Happy Christmas, Rosie
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Everyone in the entire magical world knows of this school and it's rich history, both recent and ancient. It is virtually impossible to go anywhere in the world and not meet someone who has either attended the school as a student or visited it for some sort of event. Even if they haven't, they doubtless have heard the story of Harry Potter's famous defeat of Lord Voldemort, which occurred only twenty-five years previously—a story that I am more familiar with than most, because my parents were intimately involved in the battle that night. Their names might not be quite as recognized as my Uncle's, but then again, who's is?
To me, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is a wonderful place to escape from the worries that exist outside its walls, quite different from how it was for my parents in their day. When I am at the school, I can forget about the fact that I'm going to have to get a job next year, that my mother thinks I am not living up to my potential as a witch because I don't spend as much time as she did studying, that everyone in my muggle neighborhood sees our family as a jumbled group of freaks, and so on.
Not that there aren't things I worry about while at Hogwarts, they're just different things. For example, I worry about the fact that I've never had a boyfriend in all seventeen years of my life, about passing all of my tests and whether or not I study enough, and other such social and academic fears.
But above them all, I worry about Scorpius Malfoy. Not a day passes within these walls that we don't have a class together—something I used to think was coincidental until, when I quit Divination (it's not real magic at all) he followed me from that class to Ancient Runes. Whenever I dare to steal a glance at him during mealtimes, he's always staring right at me, a distant look in his eyes, and I have caught him following me around many a free day, even when I tried desperately to shake him off.
To say the least, these actions made me extremely wary of him, to the point that I even employed my cousins James and Albus as well as my brother Hugo as my bodyguards. James is no longer attending Hogwarts, and Hugo is too busy with his new girlfriend, Joanna Wood, to pay any attention to what's going on with me, so I am left with only Albus as my protection. Though my number of shields has dwindled, if I was told that I would be left with one, he would definitely have been my pick.
"Don't look over at the Slytherin table, Rose," Albus warned as he saw my eyes move to do just that as we ate breakfast. I sighed and placed down my fork, thankful for my cousin's observant skills, but at the same time growing slightly annoyed.
"What will looking at him do?" I said desperately. "Once, just once I want to catch him not looking at me, and if I do I know he's not quite as disturbing as I thought he was."
"I'll watch for you," Albus insisted, smiling as I rolled my eyes. "I'm only trying to do the job you signed me up for."
"I didn't sign you up to determine where I look or who I look at," I retorted, though I did not turn to meet the eyes that I felt burning into the back of my head. It is very true that I felt I needed protection, but at the same time there was some sort of excitement over the matter that made me want to prolong it. It wasn't always this way—it used to be that I was only afraid of him, and would avoid him at all cost, but for the past year and a half I found myself purposely running into him, or following him on his days off instead of the other way around.
I guess I just wanted to figure him out, since I didn't understand him. It's rare for me to not understand anything, so when I do find something that confuses me I am determined that I will soon discover all of its secrets. Unfortunately, I had discovered absolutely none of Scorpius's, due to the fact that the bodyguards I employed had been all too good at doing their job.
Now, left down to just one, I realized that there were going to be chances for me to learn more about the mysterious Slytherin, especially over the coming Christmas holidays. Albus would be going home to my Aunt and Uncle's house, along with Hugo, since my parents were on vacation in Australia for the winter, visiting my grandparents. Both parties had invited me to join them, but I politely declined, saying I wanted to spend the holidays in the library, something all of them easily believed knowing who my mother was.
What I didn't tell them was that I had overheard Scorpius telling some of his friends that his parents had decided to travel to the States and he would be staying at the school as well. I felt my heart beat uncomfortably as I considered the prospect of having an actual conversation with him, something that consisted of more than just "Hello", "Goodbye", and "Could you pass the lizard eyes". I had sensed more than once that he wanted to speak more, but some invisible force always seemed to keep his mouth shut, something I used to be grateful for but was now discouraged by. What if he didn't want to speak with me at all? If he didn't, why would he be following me in the first place?
