Chapter Four: Fourth Year
:in which Scorpius takes the pranks too far and Rose gets revenge:
Soon after fourth year started, Rose thought that maybe this year would be different—maybe this year Scorpius would finally stop constantly needling her. Scorpius had had a growth spurt over the summer and was starting to look more like a young man, developing chiseled features and perfecting his smirk, which was apparently attractive to much of Hogwarts’ female population. Accordingly, a gaggle of girls started following him between classes and on the weekends, hanging on his every word and flirting with him nonstop. Scorpius didn’t seem to mind one bit—he didn’t overly encourage them, but neither did he send them away. Rose found the whole thing disturbing and bizarre—why anyone would blindly, adoringly follow after Scorpius like a baby chick after its mother was beyond her. He was a git of the highest order, in her opinion, and no amount of change in his appearance could make up for the fact that he was a constant thorn in her side.
(Scorpius would undoubtedly make some remark about roses always having thorns, but she found that metaphor trite and overused. She didn’t go around accusing him of stinging anyone, after all.)
Rose was waiting for Alice one day after their final class when Scorpius and his adoring fan club came into view. She heard one of the girls—a third year bent on making him her first Hogsmeade date—comment on his Quidditch prowess.
“Oh, Scorpius, how did you get to be such an excellent Keeper?” came the syrupy-sweet voice.
“Well,” he began, “I spend a lot of time at the Weasley-Potters’ during the summers. Since they’ve pretty much got their own built-in Quidditch team, we practice a lot, when we aren’t hanging out at the lake.”
The girls sighed, apparently at the thought of Scorpius in a bathing suit. Rose snorted. They wouldn’t be so enamored with him if they knew that he couldn’t even swim until the summer after second year, she mused.
“But aren’t most of the Weasley-Potters on the Gryffindor team? Except for Albus, of course,” said another girl.
“Yeah, they are, but just because they’re on a different team during the school year doesn’t mean I can’t practice with them over the summer. They’re my friends—and besides, playing against them during the summer helps me out because I know how they’ll play during the school year.”
“Are you spying on the Gryffindor team, then?” a fourth year who Rose knew to be in Slytherin asked.
“No,” Scorpius answered, looking a little surprised at the question. “The Weasley-Potters learn just about my playing style during the summer as I learn about theirs. Are you going to call them spies just because they like to play with a couple of Slytherins and a Ravenclaw during the summer months? It’s all in good fun anyway.”
The girls looked like they needed a few minutes to digest that speech, and Rose couldn’t help but roll her eyes at the imbecility of some of the girls around her age.
Scorpius caught sight of Rose just then and flashed her a smirk, not caring that she was immune to such displays. He spoke again, a little louder this time, and Rose knew he meant her to hear every word. “There’s another reason I’m such a good Keeper,” he told the girls, who were listening in rapt attention.
“What?” they asked collectively.
Scorpius caught Rose’s eye again before he answered. “I have to have quick reflexes to block Rose Weasley’s attempts at hitting me,” he said, nodding in her direction.
The girls sent a collective glare on her, then turned back to Scorpius.
“Why does she always want to hit you?” the first girl asked. Rose thought it should be obvious—not just because Scorpius was a ponce, but because their arguments were legendary. But anyone who was silly enough to look at Scorpius like he had hung the moon and stars definitely wasn’t playing with a full set of chess pieces.
Scorpius grinned. “She seems to think I deserve it,” he drawled by way of answer.
Rose couldn’t hold her comments in any longer. “Of course you deserve it. You spend nearly every waking moment baiting me and making snide comments, and then you have the nerve to act like you don’t understand why I retaliate.”
Scorpius stepped away from the girls who were clutching his arms and came to stand in front of Rose, towering over her.
“Weasley, admit it—you’d think something was wrong with me if I didn’t tease you.”
“I already think that there’s something wrong with you, so I don’t see what difference it would make.”
Scorpius started to say something, but was interrupted by the gaggle of girls behind him. “Come on, Scorpius,” they whined. “We’ve got a few hours before dinner—why don’t you show us some of your Keeper moves? She’s not allowed, though,” they added, sneering at Rose.
Scorpius sighed. “Better give them what they want. I need some practice time, anyway. See you later, Weasley,” he said, turning to leave.
