Chapter Six: Fifth Year, Part Two
:in which there is a turning point:
After Rose's failed (disastrous) date to Hogsmeade right before Christmas with her other patrol partner, Nicholas, due to Scorpius' interference (to put it lightly), all she wanted to do over the holidays was make her grandparents' home live up to its name—she wanted to hide out in the Burrow and have a few days of peace without Malfoy there to ruin things.
(She still wasn't sure why he had persisted in spending time in the Three Broomsticks needling her about Nicholas instead of spending time with his own date—and had even less of an idea why he seemed to care so much about who she dated and then proceeded to scare off her date.)
But of course, no holiday was complete at the Weasley-Potters' unless Scorpius came to spend a few days. Surprisingly, Scorpius seemed to have lost a little of the bluster he had had at the Three Broomsticks a few weeks earlier. He still found time to mess with Rose—such as stealing her pie right out from under her nose and replacing it with Al's piece, making her ask him what he'd done to it, as well as sticking bows left over from presents in her hair—but at other times failed to bait her like he normally would have done.
(It was like he was actually kind of taking her advice to act like he cared about her as much as he had hinted he did. That unnerved her. She understood and could deal with a mischievous Scorpius, unlike a somewhat kinder, more respectful Scorpius.)
Classes resumed after Christmas in the usual fashion for most, but O.W.L.s were looming for the fifth years. Rose was so busy between studying for classes and the O.W.L.s and playing Quidditch that she didn't have time to actively start looking for a new boyfriend.
That was just as well, she decided, because between Al, Hugo, and Scorpius, she didn't know if she would be able to find someone who would pass the three boys' inspection and still want to date her afterwards.
Rose and Scorpius had taken to debating topics that would be covered on their O.W.L.s—how best to write about them, which examples to use, which scholars to cite—while on their patrols.
Rose had taken the opportunity during one patrol about the middle of the spring term to continue an argument that had started earlier that day during dinner. Rose and Scorpius had gotten so invested in their dispute that they had barely touched their plates and had not even noticed when the Weasley-Potters had left the Gryffindor table, fed up with Rose and Scorpius' incessant competition.
A hungry Rose and Scorpius made for an even more combative Rose and Scorpius, so Scorpius, hoping that Rose would drop the argument if plied with food, had gotten some simple, easy-to-carry snacks from the kitchens that they could eat while on patrol.
No such luck—Rose was just as intent on proving her point as she had been hours earlier. Scorpius watched her, only part of him paying attention to her points. She was currently waving her arms, a half-eaten roll still in one hand, forgotten for the moment. Her eyes snapped and her hair whipped around as she animatedly, determinedly defended her position. She was so wrapped up in arguing with him that she nearly ran into archways and walls a couple of times, his fingers wrapping around her flailing wrists and dragging her back, sparing her just in time from an embarrassing injury.
At some point, they stopped walking and she turned toward him, even more animated than before, if that was possible. He knew she was wrapping up her closing arguments by the way she stared him down, one hand clenched into a fist, the other pointing a finger at him, poking into his chest.
(It would be a real shame if she didn't end up working somewhere in the law field, he thought. She had all the makings of a lawyer—she could argue with the best of them. He wouldn't have been surprised if they elected her to the Wizengamot in the next twenty, thirty years.)
And to think that he had started all of this with one smart comment at dinner…
She was still making her case, but her words were just going in one ear and out the other. He was too caught up in the expression on her face, how her eyes crinkled and sparked, how alive she looked.
She was a real live wire, and it wasn't because of her hair.
Looking at her, he realized something that had been slowly coming to the forefront of his mind since the events of the previous year.
He realized that, even though the past few years had been devoted to him constantly trying to get under her skin, somehow his defenses had weakened and she had weaseled her way under his skin, slipped into his veins and made her way into his heart.
He loved her.
He had known for a while that he fancied her—but apparently his feelings had grown. Somewhere between the fights, the pranks, the witty banter, the constant rivalry, he had fallen for this intelligent, fiery, determined, spirited, loyal young woman.
