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Chapter 1: In One Safe Piece by Toujours Padfoot
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“What are we going to tell my parents?” Molly could hear the familiar whisper in the hall, now croaky from crying all evening. “What are we going to tell your parents?”
For a few seconds, Molly’s stomach twisted nervously; she felt like she was going to be sick. He came home? He travelled all that way at this time of night? The gravity of the matter was just short of sinking in, with her eyes wide and two fingers pressed against her mouth as she crept beyond her bedroom door. One glimpse into the living room smoothed some of her anxiety away: the only part of Percy Weasley in the house was his head, smoldering with Floo powder in the fireplace.
“I don’t know,” he responded tiredly. “Have you – I’ve never – are you absolutely sure?”
“Yes.” Audrey’s voice was dark. “I rang Martin and asked him to come over, and he confirmed it.” Molly shrank back into the shadows, remembering the uncharacteristically stern expression on her uncle’s face as he opened up his kit, eyebrows furrowed, and asked her to expel breath into a small bottle. He corked it when she was finished and tapped it with his wand. The smoky substance within began to burgeon with glowing blood-red cells; exposing Audrey, with her eyes like open windows, to Molly’s future.
Positive for pregnancy.
But how can this be possible? These things couldn’t happen at Hogwarts. Molly had seated herself in her father’s armchair, dangling feet still not touching the ground, and watched her mum pace the length of the room. She occasionally came to a pause at the mantle, raising the back of her hand to wipe at perspiration on her forehead; but it was seconds before she plowed on, chatting incessantly to herself as though Molly wasn’t in the room at all.
How did she manage to carry on with that behavior…how did she get away with it? No boys allowed in the girls’ dormitories…ghosts and professors and prefects at every turn…She racked her memory, trying to figure out how Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry had failed her, had prevented her daughter from getting around the rules. I’m owling the headmaster first thing in the morning, and the whole board, as well. Obviously someone else needs to be in charge of the school…letting children run wild, doing whatever they want when they’re not old enough to know better…
Her anger and frustration with the school very swiftly changed course to Molly, however, and it wasn’t more than two hours before Audrey started banging cabinets in the kitchen, throwing remarks over her shoulder into the living room where Molly still sat, small and scared as ever, in the overstuffed armchair. “Well, I hope you realize that you’re not ever going back to school. I hope you realize that your education is over, your friendships are over, everything your father and I have ever worked to give you is all in the toilet where you put it when you were busy pretending to be a grown-up who can afford to…do things…that produce families.”
It took six minutes for Audrey to dwell on this statement, slopping around a pot of tea without offering any of it to Molly, before she said, “As a matter of fact, you are returning to school. I’ll send you right back tomorrow so that you can’t hide out here for the next nine months. This is what you wanted, right? The attention. Oh, will you get it! You’ll get it all day long from students of every House, during every meal, in every class. If you think you’re uncomfortable now, you have no idea what you have coming.”
She was quiet for another short while, and went on, in a much more sullen tone, “Maybe we’ll ship you off to Beauxbatons so that at least you’ll be able to prepare yourself for next year’s N.E.W.T.s. without too much damage to your reputation.”
Molly had been quiet, not trusting her lips to release. She’d never been more terrified of her mother in her entire life.
It felt so strange to be standing there a few hours later, right next to the framed pictures of herself and her sister Lucy on the wall, while Lucy slept soundly in Hogwarts. Molly had only managed to scrawl a few words for her best friend Catherine to discover on her bedside table in the morning – I might be gone for a couple of weeks, I don’t really know. I think they’re taking me to St. Mungo’s.
To Molly’s intense horror, she hadn’t been taken to the hospital at all. She was delivered to her own porch in Sunderland, where her mother was waiting on the other side of the glass door, face white as a sheet. “What have you done?” she moaned, and Molly found that she couldn’t answer her. She could only stare up at the woman’s blanched complexion, brain drawing a blank.
Bare conversation was exchanged in low tones, as if someone had just died. It took Molly at least a week of tiptoeing around the house, trying not to be seen, to figure out that the object of mourning was herself.
Everyone discussed what they should do, everyone wanted to chip in with conflicting advice. Aunt Ginny came and went, never staying long enough to chat with Molly, and the latter knew that Ginny must be thanking Merlin over and over that it wasn’t Lily who had turned up in the middle of the night after very quietly trying to ask Madam Pomfrey to be discreet about something that was apparently much more serious than she’d fathomed. Please don’t tell anyone, but I haven’t gotten my – I mean, I’m late with my – I might be pregnant. I think. Please don’t tell my parents.
For the next two months, phrases like “the baby” and “pregnancy” were taboo, a bad omen. If it was said, it became real and unwelcomed and earned the speaker a long, prickly silence. Molly made the mistake of complaining about her bouts of sickness, which lasted all day rather than just in the morning. This instance happened to fall on a rainy Wednesday afternoon when Percy, an envoy stationed in Yemen’s Ministry of Magic for eight months out of the year, was home for a two-week period. Audrey predictably shot her a dark look, citing that it was Molly’s fault and she was reaping the consequences of acting careless; it was her father’s reaction, however, that caught her especially.
He said nothing at all.
Instead, Percy gazed fuzzily out the window, entirely forgetting about the breakfast on the stove he had been cooking for his wife, and then turned on his heel and sauntered into the living room. This was where he sat, never once opening his mouth to speak, for the next four hours on the sofa while staring vacantly at the television screen Lucy once bought at a yard sale. During those four hours, the screen remained black and empty.
Heartburn persisted as a fire in Molly’s throat, waking her up at night. Her porcelain skin that she prized and gloated over as often as possible to acne-prone Lucy became oilier and caused her to break out in miniscule pimples on her chin. She couldn’t feel the baby kicking yet, which elongated her mood of indifference to its existence. Without a wailing infant she could see and touch, reality pushed further and further into someone else’s nightmare until she could ignore it altogether. Only Audrey’s puffy eyes and Percy’s melancholic expression as he waited patiently for his two-week holiday to expire barred Molly from fancying it all an illness, and to content herself with delusions of a bout of spattergroit.
One morning during Molly’s second trimester, she slid down the stairs with one hand trailing the banister, eyes narrowed cautiously on a soft rustling sound emanating from the kitchen. She’d taken to waking up earlier than her mother so that she could nip down for some breakfast and disappear upstairs, effectively avoiding any questions about revision and homework from Professor Paisley’s Every-Age Homeschooling Program.
Audrey faced the kitchen sink, holding up a fleece quilt. She buried her nose in it, eyes closed, and breathed deeply. The airy fragrance of lilac soap found its way across the room, assaulting Molly’s heightened senses, and she wrinkled up her nose. She knew that to everyone else, that scent would be a pleasant one; but it made Molly’s stomach churn. It probably wouldn’t be long before any pastries she scraped up from under Audrey’s watchful nose would soon be deposited right back in the toilet or rubbish bin – or on the stairs, which had happened a week ago. She could still smell the bleach her mother had used to try to scrub out the odor of it.
Audrey, who was not aware of the footsteps behind her, neatly folded the quilt on the counter and performed a drying charm on it. And although she could have washed everything with magic in just seconds, she chose to submerge a miniature pair of baby socks into the soapy water. They floated along the bubbly surface before sinking, looking impossibly tiny as they drifted to the bottom. Something about the vulnerability of the drowned socks, all alone in the tub of water, brought hot tears to Audrey’s eyes.