“Have fun babysitting your Scorpettes,” Rose hollered after him.
Alice finally reached her, but Rose could hear Scorpius’ laughter ringing out down the hall above Alice’s chatter.
Scorpius thought he finally had the perfect prank to play on Rose. It was January, and the bitter cold made the house elves start serving hot chocolate with marshmallows. Scorpius saw this as the perfect opportunity to put his prank into motion.
He had told no one the details of his plan. He wanted to see all the Weasley-Potters’ faces if it was a success—and he preferred to shield them from the fallout if it backfired.
James and Fred knew he was planning a prank, but that was only because he needed their expertise to ensure that Rose sat next to Scorpius.
On the day of the prank, Rose was running late to dinner as usual. All the others had been directed by James and Fred to sit in such a way so that Rose had no choice but to sit next to Scorpius.
As Rose made her way to the Gryffindor table, Scorpius took his wand and surreptitiously transfigured a marshmallow. Glancing into Rose’s cup, he was satisfied that the first part of his plan had worked. He snickered at Rose’s face when she realized she had to take a seat next to him.
He said nothing but watched her out of the corner of his eye as he talked to Al across the table. When she went to take a drink, however, he focused on her. She raised the cup, breathing in the sweet drink. She loved hot chocolate—he knew she couldn’t resist it. In blissful ignorance, eyes closed, she went to take a drink…
And a spider came crawling out of the cup, feelers brushing against her cheek.
Rose’s eyes shot open and she screamed, face contorting with terror. She fell backwards off the bench, clawing at her face in an attempt to dislodge the marshmallow-turned-spider. She shrieked again, cutting through Scorpius’ laughter.
He had started laughing at the sight of her face when she realized a spider had crawled right out of her mug. He laughed even harder when she toppled off the bench. He stopped laughing, however, when he realized that Rose was alternating between crying and hyperventilating.
He had known that she was terrified of spiders—thus the prank—but had not realized how deep and strong her fear was. Everyone around him seemed too stunned to even attempt to help, and acknowledging the hint of guilt rising inside him, he waved his wand again, turning the spider back into a marshmallow.
Rose realized that the spider was gone, quieted down, and sat up. Hugo, who was sitting on the other side of her, reached to help her up, but she ignored him and clambered to her feet on her own.
Scorpius knew everyone in the Great Hall was looking at him, and he could feel the frustration and anger radiating from the Weasley-Potters, but he was focused on Rose.
Her eyes were sharp as steel and cold as ice as she glared daggers at him. He had never seen her this livid. Her face contorted with suppressed rage and a hint of pain. When she spoke, her words cut through him like knives.
“I hate you, Scorpius Malfoy,” she declared in a low, calculating voice.
He had never thought before that she fully meant those words, but he knew she meant them now with every bone in her body. Her lack of animation and rigid posture and tone scared him a little. He knew the only reason she hadn’t hexed him was because they were in such a crowded room.
(He wasn’t sure why none of the professors had acted yet, but thought that maybe they were waiting to see how she would respond before they did anything.)
While he was contemplating, Rose suddenly turned and marched out of the Great Hall, head held high.
Scorpius blinked, then turned back towards the table, rubbing his forehead. He could feel the stares of Rose’s family piercing through him, and he finally looked up, wanting them to get their censure over with as soon as possible.
They were all looking at him in disgust. Even James and Fred, the master pranksters who were never serious, had turned ferocious glares on him.
Roxanne finally broke the silence. “What in blazes was that?” she demanded.
“That,” answered Hugo, “was Scorpius being an arse.”
“How could you do such a thing?” Hugo continued. “You know she’s nearly as bad as dad when it comes to spiders.”
“I knew she was terrified of them,” Scorpius mumbled. “But I didn’t know that they paralyzed her with fear.”
He didn’t think any of them bought that, even though it was the truth.
Al finally spoke, his words taut as an anchor rope. “You screwed up badly. What possessed you to do that? You need to apologize to her—or she’ll think less of you than she already does. And we’ll think less of you, too. You went too far this time, Scorpius. Usually we can turn a bit of a blind eye to you and Rose’s interactions, but not this time. Not this time.”