Another mundane week passed full of studying and tests, but my mind was not on my schoolwork for once. I couldn't explain why this boy had all of the sudden begun to occupy my every thought, but he had somehow captured my attention in a way that didn't make me want to run for cover. Maybe it was the smile he threw at me daily, or the way his eyes shined whenever he asked me a question in class—whatever it was, I was determined to find out.
The day finally came that my brother and my cousin would be boarding the Hogwarts Express back to London. I had barely said goodbye to my brother before he was on the train, snogging Miss Wood senseless. Albus took a little longer to say goodbye, but he too was anxious to board the train and head towards home, seeing as his muggle girlfriend Rebecca Franks was going to be spending the holidays with them as well. How he met her, I didn't know, and even if I had been curious, he wouldn't tell.
I waved them off as the train began to move, and returned to the school as fast as possible. As I was heading towards the Gryffindor tower to freshen up before dinner, I bumped into him, right in front of the Fat Lady. Both of us had been in a hurry to get somewhere, apparently, and hadn't noticed the other approaching.
"I'm so sorry!" he said, blushing slightly. "I really should look where I'm walking—"
"So should I," I said, smiling in return. "I beg your pardon, Mr. Malfoy, but I'm trying to get into Gryffindor tower, so—"
"Right, of course," he said, returning my smile as he walked past. I felt my smile widen as I realized that was the longest conversation we had ever had, if you could even call it a conversation. I found myself itching to talk to him more, for reasons that I don't even know myself. These thoughts in my head, I hurried to my dormitory and reached for my pitiful make-up supply, desperately trying to improve my appearance by putting on layers of fake skin—something I would have absolutely no idea how to do were it not for my cousin, Lily, who had also left for the holidays.
When I was satisfied enough with my appearance, I ventured to my closet to search for an outfit to wear to dinner—there were only about twenty students staying this year, so I knew that whether or not I wanted to be, I would be noticed, and I was determined that I would receive a positive response. At length I picked out a plain, flowing blue skirt Lily lent me and one of my favorite white blouses. It wasn't the most flirtatious outfit, but that wasn't what I was going for—I just wanted to look pleasant.
The time for dinner came much quicker than I had expected, and I hurried down to the great hall to enjoy the meal. There was only one table sitting in the center of the room, which made the room feel even more enormous than it normally did. The snow outside seemed to fall from the ceiling slowly as the students and teachers gathered, taking their seats. I was careful to sit in a chair who's neighbors were unoccupied in order to increase the probability of him sitting next to me. When he did enter the room, I saw his eyes focus on the empty chair to my left and was careful that no one else took that seat. He grinned at me as he sat, and I nodded in response, feeling a smile creep onto my lips.
Surprisingly enough, he was the only Slytherin staying for the holidays, and I the only Gryffindor. Eight of the other students were from Ravenclaw, and the remaining ten belonged in the Hufflepuff house. Because of this, there was an obvious separation, all of the Ravenclaws sitting to my right and all of the Hufflepuffs sitting to Scorpius's left. Thankfully, this meant that the eighteen other students were too focused in their own group conversations to pay any attention to the two of us sitting in the middle, with no one else to talk to but each other.
"So," he began, breaking the silence as we filled our plates with food. "Why are you staying for the holidays?"
"My parents are on vacation. You?"
"Same," he said before taking a bite of his steak. He chewed and swallowed before continuing. "Why is your brother not here? Hugo, right? He is your brother?"
"Yes," I said after swallowing a spoonful of my chicken soup. "He decided to join my cousins at my Aunt and Uncle's house."
"Why didn't you?"
"Because I like it here," I lied, not daring to tell him the real reason.
He nodded in agreement, taking a moment to stare at the ceiling. "Every year I fear I'll become too used to all of this amazing magic for it to affect me, but each year I find myself pleasantly surprised when I am still enchanted by all of this school's wonderful enchantments."