He wanted her. He wanted to be with her. He might be only sixteen, but he was pretty sure that she was it for him. He couldn't imagine arguing with or loving anyone else.
It was taking all of his self-control not to grab her by the shoulders and kiss her defiant mouth.
But he couldn't. He didn't even know if they could even be considered friends. They had been getting along better recently, but was that enough? He wanted her love, but he wanted her friendship, too. Maybe it was best to start with that.
(He didn't think they would ever stop quarreling with each other, but he didn't really want to, and it seemed like she didn't either. They enjoyed their disputes too much to ever stop.)
He sighed. She had finished ranting and was staring at him, waiting for him to take up his thread of the argument. He surprised her.
"Rose," he said. "As much as I enjoy arguing with you, I haven't been able to concentrate. I'm tired. Let's pick this up again tomorrow, shall we?"
(He was tired, and his fatigue was impacting his ability to pay attention. He wasn't lying—just omitting the fact that he couldn't concentrate because he was too focused on her instead of the debate at hand. He couldn't admit to that yet.)
She looked annoyed at his dismissal of the dispute, but she saw his tired face—he was starting to get bags under his eyes—and realizing her own fatigue, consented to a truce for the time being.
"But I get to make an even longer argument next time. I had a perfectly constructed case and you couldn't even pay attention enough to come up with a rebuttal. You're falling down on the job."
"I'm tired, Weasley," Scorpius said. "Between studying for regular classes and O.W.L.s and keeping up with Quidditch, I don't have much time to sleep. On patrol nights it's even worse."
She nodded. "If O.W.L.s are this bad, I don't even want to think about how hard N.E.W.T.s will be."
"At least N.E.W.T.s will be over subjects we actually like," Scorpius commented.
"True, but will we even like them once we're done with the tests? And N.E.W.T. subjects are covered for two years. We may get more time to prepare for the tests, but the tests are more in-depth, cover more material, and count for more than O.W.L.s do."
"At least we get more time. I would hate to think how we would all fare if we had to cram N.E.W.T. level classes all into one year of instruction."
"I'm wondering if I'll have to give up Quidditch for my last year or so here at Hogwarts," Rose confessed.
"What? Why? You love playing Quidditch," Scorpius asked, perplexed.
"I don't love it as much as James or Al do," Rose answered. "My classes are more important to me. I want to get good marks and scores. And with as many N.E.W.T. classes as I'll be taking, I need to carve out enough time to study and eat and sleep. Plus, I tutor younger students on a regular basis. I don't know how much time I'll have for Quidditch."
"I'd wait and see how the first part of sixth year goes for you before making a decision," Scorpius reasoned. "Not that my opinion makes any difference, but…"
"Actually, that's not a bad idea," Rose admitted.
Scorpius smiled. "As long as you still have time to bicker with me," he said.
Rose smirked. "I think I can manage that."
Since they seemed to be getting along well for the time being, Scorpius decided to ask a question that had been bothering him for a while—since before Christmas, in fact.
"Weasley, can I ask you a question?"
Rose looked at him, a little startled. "You just did," she pointed out.
"Humor me," he said, pleased that she hadn't immediately said no.
She gestured towards him, indicating he could ask what was on his mind.
He sighed, running a hand through his hair. "Why is it, that in all the years we've fought and bickered with each other, you have never brought up my family's past as a way to insult me? You surely have had many opportunities to invoke my family's actions over the years, yet you never have—not even last year, when you had more reason than ever."
It was true—she hadn't. She had never played the "Death Eater" or "Supporter of Voldemort" card with him. She might mock his hair, his vanity, or his arrogance, but never his family's past. Not even after the marshmallow spider incident—when, in his mind, she would have had every reason to do so.
Rose looked shocked at his question. She blurted out the first thing that came to mind. "What, do you want me to bring up your family's past?"