“You say you don’t want to be like your ancestors, Scorpius. Prove it.” James spat.
Scorpius hated the position he was in—and it was all his own fault. He didn’t want to lose the friendship of people who he now considered family. He was supposed to be reinventing the name of Malfoy, not falling into the same line of thinking and actions that had characterized his ancestors for centuries. Mal foi—French for “bad faith.” He didn’t want to live up to that name.
But it was more than that.
Scorpius knew Rose had every right to refuse to talk to him now, or even to be in the same vicinity as him. He wouldn’t blame her if she declared she never wanted to see him again.
But for some reason, the idea that he and Rose would never argue, bicker, and tease each other ever again was unfathomable. It was what they did; it was who they were.
He didn’t know why, but he didn’t think he could deal with it if Rose never acknowledged him again.
He had crossed the line; he knew that. All of the Weasley-Potters’ comments were valid. He knew that they all had good reason to stop being his friend, including Al. Rose was blood; he was not.
At that point, he didn’t think he’d care if Rose told him she hated him in the same manner she had for years every day for the rest of their lives. As long as she never said it the way she had minutes before.
As long as she would talk to him again.
Making a decision, Scorpius stood up and left the Great Hall, heading in the direction Rose had gone.
She was crying.
Rose Weasley, who hadn’t even cried—not that he knew of, anyway—when she had broken her leg last year during Quidditch.
Rose Weasley, who hadn’t cried in second year when she got an A on a Potions assignment and Scorpius had received an O.
Rose Weasley was crying—and it was all his fault.
He’d had no idea what to say to her when he burst out of the Great Hall—he just knew he needed to find her.
He definitely had no idea what to say when he saw tears rolling down her reddened face.
“Weasley?” he said tentatively when he got a few paces from her—she was tucked into a corner of the hallway, trying to hide from prying eyes and attempting to collect herself.
She didn’t say anything, but he knew she’d heard him because she visibly tensed.
“Rose?” he tried again in a softer voice. He had to tread lightly; he didn’t fancy being hexed to within an inch of his life, although he knew he deserved it.
She remained silent, wiping away her tears.
“Rose,” he tried again. He wasn’t leaving until he got her to listen to him.
Suddenly, she turned around in a whirl of red curls and drying tears. “Get out of my sight, Malfoy,” she spat before turning away.
He moved over slightly so that he was out of her line of sight and spoke again. “I’m not leaving until you listen to what I have to say,” he said.
She clenched her fists. “What, have you come to humiliate me some more? As if you didn’t humiliate me enough in there?” she said, gesturing towards the Great Hall.
“No,” he answered softly, in contrast to her strident tones. “I’ve come to apologize.”
“Apologize? You? Ha!” Rose scoffed. “I didn’t even know you knew the meaning of the word.”
“I do,” Scorpius said. “I’m sorry, Rose. Truly, I am.”
She looked up at him, surprised. “Do you really think saying sorry is going to cut it, Malfoy? You put a spider in my hot chocolate when you know those things scare me to death. You humiliated me in front of the majority of my family and the rest of Hogwarts. You are despicable. You’re an imbecile if you think that just saying sorry is going to make things better.”
He really hadn’t thought just a simple phrase would have worked on her, but he had given it a shot—plus it gave him a little more time to think of a better apology. Plus, he deserved every insult she could throw at him.
“Rose,” he tried again. “I mean it. I knew you were scared of spiders, but I didn’t realize they would provoke such a violent reaction. I wouldn’t have done it if I had known it would have scared you half to death.”
“Wouldn’t you? You seem to take every opportunity to infuriate and mess with me. How is this time any different?”
“Because this time I went too far. It was horrible of me and I feel awful. I like messing with you, but not to the point that it makes you cry. I didn’t mean to hurt you, Rose, honestly, I didn’t.”
“But you did,” Rose said in a small voice. “You did.”
Scorpius didn’t say anything for a moment—he wasn’t sure what more to say.
Rose broke the silence. “You told me last year when I broke my leg during Quidditch that you wouldn’t hurt me. You said you wouldn’t because my family would kill you. And yet, you hurt me.”
Scorpius didn’t think that the possibility that he had sent a rogue Bludger at her during a Quidditch match equaled the spider prank, but he didn’t voice his opinion.