At his last words, I noticed that his eyes dropped to meet mine. I felt a blush beginning to form and turned my head away. "I know exactly what you mean. There's just something about this school that never ceases to amaze me."
He nodded as he chewed a piece of his steak. Much to my disappointment, we fell into silence enjoying our food. The talking around us did not stop, however, and we were obliged to listen to the Hufflepuff girls giggle about how attractive Edward MacMillan was and the Ravenclaws complain about not having homework to do over Christmas. I'll be honest and say that both conversations were quite entertaining to listen to, if only because of the immaturity with which they were discussed—Scorpius and I were also the only students above fourth year that were present.
Neither of us said another word until we had both finished our dessert and were standing to leave. I had turned my back on him, thinking that that was the extent of the words we would exchange tonight, when I felt his hand on my shoulder, a shiver running through my body as I turned to face him.
"Did you want something?" I asked, noticing for the first time the deep blue color of his eyes.
"I just thought," he said, shuffling slightly. "that since we have about four hours until curfew, it would be a shame for us to return to our common rooms alone, with no one else to talk to."
"It would," I said without thinking, slightly surprised at myself. I had only wanted to talk to him a bit, I hadn't really intended on spending hours together. Still, I found myself following him onto the grounds of the school, taking the first path we came across.
"Why don't you tell me about yourself?" he said suddenly. "We don't really know each other, and honestly, you're quite a mystery to me."
"You're quite the mystery yourself," I said, smiling despite myself. "I'd be much more interested in hearing about you."
"There's really not much interesting about me," he sighed, running his fingers through his hair. "My father is one of the richest wizards in the magical community for doing absolutely nothing, and my mother is blindly devoted to him no matter what he does. My friends are only my friends because they think my father's going to be the next Voldemort, which he would never be able to do in a million years because he's too much of a coward, and my parents think I'm a completely useless wizard because I won't use half of the spells my father likes to use on our house-elves—I even set some free once, and thought that my father might actually kill me on the spot."
I stared at him, completely shocked at his outburst. He noticed my look and his face grew red.
"I'm sorry," he said quickly. "It's just that—well, I've never had the opportunity to tell any of that to anyone, and you've always struck me as someone who would accept me, no matter my heritage—or who would at least try to understand me."
I blinked a couple of times. At this point, we had stopped walking, and were standing on the middle of one of the many gardens on the grounds.
"I think I do understand," I said finally. "At least, I understand what it's like to be judged because of what your parents did. I can't tell you how many times in History of Magic I've wanted to disappear as Professor Binns taught about how great and wonderful my parents were—er, are. Everyone here thinks that I should be just as talented a witch as my mother, just as loyal as my father. I've also wondered if the only reason people are my friends is because my family is famous—because they want to meet my uncle, get an autograph, be able to tell their parents that one of their friends at school is Hermione Granger and Ronald Weasley's daughter—"
I broke off, realizing that I was breathing heavily. I had never been able to share any of that with anyone, either.
Raising my eyes, I realized that he was smiling—it wasn't a childish smile, but an understanding, sympathetic smile. I found myself smiling back, and we began to walk again, heading towards the lake. For a while, we travelled in a comfortable silence, with a mutual understanding of each other.
When we reached the edge of the lake, a laugh escaped his lips.
"What is it?" I asked, curious.
"I was just remembering what my father said to me before I boarded the train my first year," he explained, smirking. "We saw your family at the other end of the platform, and he told me to stay away from you, to not say a word to you. And now, here we are, and you're the only person who really knows anything about me," he laughed again, brushing his blonde hair out of his eyes.
I smiled to myself. "When we saw your family, my dad told me to make sure I beat you in every test."
"Well, at least one of us has lived up to our parent's expectations," Scorpius replied, his smile widening.
"You could do much better, you know," I said encouragingly. "You just need to study more. I suspect you spend too much time following me around to bother with it."
I rather enjoyed the shocked look that crossed over his face. "You—you noticed that?" he said, not attempting to hide the truth.