"No, no, that's not it at all. I'm grateful you haven't. I just wondered why."
Rose looked thoughtful for a few minutes. Scorpius had about given up on getting an actual answer when she spoke.
"Well, for one thing, my parents raised me better. They have always taught me to judge a person by their actions and character, not by their family or their blood status or their degree of wealth."
He raised an eyebrow at her. "Fine, most of that was from my mother, but my father insists on disregarding blood purity and wealth as factors when considering a person."
"I thought your father hated me."
Rose laughed. "My dad doesn't hate you, Malfoy. He tolerates you. I think you've actually grown on him over the years, but he'll never admit it."
"Weasley, didn't you see how he looked at me last Christmas? I thought he was going to Avada me right there!"
Rose shook her head. "That was because you took the last piece of the pie, Malfoy. You've been around my family for years—surely you know by now not to get between my father and pie."
"I bet he doesn't look at you like he wants to kill you if you somehow wind up with the last piece."
Rose looked a little sheepish. "If I somehow wind up with the last piece, he usually will start to give me that look, but then sigh and offer to split the piece with me."
Scorpius knew that Rose had her father wrapped around her little finger, but that didn't make him feel any better.
"Dad looks at Hugo like he wants to throttle him if Hugo gets the last piece, too, if that helps."
It did a little, but Scorpius didn't say so. "Is that all? You steer away from my family's past misdeeds because your parents have raised you better?"
Rose shook her head. "No," she replied. "There are a few more reasons. From what my father has said over the years—and to a lesser degree my mother and Uncle Harry—your father was consistently vile and horrible to them during their years at Hogwarts. My uncle says that's because your father was raised in a hostile, dark environment and was already in too deep when he started to change his mind about his side in the war.
"I know I don't know everything that your ancestors did during the war, and even before, but nothing you have done has ever matched their deeds. Not even what you did last year. It might have, if you hadn't worked so hard to redeem yourself, but you did work to get back on my good side, and that's what matters in the end.
"You've worked hard to distance yourself from what your family did. From what Al says, your father has changed as well.
"You may be the most insufferable, incorrigible, infuriating person I have ever met, but you are not evil. You wouldn't take the dark path when faced with a choice. There is goodness in you, even though it's sometimes hard to see when I'm furious with you.
"We quarrel because we're Rose and Scorpius, not because we're a Weasley and a Malfoy. People need to be judged for their own actions, not for whatever their family did or did not do.
"And besides," Rose said, coming to a close, "I don't think Uncle Harry would have approved of Al being friends with you if you had been as diabolical as your ancestors."
To say that Scorpius was shocked by Rose's speech would be an understatement. It was good to know that her rivalry with him was not fueled by their families' antagonism but by her own irritation and need to compete with him.
"You think there's goodness in me?" he asked. For Rose to say such a thing meant a lot—Rose was kind to most everyone, except for him.
"Yes," said Rose. "You help with Weasley-Potter Quidditch injuries during the summers. You are kind to my grandmother, mother, aunts, and cousins, even if you aren't always nice to me. You are good with the few first and second years we've come across in the hall on patrol—you never berate them, just give them a warning.
"Plus," she said with a wicked grin, "I've heard all about your tea parties with your younger cousins."
Scorpius groaned. "I wish you hadn't heard about that. I'll throttle Al."
"It was James and Fred who told me, actually," said Rose. "Just know that we do have blackmail on you."
Scorpius sighed again. Sometimes he wondered why he was friends with the Weasley-Potters.
(It was better than being their enemy, though.)
"You know," he said suddenly, "My father actually has great respect for your uncle."
"Your Uncle Harry."
"Yes. He won't admit it, but he does. First year, when I first befriended Al, I was afraid to write to him and tell him who my new best mate was. I told my mother, but told her to keep it a secret until I gathered up the courage to tell my father.
"I wrote him two months into the new term and finally told him. When he wrote back, he said that he was surprised, but thought that it was a good thing. A Malfoy and a Potter being friends could go a long way towards restoring the Malfoy name.
