"Can I sit here?"

Scorpius Malfoy looked up from his book to find a girl standing over him. To his eternal shame, the first thing he thought was, Who is that?

The girl didn't look like anyone he'd seen before. She, like him, hadn't yet changed into the standard black robes, so she was wearing her street clothes- if those were her street clothes and not some costume. She was wearing an knee-length cream-colored skirt with beads sewn randomly all around it. Her blouse was light blue and featured a logo from a band Scorpius had never heard of. Her cat-eye glasses rested comfortably on her nose, among all the freckles scattered there. And her hair- God, there was a lot of it, and it was bright red. But worse, it was frizzy, and it looked like she didn't even brush it.

Bright red hair...

"You're that Weasley girl, right? Violet?"

He inwardly blushed. He'd seen her around for six years. Her name was Rose, Rose Weasley. He knew that perfectly well.

"Yeah," she responded sarcastically, sitting down on the seat across from him.

Scorpius waited about five minutes, watching her bite her bottom lip as she read a newspaper. Then he decided that the silence would be unbearable if it went on any longer.

"You're going into sixth year, right?" he asked conversationally.

"You're that Malfoy boy, right? Scorpion?" she replied, parrying his question with another.

He studied his lap, suddenly feeling overpowered. "Scorpius," he muttered awkwardly.

"I know."

When the Hogwarts train (it was almost the same color as her hair, he noticed) pulled into its stop, Scorpius hurried out of the cabin as fast as his long legs could carry him, dragging his drab gray trunk behind him. The minute he set foot in the Great Hall, he felt much better. Weasley would be far away at the Gryffindor table, while he sat at the Slytherin table on the other end of the Hall.

"Get a girlfriend over the summer, Malfoy?" his friend Graham Davies asked teasingly when he sat down.

"Yeah, right. You'd like to think that," Scorpius shot back.

"Are you sure? Because you look like Cupid 'imself hit you with a truck."

"Shut up."

First class on Wednesday was Double Potions with Gryffindor. Rose was there, Scorpius noticed, and so was her cousin, whats-his-name... Albus.

She sat down in the seat next to him. Surprised, he almost looked over and said hi, but quickly stopped himself. That would possibly be the stupidest thing to do in this situation.

"Hi, Scorpion," she greeted him, defying his own pledge.

"It's Scorpius. Hi, Violet."

"It's Rose."

The silence again was almost solid between them when Professor Slughorn walked in.

"Good morning, class, and welcome to your second Potions class of the year! Today, we'll be learning what happens when you mix powdered cinnamon with baneberry, and let me tell you, it's not pretty..."

The professor's voice dimmed to a murmur in Scorpius's head as his eyes locked onto Rose's notebook, wide open. Her hand was already moving across the lines, scrawling in a messy cursive, taking notes. The page before it, though, was covered in lavender ink. Scribbles, words and stories and random patterns, all an one-page homage to drawing. He could glimpse some of the drawings not covered by her arm- some were beautiful, peaceful pictures of still lakes and birds, others were intricate, shadowed depictions of dragons and creatures of the deep. Some were simple, like a vase full of flowers or an unfinished sketch of a person.

Rose moved, and before Scorpius could react, the notebook was closed and she was getting up from her chair. He noticed that everyone else was, too. Was it time for Charms already?

"Are you going to go get your cauldron, Mr. Malfoy, or will you choose to receive a D on this assignment?" Professor Slughorn's deep voice rumbled from behind him.

"Oh. Right. Sorry, Professor," Scorpius apologized, hurrying to get his cauldron from the cupboard. He cursed inside his head. As he hadn't heard most of the lecture, he had no idea what to do.

"Now, I'm giving a vial of powdered cinnamon and twelve baneberries to each table. You'll need to share! Get to work, we don't have all the time in the world," Slughorn called.

Scorpius, cauldron in hand, slid back in his seat nervously.

"Six baneberries and four pinches of cinnamon. Stir until it's golden-brown," a voice hissed in his ear. The boy jumped and looked around to find Rose's serious blue eyes an inch from his.

"I know you weren't concentrating. Just do it," she whispered impatiently, then faced her own cauldron with a huff, as if that was a marathon she had just run.

Scorpius nodded, stunned, and grabbed six dark green baneberries when Professor Slughorn reached their table, leaving the other half for Rose. He tried to dump them into the pewter bottom of his cauldron, only to find that they clung to his hand.

"Is that a sticky situation you're in there, Malfoy?" Professor Slughorn asked, passing by him and chortling at his own joke. "Looks like you forgot your gloves. Use a quill pen to pry them off, and remember for next time!" he warned.

Scorpius got off the berries quickly enough, and carefully used his quill to scrape them into the cauldron. He then reached for the vial of cinnamon, only to be met by something slim and warm that sent a shiver through him. Rose's hand had collided with his on the cinnamon.

"You have it."

"No, sorry, you."

"No, take it. I'm farther along then you anyways."

Accepting her argument, Scorpius poured the cinnamon into his bowl and stirred. It soon melted into a pleasant gold shade. But successfully making the potion didn't give him half the thrill as touching hands with Rose did.