Yeah, yeah, I'm being sort of a twat about updating my multi-chapters (for all you dual readers of LtR, HtBCtS, and/or DC) but give me a break. I'm, like, tired and I go outside and stuff. Solemnly swear that I'll get back to everything soon enough.

Now, at least a couple of reviews mentioned this, so I wanted to clear it up on a personal level… For the record, I realize that Scorpius was/perhaps still is being a complete fuck. I'm not trying to romanticize that sort of behavior – it's dramatic and unnecessary, immature and avoidable, and a slew of other derogatory adjectives. I don't condone it (and that's more or less why I loathe and deplore love triangle plots), and it also won't be the last time it's mentioned in the fic; he's got a lesson to learn. Just so you know.

October 10th

Little Ron –

I don't know what everyone else is telling you, but take it from me – just kiss him. That's what I did with Uncle Harry.

You're over-thinking everything, torturing yourself in silence, I bet, just like your dad always did. Aside from your differing opinions when it comes to Malfoys, sometimes you two are so alike that it scares me. And speaking as someone who grew up with him, I'll tell you: Your dad doesn't always have the right idea. He says watch your step with Scorpius, and I say go for it.

Listen to your aunt Ginny.

The trouble, Rose thought, was that she'd already listened to her aunt Ginny. Or Scorpius had. Either way, the deed was done and there was nothing Rose could do to take it back. She licked her lips subconsciously and thought that perhaps she didn't want to take it back, but then she'd very consciously think of Emme McLaggen, and she knew she should.

Of course Aunt Ginny could talk; Uncle Harry hadn't been seeing anyone the first time they snogged. Sure, maybe Uncle Harry had his reservations, what with Rose's dad being around and all that, but that was hardly the same. There had been absolutely no social obligations to hinder her aunt and uncle's romantic relationship. Aside from that whole Voldemort business, but by the time Rose considered that she decided that the two situations just weren't comparable anymore:

On the one hand, there was Voldemort, and on the other, there was Emme McLaggen, and sometimes Rose couldn't decide which was harder to deal with.

Oh, hell, she was going completely bonkers, wasn't she?

The fact of the matter was, Rose told herself firmly whenever she got off-track as such, that she'd snogged her best mate while he was otherwise spoken for. Sort of. Maybe. She didn't know Scorpius's situation with Emme as of now, but she was sure that they were still… together. Or something.

And here she was, moping around because she'd only gotten to kiss Scorpius once and all she wanted was to do it again. And then perhaps again after that. And a few more times, with no predetermined stopping point or lull in their tonsil-conversation.

Oh, sodding little bugger that is my LIFE, what a mess.

So yes, she was – as Aunt Ginny had so shrewdly guessed – torturing herself. But Rose thought the self-loathing was perfectly justified.

Her brother and cousins noticed the shift in her usually happy-go-lucky demeanor, and continued to barrage her with questions about it. She was constantly assaulted with Are you all right?'s and You look a bit peaky's and So who do we have to hex this time?'s and Come on, Rose, you're just not yourself's.

She knew they cared, and that everything they did was all in an effort to cheer her up, but what was she supposed to say? The truth? Please. Rose snorted derisively at herself whenever the thought crossed her mind. She could hardly admit the truth to herself, she was so ashamed, so the prospect of saying it out loud was laughable at best, in the most humorless of ways.

Because this wasn't funny. Even to a Weasley, another extension of the already extensive Potter-Weasley-Granger-Delacour-whoever-the-hell-else clan, this situation didn't have a bright side. She could make all the jokes she wanted (if she could come up with any in the first place), but nothing would make this lighthearted. She'd snogged a bloke who was otherwise spoken for; that wasn't her, and this wasn't funny.

And – loathe as she was to admit it, everything considered – she missed Scorpius.

She hadn't spoken to him since Saturday – understandably, she thought, but all the same, she missed having him around, laughing with him, pulling pranks with him and poking fun at him. In short, really, she missed being friends with her best mate.

