It turns out that Malfoy has asked Hugo and Al to be on camera duty during the dance decorating sessions. I’m not sure when they decided it was totally fine to agree to Malfoy’s wishes, but I have to admit, the photos are a good idea. The transformation taking place in the third floor corridor is truly incredible! It feels like quite an accomplishment since we are trying to do it using as little magic as possible.
As I’m silently attempting to make centerpieces for the tables Wednesday evening, I feel someone brush up against me and instinctively know it’s a certain Slytherin. I try to ignore the sudden increase in heart rate taking place beneath my rib cage.
“Wow, Weasley. You’re quite a bit craftier than I expected!” Sarcasm, of course. I roll my eyes and look at my slightly sad bunch of twigs. Malfoy sits down next to me and grabs a few items from the table. Within minutes has a beautiful centerpiece in front of him.
I stare at it with slight envy. “How did you do that so quickly?”
His grin is dazzling and I feel myself losing focus. “What can I say? I’m good with my hands.” He winks at me and I roll my eyes, but can’t help but let out a small chuckle. It almost feels like we’re back to pre-kiss, pre-feelings, post-hatred Rose and Scorpius.
If that was ever even a real thing.
He flashes another smile before standing up and walking over to a group of girls who are standing around doing nothing. As he directs them to the refreshment table decoration station, they erupt into a fit of giggles and I sigh. If Malfoy and I ever do get together, I’m going to face a lot of backlash from the female population of Hogwarts.
Not that it will ever happen considering he hasn’t even brought up going to the dance together again. Let alone any actual feelings.
I glare at his perfect centerpiece. Prat.
By the end of Thursday night, the corridor is nearly fully decorated. We will put some finishing touches on it Saturday morning, but Malfoy announces that we should all take Friday evening off. Good thing, too, because most of the girls need some time to head to Hogsmeade and pick out dresses or dress robes. This includes Lily and me, of course. I do homework months in advance, but when it comes to anything fussy like this, I tend to put things off until the last minute.
Unfortunately, my procrastination is stressing me out. In the back of my mind, I keep imaging scenarios in which I cannot find a suitable dress and Malfoy laughs in my face.
Irrational, I know.
I put my fears aside, however, when I meet Lily in the Great Hall on Friday night to finally take a trip to the village. McGonagall is standing in the doorway ushering students out and making sure everyone knows that we can only be in Hogsmeade for 3 hours.
“Remember, you all must be back by 9 o’clock!” she calls to several groups at random. “If you cannot meet curfew, then you will not be allowed to attend the ball!”
Luckily, Lily and I have decided to wear muggle dresses to the dance, rather than dress robes, so we will have no trouble getting in an out by 9. Gladrag’s Wizard Wear is packed, but the muggle clothing section is near empty. We pick out two nondescript floor length dresses that we plan to fix up later with some magic.
Well, Lily plans to fix them up since she’s good at those types of things. I, on the other hand, do not have a gift for design like she does. I feel some slight nerves coming on as I worry whether or not my dress will turn out alright, but I’ve seen Lily work her magic, no pun intended, and she does know what she’s doing.
“So,” Lily starts once we’re back in her dormitory, “What color do you think I should go with?” I eye her sleek, dark red hair.
“Maybe a dark green shade?” I ask. I glance in a mirror at my pale skin. “I think I’m going with light purple.”
I wave my wand until I find the color I want, while Lily does the same, but from this point on, it’s up to her.
My cousin puts on her dress and starts to tweak it piece by piece. By the time she’s satisfied ten minutes later, she is wearing a long dark green gown. Upon a closer look, I see that the dress is comprised of many shades of blue and green in quite a subtle pattern. The gown has a high neck, but has 3 oval cutouts around her collar bones and down the center of her chest. She swoops her smooth red hair to one side and I exclaim,
“Randy is going to be floored!”
She does a twirl and then gives me a once over. “As is Malfoy once I’m done with you,” she says slyly.
I slip into my lavender dress and let Lily get to work. By the time she’s done, I’m itching to look in the mirror and see what the full dress looks like. I turn around to face my reflection and see myself in a pale purple floor length gown with sheer lace detailing and a low cut back. It looks dainty and light, but makes my hair look quite dramatic.
“Wow! Thanks, Lils,” I say, still slightly taken aback at the beauty of the dress.
She flashes a huge smile. “What did I tell you? Malfoy will be totally floored.” I turn to face her.
“Actually,” I say conversationally, “Malfoy asked me to go to the dance with him the other day.”
“What?!” My cousin practically screams. “How could you not tell me? I thought you were going alone!”
“I am,” I sigh. “I told him no.”
