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Abandon by Gabriella Hunter

Format: Novel
Chapters: 20
Word Count: 155,696
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Contains profanity, Strong violence, Scenes of a sexual nature, Substance abuse, Sensitive topic/issue/theme, Spoilers

Genres: Romance, Action/Adventure, Angst
Characters: Molly, Percy, Blaise (M), Draco, George, Pansy, Teddy, Victoire, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: Other Pairing, Arthur/Molly, Lucius/Narcissa, Teddy/Victoire, Draco/OC

First Published: 09/07/2012
Last Chapter: 05/31/2016
Last Updated: 05/31/2016


Lovely banner by Stille Nacht @ TDA!

Roxanne Weasley has grown up believing that no one would ever want to hurt her, especially not someone she had once considered a friend. But after spending one disastrous night with Benjamin Malfoy, Draco Malfoy's adopted son, she soon realizes that her once peaceful life is at an end.

Chapter 1: Strangers and Fireworks
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A/N: Hello out there! I'm back after a rather long, erm, hiatus and with that being over for now, I have here, Abandon, a freshly visualized taking that I hope you all enjoy! Please leave a review if you can! Much love.

The thick, smoky smell of fireworks invaded Roxanne Weasley’s nose as the last fantastic array of lights and sound melted into the dark sky. There was nothing in thew orld quite like this and she cheered along with her many family members, quite pleased to see that her father’s new creations had worked for once instead of blowing the entire Burrow into ash.

Roxanne's father, George Weasley enjoye working with his best friend Lee Jordan and she had grown used to their dangerous experiments. Their home above his famous joke shop, Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes was constantly being repaired, painted and added onto almost every year.

It resembled her father’s childhood home almost shockingly well.

Roxanne's mother didn’t seem to mind so long as they didn’t actually kill one another and was oen of the only voice of reason in their home. Angelina Weaslsey was rational where here husband was reckless but she often hintted at new ideas and partook in some of the dangerous new products her father couldn’t help but create. Roxanne ahd grown up with the sounds of something exploding, catching on fire and sticking to everything and had a rather interesting childhood.

Lee Jordan and all of her parents old Quidditch friends were a welcome sight and she had grown up calling them aunt and uncle. Roxanne had thrived in a very loud, happy home and wouldn't have had it any other way despite the fact that her father suffered from sad moods on occasion. She had never seen him treat her or her older brother Perce (His name was Fred but she usually preferred to call him by his middle name, Percival.) as if they were something to be ignored.

Instead, they were ridiculously spoiled and despite her mother’s protests, Roxanne knew that she could only pout and her father would buy her anything. Everyone said that she was spoiled and Roxanne knew that they were mostly teasing but it sometimes hurt that her cousins only saw her as a whiny brat.

The fact that her father had bought he a set of new Chaser gloves, expensive robes and a set of pearl eearings hadn't helped. Roxanne knew that she shouldn’t take advantage of her father that way but she couldn’t help it, some silly part of her thought he would fade away if she wasn't there.

It made Roxanne feel childish and small, even though she was currently fifteen years old and going back to Hogwarts to start her dreaded OWLs. Still not here, Roxanne mused as she thought of Benjamin Malfoy, the friend that had vanished the year before without the slightest inkling that she might care.

A pang spread in Roxanne's chest as she wondered why he had abandoned her, she hadn't been able to really accept it. Her eyes threatened to sting but she refused to cry anymore when Benjamin had made it clear that he didn't care about her before he had left, crushing her so effortlessly that she had felt broken.

He's probably not coming back, Roxanne thought sadly.

Roxanne sighed and pushed the image of Benjamin Malfoy from her mind, knowing that it had been almost impossible those first few days after he was gone. When would she see him again anyway? It had already been an entire year and there were only a few days left before she would be heading back to Hogwarts. Benjamin should have been back by now but she doubted that he would have told her.

The new year would bring fresh experiences and Roxanne was excited to get back on the Quidditch pitch. She hadn't been on her broom all summer and it would be great to feel a rush of pure ectasy go down her spine as she crushed her opponents but the feeling faded as she realized that she might actually be spending way too much time in the library this year.

Roxanne stifled an agonized groan, luck was usually on her side and she had made it all the way to her fifth year without having to stay behind. Her friends, Georgia and Leanne Wood hadn't been so fortunate. They were the only daughters of the famous Oliver Wood, who made the best broomsticks in the whole world.

Their mother, Katie Wood constantly nagged at the twins for not taking their studies more seriously. The pair always responded with lazy replies, though that sort of talk had gotten them pushed back to their seventh year again. “You won't be able to laugh when you're on the streets!” Aunt Katie always roared.

Roxanne was still debating about how she was going to survive the next few months with OWLs looming over her head when she felt a tap on her shoulder. Turning, she saw that it was her brother smiling down at her.

Fred Weasley II had deep brown skin and short, wavy hair that curled against his skin like dark silk. Roxanne had always thought he strongly resembled their father but there wasn't an ounce of him that really believed it, “Everyone’s gone back to the tent, you don’t want to stay out here all night do you?” he asked with a teasing grin.

“How long have I been standing here spacing out?” Roxanne asked, worried.

“I'd say fifty years but that would be an exaggeration.” Perce laughed, showing off a deep dimple in his right cheek.

Roxanne hadn’t even noticed that everyone else had turned around, going down sloping green hills towards the gilded gold tent in the background. They were celebrating their grandparent’s anniversary and she had been so lost in her thoughts that she hadn't even noticed that she was alone, “Maybe it’ll keep me from having to go back to school.” She said with a frown and her brother laughed.

Perce was on his last year at Hogwarts of course and was by far much smarter than she was, saying that the longer he stayed in school the more corrupted he got. Success was the only option too if he wanted to go to Germany and manage the joke shop there like their father had promised (even though they’d made a bet that Perce wouldn’t survive his NEWTs, that was hardly the point).

“Worried that you won’t survive, Roxie?” her brother asked with mock concern.

Roxanne frowned, trying not to smile as he wrapped his arm around her shoulders while strap of her dress being smashed purposefully under his large hand. “Hey—you’ll get it wrinkled!” she snapped and Perce laughed before she settled comfortably underneath his arm, “and I’m not too worried about OWLs.”

The lie caused Perce's brows to raise but he said nothing and started leading her down the sloping hills towards the massive tent, which was bursting with laughter and cheery folk music. Their entire family had arrived for the anniversary and she couldn’t wait to dance with her grandfather and tease Molly Weasley for being too shy.

Perce kissed the top of her head. “You’ll be all right. Either that or you’ll just have to repeat a year like Leanne and Georgia.”

Roxanne flushed a little at the thought of slumping back to Fifth year Potions and hearing Professor Zabini announcing how much of a failure she was. If there was one class that she was actually good at, it was Potions and she would rather eat worms than be the joke of the year. “You know—if your girlfriend and her sister actually studied they wouldn’t have to worry about repeating a year.”

Perce thought about this for a moment before shrugging idly, not wanting to say anything negative about Leanne. Considering that they had grown up together, Roxanne had been surprised that they had eventually fallen for one another when she’d always thought of them as brother and sister.

“Yeah, well, miracles might actually happen this year. You never know.” Perce replied in reference to her passing OWL year. He didn't seem to have much doubt that his girlfriend would successfully sleaz through her NEWTs. Roxanne grinned up at him as they hopped over a gnome hole and finally walked into the tent, which was ablaze with lights, caterers and tables piled high with food.

Someone had conjured a shimmering dance floor and because Uncle Percy never quite stopped showing off, there was no need for anyone to worry about the price. “He really went all out.” Roxanne said in amazement. “I swear it’s gotten bigger,” she remarked to her brother.

“He’s Undersecretary to the Minster! We lowly mortals know nothing of grandeur so he has to show off.” Perce said with a laugh that collected in his chest. “Dad said that there were times when Uncle Fred couldn't stand being in the same room with him but I think he'd be pretty pleased by how this party turned out.”

Perce had been named after their late uncle and although he never said anything about it, Roxanne knew that there was a part of him that wished he didn't know him. “Look, there he is right there.” Perce whistled while pointing into the thick of the crowd where Uncle Percy and Aunt Audrey were dancing.

Roxanne had always thought that they were an unusual couple. While Uncle Percy was perhaps a bit stuffy, he was actually quite nice but Aunt Audrey was like a wild dragon and constantly threw him off balance, but her father had told her that a woman like that was just what her uncle had needed, “You know, looking at her I wouldn’t have thought that she had been a stripper.”

Aunt Audrey was short, slender and wore her long black hair piled up in an elegant knot atop her head. Her eyes sparkled with teasing mischief as she stared up at her content husband. Roxanne adored her and felt a pecuilar rush of longing before brushing it off with an uncomfortable laugh, “Auntie looks happy that Uncle Percy decided not to do something completely outrageous.”

“That's not saying much coming from Auntie.” Perce snorted.

Aunt Audrey was far from the demure wife that people would have expected their unlce to marry and Roxanne had to smile. She was Chinese as well, which had caused a bit of nasty remarks from ignorant people in the Ministry but she had a sort of strength about her that reminded Roxanne of her mother.

“Obviously you’ve never seen her dancing to different music,” Perce whispered in her ear as if they were sharing a secret. When he pulled away, he had a frightened expression on his face and she roared with laughter.

“Do you remember the dance she did for Uncle Percy's birthday?” Roxanne asked.

Perce's face paled. “I try to forget,”

Roxanne snickered and caught sight of their parents in the crowd, both of them dancing with one of their younger cousins. Their father was showing Rose Weasley the steps to the folk music while their mother was teasing Albus Potter as they maneuvered wildly around the dance floor.

“She’ll kill the kid,” Roxanne said in alarm and her brother grinned, since he enjoyed bullying Albus too much to intervene.

“Mum's a horrible dancer and Albus is too nice to say anything.” Perce said and it was true, Albus was a pretty decent kid. He would regret it later though, “not sure how he'll shape up in Hogwarts, he's got the craziest imagination.”

Roxanne shot him a suspicious glance. “I can't see why with you teasing him and saying he's going to be in Slytherin,” she retorted and Perce snorted with satisfied laughter. The thought of being in Slytherin terrified Albus but she forced herself not to mention that it had been a disappointment to her when she hadn't been placed in that infamous House so long ago.

Benjamin Malfoy's face swept through Roxanne's mind once more and she wondered if it were like some kind of bad omen. He had never replied to her owls, never once bothered to contact her while the months rolled by—how was it possible for him to still dominate her heart like this? Their friendship had been over for a while now and it wasn't healthy to dwell on it but she couldn't help but get a nagging sensation that he was thinking about her too.

“What House do you think Albus will be in?” Perce suddenly asked.

Albus and Rose would start Hogwarts next year and Roxanne had the strangest feeling it wouldn't be an easy transition for them. It was an odd sensation but she shrugged it off and replied, “I'm not sure. I don't think either of them are going to wind up in Slytherin though.”

“Five Galleons says they'll both be in Gryffindor,” Perce said smugly.

“Rose won't be a Gryffindor, I bet you ten Gallenons.” Roxanne countered.

Perce snorted. “Deal.”

“I’m going to rescue Rose. Dad is obviously trying to make her cry,” Roxanne observed as their father dipped Rose over his arm, amid her shrieks.

Perce removed his arm from her shoulders and scanned the crowd quickly until an impish smile spread across his face. “Oh, look, it's Molly.” Roxanne shot him a look. “She looks so helpless and innocent—I’m going to mess with her. I’ll see you later, Roxie.” He said, darting quickly towards a tall girl who was attempting to hide in the corner, trying not to be seen.

Roxanne rolled her eyes, not understanding why her brother liked to pick on Molly when the two of them were actually very close. Molly was unbearably shy and she supposed her brother liked to see if he could break her out of it but it usually ended up with him covered in boils or Molly not talking to him for weeks.

“You leave her alone Fred!” Aunt Hermione, who was nearby snapped once she caught sight of her brother dragging Molly onto the dance floor. Immediately he began pinching her cheeks until she yowled with pain.

Feeling a laugh bubbling into her chest, Roxanne passed through the mass of bodies and tried to get to her father but was waylaid by cousins, aunts and friends. She wound up having a lengthy conversation with Molly's younger sister Lucy, giving Teddy Lupin advice on how to scare James Potter and his sister Lily and dancing briefly with Louis Weasley.

Roxanne darted around Victoire and Dominique, Louis’s older sisters and finally made it up to her father. He was trying to bully Rose into putting a spider down her father’s shirt, “I’m sure he won’t mind, Rosie,” her father was saying evilly.

Rose blinked up at him in alarm, her brown eyes wide. “B-but why, Uncle George?”

“Because I said so—” Roxanne caught her father saying and she punched him in the arm until he glanced at her sheepishly. “I mean, just give your dad a hug for me.”

Rose smiled brightly at Roxanne before running away, appearing to be deep in thought as if she really were considering what her uncle had told her. “I can't believe you! You know you’re going to have to stop teasing the kids like that, Dad.” Roxanne nagged and he just laughed at her and brushed it off before offering her his hand.

Roxanne knew that her father and mother and half her family had fought at the Battle of Hogwarts. But as far as she knew, her parents were the only ones whose hands still shook with past trauma. It had worried her when she’d been younger, thinking that they were ill but now, she tended to accept it as something she would never be able to understand, having never faced that sort of horror.

“You’re not any fun, Roxie.” Her father said with a grin, showing off the dimple in his right cheek that he had given to her brother, “come on. Dance with me,”

Unable to refuse him, Roxanne immediately took his hand and he pulled her into his arms with an exaggerated flourish. Her mother swirled by like a blur while poor Albus Potter nearly crashed into his parents, who had been talking to Uncle Charlie and Uncle Bill.

“Sorry!” Angelina Weasley cried as Albus regained his footing and his parents stared at her with resigned expressions. “Come on, Albus, don’t be scared!” she said to the boy, who resembled his father rather strongly.

Albus was rather pale, his green eyes wide. “I can’t help but be!” he practically screamed before Roxanne’s mother swept him away, doing a few exaggerated twirls that made their movements difficult to see.

Roxanne felt deeply sorry for her younger cousin but her father was roaring with laughter. “I think your mum has had too much to drink.” He said to her in a conspiratorial whisper and she nodded in agreement. With a fond sigh, she was pulled into an easy, swaying dance, “so, beautiful girl, excited for OWLs?”

“You know I’m not!” Roxanne said in alarm as he grinned teasingly at her and she frowned, knowing when she was being made fun of. She reached up and tugged on his red hair, which had just started to grey (Much to his horror) and said meanly, “if I don’t pass OWLs, it’ll be your fault you know!”

Her father winced good naturedly before taking her hand and placing it onto his shoulder, which was clad in an outrageous blue dragon hide jacket. “How would that be my fault?” Roxanne’s eyes narrowed. “My genes aren’t that bad you know!” he cried, looking as if she had mortally wounded him.

Roxanne felt herself smiling. “You told us horror stories about OWLs and said that it didn’t even matter if we got one Outstanding!” she reminded. Both of her parents had managed to pass, though her father and his brother had left Hogwarts without even graduating, “I still don’t understand how you were able to get three.”

“Luck, Roxie. It’s all about luck,” her father said with an arrogant nod that had her laughing as he moved around the dance floor with her. She felt her curly hair bouncing around her head like a cloud and it made her feel wild and free, “you’ll do okay. You’re a good girl,”

Roxanne flushed with pleasure and embarrassment because she was, as Perce would say a true daddy’s girl to the end. “Thanks Dad,” she said and he beamed, quite pleased with himself.

His own parents were looking truly happy as well when she spotted them sitting at a long table, talking to Hagrid and a few of their other friends. Uncle Percy and Aunt Audrey swaggered towards them, her aunt making a challenging face at her father, who gawped at her, unable to believe her nerve.

“Oh, no! I am not going to be used for one of your games!” Roxanne cried upon noticing the tension.

Aunt Audrey grinned wildly at her father and said. “I bet we’ll out dance you!” in a loud voice.

Uncle Percy sighed wearily. “Not again,”

“Again,” Roxanne's father declared.

Uncle Percy rolled his eyes before noticing Roxanne and sent her smile that was warmer than sunshine. “You look wonderful, Roxanne.”

“Thanks Uncle Percy! You look okay I guess,” Roxanne replied teasingly andhe cluthced his chest dramatically. “Are you going to have a dance off?” she asked her father warily, not wanting to be in the middle of one of their games.

Her father and Aunt Audrey were eyeing one another with playful fire and she groaned as he nodded, pulling her closer. Aunt Audrey gripped her uncle's shoulder with unnecessary force. “The two of you are like big kids,” Uncle Percy said with a weary sigh.

“Whoever wins gets to mooch food for a week! And whoever loses has to take the kids for the summer.” Aunt Audrey declared, ignoring her husband. Roxanne’s father nodded just as the folk music struck up a new cord, “all summer.” Her aunt added darkly.

Her father’s eyes were wide. “Good God, you’re mad.”

But he didn’t disapprove and Roxanne and her uncle were yanked into the center of the dance floor. It was only by the grace of God that they were even alive by the end of the battle.

Although her father lost, Roxanne didn’t mind spending the remainder the summer with her favorite aunt and uncle at their massive beach house. The night felt endless and she found herself laughing along with the guests and her relatives, knowing in her heart that nothing could go wrong.


Roxanne’s feet hurt and she had eaten too much. It was nearing midnight and the party was still in full swing, her grandparent’s still awake and offering for everyone to stay the night before regretting it when her parents decided that they would, indeed bother them until tomorrow morning.

Perce was still in the tent, chasing Molly Weasley around with a fake rat the last she’d seen them. Albus had been running away from Teddy Lupin, his brother and Lucy, who had all been intent on making him cry.

Stretching her hands up to the starry sky, Roxanne was thankful that she had decided to sneak away to get a little privacy for herself. She loved her family dearly but they could be a little overwhelming at times and she tiredly made her way towards her grandfather’s shed full of Muggle things.

It would be cramped and smelly but it would be a reprieve from her family and she could play around with some of her grandfather's favorite toys. Roxanne idly wondered if that old model airplane was still tucked away right as one of her feet became stuck in a gnome hole.

“Nope. I don't think so, Satan.” Roxanne snarled before yanking it out, fearing that she’d gotten mud all over her shoe.

Unable to see it despite the star and moonlight raining down over the area, she fumed for a second before continuing on her way. Roxanne scowled and winced as she felt one of her ankles throbbing, her feet were pounding from her father yanking and dragging her around for nearly half an hour.

Yawning loudly, she saw the somehow haunting outline of the shedand sighed with relief, knowing that the door would be unlocked. Her grandfather often experimented with toys and other junk when Grandma Molly wasn't around and Roxanne smiled as she wondered what he had stored inside. After nearly tripping over several pairs of old Wellington boots and kicking at a gnome that tried to gnaw on her calf, she made it to the door and lazily tried the knob.

Oddly, it felt as if it had been broken open but she wondered if her grandmother had done it herself to get rid of some of her husband’s junk. Roxanne grinned at the silly image that popped up in her head before pushing it open and calling out into the darkness, “Hullo?” and when no one answered, she stepped inside.

The scent of old parchment and dust lingered in the air and Roxanne rubbed irritably at a spiderweb that landed on her nose. There was no telling what was actually in here and she doubted if her grandfather had cleaned the place in years, “Anyone here?” Roxanne tried again.


Roxanne couldn't help but feel that she was being watched and she rubbed her bare arms anxiously. Towering book shelves, crates and various hanging objects nearly caused her death but she eventually found a light switch and for a moment the room was flooded with yellow, hazing light. “Merlin, it's even worse than I thought.” She murmured while her eyes scanned around.

The shed appeared small upon first glance but was massive on the inside and it had been quite some time since Roxanne had been inside. Her mouth dropped in astonishment as it became clear that her grandfather was becoming quite the hoarder, she spotted tall book shelves flooded with old novels, microwaves, batteries and plugs that were nearly tipping towards her with a fond smile.

“Grandma Molly isn't going to be happy about this,” Roxanne muttered just as a her eyes caught movement from a tall, dark shape in the far corner of the room. A surprised shout was torn from her throat before she snarled irritably, “Teddy Lupin if this is some kind of prank, I will punch you in your throat.”


“Who’s there?” Roxanne demanded angrily, wondering dully if it were a drunk guest that had gotten lost. “The party is in the tent, I could show you—” the figure moved and there was a flick of movement before she saw that it was a very tall, very big man and she felt something like fear go through her. “Who are you?!”

The person said nothing; just moved and shoved his way around boxes and she saw one of her grandfather’s prized toaster ovens fall down with a resounding crash. “What is all this shit anyway?” the person asked in a deep voice that sounded familiar and not quite a mystery.

“You're gonna buy my Grandpa another toaster oven, asshole.” Roxanne snapped.

“What the hell is a toaster oven?” the shadow asked, baffled.

“Do you want me to get my parents?” Roxanne demanded furiously, her heart pounding even though she was trying to be brave. There was very little that she could do against a full grown man...was he a former Death Eater bent on revenge that had someone gotten past all the wards? It was a possibility, there were still people out there that hated Uncle Harry and her family and had nothing better to do.

“Stop right there you bastard!” Roxanne cried when the figure made a movement towards her, his features distorted as he suddenly, purposefully retrieved his wand from the inside his jacket.

The bulb above her head exploded with shards of glass and Roxanne cried out in surprise, as the figure took deliberate steps towards her. Frightened, she crashed into the back of a table laden with various tools and cursed, “I don't know who you are but if you touch me, I swear—”

Damn, Weasley. Don’t you remember me?” the figure asked gently, menacingly and she felt her eyes widening as he reached out, one large hand cupping her chin. “I'm back.”

That touch…it had been an entire year. Roxanne’s mouth was dry as she muttered his name, somehow knowing that it was true, but couldn’t be— “Benjamin Malfoy?” and his laughter was both damning and pleased and she knew that everything was about to go wrong with that one, dark sound.



Chapter 2: Yes and No
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A/N: Hello! I know, I said I'd post something up for Albus Potter and the Dark Lord's Prince but I have only half a chapter for it, so forgive me! D': Here is the second chapter to this new story and please enjoy and go easy on me....

It had been a long time.

Roxanne felt a shudder going over her skin as the rough pad of his thumb caressed the soft line of her jaw, almost as if she were too precious. She had to close her eyes against the sudden sting of emotion, it seemed like all of her emotions were on overdrive and her throat felt tight.

After an entire year, Benjamin Malfoy had come back home and Roxanne couldn't string two words together. There was only heat and sound...memories twisting up inside of her mind until nothing at all made sense. Instead of hating him for how he had ruined their fragile friendship, her heart decided to dance in a rhythm that she barely recognized—or hadn’t since he had left.

Although Draco Malfoy was still treated like a monster, he was one of the kindest people that Roxanne had ever met. As a young girl, there had only been a few times that she had met Mr. Malfoy and each time that he had come to her father’s joke shop, he had brought a reluctant Benjamin with him.

What are you gawking at?” Benjamin hissed at her and Roxanne jumped nearly three feet in the air.

The stack of Fever Fudge that Roxanne had been hiding behind clattered noisily but the customers roaming about hardly noticed her mishap. “U-uhm,” Roxanne said nervously as she met a pair of odd colored eyes that were narrowed on her flushed cheeks. “I just…”

Just what?” Benjamin snapped as he lowered the bag of Canary Creams that he’d been considering back onto their brightly colored shelf. “Thought you could catch me doing something evil?” his voice was shrewd.

Roxanne swallowed roughly, he was taller than she was and bigger than her brother but she had never heard him talk before. She had always been fascinated by this strange little boy and couldn't quite put the feeling into words, “N-no...”

I'm not going to steal anything,” Benjamin snapped, frowning.

Roxanne was only ten years old but she knew what it was like for people to think that she was a thief. Benjamin looked like he understood that as well and for one moment she had the strangest feeling that he was lonely, “N-no… I just…” Roxanne swallowed, “wanted to say hi.”

Benjamin quirked a brow. “From all the way over there? You look like a pervert.”

Roxanne frowned and stomped over ot him.“I’m not a pervert!”

So why’d you hide instead of saying hi?” Benjamin demanded suspiciously.

Roxanne snapped. “Shut up! I got nervous!”

Why were you hiding from me?” Benjamin demanded, annoyed.

Roxanne had always wanted to talk to him but she had been intimidated by his constant frowns and grumpy attitude. It ahd taken all of her courage just to approach him once he was alone but she had chickened out at the last second and hid instead, “You look so mean!”

I-I'm not trying to be—it's just how my face is!” Benjamin defended.

You should smile more.” Roxanne huffed.

Who are you anyway?” Benjamin demanded rudely.

Roxanne blinked in surprise. “I'm Roxanne,”

You live around here?” Benjamin asked curiously.

Roxanne nodded. “I live upstairs. This is my dad’s shop.”

Benjamin eyed her stupidly. “You mean George Weasley’s your dad?” she flinched as he ran his eyes over her brown skin, her curly dark hair and her eyes, which were so brown they hid her pupils. “Oh. I heard there was a sexy black lady that lived here. That’s your mum, huh?”

Yes,” Roxanne replied happily.

Benjamin nearly smiled. “No wonder you're so friendly,”

Roxanne became encouraged and approached him shyly, noticing that his body tensed as if she meant to hurt him. It was clear that he had had his share of bad experiences and it was painful that she understood, “My names Roxanne Katie Weasley, it's really nice to meet you.” She said softly while offering her hand.

Uncle Percy had told her once that a handshake was a very good friendship but with the way Benjamin was looking at her hand, it might as well have been an insult. Roxanne felt silly and made an attempt to draw back and was stunned when Benjamin said, “It's nice to meet you too.” He clasped her hand briefly in his own. “I'm Benjamin Frederick Malfoy.”

Roxanne felt a burst of triumph and she smiled at him before considering his name for a minute. “That's weird, my uncle’s name was Fred. He was my dad’s twin—it’s funny that you’ve got his name,” she said with a little smile before letting it fall from the look he was giving her.

A curious expression flashed over Benjamin's face and Roxanne sensed that there were a few things that he was unwilling to speak about. He shifted his eyes away, “It’s not funny, okay? I don’t want anything to do with you stinking Weasley’s.”

That’s not very nice of yo—”

Well, no one’s been nice to me.”

“I’m being nice to you!”

What for?” Benjamin’s voice was laced with dislike and suspicion.

Roxanne was unable to truly put her feelings into words and she toyed with the loose lock of her curly hair nervously. “You always look so sad and it's what friend’s do, that’s what my mum says anyway. I've always wanted to talk to you,”

Benjamin narrowed his eyes on her but something in his expression relaxed. “You must be stupid Weasley if you want to be my friend.” Roxanne shrugged and he laughed a little, considering her. “Just because you’re being nice to me and I’m talking to you doesn’t make me your friend. Got that?”

Roxanne smiled widely. “Okay.”

That caused Benjamin to flush and he opened his mouth to say something to that but just then a long, dark shadow fell over them. Mr. Malfoy had found them and he appeared to have bought quite a bit of merchandise, judging from the bags in his hands, “There you are. I thought you’d walked off,” he said to his son, who grumbled in annoyance, flushing even deeper.

Roxanne stared up at him curiously. He was pale all over with silvery blonde hair that was slicked back importantly and his eyes were a cool grey but it was the fact that he seemed to be really unhappy that caught her attention, “I was talking to him, sir.” She said.

Mr. Malfoy gave her a soft smile and she beamed under such attention, knowing that her own father would be very proud of her for being so polite. “What a nice little girl you are. You’re Roxanne Weasley, right?” she nodded and he sent his son a sidelong glance that made Benjamin pale. “You weren’t being rude to her were you?”

Benjamin spluttered. “No! She was the one staring at me being all dopey and cu—I mean, no.” He said hastily while Roxanne grinned at him. His father regarded him curiously before letting it slide and reaching out to pat him on the head, which only humiliated him more, “aw Dad—not in front of the enemy!”

They’re not the enemy and it’s time to go.” Mr. Malfoy said sternly before glancing at Roxanne again and giving her a welcoming smile. “Feel free to talk to him again. I haven’t seen him this happy in a long time.” And with that, he swept away, black robes rustling and after a slight hesitation, his son gave her a nod.

Roxanne waved him away as he started to turn. “Bye! Let’s play Exploding Snap next time!” and Benjamin’s face turned slack with something that looked really mean before he turned bright red.

Stupid,” Benjamin snapped but he nodded covertly, ignored his father’s teasing smile and stomped out of the shop. Roxanne felt proud of herself then for overcoming her fear and talking to him and making her very own friend but now—

“You’re not going to faint or something are you?” Benjamin asked her just then and she snapped herself out of her thoughts, blushing deeply. Wariness settled after a moment as his thumb danced playfully over her lower lip and she turned her face away, “did I scare you that bad?”

Roxanne thought that was an understatement to how he was making her feel and she tried to gather her thoughts and churning emotions. “W...what are you doing here, Ben?” she demanded, finally forcing the question out as she turned her face back to his, though she couldn’t see it due to the darkness.

Benjamin seemed to want a closer look at her because there was a faint click, followed by an eerie, grey light that made her eyes hurt. His wand was raised carelessly over her face in his free hand and she was confronted with the first real sight of him that didn’t involve his face being thrust into shadows—

“You still look like a dopey little lump, Weasley.” Benjamin teased.

Roxanne spluttered angrily at the insult and she glared at him for his nerve. He looked as hauntingly attractive as the last time that she had seen him but she couldn’t quite recall the thin scar that was etched into his right eyebrow. “I-I do not! You are such a prick, I’ve grown up!”

“I can tell,” Benjamin whispered and his voice had changed as well, it was still deep but possessed what she would have thought a devil might sound like. “You’ve grown at least three inches since I saw you last.”

Told you,” Roxanne said smugly.

Benjamin's eyes ran over her slowly. “...I barely recognize you.”

Roxanne heard something bizarre in his voice and she suddenly felt uncomfortable in her modest gown. “A lot of things have changed, you know!” Roxanne snapped as he opened his mouth to say something more, revealing shiny white teeth in the darkness. “Ben, what the hell are you doing here? You weren’t invited!”

Benjamin took a moment to answer as he surveyed her curiously with his wand, the light going over her softly but making her squirm. “Obviously, sweet. Actually, I came all the way here to see you.” He was still caressing her jaw and she found it hard to concentrate, “it’s been a long time since you’ve hissed at me.”

Roxanne flushed at the reminder of how their friendship had ended last year and glared at him. Her irritation dampened her fear, interest and happiness to see him, “You know what you said Benjamin—would you stop that?” she snapped as he stroked the corner of her mouth until her lips became pliant and pouty, “what do you want? I’m not going to ask again.”

The gentle touch on her skin was withdrawn for the moment and he ignored her question, raising his wand and looking around. Roxanne recalled that she’d backed up against a table, her legs aching as the metal pressed into her skin, “What is this place anyway? A museum?” Benjamin asked curiously.

“It’s my granddad’s shed. He collects Muggle things,” Roxanne explained impatiently and Benjamin whistled under his breath, turning his head a little. She saw something shift against his neck and shrieked, “What’s that thing on you?!”

Benjamin burst out laughing and flashed his wand to his shoulder, where a thick braid of black hair hung lazily. He had grown out his long hair to the point where he needed it tied back, “You are such a wimp.” Roxanne glared at him, her heart slowing down. “You like my hair?”

Roxanne recalled that he had been dedicated to growing out the inky black locks the last time they were at Hogwarts, remembering that he had let her run her fingers through it on the grounds while they’d lounged on the Black Lake. The memories brought a hazy flush to her cheeks and she was aware of how much she had actually missed him and the silky strands underneath her fingertips.

“My mum hates it.” Benjamin said with a wry chuckle.

“I dunno, its different I guess.” Roxane muttered.

“I think it makes me look awfully dashing.” Benjamin said with a purr and she blushed so red that he probably could have seen her without his wand. His eyes glowed with impsih delight and she met his stare with a reluctant grin, recognizing the blue-brown hue of his eyes just as she would have her own, “lots of girls seem to like it.”

“And? I’m not one of those stupid girls—”


Roxanne heaved a weary sigh even though her chest was pounding so fiercely that there was a chance her heart might burst. He was still so close to her and she inhaled his scent, the warmth of his body making her head spin, “You're still a prat.” Her voice was nothing more than a mumble.

Benjamin shifted until she felt as if he had swallowed her entire being. Roxanne almost went light headed from the heat of his body, “What do you think you're—Benjamin!” she cried embarrassingly as he bent his head and pressed his lips to her ear, “I don't know if you've noticed but I'm not happy to—”

“I came all this way to see you and this is how I’m treated? You have no idea how long it took me to get through those fucking wards over this place.” Benjamin said with a pout in his voice and his breath washed over and she let out a shuddery sigh, “I just got back not too long ago. Don’t you want to know how my trip to Italy went?”

The last that she had heard, he and his father had decided to move to Italy for a while until some sort of scandal had died down. It had been around that time that their friendship had ended and she hadn’t even heard from him when he’d left—he’d completely ignored her anxious owls.

Roxanne, despite herself had been willing to forgive him if he would just talk to her but he'd never contacted her and she’d left it alone. But she’d often wondered… “You didn’t have to do this. You could have sent me an owl at my place.”

“Yeah, but that’s not nearly as dramatic.” Benjamin snorted, lips on her throat and she pushed at his chest a little, overwhelmed. “I was going to go into that stupid tent but I thought I’d wait in here for a while until the party died down a little and then corner you.”

“My parents would have hexed you!”


Roxanne groaned and he bit down on the skin of her throat in response and she nearly shot out of her shoes. It was so hard to breathe, “B-Ben, you just can’t do whatever you want! Don’t you care about the consequences?!”

Benjamin snorted derisively, his voice like carved steel. “No. Of course I don’t,” he said and she could have kicked him if she’d been able to move properly. “Who would I be if I did?” Roxanne fumed at his nerve but found it suspicious that he had been able to break down the wards to the Burrow so easily.

She felt something uneasy go over her skin, which only caused him to smile. The sight caused her chest to tighten with longing, he had such a nice smile but rarely showed it to anyone, “What?” she asked.

Benjamin continued to smile, assuring her smugly. “I didn’t bribe someone so I could get in, all right? The wards weren’t that strong after a while. It was just a pain in the ass.”

“That’s not true. My Aunt Hermione and Uncle Harry put up those wards themselves and they know a thing or two about protective spells, Benjamin.” Roxanne stated fiercely and he pulled back to stare into her face, as if he found this highly irritating and she pushed at his chest.

“What are they so afraid of anyway?” Benjamin asked idly. “Not like anyone would ever want to hurt the mighty Weasley's and Potters,” he said with an exaggerated sigh.

Roxanne gritted her teeth and said furiously, still pushing at his chest. “No one is taking the risk of something bad happening—not like when my Uncle Bill and Aunt Fleur got married.”

Benjamin rolled his eyes heavenward, she sensed that he found this to be a waste of his time. “They’re not nearly as strong as you think they are, Weasley if I was able to break through them.” Roxanne glowered at his nerve and opened her mouth to cut him down a bit but he went on, “I'll admit that it took awhile but as much as everyone hates me, they can’t say that I’m stupid.”

Roxanne inhaled, annoyance spiking a little at this truth. Despite all the bullying that he had been subjected to in Hogwarts, Benjamin had proven time and again that he was nearly too smart for his own good and had gotten an Outstanding in nearly every class during his OWL year, “So you did break in?”

“Proud of me? See how much I want to see you?” Benjamin asked with a grin and she sighed a little, wondering what he was really up to but feeling her heart nearly exploding with the thought that he had done all of this to be with her. “Thought we’d get a chance to talk,”

“Talk? Oh, about how you were a big fat prick and didn’t even owl me when you and your dad were gone? Or, when you said all of those nasty things about me behind my back?” Roxanne snarled. She pushed at his chest again but he caught her wrists in a powerfully gentle grip and her eyes widened in alarm.

Benjamin could snap her wrists if he wanted to but Roxanne knew that he would never in his life hurt her. “Can’t you forget it, Weasley? It was ages ago and I take it all back.” He whispered and Roxanne snorted. “I never apologize for anything, so what? I thought about you while I was away you know.”

Roxanne felt her heart threatening to crush her but wasn't mature enough to consider that he was telling the truth. “Yeah, I’m sure you remembered this stupid, immature loser that you couldn’t get away from fast enough.” She snapped; hurling his words back at him from that day and he made a sound similar to a growl. “W-what makes you think that I want to talk to you anyway?”

“Trying to say you haven’t missed me, Weasley? You can do a lot better than that you know.” Benjamin said with a frown and Roxanne glared up at him, hating that he appeared so calm. “I’m not going to get my guts ripped out in this smelly place.”

There were a few sounds from outside just then and Roxanne wondered if someone were going to come in or had heard them talking. “Then I’ll do it tomorrow all right?” she spat and his cocky grin nearly had her kneeing him in the groin, “just come by the joke shop. You know where it is!”

Benjamin made a nasty sound, not wanting to be anywhere near her family and she rolled her eyes a little before he requested. “Come over to my place with me tonight.”

“I couldn’t—”

“Come on, it’s been ages since you’ve been there. Since I’ve snuck you in anyway,” Benjamin corrected cheekily and Roxanne recalled various instances of being dragged into the Manor, both of them feeling rather pleased with themselves. “Don’t you want to know how I’ve been?” his voice lowered into a whine.

Roxanne frowned. “That's not going to work on me this time!”

Benjamin continued to pout, looking as if he might cry and she had to stop herself from cooing. She hated it when he did that! “Pretty please? Lie to your parents and come away for just a sec. We’ll talk and…”


Roxanne thought feverishly but before she could say anything, there was the sound of the shed door opening and her cousin Dom-Dom’s voice. “R-Roxie? Your m-mum wanted me t-to tell you that its t-time to go home.”

Benjamin stiffened but Roxanne blew out a sigh of nervous relief at the sound of her older cousin’s stutter. “All right! How’d you find me?” she called back and her captor shot her a venomous look.

“Figured you’d w-want to get some air after that d-dance.” Dom-Dom answered simply and Roxanne almost hid her smile but her cousin’s next words brought on a dose of fear. “Can I c-come in? I thought I heard v-voices,”

Roxanne felt a cold sweat go down her back. Benjamin started to smile and she shot him a warning glance but he said loudly. “It's only me, her best friend from Italy!” and there was a gasp from outside, followed by Dom-Dom shoving the door open with a bit more force than was necessary and stumbling inside.

Roxanne surveyed her cousin, noticing her features from the wand light that Benjamin cast at her and she saw a pair of big blue eyes widen. “It’s not what you think!” she found herself crying but with the way Benjamin was leaning over her it would be hard to believe.

Dom-Dom made an embarrassed sound and the loose bun she wore made her silver hair glow like an angel's halo. She was taller than her older sister and although she was very cute, Victoire in comparison had inherited the best characteristics from their parents but no amount of humility.

Roxanne often understood that Dom-Dom felt underrated when standing near her sister and it had made her very much a loner. “Y-you’re th-that M-Malfoy b-boy aren’t y-you?” Dom-Dom finally asked Benjamin with anger, squinting.

“I sure am whichever Weasley you are.” Benjamin responded lazily and Roxanne could have punched him for saying something like that to her cousin, who was insecure enough as it was. “Mind leaving us alone?”

Dom-Dom surprised Roxanne by saying coldly. “No.”

Roxanne pushed at Benjamin with a bit more force and he finally stepped back so that she could slip away from him. Every inch of her was heated from where their bodies had touched, “You need to leave.” She hisse and he merely stared at her in amusement.

“Hear me out first and then maybe I’ll leave like a good little boy.” Benjamin whispered conspiratorially and Dom-Dom made a nasty sound underneath her breath, stepping closer to Roxanne. Benjamin shot her a glance,“relax whomever you are, I’m not going to eat her.”


That was the word that was unsaid and Roxanne slid a glance at Dom-Dom to see if she had sensed it as well but her eyes were narrowed on Benjamin. None of her cousins had ever liked him and they had never seen why she had spent so much time with him—it didn’t simply have to do with his last name.

There was something predatory about Benjamin and Roxanne now admitted that she had never felt afraid of him before. “I’m g-getting Uncle Harry and your d-dad,” Dom-Dom said with a determined frown.

Before Roxanne could say anything that might difuse the tense situation, Dom-Dom had already turned away, the door shutting behind her with a faint click. Roxanne knew that her cousin expected her to follow but she stayed put and eyed Benjamin with a mixture of exasperation and need, “You just made a mess out of everything.”

“I wasn't trying to but there's just something so funny about the way your cousins act, it's impossible not to act like the boogey man.” Benjamin replied with a chuckle that made it hard not to smile. “I've tried talking to them, I've tried wearing cologne so I don't smell as if I've just bathed in the souls of the damned but they're still afraid of me.”

Roxanne ran her eyes over his imposing frame. “You are pretty intimidating,”

Benjamin's voice turned soft. “I've never scared you, though.”

“You're nothing to be afraid of.” Roxanne said dryly.

“Are you sure about that?” Benjamin asked devilishly.

Roxanne shivered faintly. “O..of course I'm sure!”

There was something about him now that was different and Roxanne couldn't quite put it into words. A coldness had entered where there had once been warmth and she wondered what had happened to change him, “You've never hesitated to run off with me before for any of our pranks. Why is tonight any different?” Benjamin asked her curiously. “I came all the way to see you.”

“I didn't ask you to.” Roxanne said sharply.

“But you wanted me to.” Benjamin remarked calmly.

It was the truth.

Roxanne hated him for understanding her but he would never know just how terrible the past year had been for her. She had missed him so much that it had physically hurt and there were too many grim days to count, “You could have sent me an owl or just stopped by the shop like a normal person.” Benjamin raised his brows. “I haven't seen you in a long time but I guess I can—”

“Come to my place?” Benjamin interrupted gently, his eyes caressing every inch of her in a way that made her feel indecently pleased. Roxanne swallowed roughly and sensed that the decision might not be the best one but she had missed him so much...seeing him in the depths of her dreams wasn't the same as in person. Roxanne succumbed with a faint nod, wondering why she couldn’t tell him no.




Chapter 3: Stealth and Lies
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A/N: Hello everyone! Thanks for coming back and reading! I'm trying really hard on this story so bear with me, you'll get answers and such eventually....>:D Much love and thanks again!

With her heart pounding, Roxanne turned her back on Benjamin but she could feel the heat of his gaze going over her neck and slowly down, as if he were touching her with indecent expectation. Flushing, she said sternly, surprised by how much her voice wasn’t shaking. “I’ll come with you but you have to wait a while until I can sneak out.”

“How long?” Benjamin asked her softly, quietly and his voice slithered and coiled around her until she thought that she wasn’t able to breathe. “Are you going to still be here?” he asked, perhaps thinking that she was going to sleaze away out of her flat and meet him somewhere in Diagon Alley, like she had so many other times before.

Roxanne turned slightly to look at him, unnerved that he had moved so close to her without her hearing his footsteps. For someone so big, he moved like a cat and it was an unwelcome experience, even though she should have been used to it by now, when he had always found it upon himself to sneak up on her and scare her when they’d been at Hogwarts.  “I’m staying the night with my grandparents. I’ll sneak out after everyone is asleep and meet you back out here but you have to make sure no one sees you!” she snapped.

Benjamin considered this for a moment or two, as if he were highly amused. He probably was when he despised so many of her cousins for personal reasons that he had never quite shared with her and after a moment he ran his tongue slowly over his lower lip and her eyes flicked to the movement against her own will, “Weasley, are you trying to tell me you don’t think I can do a simple Disillusionment Charm?”

“Don’t talk to me like I’m stupid. I didn’t know you could,” Roxanne bit out sharply and his eyebrows shot up in mock surprise. There was no telling what was on his mind and that worried her a little and she thought for a second more on whether or not she should go with him tonight…after all, it had been a whole year since she had seen him and the last time she had, they hadn’t been on good terms. But— “If you’d have sent me an owl or two while you’d been away I probably would be happier to see you.”

Benjamin barked a laugh and it sounded rueful and annoyed. He moved towards her a little bit more and she took a step back, warily eyeing him as if he were a snake, “Don’t be scared, Weasley. I’m not the horrible person everyone says I am you know.”

“Ben, sarcasm doesn’t suit anyone.” Roxanne said dryly. That caused him to burst out laughing and she flushed annoyingly, “I have to catch up with my cousin all right? Go somewhere and hide for a while. Don’t come back to the shed, Dom-Dom might bring someone over here,” she warned but Benjamin seemed oblivious to this concern and ran his eyes down her form for a moment before giving her a soft, disarming smile. She almost forgot what she’d meant to say but worked around it firmly, hating how he could make her do that, “It’ll be a minute but don’t leave without me.”

At that, he reached out and touched a stray strand of her curly hair and she scowled. It seemed to please him though because he said gently, “When have I ever left without you when I wanted to see you?” he asked and Roxanne opened her mouth to say something to that but he had never abandoned her. It had only been recently that he’d stopped talking to her, “relax, Weasley. You should probably go after that stuttering cousin of yours.”