I nodded. "I'll admit that I was slightly worried about you at first—but now I understand."
"Yes," I said, taking a seat on a bench next to the lake. He joined me as I continued to talk. "You've tried so hard to live up to your father's expectations, but for some reason feel like you can never fulfill them and he's always disappointed in you, so you decided to just go against him. It made you feel more in control of yourself, your future."
He was staring at me with wide eyes. "Are you sure you're not a Legilimens?"
"I never said that," I said mysteriously.
"All right," he said, deciding to play along with me. "What am I thinking of right now?"
I turned to get a better look at him and leaned forward, searching his face for any clues. The corners of his mouth curved upward, but I pretended to not notice as I feigned legilimency.
"You're thinking about how cold it just got," I guessed as a strong wind blew past us.
He smirked. "Your legilimency is a little bit rusty, I see."
"Oh well," I sighed, shrugging my shoulders. "What were you thinking of, then?"
"How beautiful you are."
At his words, I felt my cheeks burn just as red as my Weasley hair. I was still leaning forward, and our faces were only inches apart. My heart beat uncomfortably as he leaned forward slightly, bringing us even closer. He placed his hand over mine and I snapped back into reality.
"You know what I'm thinking right now?" I said, standing and laughing nervously. "About the time. If we don't hurry, we're going to miss curfew."
"You're right," he said, quickly standing. We walked to the school in silence, this time an uncomfortable one. I couldn't look at him for fear of meeting his eyes, of seeing the same strange emotion that I had seen by the lake. I couldn't help feeling that my eyes had born the same emotion, though I couldn't tell you what it was if my life depended on it. All I knew was that it was completely foreign to me, and made me want to run as fast as I could to my dorm. Because I knew that would be rude, I allowed him to walk me to the Gryffindor tower silently, not looking at him until we were standing in front of the Fat Lady.
"Thank you for spending the evening with me," he said, smiling. I found myself smiling back despite my nervousness.
"Thank you for inviting me," I responded. "Good night."
As soon as I was safe in the common room, I collapsed on the couch, holding my face in my hands. What was that? I thought furiously. Why had I become suddenly tongue-tied in front of him? I hardly even knew him! He hardly knew me!
But, as I thought about it, in that one night, we had come to understand each other better than possibly anyone else understood us. Maybe that was why I was feeling confused—because someone I had barely spoken two words to before today was now the person who knew me best. I decided the best option would be to try to sleep it off, and hurried to my room, plopping on my bed without even changing. Soon, I was asleep, but when I awoke eight hours later, I found my mind still preoccupied with thoughts of the previous night and what it could possibly mean. It doesn't mean anything, I tried to convince myself as I showered and dressed for the day, though it did nothing to calm my thoughts.
The seating arrangement at breakfast was the exact same as it had been the previous night at dinner, and I found that it wasn't as hard to talk to Scorpius in the morning as it had been at the lake. He soon had me laughing uncontrollably, to the point that we gathered a few stares from each end of the table. Surprisingly, I didn't really care—I enjoyed being around Scorpius, and I had given up worrying about what anyone else thought of a Malfoy and a Weasley spending time together. He was such an easy person to be around and talk to, and there was just something that I felt towards him that I couldn't explain.
We ended up spending the entire day together—I even convinced him to visit the library with me and study a bit, though he protested that the holidays were a time to relax. I retorted that he treated life like a holiday, and now was the time to start changing that. He mumbled something about enjoying dancing through life mindless and careless, but I ignored him and set him to work relearning everything he was supposed to have learned in the past few months. By lunchtime he admitted that he was grateful to me for it, and asked if I would be his regular tutor when school resumed. Not comprehending that there would be many other Gryffindors and Slytherins here when the holidays ended, I blindly agreed, and tried to pretend that I didn't see the grin on his face.