She looks at me in awe. After about 30 seconds, I’m ready to tell her to close her mouth before she starts catching flies, but she shoots, “You told him no? Don’t you want to go with him?”
I take time to contemplate this, her watchful eyes trying to read my expressions. “I think I would like to. But I don’t want to go anywhere with him until I know for sure how he feels. I hate to feel like he has the upper hand. I feel like he’s had the upper hand all year.”
She gives me a puzzled look and shrugs. “Whatever you say, Rosey. It’s your life!”
Yes, it is, I think to myself. I’m just hoping I’m doing what’s right.
“Also, now that I think of it,” I begin, suddenly remembering something, “do you know why Hugo and Al seem to suddenly be on good terms with Malfoy?”
Lily’s jaw drops again. “What?!”
Okay, now I’m regretting that I even said anything. “Well,” I begin slowly, “I saw them talking to him the other day. And now they’re taking pictures of the dance hall, per his request. Something odd is going on.”
She eyes me incredulously. “Well, I have to get to the bottom of this! They think they can cut me out of things just because I have a boyfriend now? I will find out what’s going on, whether they like it or not!”
I roll my eyes and check the time. I should probably be getting to bed. You know, beauty rest and all. Plus, I want to get up early to finalize the dance décor.
I bid Lily goodnight and head back to the Head’s dorms. To my slight dismay, Malfoy is not around when I arrive. I was kind of hoping he would take this last opportunity to ask me to the dance again, but I guess it was my decision to turn him down so I’ll just have to live with it.
You made your bed and now you have to lie in it! I hear in my mother’s voice. Of course, if I told her about my situation right now, that’s exactly what she would say.
And I hate to admit it, but she’d be right.
A bit later, I climb into bed, but I don’t sleep well. Even though I don’t remember any of my dreams, I know instinctively that they were about a certain Slytherin. As I get out of bed and pull my hair into a messy ponytail, I think of what I can say to him when we wrap up the decorating. A part of me wants to approach him in hopes that he’ll revisit the topic of us attending the ball together.
I shake my head. Stay strong, Weasley, I say to myself in Malfoy’s tone.
I take a deep breath and leave for the third floor corridor, deciding not to talk to Malfoy at all. Unfortunately, there’s no avoiding him since he is already there when I arrive, along with a few prefects. I catch Hugo’s eye as he walks by with a camera. He glances at Malfoy and then smiles smugly back at me.
What an arse.
I walk around the corridor strategically placing the magical mistletoe and notice Malfoy doing the same on the other side of the room. We end up meeting in the center of the hall. I hear pictures being snapped of the beautiful decorations. As I slowly spin to see everything, I notice Malfoy following suit.
“We did a pretty bang up job, if I do say so myself, Weasley,” he says quietly, bumping his shoulder into mine. I glance at him and he grins.
I can feel my face heating up and say quickly, “I guess all that’s left to add is the snow!”
I take out my wand while my heart inexplicably races and point it towards the ceiling. I watch as snow starts to fall, never quite reaching the floor, feeling Malfoy’s eyes on me.
“Well, I guess that’s it then!” I say in an overly cheery tone. “I’ll see you all later,” I call out to the surrounding prefects. “Great job, everyone! Tonight will be amazing thanks to all of your help!”
I unintentionally lock eyes with Malfoy and he brushes some snow off my shoulder, that flash of emotion clearly displayed on his face. I feel my heart rate speed up even more, but I turn away from him to hide what I’m sure is a face full of things I’d rather not give away. I walk away, trying to calm down, and head to Gryffindor tower where Lily, Mackenzie, Allison, and I will spend the afternoon primping and prepping for the dance.
I try to pay attention to my friends, but unfortunately, I can’t help but think of Malfoy the entire time I’m getting ready. I really should avoid him tonight, but I also want him to see me and regret his decision to be a total prat.
I pull my hair into a messy bun that sits at my neck towards my right ear. I let a few tendrils of hair hang loosely around my ears and face. I put on some light eye makeup and look in the mirror. Once I add a bright red lip to the mix, I feel satisfied.
Eat your heart out, Scorpius Malfoy.
The four of us girls head to the common room to meet with our respective boyfriends.
Except for me of course. I head to the common room to meet up with my escort for the night. He goes by the name of Thin Air.
But I’m not bitter at all, I swear.
I feel myself scowling slightly as I watch Randy present Lily with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. I mean, it’s no everlasting orchid, I catch myself thinking.
I notice Al eyeing me and I put on a happy face. “You look terrific, Rosey!” he calls over. “Just try not to look miserable all night!” Allison elbows him in the side and this shuts him up. I give her a grateful look and she winks at me. At least I’ve got her on my side.