“Don’t make fun of Dom-Dom.” Roxanne warned sharply, smacking his hand away with more force than she’d thought capable of and he rolled his eyes, finding this overdramatic. “She’s a nice girl and you’re just…” she thought about it and he raised his brows, which were as black as the rest of his hair, so black that it reminded her of midnight, “There isn’t even a word for what you are.”

Benjamin laughed of course and she shot him a dirty look before gathering herself and leaving the shed, his light footprints swallowing her own. The tent was still glowing with light and even from here, Roxanne could hear music and happy laughter and for a moment she envied them, wishing that she could go and join her family once again but it was impossible.

With her strange friend hovering around the grounds of the Burrow, she wouldn’t be able to pretend around her family, they knew her a bit too well, especially Molly and her brother, “I’ll be around Weasley.” The sound of his voice so close to her ear caused her to jump but when she turned around, he wasn’t there.

He’d melted easily into the darkness.

Unsettled, Roxanne looked around frantically for a sign of Dom-Dom and caught a figure walking determinedly down a hill, halfway to the tent and she cursed fluently before chasing after her, her heart hammering a little with each step. “Dom-Dom, wait!”

Her younger cousin turned her head at the sound of her voice and halted, though she looked rather annoyed when Roxanne gripped her upper arm. “Wh-what i-is it R-Roxie?” she asked calmly, her big blue eyes going over her face, “d-did th-that M-Malfoy boy h-hurt y-you?”

“No, of course not,” Roxanne said defensively and her cousin narrowed her eyes a little, looking around the dark grass for some sign of Benjamin. She had no idea where he had gone but that wasn’t the issue right now, “I don’t want you to tell my dad or Uncle Harry that he was here, all right?”

“W-why? H-he’s not s-supposed t-to b-be.” Dom-Dom said with severe dislike and Roxanne wondered if there were few people her cousin did like and she could barely think of any. She was a loner and there was usually nothing that got her to talking to strangers, if at all, “I-I d-don’t l-like h-him.”

Roxanne swallowed hard and slowly released her cousin’s thin arm and watched as she ran her fingers down her dress for something to do. “No one does but he’s my friend and I’ll handle it.” She knew she sounded as if she were in control of the situation but in truth, there was nothing about Benjamin that she could handle, he was like a force of nature.

“H-he f-freaks m-me out,” Dom-Dom said to her and Roxanne was surprised by this admission and she watched her cousin gnawing on her lower lip for a second. “I-I d-don’t l-like t-the w-way he l-looks at y-you.” Roxanne didn’t really like it either but her skin warmed as if trying to mock her, “h-he’s l-like a-a n-nasty c-cat and y-you’re th-the m-mouse.”

Roxanne knew that her cousin was right and she couldn’t remember a time when she hadn’t felt like that around Benjamin herself. But some part of her didn’t want him to ever leave her and she closed her eyes sharply against the thought that he had already, without a care for her, “I know he’s sort of…”

When she faltered for words, Dom-Dom supplied them for her. “C-creepy,” Roxanne laughed. “Y-you’re n-not g-going a-anywhere w-with h-him a-are y-you?” she asked with a frown, “y-you sh-should b-be m-more c-careful R-Roxie.”

A bit annoyed by the words and thinking that she could, at least, take care of herself; Roxanne frowned a little and Dom-Dom eyed her warily. “I’m just going to tell him to go home but you don’t need to tell my dad or Uncle Harry about it. They’ll just make a big fuss over nothing, I mean, my dad knows Benjamin, he’s been coming to the shop for years.” But he’d never liked him much either, having said, on one occasion that he’d sort of freaked him out.

“S-so? H-he’s a p-prat and I-I t-think h-he’s s-sneaky,” Dom-Dom said tightly and Roxanne thought that she was being awfully observant and sort of hated it even while she knew the words were true. Some silly part of her wanted to defend Benjamin because he had his moments of being extremely kind and on some days at Hogwarts he’d even been as sensitive as any other kid but no one else saw that but her. “A-are y-you s-sure y-you c-can h-handle th-this?”

Roxanne nodded firmly. “I’ll get rid of him. He just came to see me, but I’ll make him send an owl.” Dom-Dom looked worried, annoyed and doubtful all at once and she didn’t blame her. Could she hear her heart hammering at the thought of seeing Benjamin again? It was a guilty sensation and she didn’t precisely welcome it, even as her cheeks flamed, “let’s go back to the party and I’ll find my mom and dance with you before we go inside.”

“Y-your m-mum t-told m-me t-to t-tell y-you th-that y-you’re g-going h-home t-to g-get some cl-clothes,” Dom-Dom explained and Roxanne felt a smile creeping up because they were, in fact going to bother her grandparents for a while longer. Breakfast tomorrow would be interesting and she wasn’t sure how much of her parents they could stand but considering that their Gran had raised her father and Uncle Fred, anything could be tolerated. “I-I w-wish I-I c-could st-stay too.”

“Why don’t you?” Roxanne asked as they neared the tent.

Dom-Dom frowned a little. “T-Toire h-has t-to g-get u-up e-early f-for a b-ballet a-audition.” Her older sister took lessons and was hoping from what Roxanne knew to join a company after she left Hogwarts, “I-I d-don’t e-even w-want t-to g-go.”

“Maybe after its over you can come back over here or you can come with me to Uncle Percy’s to see Molly and Lucy.” Roxanne offered softly and her cousin nodded eagerly. Somehow, Lucy and Dom-Dom got along very well while she and Molly usually talked or went swimming in the ocean, which was where her parents’ cottage was, only a few miles from Uncle Bill and Aunt Fleur’s.

While they walked though, Roxanne felt a shudder going down her back and she instinctively turned around only to meet a blank, dark landscape. A chill went over her skin and she knew, without staring for too long into the darkness that Benjamin had followed and stood apart from them, somewhere on the grounds and his gaze was like a white hot brand on her skin. Eventually, she turned around but his gaze fastened on her heatedly until a pulse of excitement thrummed in her chest, dancing to its own rhythm.


Roxanne’s heart was still pounding.

It had been an hour or so since her parents had taken them home and they’d gotten some extra clothes and items before going back to the Burrow and by then, the tent had been taken apart and the music had faded into her memory like a pleasant echo.

Her grandparent’s house was finally quiet and she had waited until her parents had stopped playing Gobstones down the hall before slipping out of her pajamas and putting on some fresh clothes in the bathroom.

She was supposed to be staying in Aunt Ginny’s old room while her brother stayed in Uncle Ron’s (She had a feeling that he just wanted to send letters to Leanne) and she didn’t think anyone would bother her.

Roxanne didn’t wake up until noon on most days and her parents had decided that they would stay until late in the afternoon instead of leaving in the morning so they all could go visit Uncle Percy and Aunt Audrey. The weather was still very warm and she was anticipating going into the ocean for a nice swim but currently she peeked out of the bathroom door with her pajamas in her arms and angled her head.

Someone was snoring loudly and she giggled a little, knowing that it had to be her grandfather and slipped out, her feet heavier than usual because of the boots she was wearing.

Hoping that no one would hear her or get up for a late morning snack, Roxanne hastily walked back to Aunt Ginny’s room, opened the door and crossed to the bed, where she lumped her covered and pillows up. It wasn’t the stealthiest way to trick her family but she didn’t think that she would be over at Benjamin’s long, not when it was already early morning and she supposed that her makeshift puppet would have to do.

After shrugging into a pink jacket and zipping it up, Roxanne walked over to a mirror and checked her appearance for any flaws. After a moment she found only her bright eyed expression and her smooth brown skin staring back.

Bashfully, she hoped that Benjamin would notice how much she had grown and she ran her hands over her stomach, wishing that she could be as rail thin as Victoire and Molly but doubting that her love of sweets would allow for it. The tank top, mini skirt and tights made the most out of her figure and she thanked the lord that she played Quidditch so regularly while briefly looking at her butt and deciding that it couldn’t get any bigger.

With a sigh, she trooped towards the window on the far side of the room, opened it carefully and glanced outside. There was nothing but nighttime air, the sounds of gnomes in the grass and the sweet smell of grass. It was a relaxing moment and she climbed out, glad that her grandmother had got a trellis for her roses last year despite the fact that they hardly ever grew.

It was a shaky descent but she managed not to fall and after wishing herself some luck, hopped off the last few feet and landed easily on her toes, glad that all the Quidditch practices and her experience with sneaking out was on her side. Energized and pleased with herself, she walked back to towards the shed, knowing that Benjamin would be close by and listened to the buzzing of insects and the hoot of an owl making its way out the window where her brother supposedly slept.

Rolling her eyes at the thought of what excuse he would make later if he were caught, Roxanne grinned to herself and looked around in the darkness, trying to make out Benjamin’s tall, imposing shape. She didn’t see him right away but when a light went off she let out a slight shriek that hastily died as he clamped a hand over her mouth, moving so swiftly that she hadn’t even heard his footsteps in the grass. “Weasley, relax. It’s just me,” he whispered, sounding annoyed.

Roxanne relaxed only marginally and he removed his hand from her mouth long enough for her to swallow hard and look up at him. He was holding his wand over her, looking aggravated, “Why do you have to hide in the dark like that? You could have just come out and said something.”

“Where’s the fun in that?” Benjamin asked her with a wolfish grin that made her shiver. He surveyed her quickly and quirked one of his black brows, “you walk around like that all the time, Weasley?” she felt his eyes lingering on her legs and blushed.

“I have grown up Benjamin, in case you haven’t noticed.” Roxanne said smartly and he rolled his eyes a little, his gaze flicking away from her legs and settling onto her chest. “And stop looking at my chest!” she snapped, covering herself.

It made her feel like a little kid and he laughed quietly, the sound low and deep. “Not used to blokes staring at your massive chest, Weasley? Bet you haven’t even been kissed since I’ve been gone.” Benjamin jeered unkindly and she glared at him. He proceeded to say, with careful malice, “I offered to give you your first kiss but you got all mad at me.”

Roxanne flushed furiously at the memory. She’d been having a private conversation with Molly at the Great Lake and after her cousin had walked off to get to class he had appeared, making fun of her, “Shut up! I’ve been kissed a lot since then you know!”

“By who, your dad?” Benjamin asked nastily.

“No, I’ve had boyfriends!” Roxanne spat. Benjamin’s eyes narrowed and a strange look passed over his face. “You’ve been gone for a year, not thinking about me at all. Just because you’re my friend doesn’t mean that I was not going to date or turn down every guy that was interested in me.”

Benjamin made a nasty sound with his mouth and she knew that he was recalling all the nasty things he had said about her behind her back. Stupid, affectionate little Roxanne Weasley, she thought with venom and suddenly she didn’t think she wanted to be around him, “Whatever, Weasley. I don’t feel like arguing with you about that stupid shit right now. Outside, where anyone can see us,”

Roxanne crossed her arms and turned her nose up at him. “Then go without me. I think I’ve changed my mind.” She heard him chuckling and glanced to see his tall shape walking ahead without her, “wait!” she cried before she could stop herself, immediately following him.

“Thought you didn’t want to come?” Benjamin asked smugly as he glanced down into her upturned face. Roxanne scowled, “changed your mind again, I see.” He said with a grin and she harrumphed and ignored him even as he wrapped an arm around her shoulders and kissed her cheek, “Weasley, what on earth would life be like without you?”

“Oh, shut up and stop giving me the look!” Roxanne bit out as he softened his expression to such a degree that it was almost sickening. “You get on my nerves!” she snapped even as she started to smile. Benjamin, pleased, looked away and she asked, “Where are we going?”

Benjamin helped her over a dead log as they moved further and further away from her grandparent’s house and into the throng of trees. “Where I broke in at,” he said. “The wards haven’t been brought back up so it shouldn’t take us long to get out and Disapparate to my place,” he said with bored intelligence. Dom-Dom had kept her word and hadn’t told Uncle Harry or any other adult but Roxanne heard him say, “Seems like your family hardly even noticed that they were down.”

Roxanne didn’t want to mention that her family members had been a little too merry and drunk to notice, which was a little odd for Uncle Harry. He was always worrying about everything but she supposed that he’d relaxed more than he usually would have tonight, “Shut up.” She bit out.

Benjamin sneered a little but stopped her as she felt a strange pressure on her limbs. They had reached the wards blocking them from leaving and Roxanne found her eyes sweeping over the small clearing devoid of animals and shivered. “Take my hand and hold on, Weasley. I don’t want to lose you,” he said while stepping through a wavering spot in the center and holding out his calloused palm for her.

Roxanne watched the area swallow him up, his hand still outstretched eerily before her. He was watching her intently from the other side, a blurred shape of muscle and lines, “I don’t want to lose you either,” she whispered under her breath and without hesitating another moment, she took his hand and let him pull her through.


Hope you enjoyed this and let me know what you think! You know, type in that little box at the end. (Hint, hint)





Chapter 4: Benjamin Fredrick Malfoy
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A/N: Hello everyone! I'm so glad that you've come back and please enjoy this latest chapter and uhm, don't hate me for it.

Benjamin’s hand still felt the same after all this time. Roxanne’s fingers curled against his so easily that she felt an electric zing go up her arm and shot him a glance in the fading dark but if he felt it too, he didn’t comment and her eagerness to be with him blurred with the truth.

Their fingers clasped so easily as he pulled her throught he broken wards and spells, a slight pressure leaving her as she was pulled gently onto the other side, which was more forest, trees and a few streams thrown along.

Benjamin didn’t say anything but dropped her hand after a moment or so, looking away from her and smiling to himself, as if he had something naughty planned that he couldn’t wait to show her and he said, “Come on. We’ll walk a ways and then I’ll Disapparate from here, just to be sure.”

“All right,” Roxanne replied calmly, though her heart was pounding like a drum. Her fingers were a little sweaty and she rubbed them on her thighs and saw his eyes flicker over her a little while his wand waved around the area for intruders, even though they were the imposters here, “I don’t think anyone saw me leave.”

Benjamin scanned the area once more and she saw his wand flare with a strange, gold light before it faded, reduced to the same silvery light as before. When she sent him a questioning look, he explained, “Homenum revelio. It reveals human presence but it’s pretty useless here since a Muggle village is nearby,”

Roxanne smiled at him, genuinely impressed and he had the audacity to turn a bit pink. “What are you blushing about?” she asked and he snorted and turned away, “you know, you’re always so grumpy. You’re like an old man.”

“And you think I’m sexy so what does that say about you?” Benjamin shot back smartly, his eyes flashing with laughter. Roxanne had to cover her mouth to stop the giggles that nearly burst up, “you’re a dirty, dirty girl Weasley.” He said with a grin before motioning her closer, “come on, we should get going.”

Roxanne followed him without hesitation, nearly forgetting all of the things that he had said about her behind her back. It caused the slightest sting in her chest at the memory but she fought it down, knowing that underneath it all she had missed him and had needed to know how he had been doing, so far away in Italy last year.

He hadn’t sent her any owls when he and his father had gone because of some scandal that had been whispered about at her own dinner table. Though of course not while her parents thought she was listening and despite her snooping, she had never discovered what it had been.

People hushed up scandals and mishaps rather quickly in the Ministry, just like they always had and she pondered weakly if Benjamin would finally open up to her about it, somehow understanding that it might be like trying to catch fog.

Although she’d known him for years and they had been close, in their own strange way, it had been hard to get Benjamin to reveal the details of his life, the information and reality always causing him to fold in on himself.

The Malfoy name was still held with the sort of disdain and suspicion that had caused many former Death Eaters to either leave the country or bury themselves in mundane and trivial lives that they had never been accustomed to before.

Roxanne knew this much from her Aunt Hermione, who was an important figure in the Ministry and often talked about the changes that the new laws had brought onto former Death Eaters or old supports of Voldemort’s regime. Despite it all, Mr. Malfoy was, in her opinion, a good man.

He held charities and benefits for families and children that had lost or been deprived during the War and he had even opened endless accounts from his own personal family vault to rebuild Hogwarts.

No one wanted to openly admit that they appreciated it of course and the hatred and distaste for the man still simmered beneath the surface and it wouldn’t take much to start it all over again.

Roxanne had never grasped how difficult it must have been for Benjamin, the oldest son returning to Hogwarts and having that sort of stain and burden hanging over his head.

Her cousins and brother had never understood why she talked to him in the first place but none of them understood that she couldn’t help it, there was something about him that tethered and pulled at her and she had stopped fighting it a long time ago.

“What’s wrong with you lump?” Benjamin’s voice seemed to come out of nowhere and Roxanne, who had been crying on a bench near Quality Quidditch Supplies on a bleary afternoon, glanced up. “I thought I recognized you,” he said awkwardly, his eyes settling on her curly hair.

Roxanne stared up at him in awe, wondering how his shadow was able to stretch and shield her so effortlessly. His blue-brown eyes were curious and his black hair was hanging past his ears and he still looked a little mean and her cheeks turned pink but she didn’t immediately reply, “Benjamin?”

Benjamin shrugged lazily. “Who else would I be?” that was true, there weren’t a lot of boys his age that were this big and Roxanne swallowed hard. It had been a while since she had seen him and she didn’t want to admit that she had been going down to the shop every day for the past two weeks looking and searching for his tall, imposing shape, “you’ve got snot all over your shirt.” He said, distracting her.

Roxanne sniffled and wiped at her nose with her sleeve and he made a face before sitting beside her patiently, his eyes flicking warily over her. “Sorry,”

“It’s not my snot,” Benjamin said with a grimace as she sniffled. “What’s wrong with you?”

Roxanne hesitated but he waited patiently and she eventually explained. “I was playing hide-and-seek with some kids and this girl that was supposed to find me called me a really bad word.” The girl, Rachel Travers was a snobby little brat that had always hated her and lived with her parents above some fancy panty shop (Her brother said her mum made lingerie, whatever that was) on the other side of Diagon Alley.

Benjamin was silent for a moment or two before he asked carefully. “What’d she call you?” Roxanne shook her head but he prodded her forcefully until she finally voiced the nasty word out loud and his eyes flashed with disgust and anger. “What’d you do after she called you that word?” he asked sharply.

“I punched her in the nose.” Roxanne said firmly and he burst out laughing, apparently startled that she would do something like that. It was a known fact that she had her father’s temper, “It started bleeding and she ran away.”

“Then why are you crying?”

Roxanne glanced at him before saying with a sniffle, her eyes stinging. “People call me bad words all the time when they think I can’t hear.” She felt her lips trembling, trying to block out the memory of cruel words that had made her cry in the past. “They say I’m not a Weasley because my mum is black and I’m black,”

Benjamin hesitated uncomfortably before reminding her. “Your dad’s whiter than milk,”

“But my skin is brown.” She said while touching her arm and showing it to him. He pinched her lightly but didn’t comment, “My mum said it’s nothing to be ashamed of and I’m not, it’s just, people always say nasty things about me,” Roxanne said with another sniffle. Benjamin was silent for a while and she continued on with a frown, “my cousin Molly and Lucy are the only ones who understand. Their mum’s Chinese and people talk about them behind their backs too.”

There was a slight silence that was only broken by the sound of footsteps and various other noises from the shops and restaurants around them. Diagon Alley was always flooded with noise, especially in the afternoon and Benjamin eventually said with a grimace, “I know what that’s like.” Roxanne stared at him doubtfully. “I’m not my dad’s real son you know.”

Roxanne was surprised. “You’re not?”

“I’m adopted. My real parents didn’t want me,” Benjamin replied curtly, glaring at her as if she might say something to that. When she did nothing more than smile weakly at him, his face turned red and he looked away in a hurry, “and everyone hates my dad because he was a bad person.”

“He’s not anymore though. Your dad is very nice.” Roxanne pointed out with a confused expression while his shoulder brushed against hers. She felt her cheeks turn pink, “it doesn’t matter if he’s not your real dad.”

Apparently no one had told him this before because he stared down at her in surprise before pinching her cheek and tugging on it until she squealed. “Yeah, I guess so, lump.” He said with a grin before he let her go and she rubbed her skin, “and it doesn’t matter if you don’t look like your other cousins, okay? Just punch whoever says it in the face.”

Roxanne nodded firmly. “Okay,” and then she swallowed. “I don’t want to get in trouble for doing it though. My mum says I’m not supposed to fight. She hates fighting,”

“Well, sometimes you have to fight. Sometimes people really need a fist in the face,” Benjamin remarked and she laughed. He appeared pleased, “so don’t feel bad about it. I won’t tell anyone.”

Roxanne felt relieved and bubbly. “Why are you here anyway?”

“My mum wanted me to come to work with her. She owns a real fancy robe store,” Benjamin said with a hint of pride. Roxanne looked interested as he continued on, “it’s called Beauty Within,”

“I’ve been there. I didn’t know that she was your mum,” Roxanne replied, thinking of the nice lady that had always helped her find the nicest colors. It was always really busy there, even busier than Madame Malkin’s and that had once been the best place to buy robes, “I like her. Her belly’s all big too,”

Benjamin flushed pink but frowned, biting back a smile. “She had another baby.” Roxanne looked curious because she had always been around babies since she had so many cousins, “I have a baby brother and sister. Mum says she’s still fat and it makes her all sad and stuff. My dad thinks it’s funny,”

“How come?”

“Because…” Benjamin flushed and snapped embarrassingly. “It’s none of your business!” Roxanne flinched and he said hastily, swallowing hard. “My dad doesn’t smile a lot, he’s always really sad.”

There was a slight pause and Roxanne kicked her legs underneath the bench for something to do, humming and singing nothing in particular. Benjamin stared at her in rapt fascination and horror, “How come you’re not with your mum?” she asked eventually.

Benjamin hesitated a little but she watched him reaching up and lightly touching her hair. She gave him a confused look and he lowered his hand quickly. “I told her I wanted to get something to eat and I saw you crying.”

Roxanne smiled at him, flushed with happiness. “It was nice of you to talk to me,”


“So, that’s what friends do.”

“Whatever,” Benjamin grumbled and they fell into an easy silence. When Roxanne wiped at her eyes a bit more to get rid of any evidence of tears, he angled his head at her and said awkwardly, “you like flowers Weasley?”

Roxanne blinked in surprise. “Yeah, I guess so. Why?”

Benjamin surprised her by taking out his wand and she had a feeling that he wasn’t supposed to be carrying it around with him. “Everyone says that girls like stuff like that. Dad says it makes my mum stop crying when he makes her sad so…” he watched her eyes light up. “Don’t think it’s because I like you or anything okay?!”

“Okay,” Roxanne said soberly, flinching.

Benjamin glared at her a little, turning pink before swishing his wand and saying. “Orchideous!” and she was startled to see a flare of daisies burst from the tip and explode around them like fireworks, “damn. I’m only twelve but Flitwick said that’s an easy spell,”

Roxanne picked the clumps up from the bench and placed them in her lap happily. “They’re so pretty! But you’re not supposed to use magic outside of school!” Benjamin shrugged. “You’ll get into trouble!”

“So?” Benjamin countered and she couldn’t come up with anything else to say to that and he grinned at her impishly. When she raised one of the daisies to her nose, he surprised her by taking a few and putting them behind her ear, “there. Now you’re not sad anymore, right?”

Roxanne grinned at him. “Nope!” when he turned away, grumbling and red in the face she asked him eagerly, “you wanna help me put cherry bombs in some bathrooms? I was gonna do it with my brother but he’s with his friend Teddy Lupin today.”

Benjamin looked extremely interested. “Okay,” he mumbled and she hopped off the bench and he held out his hand for her and when she stared at it stupidly, he snapped. “You’ll get lost, walking around here by yourself, okay? And I’m hungry. I want something to eat.”

“You’ll buy me something too?” Roxanne asked happily, slipping her hand in his. He shrugged and she smiled, overcome by how nice it was to hold his hand as he led her away—

“You space out like that a lot, Weasley?” Benjamin’s deep voice intruded into her thoughts like a whip and she jerked sharply, surprised to find that they had wandered quite a ways from the comfort of the Burrow. Leaves crunched under their feet and she glanced behind his tall form and saw that the sky was streaked with weak flashes of color, the day threatening to begin.

Roxanne frowned but cut her eyes to his annoyingly. “I get it from my mum. She does it a lot too,” she didn’t explain that her father had told her that her mother did it when something traumatic from her past collided with the present. It was bad enough that her hands still shook and even though neither of her parents would explain, it wasn’t hard to ignore the sounds of their screams at night when a nightmare gripped them, “I was just thinking of the time I saw you again when we were little, after you saw me crying about Rachel Travers?”

Benjamin looked as if he didn’t recall it but she thought she saw a flash of color flash over his cheeks, though it was hard to tell with it still shadowy and dark. His hand tightened around hers as if willing whatever thoughts in his mind away, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, lump,” he muttered.

“But you have to remember! I punched that bitch Rachel Travers in the nose,” Roxanne said with renewed displeasure at the thought of the girl. She was a year or so younger than Benjamin and a Slytherin so he knew her and had told her on more than one occasion that she was a hag, “she thinks she’s so special just because her mum owns some stupid lingerie shop.”

Benjamin’s lips, which were a bit full, tilted up a bit. “She is a bitch, I’ll give you that one, Weasley.” They walked for a while longer until Roxanne’s feet began to hurt from her boots and she looked around every now and then, thinking that someone or something would spot them. There was only the hoot of owls, the scratching of various small mammals and the curious eyes of gnomes, “but she’s a damn good Quidditch player.”

He said this slyly and Roxanne shot him a furious glance before shrugging her shoulders and feeling only the slightest press of his eyes along her throat. When she spoke, her voice held a faint tremor, “She’s not that good of a Chaser you know, my brother can ride circles around her.” She proclaimed arrogantly and Benjamin rolled his eyes heavenward, “she’s too cocky and hardly ever pays attention, which is why that Bludger almost smacked her in the face last year,”

Of course, the girl had ranted and hissed that Roxanne had sent the Bludger flying at her on purpose but it had never been proven.

Quidditch was almost sacred to her and she didn’t cheat and hadn’t forgiven the wretch for the lie, no matter if they hated one another with a passion, “And you still claim you didn’t do it, huh?” Benjamin asked teasingly and she gawped at him in mock outrage and caused him to laugh. His laughter made the hair on the back of her neck rise a little with pleasure, “it’s not really your style anyway, even if you can beat me up.”

“Ben, you’re twice my size!” Roxanne said with a laugh. She had never been able to beat him up and he knew it but she’d given him enough tongue lashings over the years to leave his ears ringing, “and maybe if you weren’t such a prat all the time I wouldn’t have to put you in your place.”

Benjamin roared with laughter and she saw that there was something almost carnal in his gaze when he flicked his eyes back to hers. Roxanne’s cheeks turned scarlet, not understanding but feeling that strange, almost painful tug, “You can put me in my place anytime you like, sweet.”

Roxanne scowled, flushing. “N-no thanks,” she muttered and he laughed again. Benjamin had been with more girls than she could even tick off her fingers and toes and she, like always, felt a bit of envy pooling around her heart when she thought of someone else occupying his time. “Just be warned right now that I’m not going to rob Honeydukes with you this time, okay?”

“How come?” Benjamin questioned with surprise while kicking a gnome out of his way easily with what Roxanne noticed were dragon hide boots like the kind her Uncle Bill still wore. “Is it because of the Wanted posters or the fact that we’re banned?” he pressed curiously, naming two of the reasons why Roxanne could never go back into the sweet shop on Hogsmeade trips.

They had been caught once or twice, shoveling cartons of chocolate and gummy trolls into knapsacks by the furious owner and Roxanne’s parents had grounded her for a month. The fact that they’d done the same thing at her age had been beside the point of course, “That’s mainly the reason. And plus, I can’t stay out all morning with you, I have to go over my aunt and uncles later.”

Benjamin appeared thoughtful, though there was a little frown of displeasure on his face as if he couldn’t believe she had other plans that didn’t include him.

Roxanne waited for him to say something but he stayed silent as they continued walking and she took a minute or two to study him, taking in the hard planes and angles of his face and the heavy black hair that was tied in a thick braid down his back.

Things had changed a lot for him in the past year, she knew this just from these quick assessments and her eyes strayed upward to the scar on his right eyebrow, wondering where and how it had happened. “Why’re you staring?” he demanded after a while.

“I was wondering where you got that scar, you know,” Roxanne reached up on the tips of her toes and gently ran her fingers along his eyebrow, tracing the mark. His skin too, she noted faintly, was deeply tanned and she could imagine him suddenly basking in the Italian sun— “how’d you get it?” she asked, swallowing shallowly when she retracted her fingers.

Benjamin reached up and touched the spot with a rueful grin. His eyes were slanted away from her as he replied evasively, “A cat got me.” And when Roxanne appeared incredibly doubtful, he asked with a slyness that made her uncomfortable, “Do you really want to know about all my scars, Weasley? I’ve got a few on my back that are really, really something.”

Roxanne blushed, catching what he meant easily and frowned up at him. “Don’t talk to me like that, I told you once before. I’m not one of those girls that you fool around with and dump, all right?” Benjamin raised his hand to fend her off, the other still clutching his lit wand lazily, “I don’t care about all the stupid girls that you’ve been with!”

“You do,” Benjamin said with a slow, arrogant smile that cast his features into the sort of handsomeness that should be damned to Hell. Roxanne felt her cheeks flaming furiously even while she turned away and jutted her chin upwards, too stubborn to admit to the truth, “just admit it Weasley, I’m your dream lover.”

“Oh, please!” Roxanne found herself shrieking, outraged and trying not to laugh. The expression on his face was simpering and seductive but ridiculously overdone, “you’re too cocky for your own good! Not every girl faints and swoons at the sight of you!”

Benjamin shrugged his shoulders—shoulders that she noted were obnoxiously broad to match the rest of his large frame.

While he was taller and wider than any of the other boys that she knew and even her brother and cousins, Roxanne knew from eavesdropping on older girls like Miranda Patil that there wasn’t an ounce of fat on him, just lean, rippling muscle. The thought made her blush all the harder, “Come on Weasley, tell me you don’t love it,” he said to her now, waggling his eyebrows.

Roxanne giggled and swatted at him. “Shut up! I don’t—get away,” she cried breathlessly as he tried to wrap one of his arms around her and pull her close. It did little good since her foot snagged on a branch and he eventually had his way and nuzzled into her throat, “prat! Let me go!” she demanded, laughing and shoving at him.

For the briefest of moments she felt his mouth trailing along her throat, hinting at a kiss on her pulse before he pulled away, taking in her suddenly stunned expression.

Pleasure had buzzed like whispers down her skin and she had to blink rapidly to clear her suddenly empty mind, “Just admit it Weasley.” Benjamin murmured with a darkly pleased expression on his face that escaped her. “Come on, take my hand.”

Still a little unsettled, Roxanne reached out and took his hand and felt that strange and uncomfortable pull behind her belly button. She wasn’t the biggest fan of Disapparation and much preferred her broom but Benjamin was in control and she thought that there wasn’t anything that could get the better of him that he couldn’t bend or mold to his liking.

With that bouncing in her skull, she shut her eyes, gripped his hand tightly and felt themselves vanish with a distinct pop that marked the trees and grounds around them.


“You can open your eyes, Weasley. The worst is over,” Benjamin’s deep rumble of a voice was enough to startle Roxanne and cause her eyes to open. Disapparation usually left her feeling rather dizzy and she automatically placed her hand at her stomach to stop the churning and bubbling, “you all right?”

Roxanne nodded shakily, her throat suddenly a bit sore. She didn’t want him to think that she couldn’t handle herself, she had to appear mature and composed and yet her stomach was bubbling, “I just hate traveling that way.” The slight tremor in her voice betrayed her and Benjamin chuckled.

“I’ll get you some water but just as a warning, Weasley, don’t throw up. I’d rather not have to clean it all up,” Benjamin said with a teasing glint in his eyes as she turned her face up to his. There was only the faintest of lights around them and when she looked away, seeking the source, he explained, “I left a few lights on before I went to get you.”

Roxanne decided to ignore the smugness in his tone and felt a flush creeping into her cheeks over the fact that she had indeed come against what might have been best. They hadn’t seen each other in a year after all and she could still hear his mocking words ringing like bells in her ears—words that had hurt her to hear and had ruined whatever friendship they’d had, “Don’t look so confident. I won’t be staying long,” she said crisply.

Benjamin eyed her warily, trying to gauge her mood before shrugging it off along with her hand, which had still been entwined with his. Roxanne felt that same brief spark of electricity as her hand fell away and rubbed it awkwardly on her skirt, “I’m pretty sure I can change your mind. You want to know all about my trip to Italy don’t you?” he asked with faint manipulation.

Roxanne hated that she wanted to know but she merely shrugged her shoulders, hoping for carelessness but only succeeding in making him grin at her. “What?” she demanded icily.

Benjamin reached out and rubbed his thumb along her bottom lip. “You don’t need to pout, Weasley.” He said and Roxanne gasped and smacked his hand away, feeling her cheeks flaming, “I like you better when you’re yelling or smiling at me.” Before she could ask just what he meant by that last remark, he was motioning her forward.

Roxanne only noticed then that they had landed in the middle of a corridor and her eyes flicked around, unfamiliar with this part of the Manor. The Manor itself was larger than anything that she had ever been to and reminded her of some Gothic mansion from one of her cousin Lucy’s favorite novels, “Where’d you take us?”

“Just a corridor, I wasn’t thinking about a set place.” Benjamin replied as he watched her taking in the covered portraits hanging on the wall. A silence stretched between them as Roxanne wondered just how long he had been back from his strange departure to Italy before he said gruffly, “come on.”

Roxanne turned away from the portraits and followed him quietly as they walked further down the corridor, the sound of the marble floors clicking beneath her boots.

There was a strange feeling about Malfoy Manor and the first time that she had snuck here with him, back when she’d been thirteen, the sheer mass and grandeur of the place had overwhelmed her.

She knew from running around at night with Benjamin that it was one gigantic, darkly beautiful maze with more rooms, hallways and stairs than she could have ever imagined.

Although he never went into a lot of detail about his family, Roxanne had read historical tomes in the library at Hogwarts that boasted that the Malfoy Manor was one of the oldest pureblood homes in Britain.

Centuries upon centuries of Malfoys had passed through these halls, dined in the opulent dining rooms with important guests and it was here, Roxanne thought bitterly that Uncle Harry and her aunt and uncle had been brought.

Snatchers had captured them and Aunt Hermione had been tortured here by Bellatrix Lestrange and a poor house-elf had died saving her relatives and their friends from this place.

Some part of her felt a bit guilty about being here and the oppressive weight of past sins seemed to weigh heavily in the air, like a perfume that left a strange scent. “Where are we going?” Roxanne asked Benjamin as they walked around what felt like the millionth corner like accomplished thieves.

“My room,” Benjamin replied easily, his head turning curiously as he suddenly held her back. Roxanne bumped into the hard muscles of his back and gripped his arm, frowning and about to say something before she heard the tap of heavy footsteps. “Shit, my dad’s home. I thought he’d be at the Ministry,”

Before Roxanne could say anything or ask just what Mr. Malfoy had been up to and how soon it would be before he was back working at the Ministry that outwardly shunned him, Benjamin pushed her against the nearest wall. “What do you think you’re doing?” she hissed, glaring up at him as he braced his hands on either side of her head, his nearness creating a dizzying effect on her senses.

Benjamin’s lips were thin, his blue-brown eyes narrowed warningly. Roxanne shivered, “Do not make a sound. I have to take care of this and don’t wander off. Or I’ll catch you,” he said, his tone lowering with just a hint of something she didn’t understand, although the implication made her knees lock together.

Pleased when she couldn’t say anything but murmur in understanding, Benjamin pulled away from her and stepped around the corner just as a deep voice asked. “Ben, is that you?” and Roxanne quivered, her eyes nearly popping out at the thought that she might be caught snooping at Malfoy Manor by his own father.

“Yeah, it’s me, Dad,” Benjamin replied easily, sounding nonchalant and bored. Roxanne inched along the wall and daringly poked her head around the corner, just enough to see what was happening, “what are you doing back so early? I thought you had paperwork at the Ministry all night.”

Mr. Malfoy was still as tall and pale as he’d been the last few times that Roxanne had seen him.

He was dressed in an expensive set of blue and gold robes that gave him the look of some fallen angel and she watched as he ran his fingers through his pale blonde hair, weariness making itself evident in his tone, “I finished a bit sooner than expected. They wanted to interrogate me even more than they did when I got the bloody job,” there was a hint of some sort of shame underneath it all but Roxanne wasn’t able to detect where it might be coming from.

“So, did you get your old job back?” Benjamin asked with genuine curiosity, though she could hear a slight sneer in his words. “Or did they already give it to someone else?” he asked his father and Roxanne glanced at him, for the first time taking in his complete outfit with a bit of disdain.

Somehow the sight of him in dark jeans, orange dragon hide boots and a snug blue shirt made him appear, despite it all, like some sort of Muggle pirate or a killer on the loose.

“Benjamin, I’d appreciate it if you would lose the tone. I’m not in the mood to discuss this with you right now,” Mr. Malfoy replied and his voice had shifted into the sort of stern pressure that Roxanne only heard from her own father when she was in very serious trouble. “You look as if you’ve been somewhere. I told you not to leave the house.”

Benjamin shrugged his shoulders and shifted his feet slightly, the only sign that he might have cared what his father was saying. Roxanne glanced between them, two men that looked nothing alike but had the sort of affection that easily made them related, “I got tired of being cooped up.”

Mr. Malfoy sighed again and pinched the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. Roxanne watched as Benjamin turned away, his lips compressing into a stubborn and ugly line, “You get into too much trouble when you’re out on your own.”

“I’m seventeen, not five.” Benjamin said with defiance, his stance becoming defensive. “You don’t have to treat me like the other ones Dad, I’m not some sort of stupid kid. I think I’ve already proved that.”

Mr. Malfoy’s blonde brows gnashed together, his grey eyes narrowing slightly and Roxanne immediately swallowed hard, sensing a sharp sting of anger. Though he didn’t speak for a minute or two, it was apparent that his son had crossed a thin line and Benjamin’s shoulders stiffened as his father replied calmly, “I know that you’re not a child and hanging that over my head for the rest of your life is showing a weak strength of character. I’d expect better from you.”

Roxanne didn’t understand what they were referring to but she felt a sting at the words. A parent could easily frighten, love and destroy a child with just their words and her eyes flicked sympathetically to Benjamin, surprised to see that he was smiling, “I could say the same about you, Dad. The whole reason the two of us left was to stop all the rumors and make mum feel better.”

Mr. Malfoy’s eyes flickered with suppressed anger and sadness but he quickly reigned in his next words, the control that took impressing Roxanne considerably. She didn’t think that living with someone like Benjamin was easy, “While that may be true Benjamin, while you’re living under my roof, I’ll treat you any way that I like and you’ll do what I tell you to. Is that understood?”

Benjamin merely grunted a reply and Roxanne found herself frowning, wondering why he was nitpicking at his father. Mr. Malfoy looked as if he would much rather get a stiff drink and sleep then argue with his son and she wondered if that was more the issue, “After I get out of school, you won’t have to worry about me.”

Mr. Malfoy ran his fingers through his hair again before lowering it and asking sharply. “Why do you always have to fight me? You’re not some sort of burden to me and I never gave you any inclination that you were,” Benjamin opened his mouth to say something but his father said severely. “Don’t you think that I would like to change what I did? What I’ve done? You’re not the only person hurting.”

“I feel like it,” Benjamin snarled through his teeth. “Mum won’t even look at me”

“She was upset that you left with me, that’s all. And what’ve done to her isn’t something that can be easily forgiven,” Mr. Malfoy said and his tone was more gruff than Roxanne had heard it before. She could practically hear his heart breaking, “by any of you.” Benjamin said nothing and a thick and ugly silence seemed to spread between them before Mr. Malfoy replied softly. “I’m going to my office. If you leave, make sure you don’t bring any trouble back with you,”

And before Benjamin could say another word, Roxanne watched as his father turned on his heel and stalked away, his head bent low.

The feeling of intense awkwardness stayed after he was gone and she hung back, bracing herself against the wall and thinking hard about whether or not she should be here in the first place when it was obvious that Benjamin had brought her into his familial drama.

Her heart ached for him though, to see him so upset but she knew that he would rather deny it than tell her what his argument with his father had been about in the first place and she decided that she wouldn’t ask.

The sound of his boots turning signaled his return to her and when he returned, towering over her in such a way that escape would be impossible, Roxanne’s throat went dry, “Don’t repeat anything that you heard here, Weasley.”

“You don’t have to threaten me, Ben. Why would I do something like that to you?” Roxanne asked him sharply in a whisper, just in case his father was coming back out. But the sound of a door closing far off down the hall signified that he was indeed, in his office. She briefly wondered what he was doing there, all alone, “Unlike you, I don’t talk about my friends behind their backs.”

Benjamin’s eyes, which she’d always considered to be his best feature, narrowed dangerously. He appeared like some big, furious bear ready to devour her but she remained defiant, her chin jutted stubbornly even though a bolt of unease prickled at the nape of her neck. “You going to hold that over my head forever, sweet? I was in a bad mood.”

Roxanne had seen him in a bad mood but she didn’t think that she could forgive him for the things that she had heard him saying. She gritted her teeth but said tightly, avoiding his eyes, “So you were in a bad mood. Everyone gets in a bad mood but you don’t talk about your friends behind their—”

“Is that what we are Weasley?” Benjamin asked with chilling accuracy. Roxanne had always considered him a strange friend and she wanted to remind him of the times that they had spent together at the Astronomy Tower or near the Black Lake, soaking up the sun and talking late into the afternoon. But apparently, those things meant absolutely nothing, “I don’t think anyone would call us that.”

Roxanne felt a burst of renewed frustration as she turned her head back to his. Unnervingly, he had moved closer until his hands were braced on either side of her head, barring her way and causing her heart to stutter with something she didn’t want to identify. And even if she could, she didn’t think it was wise to dwell on it and her voice came out stronger than she would have thought, “Who cares what everyone else says?”

Benjamin let out a cynical snort before pressing closer to her, the heat from his body flooding her own and causing her head to swim. His chest nearly touched hers and she could feel the soft puff of his breath against her chin as he replied stoically, “That’s easy for you to say, Weasley. You don’t have the entire Wizarding world hating your guts or the knowledge that your parents aren’t really yours.”

This stung even though Roxanne knew it was the truth.

She had no idea how it must be for him and she could never imagine it, having the bullying and the sneering remarks thrown her way just because her family had sinned in the past. “I-I know that. Don’t you think I know that? But that doesn’t mean that I won’t be here for you, stupid. Even though you left and didn’t say a damned word to me, I missed you when you left me.”

The proclamation caused Benjamin’s black brows to shoot up, as if he hadn’t thought that his absence would have affected her in the least. Of course, considering what Roxanne had said to him the day their fragile excuse of a friendship had ended, she didn’t immediately blame him, “How much?” he whispered now, startling her out of her thoughts.

Roxanne jerked a little as he angled his head, his lips brushing against the curve of her jaw. “H-how much what? Would you stop that?” she snapped furiously, her cheeks flaming.

She placed her hands on his chest, attempting to push him away a bit to get much needed air but the feel of his heartbeat pounding beneath her palms was so distracting that her fingers curled into his shirt. It was a weakness she didn’t appreciate.

“How much did you miss me Weasley?” Benjamin asked with devastating softness. Roxanne, flustered and uncomfortably aware of where his mouth was wandering to next, tried to angle her head away but he cupped her cheek and turned her to face him. “Did you think about me all the time?”

Roxanne wanted to deny it but it was the truth.

She had thought about him so constantly that she had nearly forsaken all of her studies, ignored her family to stay locked in her room and worried that she would probably never see his tall, dark shape again, “I didn’t think about you at all.” Somehow, her voice managed to sound both pathetically squeaky and wistful.

Benjamin’s eyes had narrowed thoughtfully, a sinfully vicious smile transforming his face. She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think straight….why did he always have to do this? “Liar,” he whispered with gentle venom before Roxanne felt the devastating pressure of his mouth against her own.


Thanks for coming back! Up next is my poor little Misfits from Albus Potter and the Dark Lord's Prince!




Chapter 5: What the Heart Wants
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A/N: Hello, all! I'm updating rather quickly for this story because I thought I'd just get it out of the way. So, enjoy. And much love of course.

Sensations were spiraling out of control.

Roxanne felt her entire body suffused with unbearable heat and a strange tension that made her feel constrained and bound. She wanted to pull away but her body betrayed her as her own mouth parted, welcoming more of his kiss until the feel and flavor of him became something almost sinfully addictive, like firewhiskey or hot chocolate.

Benjamin’s kisses…she’d imagined and wondered despite herself what they would feel like but she had never expected this. This was…she couldn’t even describe it.

