Fire and Ice
So, this was an entry for the Musical Cues II One-Shot Contest; it didn't win, but I swear, it's good stuff (really!) :)
It's based on the song "The Way I Loved You" by Taylor Swift - the lyrics seemed just so perfect for a Rose/Scorpius story that I wasn't able to resist!
I've never been the easiest person to get along with. Wait, scratch that – I'm probably the most difficult person to get along with. It's not that I don't like people – when I have my moments I am actually funny and outgoing if I want. No, the blame goes all to my genes, to the deadly mix of Weasley and Granger blood that runs in my veins. I mean, my uncle told me that when my parents were in school they used to spend half of the time fighting with each other, and the other half wishing they could make up for it but being too proud to make the first move – it's not my fault if I am the way I am!
I'm not mean or anything, it's just that I get easily annoyed, that's all. And because of that I spend almost all my time arguing with other people, from my friends and classmates to my endless clan of cousins. Basically, I am a loud walking concentrate of obstination, intolerance and witty remarks mixed with red curly hair, blue eyes and freckles. The result is a Half-Blood girl with a fiery, horrible temper and who could hex a dozen people a day just for being annoying in a way or the other – aka as moi, Rose 'Match' Weasley (you know, Match…because I have red hair and when I get angry I light up like a match…got it?).
He, instead, is nothing like me. Nothing. We are opposites, contraries, counterparts, standing at different extremes of the planet. Choose the definition that looks more suitable to you, I don't care.
He's taciturn, cunning and manipulative – jeez, he even looks cold, with his pale skin, silvery blonde hair and steel gray eyes. He could freeze anyone with one of his icy, piercing stares – anyone except me, that's it. It's like I can bring out something in him, something that he never shows with anyone else: emotion. He's always so controlled, almost like he doesn't have feelings, but when we argue something lights up inside him, and he can become as fiery and loud as I am.
And we can't help arguing all the time, because we are Rose Weasley and Scorpius Malfoy, a Gryffindor and a Slytherin, and fighting each other is in our blood.
We are fire and ice, and we simply can't meet in the middle, no matter how hard we try, even if behind the hate burns a passion that pulls us together constantly – it's just our nature, because when fire and ice try to embrace they just end up destroying each other.
"Are you going out tonight, Rose?"
"Of course she is, Alice! Her boyfriend is in the top-ten of the hottest guys in the whole school!"
I scoffed at the statement and turned around to look at Alice Longbottom and Erin Jordan, my two dorm mates and best friends – and probably the only two people in the world who somehow weren't bothered by my outbursts of Weasley-Granger temper. Which were frequent, believe me.
They were incredibly funny, both sprawled on their stomachs on Alice's bed, grinning like Cheshire cats as they watched me getting ready.
"You make it sound like a big deal," I told them with a shrug as I pulled my crazy curly hair back with a simple black clasp; my boyfriend and I had been going out for months, I didn't understand why my friends still made a fuss about it every time.
"Right, Rosie – you are just going out with Mr Hot Wiz number 3," Erin reminded me with a giggle, rolling on her back to look at me upside-down. "I mean, what else could you want? He is sweet and sensible, he is smart, he is the star of the Quidditch team of his house, he has this blonde hair that is totally to die for, and his eyes are simply impossible to describe with words! He is gorgeous!"
"She's right, Match," Alice said, swinging her ankles in the air. "I wish I had a boyfriend like yours – I'm so jealous! Any girl in the school would kill to be in your place!"
I rolled my eyes at her, because I knew that it was unlikely that someone would kill to be me. Short, bookworm, bad tempered, redheaded Rose Weasley? Nah, that was absurd.
"Oh, Ali, shut up!" I said with a playful glare, tugging at my hair again and checking that my clothes were ok. It was the last day of Spring break, and students still weren't required to wear their uniforms, so I had decided for a pair of dark jeans and a sweater that would have kept me warm despite the chilly air. After all, it was only mid-April, and temperatures were still pretty low, especially at night.
"It's not even an actual date tonight – we are just going to do our prefect rounds together, and maybe, if we manage to, sneak outside for a walk by the lake. That's all."
"Whatever, Match, whatever," she said, winking at me before she jumped on her feet and pushed me towards the staircase by the shoulders.
"Now, go – Mr Perfect Prefect is waiting, and you don't want to be late, don't you?" Erin added from her place on the bed.