She sniffed, lifting her bleary eyes to the window, and passively examined her reflection in the glass. Any moment now, she expected new crow’s feet to spring up from out of nowhere, or for gray to tinge the flyaway strands that would never quite tuck back into her bun. She was consistently shocked to see the same woman – albeit a bit more tired, a bit more red-eyed – staring back at her, and not some rapidly-aged stranger. A small part of her hoped each time that she would look fifty instead of thirty-seven. How many people would she someday have to explain to that no, she was not the baby’s mother, that she was the grandmother? How would this reflect on her husband? And more importantly, what would become of her firstborn daughter’s future?
Molly was quite certain at this point that the boy who fathered her child (Audrey was loath to repeat his name, whether aloud or inside her head) would marry her, was desperately in love with her. He’d written a few times, mostly to say that he didn’t write much because his penmanship was bad and Quidditch practice and school detained him. No matter how short these letters happened to be, Molly read them over and over as she hunched her shoulders in the corner kitchen chair, sweeping for signs of affection she might have accidentally skipped over the last twenty times. He always signed it with love, but he never asked her about the baby he’d helped create.
He offered her no support for what she was going through, only: Ravenclaw smashed Hufflepuff by seventy-six points in the last match, which means that all we need to do to get in the running for the Cup is to make sure Hufflepuff loses to Slytherin. Did you hear about Calvin almost getting expelled?
“Which Calvin?” Molly had murmured, frustrated. “Calvin Hankison or Calvin Retner?” She pursed her lips, skimming the rest of it.
Can’t wait to see you again! When are you coming back? I’ve got to go now, Scott’s just come into the common room and we’re all going down to see the new Glumbumbles Professor Hagrid got this morning. I’ll try to describe what they look like later if I remember –
“Glumbumbles?” Molly repeated, and instantly flew to her room to retrieve a Care of Magical Creatures textbook, impatiently leafing through the pages. “I can’t find them in here. Merlin, I’m missing everything.”
The letters ended abruptly, always with one excuse or another, told from the point of view of an inane sixteen-year-old boy, which Audrey fully expected. Whoever this person was, he certainly wasn’t the man Molly imagined him to be in her daydreams. He had not presented her with a diamond ring, ready to sweep her off her feet.
Instead, he was lovingly polishing the handle of his broomstick far away in his dormitory while Molly, stubborn girl that she was, scanned for hidden promises of devotion, fidelity, and a relationship that would last forever between brief sentences depicting spilled cauldrons in Potions and half-baked, envious ramblings about Orville Tiege’s position as Keeper. Nowadays, letters came twice a month if Molly was lucky, and it took longer to slit the envelopes open than to read their contents.
Audrey knew it would be a relief for it to be over and done with, as the boy would inevitably end things with her daughter and it was a business preferably short-lived rather than drawn out as it had been. But just as she thought this, something incensed and menacing rose from the pit of her stomach, brightening her eyes with more tears. It was the fierce protection of a mother for her child, of wanting to keep her daughter’s heart in one safe piece.
Audrey moved around the room, abandoning the soaking laundry in favor of steering a broom. It always helped her, keeping her hands busy at all times. It was either her hands or her mouth, and the second option usually resulted in an argument with her daughter. She was just thinking to herself that she was too exhausted to argue ever again when she caught sight of a misshapen figure in her peripheral vision. Something about the sight of the brown-haired, freckled girl with gangling limbs and a hot-pink jumper swelled across her otherwise-little-girlish abdomen stung Audrey’s senses. A switch went off in her brain, and before she could blink, they were already at it again.
“You think babies are like pets, don’t you? Fun and cuddly, someone to love you. You’re wrong, Molly. They take your love – they take it and they take your energy and your time and your compassion. And your child will suffer because of the choices you made, because you won’t be there while he or she is a baby, to give it all those things it needs. I will have to be the one to do all of this. I’ll have to take all next year off of work to raise your child, because you have to finish your education.”
She shook out dirt she’d been sweeping into a dust pan into the bin, trembling so much that she missed the rim and dumped it all back onto the floor. “Good luck on your first day back to school. This happened to a Muggle neighbor of mine when I was young and I’ll tell you right now, her friends turned on her in a heartbeat. Quit school and now she works nights at a petrol station – three kids and no husband. She used to really be something when she smiled, too. Had her whole life ahead of her.”
“I’m not that girl,” Molly snapped, finally feeling brave enough to speak up. “She didn’t have help and she was probably poor –”
Audrey cut her off with a bitter laugh. “And you’re not?” Molly simply stared at her, confused. “How much money do you have?” the shrill voice demanded. “A handful of Sickles, maybe? After you spent it all on sweets on the train ride? I’ve got news for you, sweetheart. You’re as poor as dirt. All the money you have – that’s my money. That’s your father’s money. You didn’t make that. You don’t have a job and there isn’t a single thing you own that someone else hasn’t worked to pay for.”
“Fine, then,” Molly spat. “I’ll go get a job. And I’ll move out so that you don’t have to ‘raise my child’.”
“Oh, really? And what about your schooling?”
“I don’t care about school, a baby is more important –”
“You.” Audrey shook her head furiously, nostrils flaring. “You think you know everything. You don’t care about school? That screams volumes about your maturity, Molly Ruth, absolute volumes.” She pinched her fingers to her temples, throbbing with a migraine. “I cannot believe this is happening to me.”
“To you?” Molly shouted, their tempers finally matching. “What about me? What about my boyfriend?”
“Don’t you dare mention him in this household. I won’t permit it. I cannot believe you allowed him to persuade you to…to…” She clamped her teeth together, a new wave of fury washing over her. “How could you be so foolish?”
“He didn’t persuade me,” Molly defended. “I wanted to. We love each other.”
“If he loved you he wouldn’t have done it. If he loved you, he wouldn’t have put you in that situation, wouldn’t have let it happen. He can’t love you, Molly, because he doesn’t know what love is. He’s just like you, young and immature and with no earthly idea what you’ve just done. This is a lifetime commitment, and one you’re not ready for. Certainly not one he’s ready for. Where is he, Molly? Where is he?” Molly began to talk, but she steamrollered on. “That’s right, he’s at Hogwarts. He’s not going to be carrying a baby. For him, the only thing that’s changed about life is that he’ll probably get a new girlfriend soon.”
“Don’t say that,” Molly hollered, twisting around to head up to her bedroom. “You don’t know him, you don’t know anything about him.”
“And whose fault is that?”
“Yours!” she roared. “It’s your fault. Maybe if I wasn’t so worried about getting into trouble for having one, I would have told you about him over the summer. It’s your stupid rules about not being allowed to date before the results of my N.E.W.T.s exams, even though all the other girls are allowed to date, that made me not want to tell you. It’s not fair at all.”
“I’ll tell you what’s not fair,” Audrey began, glaring angrily at the retreating girl. “Having an ungrateful daughter who can’t see how much she’s shamed her father. You made a complete fool out of him; he’s already the black sheep of the family and now all this bad press has made it even worse. We had the whole world at your feet and just look at what you’ve done with it – and don’t stomp on my stairs! Someday when you can afford your own house, you can stomp on them. These are mine and I’ll thank you to walk like a girl and not an elephant.”
Molly said nothing, scowling and seeing red. With as much weight as she had gained in her face, hips, and stomach, an elephant wasn’t too far off the mark.
She stomped even harder up the stairs, making each thud its own individual earthquake, and slammed the door to her bedroom. The rain fell, pitter, patter, pitter, patter, upon the rooftop and she flopped on her back on the bed. She gazed down at her toes, which she couldn’t see over the rising arc of her stomach. She winced as the door to Audrey’s bedroom slammed as well, and soon there was nothing but silence and disappointment, the sour flavor of regret permeating the lonely air. I’ll bet she’s glad she has Lucy, she thought sullenly. So that all the broken eggs aren’t in one basket.