It was as if her entire mind had suddenly gone blank but she could hear her heart hammering and pounding, the blood rushing to her ears and flooding her cheeks. There had been plenty of kisses before this, Roxanne’s mind desperately tried to reason. Over the past year, she had had kisses from her boyfriends but none of them had been this…dangerous.

That was the only word for it.

Roxanne tried to fight it, hating that it felt too good. She tore her mouth away, panting, needing to say something that would make him stop, “What do you think you—”

Whatever she had been about to say was swallowed entirely as Benjamin turned her face back to his insistently and captured her mouth again. Roxanne thought she heard him groan but was distracted completely as he deepened their kiss, turning it into something that she could barely understand and the power that was there, a sort of control that terrified her and made it difficult to think.

Her hands rose in a feeble attempt to push him away and demand to know what he thought he was doing but Benjamin merely cursed against her mouth, removed his hand from her flushed cheek and forced both of her arms around his neck. The position forced her higher against him, away from the cool shelter of the wall and she desperately fought for some sense to save herself but he’d pressed one large hand on her waist, anchoring her to him.

More sensations spiraled and Roxanne heard herself whimper, the most embarrassing sound that she could have ever made but only caused Benjamin to kiss her harder, deeper and with the skill of someone who knew exactly what to do to make her weaken.

How many other girls had fallen victim to this, Roxanne’s mind tried to ask but the burning indignation and shock were fading farther and farther away until she sank completely.  She wasn’t certain how long they stood together that way with her body pressed so closely to his but by the time he released her mouth in a series of soft bites and licks that nearly made her dissolve, she felt numb with shock.

Her lips stung and she couldn’t catch her breath without her clothes snagging uncomfortably against her oversensitive skin. It took far too long for her to pull away but she couldn’t quite meet his eyes, which were hooded and secretive, “W…why did you do that?” Roxanne managed to ask, hating that her voice sounded so disturbingly husky.

Benjamin was still holding her, content to skim his lips along her throat and when she shivered, a smile started to form. Her pulse was rapid and she heard his own breathing steadying, “Maybe you shouldn’t wear such short skirts and have your tits hanging out.” Was his reply and Roxanne gasped in outrage, trying to disentangle herself from him. She knew he was smiling smugly and as soon as she was able to get her arms free, she would smack it right off, “what’s got you so mad?”

“As if you don’t know—stop that!” Roxanne hissed warningly as he turned his head and kissed her again, this time with more heat and need than she could handle. When she managed to turn her aching lips away, he merely angled her head for more but she didn’t think she could stand it, “Why do you keep—Ben!” she snapped as he pulled her squirming body closer and smothered her with more kisses.

The more she seemed to try and fight; the harder and closer he pulled her until Roxanne was forced to give up with a mental curse. Benjamin let out a soft laugh before distracting her with more kisses, more bites and delicious pressure until she was curled around him like a silly little cat and as angry and confused as she was; her fingers were digging into his shoulders.

There was nothing on earth like this and her skin was aching everywhere, wanting kisses and bites— “Mmm, Weasley, you taste like sugar.” He said after lifting his mouth and finally allowing them to breathe.

Roxanne managed to loosen her grip to glare up at him, flustered and angry. Her body was plastered against his and nearly caused her not to think at all but she fought it down, “I-I had some tea before I snuck out and—would you stop it?” she hissed as he bent his head again.

“You’re just so sweet—hold still, would you?” Benjamin snapped as she tried to wriggle out of his hold, despite her fingers clinging to his shoulders. Roxanne unclenched them and started to pull away just as he said with a trace of dark humor, “if you keep wriggling, I’m just going to have to strip you, Weasley.”

Roxanne felt a bolt of panic and finally managing to unlock her weak arms from around his neck and pinch him hard against his cheek. “You are such a fucking prat!” she cried, her mouth hanging open in surprise at his arrogance.

Benjamin let out a foul curse and touched his cheek, scowling down at her. “What the hell was that for?” he growled and Roxanne turned her face away, frowning. She heard him chuckle without amusement as his gaze skimmed hungrily over her form, “don’t tell me you’re mad because I gave you your first kiss?”

“My first—you prat, that was not my first kiss!” Roxanne found herself fuming, glaring around to stare into his laughing eyes. There was no telling how many other girls that he had kissed and she felt as if he had just added her to a very long scroll of parchment, “ooh, I hate you!” she snapped.

Benjamin laughed, but it sounded strange. As if he were imagining things that involved her doing the sort of acts that she was positive had been banned in separate parts of the country, “No you don’t. You just hate that I gave you a kiss and that you liked it.”

Roxanne fumed at the truth. “I did not like it!”

“Keep telling yourself that, Weasley.” Benjamin whispered, his voice wrapping around her so stealthily that she shuddered. While she tried to come up with something to say, he seemed to run his eyes over her in a completely self-interested way, “you look like pink candy Weasley…” he crooned.

Roxanne, not understanding what he meant glanced down at herself,  mortified to see that he’d somehow unzipped her pink jacket and pushed her tank top aside, revealing a shocking amount of her cleavage. Letting out a silent moan of despair, she closed it, growling, “Ben, you—you are such a piece of work, you know that?”

Benjamin flicked his eyes up at her, looking unperturbed. He was still towering over her even when she tried to move away and he made escape impossible as he reached out and touched her arm, a lightly warning pressure that made Roxanne nearly flinch. “Come on, Weasley. It couldn’t have been that bad.”

Roxanne felt her cheeks heating as she righted her tank top and zipped her jacket back, wondering if he’d been copping a feel while she’d been distracted. Something about his darkly intent gaze confirmed this fear and her heart nearly stopped with the misery and embarrassment of it, “You can’t just snog someone after threatening them!” she snapped, reminding him of  the strange few minutes before he’d kissed her.

Benjamin rolled his eyes a little but he didn’t appear at all sorry. Roxanne felt a flash of irritation and dislike for him, knowing that he was even more of an enigma than he’d been when the two of them had been at Hogwarts together, “I just had to shut you up. You’re still mad about something that happened ages ago and you shouldn’t be.”

For just a moment, Roxanne felt her eyes flashing over with red. She had inherited her temper from her father and had been known to go into little rampages when she’d been a kid and it wasn’t something that had particularly faded away, “I shouldn’t be? Ben, you are such a piece of shit!” she found herself practically shouting, causing his eyes to widen, “what you said about me wasn’t something that I’ll ever forget! I thought we were friends, I thought—”

“That I cared about you?” Benjamin asked coldly, filling in the words for her. Roxanne felt a guilty flush coming into her cheeks and he barked a laugh, “Weasley, don’t get cocky, all right? I don’t care about any of you— you’re not anyone different or special.”

Roxanne knew that the words couldn’t be true. This couldn’t be the same Benjamin that had helped her with her Transfiguration homework, the same Benjamin that had mended a few scraped knees after a rowdy game of Muggle baseball at Hogwarts. The same, strangely kind Benjamin that always gave her white daisies on her birthday— “Then why did you come and get me if that’s the truth?” she hated that the words were tight, that she couldn’t meet his eyes.

Benjamin opened his mouth to say something but he eventually said nothing at all and Roxanne felt her heart nearly explode with disbelief. He hadn’t missed her at all—was she just some sort of joke to him? Of course she was. She shouldn’t have been so stupid thinking that he had missed her while he had been in Italy, “Weasley,” his tone startled her.

It was startlingly warm and Roxanne glanced at him, wanting nothing more than to go back to the Burrow and pretend that this had never happened. Benjamin was holding out a few daisies for her, his wand clutched in his other hand and giving off a faint glow as the magic faded away, “What are those for?” Roxanne asked him, cheeks flushing.

“They’re for you. They’re your favorite aren’t they?” Benjamin asked in a whisper. His shoulders had sagged a little and she scanned his face, the harsh lines and planes of it and saw that he appeared regretful, “I’m really not in a good mood, Weasley and I suppose I really shouldn’t take it out on you.”

Roxanne didn’t reach for the flowers when he tried to hand them to her and instead, she considered telling him to leave her alone for good. But something hurt when she tried to form the words and her tongue felt too heavy, lips still stinging from his kisses, “You shouldn’t. I’ve never been anything but a friend to you. I’m not everyone else,” she managed to mutter.

Benjamin stepped closer to her and she moved away, glaring at him. “Why are you always so moody?” he demanded with genuine irritation. “You’re like a little kid. I swear that you need to grow up,” Roxanne felt a sting at the words that everyone told her at some point but he was tucking daisies in her hair, twining them around her curls with gentle care.

Roxanne had heard her mother telling her father the same thing on more than one occasion when he was getting on her nerves. “Georgia!” she’d heard her mother hissing to her father when he’d been complaining about nothing in particular, “if you don’t shut your mouth, I swear to Merlin I’ll make you read cauldron rates for an hour before bed!”

“Angie you monster!” Roxanne’s father had replied, looking truly frightened. They’d been in the kitchen at the time and she’d been on her way past to her bedroom, which had once been her Uncle Fred’s, “why don’t you kiss me instead?”

Roxanne’s mother had softened almost immediately by whatever she’d seen in his face and she’d sickeningly watched her father pull her into his lap and kiss her senseless. Her parents were very affectionate and very in love on a worse day and she and her brother had stopped wondering where they vanished to during the afternoons.  “Shut up,” Roxanne muttered now, wondering why she couldn’t seem to find someone like her father instead of being the sort of friend of a Malfoy.

“Nice comeback, Weasley.” Benjamin replied dryly, surveying her with blatant annoyance before he turned away and started down the corridor without her. Roxanne gawped at his nerve and felt her legs moving after him before she could really think of a better alternative, like going back to the Burrow and pretending that she had never seen him in her grandfather’s shed. “What, so you’re staying?” he asked snidely over his shoulder.

Roxanne barely caught a daisy in her hands, preventing it from falling and gently tucking it behind her ear distractedly. Her fingers felt stiff, “I want to know why you’re acting like this—why don’t you ever tell me what’s going on with you?”

Benjamin flinched a little and angled his head back at her a little, blue-brown eyes flashing. He looked even more like some terrible thief or pirate and Roxanne’s feet came to an unsure halt before she stared defiantly at him and his lips flicked up in a wry smile. “Merlin, you’re annoying as hell. I don’t bother telling people my problems when they won’t care, Weasley.”

“But—” Roxanne started.

“And you heard more than enough from me and my dad’s fight.” Benjamin said and his tone of voice suggested that if she ever mentioned it to anyone or even asked more about it, he would make her regret it.

Roxanne had a feeling that kisses wouldn’t be necessarily involved this time and she felt her cheeks flush again with anger, why had he done it? Just to shut her up or to make fun of her? He was such a hard person to understand and she would rather not know all that went on in his mind when he was like this. “I’m not going to tell anyone, Ben. Would you stop threatening me?” she found herself asking angrily.

Benjamin opened his mouth to say something but then thought better of it and ran his hand down his face, looking suddenly tired. Roxanne had no idea how long he had even been up and what had even really possessed him to come to the Burrow to get her, “I’m a Malfoy, Weasley. Threatening is how we communicate,” he said after lowering his hand and giving her a level look.

Roxanne ignored the remark but had a strange feeling that it might be true. “When you came to get me, how did you know I’d be at my grandparent’s house?” when Benjamin said nothing, his lips tightening a little with what she sensed was embarrassment, she asked dryly. “Were you throwing rocks at my window again after stopping by the shop?”

The truth was written all over his suddenly blank face and Roxanne felt herself giggling. Benjamin frowned in annoyance, his cheeks a little pink, “When you didn’t answer I figured you and your lot weren’t home so I just thought of the next best place. You’ve told me so much about the Burrow that I didn’t even need to ask around.”

Roxanne wasn’t sure who he would have asked but she had a feeling that he had resources in every single place in Diagon Alley. When they’d been younger, he’d snuck in to Knockturn Alley to have a peak at some of the dangerous shops that they weren’t supposed to be looking at and his father had been furious when he’d been caught by Hagrid of all people.

Her family friend had been getting flesh-eating slug repellant when he’d snagged Benjamin by the collar and dragged him away from some shrunken skulls, (Benjamin had reluctantly related this to her later on since she hadn’t gone with him) and her parents had contacted Mr. Malfoy.

It seemed that Benjamin was always getting into trouble and she wondered if some part of him enjoyed it, “So you came to get me because….?” Roxanne asked questionably, wanting him to admit something. “You missed me didn’t you?”

“No,” Benjamin grunted too quickly and she laughed, triumphant. Their nasty words just a few minutes ago seemed to vanish entirely and she stared at him smugly, “shut up.” He snapped, his cheeks turning just the faintest bit red before he motioned for her to follow, “come in my room with me and sit for a while. Merlin knows I can’t argue with you in the middle of the bloody house.”

Feeling as if she had won for the time being, Roxanne sidled up beside him, grinning into his face. Benjamin glared down at her warningly but wound up wrapping his arm loosely around her shoulders like he had a few times before and pulling her close. It would only be later that she would realize how much of a mistake it had been to come at all.


Roxanne found herself stretching her arms high above her head an hour and a half later. She was sitting on the edge of Benjamin’s bed, finding it just a tad bit odd that she would even want to be there after the kisses that he had subjected them to, “I really should be going you know.” Her voice fell upon Benjamin as he lounged lazily on the floor with a deck of Exploding Snap that they’d just finished playing. Roxanne had won of course and had hopped on his black coverlet in her stockings for a celebratory dance and he’d watched her in amusement and indignation, not used to losing. “My parents and brother should be getting up in a few.”

“Stay for a while longer, Weasley. It’s not going to kill you,” Benjamin remarked dryly as he wiped a bit of soot from the tip of his nose. Roxanne honestly thought it might be better to get home, she had been a bit nervous about being in his bedroom after what had happened even though she’d been inside of it more than once over the last few years. “You want me to tell you about Italy don’t you?”

Roxanne knew that he was tugging on her curiosity and she said dryly. “You haven’t said anything about it since we’ve been in here.” And that was the truth and she hadn’t really expected him to. All they had done for the past half an hour was play a few games of Wizard chess, Exploding Snap and he’d destroyed her in Gobstones as the Manor had settled around them with silent grace.

Benjamin’s entire room was done in dark shades that were rather intimidating and a few of his personal things were still in boxes or leaning against dressers and chairs. Everything here; from the large bed that Roxanne sat on to the personal bathroom was large, expensive and reeked of his careless view of his surroundings, “I’ve been trying to think about what to tell you.”

“Why does it even matter? I just want to know what it’s like.” Roxanne replied crossly, annoyed with him and the fact that he had treasures lurking like mocking toys in his room. He’d collected pottery and some scrolls that she’d been told not to touch, for fear that they’d fall apart since they were so old, “I’ve never even been out of the country.”

“Well, why not?” Benjamin asked her blandly. Roxanne knew that her family was rich but her parents were always so busy that they never had the time to go anywhere exotic, even though Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes was nearly all over the Wizarding world.

Roxanne ignored him and her eyes strayed to the fallen daisies on the floor where she’d been sitting with him only a few minutes before. They looked like the neglected remains of some bouquet, “I just can’t right now. My mom almost moved to Ireland to play for the Hollyhead’s when she was a little older than me.”

Benjamin was instantly curious about this because he had, even though he wouldn’t admit it, a little crush on her mother. He’d never admitted it on those rare times when Roxanne had introduced them but she saw that age-old infatuation strike his face for a brief second before he asked, “How come?”

Roxanne smiled a little as she replied. “She decided to marry my dad.”

“She didn’t join the Hollyhead Harpies because she wanted to marry your dad?” Benjamin asked with apparent horror. He shook his head with distaste, “I can’t ever do something like that.” He was the Slytherin Quidditch captain and probably one of the best Beaters that they’d ever had, though Roxanne snorted mentally when she knew that her father could display far more skill.

Roxanne thought briefly of her laughing, sometimes depressed father fondly for a while longer before asking her strange companion. “You don’t want to get married, Ben?”

Benjamin recoiled. “Hell, no,”

“Why not?” Roxanne asked him curiously. She hadn’t really thought about whether or not she wanted to get married herself but she had never disliked the idea of being with someone forever. “There’s not anything wrong with loving someone and wanting to be with them forever and ever.”

Benjamin laughed at the words and then said, his tone sobering until she could barely hear him. “Yes there is. You’re just too naïve to understand it,” and Roxanne gawped, feeling a spark of anger. “Being with someone and being with someone are two different things, Weasley.”

Roxanne was confused. “What do you mean?”

“What do you think I mean?” Benjamin asked her huskily, his eyes running over her and resting in a not so subtle place on her chest. She’d mistakenly discarded her jacket, which was lying on the floor like a pink blanket and she crossed her arms, “I’d rather fuck than marry. Ever,”

The room seemed to heat exponentially and Roxanne flushed deeply and swallowed hard. “That can’t be the only good thing about being with someone. What about sharing your problems and actually getting to know each other instead of just wiping body fluids?” she asked dryly.

Benjamin roared with laughter before picking up the Exploding Snap deck and shuffling them expertly with his long fingers. Roxanne was distracted, wondering what they would feel like on her skin and instantly regretted the thought as he sent her a sly look from beneath his lashes, “There are some things that two people can do better than just talking, sweet.”

“W-whatever,” Roxanne replied uncomfortably.

Benjamin smirked to himself, the silent pressure and demand in the room making it hard to draw in an even breath. Roxanne rubbed her arms, wishing that he would stop staring at her, “You say that now Weasley. I bet none of your so-called boyfriends ever did much than hold your hand.”

Roxanne glared at him for his nerve to even assume something like that. Even if it was true, “That’s none of your business okay? Not all girls just so happen to blurt out their secrets.”

“Uh-huh.” Benjamin said with a smirk playing across his stupid full mouth. Roxanne’s lips tingled in recollection of how they’d felt on hers and she scowled, annoyed, “so I bet you’re all grown up now, huh, lump?”

Roxanne wanted to tell him that she knew a thing or two but she didn’t. Victoire was the only one out of her cousins who had even lost her virginity and she’d told her in that off-hand way of hers that it hadn’t exactly been bringing the planets together. “I am grown up,” she found herself saying defiantly.

Benjamin smirked even wider. “Aren’t you cute?” he asked with blatant disbelief. Roxanne glared at him and crossed her legs and his blue-brown eyes hooded as he openly stared. “You’ve got great legs, Weasley. Anyone ever tell you that?”

Roxanne pushed her skirt down a bit and tightened her legs a little. “Thanks, I guess. But that doesn’t have anything to do with Italy.” She said dryly, reminding him of what he wouldn’t tell her and he barked a laugh.

“I guess not,” was his bland reply.

There was a slight silence before she asked him. “Are you afraid of telling me because of your dad being home?” she questioned.

Benjamin looked startled and instantly wary that she’d asked. She’d been careful not to mention his father at all because of what she’d heard but the shift of his face was enough to have her wondering if he would rise from the floor and threaten her with more than kisses. “I’ve got a Silencing Charm in here, Weasley. My dad won’t hear shit.”

“Why do you have that?” Roxanne asked him and then she blushed. “Oh, right.”

Benjamin laughed. “It’s not just for when I’m fucking random girls in here.” Roxanne looked down at his bed with apparent revulsion and his face brimmed with renewed amusement. “Jealous?” when she glared at him warningly, he went on to explain. “I just don’t like hearing my parents arguing all right? Things have been pretty intense lately.”

Roxanne found herself pressing. “Where are your mum and siblings?”

“With my mum’s parents,” Benjamin said stiffly, surprising her. “My grandparents are out on vacation with some of their stupid, ignorant friends from back in the olden days.” He said dryly and Roxanne knew that they’d been avid supporters for Voldemort back in the day and felt supremely sorry for him.

Desperately trying to change the subject, Roxanne rushed on with a hopeful grin.  “Just tell me what Italy was like. Did you go to another Wizarding school there?” she didn’t know much about foreign schools, only that every country had at least one or two. Aunt Fleur had graduated from Beuxbatons when she had been a girl and still talk about it fondly, comparing Hogwarts more to a dungeon than the fine palace where she’d traipsed in.

Benjamin saw her spark of interest and nodded as he sat up, having been lounging there on his Persian carpet like some sort of gigantic cat. “Yeah, I did.” Roxanne’s eyes lit up, wanting more information and he started to smile smugly, “it’s a lot nicer than Hogwarts and classes were always outside. The sun was always shining and I got to visit a lot of Roman temples during break.”

“So what are the lessons like? What sort of uniforms did you all have to wear?” Roxanne asked eagerly, nearly hopping off the bed as she felt excitement going through her. “What sort of food di you all get? Are there house-elves in the kitchens?”

Benjamin laughed. “Weasley, you’re asking a million questions at once. It’d take me all day to go through everything with you.” Roxanne pouted a little, “and you said you wanted to go home, right?” he asked slyly and she shook her head firmly, “there’s that Weasley spirit.”

Roxanne glowered at him. “Don’t make fun of me.”

“I’m not.” Benjamin said with a careless shrug. “And I really can’t tell you too much about the school itself because they like to keep things a secret. We still don’t even know where Durmstrang is, do we?” he pointed out and Roxanne nodded with a little annoyance. “It’s just a nice place. I liked it there.”

Roxanne didn’t like that he’d manipulated her without giving any other hint of what it had been like to live in Italy. She had a feeling that he was teasing, “Well. If you’re not going to say anything, I’m going to go home.” Her tone was rather crisp as she hopped off his bed and started looking for her boots, which she’d kicked off the instant she’d stepped inside.

Benjamin eventually stood up as she spotted them lurking behind a bookshelf. It was filled with tomes of nearly every magical animal known to the Wizarding world and Roxanne knew that though he wouldn’t admit it, he really loved working with animals and would probably get along with her Aunt Luna. “Aw, Weasley, I really can’t tell you too much. And anyway, you’ll be finding out for yourself soon enough.”

This caught Roxanne’s attention immediately and she stood up, unsettled that his eyes had been raking her backside as she’d bent over. “What do you mean?” her voice sounded tight.

“I mean that you’ll be getting a surprise once we get back to Hogwarts, sweet. I already know everything about it.” Benjamin replied smugly, obviously having been waiting for this chance to brag to her. Roxanne glared at him, wanting to know more but he simply said, shrugging, “it pays to have friends in the right places.”

Roxanne didn’t exactly like the way he’d said that and she felt a flush deepening on her face. Had he had some sort of girlfriend back in Italy? She was probably a lot better looking than her and most likely not the first he’d been messing around with.

Hogwarts had lost its variety for him, she figured when he’d slept his way through nearly every House since she’d known him (Miranda Patil gossiped quite a bit and she’d learned this unwillingly when she’d been eavesdropping once again), “You are such a prat. Why do you keep lying and saying you’ll tell me stuff and not do it?” She demanded.

Benjamin thought about it as he watched her slipping forcefully into her boots. “I really just like it when you pout like that. It’s really cute,” there was a wolfish smile on his face and Roxanne glared at him, not enjoying that he was having more fun than she was. The bottles of butterbeer that they’d drunk together and all the treats he’d given her in the last half an hour were finally wearing off, “just makes me want to kiss you again.”

Roxanne glanced over her shoulder at his bedroom door. She knew that all it would take was a quick and sly walk around the Manor to one of their sitting rooms towards a fireplace, which of course would have a decent supply of Floo powder, “I’m sure everything makes you want to kiss again,” she spat.

Benjamin was running his eyes over her in a predatory swoop that caused Roxanne to realize the sort of danger that she’d put herself into.

He had changed a lot from the person that she had known during Hogwarts and had been gone a year in a strange place, probably shifting into someone that she shouldn’t have been making eye contact with in the first place. But it was still Ben…still the boy that she’d known as a child, “Not everything has to be a kiss Weasley.”

Roxanne felt as if he’d dumped her in a pool of hot liquid and she flushed. Hastily, she looked around for her jacket and was mortified when she saw that it was near his feet, which meant that she would have to get closer to him in order to retrieve it. “I need my jacket.”

Benjamin bent and snatched it up, holding out for her. A sly cast to his eyes greeted her as he met her eyes, the pull between them pulsing and crackling, “Come and get it then.”

“No.” Roxanne gritted warily.

“I’ll give it back if you kiss me.” Benjamin whispered with velvet softness.

It was of course, like making a deal with the Devil himself and Roxanne’s lips parted wordlessly but she couldn’t quite force the words out. He looked too tempting and sure of himself, “Y-you’re just going to have to get over it then,” she snapped irritably.

Benjamin moved closer and she stepped back. A playful gleam had entered his eyes and Roxanne wondered if he had even been intending on letting her leave without getting something more from her, “Come on, Weasley. Are you scared?” he held her jacket in front of her, taunting and sneering.

Roxanne felt a bolt of challenge go through her. “I am not scared of you,” even though it was a lie, it felt good to say it out loud but only caused him to raise his black brows mockingly. Forcing her legs forward, she crossed the small space between them and reached for her jacket imperiously, “give it to me.”

The double meaning didn’t fly by him and Benjamin started to smile before it faded away at the defiant expression on her face. “Take it, Weasley.” He whispered gently and she felt a shiver. “After you kiss me, of course. A deal is a deal,”

Roxanne felt her fingers balling into a tight fist at his nerve. But some part of her wanted to play, even though the end result would be something she would more than likely regret, “I think you’ve had enough kisses for the morning, Ben. Are you drunk or something?”

“I’m not drunk. I just don’t want you to leave and if you’re not going to kiss me, then I’m just going to kiss you,” Benjamin replied warningly, his voice darker than midnight. Roxanne’s heart stuttered and she tried to think of something to say before he invaded her space, his intent becoming clearer and clearer, “stay with me for a little while longer, sweet.”

Roxanne swallowed hard and shakily reached for her jacket right as he pulled her closer to him, finding absolutely no resistance, “Ben, I can’t—” she said firmly but he’d bent his head and his mouth was on her throat, making her entire body burn.

The words seemed to be forced back as the kisses trailed from her throat, her jaw, the soft shell of her ear and when he finally took her mouth in a searing, deceiving kiss, there was no part in her that wanted to leave.

Until I come back to this, be patient! D': I have to update for Albus Potter and the Dark Lord's Prince!


Chapter 6: Then and Now
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A/N: Hello everyone! I'm updating for this again and please, at the end, don't hate me too much. Enjoy.

Roxanne didn’t want him to leave. “Do you have to go home now?” she asked Benjamin for the thousandth time as he walked her back towards her father’s joke shop. Diagon Alley was bustling with activity still and they went unnoticed even though they were both dripping with toilet water and probably smelling like a troll’s armpit from their recent adventure. They’d wasted the afternoon away putting cherry bombs in various bathrooms and had almost been caught but had run away before they could be grabbed by the throats by the furious owner of a Muggle Cuisine restaurant, “Why can’t you stay over my house?” she pressed around a frown.

“I have to go home, lump. I can’t stay and hang out with you all day.” Benjamin replied with an annoyed glance down at her. She looked up at him, frowning and near tears and he said awkwardly, “Look, er, I’ll come back in a few days, okay?”

Roxanne found herself pouting and he gave her hand a little squeeze. A smile started to curve despite herself and she swung their hands together, which caused his cheeks to turn a little pink even as a frown started to appear on his face, “When you come back I’ll let you meet my mum and she’ll make us something to eat. And then you can meet all my cousins,”

“I don’t want to meet your cousins.” Benjamin said stiffly and Roxanne frowned, not understanding why he wouldn’t like her family very much. He was a Malfoy but he didn’t seem all that bad, especially not after giving her those pretty daisies (They’d gotten wet from an exploding toilet and she’d sadly had to throw them away), “but I wouldn’t mind meeting your mum. She’s really pretty.”

Roxanne wondered if she would grow up looking like her mother. Maybe if she did, he would say she was pretty too, “You could stay for dinner tonight if you want. Mum is making cherry pie,” she invited and Benjamin frowned and shook his head a little, his blue-brown eyes flickering with indecision. “My parents won’t mind and my brother probably won’t come home today.”

Benjamin seemed oddly glad of this and she saw that he appeared very relieved. She was pretty sure that they didn’t get along well at Hogwarts, “How come?” he asked.

“He might stay with Teddy Lupin or go over our Aunt Audrey and Uncle Percy’s. They spoil him even more than mum and dad do,” Roxanne explained, shrugging. She wanted to go see Molly and Lucy soon too and tell them about her new friend but she doubted if they would like him very much, “so you can have dinner with us!”

“I gotta ask my mum and dad though,” Benjamin muttered, blushing. Roxanne felt his hand tightening around hers a little and she was just about to ask him what was wrong when he asked uncomfortably. “When do you come to Hogwarts lump?”

Roxanne frowned. “I’m not a lump!”

Benjamin grinned. “Yes you are. You’re all plump and cu—stupid.” He amended hastily and Roxanne glared up at him and then turned her face away, nose in the air. “So when do you go to Hogwarts?” he asked again, smiling broadly.

“I go next year!” Roxanne proclaimed proudly, instantly all smiles. She was really nervous about it though because her parents kept telling her horror stories and Perce had her thinking that the giant squid that lived in the Black Lake would come out at night and eat her.

“You’d better be in Slytherin then.” Benjamin said firmly and when Roxanne merely stared up at him in confusion, the two of them nearly running into a couple on the sidewalk, he explained smugly. “I’m a Slytherin and it’s the best House in the school.”

Roxanne furrowed her brow thoughtfully. “But my brother said all Slytherins are mean and sneaky.” She said and she wasn’t really sure if this was true or not but she hoped that it wasn’t because Benjamin wasn’t mean, he was actually very nice.

Benjamin frowned a little and he glanced at her as if he expected her to say something else but when she didn’t and continued walking with him, he finally said. “All Slytherins aren’t bad, okay? Your brother and your cousins are wrong.” He said fiercely.

Roxanne wondered if her brother and cousins had been rather mean to him and wondered, awkwardly, how to make it better. She would have to tell Perce not to bother him anymore since he was her friend now but she didn’t know if he would bother listening to her, “I don’t think they’re all bad. I’ve never met a Slytherin before you and you’re not so mean,” to her at least, “even my Uncle Harry says all Slytherins aren’t mean.”

That seemed to make Benjamin feel a little bit better and she watched as his frown deepened a little before he asked. “You gonna try and get into Slytherin with me lump? I don’t think I’d like it if you’d wind up being in Gryffindor. They’re all so full of shit,” he muttered.

“Ooh, you said a bad word!” Roxanne crowed, impressed. Benjamin shrugged but looked a little proud of himself at the expression on her face, “my mum says that sometimes when my dad is getting on her nerves.”

“Really?” Benjamin asked with a laugh.

Roxanne nodded, adding. “She also calls him Georgia too cause she says he’s real moody and acts like a girl sometimes.” That had Benjamin laughing harder and she wondered what his parents were like and if they played as much as her own but he didn’t offer any hints. “I don’t think I want to be a Gryffindor, my whole family has been there! My cousin Molly is a Ravenclaw and I really love her but I’ll be in Slytherin with you.”

Benjamin smiled then and it was the happiest smile that she had ever seen. It seemed to come from some deep, secret place in his heart and transformed his face. It made him appear so much nicer and she felt her cheeks turning a bit red and joy flood her system, “Really, Weasley? Promise?” he asked eagerly.

“Promise! I’ll be the best Slytherin ever!” Roxanne declared importantly and he squeezed her hand for a moment, still giving her that happy smile before they continued on their way. By the time they reached her father’s joke shop, they were chattering and making more plans when they would see one another again, most of them things that they would get into trouble for.

Benjamin was just suggesting that they throw water balloons at the elderly when the clink of the joke shop’s door opening alerted them to reality.

Roxanne glanced towards the entrance, a smile on her face growing at the sight of her brother standing just outside the door, looking thunderous, “What are you doing with my sister?” Perce demanded, taking in her rumpled clothes and probably inhaling the stench of toilet water.

“Perce, don’t be mean!” Roxanne chided annoyingly. Her brother looked as if he had had the time of his life away from home and she saw their father standing with their mother inside, the shop apparently getting ready to close as a few customers still meandered about. The brightness of the shop always made her happy but her brother’s expression made her a little confused, “this is Benjamin Malfoy, he’s my friend.”

Perce and Benjamin eyed one another as if they would love nothing more than to rip each other’s faces off and she looked between them worriedly. “I know who he is and I don’t want you talking to him.” Her brother gritted out furiously, “what do you think you’re up to anyway, Malfoy?”

Benjamin flushed an ugly red and moved in front of Roxanne as if he would actually hit her brother and she felt her body infuse with panic. Perce stepped further outside, slamming the door behind them and their parents looked towards the sound in alarm, “I’m not up to anything Weasley. You think you’d be keeping a better eye on your sister, right? She was sitting on a bench today all by herself.”

“What’d you do to her?” Perce demanded angrily as he took in Roxanne’s face. She was growing more and more angry at her brother, not understanding why he was being this way, “if I find out that you put your hands on her—” his voice trailed away as he noticed their hands still clasped. “Roxie, come here.”

“How come?” Roxanne demanded angrily. When she didn’t move fast enough her brother took her arm and snatched her roughly away from Benjamin, who tried to hold onto her fingers for a second longer before forcing his hand into a tight fist. “Ow, Percy! Let me go you prat!”

Benjamin was glaring at her brother fiercely and said tightly. “Why don’t you try being little nicer to your sister, prick? I didn’t do anything to her,”

Perce glowered at him while Roxanne nearly clawed his face off. “Would you quit it? Merlin!” he snapped angrily as she gave him a sharp bite on his wrist that had him howling in pain before he managed to hiss at Benjamin, who was laughing. “And Malfoy, stay away from my sister. You think you’re something special but she doesn’t know any better.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?! He’s my friend,” Roxanne cried, feeling a sting.

There was the briefest of pauses before her brother managed to speak, as if what she had said was too horrible to comprehend. “He is not your friend! Rejects like him don’t have friends!” Perce snarled down at her. Roxanne burst into tears and he recoiled, “oh, for God’s sake don’t start!” he cried.

Roxanne sniffled, her lip trembling and her brother eyed her as if she were an atom bomb waiting to explode. Benjamin was standing there, looking shocked and dangerously angry but he said nothing and that seemed to make it even worse, even though she couldn’t understand then how much her brother’s words had hurt him. “I-I’m telling!” she wailed.

“Don’t you dare!” Perce warned furiously.

The remaining customers in the shop had now left but they eyed the three of them with amusement and wary fascination before they walked away.

Roxanne waited for them to leave before glaring at her brother, opening her mouth and shouting as loudly as she could in a carrying voice that would make a banshee flinch, “DAAAAAAAADDY!"

Perce was about to let her go but it was too late and their father, who seemed to have rushed over as if the world were ending, opened the door. Roxanne had seen him angry more than once but she had never seen him this furious before and he glared down at her brother sternly, “What are you doing?” he demanded.

“I wasn’t doing anything—Roxie, shut up!” Perce snapped angrily at Roxanne, who was still sobbing a little even as her brother released her. Benjamin had slunk down the sidewalk as if he meant to make a run for it but her father shot him a glance and he surprisingly stayed where he was, “I was just telling her not to hang around this Malfoy kid.”

“Daddy, he was being mean to me!” Roxanne accused, still sniffling.

Their father took in her flooded eyes; Perce’s annoyed expression and the uncomfortable stance of Benjamin and sighed wearily. “Stop crying beautiful girl, it’s all right,” he said as he saw her lips trembling and more tears threatening to fall.

Perce rolled his eyes. “Such a brat,” he muttered.

Ignoring him, Roxanne rushed to their father and wrapped her arms around his waist and received a gentle pat on the top of her curly head. Her mother hadn’t come out but she knew that she was watching from inside, probably wondering when it would be best to take over if her husband couldn’t handle it, “First of all, what is that smell?” their father asked, wrinkling his nose before he bent and inhaled a few strands of her hair, “Merlin, beautiful girl. Take a bath when you get up in the flat and second, Fred, why are you trying to pick a fight?”

Perce flushed angrily, but Benjamin was eyeing him meanly and if Roxanne hadn’t known any better, she would have seen that his feelings were hurt. “I wasn’t trying to pick a fight with anyone!” he lied, looking very much like their father with that one action. Benjamin glared at him viciously, “he was holding her hand! What was I supposed to do?”

“Holding her hand?” Their father repeated curiously, brown eyes going a bit wide. Roxanne didn’t know why she was blushing but she saw Benjamin’s mouth tightening a little, his fists clenched tightly at his sides, “you hold hands with Leanne Wood and your sister doesn’t get mad at you.”

Perce blushed and his entire face turned scarlet. It was an interesting contrast to his dark skin and Roxanne giggled, “B-but that’s different! I know Leanne! Roxanne doesn’t know him,” he jerked his head at Benjamin, who rolled his eyes and then lowered them to the ground.

Their father was grinning a little, the dimple in his right cheek almost appearing. There was nothing he loved more than teasing Perce about his crush on Leanne Wood but he eventually let it go and Roxanne saw his expression sober, “Were you hurting her?” their father asked, swiveling his very red head in Benjamin’s direction. He stiffened at being addressed and opened his mouth, probably for some sharp comment but when Roxanne saw her father raise his eyebrows in that I-don’t-want-any-lies way, he closed it. “No? Yes?”

Benjamin muttered. “No, sir,”

Perce glared at him, obviously disbelieving. “He could have been!”

Roxanne frowned and hugged their father’s waist defensively. “He wasn’t stupid! He was just walking me home!” she looked up at their father, who was watching the argument unfurling as if he didn’t really know what to do. At their house, their mother handed out the discipline and he looked a bit lost, “Daddy, he’s my friend. He wasn’t doing anything wrong.”

“I saw you two while you were coming up and he didn’t look like he was doing anything wrong to me, Fred. I thought I taught you better than that,” their father said with a frown at his son. Perce looked startled to be on the wrong end of his affections today and glared at Roxanne, “Benjamin right?” he had turned his attention to the other boy, who was eyeing him as if he would take out his wand.

Or worse, spank him.

“Yeah,” Benjamin mumbled, staring up at him.

“I don’t mind you talking to my daughter but I don’t want any trouble between you and my son. So, the thing to do right now is make you hug.” That caused a slight silence and Roxanne watched as her brother flinched, Benjamin appearing disgusted, “it’s what my mum used to make my brothers do when they were fighting too much.”

Roxanne wondered which brothers he was talking about but her father wasn’t smiling and she assumed he was thinking about his twin. It made her sad too but she heard Perce snap, “I am not doing that!”

“Why not?” their father asked lightly.

Benjamin grunted. “He’s a bloke! I don’t hug other blokes—and especially ones that aren’t good-looking enough!” at that, Roxanne heard her father roar with laughter. It made the other boy flush embarrassingly even while Perce regarded him as if he were slime on his boot, “I didn’t even do anything wrong!”

It was true but Roxanne was distracted by the hurt in his eyes and even more so when the door opened behind her father. “What are you making them do?” it was her mother and the immediate appearance of her caused Benjamin to straighten up, his whole face turning pink. “I thought you could handle this on your own, Georgia but apparently not.”

“So I owe you a Galleon?” was her father’s reluctant reply.

“And you’re doing the dishes and painting my toes for a month.” Roxanne’s mother said with a grin before she turned her attention to the three of them. She took in Roxanne’s pout and the way she was clinging to her father with a sigh, “this is what happens when you spoil her, George. What’s the issue?”

Perce was the first to speak, his chest poked out. “Dad wants me to hug that stinking Malfoy boy and I’m not going to do it. He was holding Roxie’s hand Mum!” he waved his arms around to emphasize his point.

Their mother’s mouth dipped down in a disapproving frown and Roxanne watched as she gave him a stern look that caused him to deflate immediately. “We’re going to have a little discussion about name-calling before you get to bed, Fred. Didn’t we raise you better than that?” Perce frowned furiously, kicking at the ground. “And Roxie, you can’t always go crying to your dad when you can’t get your way.”

Roxanne blushed, not liking the words. “But Mum,”

But her mother wasn’t looking at her, she was looking at Benjamin. He was staring at her as if he would give her the moon and she bent down a bit until they were eye level, “You’re not a bad kid, are you?” when he shook his head, she gave him a smile, “now tell me the truth. Were you trying to play a trick on my daughter or were you just being a gentleman and walking her home?”

“I wasn’t going to do anything to her,” Benjamin said meekly and he looked hopeful that she would believe him and when she nodded, seeing nothing but the truth, he relaxed. “She was by herself in Diagon Alley and I decided to walk her home. Not a crime or anything,” he muttered.

“Now this was just a big misunderstanding and I want the two of you to apologize.” Roxanne heard her mother say and she stood and moved away from Benjamin. Perce glared at him just as she said, “Now hug, shake hands and come inside for something to eat.”

Perce looked ill. “I’m not hugging Malfoy…”

Benjamin glanced longingly at Roxanne, then miserably at her mother. Something in his face had changed and she saw that his fists were shaking, that he looked like he was being torn apart on the inside, “Forget it! I don’t want anything to do with you stupid Weasley’s anyway.” And with that, he stalked away but not before Roxanne saw that his eyes had been glassy with oncoming tears.

“Good riddance,” Perce snapped.

Their mother glared over at him. “Fred Percival!” she snapped angrily, looking as if she might just give him a good spanking. Roxanne watched her brother recoil and glance at their father hopefully but he merely shrugged, not being the one to get in the middle of it when he’d get the wrong end of his own wife’s fist. “You go and apologize to that boy right now before he gets away!”

Perce flushed furiously, panic written all over his face. “What? No!” that only caused their mother’s face to become a thunderous, impatient monstrosity and he flinched. “I’m not going to do anything like that. He should stay away from Roxie!"

“Look what you did!” Roxanne found herself sobbing furiously at her brother, who was gawping after Benjamin as if he couldn’t think of something to say. Their parents looked both angry and a little concerned but she wasn’t sure if they were upset about her friend or not, “Now he’s not going to be my friend anymore! I hate you Fred!” she cried, disentangling herself from their father fiercely.

Their mother frowned severely, instantly distracted as her brother stared at her with true hurt flickering in his brown eyes. “That’s not nice, Roxie, you take that back!” their mother commanded angrily.

Roxanne shook her head, sobbing. “No! Leave me alone!” she pushed away from her father when he tried to pull her back to him and ran as fast and as hard as she could from them. Benjamin had walked faster than was possible and was nothing but a tall speck on the sidewalk and she rushed after him, “Wait! Don’t leave me! Wait!”


“Roxanne, wake up.” Benjamin’s voice floated around her as if from a great distance and she groggily opened one of her eyes. His hand was gently pushing at her bare shoulder, forcing her out of a memory that still felt as fresh as if it had happened merely hours before, “lump, wake up. You’re talking in your sleep.”

Blearily, Roxanne tried to focus and felt a bolt of heat go over her as she realized exactly what she had done and with whom. “…I-I was?” she asked weakly, unable to look him in the eye as he peered down at her, his elbow propped up so he could observe her more clearly. She feared that he had been watching her sleep and a fresh blush flashed over her cheeks and she buried her face in his pillow, “stop staring! It’s embarrassing!”

It was more than a little silly to be embarrassed when she thought of what she had allowed herself to do against her better judgment.

Roxanne hadn’t been able to say no, she hadn’t been able to stop herself from responding to more kisses, touches and caresses…little words in her ear and by the time that her mind had started spinning again, she’d lost herself.

There had been a time, in her fantasies of seeing Benjamin again but she had never expected it to lead to this, with her naked body shielded beneath silk sheets and his own body so close to her own. Even now, after the last time that they’d… “With everything that I did to you, you sure do have a lot of nerve, Weasley.” Benjamin said with a wolfish grin.

She felt a prickle of irritation even as something stirred in the most indecent places. There was a shift on the mattress as Benjamin rolled over and she suspected that he would get out of bed and the dream would be over and she would come back to the real world but instead, he merely stayed put. Confused and hearing her heart pounding in a crazy tempo, Roxanne looked up from his pillow, which smelt so nice like his skin— “You…you’re not going to kick me out?” she whispered nervously.

Benjamin was lying on his stomach, facing her but she wasn’t able to sense his thoughts. There was always something so guarded and hard about the look in his eyes but just now, they were heavy and relaxed, the hue in them more brown than blue, “Why would I do that?” he asked lazily, his eyes roaming over her hair.

Roxanne felt a zing go up her arm as she felt his long fingers pulling her closer. She resisted a little but he eventually had his way until they were only a breath apart, the heat from his skin causing a flood of renewed sensation to churn, “Cause…all the girls say you do that.” She mumbled, distracted a bit as his fingers drifted up to play in her hair.

“Really, now?” Benjamin asked lazily, his voice sleep-scratchy. His fingers were wrapping around the strands that hung crazily around her face, nearly shielding the wide eyed expression on her face, “and did you hear that from Miranda Patil?”

Roxanne blushed guiltily and watched as his lips turned up in a smile. She couldn’t quite get the words out and was instantly distracted as he slid his fingers out of her hair and trailed a gentle touch to her jaw, the curve of her cheek and settling briefly on her lips. They were swollen and she must have made a sound because he gave her the softest of kisses before pulling away, looking only slightly apologetic, “You kiss too rough you know,” she said teasingly.