I stuck my tongue out at the two of them and hurried down the stairs to the Gryffindor common room; I hated to be late. It was one of the things that annoyed me the most – along with several hundreds of other things that would have probably filled several feet of parchment had I had the time to write them all down.
Which I so didn't have.
It was nine pm, and a few fifth-years were still studying in the common room, books strewn all around the place. I couldn't blame them – their OWLS were only two months away, and I remember way too well how nervous I was before I took the exams myself, only the year before.
"Don't stay up too late," I told them as I passed, heading towards the portrait hole. "Or you'll be exhausted in the morning."
They ogled me like I had gone insane, and I covered my mouth with my hand to hide the fact that I was smiling, for I knew why they all looked so surprised: I usually was the Guard Dog Prefect, the one who threatened and yelled whoever was probably thinking of doing something wrong or even just slightly against the rules, not the kind mentor who gave advice to the younger students.
"But if I happen to find one of you with a toe in the corridor tonight, I'm going to give you detention from now to the end of term, got it?" I added with a scowl, feeling like I had to act strict to live up to my reputation. After all, there was a reason if when I took part in the rounds no one ever dared to set a foot out of the common rooms.
"Got it, Rose!" they chorused, laughing and waving at me before I walked out of the room. Like I said, I wasn't mean – it was just my way of behaving, and everyone knew, especially my housemates and family, to the point that they sometimes found it odd if I just walked past and smiled.
And I was supposed to be the crazy one.
I climbed out of the portrait hole, and of course there he was, sitting on the staircase as he waited for me, his pale blonde hair looking almost white in the dimly lit corridor.
He smiled as he saw me, and as he stood he pushed his hair away from his eyes with that careless gesture that Erin always described as 'charming'. Yeah, well, whatever – she thought that everything certain boys did was charming, so that didn't count.
"Hey, Rose," he said softly, closing the distance that separated us in three quick strides and leaning down to kiss me on the lips. "You look beautiful tonight."
I smiled at him, pushing a curl away from my face as I stared into his eyes, wondering why, after all this time, the colour of them still bothered me. I thought I would have gotten used to it, really. I was wrong, though – and I hated being wrong.
"Thanks, Lysander," I murmured, looking down to avoid his turquoise irises. "You don't look half bad yourself." That was actually true: he looked stunning in his midnight blue V-neck sweater and striped scarf in the colours of Ravenclaw, his House. Alice and Erin were right, he was perfect. It just seemed that I couldn't bring myself to appreciate his beauty, though, no matter how hard I tried.
I closed my eyes for a moment before I looked back up at him, smiling my best smile and trying to ignore the hollow feeling in my stomach. I was fine, really. Perfectly fine.
"Come on, now," I told him, taking his hand and leading him away. "We have prefect duty to take care of."
That night, when I finally got back to Gryffindor Tower, it was so late even the Fat Lady was fast asleep. I had to wake her up so that she would let me in, and, no need to say, she glared at me and started to mumble about how rude it was to wake a lady up in the middle of her beauty sleep. The fact that she was a portrait and that she didn't age or anything was an irrelevant fact to her, of course. So I just ignored her and climbed into the passage, fact due to which she slammed shut right behind me, sending me stumbling forward.
"Stupid canvas," I muttered under my breath as I stood from the floor and rubbed the knee I had landed on. She really needed a therapist – and a good one, trust me.
There were no students in the common room, and the fire seemed to have fallen asleep too, reduced to faintly glowing embers that barely lit the room enough for me not to hit anything as I passed. I sighed as I dragged my feet to my dorm, careful not to wake the other girls in the process, for I didn't want Alice and Erin to ask me questions about how my rounds/date had gone.
I plopped down on my bed, reaching for the watch I kept on my nightstand to check on what time it was.
Two am. Fantastic.
I kicked my shoes off and quickly changed into my pyjamas, but as I put my clothes back into the trunk I realized that I wasn't sleepy at all. Tired, yes, but not sleepy. Great, a restless night was just what I needed before the start of summer term.
I fought the urge to cry as I angrily shut the curtains of my four-poster bed around me and curled up under the covers, squeezing my eyes tight and wishing that that damn hollow feeling could disappear. It didn't, of course, but I didn't expect it to.
And it was all because of him.
"Damn you," I muttered, my voice muffled by the pillow. "Damn you, Scorpius Malfoy."
