Originally written for the SMRW Ficafest over at livejournal with the prompt: 019. A guy and a girl can be just friends, but at one point or another, they will fall for each other...Maybe temporarily, maybe at the wrong time, maybe too late, or maybe forever. - Dave Matthews Band
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: sexual references, irregular swearing


The short-tempers of most Hogwarts Professors were notorious amongst the student body. If you were late to meet old Professor Slughorn (and were not a member of the Slug Club) you would be subject to cleaning out ancient cauldrons full of all kinds of potent fumes. Professor Hornell was far more likely to subject you to an evening of ensuring that the library was completely alphabetised, while Professor Longbottom preferred to let his students miss dinner in order to tend to the unruly plants housed in Greenhouse 2. This short explanation details why so many Hogwarts students arrived promptly to their classes, leaving the halls leading to each classroom constantly buzzing with chatter, laughter and the sound of hurried footsteps.

It was a familiar scene, to see masses of students moving almost in synchronisation as you made your own way to wherever happened to be your destination. As a sixth year Prefect, Rose had learned that generally if there was movement, it meant that everything was running smoothly. Once the movement stopped, however, that was the tell-tale sign that something had gone awry.

When a tired and exhausted Rose made her way through the crowds one Wednesday afternoon and spotted two unmoving students leaning against the wall, she sighed to herself. This couldn't be good. As she got closer, however, she realised that the backs of those two students looked very familiar indeed. She scowled to herself, recognising the clipped black hair and immaculate uniform of Albus, paired with the more unruly and considerably blonder mop which rested atop an unmistakably tall figure of Scorpius.

She realised that Albus was leaning up against the wall; one arm slouched against it, while Scorpius evidently had his arms crossed in front of him.

Rose shook her head and held a laugh at bay; both boys were practising the same posture which they regularly displayed in order to impress girls. Yes, Rose could almost see the looks which she was certain were planted on their faces; Albus would be staring intensely, almost creepily, at whichever girl he had his eye on, whilst Scorpius would be stood, one eyebrow raised and with a kind of smirk on his face as he scoured the crowd of students for a pretty girl.

But Rose didn't give herself time to see for herself whether she was right, as she promptly made her way towards her friends and positioned herself directly behind them, catching the end of their conversation.

'I'd give my left nut to bed Lauren Voss,' Albus stated. Scorpius scoffed.

'You're joking, she's a prude, would probably be more interested in bedding Professor Binns if you ask me. Actually, they're uncannily alike, probably related… Maybe Voss is Binns long-lost lovechild?' Scorpius considered in awe of his own thinking. He quickly moved on, 'Pauline McGather… Salazar, those legs!'

Rose decided that she'd heard enough before she quickly clapped both boys sharply around the heads.

'You two are pathetic, you know that?' She asked with a scowl as both boys nursed their heads and cursed loudly. Rose crossed her arms over her chest and surveyed the two of them, allowing a small grin to make its place on her lips, realising that the sleazy positions that the boys had assumed not more than a minute ago were gone.

'Albus, control your cousin!' Scorpius scolded as he looked up from his stooping position. He flashed Rose a small apologetic smile. It wasn't returned.

'She's your friend,' Albus replied cheekily. Rose whacked his arm in warning.

'Don't you two have somewhere to be? Other than standing in the hallway perving on the female population of Hogwarts?'

Albus and Scorpius looked at each other, before replying in unison, 'Not really.' They grinned mischievously at their unplanned chorus.

Rose rolled her eyes and turned to Albus sharply, 'Don't you have a Divination exam in the morning?'

It was Scorpius who answered the question for his friend, jumping in and surveying Rose with light affection, 'We were taking a study break.' He said, laughing easily and shaking his long locks out of his eyes.

Rose turned to her blonde friend, narrowing her eyes playfully at him. She uncrossed her arms so that they weren't imitating Scorpius' position. 'I've only just realised,' she began in a lighter, more joking tone, 'You've got a spare moment and you're not flying around the grounds on that Cleansweep of yours. Where is Scorpius Malfoy and what have you done with him? … Perhaps all of those bludgers to the head have finally caught up with you!'

Albus choked on a laugh, causing Scorpius to glower at his friend for a moment. He cleared his throat carefully before reaching out and teasingly ruffling Rose's thick ginger curls, much to her displeasure. She struggled, out of breath, out of his headlock before smoothing down her wild hair, scowl casing her face.

'Always so mature,' she said, before giving away a tell-all smile. 'Please tell me that you two are actually going to do something productive with your afternoon?'

'Well, that depends on what your definition of "productive" is, doesn't it?' Albus said, moving his arm so that it was once again resting on the wall. A smirk made its way up to his face as he did so. As Rose recognised that he was reassuming his previous girl-watching position, she rolled her eyes at her cousin.

'Good one, mate,' Scorpius commented with a wink.

'Not you too!' Rose pleaded with the taller of the two, and the one which she thought had more sense.

Scorpius shrugged, 'Gotta play the game Rose,' he apologised.

Rose turned her head to look around the hall, which led onto a secluded courtyard. There did indeed happen to be a lot of girls hanging around. Rose couldn't help but wrinkle her nose in disgust as she realised that there were more than a few groups of boys hanging around too, adopting similar poses to Al and Scorpius.

'You sound like an idiot,' Rose replied with a sigh, 'And staring at girls isn't "playing the game", it's called being creepy. I'll see you two creeps later.'

The boys barely listened as she bid her farewell, only offering a weak, 'yeah', and 'laters' as their best friend retreated. Rose couldn't help but huff as she walked slowly away from them, wondering momentarily why her two best friends had to be male – they only got worse as they got older! As she continued to walk through the 'hall of girls', she realised that the stupidity wasn't as one sided as it first appeared.