“I didn’t hear you complaining about it, lump,” Benjamin shot back, looking wide eyed. Roxanne found herself giggling a little as he brushed his mouth along her jaw, nibbling and kissing, “tell me what you heard from Miranda Patil. You’ve got me curious,” he whispered, pulling away just before their lips would have met.

Roxanne sensed that he had done it on purpose and was briefly embarrassed that she had fallen for it, unable to understand how he seemed to have such a hold on her. After swallowing a little, she said, “Well, she said you and her…you know,” she couldn’t even say the words out loud and he burst out laughing, his chest rumbling. “Shut up! It isn’t funny!” she cried but he was laughing all the harder and she punched him in the arm, “you think you’re so cool!”

Benjamin captured her fist before she could hit him again and rose up a little, watching as her eyes drifted over his bare chest. Roxanne blushed all the harder but heard him ask as his fingers laced with hers, a slow movement that drew a quivering sigh from her lips, “I am cool, lump. And just so you know, Miranda Patil was such a bad lay that I’d have been stupid to go back.”

“So you and she really did…?” Roxanne demanded, struck by the sting of jealousy. She was being ridiculous of course because there was no reason that she should be jealous of anyone that had slept with Benjamin before her but some part of her thought of him as hers. No one knew him as well as she did, and no one would take him from her—the thought was startling and made her feel briefly ashamed of herself, “oh. Well, that’s, uhm, not any of my business.”

“Jealous, Weasley?” Benjamin asked slyly as his eyes scanned over her. She was holding the sheets up to her chest and eyeing him, trying not to appear as hurt as she did on the inside, “you’re pouting again.” Roxanne glared at him and hated that it was true, “I really love it when you do that.”

“I’m not pouting!”

Benjamin was grinning evilly and she was embarrassed to note that he didn’t seem to mind that the sheets were sliding off him. Some part of her wanted to look but she fixedly kept her gaze on his, “You are pouting, it’s the cutest thing,” he whispered gently as he bent over her, “and you know what that makes me want to do?”

Roxanne gawped at him, shaking her head. “No, you leave me alone!” she cried but he was already running his hands over her and tickling her. Laughter bubbled up in her chest and although she tried her hardest to get away, he was bigger and faster than she was and soon had her pinned underneath him as easily as if she were a little kid again, “no! Stop—haha, stop! Prat, this isn’t—not there!” she cried in humiliation as he got a place behind her knee.

“Give in Weasley—ow!” Benjamin hissed angrily as she punched him rather hard in his shoulder. She was trying to get away from him and was kicking wildly, the sheets flying in every direction, “that’s it!” he snarled playfully when she actually bit his arm.

Roxanne tried to push at him, laughing and near to tears as he took her wrists and put them over her head and pressed her back onto the mattress. “Cheater!” she cried, gasping. Benjamin was panting, his cheeks flushed and he bent to nip playfully at her lower lip, relaxing his hold on her wrists and forcing them over his head until her fingers curled into his hair. His braid had come loose from earlier and she thought back to her own frenzy to have him and blushed, “I have to, uhm, get home soon you know.”

“What are you blushing so much about? You turn red all over,” Benjamin whispered in between kisses and she squirmed underneath him in indignation. “And you’re sweet all over…” Roxanne couldn’t breathe from what else he said and while she was gawping up at him, flooded with need and embarrassment, he said firmly, “Just send an owl to your parents and lie and say you’re with a friend.”

“It wouldn’t really be a lie. You are my friend,” Roxanne found herself saying distractedly as she felt his hands traveling. She could barely breathe from wanting more, “they’ll know I’m lying and I’ll get in trouble for s-sneaking out and stop that!” she spluttered when his kisses started to lower to her throat, “I don’t even know what time it is,”

Benjamin murmured something against her throat before rising up on his hands to peer down at her. She saw a flicker of annoyance growing in his eyes and something uneasy passed between them, “So what? You came here on your own. You didn’t think about how you were going to be getting back did you?”

Roxanne didn’t like the accusation he placed on her and she glanced away from him, knowing that it was more than a little true. She had been so excited on seeing him and being near him for a while that she had carelessly forgotten about how and when she would be returning to the Burrow, “You don’t have to sound like such an ass about it. I wasn’t exactly expecting you to crash my grandparent’s anniversary.”

“How else was I supposed to talk to you, Weasley?” Benjamin asked, the annoyance sharpening into something rather nasty. Roxanne glowered up at him, even though she was both confused and wary by the sudden turn of conversation, “did you think that your mum and dad would have liked it if I’d came knocking on their door?”

He had never even been inside their flat no matter how many times Roxanne had invited him to come up and have dinner, play games and watch Muggle TV. The hatred and disdain he felt for her family shouldn’t have been forgotten but she’d foolishly assumed that he would turn around…since he had her of course, “They actually wouldn’t mind it. My mum sort of likes you.”

Benjamin rolled his eyes and she saw that they were shifting from blue to brown and back again, a true sign that he was growing more than a little frustrated. “They can’t stand me. Just like all the rest of your family,” he muttered down to her.

“What? Don’t say that! My dad, he, uhm, doesn’t hate you.” Roxanne tried to say and she saw that that hardly mattered. A tick started to work its way in his jaw, “and I don’t care that you’re my friend, how many times have I told you that it doesn’t matter?”

Benjamin was silent for a long moment and she felt distinctly uncomfortable for most of them, the feel of his body over hers a distraction that she didn’t necessarily need. “It does matter. You’ve got no idea how much it fucking matters.” He snapped.

“Don’t you get mad at me! I don’t even know what your issue is!” Roxanne cried furiously, taken aback by the fierce way he regarded her. Had it just been a few moments ago when he had tickled and kissed her? She felt the hot threat of anger coming onto her more strongly than she would have liked, “I’m not embarrassed of you!”

“Then bring me home with you and tell your grand old family what you’ve been up to for most of the morning. Be sure to be extremely graphic,” Benjamin said coldly, a nasty gleam in his eyes. When Roxanne faltered, knowing that her parent’s wrath would be something fierce, he misinterpreted her expression and his upper lip curled, “Afraid that your brother won’t approve?” he sneered.

Roxanne frowned, knowing that there was no one else in her family that he despised as much as her own brother and some part of her couldn’t blame him. Not after what she had found out so long ago, “What does my brother have to do with this? I don’t want to get in trouble, okay? It’s not like I’m embarrassed,” she said, feeling suddenly uncomfortable with him leaning over her.

Sensing it, Benjamin leaned further and harder over her, making it impossible for her to leave and she frowned up at him. He knew that she couldn’t move from underneath him and her weakness only served to make him smile, the warmth in his eyes leaving, “Don’t want your family to know? Afraid of what they might say to you?”

“You’re the one who told me to lie! I don’t care that they know but this isn’t the way to tell them about us,” Roxanne found herself saying tightly. She knew that no one in her family would be pleased, especially her cousins but their disapproval had never stopped her from speaking and being near him before and she wasn’t sure why it suddenly seemed to matter to him. “I want to…I want you anyway.”

Benjamin’s black brows quirked up a little, as if he were confused by something and she felt a bit of lead enter her heart. Apparently, those weren’t the words that he had been expecting and he was silent for a long time and she felt her lower lip trembling a little, knowing that she had made a sort of mistake, “You want me anyway? You don’t care about my family, huh?”

Roxanne swallowed hard, tasting a sour flavor that disgusted her. “I don’t care about what your family might think about us, I really don’t.”

“No, it’s not that. You think you can handle being seen with someone like me? You think we can walk down the street together without someone making a remark? Without someone pointing out how much of a disaster my family is?” Benjamin demanded and when Roxanne didn’t readily reply, he barked a cruel laugh. “I should have figured that a spoiled little girl like you couldn’t handle the real world.”

Roxanne felt a sob coming on, unable to help herself. “That’s not…that’s not important! Get off of me!” when he didn’t move and merely stared down at her in a way that made her feel like the lowest worm, she said the words that she knew would destroy them. “Why are you asking me those sorts of questions? Is it because we’re…we’re together now? Is that what this is all about? Why are you so mad?”

It was as if she had dumped a bucket of ice water onto them both and she watched, horrified and stunned as Benjamin rolled off of her. The mattress seemed to sag with the turn of emotions and Roxanne watched as he slipped out of the bed, ignoring her completely as he picked up his trousers and slipped them back on, not bothering to button. “Weasley that is not happening,” he said tightly. “Not ever,”

Roxanne felt something, she wasn’t quite sure what, shattered and she balled her hands into fists. A slight tremor was starting that she couldn’t fight back; “A-and why not?” she demanded as she watched him run his fingers through his hair, pushing aside long dark strands. He appeared as distant and untouchable as a stranger and some part of her whispered that he had been and she just hadn’t wanted to see it, “what’s so wrong about it?”

“Let me make something clear. I don’t ever want to be attached to anyone and especially not to you and your fucking family. This was a mistake, I shouldn’t have even gone to see you tonight,” Benjamin said this all so clearly, so coldly that Roxanne felt goose bumps rising on her skin. How could this be happening? Why was this happening? What had she said that was so wrong? “I need you to leave,”


As if she could have ever left him, not after being his friend despite what others had said to her, not after falling apart when he’d moved away. Without any word, without any sign that he had cared about her at all and especially not after…not after… “Ben, why are you doing this?” Roxanne asked around the tightness in her throat.

“Weasley, I mean it. Just leave, all right? I should have figured that you would have thought something more was happening when it wasn’t.” Benjamin said and Roxanne felt a flood of misery, pain and hatred boil inside of her and the hot burn of tears threatened in the corners of her eyes. A stiff and very ugly silence seemed to thicken between them, “I can’t be with anyone. And especially not a Weasley,”

Roxanne said something but she wasn’t quite sure what it was but Benjamin’s eyes widened a little as she shakily slipped out of his bed. Her heart ached, and ached and she couldn’t see straight… “W-why did you…after we…” her clothes were scattered all over the floor and she sank onto her knees, desperate to get away, to leave and to wonder what she had done.

Why she had done it.

Benjamin let out a slew of curses and for a moment she heard his footsteps and shrank, wondering if he would come around and force her to her feet. “Like I kept saying since I went to go get you. I was in a bad mood and you just so happened to be what I needed to get my mind off of things.”

Roxanne heard the words as if from a great and terrible distance. Her mind was whirling, her heart was being crushed because some stupid part of her had hoped, hoped and dreamed that maybe they could be together and she felt like the biggest, dumbest fool. “….hate you,” she whispered.

“What?” Benjamin questioned, sounding bored with the turn of events. How many other girls had he done this to? How many other girls had slinked away from his bedroom with their own hopes crushed? And why had he done this to her?

The daisies he’d conjured for her all these years had meant nothing. The sweet, strange boy that had been by her side had vanished entirely… “Weasley, don’t make a scene. It’s embarrassing and it’s not going to get you anywhere with me.”

Roxanne felt herself shaking all the more as she stuffed herself into her clothes, feeling aches and pains that she wished hadn’t existed. It hurt to move but something was propelling her forward and across the expanse of the room— “So I was just a good…a good fuck then?” she didn’t know where the words were coming from but they were out before she could take them back.

Benjamin was silent for a long time, watching as she fought back oncoming sobs. Somehow she fought herself into her boots crossed towards the door, desperate to get away from this feeling and the horrible sense of betrayal and hurt, “Wait a minute Weasley.”

Hope flared in her chest and Roxanne, who had turned determinedly towards the door, slowly turned, a smile threatening to form. He was going to explain himself, he was going to talk to her…they were going to figure out what was wrong and this had never happened, “W-what?” she asked, hating how shaky her voice was.

Benjamin stared at her, a distant emotion lingering in his eyes. She wasn’t able to tear her face away from his and she traced every angle and line of him, this person that was the same and not the same, “You forgot something.” His tone was ice cold and her hopes scattered across the room like spun glass. Numbly, she watched as he reached down and picked up her discarded pink jacket, the tan of his fingers a noticeable contrast, “your jacket. Don’t you want it?”

Roxanne’s eyes widened and she felt a well of emotion threatening to explode out of her. She was so hurt, she was so everything in this one moment that she wasn’t sure how she managed to walk her way towards him, extend her hand…. “I hate you.”

“Now, don’t be immature, Weasley.” Benjamin said with a heavy sigh.

Roxanne said it louder. “I hate you! I fucking hate you!” Benjamin quirked a brow, though his skin paled drastically, “haven’t I meant anything to you at all? After all this time?! Why would you come to get me, why would you do this?! What have I done to you?!”

Silence stretched.

Benjamin was silent for a long few minutes and she thought that he wouldn’t answer, she thought that she would have the final word, the final victory but his lips turned up in a smile. It made her want to run, that smile but she stared into his eyes, trying to find the person that she had known, “Weasley, for the last time, stop thinking that you’re something special. You’re just a good fuck, a surprisingly good fuck but nothing else. Are you going to take your jacket or leave it for me as a souvenir?” he asked lightly, adding insult to injury by waving the fabric under her nose.

Roxanne reacted before she could bring herself to think more clearly, even though her mind was a jumble of mess and feelings that were tearing her apart. Snatching her jacket in one hand, she raised the other, threw her arm back and punched him as hard as she could in the face, blessedly connecting with his eye, “I hate you! I hate you! Don’t you ever speak to me again!”

“Bitch!” Benjamin hissed, stepping back and holding his eye with one hand. Her mother would be extremely proud of her, Roxanne knew but her temper was still flaring and she wanted to hex him, she wanted to curse him as hard as she could. She wanted to hold him, kiss him…be with him and the tumult of her emotions nearly made her sick—why had this happened?

What had she done? “I’m not a bitch, you’re a prat!” Roxanne screeched, trying to punch him again and only succeeding in landing a blow to his jaw. Benjamin fended her off easily, trying to subdue her but she was wildly incapable of being talked down, of hearing a rational thought, “Let me go!”

Benjamin was furious and she knew that she had crossed a line, a very thin, dangerous line and his grip on her arms, which he’d grabbed, tightened. Roxanne struggled, “Was that necessary?! Stop being a brat just because you haven’t gotten your way! Life doesn’t work like that Weasley! You can’t always get what you want!”

“I want you—I want you to let me go!” Roxanne clarified as his eyes widened, some emotion flaring in the depths before she managed to struggle free. He stepped back, eyeing her warily even as a bruise started to form around his eye, a nasty bruise that would probably turn colors in the next few days, “you’re a coward, you know that?”

Benjamin flinched visibly. “And you’re a brat. I don’t even know how you’ve managed to go this long without some horrible bloke fucking and leaving you,” the words stung and Roxanne kicked at him, barely landing a blow on his knee. There was a nasty crunch as leather met skin and she dodged away as he reached for her, looking mad with rage, “You’re not getting away with hitting me again!” he spat angrily. Roxanne glared at him, the hatred inside of her so palpable that she could have lit a fire, “get the hell out of here!”

Roxanne felt one large, traitorous tear leak from her eye and slide down her cheek and Benjamin’s face seemed to shadow with regret. Before he could say or do anything more, she was turning away, feeling the sobs working their way out of her throat with enough force to leave her dizzy and shaken.

Hating herself and hating him intensely for changing and using her so easily, she dashed for the door, opened it and ran into the shadowy corridor with her heart in pieces around her feet.


Erm, please be gentle. I know I'm terrible...but meanwhile, I'll be going back to Audrey and her Weasley! Uhm, look forward to that! D':




Chapter 7: Torn Apart
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A/N: Hello everyone! Thanks for coming back and I hope to see you again! So much angst is addictive right? Hahaha.

It all felt like a bad dream.

Roxanne's mind, while in a turmoil continued to whisper those words to her, as if repeating them would make what had happened to her at Malfoy Manor disappear. The night had started out so wonderfully as she'd danced and laughed with her relatives, never thinking that she would ever come into contact with someone that had vanished the year before.

And yet, everything had changed the instant Benjamin Malfoy had appeared in the darkness of her grandfather's shed, awakening feelings in her that she'd tried to fight away.

The excitement of seeing him, coupled with the thrilling thought of doing something she wasn't supposed to had spurred her on to making a decision that had led to ruin. Benjamin wasn't the person that she had known before he had left, before he had destroyed their strange little friendship and turned his back on her without even a backwards glance.

But he had kissed her...he had kissed her as if she had been the only thing that mattered in his world.

Roxanne had fought the pull between them but while her mind had wanted one thing, her heart and body had yearned for something more. Everything that had happened had been a mistake. A horrible, terrible mistake that she could never make any better and it would fester and boil inside of her until she blessedly forgot it.

But no matter how hard she tried to keep her mind blank, images of Benjamin invaded her brain, somehow as tormenting as if he were standing near her or pressing his mouth on hers. Although it had only been a few hours ago, only a few seconds seemed to have passed for her tears to dry and for the overwhelming bitterness in her heart to ease.

After fleeing from Benjamin and hearing his insults ringing in her ears, Roxanne had blindly run through the Manor, her footsteps taking her further and further away from the person that had hurt her the most. Even though she hadn't been to Malfoy Manor in an entire year, Roxanne's mind had led her to the right destination without her really noticing.

Most wizard families kept a fireplace with a handy bowl of Floo powder and when Roxanne had stumbled into a living room, the furniture covered and reminding her of dead bodies...she had breathed a sob of relief. Mr. Malfoy had either still been in his office, drinking his troubles away or upstairs in one of the many bedrooms to have missed her slinking through his home.

Roxanne had jumped at every little sound, had hesitated every so often thinking that either the man would appear and demand to know what she thought she was doing or worse, that Benjamin would catch her. Some part of her didn't know why she'd thought he would but there had been nothing but silence in the Manor...a deafening sort of silence that could have driven any sane person mad.

Roxanne hadn't known how she'd survived it but she'd managed to dig her trembling fingers into the bowl of Floo powder on the mantle, stepped inside the grate like a thief and fled. The twisting and pulling on her way back to the Burrow had been swift and she'd found herself falling onto her grandparents kitchen floor in a heap of painful limbs and sobs.

A beautiful sun had risen over the grounds of her grandparent's home, slanting through the windows and despite it, Roxanne had sobbed for a full five minutes before she'd picked herself up and dragged her body upstairs.

Neither her parents or grandparents had been awake but she'd heard Perce banging around up in Uncle Ron's room with that old ghoul that still lived up there.

If she hadn't known any better, they had been trying to make the banging and slamming into musical notes but her mind had been too numb and dark to find amusement in it. Distantly, she'd trudged back to Aunt Ginny'd old bedroom, opened and closed the door and crossed the expanse of the room until she'd flopped onto the bed.

All of the horrible sobs and screams that she had tried to keep bottled for fear of waking or disturbing others had exploded out of her, buried rudely in her pillow like a bad secret. Roxanne wasn't certain for how long she'd stayed like that, crying and screaming her life away but eventually, she had slept, though not for long. The sounds of her family coming out of their slumber and preparing for the day like normal had slowly forced her to open her eyes.

They would go and see Uncle Percy and Aunt Audrey and all would be well, if Roxanne managed not to burst into tears during a conversation. She could only imagine how ridiculous it would be for her to be the only one crying while everyone else was having lively conversation or digging into a good lunch.

But there were worse things, Roxanne's tormented mind tried to tell her. She could either burst into tears or somehow confess to what had happened.

There was no way that she could do something like that, the humiliation would kill her. Roxanne Weasley, just another number notched onto Benjamin Malfoy's broomstick and the thought was already making her already pale skin wash out of what remaining color it had.

If her family found out, they would never forgive her and Roxanne flinched at the thought of what her father would say, how her mother would feel and what Perce would do. If there was one person that Benjamin hated, it was him...

"Wait!" Roxanne cried desperately as she chased after the speck that was Benjamin Malfoy as he stomped away. Her parents and brother were calling after her at the shop but she found herself ignoring them and shoving various witches and wizards out of her way to get to Benjamin. "Don't leave!" she begged.

The older boy didn't turn around even though he stiffened just a little at the sound of her voice. If anything, he walked away faster and Roxanne had to pump her legs a bit harder to get to him, pants now issuing from her mouth as he started to slip away from her more and more. "Leave me alone!" Benjamin snarled over his shoulder at her.

Roxanne gasped at what she saw and even as he turned swiftly away, hiding his face from her eyes, it wouldn't be something to forget. Her brother had said something mean to him earlier in front of the shop and his feelings had been hurt and she furrowed her brow, stomping determinedly after him, "Wait, stupid!" she snapped.

Benjamin flinched in shock, stopping right ahead of her near Eeylops Owl Emporium. Roxanne wanted an owl for when she went to Hogwarts too because her brother had gotten one but she pushed the thought away, "Who're you calling stupid?!" the boy snarled at her, turning around.

Roxanne was once again confronted with the sight of his face flooded with tears and a miserable expression that made her own heart hurt. She had never really seen boys cry but it made her sad to see it on his face, somehow worse than anything a normal little boy would have done, "I'm sorry about what my brother said, and I don't think you're stupid." She mumbled.

"I don't care about what you or your dumb family thinks!" Benjamin snapped at her, startling a few people on the sidewalk. They sent him chiding looks while overlooking Roxanne, who saw them all one time or another on the street and he sent her a dark look, "just leave me alone, okay?"

"But...I thought we were friends." Roxanne found herself saying, frowning and feeling more tears coming. Benjamin recoiled as she took a step towards him, extending her hand a little, knowing that she still stunk from toilet water and that he probably didn't want to touch her at all. "You're crying and you're sad."

Benjamin stayed stonily silent.

Roxanne bit on her lower lip, trying to remember what he said about making people feel better. He had given her daisies earlier when he had seen her crying on that bench so maybe... "I don't have any flowers though,"

Would he still want to be her friend if she didn't give him flowers?

"I don't want any stinking flowers." Benjamin wiped furiously at his eyes with the back of his hand, looking as if he wanted to cry even harder. His voice sounded so mean and she couldn't imagine that this was the same person that she had wasted an entire day with blowing up toilets and sharing lunch.

"Are you mad cause I don't got any? I'll get you some." Roxanne said firmly and Benjamin eyed her annoyingly, a blush coming into his face. His entire body was stiff, his fists clenched tightly at his sides and she felt very bad for him, "my brother didn't mean all that stuff he said,"

Benjamin glared at her and her outstretched hand until she lowered it weakly to her side, shoulders sagging. "Yes he did! He's nothing but a cocky bully that gets whatever he wants just cause he's a Weasley," he said their last name as if they were the deepest scum.

"There's nothing wrong with being a Weasley!" Roxanne defended hotly, now feeling angry herself. There were people like Rachel Travers that didn't think she was a Weasley but she would never let someone talk bad about her family, not ever, "we're not bad!"

Benjamin frowned severely. "All of you are the same to me! Red hair, freckles or brown skin and curly hair. You all are the same and I hate going to school because of your stupid brother!" he cried furiously. "Him and that dumb Teddy Lupin and your cousins are always picking on me!" he said, fresh tears threatening to come into his eyes.

Roxanne gasped in outrage. No one said that about her brother, "My brother isn't a bully!" even though Perce had acted like one back at their father's shop, she didn't want to believe that.

"He is a bully! Him and Teddy Lupin shoot hexes and jinxes at me all the time but when I fight back, I get in trouble!" Benjamin shouted angrily and the anger sounded as if it had been brewing for a long time.

Roxanne didn't want to think about all the owls that Perce got when he was at Hogwarts or the arguments her parents had had about him. She loved her brother and he didn't hurt people, he wasn't a bully... "Y-you're wrong! You're lying!"

Benjamin's eyes widened a little as if she had really hurt him. "Cause I'm a Malfoy I'm a liar now?" he demanded heatedly. Roxanne shook her head defiantly, that not having any thing to do with it, "You're just like everyone else,"

"I am not! I don't care that you're a Malfoy!" Roxanne cried angrily, now flushed and feeling more upset. Benjamin glared at her, his blue-brown eyes rimmed with red and a bit swollen from crying, "I'll be in Slytherin with you! I'll prove it and be the best lying, stinking Slytherin ever!"

Benjamin looked surprised for a moment, his cheeks turning a bit pink but he stayed silent a long time. Roxanne hoped that she was in Slytherin, she hoped that she could be his friend forever but he destroyed any hope by snapping cruelly, "I don't want some snotty brat following me around. I don't want nothing to do with any Weasley so go home," and with that, he stomped off, leaving her standing there alone.

Roxanne tried to stop her tears but they came anyway until she could barely see straight. She saw him wandering further and further away in a blurry haze until he vanished entirely in the busy sidewalks, "You coming home yet or do I have to carry you?" Perce's voice demanded some minutes later.

Startled, she turned and saw a blurry shape directly behind her that suspiciously resembled her brother. Roxanne sniffled, "Leave me alone," she whined.

"Cut it out Roxie and stop being a brat." Perce said annoyingly, hands on hips in the way their mother did when she had had enough. Despite looking like their father, Roxanne had always heard their relatives say he acted more like their mother when it all came down to it and she'd always been jealous.

Roxanne wiped at her eyes so she could see him better and once she lowered her arms, she gave him a moody look. Perce appeared so much taller and mature than she did even though he was only twelve and she said, "I'm not a brat,"

Perce rolled his brown eyes. "Of course you are. Dad gives you whatever you want and still you whine and cry until you get more stuff," he said irritably even though he was just as spoiled. Roxanne glowered, "Mum made me come and get you, it took forever too so you owe me."

"I don't owe you anything!"

"Yeah, you do for hanging round that Malfoy boy when I'm just looking out for you," Perce said defensively and Roxanne thought of what Benjamin had said about him. Bullies didn't look out for their sisters, "Malfoy's no good to be hanging around with, he does bad things at school."

Roxanne nodded, weakly. "He doesn't want to be my friend anyway." Her brother looked very relieved by this but he said nothing, "and, uhm, I'm sorry Fred, I didn't mean it when I said I hated you." She mumbled awkwardly.

Perce appeared very happy about this and she saw that he had been very worried about this. He teased and picked on her so much already but Roxanne had never told him that she hated him, not even once until today, "Its okay, Roxie," he said with an embarrassed shrug. "Gonna hug me?" he asked curiously.

Roxanne hugged him before she could stop herself. This was her brother and her brother wasn't a bully...he didn't do mean things to people, "I love you Fred,"

"Stop calling me Fred. You never call me Fred," Perce said annoyingly while hugging her back. It was true, Roxanne never called him by his real name unless she was upset or overemotional, "I sort of don't even know who I am if you don't call me Perce all the time. Weird, isn't it?"

Roxanne nodded roughly. "You're Perce and you're my brother and I'll love you forever and ever and ever." That made him laugh and he patted her on the head.

"Forever and ever and ever?" Perce asked curiously. "That's a long time." Roxanne nodded, her face buried in his scrawny chest, "and by the way, Roxie, Mum says you're in trouble. Dad says he'll give you a cookie too."

Roxanne frowned, not wanting to know what punishment her mother had thought to give her. A spanking was the most horrible thing she could imagine, "Okay," she mumbled miserably, "I guess I can come home if Daddy gives me a cookie."

"Good, cause I'm hungry." Perce made her release him only long enough for them to be turned around towards the shop. The walk back was much nicer with his arm around her shoulders and she leaned into him, "and by the way, Roxie,"

Roxanne glanced up at him. "What?"

Her brother wrinkled his nose. "You smell bad. Like a toilet."

Roxanne frowned. "Nuh-uh,"

Perce grinned, showing off his deep right dimple. "Yuh-huh,"

"Nuh-uh," Roxanne said with a grin herself, feeling her own dimple appearing in her left cheek. The playful banter lasted until they had reached home again but that night, even as she was happy, she couldn't help but wonder about Benjamin Malfoy and wonder if he really did hate her....

“Oi, Roxie! Wake up already and get dressed!" Perce was pounding on her door now and Roxanne rolled over on Aunt Ginny's bed, surprised that she had dozed off again after so much noise had woken her up in the first place. "Might want to shower too before Mum and Dad go in there!"

The gross image that flashed through her mind was enough to get Roxanne up from her aunt's old bed. Muscles protested and she felt a guilty blush covering her cheeks before she slipped off the edge and blearily made her way to the door, where Perce was still knocking obnoxiously, "Would you quit that?" Roxanne snarled angrily upon opening it.

Perce was already dressed in jeans and a red Weasleys Wizard Wheezes T-shirt in faded yellow letters. A pair of sunglasses were pushed up in his wavy brown hair and he looked lazy and well-rested, "Whoa, Roxie, what are you wearing?"

Roxanne glanced down and cursed herself for still being dressed in her tank top, tights and mini skirt. She'd been too exhausted to change into pajamas, “Erm,” she started, tongue feeling dry.

“Snuck out to see one of your friends at a party, huh?” Perce asked with an approving gleam in his eye. Roxanne flinched mentally at the words but she must have looked a tad guilty because her brother leaned in and whispered, "listen, I snuck out last night too to see Leanne. Her parents weren't home cause Georgia had to go to St. Mungo's,"

Roxanne briefly forgot about her own problems. "What's wrong with her?" Georgia was usually the more careful of the twin sisters and she rarely ever hurt herself badly or got sick.

Perce grinned impishly. "Leanne gave her an extra batch of liquid Vomit Enhancer for her tea. Dad hasn't perfected the antidote for it yet," Roxanne felt herself almost smiling. Their father had just started experimenting with the new product and her brother must have stolen a few packs and given them to his girlfriend to try, "so, they had to go to St. Mungo's to fix her and meanwhile, I got to hang with Leanne all morning."

Roxanne frowned in disgust even though she had no right. "I don't need to know what you two were doing all morning." Her brother laughed but when he saw the bleakness in her face, he frowned in concern. "What?"

"You all right, Roxie? You look...sick." Perce said while running his eyes over her critically for some sign of marks. Roxanne prayed that Benjamin's hickeys weren't showing themselves on her dark skin and when her brother didn't comment on it or ask, she blew out a quiet sigh of relief, "partied too hard, huh?"

Roxanne rubbed at her eyes, glad that he wasn't chastising her for sneaking out and probably sneaking back in. He had probably done the same thing long before she had gotten a chance and was briefly thankful for that because she wasn't certain what she would have done if he'd seen her earlier. "I guess, so." She yawned for good measure and her brother gave her a pinch on the cheek before he released her, "what was that for?" she asked him irritably, rubbing at the spot.

Perce shrugged, "You looked sort of pale." He gave her another concerned look that he quickly hid over a smile before smiling. "I'll see you downstairs. Gran made cinnamon rolls, sausage, pancakes and squeezed some fresh orange juice for breakfast,"

Roxanne heard her stomach growling and she placed her hand to it with a glance up at him. Perce was running his eyes over her, something lurking in his eyes that was rather suspicious but he gave her a swift grin before she could comment, "I'll get ready then. Try to save something for me."

"Can't promise you that." Perce said truthfully before he gave her a gentle push than usual before he started walking away. He had a swagger to his step, she noticed and a happy smile nearly covered her face when she thought of how he and Leanne had probably spent such a nice time together. It had probably been much nicer than her own, she thought bitterly, "hurry up, okay, Roxie? I told Leanne I'd get her some seashells for her boobs."

Roxanne heard the comment but snickered at the ridiculous image that would be when Leanne's boobs were a bit larger than her own. Seashells wouldn't fit but that was probably what her brother was hoping for, "Don't rush me!" she snapped at his retreating figure before slamming the door for good effect, something she would have done if she hadn't been sick.

But her brother knew that she wasn't feeling well and Roxanne wished that she could say something but it wouldn't be wise. So, with a miserable sigh, she spent a few minutes gathering some clothes for the day, towels and shampoo and after swallowing more tears she trudged out of her aunt's old room towards the bathroom.

She could smell food in the kitchen and her parents were making her grandfather laugh about something and their voices, so familiar and untroubled nearly had her caving with guilt.

They would be so disgusted by her and what she had done. At the thought, Roxanne fought back the burning pressure of her tears and rushed into the bathroom, where she quickly opened and locked the door. After turning on the water in the tub and waiting for it to reach just the right temperature before she turned on the shower, she tried to force herself to relax.

It was over and she wouldn't have to see Benjamin again until Hogwarts and even then, he would be in Slytherin while she in Hufflepuff. And hopefully, hopefully, he would leave her alone. After getting what he'd wanted, he wouldn't want anything else to do with her and he'd made that bitterly clear.

Weakly she smiled as she recalled the punch that she had given him and his threatening command for her to get out of his room and out of his life. Roxanne just still couldn't understand why he had come to get her, why he would pretend to have missed her? Had he at all? What had been real and what had been a lie?

The truth was threatening to blur in front of her eyes and some part of her didn't want to know or think about it. It was already painful enough having her heart broken into so many pieces.

She felt torn apart, as if she would never be put back together. But Benjamin would find that only too amusing, her fawning and groveling around for him and Roxanne tried to force herself to be strong, like her mother.

What would she do in this sort of situation? Would she have even gone with Benjamin in the first place? No, her mother had a bit more sense than she did and wasn't nearly as reckless and she was just so strong, she could handle anything.

Roxanne would have to do the same somehow. But it felt as if her heart would never knit itself back together again but she would try, she would try to, little by little.

Against her will, she found herself looking down at her hands, her legs, hating every ache and feel of Benjamin on her body. Hurriedly and hearing her heart breaking all the while, she undressed, wincing every now and then as little bruises and kiss marks flared to life on her brown skin.

For a reason she couldn't understand, Roxanne paused to glance apprehensively at the mirror, where a bit of steam was sliding around the edges as her water heated. After wiping most of it off, she found herself staring at a girl that she recognized but looked washed and watered down.

There was a wild expression on her face, her hair a tangled mess of curls that started to frizz around the edges. Roxanne hated what she saw and despised that her brown eyes were terribly red rimmed, that her lips were full and puffy from too many nips and swollen from too-rough kisses.

Perce had seen her this way and she could only imagine what he had been thinking and she wondered worriedly why he hadn't pressed her for more answers on her appearance.

Maybe he didn't want to know. Maybe he would rather forget he saw it, just how Roxanne thought that it might be best to try and push it as far into the back of her mind as possible. The thought formed, like a hopeful wish but faltered quickly as she glanced down at her naked body, noticing that Benjamin had left his mark on every inch of her he could.

"You're sweeter than sugar, Weasley...." Benjamin had whispered softly against her flushed ear, knowing at that time that it was too late for her to think clearly. Roxanne closed her eyes tightly, trying to block out how his hands had felt, where they'd been and how wonderful his body had felt over hers, with her limbs tangled around his.

The memory made her stomach churn painfully and for one moment she thought that she might actually throw up. After the feeling passed, born from panic and depression, Roxanne practically hurled herself into the tub, forced on the shower with sweaty hands and allowed the water to fall.

Shakily, she yanked the curtains closed and after sighing in relief as the water teased away embarrassing aches and pains. Without hesitation she went to viciously using the thick bar of soap along her skin. It was blissfully wonderful, like heaven. Sighs of pleasure and relief were hard to stop and she forced herself to enjoy the fact that she was at the Burrow, with her family that loved her.

Hot water scalded and branded and even that happy thought wasn't enough to stop the painful details of this morning from reforming. Benjamin's eyes...she couldn't seem to burn them out of her memory, they seemed to stake her right through the heart over and over again.

Although his words had destroyed her, it was that look in his eyes that had really forced her to concede that the boy that she had known had been swallowed up entirely and this new creature didn't care for her at all.

If he had at all. Trying to stay strong and thinking of what her mother would do in this situation wasn't enough for her to ignore the disgraceful feel of tears sliding down her cheeks. Benjamin was everywhere and she couldn't shake him from her memory, couldn't erase the evidence that he had touched, kissed and tasted nearly every inch of her and never would again. Roxanne rubbed harder on her skin, desperate for freedom.

And yet, the harder she scrubbed her skin and used the shampoo on her tangled curly hair, Roxanne could still smell him. She could still feel his hands roaming over the trembling slopes of her body and taste his mouth on hers...reliving disastrous kisses that tasted like sin.

It was wrong that he had this sort of power over her! The bastard. Roxanne closed her eyes, willing the memories to fade away, even as some part of her wondered if she would always feel this way, if she would always feel possessed by Benjamin Malfoy.


Uncle Percy and Aunt Audrey's cottage was a nice, simple stone structure on the beach and constantly appeared peaceful and a part of some fairytale picture book. It was set a good distance from the ocean but the once blue stones that made up the cottages two-story structure had been washed down to a pretty, hazy grey that emphasized a very red front door.

Roxanne didn't know much about how her aunt and uncle had met but she'd found out from Molly that the two of them had been on rocky ground for a while before they'd finally gotten married. Their cottage resembled that to her at some moments when she saw a chipped bit of stone smoothed over comfortably and sweetly with time.

A stone pathway led to the front of the house and as Roxanne and her family shook off the after effects of Disapparation, they followed them eagerly. The sun was shining down pleasantly and the crash of large waves brought to mind of a ship rocking crazily to some unknown destination and Roxanne longed to go there.

She still felt miserable, tainted but she tried her hardest to appear as normal, though both of her parents had asked more than once if she were feeling all right. There was nothing worse than worrying them but Roxanne hadn't been able to tell them the truth about what she had been doing and with home for most of the morning.

So, she had lied.

It had felt badly and tasted like bile but she had lied to her parents and hoped that Perce's curiously perceptive stare wouldn't blow her cover and leave her blubbering for excuses. But he hadn't pressed the issue over breakfast at the Burrow and while their grandparents had decided to go and visit Aunt Hermione and Uncle Ron for the day, Roxanne missed the cover of their company.

But she shook the thought off and concentrated on the task at hand. It was hard trying to hold onto the heavy bags in her arms when she felt so drained, “You carrying that all right, beautiful girl?” her father asked, noticing her struggle.

“I'm all right,” Roxanne said with a weak smile at him. There was the briefest of pauses as he stared at her, worry etching itself around his eyes but he only gave her a faint smile in return. It hurt, lying to him especially when she loved him so much, “just the heat I guess.”

That had her father nodding in agreement, his skin already turning faintly pink and he sent his wife a flirtatious look. Perce looked suddenly ill, “Angie, you'll have to rub me down with sunblock to protect me from the sun. My skin is really delicate in certain areas,”

“You're planning on doing something completely different with that sunblock and we both know it, Georgie.” Roxanne heard her mother say with a sly wink in his direction (He blushed). To her utter embarrassment, her father sent her a look that made she and her brother gag loudly, “but we'll discuss that later,” their mother promised.

Roxanne shuddered while they continued walking to the front door, her parents still flirting outrageously. "Is Dom-Dom still coming round?" Perce asked, interrupting them at the point when she thought they would start groping one another and snogging all over the sand.

Before they'd left the Burrow, they'd gotten an owl from Aunt Fleur saying that Victoire's ballet audition would be going a little late. Apparently she had done so well that the instructors had made her perform with some of their prized artists and Roxanne had sensed that Dom-Dom had been rather displeased.

"Well, Fleur said that she'll drop her by after Victoire's audition is over.” The fact that Uncle Bill and Aunt Fleur lived only a few miles away didn't seem to mean much when Roxanne knew that Dom-Dom would prefer to be alone. She hated being coddled by her mother and any escape from her sister was one she dreamed of, “they're probably going to take Victoire out for a while to celebrate.”

Perce groused. “So how long is that going to take?”

Their father was trying to coax a smile out of Roxanne by tickling underneath her arm and she swatted him away. Looking slightly upset by it, he frowned, “I'm not sure, Fleur didn't exactly specify," their mother explained while taking her husband's hand in her own and giving it a little squeeze.

Roxanne found herself sighing wistfully. She wished that she could be more like her and some part of her wished that she could have the sort of relationship her parents had with someone. Someone that was not at all a Malfoy or treated her like scum, "So Toire isn't coming either?" Perce asked in annoyance.

"Not sure, Fred, maybe you should send an owl." Their mother replied calmly, though there was a suspicious gleam in her brown eyes. Perce looked away innocently as she asked, "you didn't tell a certain blue-haired boy that she was going to be here and tricked him into coming round too, did you?"

Perce laughed nervously and their father gave him a pat on the back, looking awfully pleased with him. They looked so eerily alike in that moment that Roxanne could have thought they were twins, "Of course not, Mum. Merlin," he said while smoothing his hands down his shirt, "what sort of person do you take me for?"

There was a slight pause before their mother said dryly. "My son. That's more than enough reason to be suspicious," she said and Roxanne laughed weakly. Her mother sent her a concerned glance, squeezed her husbands hand one more time before letting it go and said to her son. "You know all they'll do is give the rest of us a headache."

Perce gasped girlishly, grasping his chest. "Mum, to think that you would assume I would do something like that on purpose is just hurtful and evil." Their father burst out laughing as he said in all seriousness. "But yeah, I did send him an owl but not because of Toire,”

“Then why?” their father asked suspiciously, though his eyes were dancing with obvious amusement. Roxanne felt more guilt building for making him worry about her and tried to force her depression down, “You know Vicky and Teddy hate each other.”

Perce looked simply impish as he replied smugly. “I know.”

Their mother rolled her eyes, even though she was smiling. “And this is our child, George. See what you've done?” she accused and Roxanne watched father and son burst out laughing, “that was mean of you, Fred, inviting Teddy here. All he'll do is get on Victoire's nerve.”

“This isn't about Toire Mum! How could you even think that? I love Teddy, he and I go way back, almost to the womb.” Perce was saying dramatically and Roxanne rolled her eyes even though it was mostly true. They were best friends, practically doing everything together, “I invited him here so the two of us could bond as one."

"That sounds perverted as hell." A new voice rang out and they turned to see Aunt Audrey peering out at them from the cottages open door. She had let her long black hair down from what Roxanne could see and there was a bit of paint on her nose, "I could hear you laughing all the way in my studio Greg." She said to her father.

Roxanne watched her father gawp at her. "I'm not that loud!" he denied but their mother shot him a weird look and he snorted, blushing just a little. "Okay, so I get loud at the most important moments. You know, when I'm naked and--"

"Dad, no," Perce interrupted in revulsion while walking up just as Aunt Audrey opened the door wider. She enveloped him in a tight hug and proceeded to happily kiss his face before letting him pass, "its too bloody early to throw up," he grumbled from inside.

Their parents snorted with laughter. “You're looking as sexy as ever Angie,” Aunt Audrey said to her mother, by way of greeting. “If we ever get divorced from our redheaded husbands, you're mine,” she declared saucily.

“She's promised to Katie Wood if we ever get divorced and then Alicia Jordan if they don't work out. So you'll have to get in line,” Roxanne heard her father say smugly, sounding quite pleased.

Roxanne watched her mother from the corner of her eye enviously, wondering why she couldn't at least be as pretty. Noticing her stare and ignoring Aunt Audrey and her father going over the particulars of a contract (That apparently included full benefits), she heard her mother say, “Smile for me today, Roxie.” She commanded gently, reaching over to pinch her chin, “and it wouldn't be a bad thing to tell me what's bothering you."

Parents had secret powers. Roxanne was more than sure of this as her mother released her, smacked her husband out of the way before he could get inside and hugged Aunt Audrey closely before stepping into the house. "Angie, you'll pay for that! Come on, beautiful girl," he said to her with a gentle nudge, "you'll have to hug her anyway you look at it and I know its horrible—"

Aunt Audrey's eyes widened. "Well, that's not nice!"

"—but everyone has to face their fears sooner or later." Roxanne's father finished wisely before launching himself at Aunt Audrey and nearly making her fall. It didn't really look like hugging to her, more like wrestling but her aunt eventually shoved her father away and she was hugged at last.

Aunt Audrey always smelt like paint and fabric to Roxanne but she gave some of the best hugs next to Aunt Ginny. "Molly's waiting for you in her room," the woman said to her happily after letting her go, "I caught her dancing to that horrible music in her panties earlier and she was too embarrassed to come out."

That had Perce, who had made himself lazily comfortable in the living room on their couch roar with laughter. "She'll be red for days!" he crowed happily as he flipped through channels with a remote at rapid speed.

Inside the cottage it was a strange mixture of Muggle and wizard and from what Roxanne had been able to guess, Uncle Percy had given his wife electricity for a wedding gift.

There was also an art studio where Aunt Audrey made puppets (She sold them to witches and wizard shops for a good price) and supposedly sketched nude pictures of Uncle Percy.

Roxanne glanced up towards the second floor where the bedrooms were, dying to see Molly. She couldn't tell her what had happened but she loved Molly too much to keep secrets from her, she was her favorite cousin and one of her best friends.

"Where's Percy?" Roxanne's mother asked curiously while setting their bags neatly onto the floor and avoiding a pinch to her rear by her father, who was nearby.

Aunt Audrey thought about it for a moment. "He took a day off today and I told him to go buy me some more panties at this Muggle place I like in London." Perce gagged and their father paled drastically even while Roxanne hoped her aunt was joking, "and I think he was going to find a computer to toy around with, you know how he gets."