I missed him, everything we used to be, and I cursed myself because of that. Why couldn't I just get over it? It had been four months – four damn months, and it seemed like nothing had changed. At all.
I should have known better than that, really, but it was something that I couldn't control. It had just happened, as much as I wish it hadn't. And now I had to live with the decision I had made.
It all started unexpectedly – we were bickering in the corridors, like we had always done since first year, our loud voices keeping the other students away (they all knew better than to interrupt one of our fights).
And then, suddenly, he kissed me. Just like that, without warning, without a reason, and for the first time since I had met him I was left at a loss of words in the middle of an argument. And I kissed him back, because even if I sometimes wanted to kill him, he still was Scorpius Malfoy, and giving in to the pull I had always felt toward him was a relief.
"You are just so pretty when you get angry," he told me before he walked away to go to class.
We managed to keep our story going for four months – four months of screams and fights and kisses in the rain, four months during which the electric current running between us grew stronger and stronger until it reached an intensity that I would have never thought possible.
We couldn't stop fighting, but at the same time we couldn't keep our hands off each other. It was like being on a rollercoaster – things went incredibly fast, spinning without control, and I kept breaking down and coming undone so many times I lost count.
It was just…too much. Too much anger, too much tension, too much…love. It was driving me insane, so I did the only thing I could.
I broke it up.
I broke it up, even if it hurt me, even if it felt like the most difficult thing I had ever done in my whole life. I thought that time would have healed me, I really did.
It didn't, because when fire and ice touch they mark each other with scars that only the other can make disappear, only at that time I didn't know.
And it was my fault, only my fault.
Slowly, even the summer term came to an end, and eventually it was the fifth of July, the exams were over and the students were walking to Hogsmeade to board the Hogwarts Express and go back home for the holidays.
Alice, Erin and I were walking together, along with the whole Weasley-Potter clan and several other friends, Lysander among them; everyone was talking about the holidays, and I took part in the conversation happily, laughing at my cousins' jokes and chatting animatedly about our plans for the following months.
The mood changed once we got on the train, though: while everyone else managed to cram - I don't know how they did it, honestly – into one single compartment, Lysander and I had to drop our stuff there and hurry to the Prefect compartment to attend the last meeting of the year.
And I so didn't want to do it.
But, alas, I had to, so there was no point in trying to delay the thing: the sooner I got there, the sooner I would leave.
At least, that was what I hoped.
We were the last ones, it seemed, so we hurried inside, sliding the compartment door closed behind us, and simply stood there with everyone else to listen to what the Head Boy and Girl had to say.
Jane and Riley were nice and all, but they could be terribly boring if they wanted to; that's why I tuned their voices out down after a few minutes, leaning against the wall and trying to hide in Lysander's side – without much success, I must add.
I knew he was looking at me, I could feel his gaze burning on my skin, and I hated it, for it reminded me too much of how things were before.
I wouldn't have looked at him. I wouldn't.
Then why were my eyes betraying me, moving on their own accord until they met his steel gaze?
He was standing there, his Slytherin uniform discarded in favour of plain jeans and a white shirt, his silver Prefect badge pinned on the front of his clothes, just like mine was.
He didn't smile nor glare at me, his face composed as always, but I knew that it was only a mask, for his eyes, despite his apparent lack of emotions, were burning.
Pain. Loss. Longing. Anger. Defiance. Pride.
In that moment, I knew, they mirrored mine perfectly.
The sudden rustle of clothes and the movement startled me, and the moment was broken; people were leaving, off to meet with the friends who were waiting for them.
Lysander took my hand and led me down the corridor, but cramming in the compartment with everyone else was the last thing I wanted in that moment: the image of Scorpius' blazing eyes was still clear in my mind, and I felt like I was on the verge of throwing up. I needed to breathe and be on my own for a while, or I would have exploded.
I really was messed up, wasn't I?
"You go on," I told him, squeezing his hand briefly before I took a step back. "I'll catch up with you in a few minutes."
He nodded, bending to kiss me lightly on the lips.
"See you later, then," he murmured, smiling, before he headed to the compartment where the rest of the group was waiting.
He didn't ask questions or insist to wait for me, and I was grateful for that.
One of the things that I liked the most of Lysander was that he always respected my space.
"Rose! Rose, honey, Lysander has arrived!"
My mother's voice, coming from the kitchen, drifted up to the stuffy attic room Lily, Roxanne, Lucy and I shared, muffled by the distance and the closed door but still clearly audible.
