When she put her mind to it, Rose Weasley was a force to be reckoned with. She was strong and determined. Clever and tough. Brilliant and beautiful. She was the apple of her father's eye, the consummate older sister and all together lovely to her cousins (except James when he was being a right prat). She had everything going for her; all the opportunities in the world.
She hated that one sharp word from him had her forgetting all of those things. Had her losing her temper; losing her cool. She never wanted to be a hothead but with Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley for parents, she never had much of a chance. Something he seemed to relish in.
They were in their sixth year when she'd had enough. It was a cold November day. Typical of Scotland, it was pouring so hard, Rose could barely see two feet in front of her. That didn't stop her from waiting on the Quidditch pitch for her cousin Albus to emerge from the locker rooms.
The first game of the season had been Gryffindor versus Slytherin and, under his brother James' leadership, the lions had been triumphant. As Al was a member of the snake team and she a Ravenclaw and his best friend, she was braving the weather with her little blue umbrella instead of celebrating with the rest of her family. Not that she minded too much—she'd always been more for studying than partying, anyway.
Of course, never one to be outdone by his brother, Al had been elected captain of his team, too. And, as captain, he was rarely but last out. That wouldn't have mattered much to Rose (she was used to waiting on her cousin by then) if not for the irritant that was Scorpius Malfoy. It was just like him to sweep out, into the rain with his uniform rumpled, like he owned the place.
Still, he was friends with Albus. Merlin knew why but she tried not to judge. (Her mum had this weird saying about Muggles in glass houses throwing stones, although Rose was never certain she understood properly what it meant.) He seemed keen on ignoring her existence just then but she was determined. And heaven help the person who tried to get in her way. "You put in a valiant effort, Malfoy," she offered her position not far away.
He didn't turn to look at her but he did pause and tilt his head almost enough to have her in his peripheral vision. His blond hair was plastered to his ears and neck and he somehow looked paler in the gray. "Yes, well, it wasn't enough, was it?" he pointed out dryly.
"I was only trying to be nice," Rose shot back, good-natured impulses dying swiftly as her temper came into play. (It never failed, did it?)
Malfoy turned now, so she could see him roll his eyes. "You do bother with that often enough," he commented, tone one of vague distaste. "Never got the message through your thick Weasley skull?" He crossed his arms and quirked an eyebrow. "I thought you were supposed to be the intelligent one."
He was egging her on—Rose knew he was egging her on. That didn't stop her from sinking to his level, though. "Well, we can't all be what's expected of us, can we?" she spat. "Lucky for you, you don't seem to be burdened with that problem."
"They could fill museums with what you don't know about me, Weasley," Scorpius snarled, twirling around and stalking away.
She didn't know what made her do it. Maybe it was the way he actually looked angry instead of just annoyed or aloof. Maybe it was guilt over her outburst, spurned by a temper she couldn't control. "Things could have been different, you know," she called after him.
She wasn't sure he'd heard her until he stopped again, shoulders hunched just a little. "No," he replied. It was quiet but somehow she heard him over the pounding rain. "They couldn't."
"Why?" There was an innate curiosity in the question but also something more. Something that felt suspiciously like hurt. Why could he be friends with Al but not her?
He didn't answer, but he also didn't move.
She took that as a sign. Somehow her umbrella fell to the side—it was somewhat useless, anyway, with the wind blowing the rain sideways. Her normally frizzy red hair was stuck to her face and she was soaked to the bone but none of that mattered just then.
Jogging to him, she touched his hand. It was surprisingly warm given what she knew about the circulatory system. (Muggle biology really was fascinating.) "Why, Malfoy?" she urged, coming around to face him. She needed to know. Brushing his hair off his forehead, she repeated the question again: "Why?"
His gray eyes flicked across her face, then went back to the ground.
"Scorpius," his name came out of her mouth no louder than a whisper. Her hands were on his shoulders now, steadying her as she lifted herself onto her tip-toes as if the additional height would somehow afford her answers. "Tell me why."
He met her gaze evenly, pushing her back down with a surprisingly gentle touch. "You know why, Rose," he returned calmly. "You know why."
She shook her head, suddenly aware of what had really been going on all these years. All the insults, all the hurt—everything designed to drive her away. He'd know that with Al around, she'd have stuck with them like glue without proper motivation to do otherwise. "We never could've been friends." It wasn't a question because it didn't need an answer. It was fact, plain and simple.
"No," Scorpius agreed, water dripping down his nose as he stared her down.
Because it might not have stopped there. Their temperaments, such as they were, were the type to never let things lie. Fire and ice, hot and cold, opposites but not. And if they weren't enemies...
If they weren't enemies, then they might have fallen in love.
Suddenly, she felt a new wave of anger rush through her. "You really are your father's son," she snapped, stepping away from him. "Underneath all your bravado, you're nothing more than a coward."
He looked as though she'd slapped him. Eyes narrowing, he growled. "Don't be thick, Weasley. You're the one with everything to lose."
Rose gaped. "Oh my—were you trying to protect me?" His lack of answer was all the confirmation she needed. Scowling, she pulled herself to her full height and stepped into his personal space again. "Of all the misguided, chauvinistic, idiotic—"
It was then that Scorpius shut her up by pulling her flesh to his body and crushing his lips to hers. When he released her, she stared up at him with wide hazel eyes, raindrops clinging to her eyelashes. He looked away for a moment, then back at her again. "We're still not friends."
Rose snapped her mouth shut and nodded, crossing her arms. "Fine."
He pointed at her. "Don't go getting any crazy ideas in that head of yours."
"Wouldn't dream of it," she responded.
There was still a suspicious expression on his face. "Okay. Good."
"Good," she agreed.
Through the rain, Rose heard Albus calling her name. She gave Scorpius a nod before sauntering over to where he stood holding her useless umbrella at his side. There was a small smile on her face as she greeted her cousin but she couldn't stop from casting one last glance over to Scorpius. She could just make him out, water drenched but still handsome and proud as he made his way off the field.
Yeah, they might've fallen in love. Good thing that hadn't happened.