The next week passed by in much the same pattern, eating together, wandering the grounds, studying in the library, and playing games like wizard's chess, a game Scorpius had always been interested in but that his father wouldn't let him play because it was too 'common'. Before either of us knew it, it was Christmas Eve dinner, and the other eighteen students were talking excitedly about what they expected to get for Christmas. The two of us sat, laughing silently at some of their hopes (one Hufflepuff had written home asking for a dragon egg). As had become usual, the two of us wandered the grounds together that night, ending up at the lake as always.
"Seems a pity to spend Christmas morning alone," Scorpius sighed, his eyes full of mischief.
"What are you thinking?" I said playfully.
"It's a crazy idea," he shook his head, though his smile remained.
"I was thinking we could go to the Room of Requirement," he said, his eyes bright. "seeing as neither of us can go in the other's common room. We could ask it for two rooms, with a common room, of course, and have a Christmas tree set up—"
"So we could open our presents together?"
"It was just an idea," he said, sounding embarrassed.
I considered his words, and felt a smile appear on my lips. "I think it's a wonderful idea."
"Really?" he said, genuine surprise in his voice.
"I don't want to be alone Christmas morning either," I said, beaming at him. "But if we're going to do it, we'd better get there now before the teachers start patrolling the halls."
He nodded in agreement and we made our way to the seventh floor, trying our best to avoid being seen by anyone else in the castle. I felt a rush of exhilaration run through my body as we climbed staircase after staircase, wondering if this was how my parents felt when they were sneaking around the school at all hours of the night. Finally we reached it, and walked down the hall, each thinking of a place where we could spend Christmas morning together. Soon enough, the door appeared and we scrambled in, hoping it would disappear before anyone else saw it.
We entered a beautiful room decorated for the holidays with lights, tinsel, and giant Christmas tree. There was a door at either end of the room which, when opened, revealed two identical rooms, each with a king-sized bed and an adjacent bathroom. Upon opening one of the closets, I found my own clothes inside, and Scorpius discovered the same thing in his own room. We met up by the Christmas tree, each of us smiling uncontrollably.
"I think I want to spend every Christmas here," he said, his eyes sparkling.
"Agreed," I laughed. "Too bad it's our seventh year."
We stayed up a couple more hours, mostly just talking. I learned more about his life at home, about how he was basically ignored and when he was acknowledged, it was because he had done something wrong. I listened, completely horrified, as he described a time when he was staying with his grandparents that he had been beaten for twenty minutes by his grandfather simply for answering 'no' when asked if he enjoyed his grandmother's dinner. After talking with him for so long, I realized that any problems I thought I had were completely insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Before I went to bed that night, I thanked God fervently for my wonderful family, completely forgetting any arguments I had ever had with my parents or my brother.
The next morning, I awoke to see Scorpius standing over my bed, smiling. "Happy Christmas, Rosie."
"Happy Christmas," I said groggily, smiling all the while. I told him to wait for a minute while I showered and got dressed, something he thought completely trifling on Christmas morning, but I for one enjoy presenting myself well. I didn't keep him waiting long enough to put on make-up, however, and was soon out in our own little common room, kneeling next to my pile of gifts. We took turns opening them, enjoying seeing each other's presents.
"Grandma Weasley made me another sweater," I said, shaking my head as I pulled the emerald green turtleneck out of the wrapping paper. A cursive letter 'R' was engraved on the front, as always.
"I like it," Scorpius said, and upon seeing the expression on my face burst out into laughter. When he finally calmed himself down, he continued. "I really do, though. It's nice of your grandmother to think of you enough to make you something herself instead of buying a box of chocolates."
"I suppose you're right," I said, noticing that he hadn't received anything from his grandparents. "Your turn to open something."
He sighed and reached for his next package. When he read the name on the card, his eyes went wide, and he stared at me for a full minute.
"You got me a present?" he said, amazed.
I shrugged. "I try to get all of my friends presents."
He seemed to be even more taken aback by this statement, but pretended that he was unphased. "But how did you get it?"
"My dad told me about some passages in and out of the school," I said, winking.