She gazed at a stuffed bunny in the cot pushed up against one wall. It was the only thing prepared to greet her baby in a faraway world, in someone else’s life, when the baby arrived. There was no shopping with the baby’s father after brunch with his parents, ducking in and out of shops for prams and nappies and wearing cute maternity dresses. She’d received no flowers or cards in the post overflowing with happy wishes.
Instead, Molly got purple stretch marks sprawling across her stomach that looked like an animal had clawed her, a tiny foot lodged in her ribs, a father in Yemen who probably dreaded coming back, a best friend having the time of her life watching Quidditch matches at Hogwarts, a mother who resented her, a sister who certainly would soon, and a single stuffed animal to welcome her child when it emerged in the world – the only thing she could give to it. Alone, she could not afford this lapse in judgment, and would never have been able to provide what the baby deserved.
She was scared to death of ever seeing her friends again, wondering about the rumors and what they thought of her now. She felt isolated from the universe and tried to fill the lonesome void reading baby books at night after schoolwork but kept getting distracted by the sad, yellowing, torn-eared bunny sitting in the cot. Congratulations were few and far between, and given with airs of strained politeness. She was surrounded with hushed murmuring instead, more sympathy for her parents than for herself.
There was forced conversation at the dinner table and she wished Lucy was home so that there would be more distraction; so that it wasn’t just her, Molly, screwing up everyone’s lives. Now Lucy would be the prodigy, the one hope. Every expectation her parents ever harbored would be taken and piled on top of Lucy, and Lucy would feel the pressure to succeed, to be better than the broken sibling. She would resent her sister for it. And Lucy would come home for the summer holidays and feel obligated to hold the baby, forcing a smile as she posed for a picture with it.
Lucy was the responsible one, even though she was younger. Lucy would never have done something this unspeakable, she would never find herself being shuffled out of the castle in the night while the remaining daughter at Hogwarts had to research spattergroit and perpetuate the lie that no one was likely to believe.
Night after night, there was static in the kitchen as Molly picked at the food on her plate. “Finish your Transfiguration?” her mother would inquire briskly, not taking her eyes off her mound of peas. She moved them around with a fork, not looking up.
A pause, and then – “Eat your eggplant.”
Molly, before she could stop herself, would fall into the awful routine, rolling her eyes. “I don’t like eggplant.”
Audrey was anticipating it, waiting for it. “Stop acting like you’re four years old. You need the vitamins, you don’t eat anything healthy. All you ever want are crisps and sweets. You’re not on holiday – you’re here because you have to be, and while you’re home you’ll eat what I cook for you.”
And then, inevitably – “I think I’m old enough to decide what to eat.”
After this, Audrey would throw her fork down and stand up so quickly that her chair fell back and scraped the wall. She would clomp halfway up the stairs before stalking back, shaking a pointing finger with tears staining her cheeks. “Your baby needs the vitamins. Maybe you don’t care, but I’m the one that’s going to be taking care of it after you go back to school, and I want it to be healthy.”
After this, Audrey would curl up in the big lonely bed next to a framed picture of her and her husband, missing him so terribly that it hurt and wishing that she could just leave and Apparate to him. She wished he would know somehow that she needed him, so that he could Apparate to her instead. She closed her eyes, willing him to feel it.
Molly wished she was strong enough to see how she wouldn’t regret this someday.
She sighed, fingering the last letter sent to her by someone she was sure she loved, its lines absorbed hundreds of times since its delivery a little over a month ago. “I’m all alone,” she said softly. The baby kicked, strong and indignant.
But you’re not. You’ll never, ever be alone again.
Chapter 2: An American In Hogwarts by TenthWeasley
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The castle was cold, and drafty, and absolutely nothing like home. Ryan Timms slumped into a chair in the library, carefully avoiding the beady eyes of the beak-nosed librarian, who seemed to have taken a dislike to him from the first. His chin was nearly level with his knees, but even in this awkward sort of posture, he knew that the other students milling about wouldn’t be likely to spare him more than a glance. Besides, it was too comfortable to shift at the moment. This whole week – and, likely, the rest of this year – could not end soon enough.
If he hadn’t been expelled from the Salem Witches’ Institute (which, despite its rather misleading name, admitted males along with females), then none of this would have happened. He wouldn’t have been freezing to death inside a strange and rather austere library, not able to place a single face and not knowing what to do with his time, having finished all his homework before dinner. And that, if nothing else, truly revealed how extremely desperate his situation was.
And it wasn’t even his fault, really, because he definitely hadn’t been the only one to blow up that girls’ bathroom – it had been Kyle’s idea in the first place, and Matt had definitely helped. But in the end, Ryan had been the one who got caught, and Ryan had been the one sitting on the curb with his suitcase beside him, waiting to tell his dad that no, he would not be returning to school after the holidays. The closest magical school his dad could find had been Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, in northern Scotland (the exact location wasn’t disclosed), and, although not terribly pleased at having Ryan so far from his watchful and strict eye, he found no other alternative but to send his son there.
And, right from the start, he had had no difficulty in feeling completely different from everyone else. Almost as soon as he had arrived at the school, having been taken up in carriages that were noticeably lacking in horses, he was whisked into a small broom cupboard next to a large hall, and something brown and floppy was plunked on his head without further ado.
To his immense surprise, the brown and floppy thing, which he had now taken to be a hat, had begun to talk to him in a very low voice, just inside his ear. It spoke in a very old and ancient voice, and this combined with the heavy English accent it had made it a bit difficult for him to understand it. The only thing that he understood (and it would have been hard to miss a screaming hat) was when it suddenly shouted out, “RAVENCLAW!”
The old and stern-looking woman who had steered Ryan into this cupboard nodded and marked something on a long roll of parchment clutched in her hands. “Your school House,” she said abruptly, glancing up and evidently taking the look on his face for confusion. “You may go and line up with the other first years –”
“What?” Ryan said, his mouth dropping open. “But I’m not a new –“
The woman pursed her lips in disapproval. “It is necessary for you to listen to the rules of our school along with our new students,” she said crisply, “being a new student yourself, no matter your age.”
“I’ll get someone to tell them to me,” he said desperately. He knew he was probably already stretching the rules of this place, being so rude, and the last thing he needed was to get expelled from yet another school, but sitting with a bunch of eleven-year-olds was not going to get his reputation off to a great start.
The woman stood looking down at him, lips still pursed, and finally snatched the hat off his head. “I will be making sure this is exactly what happens,” she said. “Now go and sit with your House. It’s the table with the blue and bronze decorations.” With this, she whisked back out into the hall, and Ryan found himself sitting alone in the cupboard, feeling rather foolish. This feeling did not go away upon entering the hall, where everyone at the table the woman had pointed out had shot him curious looks for the entire rest of the night. He supposed he was an oddity, but he wished they would at least stop staring.
The librarian – Ryan thought her name was Madam Pinch, or something close to it – poked her head around the corner at that moment, eyeing him suspiciously. “And what are you doing, boy?” she said without preamble.
Ryan blinked, confused. “I’m, uh, sitting?” He ended the phrase as though it were a question, not sure if that was the answer she was looking for or not. He could have sworn she hissed at him slightly before uttering her next sentence.