It was the beginning of August, and I was staying at the Burrow with the rest of my family, as always.
I loved the place, but I hated having to share the room with my three cousins, all of whom were two years younger than me and oh so annoying. Don't misunderstand, I loved all of them really much – but having them around all day for the whole summer wasn't exactly on my Top-10 Favourite Things list. It probably wasn't on my Top-1000, so figure it out yourself.
Luckily, in that moment I was alone – everyone was outside playing Quidditch in the makeshift pitch behind the house or swimming in the small pond close by, and I was sprawled on my bed with a book, enjoying one of those rare hours of peace I cherished so much.
A hour of peace that ended when my mother called me, less than fifteen minutes after it had stared.
I sighed, marking the page with a piece of parchment and rolling off the bed to stick my head out of the door.
"Give me a minute!" I yelled before I retreated back inside, cursing through my teeth.
Shit, shit, shit!
I had forgotten that Lysander was arriving that afternoon – totally, completely, absolutely forgotten.
So now I was a complete mess, dressed only in the oversized red shirt that I slept in and with hair so crazy I looked like I had just woken up.
I started to dig through the pile of clothes that lay on top of my trunk, searching for something decent to wear; I pulled out a pair of jean shorts and a white top and threw them on quickly, leaving the huge t-shirt on the floor – the room was already so messy that no one would have noticed. However, after a moment I kicked it under the bed and out of sight, just so that it wouldn't end up mixed with Lily's clothes, that were strewn all over the floor in a three-meters radius from her bed.
Of all of us Weasleys, she was probably the most untidy one – which, believe me, was saying something.
I slipped my feet into my brand-new flip flops and ran downstairs, stopping briefly by the bathroom to pull my hair up in a ponytail – I already knew that trying to brush it would have led to an epic fail.
There were voices coming from the kitchen, so I poked my head inside, smiling slightly as my eyes met Lysander's.
He was sitting at the table, charming as always as he chatted with my mother – our families had known each other for a very long time, and he had always been around the house at summer since he was son of Luna Lovegood, one of my parents' best friends.
Mom absolutely loved him, and she always invited him over for a week or two during the holidays – this year, of course, was no exception.
He stood, a huge grin on his face, and my smile grew bigger as I crossed the kitchen quickly and hugged him, actually glad to see him. I knew that I hadn't missed him as much as I should have, and I felt slightly guilty because of that.
Dad chose that exact moment to step in, his face frecklier than ever after all the time he had been spending outside helping Grandma Molly in the garden during the last month.
"Lysander, my boy – I'm happy to see you! How are your parents? And your brother?"
Lysander smiled as he shook my father's hand, his earnest turquoise eyes bright with happiness.
"Oh, they are fine, sir – my mother will come to visit in a few days, along with my father, I think, even if he is always busy with his work at the Ministry. And Lorcan told me to say hi for him, since he is spending the summer in France with his quill friend from Beauxbatons. He's enjoying himself quite a lot, I must add – I'm afraid we won't see him before the very day before the start of autumn term. But as long as he's happy, I don't think Mum will complain."
"I doubt that Luna would ever complain of the two of you – you have always been good kids," my father said, a big grin on his face as he talked.
Then, though, his face turned more serious as he asked: "Is your father's department still dealing with that awful dragon incident?"
Lysander's face dropped a little too, and he nodded gravely as Dad pulled a chair from the table and sat down.
"Alas, yes. That creature caused some serious damage – three whole villages burnt down to ashes in the North of Ireland, over twenty victims among both wizards and Muggles and God knows how many injured people. In the end they managed to trap it – an Irish Flatnose gone crazy after the death of its mate, they said. Dad has spent the last week running back and forth from the Ministry to St Mungo, talking to people, signing papers and placing Memory Charms on the hundreds of Muggles who saw the dragon. He's exhausted; he said that this has been the nastiest affair he's worked on after that chimaera they found in London ten years ago."
One thing that amazed me of Lysander was that he was able to talk business with my father with the same competence as a Ministry employee – he always knew what he was talking about, and he liked to discuss political and actuality matters just like his dad.
He also loved to talk Quidditch – and, guess what? He supported Chudley Cannons, which to Dad practically meant that he was the perfect future son-in-law.
"Welcome to the Burrow, mate!"
"Hey, Lys, you've come at last!"