To her right, two Slytherin girls sat touching-up their makeup in the middle of the hall. On the other side of her, a blonde-haired Hufflepuff was giggling far too loudly and obviously to be the least bit genuine, and ahead of her, she could see a whole group of fifth-years gossiping quietly and shooting the watching boys glances before bursting into fits of laughter.

Rose sighed as she held onto her book-bag tighter, why did it seem like everyone at Hogwarts was overcome by hormones these days? Was she the only sane person left in the castle?!

Albus turned to Scorpius sharply just as Rose had gotten a few steps away from the boys, moving slowly through the crowd. He was seconds away from pointing out a great find; Samaire Jones had just walked through the courtyard. The raven-haired Head Girl was a real favourite amongst the boys at Hogwarts. As soon as Albus turned to Scorpius however, he noticed something strange.

Albus scowled, following his friend's eyesight, which continued to follow a certain redhead. Taking into account the funny look on Scorpius' face, Albus whacked him hard on the arm.

'Don't look at my cousin,' he warned his blonde friend amid Scorpius' initial yelp of pain.

Scorpius' eyes widened for a split second before he laughed loudly.

'What the hell do you mean, "don't look at my cousin"? I can't exactly not look at her, it'd make my life and yours, for that matter, a little difficult considering that she's one of my best friends.'

Albus crossed his arms over his chest, mimicking the pose which Scorpius had been standing in not a moment ago.

'You know what I mean. You had that look on your face, that "I want to rip all of your clothes off" look.'

'What look? There's a look for that?'

'Yes, and you can have it when you look at Samaire Jones, or Pauline McGather, or even Matilda Goyle for that matter,' Scorpius recoiled out of habit at hearing Matilda's name brought up, but Albus continued, 'But not my cousin. Not Rose.'

Scorpius nodded silently. 'I don't even have a look,' he argued.

'You definitely have a look.'

'Fine, what does it look like then?' Scorpius challenged.

'It's a bit like this,' Albus said, before he demonstrated, pouting his lips and narrowing his eyes slightly.

'I don't look like that!' He said adamantly, before an unsure, '…do I?'

Albus nodded confidently as he watched Scorpius look back at Rose, as she walked further away. Scorpius turned back to Albus, who noticed that he had been observing him.

'It's nice that you're so protective of her,' Scorpius said, bringing his arm up so that it landed on Albus' shoulder affectionately, 'But you've got the wrong end of the stick, mate. I'm not into Rose.'

'Maybe you have taken too many bludgers to the head,' Albus considered with a smile.

Scorpius let out a solitary laugh, 'Yeah, maybe!'

They laughed the misunderstanding off as they got back into their sport, analysing the way in which Samaire Jones walked in relation to what kind of moves she would put on in the bedroom.

Albus couldn't quite shake the thought though, once it had invaded his mind. He was a smart guy, and as much as he tried to remember her as the awkward young adolescent who had the frizziest hair, limbs which she was yet to grow into, freckly cheeks, a slight smattering of teenage acne covering her face and a wardrobe of clothes that always seemed two sizes too big for her, Rose was growing up. Over the previous summer, her acne had almost completely disappeared, leaving only an endearing cluster of freckles over her nose, she'd managed to charm her hair so that it rested on her back in styled ringlets and she'd developed unmistakable curves. Al had heard rumours that several guys in their year were starting to notice and he was wary of them, because it seemed to him that Rose hadn't even noticed these changes herself!

He considered his friend for a moment from the corner of his eye – Scorpius was male after all, and if Al knew one thing, it was that sometimes you just couldn't help to look. He still didn't know how he felt about it though.

***

Not that he was keeping an eye out, or anything, but Albus was pleased to report that despite Scorpius' momentary interest in Rose, nothing had really changed between the trio of friends. Albus' own interest in the topic had dwindled down to an idle thought midway through their seventh year, only aroused when the question of who would take whom to the Celebration Ball was brought up – a Hogwarts annual event which celebrated the victory of the second Wizarding War, and the role that the historical school played in the battle.

Of course, Scorpius and Rose had never explicitly asked each other to the Ball in previous years, they had both escorted other people, stayed in a group of friends or had gone seemingly alone. Coming into their final year, and their final Ball, the partnerships of students were all that anyone could talk about.

That was when Rose approached everyone with a "brilliant" idea before anyone could organise any solid plans for the night. She argued that since it was to be their final Ball, the seventh-year Gryffindors should buck the awkward trend of askings, rejections and embarrassing speeches, and go to the Ball as an entire group. Some more hesitantly than others, they agreed. The rule was that no-one brought a date. It was an unspoken agreement that whatever happened whilst at the Ball was fair game.

And so, there they all were, on the night which so many looked forward to. Thankfully, amongst the few longing glances across the room at students who may have potentially escorted the Gryffindors, everyone was in a remarkably cheery mood. This was probably due to the many glasses of champagne which Albus seemed to be procuring out of thin air for his friends.

'This is it, chaps. Our last Ball, and thank Merlin for that because I for one don't think I could stand one more chorus of school spirit Hoggy-Hoggy-Hogwarts, or seeing poor old Trelawney being knocked back by every eligible Professor by the end of the night! Farewell to hideous ice-sculptures and not nearly enough alcohol to digest it! Cheers,' an always charismatic and somewhat tipsy Albus made an impressive speech to his housemates, who in turn laughed during all the right moments. They all beamed widely as nine glasses clinked together, drowned out completely by the chaos surrounding them.

Almost as soon as Rose had finished her drink, leaving the glass empty, Albus gathered it up into his hands. In them he nursed the empty glasses of some of their other housemates. He made a quick dash over to the makeshift bar, stumbling only slightly as he walked away from the table.