“Libraries are not for sitting,” she said waspishly. “One might assume you have studies to attend to, or something in which you can make yourself useful?” Ryan just blinked again, but she seemed to take this as an answer in the affirmative. Running a finger underneath the tight, high collar of her blouse, she gave a great sniff and stalked off between the stacks once more.
“Crazy,” Ryan muttered, nevertheless bending over and fishing a book out of his schoolbag. It was nothing like his old bag, back in the States – this one was stiff, and uncomfortable, and his books fit all wrong inside it. He took out one of his new books with difficulty and studied the front cover. Defensive Magical Theory, by Wilbert Slinkhard.
Even the title sounded strange and foreign. He flipped it open and scanned through it without taking in a single word on the page, his eyes blurring over, and not even a minute passed before he closed it again and returned it disgustedly to his bag.
Things might not have been so bad, he thought a bit glumly, if people had deigned to talk to him about more than how he liked his classes, or asking him questions about the States. It wasn’t that he necessarily needed these people to like him – and he didn’t, because he had his own friends back home – but being a fourteen-year-old boy in a strange school in a strange country was a bit lonesome, and everyone here already seemed to have their own groups of friends to talk to. There wasn’t an opening for him, certainly not among the other fourth-year Ravenclaws, as anything more than a homework buddy.
Although, he admitted, sitting alone in the library after dinner didn’t really make a strong case for himself as anything else.
At least they used the same sorts of spells here that they had used back in Salem – Ryan had been worried enough about other things to even think about that, and was relieved to find that out. But his wand hadn’t seemed to react well to the climate here, for even the simplest spells he’d attempted had always seemed to go wrong, and he couldn’t place his finger on the problem. In Salem, he had been among the top in his class – for all his joking around, he still had gotten good grades – but here he thought it would be a miracle to even pass some of his classes.
Furtively glancing to see that the librarian was still out of sight, Ryan bent over and fished around in his bag again, this time coming up with his wand. The odd-looking lamp over his head caught his eye, and he looked up at it, brushing his hair out of his eyes to see it properly. Pointing his wand at it, he whispered, “Lumos.”
With a sort of whoosh, the lamp flared up in an instant, and he jumped back in fright, nearly pitching backwards in the chair and thinking that he was surely going to be roasted alive. The lamp returned to normal, but it took a bit more time for his pulse to slow down, and he angrily shoved his wand back in his bag, scowling. Stupid.
“I don’t think your wand works very well.” A light, almost fluid voice sounded from somewhere to his left, and, turning his head, Ryan laid eyes on a girl perched on the edge of a severe-looking armchair, her silver-blue eyes trained up at the lamp that had nearly exploded.
“What?” he said dumbly, feeling heat creep into his cheeks knowing that that girl had just seen him do something very stupid. She looked a bit familiar, and, his eyes trailing to the emblem sewn onto the left side of her robes, he remembered that she was a Ravenclaw in his year.
“Your wand doesn’t seem to be working, does it?” said the girl lightly, pointing at the lamp. “I don’t think that was supposed to happen. Unless that’s what you meant to do, and then you did it very well.” She looked at him unblinkingly – Ryan wondered idly if she ever blinked – and shifted a bit in his chair. This girl was making him feel rather uncomfortable, and what was worse was he couldn’t tell if she was joking or not, so he still didn’t respond.
“I’ve seen you around,” she said. “You’re that boy who came here from the United States. You’re a fourth year, aren’t you?” Ryan nodded. “In Ravenclaw?” the girl pressed, and he nodded again. “I’ve seen you in my classes,” she said, and then looked back at the lamp, swinging her legs back and forth slightly. Ryan watched her, but she seemed in no hurry to move the conversation forward.
“So – you’re in fourth year too?” he ventured at last, having felt distinctly that he had to at least say something.
The girl blinked at him and her face suddenly split into a wide smile. “Your accent is funny,” she said, not bothering to answer the question. “But yes, I am a fourth year. I’m Luna Lovegood, although lots of people call me Looney. Not to my face, but I don’t think I’d mind if they did.” She tilted her head to the side and a lock of long hair, just as silvery as the rest of her, fell over her shoulder.
“Ryan Timms,” Ryan muttered back out of obligation, and tried to pretend as though he was looking for something in the bag at his feet – anything to get out of this rather awkward social obligation he now found himself in. He looked up, and visibly jumped to find that Luna had gotten up and crossed to stand in front of him.
“You sit alone a lot,” she said, tipping her head again.
“My friends are all back home,” Ryan said, although he didn’t really know why he felt he needed to explain himself to this girl. “I don’t need any new ones.” Luna twirled a lock of hair around her finger, studying him, and it was at this point that Ryan noticed that she was wearing what looked like orange radishes for earrings.
“But nobody should be sitting alone,” she reasoned. “I think we’d all like to get to know you better.” And for that, Ryan had no answer. He stood up instead, feeling vaguely uncomfortable, and slung the strap of his bag over his shoulder.
“I’m going back to the common room,” he said abruptly, and he could feel those large eyes on him all the way out of the library and into the corridor. It was rather deserted, most of the other students already back in their own common rooms, and the loneliness Ryan hated to admit he felt seemed magnified a thousand times when walking in a large and dimly-lit corridor.
That girl in the library had been, without a doubt, one of the weirdest girls he had ever met, and he had known a girl in kindergarten who had eaten dirt almost on a daily basis. She hadn’t seemed bothered to ask him whatever she liked, either, and although this blunt aspect of her personality unnerved him considerably, he had a touch of admiration for it, too. She probably wouldn’t have had any trouble moving on from her old friends if she’d been in his position.
The library wasn’t very far from the tower where the Ravenclaw common room was – probably by design, Ryan thought, since he’d quickly learned that being called a Ravenclaw almost immediately meant being called smart, or nerdy, if you weren’t well-liked by whoever was calling you names. He trudged up the stairs a bit slowly, hoping to kill time so he could justify going straight to his room. However, when he reached the top of the stairs and found himself staring at the brass knocker he found there, he almost wished that Looney Lovegood had been with him.
Another thing he had quickly discovered was that the entrance to each House’s common room was secret, and to keep this one safe, each student who wanted to enter the common room had to answer a riddle. And Ryan realized rather quickly as he stood on the landing that he had never had to answer one by himself before, because he had always been with someone else upon reaching this point. The eagle on the knocker opened its beak, seeming not to care that a rather helpless and new American, who didn’t really want to answer riddles right now, stood before it.
“Before the sun I pass, and yet no shadow do I make. What am I?”
Ryan stuck his tongue between his teeth, concentrating. He knew he should have been able to answer the riddle, but one side of his forehead had begun to throb rather painfully, and concentration was difficult. He rubbed his head irritably.
“I don’t know – a leaf? A broomstick? What?”
“Incorrect,” trilled the knocker, and fell silent. Ryan waited for it to ask another riddle, but its beak did not open again.
“I – hey, wait! Open up!” he said, and, when the knocker stayed quiet, kicked the door in frustration. “Let me have another shot!”
“Ooh – have you been locked out?” Ryan jumped for the third time that evening as a voice spoke at his shoulder, and, turning around desperately, he saw –
“I’ve only been locked out once myself,” Luna said, smiling as though recalling a very fond memory. “In my first year – I have a knack for guessing these riddles. They are a bit tricky at first, but they’re a great way to get to know other people in your House,” she said sympathetically, and Ryan bristled at the condescension he imagined he detected in her voice. He wondered why she kept bringing up the rather annoying implication that he needed to find ways to meet the rest of his classmates.
“It’s the stupid thing, it won’t let me answer again,” he said, scowling and picking up his bag from where he’d dropped it on the landing.
