," Alice replied with a roll of her eyes.
"Then what will you be doing instead of going to Hogsmeade with me?" Rose questioned curiously.
"Al asked me to go with him!" Alice squealed.
"Al?" Rose repeated, her expression carefully neutral. "As in my cousin Al?"
"Yes…are you terribly angry with me?" Alice asked biting her lip, suddenly worried.
"No," Rose replied immediately with a grin. "That's brilliant. It's about time he asked you out; you two have been flirting with each other for weeks. Since the last Hogsmeade weekend I'd reckon, actually."
"Well it's not my fault you kept dragging me to the library to study with you and him and Malfoy," Alice retorted, through she was grinning as well. "If you didn't want to hear any of it, you shouldn't have brought me with."
"My mistake," Rose shrugged.
"Best mistake you've ever made," Alice agreed. "Now, what in Merlin's name am I going to wear this weekend?"
"I always knew our plan would work perfectly," Scorpius stated, sighing contentedly as he tilted his head back to the tree he was leaning against so that his face was pointed towards the sun.
Relaxing in his arms, Rose shook her head with a slight smile but did not otherwise respond.
While Al and Alice were spending the day together in Hogsmeade, Scorpius and Rose had assuaged their friends' guilt over ditching them by saying they needed to spend the day in the library studying anyway. After all, their O.W.L.'s were fast approaching. In reality, though, Scorpius and Rose had spent much of the late morning and early afternoon enjoying a picnic together in a secluded part of the grounds. It had been a perfect first date (and impromptu study session, as Rose had brought along her Herbology textbook "just in case") and they were now taking a moment to simply relax and enjoy each other's presence before heading back to the castle ahead of the Hogsmeade crowd.
As Scorpius sat there with Rose in his arms, he couldn't help by admit to himself that it had been rather unfair of him to decide a year previously (even if only to himself) that he loved Rose Weasley. Yes, they had known each other for several years, but after today, he realized the he was only just now truly getting to know her. And of course, now that he'd had the chance to act on his feelings for her, he was happy to wait and see if what they had could turn into real love.
But until they were more confident about their relationship, both were still more than content to continue keeping it all a secret from their families. It was really for the best this way.
a/n—Well, this is the fastest I've ever updated this story; twice in less than a week, go me. I was never actually planning to write this chapter, however, but every single review I got for last chapter wanted to see it, so it here it is. I hope you liked it. The next chapter (Sixth Year: A Favor is Returned Unnecessarily) is probably going to be another short one, so hopefully I won't take forever with it, but no guarantees. Thanks for reading!