'Isn't he going to get in trouble for that?' Rose pondered aloud. Whilst the other Gryffindors had gone back to their respective conversations, and the sickening in-house couple, Alistair Davies and Zoe Finnegan had gone back to staring into each other's eyes, Scorpius leaned his chair over so that his back was leaning against Rose's shoulder.

'What was he saying "I have friends in low places"? … I didn't think he had any friends besides us,' Scorpius joked.

Rose rolled her eyes, but smiled nonetheless. 'I'm serious, where's it coming from? Has he got a stash under the bar or something?'

'Up until tonight I'd only heard rumours of the whole "water into wine" myth. Looks as if it is real.'

'A spell which by the end of the night one of us needs to get our hands on. I'm sure that Albus' current state will only help that loose tongue of his,' Rose suggested with a raised eyebrow.

Scorpius openly gaped, before closing his mouth with a smirk. 'It's lucky you weren't chosen as Head Girl after all. I'm not sure you'd be able to condone such behaviour!'

Rose laughed easily, 'Who says I condone it? It'd be a handy spell to have, considering that I'm actually of age, unlike some people!'

Scorpius frowned, 'Yeah, yeah, don't rub it in.'

Rose rubbed his shoulder in condolence, 'I'm sure all the firewhisky in the world will wait for Scorpius Malfoy.'

'Yeah but, will the girls though?' Scorpius asked mischievously. Rose responded by pushing him away with the hand that had previously been rubbing his arm. Her laugh gave her away though.

'Like you need any help on that front!' She grinned at her friend.

Scorpius opened his mouth to respond, flashing her a confused look, but was interrupted before he had a chance to speak by a bustling Albus moving amongst the chairs at their large table, his wand unsteadily balancing a handful of glasses. Slowly he lowered them as he approached, allowing the group to take their drinks from him.

Albus celebrated his return by slouching down into his chair dramatically, before downing half of his glass.

Scorpius clapped his hands once while he cackled gleefully at his friend's behaviour. Albus was always the put-together type, although he did sometimes have his weak moments.

'You'll be the one carrying him back to his dorm tonight, I hope you know that,' Rose leaned over and told Scorpius.

'And Prefect Rose returns!' Scorpius announced to the table, 'Drink up Weasley!' He urged her, to a chorus of agreement from the table.

Rose smiled, with painted red lips, over the top of her glass as she obliged her friends, before turning away from Scorpius and Albus to talk to Cassandra Wood.

Later, when the music had roared up to an almost deafening level, the kind that would definitely leave an annoying ringing in your ears when you were trying to sleep later, Scorpius, Rose and Albus were the only ones left at the table. Alistair and Zoe had left almost an hour beforehand, probably to go somewhere more private to make-out and grope each other. A drunk and very sleepy Roman Hedges had seen himself back to the dormitory, and slowly the other occupants at the table had either been asked to dance, or wandered off around the room themselves.

Albus had his arms draped around both of his best friends, slurring his words only slightly more than he had been previously. If Rose and Scorpius noticed, or cared for that matter, they didn't show it.

'Don't be sad that you're not Head Girl, Rosie,' Albus slurred amongst his impromptu speech to the both of them, patting Rose awkwardly on the head.

Rose's head snapped up, 'I'm not sad. I didn't want to be Head Girl. You of all people should know that, Al,' she laughed, 'I can't lead for my life. Haven't you learned anything from our Quidditch games in the orchard?'

'She's right,' Scorpius agreed. 'Rose is much better at following instructions,' he turned to Rose, 'You drank every time we peer-pressured you tonight. I'm so proud!'

Rose laughed with Albus, Scorpius surveying the both of them with a smile before Albus piped up again.

'I'm also wondering why you wanted us to come tonight all together,' Albus said, as if there was a mass conspiracy behind it all.

'I've explained it to you at least ten times! And haven't we all had a good time tonight?' Rose asked with a pleased look on her face.

'Exceptionally,' Scorpius said, raising his glass before draining the last of it in an instance. He sighed before loosening his bow-tie, leaving it untied at the front of his dress robes. He placed his hands on his knees and stood slowly, untangling himself from Albus' dangerous limbs.

'Where are you going?' Roses piped up immediately. She gestured towards Albus and mouthed at Scorpius an obvious, 'Don't leave me with him.'

'I see a pretty girl over there, all alone. Think she might just need saving,' Scorpius explained, tucking his hands into his pockets nonchalantly.

Rose's face instantly fell, 'Seriously? I thought we were spending tonight among friends.'

Scorpius' grey eyes twinkled, 'I'll be right over there,' he said, before walking determinedly in the direction of the other side of the room. Rose followed him with her mascara-rimmed eyes as she picked up her glass of champagne, twirling it around in her fingers while Albus moved around next to her, suddenly becoming more and more noticeable.

Rose didn't happen to realise that Albus had sat up completely straight, his eyesight flicking between his cousin and his best friend frantically, in order to keep track of both. He watched, as Scorpius got closer to the crowd of students on the dance-floor, back to Rose's breathing getting noticeably sharper, until she barely made a noise at all. Rose lifted her glass to her lips but merely held it there as she watched intently, entranced at Scorpius.

Scorpius had walked up to a small fourth-year who both Albus and Rose recognised: it was their awkward and terribly shy cousin Molly.

Rose let out an audible breath, smiling into her glass as she sipped at the bubbly, watching on as Scorpius approached their cousin, who was at the Ball for the first time, and asked her to dance. From the other side of the room, Rose could see Molly's bright red blush. She giggled slightly as she observed the act of kindness on Scorpius' behalf.