Friends, though… Rose sighed and ran her hands over her tired face. She thought about the way he'd kissed her, about the way she'd kissed him back, how it was all just right and reckless abandon and how it had made her feel, the way he'd murmured her name against her skin, and…

Rose swore silently and resigned herself to the guilt and the whatever-else that was eating her up on the inside. Friends wasn't really going to cut it anymore, now, was it?

"Emme." Scorpius caught up to his… whatever she was… in the middle of the corridor between lessons. "Can we talk for a mo'?"

Emme lifted one artfully crafted eyebrow at him. Scorpius had been dodging her ever since the Hogsmeade visit last weekend, so she couldn't imagine what he wanted with her now. And considering all his practically incoherent babbling during their walk in the village, she was sure it couldn't be anything good.

For his part, Scorpius knew he'd been that complete arse he'd tried so hard not to be; he'd be the first to admit it, so long as Rose didn't beat him to it (not that she was speaking to him right now). And there it was again – Rose. She was playing around in his head like she was stuck on repeat, so that he couldn't stop thinking about her, and he wanted to kiss her again, but by now he'd figured out why she'd bolted out of his room like she had.

It was because she was Rose sodding Weasley, and despite her troublemaking streak, she wasn't without her morals. She'd turned a fantastic shade of red and a cold shoulder when it came to him all week, and he knew why: It was because he was currently – for want of a better word – unavailable, and Rose Weasley just wasn't the on-the-side type of girl. And despite any reputation that he might have accrued over the past couple of years, Scorpius Malfoy wasn't the type of bloke who'd put any girl in that situation.

It's just that he'd lost his head a bit on Saturday, that was all.

He should have broken things off with Emme before now, anyway – he knew that – but now would have to do. He couldn't do it for himself, but now that Rose had really been factored in, he figured he sure as hell could do it for her. For him and her. For whatever he could get.

"Yeah, sure," Emme said. She folded her arms across her chest. "So go on, talk."

"Er, right." Scorpius rubbed the back of his neck. She didn't look too happy with him; he hardly had to wonder why, but it still made this more uncomfortable than it already was. Not that he intended to tell her a damn thing about Rose, but still, cutting ties was always something of a messy business, which was why he was such rubbish at it in the first place. "So the thing is, what we talked about on Saturday…"

Emme released a long, very impatient breath, and her eyes raised to the ceiling. She'd thought about this, but she still couldn't believe it was actually happening. They were breaking up, and she didn't have to think too far to guess why.

"Get on with it, Scorpius," she bit out as he continued to falter. Her eyes settled back on him and their usually warm caramel hue had darkened with agitation. "I know what we talked about on Saturday. I don't know what your problem is, but I suspect it's got red hair and a mile-long detention record. So go on and dump me, then, and you can get back under the covers and not worry about me at all."

Scorpius's jaw dropped at the rather blatant implication (or was that an accusation?), but she didn't much care. Emme McLaggen wasn't stupid – willfully or otherwise – nor was she blind. No matter how hard Weasley might have tried to hide it or Emme tried to deny it, she'd seen that hickey on Weasley's neck, and she could hazard a guess as to how it had gotten there.

"Just talking," my arse.

And she'd thought Weasley wasn't a slag. Ha!

"Listen, Emme –" Scorpius began once he'd regained the power of speech, treading carefully, but she cut him off.

"Do you want to break up or not?"

"Well –" Of bloody course I do; you've just pinpointed my 'problem' yourself, haven't you? "Okay, right, I do, but you could at least give me a minute to explain."

Emme laughed – a flat, dark sound, considering the circumstances. "Right, I'll give you a minute to explain just as soon as you convince me that it wasn't you who just about sucked Weasley's skin off!"

Scorpius opened his mouth, closed it, and opened it again, and a very definite frown line creased between his brows. He didn't like how Emme was talking about Rose; it was his own fault, not hers, and he'd like to keep Rose out of this particular conversation, even if she was the center of it.

"She's none of your business, all right?" he said, his voice sharper than he'd intended it to be. "I just don't think you and I are working out."