Roxanne knew her uncle loved Muggle things as much as his own father did but she didn't think that he had a shed. Yet, "Well, he should have taken me with him!" her father cried angrily while glancing at his wife seductively. "I'd love to have Angie model some new panties for me."

"Dad!" Perce cried while briefly taking his eyes off what looked like soccer on the TV screen. He was probably just waiting for Molly to come out so he could bother her, Roxanne thought dryly, "no one wants to know about mum's panties!"

That had their mother roaring with unabashed laughter. "Like they stay on long when I do wear them." And that had Aunt Audrey bursting as well while Perce visibly shuddered on the couch and turned the volume up on the TV.

Roxanne intervened hastily before her father could comment on anything more having to do with panties (He was currently asking her mother what sort she had on since he liked lace) and asked her aunt. "Where's Lucy?" she hadn't seen her bounding down the stairs towards them like a brown-haired bullet yet.

"Oh, that girl." Aunt Audrey said with playful dismissively. Roxanne watched as she walked into the living room with her, long black hair trailing down her back, "she got an owl from that other one,"

"Which other one?" Perce asked curiously.

Aunt Audrey grinned. "Ms. Dom-Dom. Apparently she and the rest got back from some audition that Victoire was at and she was dying to be rescued so Lucy went, in full gear to get her." Roxanne wondered if her daughter had dressed up as a military woman again complete with fake gun to snatch their cousin and laughed a little. "They should be here in a while."

While her parents asked if Aunt Audrey would mind if Teddy Lupin came by unannounced (Perce seemed awfully pleased) and if they had enough food for all of them, Roxanne went upstairs.

As she made it onto the second floor and started towards Molly's room, she could hear blasting music that reminded her of screeching cats before she realized it was actual lyrics. Not sure if her cousin would hear her or not when she reached the door, which looked as if it would burst from the inside out, Roxanne simply opened it and stepped inside.

Molly was, apparently, dancing in her underwear again and using a mangled brush as a microphone to sing along to her favorite song with fan girl enthusiasm.

The way you touch me, please me

Tease me like a madwoman with no guarantee

Makes me wanna, (Makes me wanna)

Beg and plead like a lunatic!

The bloke was singing to a ridiculously overdone tempo and Roxanne rolled her eyes while Molly finished the lyrics expertly. "Plead baby just like this!" she practically screamed with her back to her.

Roxanne snickered. Molly's room was done up in dark purples and blues, her bed tucked in a neat corner on the other side of the room while her desk was littered with Hogwarts textbooks and quills. A Ravenclaw banner was hanging on one small spot on the far wall while every other square inch of the place was dominated by perverse posters of her favorite band, Twisted Duo.

They were a really famous group but Roxanne had always thought their music was too much like cats being slaughtered. She had never been a real fan of them, but plenty of other Hogwarts students were, and a few girls in her dorm were constantly blasting their music at every opportunity. Molly was currently enjoying herself too much to notice that she had company and Roxanne watched her in genuine amusement.

It was rare for her cousin to speak in crowds and she blushed whenever a boy talked to her even though she was sixteen but it had always been that shyness that Roxanne had liked about her. Dom-Dom had her stutter, Lucy was as peculiar as Aunt Luna and Victoire...well, Victoire had enough issues.

And yet, Molly had always been her favorite and she watched her now fondly, all of her troubles threatening to overflow. She couldn't let anyone in her family know but keeping such a secret from her closest cousin felt wrong, "Nice moves, Molly," she said loudly as she watched her cousin shaking her butt to the music.

Molly paused at the sound of her voice and even from where she was standing, she could see every inch of her skin turning bright pink. A little scream issued out of her mouth and she turned, black hair flying, "Have you been standing there the whole time?" she asked, mortified.

Roxanne nodded.

"I could just die!" Molly wailed as she slunked over to her dresser, where her stereo was thumping the horrible music. After turning it off and looking over at her with mournful brown eyes, she asked miserably, "you're not going to tell anyone are you, Roxie?"

Roxanne shook her head. "Your mum already did." Molly groaned and ran her fingers through her short hair miserably, looking as if she wanted to die on the spot. She was wearing a Ravenclaw T-shirt at least and hadn't been dancing completely naked, "so, uhm, that was pretty hilarious."

Molly glared at her. "I know I looked like a major loser!" she groused but when Roxanne didn't burst out laughing like normal, her cousin stared at her in confusion before saying apologetically. "I forget that you don't like Twisted Duo,"

"I don't see how anyone likes them." Roxanne found herself saying honestly while putting her hands in her pockets. She'd chosen to wear jeans and a long-sleeved shirt to hide most of Benjamin's kiss marks, "they're just too much..." she said while eyeing a particularly bold poster of the lead singer thrusting his leather constrained crotch at her.

Molly laughed a little, still flushed pink. She didn't seem to mind that she was standing in front of her in her underwear though, but that was mostly because they'd seen each other in worse conditions over the years. "I think they're energetic."

Roxanne turned away from the crotch poster to look at another poster of the two wizards drenched in blood. They were naked underneath it all and considering that she had had sex with Benjamin and knew what a man looked like without clothes up close, she still sort of blushed. "I think they're weird,"

"They've won all sorts of awards you know!" Molly defended hotly while trooping over and gazing at the posters reverently. Roxanne gave her a dull stare, "Witch Weekly said that they're two of the hottest celebrities out! And they only debuted a few years ago!"

Roxanne read Witch Weekly but she'd always turned the pages on the music section quickly to get to the latest fashions. She liked music just fine but Twisted Duo was not what she'd ever call soothing for anyone's ears, "So, which one is which?" she asked, pointing at one of the wizards in blood that had a head full of dark red hair.

Molly didn't even hesitate, looking lovestruck. "That's Kieran Rookwood."

"Rookwood? Is he related to that Rookwood kid that goes to school with us?" Roxanne asked curiously, knowing that his grandfather had been a Death Eater. The kid she had in mind, Logan Rookwood was a Ravenclaw so she rarely ever saw him, though he didn't really talk much.

Molly thought about it. "I think so but I'm not sure." At Roxanne's mock surprised expression, her cousin frowned, "I'll have you know that they keep everything very private, no one even knows their birthdays!" when she laughed a little, her cousin frowned and pointed to the other wizard, whose hair reminded her of a burnished bit of Galleon. "And that’s Jason Crowe."

Roxanne didn't think he looked all that impressive compared to the other one but she was rejecting them both in favor of Benjamin. A Benjamin that wasn't the same and had callously tossed her aside, "....Have you ever asked your parents why they love each other, Molly?" she asked, not knowing why she was.

Molly looked startled by the question and the fact that she was still in her underwear. She made an awkward little dance before Roxanne gave her a dry expression, "I don't want Fred coming in here and seeing me in my panties, all right?" she groused and that had her laughing. "And anyway, I've asked my dad why he loves my mom and he says that she's joy incarnate."

Roxanne wouldn't have expected her uncle to say something like that. It was actually rather beautiful, "He really said that about her?" she asked, knowing that Benjamin would never say something like that to her, not when he had abandoned her for the second and last time.

Molly nodded, smiling embarrassingly. "They don't act like it all the time but my dad would do anything for my mum. Mum doesn't care that he's a wizard, she doesn't care that he's Undersecretary to the Minister and she lets him know it all the time," a memory surged in her mind and Roxanne saw her flush even deeper. "But I dunno, its just the way they look at each other."

Roxanne nodded, knowing with a horrible ache that Benjamin had never looked at her that way. Everything had been a trick, and a lie, "...I was just curious."

"How come? Your mum and dad are always snogging. And you know, doing stuff in the shed when we go the the Burrow," Molly said, blushing furiously. Roxanne didn't respond with her usual exclamation of horror and her cousin asked softly, "You feeling all right, Roxie?"

Tears were welling already. Why couldn't she be strong like her mother? Why couldn't she fight it all down and pretend that it had never happened? The look that Benjamin had given her, she couldn't wipe that look from her memory. He had never stared at her with so much coldness, with so much hate.

What had she done to deserve it?

What had happened to him in Italy? The scandal that had caused his father to flee with him right alongside him...had it really been as terrible as she suspected? Benjamin had always been guarded with her, never telling her too many details about his home life or even himself but Roxanne had never been the focus of his displeasure.

At Hogwarts, he'd been nice to her. Helping her study, tending to little scrapes on her knees from romping around the grounds with him, that was the Benjamin that she knew, the same Benjamin that had given her white daisies for her birthday.

Though he'd never admitted to it or how he'd always managed to sneak them into her dorm room at the exact moment when she wouldn't be there, Roxanne had always known.

It had made becoming a year older all the sweeter with the thought that she would keep coming to school, keep sneaking into the Manor with him by her side. Roxanne just couldn't understand why he had hurt her so badly.

Had he always wanted to, deep down? Benjamin had never made it a secret that he hated her family but she'd never, ever treated him like a reject, even when he made her angry.

When their strange little friendship had ended the year before he'd fled to Italy with his father, Roxanne had yelled and cursed at him but she'd never said any of the things that he heard on a daily basis. So was it her fault for being around him in the first place when everyone else with enough sense had left him alone?

The other Slytherins were either too afraid of or cruel to befriend him from what she'd noticed and her cousins couldn't stand the sight of him but Roxanne had never treated him that way. Why was that such a bad thing? She really was as silly and immature as everyone said she was.

“Roxie, are you feeling all right?” Molly asked, snapping her thoughts into pieces and snapping her back to reality. She sounded worried and whatever her face must have looked like only made her brows furrow together, “you look really sick.”

Thinking about Benjamin was making her sick, that was all. "I'm...fine," Roxanne found herself saying, hating that just the sound of her cousins concern was enough to have her nearly bursting into a puddle of mush.

"You don't look fine to me. Did you and Fred have a fight?" Molly demanded worriedly as she moved away. Quickly, she snatched up a pair of jeans and stuffed herself into them. After smoothing her hands over her short black hair thoughtfully she remarked, "you look really upset, what did he do to you this time?"

Roxanne felt her eyes overflowing with tears and she wiped at them irritable, unable to believe it. But she had never hidden anything from Molly and even the humiliation of what she had done with Benjamin wasn't enough to stop her from saying in a watery sniffle, "M-Molly, I need to tell you something."

Though Molly was unbearably shy, she could always be counted on to be there and Roxanne collapsed onto her bed, feeling the mattress threatening to give way. If only she could be stronger, if only she could wipe that look on his face from her mind! Roxanne felt her throat tightening, "Whatever it is, Roxie, you can trust me."

“I know but it just...” Roxanne wiped at her eyes weakly with the back of her hand, noticing the slightest tremor. Benjamin had kissed her fingers, clasping their hands together at the exact moment when she'd given him everything, “it just hurts.”

Molly made a soothing noise as she sat beside her. Gently, she took her trembling hand in her own, rubbing it comfortingly, "What's hurting?” Roxanne shook her head weakly, feeling the pressure building. “Tell me what's bothering you, Roxie, I'll listen."

Roxanne felt ridiculous little sniffles bubbling in her throat along with a dizzying wave of relief. Benjamin couldn't take her bond with her cousin away from her...he could hurt her but Molly was here and everything was going to be all right, "...Don't hate me after I tell you all right?" she whispered.

"I couldn't hate you, Roxie." Molly said softly and with a sincerity that seemed to settle sweetly into her chest. That seemed to be all that she needed and what felt like a storm of words and emotion seemed to burst out of her and she confessed.

It felt terrible but she confessed to having wanted Benjamin Malfoy and being tossed aside like trash. Every little detail was revealed but what she didn't tell her cousin was that, even now, her heart still longed for something she couldn't have.

Thanks for reading! Both Twisted Duo and the song lyrics you saw here are fictional (Thank goodness) and were created by me. The song Molly was singing so badly was "Kiss It" by Kieran Rookwood and I will not go into the details on the how or where.






Chapter 8: After the Storm
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A/N: Hello, everyone! I'm sorry it took a minute but I have other stories to update and I'm a tease. ;) Anyway, enjoy this and uhm, please be gentle.

He wasn't coming back. Roxanne pressed her hands on the glass of her father's shop, staring out into the bustling crowd of patrons in Diagon Alley, looking for some sign of Benjamin Malfoy. Though she had known that it would be very silly to hope that he would, she had still thought, over these last few days that she would see him skulking in along with his pale haired father.

Instead, the days had gone by and by without her seeing any sign of him and she had begun to lose hope. It was becoming too much of a habit to see her pressing her face against the shop glass, hardly blinking, “What are you doing over there, beautiful girl?” the question made her jump a little and she turned around, spotting her father standing behind her.

Weasley's Wizard Wheezes was pounding with the sound of various feet, children and adult and the floors were alive with activity. The bright colors were supposed to make people happy but Roxanne didn't feel very happy just now, “Nothing, Daddy,” she said, knowing that it came out as a whine.

Doesn't look like nothing to me,” her father said with a doubtful look in his eyes. He was dressed in the shop's maroon robes, the color clashing very badly with his red hair and freckles, “you'll fall into the glass if you're not careful.”

No, I won't,” Roxanne said in alarm, knowing that he was probably teasing her. Then again, it might be true and she forced her hands off the glass and stared at him, feeling her lower lip jutting out despite herself, “are you on break now, Daddy?”

Her father gave her a mischievous smile as he looked around at the shop, where his employees were running around like mad. Perce and their mother were upstairs preparing lunch for when Uncle Lee and his family would come over but Roxanne hadn't wanted to join in. She was still mad at her mum for giving her a spanking, “Sort of,” her father whispered with a wink.

Verity, his assistant for as long as Roxanne could remember shot him a viciously nasty look. She was short and blonde and had a nasty temper sometimes but could run the shop with her eyes closed but from the way the register was being attacked with customers, she would need them open. “Am I in trouble again?” Roxanne asked him warily, sizing him up.

Roxanne had gotten into quite a bit of trouble a few days ago when she had last seen Benjamin, but not for talking to him. Her mother had given her a very long telling-off about saying the word “hate” to her own brother and she'd gotten a spanking and hadn't been able to come out of her room for a while.

Trouble for what, beautiful girl?” her father asked her gently and she shrugged a little, glancing outside where just one glimpse of Benjamin would make her feel better. “Still looking for that Malfoy boy huh?”

His name's Benjamin Daddy,” Roxanne corrected with a frown and her father raised his brows a little. Something exploded behind them but they hardly paid it a glance as a few kids started roaring with laughter as balloons filled the entire ceiling, floating up in rainbow hued colors, “and he's not a bad boy.”

That made her father break out in a little smile as he stared down at her and she tried to appear big and grown up for him. He treated her like a baby but she was almost eleven and that was a very big deal, “Me and your mum don't think he's a bad boy but you can't go around being friendly with everyone.”

Roxanne glanced down at her feet, trying not to pout at the words. Although her parents had told her that there weren't anymore Death Eaters that they knew of wandering around, she and her brother had been taught to be extremely careful. “Is it because he's a Malfoy Daddy?”

Over the last few days, Roxanne had been asking her parents questions about Mr. Malfoy and his family, trying to understand more about why people hated them so much. Neither of them had given her much that made them seem like good people but her mother had made sure to tell her, while braiding her hair for her that that was a long time ago and people did change.

But if that were true, people would be nicer to the Malfoy's, Roxanne had said and her mother had calmly replied that it was the sad thing about growing up, people tended to believe what they wanted to.

She didn't really know what that meant but it had made her sad thinking about Benjamin being treated so badly when he really wasn't that mean. After seeing him cry, Roxanne was convinced that he just needed more flowers and even if he didn't want to be her friend, it would be nice to see him in the streets with other kids in Diagon Alley.

Roxie,” her father said suddenly, taking her out of her thoughts as he suddenly got on one knee to talk to her. He reached out and gently took her arm, his skin warm and a little calloused from either Quidditch or some failed potion or two. “You're a very nice girl but you can't make everyone see the way you do.”

Roxanne blinked in surprise and pinched his nose a little, which only made him laugh as the shop continued on without him. Despite being busy and running the shop, he never neglected she and Perce when they needed his attention or when he needed them, which, in her opinion made him the best. “Why not?” she demanded.

That made her father laugh and he took her hand away from his nose and kissed her knuckles. “Because the real world doesn't work that way, beautiful girl. Malfoy and his son come into the shop all the time and I never liked his dad when I was going to school but just because he's different now doesn't make other people, even me sometimes, believe it.” He said while she stared at him intently.

But Benjamin's not his dad,” Roxanne said defiantly and for a moment she was quiet as her father waited for her to reply. She knew that she was touching on a shaky subject but she asked, “that's right about Perce isn't it? He's not Uncle Fred but people act like he is sometimes.”

A strange expression passed over her father's face and she saw in it all the sadness and joy that he dealt with, but tried not to let them see. “That's right, Roxie. Your brother's not my brother, he's my son and some people don't seem to understand that,”

Roxanne knew that her brother sometimes felt bad about being compared to their dead uncle. They weren't alike, they weren't the same person and her brother was his own, with his own things and his own mind and heart, “That's why I call him Perce, Daddy. He's not Fred, he's my brother dammit,”

Don't curse!” her father chastised, even though he was roaring with laughter. If her mother had been around, she would have gotten a good thump on the lip before she got into a detailed fuss about why cuss words were bad except for her and Daddy, “you're a good girl, Roxie and you're right. Your brother isn't your uncle and little Malfoy isn't his dad.”

Roxanne beamed happily and got her nose tweaked and after her father pretended that he had stolen her nose, making her cry, “But I want it!” she eventually said as he placed the imaginary bit in his pocket, “Can I go see Benjamin, Daddy and try to talk to him?”

Now? You don't even know where he lives, beautiful girl,” her father reminded and she cursed again. He pulled on her ear warningly as he stood up, “and your mum wants you to get ready to see Uncle Lee, Aunt Alicia and Adam.”

Roxanne groaned in aggravation and her father laughed. Uncle Lee always picked on her when he come round and his son, Adam, was really annoying, “But I'll be real quick!” when her father opened his mouth to ask her just how she was going to be able to see Benjamin without an address, she proclaimed happily, “I know where he'd be!”

A moment of indecision passed over her father's face and Roxanne worked on her saddest, most miserable face, making sure that her lips trembled dramatically. “That's not going to work on me this time,” her father warned gravely.

But I'll be real quick!” Roxanne whined.

That only made her father cross his arms stubbornly. There had been only a handful of times that he had been stern with she and her brother and it never lasted for long, since he was such a softie, “Tough luck, Roxie. Your mum'll be mad at me and who is Adam going to play with?”

Roxanne didn't like hanging around Adam and was glad that they didn't see each other all that often. He had friends in his own neighborhood and Perce always said that he was really boring, which sparked an idea in her head, “Aw, Daddy! He can hang out with Perce!”

I don't know if your brother would like that too much.” Her father said and Roxanne moaned, kicking at the maroon carpet with her trainers. That only made him laugh at her though, “he's in a bad enough mood since your mum told him he can't go and see Teddy for a while.”

Roxanne thought it was fair since he had made Benjamin cry but when she had said so, Perce had gotten really mad at her. “So Adam will be good company—oh, Daddy, please?! I'll be right back!”

Though her whining was common for her father, a few customers were snickering at her display. Some of the older kids were rolling their eyes but considering that they were holding boxes of You-Know-Poo, she ignored them, “No, Roxie,” her father said, looking as if he were trying not to melt on the spot.

Roxanne felt a spark of anger before calming herself down and thinking of her next tactic, knowing that it was her last chance. Making sure that she had caught his attention, she stared into his amused face and pouted, making sure that her eyes got bigger, rounder and threatened to sparkle with tears. “Please, Daddy?” she whimpered, giving a very good hiccup.

Verity, even while being swamped with customers looked over, mildly impressed. An old lady cooed at her and Roxanne knew that victory was hers as her father's shoulders sank with defeat. “Uragh, you're too cute. Be gone!” her father hissed, looking overcome.

Roxanne threw up her arms in victory. When her father took out a bit of toffee from his pocket and handed it to her, she eyed it warily, decided that it wasn't one of the trick sweets and put it in her pocket for later. “I'll be real quick though, Daddy!” he sighed in defeat as she batted her lashes up at him, “can you do something for me before I leave though?”

That caused his eyes to widen with interest and she motioned for him to bend down and when he did, she whispered what she wanted in his ear. “Oooh, I see.” He said in a conspiratorial way as she finished and leaned away, staring up at him as if he were her entire world. “Hm. I think I can do that but you make sure you come right back home if he's not there, Roxie or your mum'll beat me up in a bad way.”

Okay, Daddy! I promise!” Roxanne said as she watched her father take out his wand, give it a wave and hand over the gift to her. Carefully, she handled the bouquet of white daisies in her hands, inhaling happily, “I'll be right back!” and before he could change his mind, she was already headed to the front door and rushing outside, intent on finding Benjamin, feeling as if she would make things better.

Daisies would be sure to make Benjamin smile...

“Roxie?” the sound of Molly's concerned voice startled Roxanne out of her thoughts, banishing that memory. She really did need to stop doing that so often and she wondered how her mother dealt with it all the time, it really wasn't that comfortable knowing that some memory from the past could arrive at any moment. “Did you find what you were looking for?”

Roxanne looked down at the latest, special edition of Quidditch Through the Ages and felt some sort of excitement form in her chest. In just two days, she would be back at Hogwarts and the thought of getting back on her broomstick with her father's old Beater's bat in her hand made her almost joyful, “Yeah, but I don't think I have enough to get it today,” she said to her cousin, looking up at her.

Molly was accompanying her this afternoon for a few last minute shopping excursions and though she wasn't into Quidditch really, she had been dragged into Quality Quidditch Supplies without much complaint. “I could get it for you,” her cousin offered lightly.

Roxanne shook her head at her and placed the gold embroidered copy of the book back onto its shelf. Her cousin had supported her so much in the past week with what she had told her about Benjamin, she didn't want to pester her, “No, no, Molly. Its all right,”

“Are you sure? My dad always likes hearing about me and Lucy going shopping for books,” Molly replied with a fond roll of her eyes. Uncle Percy liked to bring back books for Aunt Audrey to read, since she really loved Wizard plays and dramas but he insisted that his daughters learn as much as they could. Information was everything, he said, “I've got a few Galleons left.”

Roxanne gave her a stern shake of her head and walked down the aisle towards her, hearing the scuff of her trainers on the carpet. Quality Quidditch Supplies was one of her favorite places in Diagon Alley and she usually came her with her mother but because she was at the Ministry later than usual, she hadn't been able to come. “I'll just ask for it on Christmas. Dad'll probably buy it for himself before then though,” she laughed.

Molly looked as if she wanted to argue a bit more about it but she let it go, watching her worriedly. “You're sure you're doing you, know, okay?” she whispered as Roxanne snatched a cheap book about flying techniques off the clearance shelf and aimlessly started for the front of the shop, “you've been too quiet lately. Everyone's been worried about you,”

Roxanne wished that everyone would stop asking her if she were doing all right when she knew that she couldn't answer. Back at Aunt Audrey's, Molly had listened intently to everything that she had told her about Benjamin, offering up as much support as any sister would have and she knew that she should be lucky. If it had been Victoire, she would have crumbled into nothing, “I'm not okay, I know that. What happened isn't just so easy to get over,”

Though she hadn't meant for the words to come out sounding so nasty, Molly looked a little taken aback. “You know, Roxie, I am on your side. I don't blame you for what happened and I don't hate you,” she said sharply.

“Look, I'm sorry but I don't know what to tell you!” Roxanne said back, and her cousin frowned severely at her. She looked eerily like her mother, “I'm trying not to stay down but every time I think about it, I just feel like nothing is going to go right.”

“Why would you even think something like that? It was an accident, Roxie. Malfoy has known you since you were ten years old, he wasn't just some stranger that you ran off with and I'll admit it, it was dumb of you but any girl could have been fooled,” Molly said to her fiercely and Roxanne nodded, though the words just made her stomach lurch a little. “Malfoy's not upset about it and letting him control you this way is really starting to make me hate him even more,”

Roxanne flinched a little a the last bit of her words, knowing that her cousin had every right to hate Benjamin. She sort of hated him herself, even more so when she remembered the way he had looked at her that morning, as if she were nothing important at all to him. “You're right, Molly, I'm sorry,” she said sincerely.

Molly opened her mouth to go on about the situation but decided not to as she caught the look on her face. She gently nudged her in the shoulder as they made it to the front, and stood behind a tall black boy and a girl up front, where the cashier was having her hands full and looking sour. For some reason, Quality Quidditch Supplies had been really busy lately, “Its really all right, Roxie, I just wish that you would tell your parents about this.”

It was difficult imagining that she would tell her parents. They were worried about her, they had asked and asked if she were all right and Roxanne had only survived that day at Aunt Audrey's by avoiding them and hanging out with Molly and the others. At home though, it wasn't as easy to ignore the concerned looks her parents gave her and Perce was awfully annoying with his midnight snooping in her room, trying to find her diary.

After catching him reading her last one, he was stupid for thinking she still kept one at all but he was intent on finding out what was wrong with her. “I don't mean to be snippy or anything but I just hate what happened. Its really no one's fault but mine,” Roxanne whispered to her cousin.

Molly tucked a lock of her short black hair behind her ear before saying. “Don't think like that Roxie. I mean, I've know, or anything,” she whispered, turning pink and making Roxanne almost smile at her expression, “but I know how much it hurts to think someone cared about you and then get proven wrong.”

Roxanne gave her a sympathetic look at the words, recalling that she had confessed her longstanding crush to Teddy Lupin last year. Molly had liked him for a long time, the two having gotten along really well for years and had mustered up the courage to tell him at her fathers Ministry ball but Teddy had, cuttingly told her that she wasn't exactly his type and she hadn't been the same since.

“You'll find someone else. I mean, Teddy's...Teddy. He's not that great to begin with once you get past his amazing abs and his fantastic bum,” Roxanne said to her, knowing that that time at the cottage with Teddy and Victoire had been nothing but torture for her.

Molly laughed and swatted at her with a Keeper's Guide book that she had gotten for Lucy. Her sister was the Slytherin reserve Keeper and took her job very seriously, “If he looked more like Kieran Rookwood, I'd never get over him.”

Roxanne rolled her eyes at the mention of the lead singer from her favorite band, Twisted Duo. “Good God, Molly, why don't you just send the bloke your soul?” Molly looked as if she might have tried and she snorted with laughter, the sound drawing the attention of the person ahead of them, the tall boy and the girl at his side. “Adam!”

Adam Jordan broke into a friendly smile at the sight of her, the girl at his side frowning a little as Roxanne gave him a thump on the arm. He was Uncle Lee and Aunt Alicia's only son and though she had always found him really annoying when they'd been younger, they'd gotten along better once they got to Hogwarts. “Rox!” he cried, turning fully around.

“I almost didn't recognize you, what did you do to yourself now?” Roxanne asked in alarm, taking in the eyebrow piercing and lip ring. He was sporting a blonde Mohawk now too, last year it had been green, “your mum wasn't too happy about those piercings I bet,” she said, recoiling.

Molly looked mildly impressed but the girl at his side, who was short, black and a lot cuter than either of them didn't look as if she wanted them talking to him. Roxanne didn't pay her a glance, “Don't you like it? I didn't know you were in here but I thought I recognized that laugh. Its been a while, how the hell are you?” Adam asked her while giving her a grin.

Molly stared uncomfortably up at him, not sure what to say since they didn't really know one another. They'd only met on occasion at Hogwarts and not for very long, “I've been, uhm, okay. How was your summer? I hardly saw you this time,” Roxanne said.

The girl at his side heaved a sigh. “Adam, if we don't hurry we're going to be late. I promised my friends that I'd help them look for gloves in Beauty Within,” she said to him and Adam was barely able to stop from rolling his eyes.

“Just a sec,” Adam said to the girl with a frown. Roxanne noticed that the cashier was glaring a hole into them as the previous customers left, “I haven't seen her in a while,”

Roxanne gave the girl an apologetic look but and took in her friend better. Adam had gotten to be a bit taller over the summer and with his dark skin looking a tad sunburned she assumed that he had spent a while outside, “I'm not trying to keep you or anything but you're my partner and you haven't sent me one owl,”

Molly ventured shyly into the conversation, which only caused the girl, whom Roxanne had a feeling was Adam's girlfriend, glower. “He's the other Beater on the Hufflepuff team isn't he?” she asked and Adam nodded, giving her a good little puff of his chest. She turned a bit pink as she tried not to either run away or worse, shut down completely.

“Would you mind hurrying it up?” the cashier barked at them and the group moved forward, Adam slamming his purchases onto the counter. The girl glared at him before ringing them up, “things are busy enough as it is.” She grumbled.

Adam rolled his eyes before turning his attention back to Roxanne, his girlfriend looking more and more annoyed. She looked vaguely familiar now that she looked at her but she wasn't sure if they'd ever met before today, “Was there something you wanted to talk about with your fellow Beater, Rox?” he asked her curiously.

“Oh, nothing serious,” Roxanne said with a shrug, watching as he looked awfully interested. Molly nudged her in the ribs and she stepped on her foot a little in retaliation and received a glare, “just wondering where you vanished to this summer.”

Though Roxanne hadn't really wanted to talk to anyone since Benjamin, she would have liked to have heard from someone other than Molly. Her friend Karen McMillan was a year older and most of the other girls in her dorm at school had gone abroad for the summer this year.

“Sorry about that, I wanted to share some new techniques I learned from Uncle Oliver but I've been busy.” Adam said to her with a careless shrug. His girlfriend coughed lightly in her hand, making Molly quirk a brow, “oh, uhm, this is my delicious girlfriend Bianca Shepard, but you two know each other already right?”

Roxanne heard bells ringing in her ears but it might have been just the cashier as Adam and Bianca stepped aside. She placed her book onto the counter, absently reaching into her jean's pocket, “Erm, sorry for making you wait,” she said to the cashier girl and she earned a glare in return. Turning briefly at Adam, she answered, “I think so,”

Adam shifted his bag of things in his hand a little and Bianca eyed Roxanne sourly for a moment or two. “We're in the same House together,” the girl said, her tone drawl and Molly gave her a look from the corner of her eyes, “I'm a year older than you though, Karen McMillan's a friend,”

Roxanne thought hard and recalled the girl now. She was always hanging round Karen at school and they were best friends from what she was able to gather but they'd never spoken more than two or three words to one another. It was more than obvious to sense that she didn't like her for whatever reason, “Uhm, right. This is Molly Weasley, my cousin,” she said, introducing her easily.

Bianca glanced between them doubtfully and Molly looked as if she might say something before the girl smiled. “I've heard about you. Your dad's Undersecretary to the Minister?”

“Right,” Molly said politely. Roxanne was handed her change and book and watched as her cousin paid for Lucy's gift, looking put out and probably feeling the unfriendly vibes the girl was throwing off. “The youngest ever.”

Bianca looked truly impressed by that but Adam was looking bored and shot Roxanne a sneaky wink. She stuck out her tongue at him, “That's pretty amazing. If you wanted, I would love to hear more about it, I'm trying to get into the Ministry myself after school,” she said to Molly as she received her book and started walking out with them.

Roxanne could practically see Molly wilting as the girl continued on, prattling about a mile a minute. Apparently she wanted to be a reporter and was eagerly awaiting some sort of internship with that horrid Rita Skeeter bitch that no one liked and she had a feeling that they'd get on really well.

Anyway, Bee, we should be getting to your friends,” Adam interrupted loudly after about twenty minutes of the four of them walking out into the busy street. Beauty Within was in the same general direction of Weasley's Wizard Wheezes for a while and the walk had been nothing but torture.

Bianca blinked in surprise, having latched herself onto Molly like a parasite. Passerby pushed and shoved to get by, some of the children carrying large parcels and already sporting their fresh robes for school, “But,”

Adam reminded her curtly, though he was giving Roxanne a grin that she didn't really understand. He wasn't really as sly as Perce but he was doing a pretty decent job for right now and she absently thought that she'd give him a pat on the back later, “You're the one that's dragging me to see them, right? Come on or they'll run out of gloves or doilies or whatever the hell you want to help them with.”

Molly gave him a grateful look and Roxanne saved her by saying, before Bianca could protest to her boyfriend. “We've got to be heading back to my place. She's got to be home really soon so she can check out the latest nude portraits her mum made for a client,” she lied.

Bianca's face went slack and Adam roared with laughter. Molly turned beet red, but more from the fact that Aunt Audrey actually did make nude portraits for a select few, “I should give your mum a picture of me then!” he said and Roxanne wondered why he was looking at her as he said it. Again, Molly rammed her elbow into her side, “anyway, I'll see you on the Express later!”

“Sure, Adam, try to stay sane looking for those doilies.” Roxanne said to him dryly and Bianca frowned a little in annoyance. She gave her a weak smile in goodbye that the girl didn't return before steering Molly in a different direction that would take them to her father's joke shop faster.

Adam's, “See you then!” was drowned out by Molly's mortified, “Oh, my God, she's horrid!” and Roxanne roared with laughter. “Ugh, it was torture. I couldn't keep my head from spinning! Its not funny Roxie!”

“It is, if only you had seen your face!” Roxanne crowed happily and Molly glared at her for a moment before bursting into a sly grin. She looked a lot like Lucy doing that but her sister looked that way all the time, “what?” she demanded warily.

Molly fanned herself a little and waggled her eyebrows. How everyone else was able to do it and not her would forever make her jealous, “I saw the way that boy was acting around you! He likes you.”

Roxanne gawped at her. “Adam?” she asked in disbelief and Molly nodded vigorously until she snorted with laughter, “yeah, right. I know him all right from school and everything but he's not for me, I mean, what are you talking about?” she asked with a twist to her mouth.

“What's wrong with him?” Molly demanded as they walked past an apothecary and rounded a corner. Parents were fussing at their children and the various smells of restaurant food made her stomach growl a little and she hoped that her mother would be home soon so they could go out tonight. They always went out the day or so before Hogwarts, “I mean, he's not that cute but he's not bad.”

Roxanne thought Adam was a little cuter than that. “You're just comparing him to Kieran Rookwood, Molly. No one looks like that,” she said and her cousin harrumphed but didn't deny it, “I mean, Adam's nice looking and he's always been nice to his girlfriends and stuff but he's not for me.”

Molly frowned and almost rammed into an old lady carrying hat boxes and earning an affronted gasp. “Sorry!” she said to the woman while Roxanne watched the woman teetering away down the cobbled street, “and anyway, Rox,” she said, using the nickname Adam had given her eons ago. “There's nothing wrong with him. You should give him a shot if he asks you.”

Roxanne couldn't see herself with Adam in the slightest, she had never had any amount of attraction for him. He'd annoyed her when they'd been kids and at Hogwarts he was just a friend she talked to in the Hufflepuff common room and she was sure that, even with him flirting a few minutes ago, that it wasn't anything serious. “No thanks, I'm not looking forward to dating or anything for a while.”

Molly heaved a weary sigh at the words but didn't comment as they walked down to the joke shop. Fireworks were going off and melting into the blue sky, billboards and signs on every inch of the place, announcing half off deals on WWW's most “exciting” merchandise. It translated, in Roxanne's mind as “dangerous”, “Your dad's really going for it this year, huh?”

“Yeah, he's been blowing stuff up for days.” Roxanne said as she looked up at all the patched up and added onto parts of the shop. It really was like being back at the Burrow with her grandparents, “but then again, he's probably just celebrating the fact that he can make fun of me even more.”

Molly laughed as they reached the door and opened it, ignoring the sound of cheers from the employees. Kids were running around like imps, papers and foil were in every direction and it smelt like someone had left off some You-Know-Poo in the bathroom somewhere, “Roxie, there's nothing wrong with being made a Prefect!”

Just the words made Roxanne wince in horror. Her owl had arrived with all of her school things like usual, but with one more cryptic message announcing that, under the circumstances of Christina Monroe transferring to Beauxbatons, she would be Prefect for Hufflepuff House.

Apparently her marks hadn't been as bad as she'd thought. But considering the fact that Filch had an entire room of files dedicated to her pranks, she wasn't sure why McGonagall had allowed it.

Roxanne pressed her hand to her chest in agony. “Tell that to my ego! Mum was teasing me all day yesterday and snuck into my room and tickled me until I peed on myself!” Molly roared with laughter. It hadn't been the first time her mother had done something like that though and she groused moodily, “and then Perce took my badge and charmed it to say “Bloody Big Head””

Molly was still laughing as they waved to her father, who was too busy dealing with customers to pick on her just now. Perce was somewhere in the mist of robes and faces helping out for the day, “Its really not that bad, Roxie. I mean, nothing is that bad for long!” her cousin tried to say as they walked to the back of the shop, where the secret wall that would lead them to the flat was.

Roxanne, her brother and their parents were the only ones that knew what the password was and to anyone else, it was nothing but a blank expanse of wall. “Everything,” she whispered softly and as it melted away, her cousin still grinning, she wished that what she had said could be proven true.


“Hey, Bloody Big Head, are you ready yet?” Roxanne's brother asked as he came towards her with the day's misplaced products. Though they could have easily used their wands, people tended to pick things up and set them back down in different places all over the shop, which was a really taxing job to correct.

Roxanne was sitting on top of the counter by the register and kicked at him a little as he walked by. Their father was putting things back onto the shelves on the second floor, the third level having been cleared out by Verity earlier before she'd trudged out, complaining about the state of her feet. “Ready for what?” she growled.

“To be grilled and abused by your other fellow Prefects! You'll never have a day to yourself again.” Perce was saying to her evilly while he put back a bottle of Everlasting Daydream for Boys onto its shelf (It gave naughty fantasies and had really disgusting side effects), “Victoire was so worn out last year. And you've got Quidditch this year and homework and being annoying to keep up on.”

Roxanne couldn't really picture Victoire a Prefect but then again, she had probably excelled at the attention side of it. Dom-Dom would have surely withered under that sort of attention though and at the thought of her, she briefly hoped she wouldn't ask what had happened with her and Benjamin. At Aunt Audrey's, they'd been too busy running away from the adults to talk for long, “Shut up! What if you had been made Head Boy?” she demanded.

Perce shuddered noticeably at the very question as he came back, a grin spreading at the heated glare she sent him. The day had winded down finally and there was a pretty orange smear across the sky, announcing that it would be dark soon ant that Weasley's Wizard Wheezes would be closed soon. “Don't give me that look. Not my fault that you've inherited Uncle Ron's genes,”

Roxanne wanted to hit him but her brother was now leaning his back against the counter beside her and resting his head lightly on her arm. “What?” she asked, trying to sound mad at him and failing as she rested her cheek on top of his wavy hair, “I won't be the best Prefect but I'll be damned if I'll be the worst.”

“That's the spirit, Roxie.” Perce said to her happily and she rolled her eyes and listened to their father moving about on the second floor above them. He was humming something to himself or, sadly, talking to Uncle Fred which he sometimes still did, “I don't think you'll be a bad Prefect or anything, you've got some of mum in you too.”

Roxanne wished that she could be a lot more like their mother and felt guilt wrapping around her chest. If there was anyone she dreaded telling aside from her father and brother, it was her mother...the revulsion she would receive made her lay awake at night, dreading the morning. “I guess,” she said with a sigh.

Perce fiddled with his hands a little before resting them on his stomach, where she heard an ominous growl. She giggled, “I hope Mum gets here soon. I'm dying over here,” he said and Roxanne nodded in agreement as her own stomach snarled viciously, “why do you suppose she's at the Ministry so much anyway?”

“I don't know, but whenever I ask she always gets real quiet and secretive. You'd think we'd walked in on her and dad going at it again but no,” Roxanne said peevishly as her brother roared with laughter. “I know the Magical Games and Sports department is important but the next World Cup isn't until four years from now!”

Perce nodded, as he kept tabs on this sort of thing religiously. “I asked around trying to see if I could get any info and no one wanted to tell me shit!” he cried angrily, still resting his head on her arm.

“Oi, Fred, you watch your mouth until I get down there!” Their father warned from upstairs and her brother crowed a decent apology. “Damn straight you're sorry!” was their father's cross reply before he started moving about again, though the two of them were too busy laughing to really notice.

Roxanne, after quieting down, asked her brother. “You didn't try to ask Aunt Ginny?” she asked, since their aunt had started her own Quidditch team, the Wailing Banshee's a few years ago before quitting.

Perce nodded and he looked extremely serious as he lifted his head from her arm and rubbed his chin. Roxanne gave him dramatic music to go along with it and he grinned faintly, “I tried but she got all quiet on me when I went to visit. But then again, she was probably mad at me for putting Albus's underwear on his head and making him run around in circles...”

“I can't imagine why she'd be upset about that,” Roxanne said dryly.

Perce shrugged, looking confused before he continued on. “I talked to Leanne too about it when I was over the other night.” Roxanne gagged, though she had no right to when she still thought about what Benjamin had seduced her into doing. “She said her parents have been acting weird, people coming by her dad's broom shop ordering all sorts of stuff, like there's a big game coming up.”

Roxanne found this really curious, but there was nothing major happening in the Quidditch world from what she'd been reading lately. Then again Quidditch Weekly had a habit of hinting at certain information without giving the entire thing, “What about Uncle Oliver?” Uncle Oliver had played for Puddlemore United before the War but had gotten too many injuries to return but he kept them all informed, “I mean, he should know.”

“He told me to mind my own business! And Uncle Lee, he's commentator for the World Cup and he told me to mind my own bloody business!” Perce cried indignantly and Roxanne had a feeling that those visits had been why he'd been gone for so long during the past few days. “Its really irritating.”

Roxanne nodded her agreement, glancing down at her feet a little as she swung them distractedly. Though she didn't know why, she thought of her encounter with Adam Jordan earlier and found herself saying to her brother, “I saw Adam in Quality Quidditch Supplies today. He died his hair blonde this time and got some piercings that I know Aunt Alicia must be hating,” he looked awfully amused by that, “have you seen him?”

Perce nodded a little, looking suddenly keen. A sneaky look came into his face and Roxanne narrowed her eyes on him suspiciously, “Yeah, he's looking pretty good isn't he?” he asked and Roxanne shrugged, “I always figured that Adam's had a crush on you, you should give him a try.”

“He's got a girlfriend and I'm not interested!” Roxanne snapped in revulsion as her brother waggled his eyebrows at her. Why could everyone do that but her? It wasn't exactly fair, “you've never even really liked Adam!”

Perce groaned in aggravation and heaved an exasperated sigh, as if Roxanne hadn't pointed out the truth. Whenever he saw Adam, he made their conversations incredibly short and purposefully awkward, “Yeah, but he's better than say, Malfoy.” Her brother said with perceptive skill and at Roxanne's suddenly pale face, he cried furiously, “I knew it!”

“Knew what? Shut up!” Roxanne commanded as her brother's face morphed into one of both disapproval and strong dislike. She could feel the pound of her heart increasing painfully and she had to suck in a strong breath...trying not to think of how Benjamin had looked at her when he'd told her to leave.

Perce was watching her face critically and she didn't like the way his eyes were running over her, as if she had some sort of mark that he could see. Thanks to some Beauty Mark cream from Molly, Benjamin's hickeys had faded a long time ago but she didn't think that that meant much to her nosy brother. “Make me!”

“I'll get Dad on you!” Roxanne warned.

Perce ignored the threat and went on a tirade, obviously having wanted to pester her about this for days. “The way you've been acting for the last few days has something to do with Malfoy doesn't it?” when Roxanne shook her head, he ignored her and continued on in a rush of air. “Don't think that I haven't noticed all the Prophets talking about him and his dad sleazing back into the country!”

“So what if they have? I haven't even been reading the Prophet!” Roxanne found herself lying to him hotly. She'd been reading them secretly in her bedroom at night and catching up on the latest news that detailed the return of Draco Malfoy from scandal and back into the “warm” bosom of the Law Department. “Why do you automatically think something wrong with me is his fault?”

Perce's face was steadily growing angrier and she thought that in that moment he reminded her so much of their mother that it was eerie. This was a confrontation that she had been trying to avoid for days and she hopped off the counter hurriedly, desperate to storm back up to the flat, “Oi, don't walk away from me, Roxie!” her brother snapped, reaching out to snatch her arm.

“Let go, prat!” Roxanne snarled, though she knew that her eyes showed just how terrified she was of him knowing the truth. Something in her brother's face shifted and her entire body felt as if it were drenched in ice, “I-I haven't even talked to Ben since they came back!”

Perce caught onto her slip up with enough skill to rival the best of interrogators and Roxanne thought that this was perhaps the worst possible moment. Their father was asking them what all the yelling was about and coming downstairs and they would know...she would break...she would shatter and they would hate her.

“Roxie, what's wrong? Tell me. I'm worried about you!” her brother said sincerely, looking deeply troubled. It took all she had in her not to break completely, “Whatever he did to you, I'll kill him for, you never get this upset about anything and I know its his fault! Just tell me—dammit Roxie, what'd he do?” he demanded furiously.