As if the kitchen wasn't packed already, the loud little army that were my cousins – plus my little brother – ran inside, all of them dressed in light summer clothes and bathing suits, and gathered around Lysander, cheering and welcoming him warmly.
There were James, Albus, Louis and Hugo, who patted him on the back and exchanged high fives with him, Dominique and Molly, who hugged him like he was their own little brother, and then Lily, Roxanne and Lucy, all of whom adored him and had a crush on him since they were still in diapers.
Everyone was happy to see him, and I couldn't blame them: he was always so kind and charming, so endearing that it was impossible for the boys not to befriend him and for the girls not to love him. In a way, to us all he was like Teddy Lupin: we weren't actually related, but he was a like a son for our parents and like a big brother and a great friend for us – a member of the family in every sense, except for blood.
It was easy to be with him, like breathing, and I always felt comfortable when he was around – as comfortable as I felt with James, Albus or Hugo.
"Come on, mate, you'll room with Al and I – we'll help you carry your stuff upstairs!" James said as he and his brother took hold of Lysander's trunk and carried it and its owner away, the rest of my family tailing behind them.
I didn't move, though, for I suddenly felt like I was about to be sick – which I probably was, considering how tight my stomach felt in that moment.
I took my head in my hands and squeezed my eyes tightly, trying to force the tears back even if there was no one to witness them in the now deserted kitchen. I had been stupid trying to deny it for months, trying to pretend that things were different – but I thought that time would have changed what I felt.
And now I was tired of pretending that the love I felt for Lysander was different from the love I felt for my brother and cousins, for I knew I would have never been able to see him in any other way but a good friend.
I sat down on one of the comfy chairs and pulled my legs up to my chest, resting my chin on my knees.
Ah, hell, I was in trouble.
"So, it's here that you've been hiding, Rosie-Posie."
I turned my head and smiled slightly as Lysander used the old nickname my family had given me when I was little – I had stopped going by it when I was eight because I found it very embarrassing, but it was good to hear it after all that time.
"Everyone has been looking for you, you know," he said as he sat down on the ground by my side, facing the large puddle that us Weasleys still stubbornly called 'pond'. It usually was opaque with mud, but now, after the sun had set, it was obsidian black and lit by the millions of stars that reflected in the water. It was kind of beautiful, I had to admit that.
I shrugged, picking another small rock from the ground and throwing it in the water, where it sank with a small plop, leaving behind only the circular waves that rippled the mirror-smooth surface of the pond.
I had spent hours doing that, hoping that the simple action would have helped me to calm my mind, but it hadn't been of any use – my thoughts still spun around my brain at incredible speed, bouncing against one another in a messy jumble of emotions, and I felt more confused than ever.
"You know, when we were little I used to think that you were the most beautiful girl in the world," Lysander stated softly, and I looked up at him, surprised by the tone of his voice. He seemed…sad. Sad and resigned.
"I still do – bushy red hair, freckles and bad temper included," he continued with a small smile, looking down for a moment before he lifted his eyes to meet mine again. "And I love you Rose, I really do."
I just looked at him, too surprised to say anything.
He loved me.
But did I love him?
A big, huge part of my heart screamed for me to give him an answer, to tell him that yes, I loved him too, so, so much. But there was another part, a tiny little piece, that knew that it would have been a lie. A terrible, terrible lie that would have hurt both of us terribly with its consequences.
His eyes softened as I sat there, in silence, fighting with myself as I searched for an answer.
"But you don't, do you, Rosie?" he murmured, gently taking my hand in his like he had done so many times before. I knew that the contact should have made me feel something, that I should have had a reaction to it, but I just felt…nothing. I wasn't feeling anything at all.
And I cursed myself a thousand times because of that.
"I'm sorry," I whispered, squeezing his hand and feeling fresh tears burning my eyes. "I'm so sorry, Lys. I love you, of course I do. But…"
But like a brother and a friend, not like a boyfriend.
"I wish I were able to love you the right way. You don't know how much I were. But my heart doesn't work right, it never did. And I'm afraid that it never will."
He pulled me close, and I hugged him tightly, burying my face in his shoulder as I cried.
"It's not a fault, Rosie – it's the heart that chooses, not the mind, we both know that. Don't cry…It's ok, really. It's ok."
Perfect. Now he was comforting me right after I broke his heart – was there a limit to how perfect he was, or did endearing qualities just pop out of him randomly and endlessly?