"We were working out just fine before – well, before whatever happened between the two of you," Emme almost spluttered through her rage. She didn't usually lose her cool like this and honestly, if Scorpius was this hung up on another girl, then Emme was only too happy to call it quits. But the fact that he had the audacity to stand there and lie really riled her up. "If you didn't think we were working out, then you should have just said so."

"I just did!" Scorpius argued, all the while wondering why all the birds in his life were so insistent on being fucking insane.

"You know what I mean," Emme snapped. "Don't play me for a fool, okay? I thought we were doing well, just like I told you on Saturday. But apparently, instead of talking to me, you decided to take it upon yourself to be the biggest prat I've ever met, and you know what? That's fine, because that's not the kind of bloke I want to shag, anyway."

And with that, Emme turned on her heel and strode away from him, leaving Scorpius to wallow in his all-too-consistent guilt (even if all those birds were as fucking insane as he'd convinced himself they were).

But Scorpius didn't have a lot of time to stew. He'd been abandoned right around the corner from the library, where Albus had told him Rose should be, and sure enough…

"Fancy meeting you here," he said as Rose came into view.

She had to stifle a groan; she'd been so sure she could keep avoiding him, and yet, here he was right now, when she least expected it. "Oh, fuck."

Scorpius very nearly scowled at her. That wasn't the reaction he needed right now, not after that crash-and-burn altercation he'd just had with Emme, a crash-and-burn he hadn't quite anticipated and surely hadn't been prepared for. And now that that was over, all he wanted was to snog Rose Weasley – his stupid, sodding best mate – until neither of them could breathe. But he couldn't very well do that if she was going to cop this attitude with him.

"Nice one, Weasley," he said, allowing all his irritation to seep into his words. "Really, nice hello, especially since you've been avoiding me all week."

"I have not," Rose lied, and she knew it. But could he really blame her for any of that?

"You are," Scorpius countered. He took a step towards her. "Stop."

Rose rolled her eyes and attempted to keep it together. "I'm just busy, Scorpius."

Busy brooding, wallowing, stewing, you know…

"Bollocks," Scorpius rightfully accused, and took another step. He didn't like being ignored, no matter how hypocritical that might be of him, and he especially didn't like being ignored by a girl who wouldn't stop running through his head. "So convenient for you to be this busy the whole week after we snogged."

Rose picked up his scowl and matched his step. "Shut up."

"What, are you ashamed of me or something?" Scorpius wanted to know, even though he knew quite well that he was just spewing bullshit at this point. He knew exactly why Rose had been avoiding him, and it was precisely why he'd finally taken control and got chewed out by an embarrassed Emme McLaggen just moments ago. But he didn't exactly relish the idea of getting chewed out twice, in such quick succession, and it was making him hostile.

"Don't be ridiculous," Rose said, torn between anger and exasperation. Did everything really have to come to a head right now, after hours of homework and days of sleeplessness? Aggravating as it was, she supposed it was fitting. "But you know what? You should be."

One pale blond eyebrow shot up. "I should be ashamed of kissing you?"

"Yes," she said, and meant it. Did Scorpius Malfoy not possess a single ethic bone in his ridiculously good-looking body? "Or have you decided to act like a decent human being and ditch Emme? Last I checked you were still seeing each other, and I won't get caught up in the middle of that."

Scorpius tactfully decided to avoid that question for the time being; he felt like a fight, and who better to argue with than his fragile-tempered best mate? This was all her fault, anyway. To an extent. Sort of. A little bit.

Oh, fine, it's not her fault at all.

"Hate to break it to you, Weasley," he said, and closed the distance between them with another step and a half, "but you're already in the middle of it."

"Well, I'm extracting myself from the situation."

"I'm pretty interested in this situation."

"That's too damn bad," Rose shot back, her exhaustion taking over into snappishness and a whole bunch of things she knew she shouldn't say out loud. "I don't care how good of a snog you are –"

Look at that, it's one of those things I shouldn't be saying out loud. Shite.

"So you enjoyed yourself, then?"