“I would never hurt you physically. I hope you know that. I know I crossed the line this time, but I’m going to do everything I can to prevent that in the future. I can’t promise to not tease or bicker with you anymore, but I can tell you that I will be more mindful of what pranks I try to pull on you in the future.”
“And,” he continued wryly, “I’m not so sure that your family doesn’t want to kill me. James looked ready to strangle me, and even Al looked like he wanted to clock me in the nose.”
“Good,” Rose automatically answered. She thought for a moment, and spoke again, temper rising. “And what makes you think that I would want to ever speak to you again after this? We may go to the same school, and we may have to be in the same vicinity at times unless Al decides to chuck you to the curb, but that doesn’t mean we have to be on speaking terms. You were cruel and hurtful. You may say that you didn’t know how badly your prank would affect me, but you knew it would upset me in some manner and yet you did it anyway—and in front of everyone! You made me look like a fool, Malfoy. I hate you.”
Scorpius was dumbstruck for a moment, digesting her words. Everything she had said was true. She had every right to ignore him and to refuse to react to his attempts at teasing her and bickering with her.
He knew she was within her rights to never acknowledge him again, but he didn’t want that.
The last part of her speech kept replaying in his mind—not so much the “I hate you” part as what had come before it. He’d made her look like a fool in front of all of Hogwarts.
He got an idea. He just hoped it was enough for her to realize that he was sincere in his apology and his claim to never hurt her in such a way again.
He took a deep breath—he was about to swallow his pride in an unMalfoy-like fashion. However, his relationship with the entire Weasley-Potter clan—not just Rose—was at stake, and he’d gladly swallow his pride to get back into their good graces—especially Rose’s.
“Rose, listen. I’ll do anything you ask if it means you’ll forgive me and talk to me again.”
She looked at him like he’d grown three heads. Her eyebrows raised and she got a mischievous glint in her still-red eyes. “Anything?” she inquired.
He could tell that her mind was whirring, trying to come up with an appropriate form of penance. He needed to clarify. “Well, not quite anything,” he began. When she frowned, he continued. “I’m not going to go jump off the Astronomy Tower or throw the next Quidditch match, no matter what James says,” he mused, knowing she would probably ask her cousins’ advice for the perfect revenge. “I won’t do anything that causes me permanent bodily harm. I wouldn’t do that to you, so don’t expect me to let you hurt me irreparably.
“But,” he went on, seeing that she still seemed interested in the idea, “I will do anything that humiliates me as much as you were humiliated in there. I won’t even complain about whatever it is that you come up with, as long as you abide by the conditions I already mentioned.”
Rose was looking at him like she’d never seen him before. “You would voluntarily be humiliated in front of the whole school just to try and get back on my good side?”
“Yours and your family’s,” he admitted. “Look, just say yes or no. I’m not going to ask again. I have to retain some pride, Weasley.”
She thought for a moment and then nodded. “Yes,” she answered. “But you have to keep up your end of the bargain.”
“Done,” he replied without hesitating. He couldn’t quite believe that she’d agreed. He supposed the idea of being able to get back at him with next to no consequences or restraints was appealing to her. He wasn’t about to back down, though. Not now that she’d agreed.
She nodded again, absently. “I suppose, though, that I can’t quite invoke your biggest fear, even though you used one of mine,” she said, thinking out loud.
He took the bait. “What do you mean?”
“Your biggest fear is disappointing or hurting your family, isn’t it?”
He nodded—how had she known that?
She gave a curt nod in confirmation. “I won’t go there. I know the importance of family. I won’t stoop to that level.”
He sighed despite himself. He hadn’t really thought she would bring his family into this, but he had momentarily panicked when she had voiced his biggest fear.
“No,” she said, still thinking audibly. That mischievous glint was back in her eye. “I won’t bring your family into this—but I could attack your identity as a Malfoy—the outward traits that mark you as a member of that family.” She nodded once more, making a decision. “Yes, that sounds appropriate.” She looked at him dead on. “Watch yourself, Malfoy. I’ll get my revenge soon. You may regret this.” She turned and walked away.
“No, Rose, I don’t think I will,” he replied softly, even though he knew she couldn’t hear him.