Suddenly Albus' voice was in her ear, as concise as if he were stone-cold sober.

'I have a theory, you know,' Albus said. When Rose turned to look at him, she realised that her cousin had adopted the kind of smile that Scorpius wore when he knew that he was right. Instantly, she wanted to wipe it right off of Albus' face, it didn't sit right there.

'At this point of the night it's always interesting to hear what you have to say, Al,' Rose said sarcastically.

Albus leaned back on his chair and pointed up at Rose, 'That you and Scorpius can't just be friends.'

Rose nodded, completely sceptical. She bit back in a clipped tone, 'Interesting theory. And what evidence do you have to back this statement up? Because as far as I can tell, Scorpius and I have always just been friends and neither of us intend on being anything more.'

'You love each other. You just don't know it yet,' Albus said with certainty.

Rose laughed loudly, reminding herself that her cousin was very drunk, despite his current calm demeanour. Albus frowned slightly, becoming less sure as his cousin laughed at him and became focused on fixing his bow-tie.

Rose allowed herself a moment of Albus' silence to sneak a look at her best friend, who was currently twirling an anxious Molly Weasley around the dance-floor. The young girl beamed up at him, her smile returned by Scorpius, who continued to test out his dance moves with her.

Rose smiled again, it was contagious.

Maybe Albus was right. At that moment in time, she did feel like she was in love with her best friend. A little.

***

Scorpius' hands shook uncontrollably. He dropped the letter into his lap for a moment as he clenched his shaking hands and unclenched them several times, willing his body, which was buzzing with a mixture of nerves and excitement, to calm down. He surveyed the empty common room again, just to make sure that he was alone.

When the post had arrived that morning, dropping a heavy envelope onto his toast, he had quickly snatched it up and hidden it into his robes before anyone could see it. Everybody in the castle knew that Scorpius was the most likely person to make a career out of playing Quidditch after they finished school. At the few final matches of the season he had spotted the scouts from several clubs in the stands and although everyone else seemed certain that he was going to be picked up, Scorpius was certainly nervous and slightly doubtful about the possibility.

If Rose had noticed the hefty letter, she was polite enough not to let on. When Scorpius had looked up across the table, having stashed it away, he was met with a small hopeful smile from Rose before she had taken a large sip of her orange juice.

The curiosity of the situation overrode the fear, as Scorpius opened the letter tentatively, recognising an official-looking letterhead at the first glance. The blue and yellow which he usually associated with the Ravenclaw house, was recognised instantly as he identified the emblem which it surrounded, that of the Appleby Arrows.

His heart was beating furiously as he skipped ahead, ignoring the lengthy paragraphs and becoming fixated on a single sentence.

It is with our hearty congratulations that we extend to you an invite to join our team at the Appleby Arrows, where we are sure you'll enjoy great success.

A bizarre, strangled kind of sound made its way from Scorpius' mouth and his entire body felt as if it was no longer stood on the floor. Forgetting about where he was, Scorpius extended his arm and pumped the air with it several times in triumph, clenching the letter as if his life depended on it with his other hand.

When he felt as if he were capable of sitting back down, he did so and read the letter in its entirety, a wide grin covering his face the whole time.

There was only one person he really wanted to tell about this – well, one person who he simply could not wait another moment to tell. And, luckily, he knew exactly where she was.

It was late, far after the time where students were supposed to be in bed. Scorpius didn't worry about a precautionary invisibility spell, or any other which would protect him from the watchful eye of any Prefects or teachers that he may come across. It was the last few weeks left for the year, of his education, to be precise! It was common knowledge that during this period of time, the seventh years became more and more unpredictable and exhibited some behaviour which could only be described as "mad". There was an unspoken grace period agreed upon by the faculty for these students leading up to their final exams.

Scorpius practically sprinted down to the third-floor corridor, where he knew that Rose would be finishing up her Prefect rounds for the night. As he carelessly left the walls echoing with the loud sounds of his trainers hitting the stone floor, images fluttered quickly through his mind. There he was, in Appleby blue and yellow, whizzing past a large crowd who roared loudly as they cheered for him. This was followed quickly by one closer to home, one which he hoped to make happen shortly, he was telling Rose about his appointment, before picking her up in a hug and spinning her around in euphoria. Albus was next, and he greeted the news with a wide grin and a hearty pat on the back. The final image only made Scorpius smile more – the League Cup was decorated in blue and yellow ribbons as faceless teammates celebrated around him, and he sipped a hearty serve of firewhisky from the brass fixture.

If anyone had seen Scorpius Malfoy as he jogged through the castle halls, skidding around corners and with a smile on his face that no one could erase, they surely would have wondered what on earth had made him so very happy.

He slowed as he rounded the third-floor corridor and heard peculiar voices among his heavy breaths. Scorpius waited for a moment in the shadow of the statue of the One-Eyed Witch to catch his breath as he surveyed two shadowy figures further down the hall. Their conversation could be heard from where he stood due to the hall's acoustics.

'You know Rose, this is our last set of rounds together,' a male voice said. Scorpius noticed the timed pauses and slight nervousness in his voice. The edge only summoned his intrigue. He listened carefully.

'Surely not!' Rose said, genuine disbelief marring her voice. She continued with a laugh, 'I suppose I'm just in denial about this year ending at all really. No more rounds, no more classes, no more Hogwarts,' she sighed.

'I know what you mean. I'm going to miss this place. I…What I mean…I…' The voice stumbled on his words as if he were trying to get his point out. He finally persisted with confidence. Scorpius could hear the smile in his conversation as he continued, 'I'm really going to miss walking aimlessly around the castle for hours on end with you though.'