We head down to the ball and when we enter the third floor corridor, I watch as everyone’s mouths drop. The room looks absolutely beautiful. The candlelight shines through the snow, basking the room in a soft white glow. I can see the Christmas trees through the light flurries, strung with gold and silver garland and ornaments.
“Wow, Rosey! It is beautiful in here!” Lily exclaims.
I smile. “Well I can’t take all the credit for it, but I do like how it turned out!”
I spot Malfoy across the room and watch as his mouth parts slightly when he looks at me. Ha! I think to myself. I guess I’ve achieved the effect I wanted.
He starts making his way towards me in an all-black muggle suit. My God, he looks good, I think to myself. My stomach leaps to my throat. Before he can approach, I turn away and start talking to a 6th year Ravenclaw prefect. I need to collect myself before dealing with Malfoy tonight.
As the night goes on, my family, friends, and I have a good time dancing, eating, and taking pictures in the photo booths. I almost forget about the fact that I don’t have a date. But then I hear the introductory notes of the first slow song of the night.
I walk forlornly to a table when I feel a tap on my shoulder. I turn around hoping to see Malfoy, but instead I see Tyler’s smiling face.
“Hey, Miss Rose,” he says slyly. “No date tonight?”
I scowl. “Well, no I don’t have a date. But I had to come here anyways since I was the one who planned this whole bloody thing. Where’s your date anyways?”
He grabs my hand and pulls me to the dance floor. I follow along, too lazy to protest. “She’s sick, unfortunately. She showed up for about 30 seconds so I could get in, but then she left to go sleep.”
“Bummer,” I say half-heartedly. We start revolving slowly and I reflect on all that has happened this year. Who knew I’d be here dancing with my ex-boyfriend and pining away for my worst enemy?
“So where’s Malfoy?” Tyler asks, as if reading my mind. I hit him in the arm a bit harder than intended. “Hey, now! I’m just asking. There are quite a lot of rumors going around about you two, ya know.”
I roll my eyes. “So I’ve heard.”
He laughs but takes the hint and changes the subject to making fun of everyone’s subpar dancing skills, and before I know it, I’m feeling better. At one point, I tilt my head back and laugh loudly, but as Tyler spins me around, I catch the Slytherin prince eyeing me.
In that brief moment, I see so many things written on his face. Love, hate, jealously, lust, disappointment. And then he looks away and I notice him walking up to the stage.
As he climbs the stairs, the music fades and he grabs a magical microphone.
“Evening, everyone, and thanks for coming out,” he says to several cat calls. I give Tyler a miserable look and make my way to the stage. I guess we are doing the thank you’s now, although Malfoy apparently planned to count me out. Prick.
“There are a few people I’d like to thank,” he continues. I pick up my pace. “And I believe your Head Girl also has some things to say, if she ever makes it up here.”
He smirks and I glare at him. Seriously, Malfoy? Is now really the time to pick a fight?
I step onto the stage and he passes me the microphone.
“Hi, everyone! I hope you’re all having a wonderful time!” The hall erupts in a cheer and Malfoy takes the microphone back, stepping towards me so that we can share it.
“And let me add that the female population of Hogwarts is looking lovely tonight,” he says cheekily as he winks at a random group of girls. The giggling that ensues puts a Malfoy-quality smirk on my face. He looks sideways at me and I swear I see him smile.
“Anyways,” I begin, “We have some people we would like to thank! First, a big thank you goes out to Professor McGonagall for helping us with this dance every step of the way.” The crowd cheers.
“And thank you to the rest of the faculty for allowing this dance to take place at all,” Malfoy says, followed by more applause.
“And of course we’d like to thank all of the prefects for the hard work that has gone into making this dream a reality!” I finish. The corridor erupts in the loudest ovation yet. “Enjoy your night, every-” I start to say, but Malfoy interrupts.
“Hold up, Weasley. I have one more thank you before we let everyone get back to the festivities.” I look at Malfoy, surprised. Who did I forget?
He glances at me, then turns back to the audience and continues. “I’d like to thank your very own Head Girl, Rose Weasley.” Another loud cheer erupts, mixed with the distinct sound of whispering gossip.
“Now, I realize that I came up with the theme for tonight, because I’m a brilliant and creative individual.” He winks again at another group of girls, much to the chagrin of their dates. “But do any of you really believe that cold and callous Scorpius Malfoy, would come up with ‘Magic and Mistletoe’ if he wasn’t under the influence of a woman?” There are chuckles throughout the room, and I feel my ears turning pink.