True to her word, Rose retaliated the next week at breakfast. Somehow, she’d managed to slip something into Scorpius’ drink that made his hair gradually disappear throughout the day until he was completely bald by dinner. He wouldn’t admit it, but he’d nearly screamed when he’d caught sight of his newly bald head. Rose had chosen her revenge perfectly—attacking his hair was an excellent way to strike at the Malfoy name and appearance without affecting an actual member of his family.
He knew that he had been attracting attention all day. Rose’s family was obviously aware of her part in the prank because James and Fred looked pleased as punch at their younger cousin’s initiative, Al couldn’t stop laughing and grinning at Rose, Hugo had showed up with a camera at different points during the day to track his receding hairline, and the rest of the bunch couldn’t hide their giggles and sniggers.
The other students had been whispering all day long, stopping when they noticed he was paying attention to them. He couldn’t say a word, though. He’d glared at James, Fred, Al, and Hugo throughout the day, but wouldn’t go any farther than that for fear that Rose would think he wasn’t holding up his end of the bargain, and then his sacrifice would have all been for nothing.
Rose, for her part, seemed to take immense pleasure in Scorpius’ discomfort and lack of hair. To most of Hogwarts, it appeared that for the most part Rose had forgotten Scorpius’ prank, or at least had put it to the back of her mind. Scorpius, however, knew better. For weeks after his prank—long after his hair had grown back—Rose would not touch a mug of hot chocolate. It saddened him to think she didn’t trust him to not try that prank again.
It was never said out loud, but all of Hogwarts knew that Rose was behind Scorpius’ hair loss. What most of the students didn’t know—in fact, no one knew outside of Rose, Scorpius, Al, James, Hugo, and presumably Alice and Lily—was that Scorpius had invited Rose to prank him. That was best left to as few people’s knowledge as possible.
After Scorpius had gone about a week without hair, Rose had reversed the spell, telling him and her family that the spell had merely made his hair invisible and had not actually removed his hair at all. He was impressed at her ingenuity but said nothing—by that time, his hair had reappeared, but it now changed colors every day for a week, making his blond locks go through every color of the rainbow. Apparently Rose wanted her revenge to be very thorough—not that he blamed her. He’d done enough to her over the years that she was due for a comeback.
After the second week of Scorpius’ hair humiliation, things returned mostly to normal. Despite his words to Rose while attempting to apologize to her, however, Scorpius didn’t initially start teasing or bickering with her again. He didn’t want to accidentally infuriate her for a second time. He didn’t think his pride could survive another groveling session. It took a lot of self-control, but Scorpius managed to hold his comments in for the most part. He only chimed in with a snide remark or a teasing comment when her cousins were already messing with her and his contributions could get lost amidst the others. He dearly missed teasing her, but tried to keep himself in check.
About six weeks after Scorpius’ humiliation had ended, it became apparent that Rose was just as disgruntled with the lack of arguments and snappy comebacks as Scorpius was. According to Alice and Lily, Rose had been stewing silently for about three weeks before she finally snapped. As a last resort, they explained to Scorpius after the incident had already occurred, Rose had deliberately answered a question wrong in class just to see if Scorpius would jump at the chance to correct her and debate with her over why her answer was wrong and his was right. Scorpius, however, had merely answered correctly.
After class, Rose had come up to him, fuming. She had demanded to know why he hadn’t jumped down her throat for answering incorrectly, and when he’d made an evasive answer, not wanting to get into a monstrous fight with her again, she had glared at him and responded. “I don’t know why, and Merlin forbid I ever admit this again, but I miss bickering with you and arguing with you. So quit walking on eggshells around me and give it to me straight, just as you’ve always done.”
She turned to leave the classroom. Scorpius grinned, yelling after her. “Oi, Weasley! Forgetting common potion ingredients now, are we? You’re slacking. You don’t want to come second to me in Potions for the fourth year in a row, now do you?”
She turned around, smirking at him. “You’re a right smarmy git, you know that?”
He made a big show of looking surprised. “Excuse me, did I hear you correctly? Did you just call me charming?”
She blinked. “I hate you,” she told him—but without any of the malice and utter hatred that had accompanied that phrase weeks before.
He grinned wider. They were back.