'Oh, Brendon, that's very nice of you to say. I'll admit, I'll miss you too. Including your terrible jokes – they may be cheesy but I still laugh every time.'

They both laughed for a moment at Rose's statement as Scorpius matched the name Brendon with a seventh- year Ravenclaw, O'Loughlin was his name. Scorpius scowled in distaste, he couldn't explain it but he'd never really liked him much.

'At the end of the year,' O'Loughlin continued tentatively, 'I'll be going back to Ireland, you know. We might not see each other as much, especially if you get your internship at Mungo's.'

'As I recall, you were best in our year at apparating. I'm sure that you can put that into practice,' Rose said kindly. Scorpius could almost see her smile as he squinted to make out the pair in the light from the lamps scattered along the hall.

There was a silence. 'I really like you, Rose.'

It was as if he couldn't take his eyes away, as if he were watching a horrific broom collision. He didn't want to look but Scorpius couldn't drag his eyes away.

He watched, heart attempting to beat its way out of his chest, breath held in the slight fear that he would be discovered, as Brendon O'Loughlin made his way slowly and carefully towards a slightly startled Rose. Brendon brushed against her arm gently with his hands, before caressing them softly against her face. The same hands shortly found themselves lost in her thick red locks of hair. Their faces stayed dangerously close together before they merged completely, and he kissed her lightly, before it became slightly more intense.

It was all too much. Scorpius could not keep the feeling of anger rising at bay any longer. He looked down at his right hand, which was clenching his wand tightly, aiming at O'Loughlin's head. He hadn't even realised that he had taken it out of his pocket. Scorpius knew that if he stayed any longer, he might do something that he would regret.

He made no attempt to muffle his movements as he escaped the scene, certain that both parties were too busy to notice that they were not alone.

Despite the common Quidditch-player stereotype, that they consisted of mostly brawn as compared to brain, Scorpius happened to be proportionately distributed in both traits. As he trudged his way back to the Gryffindor common room, he realised that of course he had feelings for Rose, feelings which he had tried to suppress for a very long time.

There was a reason why she had to be the first to know about his Arrows appointment – as their time in the castle got shorter, so too did his time with Rose. He wasn't sure that they could continue in their same easy relationship outside the castle walls once they had left Hogwarts and had no real reason to spend time together.

He was too late.

Scorpius had successfully avoided Rose for the entirety of the next day. When he finally came back into the common room late that night, after throwing himself into an intense flying session, he found it completely empty apart from the lone figure of Albus. He was sat on the sofa facing the fireplace, two mugs of half-drunk hot chocolate sitting on the table in front of him, sprawled out amongst Albus' array of books and parchment.

Albus greeted Scorpius with a welcome smile as he glanced up from his work. He studied his friend with a knowing look.

'I was wondering when you'd return. Frustration has been all worked out then?' Albus commented.

Scorpius ran a hand through his damp hair, wet with a combination of sweat and light rain. He noted that it was due for a cut shortly, falling almost to his shoulders nowadays.

'I don't know what you mean,' he replied, feigning nonchalance but giving nothing away as he replied with little more than an uninviting grunt. It was then that he noticed the other mug of warm beverage. Scorpius deducted that Albus wasn't alone after all. He could even sense that Rose was close by; she had probably gone for a bathroom break or something.

Albus gave Scorpius a piercing look, which screamed "I don't believe you even for a moment", but he only replied with, 'Alright then.'

'Actually,' Scorpius said, changing his tone and angle of conversation completely. He took Rose's seat next to Albus on the sofa. The warmth of the fire was very inviting as compared to the chilly night air which he had previously been experiencing on the pitch. He continued his speech, 'I've been thinking… I'm sure you've noticed that whenever I take a girl to Hogsmeade, or express the slightest interest in a bird, Rose gets all funny.'

'Scorp-' Albus begun his warning, knowing that his cousin would be down from her dormitory with the book that they needed at any moment. But Scorpius continued, revelling in the knowledge that Albus was actively trying to stop him. His voice became more flustered as if something was really bothering him as he continued.

'She's flirty and a downright tease. You've noticed Al, I know you have. And then as soon as I end it with whoever else, she's back to her regular self, as if she has no interest in me at all. It's like she doesn't want me, but she doesn't want anyone else to have me. And the most frustrating thing is that whenever I try and drop hints about it, she denies it all! How am I supposed to find someone else when I try? She's there the next day rubbing up against me, looking like all she wants to do is find an empty broom cupboard until I break it off to be with her! And… you know the worst thing? She doesn't even want me at all in the end; she's going with Brendon O'Loughlin! Like that limp flobberworm has anything worthy to offer her!'

'At least Brendon's a decent wizard, unlike you Scorpius Malfoy!' Came the yell from the bottom of the staircase which led to the girl's dormitory. As if Scorpius had planned for Rose to hear his tirade, which was partly based on truth, but mostly wildly exaggerated, she had appeared at the staircase, face as red as her hair and eyes wild with anger. She was almost shaking and there was a hint of smoke coming out from underneath her bushy mane of hair.

She stomped her way over towards the boys on the sofa, and Scorpius was sure that he was about to be slapped. However, Rose simply snatched her parchment from in front of him and glared. Red sparks flew idly from her wand, only demonstrating her wrath. She moved quickly towards the portrait hole, but stopped suddenly before she went through, turning back to Scorpius and facing him openly.

'I have never rubbed up against you, and I never intend to! I don't know why I ever thought to be associated with a person who clearly only sees me as a sex object and not as a friend. And lastly, I'm not 'going' with Brendon, you arsehole!'

She swiftly exited the common room, slamming the portrait shut behind her.

From inside the common room, Albus and Scorpius heard an equally loud, 'How rude!' coming from the Fat Lady as she voiced her distaste at Rose's behaviour.