He smirks and continues, “So I know that a lot of you know Rose Weasley as a brilliant witch who has an extremely sarcastic, but charming streak. I, on the other hand, have spent the past six and a half years around her and know her as the most intolerable person at this school.” I stare at him as he glances at me and continues, “Sure, she’s irritating and a know-it-all and has ridiculously bad taste in friends,” I hear Al and Hugo cheer and the crowd laughs, “but she is also perhaps the only person I’ve ever actually wanted to be around. Which is not something I’d typically admit.”
I see several girls in the audience glaring at me. Suddenly, the crowd starts oohing and aahing and I look behind me. A slideshow is playing. And it is comprised of muggle photographs of Malfoy and I decorating for the ball. Malfoy holding up his wonderful centerpiece while I laugh at my sad one. Malfoy reaching across me for an ornament while I smile slightly. Malfoy brushing snow from my shoulder as I smile at the ceiling.
My heart starts pounding.
So this is why he had Hu and Al take those pictures. So they were in on this. I don’t know if this is due to their photography skills or something more, but I swear, if the people in those pictures were strangers, I’d say they were soul mates.
I feel Malfoy eyes on me, directly facing me now. I turn back to look at him.
“You know, Weasley, everything I said to you that day in the common room was true.” Is he seriously talking about that snogging session in front of the whole school? I feel my pulse racing and can’t concentrate. I hear people openly gossiping now, no longer keeping their voices to a whisper.
He looks me directly in the eye. “Everything was true, except for the fact that I don’t hate you. Not even a little bit.” I feel my face heat up. “Dance with me?” he asks. He sets the microphone down and pulls me close to him before I can respond and the crowd erupts in cat calls and whoops. A song that I can’t identify starts playing and we begin to slowly rotate as the rest of the crowd joins in the dancing.
But I can feel most of them still watching us. The crowd gets slightly louder and I notice magical mistletoe forming above our heads. I catch Hugo waving his wand out of the corner of my eye. Of course.
Malfoy squeezes my waist. “The last time we were stuck under mistletoe, I kissed your hand. But I think we’re past that now,” he says slyly. Oh my God, I think to myself. Is this prat really doing this in front of everyone? My heart is pounding heavier than ever before.
“You really are the most annoying person I’ve ever met, you know,” he continues cheekily. I loosen my grip on him but he pulls me closer. “Hear me out for once, Rose,” he says and I stay put. “You are a complete know-it-all. But you’re also the smartest person I’ve ever met. Other than me of course.”
I smile slightly, but try to hide it with a scoff. Clearly he’ll never change.
“I hate how prim and proper you dress all the time. But I also love it because it makes it that much better when you loosen up and say something unexpected. I actually enjoy waking up to you singing in the shower. I relish the fact that even though you proclaim to hate me staring at you, you still sit directly across from me in the Great Hall at every meal where I can’t help but look at you. And when I do look at you, you give me that glare I’ve also come to love.”
I know where this is going, and even though my heart is racing, I muster up a glare. He laughs, his face more relaxed than I’ve ever seen it.
“Despite the fact that I’ve been a total prick, which I hope you’ll forgive me for, I’ve never really stopped thinking about that day in our common room. And I’ve never really stopped wanting it to happen again,” he says quietly. “It just took me a while to figure that out.”
I let my eyes scan his face, searching for a hint that he is really going to say what I want to hear.
“Weasley, believe me when I say I once hated everything about you.” He closes the small space that was left between us and I smell his minty scent and my thoughts go blurry.
“But honestly, I think that changed a long time ago.” He puts a hand on my cheek and I feel my breath quicken.
“God, Rose Weasley,” he starts, exactly like that day in the common room. I want every inch of you, I think, replaying that moment. But instead he says,
“I love every inch of you.”
And with that, he kisses me just the way I remember. And when he pulls away, he rests his forehead against mine and looks at me with that look that I’ve come to know so well. Silver meets sapphire and the background cheers of the crowd fade away.
“So what do you say, Weasley? You up for giving this thing a try?”
I hesitate and he leans in and whispers, “You look incredible tonight, by the way.”
“Well,” I start slowly, “If you swear you’ve changed and you won’t be such a prick anymore, I will consider trying this out.” He glares at me and I chuckle.
“You know, although I’ve just admitted that I’m in love with you, I can probably take that back. Once a prick, always a prick.” He winks at me and it’s my turn to glare.
He flashes a genuine smile and roll my eyes, but soften my gaze. I quickly kiss him on the cheek, heart still racing, and turn to walk away. But then I look back and say, “I guess I wouldn’t have it any other way.” I run down the stairs and through to corridor to the hallway outside.He meets me there a minute or so later and I know that this is the start of something good.