"I thought he only approved of the friendship because of the benefits it would bring to the family, so at Christmas that year I asked him what he really thought about the whole thing. I was scared. I had never had many friends growing up, what with being stuck in the Manor most of the time, but I liked your family and wanted to stay friends with them." He chuckled. "And I wanted to keep annoying you, and it would have been harder to do that if I wasn't around you and your family all the time."
"So what did your father say?"
"He was surprised. He said being friends with a Potter would definitely help the family name, and he did appreciate that, but that wasn't the reason he was okay with it. He said that he hadn't had many friends at all during Hogwarts, and none of them were very close friends, not even the two he hung out with the most. He said he wanted something different for me, and that if that meant I was friends with a Potter, then so be it.
Scorpius smirked at his next memory. "I think the fact that Al was sorted into Slytherin really amused my father, and that might have played a role in accepting my friendship with Al, but don't tell him that."
Rose chuckled. "So why does your dad respect my uncle?"
Scorpius sobered. "When I told him that I was friends with Al, he told me that your uncle Harry had saved his life and his friend's life when they were seventeen, even though they were still on opposing sides at that point. He said that without your uncle, he wouldn't be here, and neither would I. He never said outright that he respected your uncle, but I could tell he did. He wouldn't have said the things he did otherwise."
Rose was surprised. "I hadn't heard that story," she said.
"I'm not surprised. When I told Al a few years ago, he said he hadn't heard that story either. We went and asked Al's dad and he confirmed the story but didn't really go into detail."
Rose just nodded, and they walked in silence until Scorpius remembered something else.
"I think my father has a lot of respect for your mother, too."
"Really?" asked Rose. That was even more surprising than the fact that Harry had saved Draco's life.
"Yes," answered Scorpius. "He said your parents also helped Mr. Potter save his life. He also said that your mother was extremely brilliant and that she was instrumental in the right side winning the war. He then asked me if I knew you—" here a self-satisfied smirk appeared on Scorpius' face—"and when I said that I did, and that you were annoying and a know-it-all and I loved to argue and mess with you, he told me that if you were anything like your mother, and that it sounded like you were, to watch out for your right hook because one day I would get to meet it and it would hurt."
Rose's eyes had narrowed at Scorpius' description of what his first-year self had thought of her, but laughed when he finished his comment. "And it did hurt, didn't it?" she said, grinning cheekily.
"It did," Scorpius admitted. "And no, I don't find you annoying or a know-it-all now, even though arguing with you is probably my favorite thing to do."
Rose rolled her eyes, even though she felt the same way about arguing with Scorpius. "I'm surprised that your father complimented my mother," she said. "From what little my mother has said, and what my father has liked to repeat at different intervals since you became a friend of the family, your father was an insensitive jerk during their years at Hogwarts."
"He would be the first to tell you that he was young, and stupid, and very, very impressionable," Scorpius said. "He hasn't told me much about the last couple of years of the war yet—he promises he will when I'm older, but I don't think he'll tell me everything—but from what he's said, those last couple of years really took a toll on him. They completely upended his life and everything he knew or thought he knew before. He's changed. He says the war started the change, and that my mother and I cemented it."
Rose nodded. "The war changed a lot of things, a lot of people, disrupted and changed a lot of lives. Your father was in the thick of it. Of course he would have been one of the most affected."
Scorpius just nodded back. Rose's answer showed her good heart, her willingness to believe that all people had good in them—even him. He appreciated what Rose said, even if it could be considered a bit of a blanket statement. He would never say so, though; he was just glad that she was willing to listen and talk to him.
He laughed suddenly. "Did we just get through an entire conversation without arguing?"
Rose chuckled. "I guess we did. Better check and see if pigs are flying."
"Or if Filch is actually smiling," Scorpius commented.
Rose laughed. "That would be a nightmare. No one could ever unsee that!"
Scorpius grinned at her. "Friends, Weasley?"