“Well, then, I suppose I’ll have a go,” Luna said brightly, and the British-sounding phrase touched oddly on Ryan’s ears. She stepped up to the knocker and clasped her hands behind her back, waiting patiently. It spoke the same riddle again.
“Before the sun I pass, and yet no shadow do I make. What am I?”
“Ooh, that’s a good one,” Luna said, fiddling with the ends of her long blonde hair, and Ryan groaned aloud, slumping his head against the stone wall and closing his eyes. She stood there for a long moment, thinking, her head as always tipped to the side, and finally answered, “I would say the wind.”
“Well said,” cooed the eagle, and the door to the common room swung inward, allowing them in.
“Thanks,” Ryan said, turning desperately to Luna. She merely smiled placidly back at him and walked – no, walked wasn’t the right word, she drifted – into the common room. Still a bit nonplussed, and not at all sure about her sanity, but just grateful that he knew he wouldn’t be sleeping outside tonight, Ryan followed her inside.
A small cluster of boys was sitting off to the left around the fireplace, studiously reading in the straight-backed upholstered chairs. He recognized two of the boys from his dormitory; it appeared that they were undergoing a little study group of sorts. From nowhere, Luna’s words in the library floated through his brain.
“I think we’d all like to get to know you better.”
He swallowed, trying to channel Luna’s bluntness and matter-of-fact personality, and forced his feet to walk over to the study group. “Can I join you?” he ventured, mortified at the way his voice cracked in the middle of the sentence. Perhaps he should just leave while he still had the chance.
One of the boys looked up and smiled. “Yeah, sit down!” he said, moving his own bag to free up the last remaining chair. Ryan did so, pulling out Defensive Magical Theory again and trying not to appear too out of place.
Well. It appeared Looney Lovegood – or Luna, rather – had been right after all.
It was Hallowe’en of 1981, and Albus Dumbledore had been summoned away from the Hogwarts feast to deal with a crisis. Voldemort had attacked the Potters, and found them perhaps more vigilant than they might have been. There had been a fight of some kind. James Potter was now dead, Lily Potter was in a coma in St. Mungo’s, and Harry Potter had acquired an unusual scar on his forehead. Oh, and the house they’d been staying in was a near write-off and both Peter Pettigrew and Sirius Black had gone missing. And apparently the Dark Lord was dead, too, though Dumbledore had doubts on the latter count, given the prophecy. Voldemort had believed in the prophecy, ergo it would happen. And Voldemort getting blown up in a spell-battle gone bad didn’t sound like it came even close to fulfilling the prophecy, therefore Voldemort must still exist in some form.
Right: well at least, with the scar and everything, Albus now knew which child was the one destined to defeat the Dark Lord. At this point in the interests of security (and with the added benefit of ensuring the child did not acquire any unfortunate preconceived notions which might make fitting him into his prophesised role later awkward), Albus’ instincts were to pack the child off as far away from the magical world as possible, preferably to be raised by someone who knew nothing of magic. Had either one or both the child’s parents been active, he would have considered making them swear unbreakables to act entirely as muggles, to blend in with the background population. If they had both been dead, that would have been very tragic but no obstacle at all to Albus’ plans.
Unfortunately, Lily being in a coma in St. Mungo’s neither compos mentis nor dead complicated everything horribly. In such circumstances there were legal niceties to be observed. Albus was unable to make Harry Potter simply vanish with the speed he would have liked.
Albus inwardly groused, and sent off a series of owls to contacts at the ministry, then went back to what remained of the feast. He had to act as if nothing of importance had happened, listening to the latest Defence teacher whining on about disrespect from the pupils. This was not turning out to be a good Hallowe’en for the Hogwarts headmaster.
The next morning, Albus’ disposition was to become even more sorely tried. Horace Slughorn, the recently retired Hogwarts potions master, had arrived.
“Ah, Albus.” Horace Slughorn boomed. “Good to see you. I thought I’d best let you know, I’ve been in contact with the goblins, and cleared everything with them. I’ll drop by St. Mungo’s after here, check how Lily is, and collect Harry.”
Albus had to wonder for a moment if the bowl of boiled sweets on his desk had been spiked with a hallucinatory potion. Horace Slughorn was a pretty unlikely subject for a hallucination with his genial face, walrus moustache, and today’s emerald green waistcoat and matching cravat, but Albus still waved his wand and checked just in case.
“‘Collect Harry’, Horace?” Albus said, since it appeared that this was in fact Horace Slughorn in the flesh with whom he was being confronted.
“Well I tried to check with Sirius, but couldn’t find him, so I figure that since I’m next down on Lily’s list of guardians for the dear boy, that what with her being incapacitated” Slughorn’s face became suitably solemn, “I’d assume responsibility as fast as possible. I called in some favours and got the necessary paperwork through the ministry already, and I can always pass him on to Sirius when he turns up if he wants the lad.”
“Neither Lily nor James ever mentioned this to me, Horace.” Albus said.
“I’ve got a letter she wrote to me several weeks ago.” Horace flourished a letter. “She wanted to check before she and James updated their wills, and I sent back at once – via ‘mutual friends’ – ” here Horace gave a little wink “saying yes. Don’t worry about the immediate expense to me. I live well enough these days and can afford to take care of Lily’s charming little rascal for a few months without noticing it too much, and as a retired man I have plenty of time spare these days. You and your Phoenix lot can always fix me up with a stipend, if necessary, if Lily doesn’t wake up any time soon.”
The phrases ‘I called in some favours’ and ‘necessary paperwork through the ministry already’ belatedly registered with Albus. Horace Slughorn was one of the best connected wizards in wizarding Britain right now. He wasn’t exactly wealthy, and he didn’t have any immediately obvious political power, but after years of teaching at Hogwarts and carefully cultivating students, he knew pretty much everyone of any significance, and quite a few very important people owed him favours. Horace Slughorn was probably one of the few people who could have legally latched onto Harry James Potter faster than Albus himself, and the others were actually ministry officials or suspected Death Eaters – the latter category no doubt currently trying to invent stories to protect themselves from becoming guests of the dementors in Azkaban.
The inconvenient hitch of last night in Albus’ being unable to make Harry immediately disappear with all due speed due to Lily’s not-dead-but-not-functioning state had just become incrementally worse. Horace Slughorn was not the sort of person who would want to take Harry Potter into hiding, but nor was he the sort of wizard who would relinquish Harry Potter against Lily’s explicit written wishes. Lily had always been one of his favourite students.
At this point Albus’ best bet was looking a lot like Sirius Black turning up alive and well. Slughorn would surrender Harry to Sirius, Harry’s godfather, and Albus was confident he could persuade Sirius to completely disappear for at least the next decade, taking Harry with him. Unfortunately, Albus recalled, Sirius Black had been supposed to be the Potters’ secret keeper for the fidelius charm which was being emplaced to hide them, and the fact that they had been discovered by none less than the Dark Lord himself (and so quickly at that) rather suggested that their secret keeper had sold them out.
Given Albus’ current run of luck, Sirius was probably just about now going to be taken by aurors after blowing up a street full of muggles just for the laughs, and gleefully confess his guilt.