After what seemed like an eternity, we let go of each other, and Lysander offered his hand to me, a small, sad smile playing on his lips.
"Friends like before all of this mess started, Match?" he asked me, and I smiled, wiping more tears away from my cheeks.
"You can bet on it, Wrackspurt," I replied, using the nickname I gave him when we were in our second year and his mother wrote an article on the Quibbler about those creatures; that same year he started to call me Match, and then, for some reason, those names remained. What a Wrackspurt exactly was, though, I still hadn't understood.
I took his hand, squeezing it tightly, and he pulled me up from the dirt, leading me back to the house, where the rest of the family was probably waiting for us to start dinner.
My stomach growled loudly, reminding me that all I had eaten that day were a bowl of cereals and a sandwich, and both Lysander and I chuckled at the clearly audible sound.
Suddenly, things started to look so much better to me.
The rest of the summer flew by in a blur of mornings spent swimming in the so-called pond and afternoons divided between homework and Quidditch, of friends and relatives coming and going continuously and horror stories told sitting on a blanket during warm, dry nights.
And too soon, the time to pack came, along with the usual letters from Hogwarts, which brought me, along with the lists of books, a shiny silver badge with the letters HG superimposed on the school crest.
Head Girl! I was Head Girl!
It was no surprise, of course – my marks were the highest in the whole school, I was a Prefect, and I also was very popular since I was Seeker for Gryffindor – but it made me happy nonetheless.
I couldn't help but wonder, though, who the Head Boy was: I thought that Albus and Lysander were the two candidates Professor McGonagall was more likely to pick, but, obviously, I was wrong.
Since the Head Boy and Girl shared a common room and separate quarters from the rest of the students, I hoped it was someone I knew and with whom I got along well with – Lee Chan from Ravenclaw, for example, or Sam Abbott from Hufflepuff.
I would have discovered it soon, though.
On the first of September the platform 9 ¾ was as crowded as usual, and I couldn't help but think that it was the last time I took the train to leave for Hogwarts – a sad, but also exciting thought.
Real life, here I come!
I kissed everyone goodbye, gathered my things and boarded the train with the rest of the group, eager to start the first prefect meeting of the year – and, of course, to know who the Head Boy was. We needed to talk, and decide how to organize rounds and –
Someone bumped into me just then, and I cursed under my breath as I stumbled and gripped the door of a near compartment for balance, my renown temper coming out and instantly making me angry with whoever had hit me.
"Hey, look at where you are going, you – "
I took in the silvery blonde hair and piercing grey eyes of the boy in front of me, and my heart missed a beat, only to start hammering in my chest at twice its usual speed.
It took me a moment to notice the shiny silver badge pinned on the front of his shirt – a badge that bore the letters HB on the front.
Shit! Shit! Shit!
"You?" I almost shrieked, control completely forgotten. "You are Head Boy? Oh, you are kidding!"
"Why do you care so much?" he retorted angrily, his cheeks flushing pink as he spoke.
"Because I'm Head Girl, you prat!" I spat back, taking the badge from my pocket and almost throwing it in his face.
"What?" he asked, dumbfounded, his eyes wide and his anger forgotten for a moment.
Wow, I had surprised the Ice Prince, how incredible!
(Note the heavy sarcasm in the last sentence, please…)
I glared at him, pushing past him and making sure to squish his right foot under my trunk in the process.
"I'm going to meet the prefects in the front carriage," I told him, my voice openly hostile. "And if I don't find you there in five minutes, I swear I will hex your sorry ass from Hogsmeade station to the castle once we get there!"
And with that, I stormed off, stalking along the corridor.
School hadn't started yet, and I already knew that it would have been a hall of a year.
Luckily (for him), Scorpius showed up for the meeting, and everything went smoothly throughout the hour – he actually made an effort to look like he and I were collaborating, something that I appreciated, even if I would have had my teeth pulled out by force one by one before I admitted that out loud.
At the end of the meeting, I just gathered my papers and stuff and walked away without so much as glancing at him: we needed to collaborate during assemblies and such, but for the rest of the time I was blissfully free to avoid speaking to him.
Which was exactly what I was planning to do.
The evening passed quickly as we led the students from the village to the castle; I was actually happy to be back, and I enjoyed the long walk. During the Sorting and the banquet I sat at the Gryffindor table with my friends, and once Professor McGonagall bid us all goodnight I showed the first-years the way to the Gryffindor common room.