Tears were starting to form and Roxanne looked away from him towards the front doors, hoping that something would happen to make this go away. “Leave me alone—” she started but the words trailed away as her salvation came in the form of Draco and Benjamin Malfoy entering back into her life. The world felt as if it were falling apart and she felt the fragile lining of her heart shattering all over again.

Hope you all enjoyed this! I'm going back to Audrey and her Weasley after this, so please stay patient!



Chapter 9: Tug and Pull
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A/N: Thanks for coming! How about leaving me a review at the end? :)

Stop being a brat just because you haven’t gotten your way! Life doesn’t work like that Weasley! You can’t always get what you want!” The harsh words seemed to explode in her ears and Roxanne turned away from the sight of Mr. Malfoy and Benjamin walking into the shop, the two of them splashes of black and grey. That morning and all of its events seemed to pound and dance in her skull and she fought down the strangest urge to run away, refusing to give Benjamin that favor.

Kisses and touches and the fury of their fight caused a tumult of strange, torturous emotions to grip her heart. Roxanne blinked rapidly, pretending to find the worn maroon carpet under the soles of her trainers the most fascinating thing in the world, “Roxie, you all right?” Perce demanded, having noticed the flashes of fury, panic and heartache on her face.

“I'm fine, just leave me alone.” Roxanne said to him, turning to stare back into his concerned face. Perce frowned at her tone but, deciding that that might be normal and he'd have plenty of time to interrogate her later, he released her upper arm, “do you think I should go and get Dad?” she asked, nodding at their two visitors.

Mr. Malfoy and Benjamin were looking around the shop curiously, even though both of them had been inside more than once. And yet, for the past year they had been in Italy and familiar sights of home must have meant a lot, judging from the soft smile that was forming on Mr. Malfoy's face, “I'm sorry for coming in late but I think we caught you right before closing,” the man said upon noticing them.

Perce's face seemed to settle into an unconcerned mask, though Roxanne could feel his irritation and dislike. The Daily Prophet had given them enough information on Mr. Malfoy's return to the Ministry, the scandal that had caused him and his son to leave being the most intriguing mystery.

While no one knew what it was, there were many guesses going around from the gossip columns that Roxanne had read, none of them pleasant and most of them cruel. “Yeah, you did. Our dad is still upstairs though so he might not mind,” Perce was saying to Mr. Malfoy with a shrug, though his eyes were going over Benjamin with contempt.

Roxanne forced herself not to look at him or even notice his movements but that tug...that strange tug that always pulled her towards him was overpowering. Unwillingly, her eyes took him in, noticing that he had hung back a bit by a shelf flooded with Deflagration Deluxe, Basic Blaze Boxes and her father's other wild assortments of fireworks.

Dressed in a dark jacket, white shirt, faded jeans and a pair of green dragon hide boots, he still was able to remind her of a thief or a Muggle pirate. The long black braid down his back only gave him an air of something that was both interesting and ominous...too tempting to leave alone and Roxanne felt her chest twist. “If its a bother, we could always come back some other time,” Mr. Malfoy said to Perce with disappointment, looking a little uncomfortable, though Roxanne had a feeling that his mind might be on other things.

Perce appeared as if he wouldn't mind it if they did but before he could say anything, their father's voice alerted them to his presence. “What were you two arguing about? I could hear you all upstairs,” he sounded more annoyed than angry and Roxanne tore her eyes away from Benjamin, who hadn't even looked at her, to see him walking over to them.

Mr. Malfoy stiffened a little at the sight of him, as if he expected something like a wild exclamation or a banishment. Instead of using the Malfoy's strange scandal to his advantage, her brother only said to their father, “We're not as bad as you and mum when you get started.”

That had their father laughing a little and Roxanne felt his arm going around her shoulders as he stopped beside her. Perce got a pat on the head that made him roll his eyes with resigned suffering, “Sometimes I only start fighting with your mum just to have the great make up sex,”

Dad!” Roxanne cried in horror as Perce made a gagging sound. Mr. Malfoy's eyes had widened a little and Benjamin, who had picked up a box of fireworks curiously, paused and glanced down at them, brow quirked. “No one wants to know!”

The disgust on his children's faces only seemed to make their father quite happy and he gave them both a kiss on the forehead. Perce groaned and squirmed away from him with an irritable laugh, “So, what's going on?” he asked curiously, finally catching sight of Mr. Malfoy standing politely in place, “well, shit, its been a while since I've seen you, Malfoy!”

Roxanne snuggled into her father's side a bit more, instinctively seeking protection as Benjamin glanced between them. There was a wary look in his blue-brown eyes that made her think of some wild creature about to pounce if necessary and she figured that he assumed everyone was against them. He had said that Roxanne would never understand what it was like walking with such a shameful stigma and she had to admit with a shamed frown that she didn't.

At her home, there were moments of anger and sadness but none of it could compare to the pain that Benjamin and his family had to endure on a daily basis simply for having their last name. “Yes, it has been a while, hasn't it? Its good to see you, you're looking well.” Mr. Malfoy said with a faint smile and Roxanne heard her father giggle a little (Perce sighed wearily). “I hope you don't mind me stopping by, I was hoping to get some last minute things for my daughter's birthday this weekend.”

“Not a problem, Malfoy, I was just about to close up shop but we're waiting for my wife to get back from work. And I never say no to a dad wanting to spoil his little girl,” Roxanne's father said with a grin at her. She blushed a little and saw Perce roll his eyes at them, even though everyone said that he was just as much of a brat as she was, “since when did you and yours get back? I heard you were abroad.”

Mr. Malfoy's face flooded with color and Benjamin walked over, the box of fireworks having been placed back on its shelf. There was a defensive look on his face and he had narrowed his eyes, as if daring them all to make another remark, “I just came back a few weeks ago, actually. I felt that after a year it was time to come home,”

The words caused her father to nod in understanding and Roxanne watched as he seemed to log in more questions for later. Although he had admitted more than once to saying that he and Mr. Malfoy weren't exactly friends, he wasn't the sort of person to ever be rude to a customer when he had no reason to.

Instead of prying even more into his personal life, her father merely gave him a welcoming grin. “Well, welcome back. Taint yourself with more Weasley products, Malfoy, I've got some good stuff that you might like—holy shit, what the hell happened to you?” he said rudely to Benjamin, having noticed him glaring a hole into the three of them.

Perce snickered and Roxanne gawped up at their father. “Dad!”

Mr. Malfoy looked a little taken aback but her father ignored their reactions, gushing to Benjamin foolishly. “I don't think I can call you little Malfoy anymore, you're massive!” he said to him and Roxanne saw Perce snort a little and his enemies father relax noticeably. “And so delicious looking too. Merlin, if I were twenty years younger, I don't know what I'd be doing to you.”

Dad!” Roxanne cried as Benjamin roared with laughter. Mr. Malfoy's lips twitched a little, though there was a faint blush on his face that proved just how embarrassed he was by her father's antics and outrageous declarations, “would you stop?”

That only made her father waggle his eyebrows at her and Roxanne snorted with laughter before he returned his attention back to Mr. Malfoy. To her surprise, he appeared more amused now than anything, “Anyway, Malfoy, come with me. How old is your little girl turning? There are some really good love potions in the Wonder Witch section that she might like,” he was going into business mode and she frowned as he unwrapped his arms from her shoulders.

Mr. Malfoy, apparently relieved to be talking business, even when it had something to do with his own child, relaxed. An easy smile started on his face as her father pointed down to the Wonder Witch section of the shop, where garishly bright pink and purple products awaited, “She's turning nine, but I promised her I would get her a Pygmy Puff, is that what they're called?”

Pygmy Puffs were very popular with little girls and older women, though Roxanne shot her brother a look. Victoire had had a Pygmy Puff for years before Perce and Teddy Lupin had gotten their hands on the poor thing and used him for Bludger practice, “Yeah, that's what they're called, they're really cute, fluffy things.” Her father assured him with a gleam in his eye.

“I wasn't sure if she would be able to handle taking care of something so I was a tad worried when she asked.” Mr. Malfoy said to her father with a thoughtful frown. Roxanne had always wondered what his other two children were like since she had never met them before and found herself listening in curiously, “but she considers herself very mature.”

That made Roxanne's father laugh doubtfully before he said with a confident smile. “I'll let you know all about them, Malfoy but you should be careful. They need a lot of attention and some little girls can't handle it and abandon them,” he warned as they started to walk off.

Perce was frowning, his arms crossed. Benjamin looked a tad out of place as he watched his father leaving him behind, his obvious dislike of being stuck with the two of them for company apparent by his sudden scowl, “Dad, what are we supposed to do?” her brother called at his back.

“You're in a joke shop, Freddie! Talk to little Malfoy about girls or something. Beautiful girl, try not to fall in love back there!” their father teased at her over his shoulder. A very painful twist settled into Roxanne's chest and she hoped that her horrified expression didn't reveal how much the words had hurt her, “whew, that's not flattering!” her father laughed, though his eyes appeared more worried when he turned away.

Roxanne blinked rapidly to fight back a sting of nasty tears, hating that she was hurting her parents this way. While her father and Mr. Malfoy's voices became a bit hard to hear, she tried to inhale deeply and calm herself down, knowing that if she allowed Benjamin to get to her, he would only win. Molly had been right about that and she hated the thought of him controlling her emotions when he looked as calm and at ease as ever, as if nothing had happened between them.

After squaring her shoulders and turning to say something, desperate to make this as less awkward as possible, she heard Perce ask Benjamin rudely. “So where'd you get that shiner Malfoy?” and, knowing that she had been too distracted by the rest of him to look too closely at his face, Roxanne turned just in time to see Benjamin raise his hand to his eye.

The memory of raising her fist and punching him as hard as she had been able flashed in her mind. Added with the scar over his eyebrow, it only made him look like some rugged male character from a cheesy romance novel, though Roxanne felt a nasty bit of pleasure at the sight of the bruise. “None of your bloody business, Weasley.” Benjamin said as he lowered his fingers and raised his upper lip.

“Not my business but its just sort of hard not to notice.” Perce said while taking him in with heated dislike. Benjamin returned it, a cold expression entering his eyes and making Roxanne feel the slightest bit of chills, “Looks like someone got a good blow in.”

Benjamin's jaw tightened and Roxanne saw his eyes glance over at her for just one moment before sliding away. It left her feeling hollow, “Would you like to find out what a nice punch in the face feels like, Weasley? I owe you a few.”

Roxanne glanced between them with burgeoning unease. Though she knew, without a doubt now that her brother and Teddy Lupin had bullied Benjamin quite badly at Hogwarts, it still made her stomach twist. “Go ahead and try it. You're always getting into trouble anyway, no one's going to be surprised,” Perce said smartly and without a hint of concern for himself.

“You might want to be careful about what you're trying to say, Weasley.” Benjamin warned darkly and when Roxanne made a motion to step in, he shot her a glance that almost looked like like an apology. “I hate to ruin the special bond between siblings,”

“I'm just letting you know that your attitude and whatever the hell you think you can get away with won't get past me. Especially with my sister around,” Perce said with a very pleased look on his face that made him appear just like the bully that Benjamin had always said he was.

That caused a very strange reaction on Benjamin's face. Roxanne watched his eyes widen a little before a sly smile spread over his mouth, as if he knew a secret that he couldn't tell and she felt a bolt of terror—he was going to tell her brother what they'd done. “Get over yourself, Weasley. I'm not and have never been, interested in your sister, no matter if she is a really cute lump,” he stunned her by saying.

Roxanne felt dizzy with emotion, knowing that he was lying, that he couldn't be telling the truth. All of the hurt that he had caused threatened to build up and she could feel the press of his lips along her throat...the scent of him invading her nose and it was very hard to breathe, “Let's keep it that way, Malfoy. I don't care what everyone says about you and I could really give a rat's ass who your father is, but you keep yourself away from her.”

“Why so suddenly over protective, Weasley? I've been hanging around your sister and contaminating her for years.” Benjamin said with a wide eyed look of mockery. Roxanne felt herself flushing as he angled his head at her, a private smile spreading over his face and making her think of days gone by.

There had been so much fun between them over the years and it hurt so much to see him now after what he had done. How could he act so casual? How could he act like he hadn't done anything wrong and left her sobbing for days? Why...why was he looking at her like he wanted to eat her?

Roxanne suddenly thought in alarm, watching as his eyes, for just a moment, flared with need. The look was over before she could draw in a suitable breath and she heard Perce practically snarling, “My parents might not have cared that you two were hanging around each other but I've never liked it and I've never liked you.”

Or the way you look at her, Roxanne didn't hear him say. Those unspoken words hung in the air though and she felt an uncomfortable wave go over her, “Ooh, I'm so scared, Weasley.” Benjamin said with a mock shudder before he gave a cold bark of a laugh that felt like a sting to her heart, “I don't give a shit about what you think or how you feel and I didn't come in here today with my dad by the way, to get into it with you.”

Perce made a motion as if he wanted to prove to him how afraid he should be and Roxanne gripped his wrist. She might have made some sort of sound in response to it because her brother turned to her with a faint smile, “Why don't you go upstairs or something and get dressed before mum gets back?”

Roxanne knew that he meant well, in his own over-protective way but she gave him an annoyed look. Benjamin had turned away from the two of them, going back to the shelf of fireworks thoughtfully, the slightest of smiles on his face, “You don't have to act like this just because he's here. Stop it Perce, you're being stupid,” she hissed to her brother.

Perce had the audacity to turn a bit pink but he shrugged it off, glowering at Benjamin's tall form. He didn't appear interested or had even bothered to acknowledge her presence and Roxanne thought that it was silly of her to feel a sting from it, “What do you expect? I ask you what's been bothering you for the past few days and as soon as I mention that prick's name you look like you're about to cry.”


Ignoring her slight interruption, her brother went on in a low voice that caused Roxanne to feel a wave of guilt. It would take all that she had to keep what had happened a secret but she wasn't sure how long she would be able to fight it, “I don't want to hear it, Roxie.”

“Since when do you get off on being so rude? I don't...I haven't even talked to Ben. He and I aren't...we're not friends anymore, we never were,” Roxanne found herself saying tightly, knowing that her voice sounded harsh.

Perce's eyes widened a little at the expression on her face and he sighed heavily, briefly pressing his forehead against hers. Roxanne could feel Benjamin's eyes pressing into her commandingly, as if he were stopping himself from obeying that tug that seemed to push and pull them towards one another. “Look, Roxie, I'm sorry. But I really want to know what's been bothering you, you haven't even bothered to tell us.”

Roxanne felt her lips trembling and moved away from him, though she kept her fingers around his wrist. “Its..its nothing. Just before-school jitters,”

“Oh , bullshit. Since when did you ever care about going to school? Even being made Prefect can't make you want to work harder,” Perce said dryly, tearing apart her lie so easily that it scared her. “You can lie as much as you want but I know that whatever is wrong, has something to do with that thing over there,” he said in reference to Benjamin, who, upon sensing that he was the topic of discussion, raised his brows.

“Saying kind things, Weasley?” Benjamin asked dryly as he took two boxes of fireworks and balanced them in his arms. Roxanne had a feeling that he wasn't just going to use those for his sister's birthday party, “I can't understand why we're not best friends,”

Roxanne didn't know why she said it but she snapped angrily. “Would you mind shutting up, Ben?” she didn't register the look of genuine surprise on his face because she was snapping at her smug brother just as harshly. “And you can shut up, too Perce. Maybe you two have some sort of sexual tension going on that you should work out, I'm tired of listening to you harping at one another,” she said irritably, folding her arms.

“As if he'd be my type!” Perce snapped and while Benjamin's face had gone pale at the thought of rolling around in silk sheets with her brother, Roxanne never heard what else he would have said as the front doors of the shop opened.

“I could hear you fighting from outside. Luckily for me, you all haven't started eating one another from starvation,” their mother said with a laugh as she stepped inside. As usual, she was dressed in a simple set of robes and had managed to put her curly hair on top of her head, looking fresh and lively even though Roxanne knew she had to be exhausted.

Benjamin's lips twitched and Roxanne watched his cheeks turning faintly pink and almost found herself commenting on it. But it would be silly to assume that teasing him about his crush on her mother would have the same results as they used to, “Mum, don't be silly. You know Dad would eat us first,” Perce said by way of greeting and their mother roared with laughter.

Roxanne was glad to see her but noticed that there was someone standing behind her and would know the sight of that blonde Mohawk anywhere. “Who'd you bring back with you?” her brother asked curiously.

Their mother gave them both a teasing look as she motioned for her guest to step inside, Roxanne wincing when Perce roughly nudged her arm. Adam Jordan gave an awkward little wave as he made his way in, Benjamin giving a snort of disbelief at the sight of him, “My other son, Adam! I scooped him up while he was walking over and thought he and his family would want to come for dinner tonight.” Their mother explained.

“Hey, Rox, Fred,” Adam Jordan said with an embarrassed laugh while their mother reached up to pinch his cheeks. Roxanne had thought that he would have gone home by now but he explained his presence by saying with a shrug at them, “thought I'd stop by and get my girlfriend something before heading home.”

Perce nodded his approval while their mother gave the boy a fond little kiss on the cheek, making him blush. Benjamin, from the corner of Roxanne's eye, appeared a little envious as he watched the spectacle, “Where's your dad?” their mother asked after Adam had made the smart choice to step away.

“Oh, he's back by the Wonder Witch section,” Roxanne explained while shooting a look at Benjamin. The sounds of their father's talking could be heard coming closer to them and she felt a wave of relief at the thought that this would be over soon and he would go back to his life and she could return to acting out her own. “Mr. Malfoy and Benjamin came in at the last minute for some shopping,” she was surprised that she hadn't bumbled over the words.

Their mother took in the information curiously before finally turning her attention to Benjamin, who turned surprisingly pink. “This is Benjamin? I barely recognized you, you're so handsome!” she said with a laugh while walking up and making him bend down so she could get a good look at him. “I haven't seen you in ages!”

“Sorry about that,” Benjamin said with a shy grin. While her mother chatted away to him, asking questions here and there, Adam slipped by Roxanne's side and she barely noticed the grin he shot her and she briefly returned it, “no, no, I don't have a girlfriend,” she heard him say.

Roxanne felt another stab in her chest because she was just another mark on a long list of girls he had tossed aside. The feeling threatened to sink in but vanished as she heard Adam ask her in a low whisper, “So...what's freaky Malfoy and his dad doing here?”

“What do you mean?” Roxanne asked him dryly while Perce gave a rude laugh beside her. Adam's pierced eyebrow and lip only made her cringe a bit but she didn't detect any real malice behind his words, only curiosity, “he and his dad are just here to buy some stuff for a birthday party.”

Adam raised his brows a little at her defensive tone but Roxanne was already inwardly cursing herself. She had been defending Benjamin and his family for years and that was a strange habit to break, “Oh, well, I was just wondering. Merlin, he's even spookier up close,” the boy said while leaning away from her. Roxanne rolled her eyes, “its those eyes of his, you know? Its like he doesn't have a soul.”

“That's not even nice and you know it—” Roxanne started, though her voice was drowned out by Perce's laughter. “Shut up, Perce!” she snapped.

The sound of their father's voice broke up whatever fight had been about to ensue and she was relieved for it. “Angie, you're back! I knew my body started getting all tingly for a reason,” Adam and Perce roared with laughter, looking chummy.

Roxanne suspected that Adam's rude words comments about Benjamin had won her brother over a little. It made her a little sick to her stomach and she distracted herself by watching Mr. Malfoy handling a tiny cage carefully, a pink Pygmy Puff purring at him from inside, “Georgie, I'm having the same reaction,” their mother replied huskily.

“I see you've latched on to another man, traitor.” Her father replied with an exaggerated gasp. Mr. Malfoy's Pygmy Puff squeaked and chirped in agreement and she almost laughed, “thought redheads were your type?”

Adam and Perce were laughing loudly as Roxanne's mother grinned impishly. She gave her husband a flirtatious little wink, “Georgie, you'll always be my type,” that only made him puff out his chest as she turned her attention back to the boy, “Benjamin, you've gotten so big!”

“And then some,” Benjamin said suggestively, waggling his eyebrows.

Mr. Malfoy shot him a furious look even though Roxanne's parents were roaring with laughter. “Benjamin, don't be rude.” He chastised and his son heaved a sigh, shooting him a look that made her wonder what sort of tension they were experiencing at home.

When her parents eventually stopped laughing, Roxanne's father asked curiously, having spotted Adam finally. “What are you doing here, anyway?” and when the boy explained about getting something for his girlfriend, he gave a very serious nod. “I see, I see, that's some serious business. Beautiful girl, why not go show him some stuff in the Wonder Witch section?”

Roxanne wasn't sure if she liked the hopeful look on his face and shot Perce a glare when he started to smile smugly. “Why not, Rox?” Adam asked happily while slinging an arm around her shoulders and causing Benjamin to shoot him a dark look from the corner of his eye.

“Uhm, I'm not sure if I could help with that,” Roxanne muttered uncomfortably, feeling the trail of Benjamin's eyes on them before he looked away. Her mother was still chatting away to him before turning her attention to his father, going on in embarrassing detail on how handsome and tasty he looked (Mr. Malfoy actually blushed at some point), “I don't even really know your girlfriend,” she muttered.

Adam gave a careless shrug and pulled her closer to his side with an exaggerated sigh that made her laugh. “What's to know, Rox? She's a girly girl. Anything pink and frilly would do. Bianca made me stay with her for two hours looking at gloves and scarves and whatnot in Beauty Within—erm, sorry,” he said hastily at Benjamin and Mr. Malfoy.

Though he hadn't said anything negative about his wife's shop, Mr. Malfoy just gave him a nod. Benjamin on the other hand shot him a nasty glare that was only made worse when he flicked his eyes to her embarrassed face, “How about I get your stuff wrapped up for you, Malfoy?” her father asked, breaking the little silence that had fallen easily.

“Sure, I should be heading back soon. Benjamin, are you intending on paying for those?” Mr. Malfoy asked with raised brows, nodding his head at the boxes of fireworks in his son's arms. He received an annoyed glance, “I'm not sure if your sister would like the fireworks so much as your brother, something always explodes,”

That made Adam laugh. “Sounds like my dad,” he said while leading Roxanne towards the Wonder Witch section, ignoring how she couldn't return his enthusiasm. When she chanced a glance over her shoulder, she was surprised to find Benjamin staring at her, the look in his eyes so dark and heated that it made her blood boil.

His eyes, blue-brown and narrowed seemed to possess enough heat to burn Roxanne to the core. Chills danced on her skin and she forced herself not to think of kisses and touches and caresses... seeing the memories echoing between them before she forced herself to look away. “You all right, Rox? I know helping me get something for my girlfriend is awful but I'll make it easy on you and not keep you all night,” Adam was saying to her, noticing her face.

“I'm fine, I'll, uhm, help as much as I can.” Roxanne replied with an easy smile that she didn't feel. The press of Benjamin's eyes were still on her back and she wondered if it were her imagination that she had caught a flash of envy in them. It had to be a joke because he had made it more than obvious that he didn't care about her and she turned sharply away, willing the tug pulling her to him to stop.


Nighttime in Diagon Alley was noisy and loud, drunken voices and pub doors ringing in all directions. It wasn't a peaceful sound but over the years, Roxanne had been able to sleep without a care in the world, comfortable even in her Uncle Fred's room despite the sadness that she got occasionally of having it. There were no lingering traces of him here but Roxanne could feel whatever energy he left hanging about, though she was certain that it was mostly her imagination. Most people assumed that her brother would be here in Uncle Fred's room but her parents had decided that it being a much larger space would suit a growing girl better.

Over the years, she had flooded every space with furniture, toys and masses of clothes, wondering sometimes if Uncle Fred minded much that she had painted the room pink and pale blue. Fierce posters of her favorite Quidditch players took away from the extreme girlishness of her room, while photos and little trinkets on every available flat surface hinted at a childhood that she still loved.

Roxanne couldn't sleep and rolled over onto her side, the softness of her bed as fluffy as a cloud. Though her covers were light, her pillow soft and the familiar shadows of her Hogwarts trunk, desk and clothes soothing her body into a state of relaxation, her mind was whirling. Sometimes when she got this way, it would only take a few moments of counting dragons before her eyes grew heavy but tonight was different...nothing she'd tried for the last half hour had caused her to grow tired.

Whenever she managed to close her eyes, she seemed to relive every moment with Benjamin in jarring detail. It felt more than cruel that he had come back into her life right at a moment when she had started to feel a little peace, when she had been forcing herself to get through the day without crying. But now, the taste and scent of him was flooding back...she was remembering the look in his eyes when he had told her to leave and get out of his life.

“Bastard,” Roxanne muttered, pressing the heels of her hands into her eyes to try to block the memories out. It was so difficult when she felt that tug and pull even now, even with Benjamin being safely tucked away at the Manor...laughing with his family and putting it all from his mind. She didn't expect him to have his mind centered around her while with his family but she wasn't sure how he would react to her later at Hogwarts and if she would be strong enough to tune him out.

If she had been braver, she would have asked her mother for advice but she didn't dare confess to her troubles. The disappointment would kill her and Perce had only made it worse with all of his questions today and later, practically shoving Adam Jordan into her lap. “Ugh,” Roxanne groaned with distaste, rolling over onto her side and punching her pillow for something to do, “not my type at all, Perce,” she grumbled after she'd finished.

Though her brother knew that she didn't care about Adam, he had been overly nice to the boy during dinner. It had pained him, obviously but Perce had made it more than apparent that he thought the boy would make a much better boyfriend for her, their father appearing oddly hopeful even when he tried not to show it.

Roxanne knew that her parents weren't stupid, they had shot her worried looks during dinner and every mention of Mr. Malfoy and Benjamin had made her pale. It was so pathetic— Ping. Ping. Ping. Startled, she shot up in bed, thinking that she was hearing things but when the sound came again from her window, she stumbled out of bed, tripping a little as she wandered to it.

There was an alley down below and as she pushed her window open and looked for the source, she was amazed to find the familiar shape of Benjamin's silhouette. He was looking up at her, hand thrown back to toss one last rock before letting it slip from his fingertips and Roxanne felt her heart nearly stop, unable to utter a word.

Thanks for reading! Albus is up next! :)


Chapter 10: Will and Won't
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A/N: Hello, all. I decided that instead of Audrey and Percy, I'd upate for this instead and I hope you really enjoy your dose of Benjamin. Much love. ;)


Roxanne's breath seemed to have shortened and she tried to gather her tumbling thoughts but found that she couldn't. What was he doing here? After the spectacle today and what had happened between them, what gave him the right to show up at her window? Anger started to form but Benjamin didn't vanish in a puff of smoke or turn around, he merely stared up at her, the expression on his face shadowed but she could feel the intensity of his gaze.

Roxanne bit on her lip and, seeing that the fire escape outside her window was still in decent condition after a year of misuse, she slipped out and landed onto it, heart pounding. There had been a lot of instances in the past where she would slip out of her room this way to meet with him in Diagon Alley, the two of them causing havoc wherever they ran.

Things had changed though and Roxanne shivered slightly from a sudden wind, her curly hair flying in all directions before she pushed it back and motioned for Benjamin to step up. When he did, there was a strange expression on his face and she was able to see that he had brought his wand with him, noticing a sudden shaft of silvery light. “What do you want?” Roxanne hissed down at him angrily, hugging her arms, “I don't want to see you.”

Benjamin looked around to make sure that no one was listening or coming up before he answered her. “Too bad, Weasley. I need to go over some things with you,” his voice was calm and controlled, though his eyes were shifting a little, as if he expected her to turn her back on him and slam her window shut.

It was oddly tempting and Roxanne fought the urge down, wondering what he could possibly have to say to her now. After what had happened and having her heart shattered into pieces, she didn't want to hear anything that came out of his mouth but... “What do you want to talk about? I'm done with you!” she snapped in a carrying hiss.

Benjamin actually flinched at the words and she glowered down at him, hating that he looked like some girl's wildest fantasty. It wasn't fair, “Sure you are, sweet. Come down and talk with me for a minute, this won't take long,” he said and she narrowed her eyes on him. He smiled, disarming her and making her wish that she could fight the tug and pull between them, “you can go back to hating me later.”

Roxanne didn't know what this could mean or what he would really want from her but this time, she wasn't going to let him bait and seduce her into letting down her guard. And this might be the greatest opportunity to make him hurt a little, “Fine, but I'm not going to waste my time with you all night. Wait down there for me,” she hissed down at him and he gave a curt nod.

Oh, she hated him just now. How was it that he could walk around like he hadn't done anything? Did sleeping with her and tossing her aside like he had so many other girls really been so easy? “..... I don’t even know how you’ve managed to go this long without some horrible bloke fucking and leaving you,” Roxanne's eyes welled with sudden tears but she fought them down.

She wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of seeing her cry this time and with a determined frown, she slipped back into her room, giving a sigh as the warm temperature heated her skin. Thinking that she would make him wait down there for as long as possible, Roxanne rushed to her closet, careful to make her steps as light as possible in case her parents or brother was still up. Perce was probably sneaking out to see Leanne anyway and their parents were probably either asleep, playing a game or doing the sort of things that gave her nightmares, “Ew, gross,” Roxanne muttered with a shudder. After wiping those horrible images from her mind, she dug around in her closet, thinking that she would show Benjamin that she didn't give a damn about him.

Contemplating whether or not she should dress cute or not, Roxanne recalled how he'd looked at her in the mini skirt and tank she wore to the Manor that morning. It hadn't taken him long to undress her either and a wild blush invaded her cheeks—she didn't want Benjamin touching her again or kissing her or.... “Screw him,” Roxanne said fiercely as she rummanged around.

After a while, she snatched a white long-sleeved shirt from the bottom of her closet, knowing that it was there for not being cute or all that attractive. After scouring around for a pair of loose jeans, she undressed quickly from her pajamas, dug in her drawers for a hideously old bra and got dressed. Benjamin wouldn't be remotely interested in her if he saw how she was looking and Roxanne smoothed her hands over her body carefully, hoping that she didn't appear too bad.

She may not be as thin as Molly and Victoire but she wasn't huge. That thought gave her a boost of confidence before she realized that her butt was perhaps a tad too big for these jeans. Too many Cauldron Cakes, she thought with a sigh before scouring in the dark for the trainers she'd kicked off by the door and shoving her feet into them. She was going to show Benjamin that she didn't need him!

Hoping that this decision wouldn't backfire, Roxanne quickly snatched an old coat from the floor, slipped into and then, went to her dresser again. After running a brush viciously through her hair, she used a pink rubber band to tie it up into a bun, knowing that he liked running his fingers through her hair.

Roxanne tried not to think about it, or the way his mouth had been trailing along the length of her neck in little kisses and bites that had gone lower and lower and—“Get a grip,” she snapped to herself. The lurid sensations took a moment to go away but when they did, Roxanne was left feeling both hollow and furious, hating that no matter what happened between them, she always went back...

There were beautiful robes and dresses on display in the shop windows of Beauty Within, the robe shop that Mrs. Malfoy owned. Roxanne would have been able to spot them from a mile away, the building itself being very large and boasting odd green bricks that glistened in the afternoon sun.

It had taken her a while to get here but Roxanne knew all the best shortcuts around Diagon Alley but it had still taken her longer than she would have thought and her legs felt like jelly. The sight of finely dressed mannequins in the shop windows spurred her on though and she forced herself across the street, narrowly missing a mother stacked high with boxes.

After the woman chastised her for not watching where she was going, Roxanne crossed over to the building, her heart flooding with happiness. Benjamin would most likely be here, and she hoped that she hadn't come here for nothing.

Roxanne looked down the sidewalk to make sure no one was coming before walking up to the shop windows and trying to peek around the mannequins. Sharply dressed seamstresses were strutting about in silver robes, carrying heaps of fabric and sewing utensils. From what she could see, a lot of girls were being fitted for fresh Hogwarts robes and preening on stools to better look at themselves in the mirror, where their mother's clapped and praised them.

Roxanne wouldn't be going to Hogwarts until next year, where she still hoped to be put in Slytherin House with Benjamin. Even with that knowledge, she felt a tad envious knowing that she wasn't even going to go shopping for her own wand for a few months when she wanted one now.

Sighing miserably, she continued to look around through the window, stretching and craning her neck until it hurt. The interior was intricate and elegant, the carpets plush and every available shelf filled with fabrics that ranged from normal colors to such splended creations that there was no way to take it all in.

Roxanne had always thought that walking into Beauty Within had been like stepping into a very pleassant and wonderful dream. There was no sign of a glowering black haired boy from what she was able to make out though and she frowned, backing away from the window.

Knowing that she would rather not go home disappointed, Roxanne considered going inside but before she could, the door opened. “Can I help you?” the voice startled her a little and she looked up to see a woman staring down at her kindly. She looked down at the whipped daisies in her hand, very sad to see that some of the white petals had been ripped away, “are you lost sweetie?”

No, I'm not lost,” Roxanne said to the woman with a slight pout. The woman was heavy set, and looked a little younger than her parents, though there were worry lines around her eyes and mouth. Long black hair was tied up back from an average, if not pleasant face and the set of robes she wore were done in shades of blue and white, “Uhmm, you're Benjamin's mum?” she asked.

The question surprised the woman and she gave a soft smile, though a look of suspcion had entered her eyes. As Roxanne straightened and hid her ruined daisies behind her back, she got a reply, “Yes, I am, do you know Ben?” Mrs. Malfoy asked her carefully, studying her. “You look like you might be lost, I came out to see if you needed help.”

There was a hint of amusement in her voice and Roxanne had a feeling that she wasn't used to little girls coming into her shop alone. “Yes, I'm Roxanne Weasley, my dad is—”

George Weasley, I know him. My husband buys more things from that shop than anywhere else and leaves nothing but a mess around the house,” Mrs. Malfoy interrupted her with a very aggravated eye roll. Roxanne wouldn't have figured Mr. Malfoy for actually playing with her father's products but it made her smile, “Ben told me about you.”

Roxanne started to smile before she noticed the look on her face. It wasn't very welcoming and she felt her shoulders sinking, “Oh. What did he say?”

Mrs. Malfoy heaved a sigh before looking over her shoulder to make sure that the shop was still bustling. When she turned back to Roxanne, she kept her tone light but there was a hint of disappointment and protectiveness in her words, “You seem like a sweet girl, but I'm not sure if Ben needs to see you right now. He was so upset the other day, I haven't seen him crying that badly in a very long time,” she sounded truly hurt and Roxanne felt it like a knife in her own chest.

I'm really sorry about that, Mrs. Malfoy. My brother was being mean to him but I like Ben, I think he's really nice,” Roxanne said in a rush and Mrs. Malfoy blinked in surprise. A blush worked into her cheeks and she fumbled on, “That's why I came to see him, I wanted to say sorry—see?” she revealed the daisies from behind her back and to her embarrassment, a few petals fell onto the ground.

Mrs. Malfoy's eyes widened a little, taking her in curiously and trying not to smile. She somehow didn't look like a woman that smiled genuinely very often and Roxanne lowered the daisies morosely, thinking that she would be sent home, “Why don't you come in? Ben is here today, helping me with some things. I think if you're really here to be nice, he might want to see you but I'm never sure with him, he's awfully moody,” she warned and Roxanne nodded.

Feeling herself blushing at the obvious amusement on the woman's face, Roxanne slipped inside the moment she opened the door wider. All the noise and chatter from customers swamped her, along with the dreamy feeling that she was in a better place, “Where is he?” she asked Mrs. Malfoy politely, hoping that Benjamin would want to see her.

Mrs. Malfoy placed a gentle hand on her back and started leading her forward into the depths of the shop. There was so much activity that it made Roxanne's head spin but Benjamin's mother seemed to take it all in with patience, “Come on, I'll take you to him. Its a bit busy in here right now, I'm afraid.”

Do you have to go back to work? Daddy says I'm not supposed to bother people when they're working but he's always sneaking off anyway,” Roxanne informed Mrs. Malfoy secretively and the woman laughed.

After giving her a reassuring smile, she replied. “I'm never too busy for my Benjamin and his friend?” Roxanne nodded fiercely and received a slight smile, “when do you go to Hogwarts, dear?” she asked curiously.

Oh, uhm, next year—ooh, pink! I really like pink.” Roxanne cried happily at the sight of a shelf flooded with varying shades of her favorite color. Mrs. Malfoy laughed a little at her enthusiasm, “I'm going to be in Slytherin you know.”

Mrs. Malfoy appeared very surprised by this as they walked around racks of robes and finely pressed clothes. Girls were giggling and the sound of scissors snipping, mother's chastising and father's groaning oddly reminded Roxanne of the joke shop, “Would you be the first Weasley to be in Slytherin? What do you parents have to say about that?”

Roxanne shrugged, trying ot look very grown up for her. Mrs. Malfoy only appeared more amused, “I haven't told my parents that I'll be in Slytherin yet. But I might be the first Weasley to ever be in Slytherin! Me and Ben are going to stay friends if that's okay,” she said, peering up at the woman hopefully.

Oh, that's perfectly fine by me.” Mrs. Malfoy said but she sounded a little worried and Roxanne hoped she didn't think she was lying. While she didn't want to believe that her brother and Teddy Lupin were bullying Benjamin at Hogwarts, she would never be mean to him and would punch anyone that did. That's what friends did after all, “there he is, why not tell him that?”

Roxanne felt herself grow a little nervous as she spotted Benjamin up ahead, holding stacks of robes, skirts and dresses in his arms. An elderly woman was going through a rack of clothes in front of her, already weighed down by expensive robes and glistening jewelry, “Ooh, I think this would suit me just fine!” the woman crowed, holding up a red skirt five times too small.

Benjamin's face was expressionless but from the tightening of his lips, Roxanne could see that he was having a hard time not making a rude remark. Mrs. Malfoy laughed behind her hand a little, even while the sight of her son obviously suffering shouldn't have been funny, “Benny, let me take those for you,” she offered sweetly, walking over and taking the heap of clothing from his arms.

Benjamin looked relieved but hadn't noticed Roxanne just yet as the elderly woman took in the sight of his mother with a crowing laugh. He cringed, “Pansy, darling, you look lovely! Perhaps you could help me with a slight problem I'm having? This skirt is simply divine bit I might need help getting into it,” she said with an exaggerated pout.

Mrs. Malfoy's face was nothing but polite even though Roxanne knew that no amount of magic or the grace of God would get the woman into that skirt. “Of course, Thelma, I'm at your service.” Benjamin rolled his eyes, “Benny, why don't you see to your little guest for me? I'll help Mrs. McLaggen for you.”

Guest?” Benjamin asked incredulously, sounding instantly wary. Roxanne suddenly wanted to hide but she stood her ground just as he turned and spotted her, “w...what are you doing here, lump?” he demanded, looking both shocked, embarrassed and angry.

Roxanne opened her mouth to say something but Mrs. Malfoy, turning briefly away from a chattering Mrs. McLaggen said sharply. “Ben Frederick, that isn't nice! What have I told you about name calling?” she asked with a frown, which only made his face turn from pale to brilliantly red.

Mrs. McLaggen was tutting a little while Roxanne watched Benjamin frown up at his mother, looking betrayed. She sent him a stern, foreboding look that caused him to blanch with primal fear, “But she is a lump, Mum! She's all plump and stuff. What else am I supposed to call her?” Benjamin asked, sounding genuinely confused.

“Ben!” Mrs. Malfoy chastised and he tossed his hands in the air as if he couldn't quite comprehend her. Roxanne giggled, the sound catching his mother's attention and making her smile before she said to her son, “why don't you take her somewhere and go play for a while? I can handle the shop by myself for a few minutes.”

Roxanne wondered if Benjamin would tell her to leave but instead, his lips almost turned up in a smile before shrugged. There was as scowl trying to form, “Fine. Come on, lump,” he commanded and flinched away from the sharp look his mother gave him.

Surprised, Roxanne followed after Benjamin as he started leading her back outside, his head bent. Various customers said their hellos to him, most of them older women and Roxanne snickered a little as a few of them stopped the boy in his tracks to give him a few kisses and compliments.

Old ladies really like you,” Roxanne commented as they stepped outside, the door clicking quietly behind them. Benjamin flinched a little and started walking down the sidewalk and away from the building as if he feared an older woman would run, grab him and smother him in more kisses, “I bet you don't like those kisses.”

Benjamin shot her a humiliated look as he faced her, stuffing his hands into his pockets and kicking at the ground. “Shut up, lump! I don't ask for it!” he cried.

Roxanne's lips were twitching and she took in his flushed face and pointed at a spot on his nose curiously. “You've got this big lipstick stain on your nose.”

Benjamin flushed almost as red as the lipstick on his skin and furiously wiped it away with the sleeve of his forearm. It only made the marks smear into his skin though and Roxanne laughed, “Shut up, Weasley!” he snapped angrily, sounding more embarrassed by the minute. “and don't you dare tell anyone what you saw in there!”

Why would I?” Roxanne asked teasingly, grinning from ear to ear. Benjamin narrowed his eyes on her as she rocked back on her heels, “do you work in there with your mum a lot? Those old laides seemed to know you pretty well if you ask me.”

Benjamin grunted as he wiped at his face again. “I don't like that sneaky smile on your face. Anyone ever tell you that you're sort of annoying?” Roxanne frowned, thinking of her brother, Teddy Lupin and Victoire spouting that more than once at her. “But at least you're not mean about it.”

Roxannesmiled at the compliment, rocking back and forth on her heels for a while longer before asking. “Why are the ladies in there so nice to you though? I mean, I wouldn't like anyone snogging me all the time like that.”

Benjamin frowned thoughtfully, as if considering what to say. After a moment, he said with a grumble, “I don't want them slobbering all over me Weasley but I have to be nice to them for my mum. I come here all the time because I get tired of being at home, my dad is always working.”

Roxanne nodded in understanding, thinking that she would have to get home soon if she wanted to be there on time to see Uncle Lee and his family. At the thought of suffering with Adam Jordan though, she shuddered and glanced down at the daisies in her hands, wondering when she should give them to him. “Why don't you have friends come to see you from school?” when he shot her a glance, she looked awkwardly away before stepping away from him, “you don't want people coming to your house?”

Benjamin's face was guarded but she saw a flicker of sadness in his face before it faded away. “No one wants to come over a stinking Malfoy's house, okay? I don't have friends or anything, and I don't like going to school.” He said in a pained rush that made Roxanne feel very sad for him.

I'd come over your house to play. It'd be really fun,” Roxanne said softly, wondering what his house could possibly be like.

Benjamin tried to glare at her but it was rather weak. It was obvious that he was trying hard not to smile, even as his cheeks turned very red, “Who said that I'd even invite you, lump?” he muttered.

Roxanne shrugged before rocking back on her heels, a smile threatening to form. He muttered something under his breath, looking embarrassed, “You're not as tough as you make yourself out to be, are you Benny?” she asked, grinning impishly.

Benjamin's face turned bright red and he spluttered angrily. “Don't you dare call me that in front of anyone, lump!” he cried and Roxanne roared with laughter, “what are you even doing here anyway, come to make fun of me some more about being a Malfoy?” he demanded.

Roxanne shook her head and said fiercely. “I came over here to apologize about what happened, I'm sorry that my brother made you cry.”

Why're you apologizing for your prat brother? You didn't do anything!” Benjamin said, sounding more annoyed than angry as he looked at her. “You didn't have to come here, all right? I told you that I didn't want to be around you or your family.”

Roxanne's face morphed into a furious frown and Benjamin reeled away from the sight as if she might explode. “Don't call my brother a prat! I'm sorry that everyone's been mean to you at school but not all Weasley's are the same okay, Ben?”

Benjamin looked a little ashamed of himself for just one second before he stiffly said, his shoulders slumping. “So its okay for them to think all Malfoys are the same, Weasley?”

No, its not. Its stupid and I don't care about any of that stuff, I just want you to be my friend,” Roxanne said fiercely, shoving the ruined daisies into his chest.

Benjamin spluttered something that sounded a lot like bad words as he scrambled to hold onto the flowers. “...They're all beat up.” He said in obvious disappointment and Roxanne felt her lips trembling and turned her nose up at him, determined to walk her way back home.

Well, take them anyway!” Roxanne spat.

Benjamin's voice stopped her from walking away as he asked, sounding both happy and very confused. “Why do you want to be my friend so badly anyway, Weasley?”

Cause I like you, we've got lots in common.” Roxanne said automatically, turning back to him with a serious look on her face. Benjamin was staring at her strangely, as if he had been hit over the head, “people say I'm not really a Weasley and people say you're not really a Malfoy. We should be friends and prove them wrong, right?”

There was a very awkward and long silence after that and Roxanne wondered if she had said something wrong. “Weasley, you're mental.” Benjamin suddenly said and Roxanne looked up to see him just an inch from her, peering into her face as if he could read her mind, “but I guess it'll be okay, even if your daisies are smashed.”