Albus tried everything in his power to help repair the friendship between his best friends. However, nothing that he tried had even remotely changed anything. It didn't help that Scorpius had attached himself to a pretty Slytherin fifth-year shortly after he had fallen out with Rose. To which she constantly groaned and rolled her eyes whenever she passed the two of them in the hallways. Albus was quite sure that Scorpius and Rose hadn't even spoken apart from the short requests at dinner for Rose to 'please pass the butter' and 'Malfoy, do you mind moving up for Lily?'

Their graduation from Hogwarts came and passed, with still no truce between the two of them, no matter how much alcohol had been involved at the after-grad party. Rose was adamant that she had done no wrong – which was probably the truth – and that if Scorpius wanted to be friends again, that he should apologise.

Scorpius, for his part, was alternatively angry and gloomy about the dispute. Albus was sure that no one in the Malfoy family had ever apologised, to anyone or for anything and Scorpius, for his part in bucking the family trend, was not going to change that particular trait.

It was nearing the end of the summer when Rose learned about Scorpius' selection to the Arrows. It had occurred over one night at the Burrow – the extended family (yes, every Weasley aunt, uncle, cousin and honorary family member under the sun) practically lived there over the summer break. The orchard was the preferred ground for Quidditch scraps, and practically it was the only homestead that fit everyone comfortably.

After an evening of eating far too much of her grandmum's food, Rose was sat at the outside table amongst her uncles and a few of her cousins. As soon as the majority of females had gone to assist in the kitchen, the conversation had inevitably turned to Quidditch.

As her father talked up the Cannons and the fact that they just couldn't lose 128 consecutive seasons in a row, the conversation turned to 'Al's mate, the Malfoy.' Everyone in the family was careful not to refer to Scorpius as 'Rose's mate', because, as they had learned earlier in the summer, they would be met with a hissed, 'He's not my friend!'

'Heard he's got a spot at the Magpies, isn't that right Al?' Ron asked curiously.

Rose's ears pricked up at the mention of Scorpius' name. It was a habit that she was attempting to grow out of. She openly frowned at her cousin in surprise as her father addressed him and wondered why Albus hadn't told her.

Albus momentarily looked up from the magazine that he and Louis were poring over to answer Ron, making sure not to look over in Rose's direction, 'It's the Arrows, actually.'

Her uncle Bill laughed, 'Good, they could use a chaser like Malfoy. He's a bloody good throw.'

Rose attempted to mask her disappointment as this news sunk in. She had no idea that Scorpius was undertaking such a massive career opportunity, and in the north of all places!

Nothing else was said about it for the rest of the night and she didn't expect the topic to rise again. She was mistaken however, when later that night, when everyone had retreated back to their respective houses, Albus had apparated into her kitchen.

Rose dropped the glass of water that she had been drinking from, causing it to shatter all over the floor.

'Merlin Albus!' She swore as she quickly repaired the glass with her wand and cleaned up the water. 'What are you doing here?'

'I wanted to see whether you're alright,' Albus admitted sheepishly. 'I know that you didn't know about Scorpius, so it would have been a shock to hear about it, and you were a bit quiet after dinner.'

'Well…I'm fine. Thanks for your concern,' Rose said. She continued unconvincingly, 'Why would I have any reason to be upset over it anyway?'

Albus sighed before helping himself to the fridge, taking a jug of water out and pouring himself a glass, 'Fine, we'll continue to play this game where you pretend not to care about him and vice versa. But I know better, I know the two of you better than that.'

'Did you tell him about my internship?' Rose asked quietly.

Albus shook his head, 'He didn't ask.'

'Oh.'

'You know, he'll be leaving at the end of the summer, right?' Albus probed.

Rose shook her head, she hadn't even considered that. A funny kind of feeling took over her, one which she couldn't explain, but she didn't particularly like it. Because even though they weren't friends, weren't even talking, she had never been too far from Scorpius. Albus feared that without Hogwarts, where they were forced together in the castle, that they wouldn't get over this tiff unless they made up before Scorpius left.

Al decided that he was going to stay out of it, he had tried his hardest and now they both knew the stakes of the game that they were playing.

It was nearing the end of summer. Rose had found herself a small flat in London to live in before she started her internship at St Mungo's Hospital. She was in the process of moving all of her things from her parents' house into the city when Albus visited them early in the morning, intruding on a family breakfast and helping himself to the pancakes which her mother had half-burned in the process of cooking them.

He had followed Rose into the kitchen when she had finished her food and leaned up against the counter, studying his cousin as Rose busied herself with the dishes.

'He's leaving today you know. Last chance.'

Rose didn't have to ask who he was referring to; she knew exactly who Albus was talking about.

'He hasn't apologised, so why should I?'

'You two have been friends since you were eleven, and you're holding one thing that he said over your friendship,' Albus reminded exasperatedly.

'It was three actually,' Rose corrected, 'And that's not why. He wouldn't have said those things if he hadn't meant them!'

Albus looked down at the floor before looking back up at his cousin.

'He didn't mean them,' Albus admitted. 'You know his tells, you know he didn't mean them, Rose.'

'If he didn't mean them, why didn't he apologise and say so?' Rose asked, becoming more and more frustrated at Albus' logic. She began to dry the dishes by hand with more ferocity as she went on. Albus was afraid that she was going to break her mother's plates.

'I didn't want to tell you…' Albus started. Rose turned around in curiosity, letting Albus know that he had her full attention.

'Tell me what?' She asked.

Albus struggled internally, deciding whether or not to tell her what he knew. He decided that if he didn't at least tell her, that nothing was going to change.