Startled, Rose looked at him. "What?"
"You heard me," he answered.
She thought for a moment. "Rose," she finally answered.
It was his turn to say "What?"
"Rose," she repeated. "My name is Rose."
Scorpius grinned again. "Friends, then, Rose?"
She gave him a half-smile. "I hope I won't regret this," she said softly. "But yes, sure. Friends."
Scorpius smiled so big that it felt like his face was going to split in two. "You won't regret this, Rose."
The next day found Scorpius and Rose walking into the Great Hall for dinner together, as if they'd done so for years. Rose was laughing at something Scorpius had said and he was grinning down at her. They both were oblivious to the stares of the other students and the whispers that commenced as soon as the students got over their shock.
(They definitely didn't hear a couple of students ask "Are they finally dating?" or see a few Sickles change hands.)
They did, however, notice the looks of shock on the faces of the Weasley-Potters when they reached the Gryffindor table. Well, most of the Weasley-Potters looked like they thought Hogwarts would crumble around them at the sight of Rose and Scorpius actually getting along. Al was briefly shocked, but quickly switched to amusement and a bit of smugness. Lily merely grinned knowingly.
"What's going on?" James asked, breaking the silence.
"I thought they were always at each other's throats," Roxanne muttered.
"They were, they are," Lily answered a little too happily. "Maybe now they'll be at each other's throats in a different way."
Roxanne looked at Lily wide-eyed and Al groaned from his spot next to Lily.
"I did not need that visual," he said, putting his face in his hands.
Meanwhile, Scorpius and Rose had stopped talking long enough to answer James. "We've decided to bury the hatchet, at least a little, and try to be friends," Rose explained.
"Yeah, Rosie and I will still probably bicker all the time, because for some weird reason we actually like arguing with each other, but this year has shown that we can actually get along for an extended length of time. That, and the fact that she seems to finally accept that I'm not going anywhere, despite her attempts to scare me off, means that we've decided to be friends."
Rose rolled her eyes. "Just because we're friends now doesn't mean you get to call me Rosie. That's reserved for only a few special people."
"And here I thought I was special," Scorpius said, face drooping exaggeratedly.
"I could say something about that," said Rose primly, "but I'm not going to. I'm going to be the bigger person."
Scorpius made a show of looking her up and down. "I think you've got a bit more growing to do to be bigger than me, Rose."
Rose just shook her head. "Nothing will ever be bigger than your ego, I don't think."
Scorpius grinned. "I wasn't talking about my ego."
"Scorpius!" Rose said, blushing a little.
"Rosie, Rosie, get your mind out of the gutter. I was talking about height."
Rose just sighed. "Remind me why I said I'd be friends with you?"
"I'm quality entertainment," Scorpius said. "I help you with Potions, you help me with Ancient Runes. I can hold an intelligent conversation with you, I can challenge you like no one else. I get along with everyone else in your family—why shouldn't we be friends?"
"When I come up with something, I'll let you know. I'm sure you'll rise to the occasion soon," answered Rose. "Until then, fine, Scorpius. Still friends. Just as long as I can still argue with you to my heart's content."
"What do you think we've been doing for the last few minutes, Rosie? I wouldn't dream of not arguing with you. If we're friends, that just means we have more opportunities to argue."
Al groaned at Scorpius' last statement. "Like you two need more opportunities to argue."
Scorpius glared at Al. Rose took the opportunity to flick some mashed potatoes in his face.
He turned to look at her, surprised.
"Sorry, couldn't resist. Just had to get that out of my system. I was wondering if the mashed potatoes would be lighter or darker than your vampiric skin." Rose grinned cheekily once more and everyone around the table laughed. Even Scorpius joined in once he wiped the food off his face and flicked Rose's nose.
Rose just grinned and turned back to her food.
"I thought it was bad enough when they were just rivals," Al complained to Lily. "But I think them being friends might even be worse."
"At least she didn't say she hated him," Hugo interjected.