“That’s very generous of you, Horace.” Albus smiled, all that going through his mind in an instant and scarcely missing a beat in his reply. “The ministry may want to assign an auror to you, and send someone round to check your wards, given the current turmoil. And let us hope that Lily recovers speedily…”
The aurors of course snapped up Severus Snape in the sweep of Death Eaters and duly sent him for trial before the Wizengamot. At that trial, the prosecutor made a great play on Severus Snape being a Death Eater known to have associated with the tragic heroine now lying in the long term ward in St. Mungo’s, piling on the guilt. Severus had unfortunately been to see Lily in St. Mungo’s and he snapped, practically begging to be sent to Azkaban. It was obvious to the Wizengamot that he felt tremendous remorse for his actions, and under the circumstances they only sentenced him to seven years. Albus watched his last hope of getting Lily to wake up in any hurry, one of the best potions masters of his generation, disappear from the court, heading for a cell in Azkaban. At least, unlike Sirius Black, Severus Snape had had a trial. Black had been sent, given the circumstances of his capture, by the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement straight to Azkaban without going anywhere near the Wizengamot.
Oh well, Hogwarts was now down a potions master and head of Slytherin and Harry Potter was going to be brought up by Horace Slughorn for the immediately foreseeable future. When Albus had envisioned the futures which might have come to pass when he had first heard of that wretched prophecy, this was probably somewhere close to the bottom of futures he would have liked which featured an even temporarily crippled Voldemort.
The Hogwarts headmaster later heard that – in one of those delicious twists of irony – repentant Death Eater Severus Snape had ended up in a cell in Azkaban adjacent to unrepentant mass-murderer Sirius Black, although Severus did get the cell with the better view out the window of the North Sea and slightly further away from the dementors. For perhaps the first time in his life, Severus Snape had actually got a better long-term deal from fate than Black.
It was his eighth birthday when Harry Potter, dressed in an emerald green waistcoat and bowtie to match his Uncle Sluggy’s took his first official visit to Diagon Alley. Harry had been to premises around the Alley before, but usually Uncle Sluggy just apparated or flooed them to wherever they were going. Today Uncle Sluggy was taking Harry out in public, and bringing Harry’s sister, Violet, along too.
Violet was a miracle child. It had turned out that Harry’s mother had been only a few days pregnant with her when Lily arrived in the long term ward of St. Mungo’s, although her carers had fairly soon noticed the changes happening to Lily as the pregnancy progressed. Violet had red hair like her mother and weird purple eyes which didn’t seem to come from either Lily or James. Uncle Sluggy, since he was already looking after Harry, had volunteered himself to look after this latest addition to the Potter family too. With Lily never having stirred from her coma, a squib who had become a surgeon in the muggle world had had to be called in to deliver Violet once it was obvious the pregnancy had come to full-term. A couple of simple bloodline spells, just to keep the ministry (and the headmaster of Hogwarts who was for some reason very interested in Violet) happy, had confirmed that Violet was indeed the daughter of Lily and James Potter, and Harry’s full sibling.
Violet was in consequence almost as famous as Harry. She was dressed in a green silk dress today.
Horace took them along the Alley, pausing to say hello to occasional shopkeepers, to Gringotts, where he took them on a mine-cart ride down through the depths to investigate the contents of the Potter vault. James had had lands and properties which provided some income, gradually adding to the wealth, and after a lengthy discussion between Harry and his Uncle Sluggy, Horace had recently permitted Harry to make a deal with a broomstick manufacturing company which was starting to earn gold for the Potter vault. The two children spent a good half hour running around amidst the piles of coins, laughing and squealing, before Horace solemnly filled a small pouch for them ‘for Christmas and birthday present spending for friends for the next six months’ before seeing them out. Back at the surface, the Potter children surprised their goblin escort by formally thanking him in the gobbledegook – the goblin language – for his time. Uncle Sluggy had made them spend a lot of time over the past few days learning about goblins and a few simple phrases in their tongue.
‘Always pays to make a good first impression, especially with goblins.’ Uncle Sluggy had explained.
Given how many vicious goblin wars the children had heard about, they had definitely agreed with that sentiment.
After Gringotts they browsed some shops, dropped into the ice-cream parlour for an ice-cream, then headed off to Longbottom Manor for Harry and Neville’s party.
Horace considered it a good idea, since Harry and Neville Longbottom had been born only a day apart, for the boys to share a party. They alternated venues and this year Neville (and his gran) were hosting.
Albus Dumbledore studied the latest reports in the newspapers and from his agents. For more than six years now, Harry Potter had been with Horace Slughorn, and the outcome was pretty much what Albus had feared. Albus, knowing the prophecy, had believed that a heroic, introspective, non-too-confident, self-sacrificing Harry Potter, would be just what the wizarding world needed, whenever it was that the Dark Lord happened to return. Such a hero would require a fierce upbringing, with tests and trials, and only the occasional glimpse of joy. Horace Slughorn, however, was only interested in making sure the boy in his charge grew up happy, and in showing him how Slytherins could get things done, not Gryffindors.
Then there was the complication of Violet, too. Albus had been highly suspicious of the girl, born to a woman in a coma, but the blood tests showed that Violet was the daughter of Lily and James Potter, and not some creature fathered on Lily by magic and the Dark Lord in the moment of his (however temporary) defeat. For now, Albus had no serious suspicions of her, but it was annoying that having a little sister was yet another thing taking Harry Potter away from a glorious heroic destiny. Mighty heroes did not grow up in happy families with little sisters – well not unless aforementioned sisters had problems of some sort, such as to make them at least partially a burden. Albus himself had once had such a sister, after all…
He sighed at the memory of Arianna and of some of his own mistakes, then returned his attention to the present, and the newspaper picture of the Longbottom/Potter joint birthday party. Potter and Slughorn were even getting to the other possible child of Prophecy, Neville Longbottom, who would have been Albus’ backup plan. At least Longbottom should have had a proper heroic upbringing, raised in isolation by a loving but strict elderly lady, but nooo: the Longbottoms were an old respected family, and Neville was practically a boy of Harry’s age, so of course Slughorn wanted Harry to associate with him as much as possible. The bumbling, well-meaning, Slughorn was innocently wrecking Albus’ plans at practically every turn.
About the only consolation Dumbledore could think of, looking dejectedly at the photo of happy children (well mostly happy – Daphne Greengrass kept on emptying her bowl of jelly over Draco Malfoy’s head whilst Ronald Weasley and Lavender Brown seemed to be trying to strangle one another in the background as Neville and Harry blew out the candles on their cake) was that this wasn’t a scene he could imagine out of the childhood of any recent dark lords. In fact thinking of dark lords…
Albus looked at the photo again and knitted his brows. There was that whole ‘power the Dark Lord knows not’ part of the prophecy. Alright, Horace Slughorn was an incorrigible networker, and bringing Harry (and his sister) up to network, but some of these children sitting around the table at Longbottom Manor were firm friends, he was pretty sure. And whilst Albus had wanted to imagine that a capacity to heroic self-sacrifice (nominally ‘love’) was supposed to be that ‘power the dark lord knows not’, he wondered if it might possibly turn out to be ‘friends’ instead? He was pretty certain that Voldemort didn’t have any friends by Hallowe’en of 1981 – just servants, minions, and slaves.
Albus knew he was clutching at straws, but if the boy had many more years of Horace Slughorn it was going to about all that Albus had to work with. Severus Snape was going to be in prison at least another six months – for some reason he seemed to think that he deserved to be in Azkaban suffering for his deeds, and had refused chances to have his sentence reduced and to be let out early. Severus would have done as well in Gryffindor as Slytherin, Albus was pretty certain with this obsessive need to punish himself, although continuous (limited) exposure to dementors might have contributed more than a touch of insanity by now. And in the absence of such a skilled potions master as Severus Snape, six years of care in St. Mungo’s had failed to find a means by the healers there of waking Lily, or for that matter Neville Longbottom’s parents who had been attacked by Bellatrix.