Roxanne stepped back from him but not before he placed one of the mangled daisies in her hair, the stem tickling her ear. Benjamin tucked a decent one behind his own, giving her a little wink that made her giggle, “You look dashing!”

Benjamin grinned, bowing his head and blushing a little. “Whatever, lump. So uhm, what do you want to do?” Roxanne shrugged, bubbling with happiness. “You want to blow up more bathrooms with me? I could tell you all about Slytherin—you're going to be a Slytherin aren't you?” he asked, gazing at her with a pleading look on his face.

Roxanne nodded importantly, knowing in her heart that she would be in Slytherin and that she would be able to see him all she liked. “Yep, I'll be the best Slytherin ever. I'm supposed to go home soon to have lunch but let's blow up some bathrooms tomorrow?” the boy nodded eagerly and she found herself taking in his smile, thinking it the sweetest thing—

George!” the sound of her mother's terrified cry jolted Roxanne out of her thoughts and she padded quickly towards the door. “George—George!” her mother sounded as if she were in extreme pain and she felt her eyes welling with tears, hating that this still happened to both of her parents after all this time.

The Battle of Hogwarts had been nearly twenty years ago and yet, to her parents, they still suffered daily from the trauma of it, the memories still fresh. Roxanne blinked rapidly and cracked open her door, surprised to see that her father was leading her mother out of their bedroom, the two of them dressed in old Puddlemore United pajamas.

“Angie, its all right.” The soothing quality of her father's voice could have calmed anything and Roxanne glanced at her mother's ashen, horrified face, feeling an intense ache. “I'm alive, see?” her father whispered to his wife comfortingly.

“ were lying on the ground...and smiling...” Roxanne's mother sobbed brokenly, her shoulders shaking terribly. It caused her father's face to tighten, as if he were holding back tears before bringing her into his arms, his hand gently pressing her head against his chest, “I can't do a thing without you, Georgie—if something happened to you, I would die.”

Roxanne's heart stuttered. With her parents she had always assumed that her father would never survive with her but...there was so much that they never talked about with she and Perce, it almost made them seem like strangers. “Its all right, Angie, I'm not going anywhere. You can hear my heart beating can't you? You and the kids are all that keeps me going,” her father said to her, voice barely above a whisper. “And Percy too because lets face it, he's my second lover.”

The words caused her mother to laugh weakly while Roxanne wiped at her eyes, hating that she was seeing this at all. This was not how she would want to see her parents and she quietly stepped away from her door, allowing them to comfort one another in peace and feeling guilty that she couldn't help. Swfitly, she wiped at the tears on her face, inhaled and turned to her window, determined to get this thing with Benjamin over and done with for good, dreading every memory that came along with it.


“I thought you'd changed your mind.” Benjamin said the instant Roxanne hopped off of the ladder of the fire escape onto the ground. She jumped at the sound of his voice, spotting him leaning against their neighbors building casually, his wandlight giving his entire form an eerie sort of sheen, “you were up there for a long time.”

Roxanne didn't feel as if she owed him any explanations and wiped her hands onto her pants. There had been numerous times in the past where she had snuck out of her room to meet up with him in Diagon Alley but this was not a time where she would have run towards him.

Sometimes, he would hug her and lift her up for a second but those memories felt from half a century ago. “I had some things to take care of.” Roxanne said crsiply, walking over to him with her hands in her coat pockests.

Benjamin ran his eyes over her curiously, noticing her swept back hair and the unflattering clothes. A strange smile started in his face before he gave a short nod, “If you say so, sweet.”

“Don't call me that. What do you want anyway?” Roxanne demanded, flushing a little as he continued to stare at her. She felt that tug and pull between them again and had to look away first, hating that her heart was pounding so heavily, “shouldn't you be at home, doesn't your little sister have a birthday?”

Benjamin raised his black brows at the questions and the determined frown on her face as she turned back to him. Though there was space between them, it felt as if he were touching her, “Emily's birthday didn't go as planned.” He said tightly and Roxanne felt herself growing reluctantly curious, “mum and the kids aren't even living at the Manor with me and Dad right now, there's too much tension so they stay with her parents.”

Roxanne vaguely recalled him telling her this that morning she had been in his room, before everything had gone wrong. She folded her arms across her chest, unsettled that he watched the action from hooded eyes, “Oh, I'm sorry to hear that.”

“No need to say that because you don't mean it, Weasley.” Benjamin said defensively but when he didn't see any intended malice on her face, he grunted what might have been an apology. Roxanne highly doubted that it was and grew steadily more irritated, “we were gone for an entire year in Italy and I don't remember my parents being nicer to each other before we left.”

Roxanne was flooded once again with curiosity, wondering why he and his father had fled the country in the first place. Benjamin was a very complicated person to undrestand she could honestly admit that she had painfully never known him in the first place, as the boy she had befriended may have always been a stranger. It caused her chest to tighten painfully and she had to take a minute to ask, “What happened at your sister's party, I'm asking because I actually want to know.”

Benjamin studied her face with unecessary intensity before he conceded, looking as if he had been dying to speak to someone about it. Roxanne had a feelingt that this, coupled with what had happened between them had brought him here in the first place, “Mum and dad got into a big argument sometime after Emily finished opening her presents. I'm used to them arguing but I don't like it when they fight in front of my brother and sister, it scares them,”

Roxanne couldn't imagine her own parents doing such a thing. To her knowledge, they fought all the time but took their serious arguments elsewhere, “...What happened?” she asked, thinking of how uspet his siblings must have been.

“It got really out of hand because my Mum started mentioning all this shit that Dad had done and why we left for Italy.” Benjamin ran a hand down his face, a weary groan carefully smothered behind it. When he lowered it and spoke, there was a slightly amused smile on his face, “and well, let's just say my mum's dad kicked both of us out after that.”

Roxanne wasn't able to even understand the full misery of something like that happening and she stared at him worriedly, hating that she was so concerned. The Malfoys sounded like such a bizarre family and she knew that whatever Mr. Malfoy had done really tore the entire family apart, “...Ben, why did you and your dad leave?”

Benjamin shot her a narrowed look and Roxanne glared at him, wondering why she had bothered to ask. “Its none of your business, okay? It wasn't anything good and I didn't have to go with my Dad, I chose to so he wouldn't be alone, I mean,” he hesitated before saying in a tight voice, “he's sad all the time. It wouldn't have been good for him to be in a foreign country all by himself.”

Roxanne was startled by the words, more by Mr. Malfoy being depressed but recalling that when she had seen him as a child that he'd often appeared sad. Even earlier when he had been in the shop, there had been a lingering sense of misery hanging over his shoulders that now made her depressed, “And your mum didn't want you to go?”

“No, sweet, she didn't. I haven't even really talked to her since I came back and we barely said anything to each other at Emily's party, she hates that I left with my dad and didn't stay with her.” Benjamin said, his voice hollow. Roxanne knew he loved his mother dearly and could only imagine what it felt like, “but that's nothing for you to worry about, your parents get on really well.”

Roxanne had to stop herself from resting her hand on his arm, knowing that he would either rebuff the effort, or worse, manipulate her into a hug. And then a kiss, and then...she wasn't going to ever let that happen again, she vowed fiercely, willing her heart to stop pounding so hard, “They do but my parents argue sometimes, they're not perfect.”

Benjamin snorted doubtfully and Roxanne caught a flash of envy in his blue-brown eyes as he glanced at her. It was gone in an instant though, “I like your parents, they're more laid back than mine are and your mum made my dad blush. I don't think anyone's been able to do that in years.”

Roxanne almost laughed but forced it down, noting that he was watching her expectantly for some sort of reaction. When he didn't get the one he wanted, his face became hard and even, if she wanted to look closer, disappointed, “Was your dad able to get his job back at the Ministry all right?”

Benjamin appeared briefly surprised by the question and she frowned up at him, watching as he finally shifted off the wall and stood up straight. After stretching and causing her eyes to wander over his form unwillingly, he replied with a snort, “They did, but he had to go through a lot of paperwork. But you know that already since you heard him talking about it that morning at the Manor.”

Roxane wasn't sure why he had given her such a pointed look and she flushed angrily at the silent accusation. “I haven't told anyone about it—I haven't mentioned what I heard you and your dad fighting about, I still don't even get it myself.” She said, annoyed that he would think her so petty, “all I know is that you left for Italy for some scandal, didn't write to me and that our friendship was over.”

But they'd never been friends to begin with, Roxanne heard something hiss in a nasty reminder. Benjamin's face was unreadable and with the glow of his wandlight, it made him appear like some haunted fairy tale creature, “...Still hung up about that, aren't you, sweet?” Roxanne glared at him. “What I said about you was stupid and ages ago, why are you still letting it get to you?”

Roxanne gawped at him in outrage, feeling the need to smack, punch and kick him as hard as she could. With the bruise over his eye from her last attack, it was highly tempting to give him another and she had to stop herself, “I was under the impression that we were friends, Ben. What you said was nasty and cruel and if you had felt that way about me, why did you keep talking to me?”

Benjamin let out a weary sigh as he ran his fingers over his hair, which was in perfect condition. The black strands were like ink against his skin and Roxanne hated that she had loved running her own fingers through them, “Maybe you just had the wrong idea, okay, Weasley?” he snapped bitingly and Roxanne tried to mask her hurt but he was able to see it as clear as day. His face softened marginally, “don't you think you were better off not hearing from me for a year?”

“W..what do you mean? I was worried sick about you! There were all sorts of rumors going on about why you and your dad left and I thought I wouldn't see you again—but that doesn't mean that I thought about you all the time!” Roxanne cried desperately as a smug smile started to form. When he pretended to blush, she snapped, “oh, stop giving me that face, you get on my nerves!”

Benjamin let out a laugh that sounded oddly relieved to her ears as he bent and did the face she hated the most. The pathetic, dopey one that made him look like an exaggerated cherub and Roxanne groaned in irritation, pushing at him and hating that this was happening at all—she should not be standing here with him this way. “That one gets you every time,” he whispered, capturing her hand and pressing a kiss into her palm that made her think of...of...

Roxanne snatched her hand back angrily, not sure who she was more furious with at the moment. Benjamin stepped back from her, looking a little confused by his reaction to her and she snarled, “You're such a piece of shit you know that, Ben? One minute your're acting like the worlds biggest prick and the next you're pretending like nothing happened at all between us.”

Benjamin's face became guarded, though she saw his eyes flickering with various emotions that she couldn't identify. His entire body had gone stiff and he took her in more closely, it was more than apparent that she was wanting to get this over with, “...You're all spunky tonight, Weasley. I barely heard you say two words earlier,”

Roxanne thought that he had a lot of nerve. “You didn't say anything to me and you're being a prick—how can you stand there and look at me like you didn't do anything wrong?” she demanded in a harsh cry before lowering her voice quickly.

People in Diagon Alley were nosy and the last thing she needed was someone to come into the shop tomorrow spilling this to her father. Benjamin seemed to notice her sudden thoughts and a strange look passed over his face, as if he were thinking of how delicious it would be to make her grow loud, “Did you want me to stand there and talk about how much fun we had together that morning in front of your brother?”

That was exactly what she had thought he would do and Roxanne didn't hide the thought when she stared at him. Benjamin let out an incredulous laugh, “What do you want, Ben? Merlin, you're acting like my dad but I don't think calling you Beatrice is going to bother you. I do have a life.” There, that sounded nice and mature. He probably hadn't been expecting that from her and she tried to stop herself from smirking, “I'm actually heading out to a party in a few.”

“First of all, Beatrice sounds too much like Bellatrix and I'd rather you not call me a name that resembles that dead bitch.” Benjamin said with a trace of anger and Roxanne opened her mouth, thinking of apologizing before deciding that he didn't deserve it after what he had done to her.

Roxanne removed her hands from her coat pocket and straightened out her shirt, watching as he eyed her heatedly. There was anger crackling between them, true but that tug and pull was also demanding so much more... “Anyway, I have to get going soon so let's wrap this up, all right Ben? I'm needed elsewhere.”

“Is that so, lump?” Benjamin asked idly, sounding as if the thought of her being suddenly busy bothered him. A look of doubt entered his eyes though, along with a nasty twist to his mouth that ironcially made him more good looking, which Roxanne didn't find at all fair in the least, “you're going to a party dressed in that ugly outfit?”

Roxanne gasped in outrage at his nerve, even though she knew she'd chosen this outfit on purpose. It was so irritating how he was able to do this to her, make her unable to control her own emotions, “So what if I am?”

Benjamin laughed softly under his breath before running his eyes over her in a way that made her feel indecent. Roxanne could only imagine what he was thinking of and the various possibilities made her squirm, “That might stop anyone else from hitting on you, but not me. The more clothes you wear, the more I keep thinking about peeling them off so that's something to worry about next time.”

“Th-that hardly matters! I don't care what you think!” Roxanne cried angrily, feeling her face flooding with color. Benjamin eyed her with growing amusement and she huffed, hating that he had baited her so easily, “you're not the only bloke in the world!”

That really had Benjamin laughing and she glared at him as he gave her a cocky little smile worthy of a pompous prince. “I should be. Who are you going to this party with, anyway lump, that identity crisis that was in the shop with you earlier?”

Roxanne flushed at the question before turning her face up, feeling the glow of his wandlight on her face. It felt like a caress and she blushed all the further, knowing that the tug and pull between them was about to snap in mere moments if she didn't get out of here soon and prove to him that she didn't care. “You mean Adam? He's a family friend,” she said to him haughtily.

“Really? He looks like something I'd scrape off my shoes. And tell him that its more than obvious that he has a crush on you but pitiful attempts at flirting isn't going to get him anywhere so long as I'm around,” Benjamin said in a furious rush, the words coming out in a growl that made Roxanne jump, even as she took them in.

Waves of anger flashed through her and Roxanne found herself reaching out and stabbing him in the chest with her finger. Benjamin raised his brows at her but his eyes were flashing with anger and—could he honestly be jealous? “First of all, Adam can flirt with me all he fucking pleases because I know that he isn't afraid of being with me. Its just a shame that he's got a girlfriend because otherwise I'd be all over him,” she sneered.

Benjamin's face had clouded with warring emotions and Roxanne felt triumphant that she had caused him to feel a bit of her pain. Instead though, he roared with laughter, tossing his head back and causing her glee to vanish entirely, “Seriously, Weasley? Where the hell do you see yourself getting with that punk? He'd bore you in five minutes in and out of bed, if he even knows how to get you between the sheets in the first place.”

Roxanne let out a furious cry and shoved at his chest, watching as he stumbled back and nearly lost his balance. Tears were starting in her eyes again and she snarled furiously, hating that every inch of her was trembling, “I hate you, Ben! You walk around like you're this big shot but you're really just a coward that can't face what you're afraid of—get away from me!” she cried as he closed the space between them, his eyes sparking with heat, anger and to her irritation, amusement.

“Better keep your voice down Weasley if you don't want anyone to hear what I have to say next.” Benjamin warned around a husky laugh. Roxanne's eyes widened and she made to turn away but he reached out and wrapped one strong arm around her waist, pulling her closer until her chest was smashed against his.

A blush immediately began to form and she was bombarded with too many delightful, painful sensations. Too many memories were crowding her brain and she could feel his bare skin on hers again, taste his tongue and the scent of him, so wonderfully sinful that it burned her senses to a cinder was too much, “Ben, y-you let me go!” Roxanne commanded weakly, her mind still going.

“No, chance, sweet. You're not going to run off and have the last say this time,” Benjamin said in a deceptively soft voice, his wand held closely at his side. Roxanne doubted that he would ever raise his wand to her but it didn't comfort her just now as she was forced to stare into his face...familiar and not so familiar, “there are a few things that I'd actually wanted to talk to you about.”

When she struggled, he only held onto her tighter, until she was practically sharing his skin. Roxanne's entire face could have been glowing in the dark for all she knew and she fought down the silly reaction of curling up against him, wanting at the moment to ram her knee into his crotch. That was also something she didn't want to feel, she thought dazedly, “Like what?” she hissed up at him angrily.

“I didn't want to ask with your dad and brother around and didn't get my chance when your mum and that prat showed up.” Benjamin said with an eye roll while Roxanne struggled against him, causing his breath to catch, “keep doing that sweet and we might have a completely different problem.” He warned against her cheek.

Roxanne turned her face away, but not before he gave her a soft kiss. The muscles in her legs were giving out from pure foolish longing, “What is it Ben? You could have just said all this earlier—ever hear of sending an owl?” she asked bitingly.

Benjamin rubbed his mouth along her jaw, “I don't have an owl and I needed to talk to you in person.” He replied, listening to the soft inhale his kiss had caused, “...I know I was careful but you're not pregnant are you?” Roxanne heard herself make a strange squealing noise as he moved his head back to stare down at her. “You looked sick earlier and I needed to know.”

“...Is..Is that all this was about?! No, I'm not pregnant you prat! Get your hands off of me!” Roxanne snarled in a humiliated rush, wondering why he had the nerve to appear disappointed. Benjamin heaved a weary sigh, his eyes hooded and shielding his real throughts, “I've got to get going—there's a party I need to get to and I might just meet someone better.”

Benjamin's hold on her grew a bit tighter and the heat coming from his eyes was enough to stop her struggling. Roxanne stared warily into his eyes, knowing him well enough to sense that his patience, his need and his anger had reached their limit, “Keep telling yourself that Weasley but you know what's funny to me? I keep trying to put what happened out of my mind but I keep thinking about what you feel like and how you sound right when its about to get really, really interesting.”

Roxanne had gone stiff at the words, hating how that she had felt the same even after days and days. “S-so? That doesn't mean anything, you'll find someone else as soon as we get back to Hogwarts and I'll move on because you're not as fantastic as you think you are—stop that!” she snapped when Benjamin kissed a sensitive place along her ear.

“Tell yourself that you don't want this all you like, Weasley but I'm not going to bother denying that I want you all over again. I'm just not going to give in to it,” Benjamin said firmly, suddenly releasing her. Roxanne stumbled slightly and watched him stepping away, his eyes locking onto her own, “I've always given in to you but I'm not going to do it this time, not when you can't handle actually growing up.”

Roxanne felt a nasty sting in her chest at the words and opened her mouth to form some sort of retort but there was a loud pop, announcing that he had left her. And, just like before, she was alone, hearing her heart shattering but vowing that she would move on from him and become stronger. Benjamin Malfoy would not continue to possess any part of her.

Thanks for reading! Up next for real this time is Audrey and Percy, sorry for the long wait and until then, much love. :D


Chapter 11: The Painful Truth
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A/N: Hello, all! I'm back with my first update in about two months. Furious with me? I hope not! Hahaha. Anyway, enjoy.


Bells were ringing and for a moment Roxanne thought that it might be her heart as Benjamin's smile settled pleasantly in her mind. The two of them stood outside of his mother's robe shop, Beauty Within on a sunny afternoon with daisies tucked lazily behind their ears and laughter ringing between them, “And when you come to my house, Weasley, I'll teach you how to catch toads.” Benjamin was telling Roxanne as the shop's door opened and closed.

Catch toads?” Roxanne asked him curiously, still thinking of how pretty his smile had been just a few minutes before. When she had come here earlier, she had been a bit nervous that he wouldn't want to be her friend but he had surprisingly accepted it, in his own weird way, “I've caught some before, they're really gross.”

Benjamin smiled confidently and placed a hand onto his chest, proclaiming. “You've never caught them at Malfoy Manor before. There's a lake in the woods by my house that I swim in and the toads are this big,” he said, making a rather large estimate with his hands that was simply gigantic.

Roxanne's eyes grew round at the idea of catching one of the things as a pet and showing her mother. It wouldn't make her happy really, when she preferred owls but maybe she'd let her keep one or two if she asked her dad first, “Wow, really?”

Uh-huh. I caught some once but my mum made me put them back cause she said its not nice to put them in tanks and everything,” Benjamin said with a glum face as he suddenly squatted down on the sidewalk. Roxanne watched him pulling a bit of grass out of a crack with a snap and bent down beside him, “I like animals,” he mumbled.

Really? Do you have an owl or a cat?” Roxanne asked eagerly, though she didn't mention that Perce had an owl that he had gotten from Uncle Harry as a birthday present. Benjamin wouldn't want to know that since they didn't like each other, “my dad doesn't like cats.”

Benjamin pulled up a few more bits of grass and placed them on her hair, laughing as she shook them out. He made sure his daisy was still behind his ear before shrugging, “I didn't want an owl or anything so I just use the school ones. And I really don't like cats or anything,”

Roxanne found a bit of dirt and began running her fingertips through it, drawing little circles. Benjamin erased them with a swoop of his hand and she glowered at him, “Prat!” she snapped and he laughed. “How come you don't like cats?”

There're too many of them at Hogwarts, they get all over the place. And I keep getting into trouble with the Headmistress for trying to set them free,” Benjamin grumbled, sounding very annoyed. Roxanne giggled, “be quiet lump! I don't think its funny,keeping them in the castle and stuff like that.”

Roxanne thought about that for a while as they played in the dirt, making squares and broomsticks. She drew the logo for Weasley's Wizard Wheezes and watched as Benjamin attempted a sloppy rendition of the Slytherin crest, “I really will be in Slytherin with you, you know.”

Benjamin was quiet for a moment as he drew flames spitting from the snake's open mouth and a few skulls. She thought it was a pretty bad drawing with all the skulls and added a flower or two, “Now you messed it up!” he cried in horror as she finished what she thought could pass for a kitten. He studied it with a smirk before asking, “If you get put in Slytherin, will your parents be mad at you?”

Roxanne hadn't really thought about what her parents would say since she hadn't told them yet. “No, but I think my brother would be. No one in my family has ever been put into Slytherin, they've all been Gryffindors and we only have one Ravenclaw,” she said with a frown.

No Hufflepuffs either?” Benjamin asked and she shook her head. At that, he looked very relieved and nudged her in the arm, “you wouldn't want any Puffs in the family, everyone says they're really stupid.”

Roxanne frowned. “That's what Perce says. He said that Dad will take me back to my real family if I'm ever in Slytherin or Hufflepuff—he says that he had another sister and everything and that my mum and dad took me from someone else at St. Mungo's,” she said and Benjamin snorted.

That's stupid, you look just like your mum,” Benjamin replied seriously and Roxanne glowed. He pinched her with one of his dirt smudged fingers, “you'll probably grow up looking like her if you're lucky,”

Roxanne scowled and fended him off, flushing. “What's that supposed to mean?”

Benjamin shrugged, turning pink. “Nothing, just that your mum is real pretty and sexy and stuff.” Roxanne didn't think her mother was sexy at all and didn't really know what made a person say that in the first place, “ that means that you'll be pretty too.”

Why do you care if I grow up pretty?” Roxanne asked keenly, although she was hoping that she did grow up looking like her mother. If she did, then perhaps Benjamin would think that she was prettier, “you wanna marry my mum?”

Benjamin turned red and snapped embarrassingly. “Don't be stupid, lump!” but he was very quiet for a while, making Roxanne envy her mother for a minute as she drew more circles in the dirt, nearly covering up the Slytherin crest. “But if you're in Slytherin with me at Hogwarts and you grow up to be pretty, everyone will be so jealous.”

Huh?” Roxanne asked distractedly, turning her gaze away from the dirt portrait on the sidewalk. The shop door hadn't closed but she could hear chatter coming from inside, the sound infectious and very happy, “why does that matter?”

Benjamin broke out into a very arrogant grin and his blue-brown eyes twinkled, giving him a very haughty look. “Cause you'd be my frie—lump. You'd be my lump and no one would be able to do anything about it.” He glared at her a little when she opened her mouth to say something to that, “so you'd better be a Slytherin.”

I'm going to be a Slytherin, I don't care what anyone has to say about it.” Roxanne said boldly and Benjamin gave her such a hopeful look that she almost forgot what she had to say next. “You didn't want to be in any other House?” she wanted to know, embarrassed.

Apparently no one had really asked him this before and Benjamin shot her a suspicious glance before turning away. “Not really, I mean, Hufflepuffs are losers and Ravenclaws are really snooty,”

Roxanne took immediate offense, thinking of her cousin Molly Weasley, who was also her best friend in the world. “I don't think that's very nice. My cousin Molly is a Ravenclaw and she's isn't snooty at all! She's real shy and turns all red and starts talking in Chinese when she gets mad.”

Benjamin found her outburst to be both something to fear and a little funny, given the smile that crept up into his face. He reached out and smashed her cheeks together, making her frown and swat at him, “Is that so, lump?” when he released her, Roxanne was flushed and annoyed, “your cousin is Chinese right?”

Yep. My Aunt Audrey is, everyone always acts so surprised that she's not white or anything but she's really amazing,” Roxanne said happily, humming. She loved her Aunt Audrey a lot because she was very funny and told naughty jokes to she and Perce when Uncle Percy wasn't around. “And anyway, Ravenclaws are not snooty,” she defended tightly.

Benjamin held up his hands as if to fend her off and she shook her fist under his nose until he smacked it away. Laughing, he said, “All right, lump, they're not snooty or anything. But the Hat told me I was a little too ambitious to be in Gryffindor and I didn't want to be one anyway,”

Roxanne had heard that Slytherins were supposed to be really ambitious, whatever that meant and really nasty. Perce had told her that they would stab you in the back if they got a chance but Uncle Harry had made sure to say that not all of them were that way and she supposed he had every right to say so, “How come?”

Cause they're all full of shit and bravery isn't so good if you don't have the brains to form a plan first,” Benjamin said with a rather cocky shrug, though he sent her an anxious look from the corner of his eye. Roxanne wasn't sure she agreed, even though she was impressed by his use of bad words, “the Hat also said that even though I was really ambitious, I was brave and left it up to me.”

Roxanne had been told that the Sorting Hat allowed the student to choose which House they wanted to be in. None of her cousins had told her about it since they'd all wanted to be in Gryffindor, Molly being the only one who'd been Sorted elsewhere so far, “So you wanted to be in Slytherin?”

Benjamin nodded determinedly and reached over to pinch her nose. She sneezed a little from the dirt on his fingers and he laughed, “Gross, Weasley.” He said with a grin and she ran her forearm across her face, “yeah, I wanted to be in Slytherin like my Dad. He and my Mum said that it would make them happy and stuff,” Dad says that if I drop out of Hogwarts and play a lot of pranks that he'll be real proud of me.” Roxanne said happily and Benjamin gawped at her. Grinning, she said, “he and my Uncle Fred didn't graduate or anything, they dropped out and started their joke shop.”

Benjamin's face had gotten a little pensive and she wondered what he could be thinking about but he didn't say anything at first. After a few minutes, he asked quietly, “What was he like?”

Roxanne tilted her head in confusion. “You mean my uncle?” when he nodded, looking at her as if she held some sort of secret he needed answers to, she informed. “I don't really know a lot about him. My dad gets real sad sometimes when we ask about him but he has told me and Perce all sorts of funny stories,”

Oh.” Benjamin said, looking very disappointed. He appeared as confused as she felt just then, “Were he and my dad friends?”

Roxanne thought about what she did know of her uncle and couldn't remember anyone mentioning that he had been friends with Mr. Malfoy. From what she had gathered from Uncle Ron when he was having one of his tantrums (As Aunt Hermione liked to call them), they'd hated each other, “No, I don't think so. How come?”

Benjamin frowned severely, looking very confused. After a moment, he stood up and dusted his hands on his trousers before helping her up and giving her a little shake that made her laugh, “I dunno, I just think its weird that I've got his name. I don't like it,”

Why not?” Roxanne asked with a defensive frown. Her Uncle Fred had been a good person and maybe he and Mr. Malfoy had known each other or had gotten to be friends before he had died at the Battle but that was just what she wanted to hope.

Benjamin glanced at her before examining his dirty fingernails before lowering his hands and saying coldly. “Cause its your brother's name and Weasley's don't like Malfoy's, except for you. You're real nice to me but your cousins aren't,” he added with a very pleased smile, though he kicked hard at the sidewalk with his trainers.

Roxanne knew that he was right but she hated that he and her brother didn't get along and she didn't like that Benjamin had accused Perce of being a bully. She didn't want to think about her brother or Teddy Lupin shooting hexes at Benjamin, it made her sick to her stomach thinking about it, “Not all my cousins are mean though.”

Really?” Benjamin asked doubtfully.

Roxanne thought of all her cousins for a long time, knowing that he would like some of them once he got to know them. But she wondered if it would be too late for that when he hated them so much now, “Well, everyone's pretty nice except for Victoire. She's meaner than a troll but not as ugly,” she said and he laughed.

What's she really like then? Everyone goes on about her like she's a bloody angel and teachers are always fawning over her,” Benjamin said with a roll of his eyes, as if he knew otherwise. Roxanne loved all of her cousins very much but even she had to admit that Victoire wasn't the perfect angel that everyone made her out to be since she actually knew her.

I'll show you some stuff she likes to do, okay?” Roxanne grinned impishly, suddenly thinking it would do him good to smile. So for a few minutes, she demonstrated some of Victoire's favorite habits by flipping her hair everywhere and twirling around. “Her hair's real long too so it always smacks someone in the face and I think she does it on purpose.”

Benjamin roared with laughter as she paraded in front of the shop windows crazily flipping and flopping her hair back and forth. “I've seen her do that!” he cried at some point when she struck a very sassy pose that she had seen Victoire doing in the mirror at Shell Cottage.

And she always has to do this thing with her hips as she walks away like this,” Roxanne said with a laugh, taking a few steps and swishing her hips outrageously. She had to place her hands on her hips a little to do it right though and flipped her hair a little as she walked, “I think its supposed to make her butt look bigger or something,”

Stop it Weasley, I'm dying!” Benjamin chortled, bent over as she continued to mimic her older cousin. Roxanne continued to swish back and forth, flipping her hair and batting her eyelashes and he asked in confusion, “what's wrong with your eyes?”

Roxanne stopped the act for a second or two, one leg outstretched and the other bent as if she meant to take flight. Victoire was practicing to become a ballerina and liked to show off to the rest of them even after they'd clapped a million times, “Its this thing she does to boys. She bats them like this,” she rapidly blinked until her head hurt.

Benjamin steadied her as she nearly lost her balance and tugged on a strand of her curly hair, making her yelp. After swatting him away, he laughed, “That's dumb. I've seen her around school and everything and I don't really think she's that pretty like all the other boys say,”

Why not? Teddy Lupin says she's so pretty that she makes dead people rise from the grave but I don't think he was being very nice when he said it,” Roxanne said to him in a low whisper. Benjamin's face had turned into a scowl at the mention of the older boy but she went on in a rush, “Toire and Teddy hate each other.”

Benjamin didn't seem all that surprised that someone other than himself could hate Teddy Lupin and Roxanne hoped he didn't get a crush on Victoire. It made her sort of mad just thinking about it but he surprised her by saying, “That's cause they're both just alike, I notice a lot of stuff.”

Roxanne was curious but Benjamin had become distracted by her hair and was twirling a strand around his finger. It seemed to fascinate him and her stomach did a weird little flip that almost hurt, “Like what sort of stuff?”

I dunno, just stuff.” Benjamin said with a careless shrug. “And everyone says that I'm bad,” he muttered bitterly before giving her a smirk, “you're pretty bad too you know, Weasley.”

Roxanne gawped. “I am not!” hastily, she amended. “I mean, I do get into trouble a lot but my dad used to put dragon dung into my Grandpa's stew too you know!” she snapped and Benjamin roared with laughter even though he hadn't accused her of that.

“No, I'm just saying that you've got some good Slytherin in you.” Benjamin complimented and she puffed out her chest, making him grin. He glanced down quickly before saying slyly, “You don't have anything right there to be puffing out you know,”

Roxanne glowered, confused. “What's that supposed to mean?”

Benjamin snorted, appearing very big and grown up. She hoped that she got just as big and important once she turned twelve but at the same time she had the strangest urge to kick him in the knees. “You're such a baby,”he teased.

I am not!”Roxanne hissed, instantly furious.

Benjamin was still twirling a lock of her hair around his finger. “Are too,”

I am not!” Roxanne denied, fuming.

Are too,” Benjamin said happily, grinning into her face and giving her hair a playful little tug that made her stomp her feet. “You're all sweet, like sugar.”

Roxanne glowered at him, hating that he was obviously making fun of her. He looked as if he were having too much fun and she decided then and there that she was going to kick him as hard as she wanted in the knee, “Am not, prat! ”

You are too, lump—Mum, how long have you been standing there?!” Benjamin suddenly cried, leaping away from Roxanne as if she were diseased. Turning, Roxanne saw that Mrs. Malfoy and what looked like a few older women had been watching them from inside the shop, “what're they all doing, hiding behind you?”

Mrs. Malfoy had been holding the door open as if she had come out to find them and Roxanne noticed a bit of parchment in her free hand. There was a very amused look on her face, as if she had been trying to stop herself from laughing out loud, “Ladies, get back inside please and continue shopping!” she said over her shoulders.

The older women, tittering and cooing at Roxanne and Benjamin, scattered back into the shop. Immediately, the sound of scissors snipping, seamstresses rushing back and forth and whining little girls drifted out to their ears, “Mum, what do you want?” Benjamin demanded, his face beet red.

Benny, that's no way to speak to your mother.” Mrs. Malfoy tutted as she stepped out of the shop and lightly closed the door. Roxanne took her in with a smile, thinking that it hardly mattered that Benjamin was adopted when she appeared just like any other mother, “I actually just received an owl for your little friend here.”

Benjamin appeared reluctant to acknowledge Roxanne as anything more than a lump but he nodded slowly, taking the words in. “What's it about?” he demanded. “She's not causing any trouble, you can't just kick her out or anything, Mum,”

The owl was from her parents darling and don't frown so much or your face will get stuck that way.” Mrs. Malfoy warned gravely and Benjamin immediately straightened out his expression, making Roxanne giggle. To her, his mother said warmly, “your father wrote to tell you to come home now, he said that your mother is going to...I'm sorry, beat him up in a bad way if you don't hurry?”

Roxanne's mouth fell open in alarm. “Wow, Mum must be really mad at me this time!” she said with horror and Mrs. Malfoy looked concerned, “I'll be okay, though. I was just supposed to have lunch with my Aunt Alicia and Uncle Lee,” absently, she added, “and their son Adam.”

Who's he?” Benjamin wanted to know, instantly suspicious. His mother chuckled a little and he glowered at her, “What's so funny?” he demanded, looking furious and Roxanne tugged on his arm, “what, lump?”

Roxanne wasn't sure why she did it but she stood up on the tip of her toes and placed a very light kiss on his cheek. Mrs. Malfoy laughed as Benjamin's entire body went as stiff as a statue, his face turning brilliantly red, “Bye now! I’ll be back tomorrow and we can do more stuff.”

Erm..” Benjamin spluttered, eyes wide. His mother was giggling a little as Roxanne said her goodbyes to her, promising that she would take very good care of him and after receiving her blessing and a pat on the head, he finally spat, “what'd you go and do that for?!”

Roxanne had already been hopping on her way but paused jerkily, nearly losing her balance. She righted herself and turned round to see him staring at her exactly where she had left him, his mother's gentle hand on his shoulder, “Cause everyone's going to be so jealous!”

And why is that dear?” Mrs. Malfoy asked, speaking for her speechless son. Benjamin looked embarrassed and furious but Roxanne saw that he was starting to smile a little, as if he were shining from the inside out, “is it a secret?” his mother asked in amusement when she didn't answer right away.

Roxanne tore her eyes away from Benjamin and said proudly to his mother, fist to her chest. “Its because he's my friend and once everyone sees how nice he is and how cool we are together, they'll be so jealous. But it'll be too bad cause he's all mine,”

Who says?!” Benjamin demanded, blushing even redder. Roxanne pointed to herself and he looked as if he might chase her but his mother kept her hand on his shoulder, preventing him from taking off, “go home before I chase you out of here lump but don't forget to come back tomorrow!”

Roxanne waved goodbye, singing happily to herself (And loudly enough that Benjamin hissed, “Not so loud!” to his mother's laughter). “Best friends forever, Ben Malfoy and Roxaaaaanne! Friends forever, friends forever...” and he was all hers, she sang privately to herself as she skipped. “Ever and ever...”

Roxanne heaved the last of her things onto the compartment while the last of the memory faded away, leaving her oddly hollow. Those moments that she had experienced with Ben as children felt from a completely different life and a strange knot formed in her chest and she couldn't help wondering why he still invaded her thoughts, “All set?” her brother asked when she made it back onto the platform.

Hogwarts students were rushing madly around the platform, the hooting of owls being answered by the hungry mewl of cats. The Express would be leaving in another twenty minutes and she wanted to make sure she said goodbye to her parents, feeling as if she would miss them more than usual this year, “Yeah, I'm all set. I can't believe all the textbooks I need for OWLs,” she complained and her brother patted her consolingly on the shoulder.

Perce had managed to get through his own OWLs without going insane, though he claimed he had nightmares of Zabini boiling him in a pot. “You'll do all right, Roxie, its all about balance. And don't buy any of those weird potions that are supposed to make you study better, all they do is give you gas,” he informed wisely.

Roxanne laughed a little, inwardly relieved that she was able to get along with him better for right now. Things had been a bit tense at the flat as her brother's suspicions about Benjamin had led her to nearly caving with guilt and his not so subtle hints that she should date Adam Jordan driving her mad, “I'll be sure to give some to Smith the moment we get to school,” she grinned.

Smith was, thankfully not Head of Hufflepuff House but he was perhaps the worst Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. He seemed to find the entire Weasley clan nothing more than a joke and often tried to belittle and bully anyone he could, “Why don't you just have Peeves do it?” Perce asked curiously as they wandered back to their parents, who were talking to Uncle Lee and a laughing Adam.

Peeves was actually a very good friend of Roxanne's, as strange as that might sound and she thought of him fondly for a moment. She wasn't quite sure why their strange little friendship worked out but she shrugged, “He might not want to, he'll probably want to play tennis or something and ask about my summer,”

That had Perce's brows going up skeptically. “Peeves can hold a conversation?” when Roxanne nodded, he laughed doubtfully, “how is that even possible? I've never heard him say anything that wasn't rude or made me jealous I hadn't thought of it,” he scowled.

“Believe what you want but he's not so bad,” Roxanne said lightly.

Perce was silent for a moment before he drawled. “Yeah, you used to say that about Malfoy too,” Roxanne tried not to show how much that hurt her but her brother was able to sense her distress even if she hadn't burst into tears, “you know, Roxie, I'm just going to beat the shit out of him once we get back to school.”

What?” Roxanne asked in alarm. There was something about Benjamin now that told her that it would be a very bad idea if her brother threatened or even dared to raise his wand to him and she hated the thought of him fighting on her behalf, “don't do something so stupid—I'm not even upset, he has nothing to do with anything!”

Perce's face was incredibly stubborn and he stuffed his hands into the front of his Gryffindor robes. He narrowed his brown eyes on her irritably and Roxanne found herself crossing her arms over her chest, “You say that now but just wait until I ask him that myself. If I catch you looking at him all upset or if he says one thing that makes me think that he did something to you, its over,”

Roxanne's jaw dropped and she felt herself growing frustrated and desperate. It would be more than beneficial if she stayed as far away from Benjamin as possible and she knew that her chances of seeing him this year were very slim, “He's in your year, not mine you know. I won't be bumping into him anytime soon,” she said, hoping against all that was holy that it was true.

Perce opened his mouth to say something about that but decided against it and finished leading her back to their parents, Uncle Lee and Adam Jordan. Roxanne tried to erase the evidence that they had just fought from her mind but their mother shot them a suspicious glance before walking up and straightening her robes, “You doing all right?” she asked with a soft smile.

“Yeah, I'm fine, Mum,” Roxanne mumbled, unable to look her in the eye. Her mother tsked a little, smoothing down her curly hair a little and giving her cheeks a few light pecks that made her giggle despite herself, “stop that, I'm not a baby you know. I'm just going to Hogwarts!”

“To fail,” Perce added happily, sending her a teasing glance. Their father shot him a look and he groaned irritably, “I don't really mean it! She's a bloody Prefect now, she can't afford to fail.”

Uncle Lee roared with laughter and Roxanne buried her face on her mother's shoulder for a moment, receiving a comforting pat. Her father's best friend was the commentator for the World Cup and owned his own successful radio show and would, often go into detail on how he lost three of his fingers during the War. “I never thought I'd see the day!” he crowed.

“Shut up! I didn't want it!” Roxanne cried desperately.

“Too bad Licia isn't here to see this,” her mother said fondly, giving her back a gentle rub that made her feel like a baby. She barely noticed herself snuggling into her arms and her brother's exasperated sigh, “I think she'd be happy that something good came out of my womb.”

Perce groused. “What's that supposed to mean? I marinated in there too!”

Uncle Lee looked heartbroken by the obvious absence of his wife and Adam gave him a pat on the back but managed to wriggle away from a bear hug. Roxanne's father hugged him anyway and she could have sworn she heard his spine snap, “She had to be at Hogwarts early for a staff meeting. She takes being Muggle Studies teacher seriously,”

“Even if she is the worst Muggle Studies teacher they've ever had?” Perce asked dryly while Roxanne snickered. It was a well-known fact that Aunt Alicia was really bad at the class she taught, “its a good thing she makes up for it by being the Quidditch coach,”

Uncle Lee didn't appear offended by this and Adam was trying to recover from her father's bear hug. He looked a bit pale and was offered a sweet from Perce and he made the wise decision to decline, “True, and Quidditch is going to be such big news this year at Hogwarts,” he said to them silkily.

“What are you talking about Dad?” Adam demanded before Perce or Roxanne could, making their parents laugh. Uncle Lee pretended to examine his nails and he punched him lightly in the arm, “come on, for Merlin's sake! You keep mentioning it but you never say what it is!”

Uncle Lee swatted him away sharply and turned his nose up in their air, which gave him a very dramatic effect. Roxanne saw her father swoon and her mother steady Perce as he threatened to bow down to him, “I'm under threat of murder not to mention a damn thing more about it!”

Adam groaned in exasperation and Roxanne could understand his frustration all too well when her own parents would say nothing. Her mother had still been working rather long hours at the Magical Games and Sports department and she had heard from Molly that Uncle Percy had been working harder than usual at the Ministry.

There was apparently a lot of activity going around and not even The Daily Prophet could figure out the true nature of what the mysterious event could be. Roxanne knew that it must be something important and that the information carefully protected if even Rita Skeeter could learn nothing about it with all of her schemes.

All anyone seemed to agree on was that Quidditch was involved and Roxanne, when she wasn't looking up any sordid rumor about the Malfoy family, couldn't help but notice the spike in broomsticks. Uncle Oliver made the best broomsticks in the world and Roxanne recalled that her brother had told her that he'd been having a lot of special orders lately.

The fact that there were suddenly a lot illegal Port Keys being used around the country hadn't escaped her notice either. The Prophet had been reporting that for the last few days as well with no success as to why, “You all are so bloody annoying!” Perce groused loudly.

“Fred!” their mother snapped irritably as Roxanne continued to rest her head comfortably on her shoulder, breathing in her scent. “Don't lose your temper just because you're out of the loop for once, you'll find out everything you need to know in the next few months, possibly tonight once you get to Hogwarts.”

Perce heaved a sigh and looked as if he were contemplating death while their father gave his cheek a pinch. Adam was rocking back and forth on his heels, glancing every so often at Roxanne before looking quickly away, “Hogwarts aside, your uncle is so proud of you, Roxie-Woxie. You're making all the Hermione's in the world cheer,” Uncle Lee teased, a sly grin working into his face.

“Shut up and don't call me that!” Roxanne snarled, lifting her head from her mother's shoulder. Uncle Lee had always picked on her the most when she had been little and he merely grinned at her, making her all the more annoyed, “Aunt Hermione sent me sugar free candy to congratulate me.”

Perce had eaten most of them and Roxanne had only felt worse knowing that everyone else in the family knew of her shame. The Prefect badge itself (Her mother had gotten rid of her brother's charmed Bloody Big Head lettering for her) was tucked in her robe pockets, along with various trick sweets and a list of pranks her dad wanted her to accomplish by the end of the year for him.

“I think the fact that you're a Prefect is pretty great, Rox,” Adam said to her with a suddenly shy grin, lip ring catching the afternoon sun. His blonde Mohawk was spiked for the occasion and he hadn't changed into his Hufflepuff robes, “I mean, its not the end of the world.”

Roxanne didn't know what to say to this since she did consider it to be the end of the world but she did notice the pleased smile on her brother's face. He hadn't really paid her much attention when she had insisted Adam wasn't right for her, “Erm, thanks Adam,” she said lamely.

Adam broke out into a grin that made her wince a little when she glanced at his lip ring. It looked extremely painful but he didn't seem to act like it, “That's easy for you to say since you got the badge too. You've shamed me, son,” Uncle Lee said as he flipped his long dread locks in Adam's face. “Your mum and sister were happy but I cried for days.” Her uncle complained loudly, looking as if he might actually cry.