'The night before Scorpius said… what he said, he got the letter from Appleby. He was going to tell you when he saw you snogging O'Loughlin,' Albus said.

Rose looked at him for a moment before she turned back to the sink, 'Seriously? That's all?' she asked, 'That doesn't change anything Albus.'

'Don't you understand? He was jealous, Rose!'

Rose turned to him sternly, 'And I've seen him snog ten girls, that doesn't mean that I turn around and insult him to shreds the next time I see him!'

'Yeah but…he's a guy,' Albus retorted weakly. Rose scoffed at his comeback.

'That's not an excuse,' Rose said softly.

'It doesn't matter, I know that I can't change your mind. Even if I told you that he was desperately in love with you, I'm not sure that it would change anything at this point. I'm going to see him off, hopefully I'll see you there,' Albus said as he walked over to his cousin, who was still drying the dishes fixatedly, and kissed her gently on the cheek. He squeezed her shoulder gently as he walked away.

He remembers the billowing smoke of the train, the desperate embraces of his mother, father and best friend and the sharp intakes of breath whenever a flash of red hair passed him – which happened more often than usual these days. The familiar pang of disappointment always seemed to follow them.

The screech of his old barn owl Edgar was almost lost with the deafening whistle of the train. He perched himself carefully on Scorpius' shoulder and demanded attention on return from his important voyage.

'He's gotten back just in time,' his mother commented cheerfully. 'You'll have a companion after all, Scorp.'

Scorpius gently tugged a strand of his blonde hair from Edgar's beak. He had been nibbling on it idly, a habit which the owl had possessed ever since Scorpius could remember.

'Here,' Draco said, substituting his son's hair with a pellet he had retrieved from inside his jeans pocket. He smiled at the old owl in affection, remembering when the pet had been his own and had initially developed the habit. 'Don't let him go too far. You know how old he is,' Draco warned.

Scorpius turned his head to look at his pet, 'Don't listen to him Ed, you're still a young fledgling to me.'

Edgar gave a hoot of approval, which caused the small group to chuckle in laughter. Scorpius leaned down and urged his pet into a sizeable cage. As he did so, he whispered to him a hopeful, 'Any luck?'

The owl replied with a low rumble and Scorpius sighed, closing the cage door and ensuring that it was properly locked.

'So why the train, of all possible modes of transportation?' Albus asked curiously.

Scorpius shrugged, 'It might feel like I'm going back to Hogwarts for one last time…Except the trolley lady serves firewhisky, not liquorice wands,' he grinned.

Albus shook his head at his friend whilst Astoria told them that, 'Of course, even if the trolley lady did serve whisky, Scorpius wouldn't be having any, would he?'

'Of course not, mum,' he replied with a wink. His mother sighed dramatically and leaned forward to ruffle the hair of her son, who towered over her by at least a foot. Scorpius tore himself out of her grip with a smile.

'It's almost eleven. Here, I'll load your trunk,' Draco offered, reaching over to grasp the handle of Scorpius' luggage. He headed over to where the train was stopped on the platform and disappeared momentarily, before reappearing with nothing in his arms.

Scorpius took the time to give his mother and best friend one last goodbye, while constantly looking down the platform.

'What are you looking for, dear?' His mother asked, following his eyesight.

'Rather 'who',' Albus butted in. Astoria replied with a quick nod, as if she understood the situation completely – maybe she did.

'Regular visits, regular owls – and not from Edgar!...Give them hell, son,' Draco said, being the last to bid a final farewell.

Scorpius walked to the train with a wide smile on his face, eager to begin the next big adventure in his life. He waved from his carriage merrily at the small farewell-party before watching them eventually disapparate away. It was only then that he frowned and allowed himself a moment to be melancholy.

He remembered the platform slowly moving away, disappearing from sight as the train echoed with the noise of wheels moving steadily, the hiss of smoke and the shriek of the signal.

However, what he missed was the girl running to keep up with the train, red hair flowing in messy curls, yelling for the train to stop. He didn't see her finally collapse on the platform, exhausted at the effort, clutching a letter full of apologies and signed with a heartfelt,
Yours, Scorpius.

'Stop.'

His knee disobeyed. Scorpius frowned at his legs, which were jiggling up and down and out of control.

'Stop it,' he hissed at them.

'What are ye doing?' A large, hefty man stood in front of Scorpius with his arms crossed over each other, his brows raised in curiosity.

'Nothing,' Scorpius insisted with a squeak.

The older man smiled, his sizeable moustache moving upwards with his top lip. 'It's yer first match, innit?' he asked in a thick Scottish accent. Scorpius nodded nervously. Clarence Harper, Appleby's veteran beater, took a seat next to him and clapped him hard on the shoulder affectionately. 'I like ye, Malfoy. So I'll tell ye straight, yer a good player. Ye'll be a'right. Now get ready.' He ruffled Scorpius' messy blonde mop of hair as he stood up and moved towards the lockers on the other side of the room.

Scorpius took Clarence's advice and albeit accidentally putting his undershirt on inside out – twice, he emerged completely dressed from the change rooms with the rest of the team not half an hour later. His coach had given them all a lengthy pep talk, which had gone straight through one ear and out the other.

Now he stood, facing the sea of yellow and blue supporters which greeted them with loud cheers and applause as they walked out slowly onto the pitch. The light outside was unfamiliar after being inside for so long and it rendered Scorpius momentarily blind. When he was able to see again, he was floored by the sheer atmosphere of the event. He took the lead of his teammates who were waving energetically to the fans as they mounted their brooms.