"Shut up, you insane git." Rose resisted the urge to clock him a good one, right in the jaw. She supposed that was the Granger in her. "My point is that you don't get to snog me and Emme. Since it's been a week, as you have oh-so-astutely observed, and you're still – with her, or whatever, then I guess you've made your decision and we can stop having this conversation."

"Jealous, Weasley?" Scorpius baited her, for some sick reason enjoying the idea that Rose Weasley might have been driven to a green-eyed monster state because of him.

Rose closed her eyes, searching for patience. "You know, it's shocking to me that I've known you this long and I've only just discovered how gross you are, Malfoy."

If he'd been in the humor for it, Scorpius would have laughed. "Oh, so gross, that's it?" he scoffed instead. "Yeah, all right. That's a nice hickey you've got there, by the way, mind if I give you another one?"

Those blue eyes snapped right back open. "Go to hell."

"For being top in our year, you can be incredibly dense sometimes, do you know that?" Scorpius said. He knew he wasn't making any sort of sense, but he was so wound-up now, and it didn't help that he could smell that consistent apple scent that was just so Rose. It was invading him, clouding his brain with incompetency and all those things he wanted from her.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Rose demanded. "I mean, what's that got to do with this, or us, or – damn it, I really do hate you sometimes, you know that? You're driving me mad!"

"Join the club, Weasley," Scorpius invited, "because you're fucking me up, too."

Rose was this close to giving up and into those baser Granger instincts; stupid sod had it coming, didn't he? she thought, but continued to refrain for the time being."Right, because I'm the one who snogged you while I was going with someone else."

Scorpius admitted defeat then; he was a rollercoaster of what he wanted and what he didn't know, and he threw in the towel because damn it, he'd had enough; he wanted to fight but he wanted to kiss her more and this never got them anywhere, anyway, so who was he kidding –

"I'm not going with anyone else!"

Quiet. Dead fucking silence.

Rose stared at him, almost slack-jawed, eyes blinking rapidly as her brain attempted to process the information he'd so abruptly thrust at her. Scorpius stared back, his feet shifting uncomfortably beneath him, but he was nevertheless determined to maintain eye contact; he wasn't going to lose this one that easily.

"You – broke up, then?" Rose finally said. Her throat felt dry for some reason.

Scorpius nodded.

"With Emme?"

"No," he said sarcastically, "with that other bird I was shagging. Yes, with Emme."

Rose ignored his cheek; her heart was doing something funny in her ribcage and she had to afford most of her attention to regulating its suddenly erratic beat. "When?"

"I dunno." Scorpius shrugged. He wondered if he was allowed to kiss her senseless yet. "Ten minutes ago?"

Well, that was unexpected, Rose thought. The breaking off, the ten-minutes-ago… Then again, she supposed this whole damnable situation had been unexpected, right from the get-go. She hadn't been cool or aloof or open to experimentation, and she and Scorpius certainly weren't "just friends" anymore. They weren't shagging or dating or – well, in fact, right now they were just standing together awkwardly in the middle of the corridor, but friends wasn't exactly on their minds, either.

"You're really done, then?" Rose ventured, knowing that double-checking was unnecessary. A big, paranoid part of her had doubted all week that Scorpius would really break things off with Emme, but now… He certainly wouldn't lie to her about it.

Scorpius nodded, never taking his eyes off hers, feeling his inner rollercoaster stuttering to a halt. "Yeah," he told her, "really done. With Emme, anyway, and – you know, potentially most every other bird at this place."

"Uh-huh." Rose subconsciously licked her lips and she watched as Scorpius's gaze fell to her mouth at the motion. Okay, so friends was pretty much the farthest thing from their minds, then, and…

Well, why the hell not? Rose thought. So she caught her best mate by his green-and-silver tie, pulled him down to her level, and – taking her aunt Ginny's advice – she just kissed him.

A/N: So… yay or nay? Hope it's "yay" enough to keep you going, because we're not quite finished with this one yet; far too much fun for me to close after a measly five chapters. More to come!