Scorpius shook his head. "You shouldn't have gotten me anything—"
"Just open it!" I laughed.
He did so obediently, and gasped as he pulled back the wrapping paper.
"You got me a chess set?"
"You said you'd always wanted one," I laughed, glad that he was pleased with the gift. He immediately stood and danced around the room in excitement, pulling me up in a tight hug. It was the most contact we had made since that first night by the lake, and I found my mind racing back to that night, remembering the strange feeling that had come out of nowhere.
He released me as these thoughts were running through my head and ran to my pile of gifts, handing me a smaller package. "Open this one next."
I looked at the name on the card and shook my head at him. "Why would you not have expected me to get you a present if you got me a present?"
He shrugged. "Some years, my dad doesn't send me anything. I guess I just—well, didn't expect you to care enough to get me anything."
"Scorpius," I said, feeling a slight hurt in my heart. I took his hand in mine and smiled at him encouragingly. "I care about you very much."
We stood there for a minute before shaking out of the moment. "Go ahead and open it," he insisted.
I did so, and let out a tiny squeal of pleasure, lifting a beautiful, jade necklace out of the box.
"I know it's not much," he said, his cheeks red. "But I didn't have a lot of allowance left, and it reminded me of you—"
"I love it!" I exclaimed, pecking him on the cheek, surprising us both. After a moment of awkwardness, we finished opening the rest of our presents before heading down to breakfast.
The Hufflepuff who had been hoping for a dragon egg seemed very glum, but other than that everyone was in an extremely cheery mood. The food seemed to taste even better than usual, which I knew was only in my mind, but it was nice to imagine. As soon as we were finished eating, we hurried back to the room of requirement to play with Scorpius's new chess set. I beat him four times before he finally won against me, and he threw a bit of a party for himself. I rolled my eyes.
"See, I'm already getting better, and it's all because of you!"
"No it's not," I retorted, blushing. "You've always had it in you to be a great wizard and a great problem solver, you just weren't tapping your full potential."
"And you're the reason why I am now," he said, his smile never fading. "Thank you."
"You're welcome," I mumbled, embarrassed. He sat down next to me on the couch and hugged me tightly.
"I had always imagined you'd be a great friend," he said, suddenly sentimental. "but I didn't realize just how great a friend you are."
"You're not too bad yourself," I said, turning to meet his eyes. In them I saw that strange emotion again, and felt my stomach turn over uncomfortably.
"Mistletoe," he whispered, motioning upwards with his eyes.
His hand that had been on my shoulder dropped to my waist slowly, and his other hand went to my cheek. I shivered and closed my eyes as he began to lean forward, parting my lips without being completely conscious of the situation. I felt him pull me towards him and place his lips against mine tenderly. I sank in to him, forgetting where I was and even who I was for a moment. Time seemed to stand still as we kissed, and I found myself reluctant for it to end when he pulled away. We stared at each other, wordless, for a moment, still caught up in our emotions.
"I'm sorry," he stammered.
"Don't be," I responded, placing my hand on the back of his head and pulling him towards me again. The second kiss was even more enjoyable than the first, and more passionate. His hands ran through my hair and down my spine, causing me to sigh as we kissed. We pulled apart once more, neither of us feeling awkward any longer. As we sat there, Scorpius laughed once more.
"My dad's going to kill me if he ever finds out about this," he chuckled.
"So will mine," I said, a wicked grin on my face. "But who cares?"
He smirked in agreement, taking me in his arms and resuming kissing me. I thought about how surprised my relatives would be when they returned, but didn't care—I had found someone who understood and loved me for who I truly was, and I wouldn't trade anything for that. Scorpius removed his lips from mine for a moment and I felt them graze my ear.
"Happy Christmas, Rosie," he whispered.
***A/N: Well, what did you think? Just something I wrote quickly to get the creative juices flowing. Slightly cheesy and mushy, I know, but all of us need to get that out every now and then, right? Anway, if you liked it, please REVIEW!