Once I was sure that everyone had gone in, I headed to the Octagonal Tower, where the Heads' quarters were – Heads' quarters that I would have had to share with Scorpius.
Well, at least I had my own room now.
I climbed a long spiralling staircase to a large landing where only a portrait was hung, a large, fine representation of Hogwarts' crest.
What was the password Professor McGonagall had given me again?
"Consilio et animis," I told the portrait, and it swung open, revealing a passage in the thick stone wall. I walked right through it, and I smiled widely as I took in the room around me.
It was huge, octagonal, with large windows that gave onto the lake and Gryffindor and Slytherin banners on the walls; there were bookshelves lined along one of the walls, and a lively fire was crackling in the fireplace, a comfy-looking couch and two armchairs placed in a semicircle in front of it.
"Nice common room we have, don't we?"
It was nice, before he came into the picture.
"Very," I said drily, turning my back to the armchair he was sitting in and studying the titles of the books on the shelves.
Practical Guide to Human Transfiguration, Advanced Enchantments and Charms, 1000 Useful Jinxes and Hexes, The Book of Dangerous Brews…
Wow, it was like having a small restricted section only for us! Wicked! There was so much I could have learned from those books…
"Apparently, this year Professor McGonagall is going to use Latin again for the passwords. Ours means…"
"By wisdom and bravery," I interrupted him, without even turning to look at him. My mother always taught me some Latin when I was home for the holidays. "Two qualities that obviously don't belong to Slytherins," I added, before I grabbed a copy of The Dark Arts: How to Fight Them from the bookshelf and walked to the staircase that led upstairs, to the rooms.
Alas, there was only a single landing at the end of it, with two doors facing one another – mine was, obviously, the one to the right with the gold HG letters on it.
The room was nice, just like the common space downstairs: red hangings on the walls, big windows, a huge four-poster bed, my own chest of drawers – for once, I wouldn't have had to keep my clothes in the trunk the whole year – and, wonder of wonders, a door that led to my own bathroom. A bathroom that was probably twice the size of the bedroom I had at home, with a pool-like bathtub that reminded me of the ones in the Prefects' bathrooms.
Maybe, after all, this year wouldn't have been so bad.
Three weeks into school, and I had managed to speak with Scorpius only a few times – very few times. Even though he sometimes tried to talk to me at the beginning, after a few days he stopped, ignoring me just as I was ignoring him.
And I was perfectly fine with that.
At least, that was what I was trying to convince myself of.
It was a Saturday afternoon, and there was a storm going on outside – a big storm, with rain pouring down in buckets, wind whistling as it blew through the spires of the towers and ear-splitting thunders shaking the castle to its foundations; I was sitting in one of the squashy armchairs in front of the fire, with my beloved copy of Hogwarts, a History (the same one that my mother used to read when she was in school) in hand and my cat, Crookshanks III, purring lazily in my lap.
And Malfoy wasn't anywhere to be seen, but I still hadn't decided whether that was a good or a bad thing.
Suddenly, Crookshanks jumped off my lap and walked to one of the windows, where he sat on the windowsill mewling loudly.
"Shut up, Crooks," I told him, using the nick I used when I was too lazy to pronounce his full name. "You can't go out, it's raining!"
He didn't listen to me, and instead he doubled the volume of his complains.
"Ok, ok – what is it, you little furry pain in the neck? Do I have to come to the window?"
Of course, the answer was a booming MEOW!
I sighed, closing the book and walking to the window; he probably had seen Hagrid walking outside, and he wanted to…
Wait, there was someone walking across the grounds, but it certainly wasn't Hagrid. It was difficult to tell from that distance and with the thick sheets of rain blurring the landscape, but it certainly was a student.
What the hell was a student doing outside with that weather, at almost five pm? Did he – or she – want to catch a gihugic cold out there?
Well, I couldn't just sit there and do nothing, could I?
So I grabbed my coat and stalked out of the common room, using a shortcut to the Entrance Hall James had taught me when I was in first year.
I mumbled a partial Water-Repellent Charm on myself so that I wouldn't get completely soaked, and I walked out into the storm.
Jeez, whoever it was out there, that student would have gotten into serious trouble for that stunt. You want to have a nice walk in the rain? Do as you please, but I give you a month-long detention!
It was raining so much that the charm lasted only for a few minutes, and by the time I reached the lake I was completely soaked – oh, how much I wanted to strangle the little marauder with my own hands!