The game began moments later, all too fast for Scorpius to comprehend. He managed to get his hands on the Quaffle, before flying ten metres away. He was suddenly knocked harshly by the opposition who forced the Quaffle out of his hands. Scorpius frowned, he wasn't used to this level of severity when playing Quidditch, he'd never had to work this hard before. But he knew that it was an inevitable part of playing at this level of Quidditch.

Scorpius didn't waste time in flying after the woman who'd knocked him, catching the Quaffle after a well-aimed bludger had then knocked it out of her hands.

He could hear the yells of the crowd around him, could vaguely make out the commentary in his ears.

'Scorpius Malfoy, playing his first game for the Arrows, is headed towards the goal posts! He dodges the tackle from Harford…yes! He's almost there, just the Cannons keeper to beat…And Malfoy's…SCORED! Ten points to the Arrows! And off flies Appleby's newest son!'

Scorpius grinned as he took no time to celebrate, swiftly flying after the Quaffle which had been quickly transported to the other side of the pitch.

The game was over faster than he had expected, with the Golden Snitch being caught within the first hour of the game. Scorpius hadn't scored, other than his initial first goal. But he had assisted with five more. He flew down onto the pitch with a grin – he'd scored a goal in his debut match and he hadn't been knocked out by any rogue bludgers!

'C'mon, son. Thank ye fans,' Clarence said briskly, directing him towards the stands, where the team usually completed a victory lap.

They ran to catch up with the rest of the team, outstretching their hands to high-five their supporters, a huge grin lighting Scropius' face as he approached the stands, where hundreds of people clad in blue and yellow had gathered to congratulate them.

He was waving happily to the stands when he saw her – standing beside her father and brother, who were both clad in Chudley orange, which coincidentally matched their hair. Mr Weasley looked grumpy as he glared at the scoreboard with his arms crossed, while Hugo was sat down and engrossed in the playing guide.

Rose, however, was beaming down at him, her ginger curls falling down onto her blue and yellow Arrows jersey as she looked at him with pride. When she saw that he was looking directly at her, Rose gave Scorpius a funny kind of smile, which warmed him through his entire body.

He pointed up at her, a great smile lighting his features as he continued to move through the crowd, high-fiving the fans as he went. His eyes rarely left hers though, and even on his way back into the change rooms, he couldn't help but look back at her figure in the stands as he retreated. He certainly couldn't wipe the smile from his face.

He didn't stop thinking about her as he got ready to leave, so much so that when he emerged from the change rooms, he wasn't quite sure whether Rose Weasley was standing in front of him or not.

'Congratulations, Malfoy,' she said with a grin as she moved towards him, surprising them both by embracing Scorpius in a firm hug.

He responded in kind, dropping his sports bag and clutching onto her as if his life depended on it.

'My summer's been awful without you, you know,' Scorpius admitted, burying his face in her hair, which smelled distinctly like Rose. Merlin, how he'd missed that smell!

Rose stepped back and looked at him with a sparkle in her blue eyes, 'Is that your way of saying that you missed me?'

Scorpius gave an exhausted and sincere, 'Yes!'

'Come on. Let's get a pint,' Rose said, linking her arm with Scorpius' and beginning to walk in the direction of the Appleby Pub, which wasn't too far from the pitch.

'Albus sends his apologies; he had some Liaison event – new job and all. Your parents had to go too, but they said to tell you congratulations,' Rose said with a smile.

Scorpius looked down at her. Rose looked stunning, 'You look good in Appleby colours,' he smiled. 'You should wear that jersey more often.'

'Maybe I will.'

When they reached the entrance to the pub, Scorpius stopped, readjusting the bag on his shoulder and sighing.

'Rose,' he paused, waiting until he had her complete attention, 'I need to apologise for what happened at Hogwarts. I'm truly sorry. I was just so terrified of someone else coming in to steal your company from me… and nothing seemed more threatening than that person being another guy. I know that I was a complete jerk, and I won't deny that I had some kind of feelings for you but that's no excuse for the way that I acted. I've realised that I'd rather have you in my life as a friend than nothing at all and I hope you'll -'

Rose, who had been listening silently throughout Scorpius' spiel, retaining a look of unreadable emotion on her face throughout, suddenly cut Scorpius off. She hopped onto her tip-toes and grasped Scorpius' thick blonde hair, pulling his lips towards hers, she kissed him tenderly.

When they pulled away quickly, Scorpius' eyes still half-closed and still processing what had just occurred, Rose gave him a surprised look, as if she couldn't believe what she'd just done.

'What are you doing?' Scorpius murmured with a smile as he looked at her.

Rose touched her fingers to her lips, 'I'm not sure,' she admitted.

Scorpius moved forward and took her hand in his, away from her mouth as he raised his other hand to her face and kissed her thoroughly, lips moving together without inhibition as Scorpius caressed her lips with his tongue.

Rose broke their kiss again, so that only their foreheads were touching. She smiled and shook her head softly. 'I've been in love with you forever, you know.'

'Are you kidding me?' Scorpius asked, taking her hands in his warm ones. 'Why have we wasted so much time on this ruse of being friends?'

'It's been exhausting,' Rose admitted.

'Shit,' Scorpius swore, breaking away from Rose as he remembered something. He picked up his bag and threw an arm over Rose's shoulder, pulling her closer as they walked into the cheerful pub.

'What's wrong?'

'I've just realised something to ruin my perfect day.' When Scorpius didn't go on, Rose nudged him gently with her elbow. Scorpius sighed, 'I owe Albus twenty galleons.'

'Did he bet you too?' Rose asked of the wager her cousin had challenged her to not so long ago. When Scorpius looked confused, Rose sighed, 'I owe him ten.'

Scorpius shook his head as he offered Rose a barstool, before sitting down on one himself. He looked over at his number one fan and grinned.

'Worth it.'

The end.