It was almost funny how all of it occurred. Most of the people that recognized us from both press releases and general know how would assume that both of us hated each other the moment we met each other. The bad thing is, for the first train ride we did. I had been inches from hexing him every other way I knew because he made several rude comments about my family when my cousin came in and decided to sit between us for the rest of the ride.
Once we got to Hogwarts, he tried to flip over the boat, but again, my idiotic bookworm of a cousin stopped him from doing it. The blonde boy in question also didn’t want to get his school clothes wet, so we went about our business.
The blonde boy’s sorting was very obvious the moment he sat down on that three footed stool. The hat quickly proclaimed Slytherin, I rolled my eyes, we moved on with the process. Nothing all that confusing or hard.
Albus’s (said dumb cousin if you couldn’t tell) sorting was just as obvious. The hat called out Gryffindor, the Potter gene in him shining through, I clapped politely, and we continued on with the very boring process. My legs were starting to get tired by the time I finally got up to the stool and it was my turn to have my head covered by the dusty brown hat.
Hmm…now let’s see. Weasley blood flows strong in you I see, but perhaps you are different than your parents, hmm? Want to show the world what you can do? You are very calculating and have a fair bit of cunning in you. Yes, there is not a doubt in my mind that your true Home should be
Wait, what? I numbly got up and walked to the far left table, murmurs and questions flying as the last of my year were Sorted. Perhaps it was the shock that heightened everything, making it oh so real. How many Weasleys could say they were in Slytherin? Probably enough to fill one hand
“Hi there. I don’t think we got off on the right foot.” The boy that had both insulted my family and almost ruined my ride to the actual school was now introducing himself to me? Talk about irony. “The name’s Scorpius. Scorpius Malfoy. What’s yours?” He asked with a cheeky grin.
“Rose Weasley.” I said blankly, trying to put as much ice into my voice as possible. Perhaps I would get lucky and he would leave me be. He soon realized that I was not going to tell him anything else, so he turned to a couple of upperclassmen and struck up a conversation with them.
As anyone with a couple of brain cells to rub together could tell, we all went down to the Slytherin Common rooms once the feast was over, my father’s stories of the room as dark and draft as a cell in Azkaban wafting into my memory.
However, when I walked in, I found the common room kind of…cool. The windows above the common room streamed in a constant light of green, sending the room into a sort of feeling I had gotten when my family had gone to that muggle aquarium. We walked down the ornate marble stairs and into the actual common room, where the black granite fireplaces crackled almost cheerfully. The main Prefect introduced himself as the Head Boy Carlstrone and if there was any trouble to come see him or their Head of House, the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor by the name of Malstream. He reminded us that this was a very prestigious house, with stereotypes and almost automatic hatred coming with the title of a Slytherin student. With that, the boy turned on his heel and went out the door, most likely to the Head Boy and Girl commons. Once the school had been redone after the Battle of Hogwarts, many of the designers had decided that since the students who were selected as Heads were obviously qualified for this title, they probably deserved a private section for themselves to decide on different things like schedules and such. However, this isn’t all that important to the story, so I’ll move on.
He was just as smart as me, making him a competitor. My father’s words of beating him at every test were ringing in my ears for my first test in Potions. My face broke into a grin when the Potions Master gave me an O for the perfect replication of a Cheerfulness potion while he got a lowly E+.
It was after that class that made our friendship even more concreted. When I was walking out of the Potions lab, my red hair swinging as I skipped, I was tripped, my skirt coming up over my waist. I hastily pulled it over my cotton panties, my face a bright pink. I turned, almost expecting Scorpius to be standing there with a smug smirk. Instead there were two older Gryffindor boys, both of them with malicious grins on their faces. “Hey Greg, look. It’s a new Slytherin firstie. It looks like she needs to be put in her place.” The bulkier one of the two said as the two of them surrounded me.
“You couldn’t be more right about that Mark. What do you think we should do first? Wipe that look like she’s so much better than us look off her face, or maybe run her up the Astronomy Tower by her little skirt?” Okay, I would be lying if I said I was not scared for my life. These were the type that my dad warned me about, yet he had said that such bullies were confined to Slytherin. Apparently he was wrong there.
“Hey! What are you guys doing?!” A new voice proclaimed. The bullies and I did one of those probably-never-going-to-happen-again simultaneous looks down the hallway to my supposed savior. There in the hallway was Scorpius, his wand drawn and him obviously trying to be a foot taller than he actually was at that point.
“Ha. Look Greg, it’s a blonde knight in green.” The one called Mark cooed. “Let’s show this guy what’s what.” And so my blonde knight in green got beaten to a pulp, with me desperately trying to stop them by digging my primly trimmed nails into their backs until they let him go and the bell rang to signal the next class rotation.
I walked Scorpius to the Infirmary, smiling softly at his heroic actions, however misplaced. In the end of the matron’s examination, the blonde got out of the fight with a black eye, a detention for fighting, and a scratch on his cheek that might have been my doing to show off.
Over the next three years, both of us stuck to each other like glue, fighting off the idiotic Gryffindors that thought they were so much better than us and the stereotypes that came our House status. I made the Slytherin Quidditch team as a Beater, my partner in crime one of the other girls in our house by the name of Maria. Both of us dominated the pitch, smacking bludgers this way and that, usually with the intent of hitting the nearest Gryffindor. It probably helped that we could spend the entire night planning out our strategies over a bowl of popcorn and a few butterbeers. The Gryffindor’s beaters were a boy and girl, this being a definite disadvantage on their part.
It should probably be noted that my father never came to a game, even though he had promised that if I were to ever get on a Quidditch team at school he would.
Either way, once we were allowed to go to Hogsmeade, things got…interesting. My first date into Hogsmeade had been with Maria, Scorpius and Albus all around. All of us were laughing and exploring the newest joy of our Hogwarts experience when we decided to take a peek into Digger’s Alley, the less desirable side of Hogsmeade. Albus had hung back, a bit unsure of the place. We teased him mercilessly about it later, all of us scaring the bejeebus out of him when we walked out with fake blood covering our bodies and Scorpius holding a fake ear in his hand, this also covered with fake blood. It wasn’t all that bad, but maybe we just have strong stomachs. There were some things in that place I would rather not recount.
Anyway, later that evening Scorpius began to act kind of screwy. He was running his hands through his hair, a nervous habit that I found amusing. He was biting at his nails, another one of his habits. He took a seat next to me and began to murmur about a girl that he liked and how he didn’t know how to tell her and that sort of thing that I honestly had no idea about. That was when I decided to run up to my room, suddenly remembering the History of Magic homework that I needed to get done.
It would be another two years before I would realize why I had done this. I didn’t want to hear about his new girlfriend and how she was so amazing and perfect. It was no more than he wanted to hear about my boyfriend, Marcus Matthews, a Ravenclaw with blonde hair and green eyes that could melt me on the spot. After a year of dating and kissing the boy, I realized that I didn’t hold the same level of feelings for him as he did, so I broke up with him.
In sixth year, the relationship between me and Scorpius was still in that rut known as the friend zone. I realized that he was not the same cocky son of a jerk I had met first year. Sure, he was still cocky, still a bit jerkish, but he had grown into someone that many of the younger girls swooned for. His blonde hair he had grown out to just below his ears, his brown eyes that apparently he had gotten from his mother sparkled with mirth and had that just right color of chocolate in them that made me eat about a fourth of my weight in the stuff just to sleep comfortably at night without dreaming of them, disembodied and fully bodied if not fully clothed. I wouldn’t learn until later that Scorpius had the exact same dreams except with me as the main person. However, both of us weren’t willing to get over our pride and our worries that our mutual feelings were not there to actually get our act together and get together (that’s in
the words of my cousin, who isn’t quite as idiotic).