"Hey, you!" I screamed so that he – because he was a boy, from a close distance it was obvious – could hear me above the noise of the storm. "What the hell are you doing out here with this damn weather? Go back to the castle immediately, before I report you to the Headmistress!"
"What the – Malfoy? Oh, and I even came out here, how stupid I am! You know what? I don't care if you get pneumonia from staying soaked in the cold – you can jump into the Black Lake and drown yourself as far as I'm concerned. I'm going back to the castle."
I turned to leave, but his voice stopped me after only two steps, angry and…hurt?
Nah, there must have been something wrong with my ears.
"So I'm just Malfoy now, Rose? Just a last name to you?"
I didn't reply, but I didn't leave, either, my traitor heart drumming a Salsa rhythm against my ribs.
"You won't talk to me, you won't even look me in the eye – why, Rose? Do you hate me so much? Am I this repellent to you now?"
"You won't talk to me, either, so we are even! You didn't say a single word to me from last December to the first of September when we were on the train, and now you suddenly want to talk? What, did your tongue unfreeze all of a sudden?" I retorted, anger rising quickly in my body despite the cold.
"What was I supposed to tell you, Rose? Tell me now, what was I supposed to tell you when you broke up with me and then started dating your Lovegood friend after two weeks? Two fucking weeks! Come on, I'm curious!" he yelled, walking forward until we were only a few feet apart. He was drenched, his pale blonde hair darkened by the rain, rivulets of water running across his cheeks like tears. But he never cried, I knew, so it was only an impression. I would have been foolish if I believed that he would have ever cried for me.
"What do you want me to tell you, Scorpius? What is it that you want to hear?" I yelled, feeling tears threatening to overflow; what was that, one of his stupid games?
"I don't know, Rose, you do tell me," he replied drily, his cheeks flushing a dark pink like whenever he was angry. "An I'm sorry, maybe?"
That was enough.
"Sorry? You want me to tell you that I'm sorry? Do you think that it was easy for me, Scorpius? Do you think that all it took me to forget you was to walk through the door, and that was it? That you weren't important to me? You have no idea what these months have been for me, what I have been going through since last Christmas!" I screamed, taking a step forward and poking him in the chest with my index finger, fury seeping from every single pore of my body.
"If it was so difficult for you, why did you break up with me, then?" he asked me, his eyes ablaze with fury and pain. "Why did you act like you didn't care?"
"Because I loved you too much!" I yelled, breathing hard through the anger that contracted my muscles. "I loved you too much, and I was afraid of what it was doing to me! Are you happy now, you selfish, arrogant, spoiled – "
I stopped halfway through my brilliant stream of insults, because suddenly his lips crashed onto mine, and my mind just went blank like someone had switched it off.
Not that I minded, though.
His hands were in my hair, keeping me close so that I wouldn't have been able to pull away – not that I had intention of doing so, mind that – and the kiss was angry, and fierce, like an unspoken argument was going on between us.
When we parted, in desperate need of air, my breathing was laboured, and so was his – which meant that I wasn't the only one affected by the kiss, something that gave me an incredible sense of victory.
"…prat," I murmured against his lips, freeing the word that had stayed stuck in my throat since he interrupted my verbal offensive.
I should have hit him, really. I should have slapped him, or punched him, and stalked back to the castle, leaving him alone in the middle of the storm.
It's just that I couldn't.
Not when he was looking at me like that, his eyes unguarded, so vulnerable and open I thought that I could have seen his soul had I searched long enough in his steel irises.
So I did the only thing I could.
I stood on my tiptoes and kissed him softly, all the anger vanished as he tenderly, protectively wrapped his arms around me, cradling my body against his.
The kiss was gentle, sweet and slow, yet so intense I felt like I might have shattered in a million pieces hadn't it been for his arms keeping me together.
He had never kissed me like that before.
I used to think that fire and ice were bound to destroy each other, just like a Weasley and a Malfoy, because it was just the nature of things.
How wrong I was.
Back then, I didn't know that neither of them can survive if the other doesn't exist, or that being in love means being on a rollercoaster without control. I didn't know that fire is meant to warm ice up, or that ice is made to teach fire how to control itself.
Now I know.
I know, and I've never been more untamed, or less in control, but I don't care, because when fire and ice manage to meet in the middle and fall in love with each other, nothing else matters.
You can take my word for it.r