It was that summer that concreted what would be the framework of our relationship. One warm summer night, I had been writing Scorpius a letter about something when my father barged into my room, his face completely red. Apparently he had intercepted all of the correspondence between me and Scorpius and was dead tired of reading of a Weasley actually being sociable with a Malfoy of all people. He demanded that I quit my writing to him and basically give up the one person who took care of me and made sure I was safe. Sure, Hugo did a decent job, but he was my brother and he was basically required to do that. If you couldn’t guess, I refused and he got even angrier. He proclaimed that if I weren’t going to obey him, I was not a part of this family anymore. I happily agreed, knowing from the moment I was placed in Slytherin that I was not the cookie cutter Weasley.
So, as fast as any up and coming seventh year could, I packed all of my things and moved out of my childhood home, deciding to go the one place my father would never look. I Apparated to Malfoy Manor and slowly knocked on the door, unsure if I would be welcomed. I was greeted by a sleepy, shirtless, and green fuzzy house shoes wearing Scorpius. He snapped awake when he realized that I was in fact there and he wasn’t just sleepwalking again (he had had that problem since first year when he awoke to be ankle deep in the Black Lake with no recollection of how he had gotten there). He ushered me into his house, making sure that we stayed silent as we walked by his parent’s bedroom. As we walked into his room, I was surprised at the warm atmosphere he had created.
There was definitely a Slytherin theme in the room. The walls were a deep green with a western facing window where we could see the moon shining down on us. The bed was also deep green with silver threading. The curtains for the room were dark silver, the moon’s beam reflecting off the silver and casting the room into a contrast of the darkest of dark and a bright light. His bed was positioned in such a way that he would wake up with the sun, where the eastern window that could be seen from the front of the manor. He showed me the bathroom and let me change as he got back into bed himself, obviously not expecting me to come out in my black tank top and a pair of green gym shorts and climb into the bed with him.
It was odd to lie beside him, his arms carefully placed around my waist and our foreheads placed against each other, pure chocolate meeting dark blue. Our legs were wrapped around each other as two snakes would.
Before you ask, no, we did not make love that night. At least, not physically. I let tears flow at the disappointment that my father had placed upon me, the thought of my no longer being his daughter placing a heavy blow onto my heart. He didn’t push me away, he held me close and stroked my hair and let me cry myself into exhaustion and a fitful sleep. Before I succumbed to sleep, I felt a warm something press gently against my lips and I might have responded.
The next morning, his mother’s shrill scream woke us both; obviously the sight of her son holding a strange woman in his bed was confusing her. His father came in, his wand bared as though he expected a group of burglars to be in the room. Once he realized the situation and he gave me a once over, he gave me one question, “You’re Weasley’s kid?”
“Yes sir.” I said awkwardly, unwrapping myself from Scorpius and sitting up.
Rather than make a comment about that, he smirked just like his son and stated, “I’m sure your father’s not happy about it. But my discrimination of the Weasley clan has slowly been destroyed because of all of the things that Weasley’s done both for my family and for me.” He raised his hands in the air as though in defeat. “Just use protection alright? I’d rather not have to be a grandfather before my time and especially if it’s going to be a fourth of Ron Weasley’s blood.” He warned. Both of us blushed a heavy red and I cursed my red headed nature. “Now let’s all go down to breakfast. Fletcher is making omelets.” With that, the senior Malfoy turned on his heel and walked out the door, his emerald dressing gown flaring out.
“Well that was probably the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened in this family.” Scorpius stated. “And that includes the time I walked in on my parents…you know.” He said, giving me a significant look to tell me just what he was talking about. Just when I thought my blush couldn’t get any redder, he went and said that and made it worse.
“Come on, our house elf makes the best omelets anywhere.” He continued, pulling on a silken green dressing gown over his lean frame. I slowly got up from the bed and went to my truck to pull out my own gown, a soft red that my parents had sent right before they got Hugo’s letter about my true sorting.
“Wow, way to show house pride.” Scorpius said sarcastically.
“Oh shut up Scorp, my parents gave it to me.”
“When you were eleven?” He asked, smirking at my too short sleeves.
“Yes.” I said shortly.
His smirk fell and he slowly walked backwards until he was in the hallway that leads to the stairs which went to the main floor. He gave a hesitant laugh before turning and running down the hallway. I laughed myself before running after him, both of us laughing with glee as though we were three year olds playing tag.
And so started one of the most amazing summers of my life. At my house, my mum would always yell at me and my brother if we so much as walked faster than a snail. In the manor, as long as we were outside and were leaving Fletcher alone, we were free to run as fast as our legs could carry us. This came in handy when we were playing chase or racing, something both of us loved to do. There were many times when Scorpius tackled me onto the ground, his body hovering over my own, when I wanted very much to do so much more, but I held back. I gave him a single kiss, got back up and raced away.
When school started again, Hugo acted as though I weren’t even a part of his family. He would ignore me and basically act as though I didn’t exist. It hurt the first time, but with all of the duties that came with being Head Girl I didn’t have much time to focus on it. Also, before you ask, no, Scorpius wasn’t the Head Boy to my Head Girl status. It was a Hufflepuff boy by the name Matthew Brown. I think he might have been related to one of my dad’s old flames. We were on speaking terms at least, nothing more or less to Scorpius’s intense joy.
My parents didn’t have any correspondence with me that year for the first time. It was rather odd to not have a letter come for me, only Hugo. It hurt a lot, but I tried to throw myself into Quidditch and NEWTs instead. With all of the studying I had to do and with the practices I did, I didn’t really worry about my parents, even at Christmas when I stayed at Hogwarts.
When my final year came to a close and I was on the Hogwarts Express for the last time, Scorpius did something completely unexpected. Whilst we were in a compartment with a few returning second years, with my head in Scorpius’s lap, we talked about little nonsense things that really had no sort of matter. Near the end of the last trip on the train, my boyfriend began to act like he had in third year. He began to squirm and running his hand through his hair, a habit that I found rather endearing rather than simply amusing. “What is it Scorpius?” I asked, sitting up and looking at him dead in the eye.
“I…” He took a few deep breaths and started his statement again. “Rose…I love you. You have to know that by now.” I did. He told me almost every day since we got together last year. “And…you’re my best friend. We’re different but we’re the same at the same time. Does that make sense? Anyway, I’ve been thinking about this for a while and I’ve come to the conclusion that…I want to spend the rest of my days with you. And…well, I wanted to ask you.” Scorpius got off of the seat and down on one knee to the second year’s coos and awws. “Would you-“ The train slammed to a halt, screeching on the railroad and into the King’s Cross station, sending Scorpius flying into the other seat opposite of me and completely off balance.
“Alright, this isn’t working.” Scorpius proclaimed as he got up and shooed the younger students out of the compartment. “Rose, marry me?” He asked, pulling the ring out of his pocket and opening the box. The box held a diamond surrounded by miniscule emeralds on all sides, the diamond catching every sort of light.
“Scorpius…I…I don’t know what to say.” I said, extremely shocked.
“Well there’s a preferred answer that has three easy letters to it.” He said with that cocky smirk that he had given me in first year, almost bringing our story full circle.
It’s almost funny how it happened.