Adam blushed a deep red while Roxanne, prying herself away from her mother asked in sharp annoyance. “You're the other Prefect? Why didn't you say anything?” she demanded, punching him in the arm and making Perce grin proudly, as if his wildest dreams had come true and she instantly regretted it.

“I didn't want to be and I was so embarrassed that I tossed it in the rubbish. Mum and dad were wrestling in the kitchen and knocked it over and it fell out—that's the only way they found out about it in the first place!” Adam cried, defending himself as justly as he could while Roxanne wondered why his parents wrestled in the kitchen.

Perce rubbed his chin in approval and their father looked relieved that she wouldn't be wandering the corridors with a Hufflepuff boy she barely knew. Truthfully, she didn't know Adam all that well despite the fact that they had grown up together, “Seems like you and he are going to be spending a lot of time together, Roxie.” Her brother said happily, looking smug.

“Oh, shut up!” Roxanne snarled, annoyed.

Uncle Lee clapped a hand on his son's shoulder, making him stumble. Adam had already put up the things on his trolley so he had no excuse to use that would aid in a hasty escape, “But he's already dating someone, that horrible Bianca Shepard!”

Roxanne thought briefly of the girl, recalling that they had met in Quality Quididtch Supplies when she had been with Molly. The girl hadn't exactly been pleasant and she still wasn't sure why she and Adam were dating, they hadn't looked like they'd had much in common to her, “Dad, I've been dating her for months now!” Adam said with a groan, though he looked as if he regretted it.

Uncle Lee shivered as if he were reliving a horrible nightmare. Roxanne watched her father and brother exchange some sort of wordless conversation and instantly dreaded her future patrols with her fellow Prefect, “Break up with her, Adam. Go out with someone fun and know, someone like Roxie-Woxie,”

Roxanne felt her entire face flush with embarrassment and Adam had the decency to laugh it away as a joke, though he sent her a glance that spoke otherwise. It made something uncomfortable settle in her stomach, “Trying to arrange a marriage, Lee?” her father asked his friend, looking far too interested as he slapped him on the back.

“I wish,” Uncle Lee laughed while his son stared anywhere but at Roxanne, his cheeks turning a bit red. Roxanne didn't bother to look at her brother, she was able to feel his smug smile like a slap in the face, “if they got married then we'd be related. But our romantic relationship would have to come to an end,”

Her father's face flushed and he bit down on his lower lip as if to hold in a tormented moan, making Perce roar with laughter. Adam was speechless, “It would break my heart but if our children suddenly fall in love with one another, who are we to stop them?” he cried dramatically.

Uncle Lee nodded while Roxanne prayed for the platform to suddenly open and swallow her whole. No one seemed to mind the fact that she wasn't interested or that Adam was currently dating someone at all and she wondered why it suddenly seemed to interest her father so much, “You told me that Roxie's been kind of down lately, Georgie. Love is the best remedy,” her father's friend teased.

Dad!” Adam cried embarrassingly as Perce choked on his laughter.

Roxanne had tried her best to bring her mood up but after her last encounter with Benjamin in the alley, it had been even harder hiding the truth from her parents and their worry had increased. While they hadn't pressured her, it was obvious that they had been losing their patience but shoving Adam on her wasn't the solution, “Dad, would you knock it off?” she cried.

Perce sent her an irritated look and thumped Adam hard on the back as if he meant to ram the boy into her. Their mother's eyes narrowed a little and he said with a shrug, “We're just teasing you, Roxie. I mean, there's nothing wrong with Adam, he's sort of cute, you guys grew up together and he's not Malfoy.”

Adam's flushed cheeks suddenly paled and Roxanne saw her father and Uncle Lee suddenly halt in their teasing of one another. “...Malfoy? What brings him up?” the boy asked, looking chilled and annoying Roxanne, “he's such a freak.”

“Adam!” Roxanne's mother snapped disapprovingly. “That boy has it rough enough as it is without all that.” She said and Adam flinched a little, though he didn't look all that sorry in Roxanne's opinion, “he and his father just got back into the country, what they need is a little kindness.”

Uncle Lee snorted derisively and made a strange sound with his mouth, as if he were biting back words he didn't think the children needed to hear. Roxanne saw her father glance her way worriedly before they strayed away, as if he were willing himself not to think of something that scared him, “Draco Malfoy was a prat when he went to school with us, Angie. How can you forget all the shit he used to do?”

There was an uncomfortable silence as Roxanne's mother took a moment to answer and she stared at her curiously. She had heard stories about what Draco Malfoy had done to her family more than once but it had never stopped her from believing that he had changed and that his family deserved a second chance.

“All of that was over twenty years ago and he's not the same as he used to be, Lee, none of us are. The thing with it is, why hate someone forever over something they did instead of respect them for what they're doing now?” her mother asked with an understanding smile.

Perce's face was more than a tad skeptical and Adam looked as if he would rather chew on wood. Roxanne saw that her father appeared far more receptive, as if he had had the same train of thoughts himself, “She is right you know. Little Malfoy acts nothing like his dad from what I can see and Malfoy? Merlin, you'll never see a sadder person,” he said, nudging Lee.

“I don't give a damn about what he does now, once a prat always a prat. Just how he can't really get rid of that Dark Mark on his arm, I can't ever get my fingers back,” Uncle Lee said with surprising bitterness. He held up his right hand, showing off the stubs where his fingers used to be and Roxanne felt her stomach twist, “if he were really as reformed as everyone thinks, why'd he and his kid run off last year?”

It felt as if he had run a knife through her chest and Roxanne found herself reliving every painful moment that Benjamin had been away. She had been so worried about him while he'd been in Italy, possibly suffering and going through brutal encounters with strangers..never once giving her a second thought.

Suddenly, it hurt more now than it had then after everything that had passed between them recently. “They ran off to Italy for their own reasons. The Prophet says that Malfoy must have done something illegal at the Ministry that he wanted to hush up,” her father replied rationally, though Roxanne sensed that he may have believed some of the sordid rumors himself in the newspaper.

Roxanne's mother caught the expression on her face and gave her arm a gentle pat that seemed to speak volumes. “Regardless of what the bloody Prophet says, I think showing those two a bit of support could go a long way.” Her mother said firmly and she saw her father smile lovingly at her, “we don't know what happened so I'm not going to assume anything.”

Uncle Lee folded his arms across his chest stubbornly and Roxanne could see various horrors reflecting in his eyes. “Angie, you and George are just too nice. I mean, honestly, how would you feel if Roxie married someone like Malfoy's kid and not mine?” he demanded with a little spark in his eye.

Whoa, we're not going to go that far.” Roxanne heard her father say hastily before her mother could respond, her eyes resting on her startled face longer than necessary. It made the guilt in her system spike rapidly, “my beautiful girl is too smart to fall for little Malfoy—even if he is bloody gorgeous. Have you heard some of the rumors about him? He goes through girls worst than Teddy Lupin,” he said with a disapproving scowl.

Uncle Lee roared with laughter at the mention of Teddy and Perce merely shrugged, as if he had no words to defend his best friend. “Yeah, you've got a point, Georgie. Might want to start sending out those invitations as soon as Adam dumps that Shepard girl, I think a pale blue stationary would look rather lovely,” he said dreamily.

Roxanne watched her brother and Perce roar with laughter, Adam too busy gazing at his feet in an effort not to look her way. But it still made her uneasy, the hopeful look in his eyes making her stomach twist and her heart flutter with panic and for a moment the panic became so intense that she wondered if she were light headed, “You all right, Roxie?” her mother asked suddenly.

“Yeah, I'm fine.” Roxanne lied brightly, trying to give a laugh. It felt as if she were trying to chew on sand and her mother's face grew concerned, “I mean, its not a big deal or anything. I haven't even talked to Ben since he and his dad came to the shop...” but her mind went to the meeting she had had with him in the alley and she blushed.

There was a very knowing look on her mother's face for a moment before it faded away and she dreaded what she could be thinking. “All right, Roxie.” Was all that she said and Roxanne felt her breath rush out in a painful gasp, confused and worried by the little smile on her mother's face, “I'm not going to pressure you into telling me what's been bothering you, come to me when you're ready.”

Blood pounding, Roxanne gave a jerky nod before turning away, looking for any excuse to be away from the conversation. Through the thick crowd on the platform, she was able to make out familiar faces of friends from her Hufflepuff dorm and the pounding of her blood seemed to ease, determination settling in.

This year was going to be different for her and she had to promise herself that she would not get wrapped up in any tender memories of Benjamin Malfoy. That hurt more than anything that she could properly describe and Roxanne swallowed hard and started to turn back to her family when she felt that unberable tug and pull, “Not now,” she whispered furiously, feeling tears stinging her eyes.

But it hardly seemed to matter as her eyes drank in the sight of Benjamin Malfoy moving like a prowling beast through the mass of black Hogwarts robes. There was something about the way he moved that demanded obedience and Roxanne watched several students move out of his direct path, as if he were venomous.

“Well, speak of the devil.” She heard Uncle Lee say dryly behind her and she nodded jerkily to herself, unable not to think of Benjamin as anything else.

Almost as if the words had been spoken directly in his ear, Benjamin angled his dark head in their direction, the look in his blue-brown eyes enough to ice the blood in her veins. Roxanne, despite willing herself to push him from her mind, felt her heart do a nasty little twist and her cheeks turned furiously hot, as if he were running his mouth along her skin in delicate places...

Tell yourself that you don't want this all you like, Weasley but I'm not going to bother denying that I want you all over again. I'm just not going to give in to it,” Benjamin had hissed against her ear that night in the alley as she'd trembled with need and fury in his arms. Roxanne refused to believe it...she refused to believe that she could possibly still want something that she shouldn't, not after what he had done to her.

Roxanne willed herself to look away but Benjamin's gaze had fallen on her almost immediately, as if he hadn't been able to help himself. And to her utmost shame, she nearly lost her breath as he headed in their direction, every ounce of her anger nearly vanishing before she recalled the truth. This was not the little boy that she had known as a child, Benjamin Malfoy had changed and she would be a fool if she continued to believe otherwise.

Hope you guys enjoyed this! Next up is Audrey and Percy so be patient! :D

Chapter 12: Changes and Challenges
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A/N: Hello, all! Sorry that its taken me so long to get back here but I hope you guys aren't pulling your hair out and summoning a monster to come and eat me. Enjoy!


This isn't the Benjamin that I used to know, Roxanne's mind whispered tauntingly as those intense blue-brown eyes held her gaze. The Benjamin Malfoy that had chased her around the grounds of Hogwarts, bandaged her scraped knees and helped her study had vanished and never again would they look at the stars together. Their place at the Black Lake would have to become something from the past but Roxanne would never be able to erase the memories of being there with him, having his laughter and presence to herself.

When their friendship had ended that year before he had left for Italy, Roxanne had learned the hard way that Benjamin had changed and that he had never regarded her as anything more than a nuisance. The cruel, angry things that had flown from his lips about her still made anger and sadness well into her being and Roxanne wasn't certain why that tormented her now—there was nothing between them.

When he had left for Italy abruptly with his father and vanished for a year, Roxanne had agonized over where he could be...if he missed her, willing to forgive him anything if he would be hers again. Those had been childish thoughts and she had thought she would never lay her eyes on him but his return had brought back all of those emotions and so much more...shifting her joy into something foul.

Roxanne still couldn't understand why Benjamin had hurt her, why he had slept with her and then tossed her so carelessly aside. But she allowed the memory to swell up. It brought on a wave of anger and despair so strong that she was surprised that she was able to stand and she shook it away, even though it was enough for her to turn away and break her gaze from his.

Benjamin Malfoy...some part of her hated him so much. Roxanne found herself gasping slightly, she had never seriously considered how deeply she might just...despise him until now and her heart gave a sickened twist that made her almost ill. Hate Benjamin? It felt so amazingly terrible.

Confused by that and the betrayal that some part of her felt, Roxanne wandered back to her parents, brother, Uncle Lee and his son Adam with a smile. “Why'd you wander off?” Perce wanted to know curiously, crossing his arms over his Gryffindor robes.

“I needed a breather from...those two.” Roxanne said distractedly as she watched Uncle Lee tickling her father outrageously. Her mother was laughing uproariously while Adam looked as if he could accept a painful death at any moment, “what are they doing?”

Perce shrugged in amusement as their father swatted weakly at their uncle, trying not to burst into joyous tears. “I..don't know, actually. They were talking about the times they went swimming naked in the Black Lake and then this,” he explained while Roxanne shivered.

“Eek, stop it, stop it!” their father shrieked girlishly as Uncle Lee continued to tickle him, looking devilish. “Not my special place!” he cried and a few people paused to gawp at them before their parents ushered them away, looking harassed.

Uncle Lee snorted over his laughter. “You're nothing but a big kid, I swear you don't grow up no matter what happens!” he cried while Roxanne's mother held her father in place so the torture could continue. “I'm going to make you pee your trousers!”

Roxanne bowed her head in shame. “Merlin, sometimes I just don't know what to do with them...” she muttered and her brother had gone pale. “If it was possible to die of embarrassment, I'd be dead ten times over by now.”

Perce nodded in agreement. “Yeah, but imagine how they'd be if Uncle Percy and Aunt Audrey were here.” Horror flooded Roxanne’s system and her brother roared with laughter at her expression. “It would be a thousand times worse, Dad and Aunt Audrey are two of the most annoying people when they're together,” he said fondly.

It was true and Roxanne wondered if she would get a chance to see Molly or any of her other relatives. They hadn't run into many of them and she was slightly happy that she hadn't seen Victoire yet, there was only so much torture a person could go through at one time, “Yeah, its just nice to see Mum and Dad smiling,”

Their parents grew sad on occasion and Roxanne didn't forget how she had seen them the other night when she had met Benjamin in the alley. Her mother had been screaming from one of her nightmares...her father holding her in a way that simply said he would die if they were ever torn apart, “I hate it that they won't come back to Hogwarts, I know it would make them better.” Perce whispered to her worriedly.

“I know but...I think they would end up thinking they saw Uncle Fred,” Roxanne whispered back up at him and her brother's eyes widened with concern. He didn't have to ask what she meant by that, not when their father still talked to his dead twin every now and then, “it'd be best not to mention him today.”

Quickly, Roxanne found herself informing her brother of what had happened the other night and watched his shoulders sag. Having their uncle's name had always carried with it a sort of expectation and burden for him and she placed her hand comfortingly onto his arm, seeing him smile slightly, “I'll never meet the bloke but sometimes I swear...” Perce trailed away, his face surprisingly thunderous. “Never mind, I'm not the one who has to carry him around all the time.”

Roxanne flushed at the implication and took out her wand, staring at the blackthorn and unicorn hair creation with a grimace. Hints of past spells that weren't her own pulsed within in it and she hastily put it away, “...I didn't ask for it.”

“I know, Roxie but you have to admit its sort of weird.” Perce started but at the look on her face, he silenced himself. After a moment he asked with feigned curiosity, “so...I saw Malfoy in the crowd, is that what caught your attention earlier?”

Roxanne shot him a look of irritation. “No, don't be—”

“You know, he's still looking at you right now. I don't even have to scan for him, he always looks at you, like he can't wait for the chance to eat you,” Perce said nastily, wrinkling his nose. Roxanne could hear his fury and glanced back into the crowd, unnerved to see that Benjamin was almost upon them, “if he says one weird thing to you or you look at him all hurt, I'm hexing him.”

Before Roxanne could say anything to this threat and would might possibly happen if he did something so stupid to this strange, new Benjamin, they were interrupted. “I'm going to slip away from here before they ask us to join in,” Adam said with a revolted look as he oozed over to her. There was an exasperated look on his face and Roxanne smiled up at him, earning a heated blush, “erm, you wanna grab a compartment once we get on the train?”

They only had a few more minutes before the train would signal its last warning whistle and Roxanne hesitated. Usually, she sat with Molly and a few of her other friends but Adam was giving her a very hopeful look that made her stomach twist, “What about...uhm, Bianca and her group?” she asked lamely.

Adam's eyes grew wide in recollection of his girlfriend and Roxanne had a feeling that things weren't going smoothly between them. Perce sent her a look that wasn't at all subtle and she shot him a glare, “Oh, uhm, yeah. I guess that makes sense,” the other boy said with an easy smile, “I bet you want to sit with...Malfoy or something right?”

Roxanne was startled by the question and surprised by the jealousy she saw flashing in the boy's brown eyes. It made her distinctly uncomfortable but despite having known Benjamin for years, they had rarely shared a compartment, “No, I...Ben and I haven't...” she tried to think of a proper excuse.

“Darling, over here!” a girl's voice suddenly shouted joyfully and Roxanne blew out a sigh of relief that she had escaped, yet again from explaining her complicated relationship with Benjamin. “Over here!”

Perce snorted in annoyance even though Roxanne knew that he would be far from displeased if his girlfriend, Leanne Wood, summoned him just now. They hadn't been able to spot her or her twin sister Georgia either today, “Merlin, I'd be embarrassed if I were her bloke.”

Roxanne nudged him playfully in the ribs as they turned to watch what could possibly turn out to be a romantic display. A bitter feeling flooded into her, “Want to bet that the bloke is her older, sophisticated sugar daddy dropping off the kids?” Adam asked to her brother with a surprisingly impish grin.

“You're on. If it is, I'll give you my Exploding Snap collection and if its not..I'll give you permission to date my sister,” Perce said with a grin at the younger boy. While Adam's face flooded with a startled blush, Roxanne punched him roughly in the arm, hating the teasing light in his eyes, “you game?”

Adam opened his mouth as if he meant to protest but the fact that he might not ever get this sort of chance or such a companionable moment with her brother must have flashed through his mind. Perce had always found him boring and Roxanne sensed that he desperately wanted to impress him, “Sorry, Rox but you're on, Weasley,” he said to her brother.

Roxanne could have smacked them both. Instead, she folded her arms annoyingly over her Hufflepuff robes and watched the girl that they were currently betting on, taking her in with a sour expression, “I bet both of you are wrong.” The girl looked to be a little older than they were, probably in her early twenties and was ravishingly beautiful with dark blonde hair and a slender form draped in elegant, pink robes.

The boys ignored her comment and waited impatiently for the girl's boyfriend to appear, grinning like idiots. After a moment when no one appeared right away, despite the girl waving wildly in the crowd, Roxanne started to smile smugly only to have her hopes dashed and crushed by what she eventually saw.

Benjamin's approach towards Roxanne had nearly been forgotten but she suddenly caught sight of him and tensed. Heat flooded into her instantly and his blue-brown eyes sought her out immediately and right when he would have come towards the three of them...“Benjamin, darling! There you are, over here!” the girl cried happily.


Roxanne felt the strangest sensations spiraling in her chest and she blinked rapidly as if she had misinterpreted something. Jealousy, almost as blinding as it was unwanted nearly undid her and she had to place her hand on Perce's arm to steady herself, “I'm coming, you're making the bloody sky fall!” Benjamin called to the girl with a laugh.

Pain...agonizing pain seared into Roxanne's center as Benjamin flashed the girl a brilliant smile. He had never smiled at her like that, not once and she was certain that Benjamin may have sent her a smirk before he turned away, “Well, I'll be damned.” Adam said, looking distinctly uncomfortable by just that brief contact.

Perce was watching Roxanne's face closely but she bowed her head a little and wiped stiffly at an invisible bit of thread on her robes. “So I guess that means you lose the bet, Adam. My sister's all yours,” he said it jokingly but she could hear the satisfaction in his tone and it angered her further.

Adam's response was incoherent as Roxanne looked up unwillingly, watching as Benjamin reached the mysterious girl. They embraced closely, like they were old friends or...could she possibly be? It wasn't impossible to believe that he had moved on, Roxanne was certain that he had had many girlfriends in Italy and this was no different but why did it hurt so badly?

Sharp, painful envy and disbelief were battling in Roxanne's body and she felt the horrible sting of tears. Benjamin's head was inclined towards the girl's, taking in her smile with a soft one of his own before saying something to her that made her laugh and turn a bit pink around the ears.

Tremors were slowly forming in her fingertips and Roxanne tore her gaze away right before the girl pressed her slender body closer and lifted her head...lips brushing against his own. “What are you three over here doing?” their father's voice suddenly asked and she felt his comforting hand on her shoulder, “you look like you're in shock.”

“Watching Malfoy snogging some girl will do that to anyone.” Perce said in deepest disgust as he walked away. Roxanne saw the satisfied smile that flickered across his lips and was too absorbed in her own torment to care anymore, “they might as well start ripping each other's clothes off right now.”

Their father gave a curious laugh at that, scanning through the mass of robes before he easily caught sight of the couple. Benjamin was still kissing the girl, completely uncaring that several people were gawping at them in sharp disapproval, “Oh, my,” he murmured with a laugh.

Adam ran a hand nervously over his blonde Mohawk, his eyes falling on Roxanne instead of the openly affectionate couple. “I thought he was going to come over here for a minute and say hey or whatever to you, Rox. But he just went the other way, you guys have a fight or something?”

Roxanne noted the hope in his voice but refused to look at him and instead, she tried to control the tears that were welling in her eyes. “You and little Malfoy haven't seen each other in a while have you, beautiful girl?” her father asked gently, resting his chin on top of her curly hair.

“No,” Roxanne murmured. Adam beamed brightly to himself, “we don't talk anymore. When he left for Italy, he didn't send me one owl to let me know how he was doing so...” she trailed off, ignoring the triumphant smile that was spreading across Adam's face.

The sullenness in her tone must have been apparent to her father because he turned to Adam with a teasing grin. “Why don't you go bother your dad for me?” Adam looked surprised by the obvious dismissal, “tell Angie that I'll be a minute, I know she wants to get the kids on the train soon.”

“All right,” Adam said good-naturedly, shrugging. To Roxanne, he reached out and pinched her lightly on the chin, making her blink, “I'll see you on the train Rox. We'll share a compartment if I can't find Bee and her bitch—I mean, friends,” he said hastily before walking off with a perk in his step.

When he was gone, Roxanne nudged her head to say to her father warily. “What are you up to now?” there was a gasp of outrage and she turned around in his arms, savoring the gentle pat he gave her cheek, “I haven't done anything you know,” she said sourly, even though her father was offering her nothing but comfort.

“I know, beautiful girl. But I thought I'd snag a chance to talk to you before you get on the train, I've been worried about you,” her father explained seriously and at her blank expression, he frowned, “Roxie, what's been bothering you?”

Roxanne opened her mouth to say something but found herself staying silent, knowing that she couldn't explain. The disappointment and shame she would bring to her parents over what had happened with Benjamin would destroy her, “Nothing's been bothering me, I'm just...”

That earned a wry smile from her father and his eyes turned disbelieving and even a little amused. “You're so much like your mum that its scary sometimes. You don't think I'd notice something being wrong? I know you, Roxie and you've never looked this depressed before,” her father said, not offering her a chance of escape.


“Its got something to do with little Malfoy doesn't it?” her father interrupted her, looking eerily perceptive. Usually, it was her mother who was able to practically read her mind but Roxanne had forgotten how easily her father understood her, he was her favorite person in the world and she hated lying to him, “I noticed the other day when he and his dad came into the shop.”

Roxanne felt her cheeks flushing, betraying her expressionless face. Almost as if she couldn't believe herself, she stole a glance over her shoulder but Benjamin and his girlfriend were merely talking now, looking disgustingly cozy, “...He's changed, Daddy and I don't know what to do.”

That surprised her father and he eyed her curiously, as if he weren't quite sure what to say to make her better. “Well, there's nothing you can do when someone changes. You either accept what you loved about them before and grow with them or you let them go,” he said and Roxanne was stunned by this.

“I just don't...we used to be friends but now he acts so different, like he hates me.” The words flew from Roxanne's mouth before she could stop them. Benjamin had never been able to truly confide in or trust her and she wondered if he had always viewed her as a burden to be tolerated...the way he had treated her recently made it plausible.

There was a slight silence from her father before he gave a disbelieving shake of his red head. “No, beautiful girl. I'm pretty sure that little Malfoy doesn't hate you,” when Roxanne shot him a curious look, he didn't elaborate, “far from it actually and I'm not going to say it doesn't bother me.”

“I thought you didn't mind the Malfoy's now—”

“I don't, not really. Draco Malfoy is probably the most miserable prat I know aside from your Uncle Percy when his wife isn't around but that's not the issue...” her father trailed away thoughtfully, choosing his words carefully. “Beautiful girl, I know that you and little Malfoy have known each other for years but I never wanted you to deal with all the stigma.”

Roxanne was startled by these words even though she was certain he had told her this before, a long time ago. When she had been a child, she hadn't paid those words much attention, or had cared what anyone had said about the Malfoy's because Benjamin had been hers and no one would take him away, “...You're saying you wouldn't want me to date him or anything, aren't you?”

Apparently, her father had been trying to be far more tactful than usual and he looked a little apologetic. When Roxanne opened her mouth to hastily explain that there was no need to ever worry about that, even if it was a lie, he said seriously, “I wouldn't want you to date him, true. You're the only daughter I have and I love you to pieces and after everything that I went through to get your mother, I don't ever want you to suffer.”

Roxanne knew very little about how her parents had fallen in love after the War, they never talked about it. That was a part of their past that they never shared or revealed, along with memories they'd experienced at Hogwarts and there were even some personal stories about Uncle Fred that she didn't know, “Why won't you ever talk about that?”

“About me and your mum?” her father asked with raised eyebrows and she saw that a flash of sadness had entered his eyes. It was such a strange contrast from the joy and love she saw whenever he usually spoke of his wife, “...a lot of bad things happened between the two of us after the War, we were really torn apart and we had to face a lot of that before we even dated.”

Roxanne could only imagine how difficult it must have been for the two of them but she knew that she would get very little from her father now. There was nothing in the world like watching her father sadden and she knew that each time he did, the sun lost a little light, “You don't have to worry about me and Benjamin though, Daddy. We're not madly in love with each other or anything,”

The words caused her father to tilt his head curiously at her, as though he found something very reluctantly curious. “I can only hope so. Little Malfoy seems all right but there's a lot about him that makes me nervous,” he admitted and when Roxanne stared at him in confusion, he elaborated briefly, “he's afraid to let go.”

Roxanne wasn't sure what that meant really and she tried to think of a way to reply but just then, the train let out a loud, shrieking whistle. It was almost time to leave and she heard various feet rushing towards it almost at once, “I gotta go or I won't be able to find a seat,” she said to her father with a miserable sigh. “And I've got Prefect duties,”

“Don't let that get you down either, Roxie. You'll be all right, you're a smart girl and me and your mum are really proud of you, even if it is really embarrassing,” her father said in a conspiratorial whisper that made her giggle. “Just do your best and be yourself and we'll love you all the more.”

Roxanne flushed with both guilt and happiness. “Dad, you're so embarrassing sometimes,” she complained with a smile but she reached up and kissed him fondly on the cheek before he gave her a warm hug. He held her like that for a moment or two before kissing her lightly on the nose and she barely managed to stop herself from crying, “I'll get fired for being the worst Prefect they've ever had.”

“I can only hope so,” her father grinned.

Perce was hastily saying goodbye to their mother, laughing as she kissed his cheeks despite his protests. Roxanne shoved him out of her way to get her share and felt a thousand times better as her mother said softly, “I'm so proud of you but I'm sure your dad already said it. Just be safe and get into as much trouble as possible,” she advised after letting her go.

“I'll try—but I've still got OWLs,” Roxanne said sourly.

Her father laughed. “Fail those and we'll be even prouder,” her mother nudged him in the ribs and he groaned in mock hurt, trying to sound stuffy and responsible. “Get at least one OWL and destroy something instead, how does that sound?”

Roxanne beamed. “Sounds brilliant.”

Uncle Lee was clapping Adam roughly on the back but winked at her a little and she frowned at him. “You've got my little boy in your capable hands now,”

“Lee, that's so dirty,” Roxanne's mother chastised around a smile. She ignored Perce and their father's laughter, “I'm sure they'll be fine. Victoire's a Prefect, she'll be able to show them the ropes and it can't be that hard, Ron survived in one piece.”

Perce groaned in annoyance, smacking his forehead. “Getting advice from Toire is the same as getting advise from Voldemort—its not going to end well.” Their mother shot him a look for that but Roxanne silently agreed.

Uncle Lee snorted with laughter and looked at his wristwatch before letting out a slew of curses. Roxanne's father applauded him, “We'd better get you brats on that train before it takes off. Are the three of us still having lunch with Oliver and Katie?” he asked her parents, who nodded.

“I thought you had to work,” Perce complained.

Their mother swatted at him playfully when he tried to pinch her and she rested a hand on her husband's arm. “I'm going in late. We need to catch up with friends and later your dad is going to go bother Uncle Percy while me and Audrey swap panty stories,” she sounded very happy about this.

Roxanne and the boys recoiled in terror and she took that as her cue to leave them, giving Uncle Lee a quick hug. “Well, we'll see you guys later. The train is literally about to leave so we're going to have to run,” she explained as they started walking away swiftly, their parents waving goodbye.

“Pay attention at the Feast! Big things are happening at Hogwarts this year!” their mother shouted at their backs. Roxanne could only guess what she meant by that, knowing that it had something to do with the strange event that they hadn't been able to figure out but she didn't have time to worry about it.

Almost too late, Roxanne and the boys managed to get onto the train and rush blindly for a compartment. They managed to find one partially empty in the back and she was a little surprised to find herself sharing it with her younger cousin James Potter and a sandy haired boy, “Nice to see you brat,” Perce said in greeting, ruffling his brown hair roughly and making him grin. “What are you up to?”

James Potter was starting his first year at Hogwarts and from what Roxanne knew, he had been very intent on getting into Gryffindor. He shot her an impish grin and she gave his cheek a playful pat before she sat down across from him, “Hey, Fred, Roxie, who's this?” he asked, eyeing Adam rudely.

“Adam Jordan,” the boy replied casually, taking a seat next to Roxanne just as the train gave a slight lurch and moved forward. James didn't look very impressed but turned his attention back to Perce, admiration evident in his eyes, “first time coming to Hogwarts?”

James stopped grinning at Perce long enough to nod at him arrogantly, nudging his sandy haired friend in the chest. “Yeah, me and Mason Finnigan are gonna be in Gryffindor because that's where all the cool people are.” He looked Adam's Hufflepuff robes over with a snort, “all the duds go to Puff you know,”

“That's not nice you little toad,” Roxanne snapped fondly, tossing a pillow cushion at him and he laughed. Adam rolled his eyes, watching as Perce settled down on the seat with the boys, who seemed awed by him (And judging from Mason Finnigan's face, James had told him about all her brother's pranks).

James was trying his best to appear grown up for her brother and Roxanne shook her head at him in amusement, thinking it funny that he and Albus were so different. His younger brother was a tad shy but had a very strange imagination, “Well, that Teddy Lupin told me that its better than being in Slytherin,”

Mason Finnigan nodded fiercely. “Yeah, my dad says all the bad people go there.”

Perce gave James a thump in the ear that made him clutch it in pain. “Don't you know that Lucy's in Slytherin?” he asked the younger boy, who turned up his little nose at him in aggravation. “And let's be honest, not all bad people go there, Toire's in Gryffindor,” he said, laughing.

James forgave him for the thump and explained the horror that was Victoire Weasley to Mason Finnigan, who looked confused. Roxanne merely watched them fondly, recalling that when she had been their age, she had wanted to be in Slytherin so badly that when she had wound up in Hufflepuff she'd been severely disappointed.

It would have been her only chance to really be with Benjamin and it had been taken away from her. The Hat hadn't agreed on where she'd belonged and Roxanne sighed wearily at the memory, not allowing it to sweep her away, “...such a cow. It'd be best to stay away from her, just cause she's pretty doesn't mean she's not evil,” James was saying to Mason seriously.

Perce only roared with laughter and soon lost himself in conversation with the two boys, who were evidently going to cause destruction as soon as they could. Roxanne would have to take them under her wing once they got to Hogwarts and she felt a smile creeping into her face, “So..are you nervous about the meeting we have to get to soon?” Adam asked her suddenly.

“Meeting?” Roxanne asked in confusion, having almost forgotten about the fact that her dreaded Prefect badge was in her robes. Adam stared at her for a moment before rummaging around in his robes and pulling out a bit of parchment (That she had probably tossed in the rubbish) and held it out to her. “Oh, shit,”

James and his friend looked very impressed. Perce rolled his eyes heavenward, knowing that their cousin had the memory of an elephant, “Way to go, Roxie,” he said laughingly.

Roxanne ignored him and quickly read the parchment that must have come along with their Prefect badges. It simply stated that they had to be in the head compartment for a meeting with the other House Prefects and the current Head Boy or Girl to discuss their upcoming patrols— “Ugh, its in ten minutes! That's not even fucking fair,” she muttered furiously, handing the parchment back to him.

Adam laughed while Perce rummaged in his robes and handed James a fresh copy of the latest Quidditch Weekly. “I know but we might as well go down there now, I'm not surprised that McGonagall won't give us a minute to relax,” he muttered, reaching into his robes.

Roxanne wasn't looking forward to this but dug around for her badge just as Adam managed to place his onto the front of his robes. Annoyed, she grumbled, “This sucks major ass,” and James roared with laughter while her brother shot her a teasing smile before going back to whatever conversation he'd started with Mason Finnigan.

Adam stood up with a groan of irritation and waited for her to do the same, still struggling with her Prefect badge. “Here, let me help,” he offered after they had slipped out of the compartment and stood in the hallway, her fingers slipping on the pin in obvious frustration, “you're going to break it, Rox.”

“I will not,” Roxanne said irritably but she allowed him to help her, aware of how close they were standing. He was wearing some sort of cologne that smelt oddly nice and she couldn't quite place it, “what's that scent you're wearing?”

“Essence of Sexiness?” Adam asked with a cheeky grin and Roxanne snorted doubtfully, jumping slightly as his fingertips brushed hers. He was taking his time about pinning her badge to her chest, she noted dryly, “its something my mum bought for me, I forget what its called, some fancy French shit,”

Roxanne laughed a little, somehow unable to look at him as he managed to get her badge into place. His fingers were rougher than she would have thought and for some reason it made her blush, “I think...I think that I can get it on all right,” she muttered and Adam, who turned a bit red, stepped away. “The pin feels bent.”

Adam held in whatever disappointment he had by smiling swiftly and Roxanne had to give him some amount of credit. Already, there was conversation breaking out from various compartments and she heard a few pops and cracks from a few toys that she knew her father had created, “...You know, I always thought you and Malfoy were together.”

The words stunned Roxanne and she stared up at him in surprise, fumbling with her badge. Adam motioned for her to follow him down the hallway, apparently not wanting to be late for this meeting even if neither of them cared, “We're not...what made you think that?” she asked weakly.

“No reason, just that it always looked that way. You and him I don't get but if things don't go right for me and Bee and you don' know, hook up with Malfoy, I was wondering if you'd like to hang with me?” Adam asked her hesitantly, looking extremely hopeful, yet intensely embarrassed.

Roxanne was stunned by the question and felt her head spinning wildly in circles and she wasn't able to meet his eyes. Benjamin had clearly moved on and they had never promised one another anything...sleeping with him didn't make her special, not when he had done it to so many other girls.

But— “Sorry to break up this tender moment but I'm assuming you have somewhere to be?” the scathing words held so much wrath that it made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up.

Adam's face went from bright red to pale in a matter of seconds and Roxanne felt her heart do that unbearable tug and pull. Not now, why now of all times? “We're free to have a conversation if we want one, Malfoy.”

Roxanne hadn't been aware that anyone else had been in the hallway with them and turned, spotting Benjamin a few feet away. He was leaning against an open compartment door casually with his arms folded over his chest and she watched him push himself off and smile icily, “You're in my way is what you're doing,” Benjamin replied.

“What do you need to go to the Prefect's compartment for?” Adam asked him acidly, throwing back his wrath with surprising strength. Roxanne had never seen him this way before but she could sense his unease and even fear, “did you get into trouble already?”

Benjamin's blue-brown eyes ran over him with apparent dislike, the intensity of it so fierce that it robbed Roxanne of breath. “I'm sure you'll find out and if you don't mind, I'd like to talk to the lump so bugger off.”

“Lump?” Adam asked, quirking his brow and Roxanne gave a miserable sigh, thinking that Benjamin had a lot of nerve. Hadn't he just been snogging some girl out on the platform? “you let him call you that?” the other boy asked angrily.

Roxanne gave him a calming look but Adam only looked irritated and shot Benjamin a disgusted glance. “He's always called me that, he's not saying I'm fat or anything.” At least, she had never thought so, it had always just been an annoying pet name that he had never stopped using.

Adam looked exasperated. “And you let him?”

Benjamin interrupted coldly, his eyes resting on Roxanne as if she had severely betrayed him and she gawped in outrage. “I need to talk to her so go away unless you want me to make you,” he said with a venomous smile that made Adam flinch, though he stood his ground stubbornly.

“Adam, ignore him. Just go wait for me in the compartment with the other Prefects and I'll take care of this, okay?” Roxanne suddenly found herself saying and the boy opened his mouth to protest but she placed a hand on his arm. “Go on, its all right, he's just being a prat.”

Adam smirked at that, seeming to agree before he gave Benjamin a dark glare that made Roxanne blink in surprise. “I'll come get you if you don't come into the compartment soon,” he promised before walking off.

“Tell me you're not, Weasley. Its pathetic,” Benjamin said with a laugh as he walked down to her, looking calm and controlled. Roxanne glared up at him furiously but he only stared down at her in amusement, “you could do a lot better than that git,”

Roxanne folded her arms across her chest before remembering her Prefect's badge and growled out a few choice curses. “Look, Ben, I don't have time for your bullshit today, what do you even want to talk about?” she demanded, returning to fumbling with her badge with a scowl.

Benjamin's mere presence seemed to saturate the space around them and Roxanne found it difficult to breathe. Chatter was coming from all directions but she somehow heard none of it, suddenly focused on the shivers that were breaking out on her skin, “I want to talk about how you've been and how things are going to have to be once we get to Hogwarts, sweet.”

“Don't call me that,” Roxanne grumbled angrily, looking up at him. Unnerved, she hadn't noticed that he had moved closer to her, even daring to reach out and touch her and she felt a wave of disgust and smacked his hand away, “and don't try to get all flirty with me either, not when you were snogging that other girl,”

That earned a curious little smile from Benjamin and she watched his eyes hood with what could only be heated pleasure. Roxanne felt her stomach roil, “So you saw all that, huh, sweet? But don't worry, Meredith doesn't kiss as well as you do.”

It was as if he had smacked her across the face and Roxanne sorely wanted nothing more than to punch him again. The bruise she had given to his eye had faded a while ago, she noticed but he was wearing a smirk that infuriated her, “I don't give a damn about you and...and whatever the hell her name is!”

“Meredith, and its nothing serious. I met her at a bar in Knockturn Alley the other night and got to talking and one thing led to another...” Benjamin trailed away, frowning thoughtfully about something and Roxanne frowned, overcome with jealous rage. “But it wasn't the same.”

Roxanne flinched at the words, wondering what he could possibly mean before she stared into his eyes. There was so much heat and desire there and she shuddered at the response in her own body, “You can't just come up to me and say all this Ben, what the hell is going through your head?”

Benjamin's lips quirked in a naughty smile. “What indeed...”

Roxanne groaned in annoyance, even though her chest tightened. “You know that's not what I meant, git!” Benjamin only grinned, waggling his eyebrows at her and she hated that she actually giggled. “Get away from me, you're getting on my nerves!”

“I'll let you get to your Prefect meeting in a minute, not that they'll start without the Head Boy or Girl there anyway.” Benjamin said with a careless shrug and Roxanne glared up at him annoyingly. “I was watching you on the platform earlier and you seemed upset,”

Roxanne felt an eerie tingle go down her back at the words and allowed a silence to fall between them. It made her ache for the way things had been before he had left for Italy and ruined their strange friendship, “How long were you watching me?”

Benjamin's smile was a tad sly and she felt his fingertips moving lightly along her jaw, as if savoring the softness of her skin. “Long enough.” Was his evasive reply and Roxanne felt uneasy, “we haven't bumped into each other since the other night,” he murmured softly.

Roxanne would never forget that conversation and felt her mind wandering slightly as she recalled what had happened. Although it had been obvious that he hadn't want to, he had confessed that things at the Malfoy home were tense and it worried her, some part of her continuing to ache for him, “You came to see me, we didn't just 'bump' into each other.”

“I had to make sure that I hadn't gotten you pregnant, you can't blame me for that. If you don't recall, we kept each other busy more than once or twice...” Benjamin's deep voice lowered into a husky purr that he used to purposefully make her uncomfortable. The memories of that morning roared between them like fire, “and you didn't look well,”

Roxanne felt her cheeks flushing in embarrassment but Benjamin didn't appear unsettled by the idea. “Would you have...would you have wanted me to be?” she mumbled uncomfortably, knowing that she wasn't at all ready to have a baby, no matter if she loved children. “Would you have stuck around?”

Benjamin's eyes had been running over her face tenderly, as if he were lost in his own thoughts that included the taste and sound of her. “Of course I would have taken responsibility, even I'm not that much of an ass.” He stunned her by saying, “I wouldn't have just left you on your own, the thought of you being pregnant with my kid makes me all tingly.”


“I don't know, I think it would just be an obvious sign to everyone looking...” Benjamin's eyes locked onto hers heatedly. Roxanne held her breath, “that you were mine and that touching you would resort in instant death,”

Roxanne's jaw dropped at the primitive words and Benjamin's lips turned up in an amused smile, though he looked a little surprised by the declaration himself. “We live in the modern world, Ben! Men don't act like that anymore!” she snapped, thinking that he might be some sort of otherworldly demon.

Benjamin laughed deep in his throat and the sound wrapped around her like smoke, caressing and haunting. “I never claimed to have evolved, sweet.” He said and Roxanne rolled her eyes, “but you're not pregnant...are you?”

No!” Roxanne snapped, flushing deeply. He appeared, once again to be disappointed by this news but she didn't want to ask him why, knowing that his response would probably be crude, “what do you want?”

There was a slight pause from him and after a moment, Benjamin studied her closely, taking in her flushed cheeks. “I noticed that you and that git were getting along well, are you going to date him?” when Roxanne blinked in surprise, he smirked, “I thought you'd moved on, you said that you were going to some party with him and everything, don't tell me you were just making that up?” he asked in mock hurt.

Roxanne hated the smug glow in his eyes and frowned up at him, stabbing him angrily in the chest with her finger. It made him chuckle, “I can do whatever I want with my life, okay? Adam is a nice guy and he isn't afraid of being with me—in fact, just before you showed up and ruined everything, he basically asked me out.” Ha! She thought triumphantly, what would he say to that?

“Are we back to that conversation again?” Benjamin's lips had tightened. There was jealousy flaring in his eyes and Roxanne thought that he had a lot of nerve after he had been snogging boldly in front of her with that girl, “Jordan's going to bore you in about five days and we both know it.”

“Not likely, he's a way better kisser than you are.” Roxanne found herself lying smoothly, looking unconcerned. It was a major lie but it had the effect she had hoped for, though Benjamin's jaw merely tightened as if he wanted nothing more than to find Adam right then and snap his neck in two, “it was sort of a surprise that he kissed me you know but I didn't mind it.”

Benjamin tried to regain himself and he schooled his face into a cool mask that revealed absolutely nothing out of place. “When did this happen?” he asked lightly.

Roxanne hesitated. “At the party that I—”

“Oh, never happened right? I didn't think so. The fuck it will either,” Benjamin growled, pressing his face closer to hers until his lips were just a weak inch away. “If you do ever kiss him, I know you'll be too busy thinking about me.”

“Were you thinking about me when you were snogging that girl?” Roxanne dared to spit and Benjamin's lips trailed lightly over her jaw, avoiding her mouth entirely. Pushing at him to give her some space and very aware that someone might be watching, she taunted meanly, “I hope you thought about me the whole time you were with her,”

Benjamin's body tensed and she saw the truth of her mean words flare in his eyes, along with his anger that he hadn't been able to control it. “You want to know something, sweet? I thought about you, I'm not going to lie and in fact...” he reached out and tilted her chin up until she had no choice but to look him in the eye, “I thought about how much you begged me for it right before I gave in.”

“I didn't beg!” Roxanne snapped, flushing.

Benjamin's brows rose mockingly. There was a furious glow in his eyes that scared her a little, as if he were moments away from ripping her robes to shreds and having his way right then and there, “You thought at some point that I was going to stop and when I didn't, you practically clawed me,” he murmured softly.

Roxanne slapped him before she could stop herself, the sound like the fiercest flash of lightning. Both of them reeled away in surprise, “You're such an ass!” she screamed and before Benjamin could react or grab her, she fled straight for the Prefect's compartment.

Hot tears were blinding her vision when she stumbled inside the surprisingly large space, her chest heaving painfully. “S-sorry that I'm late,” Roxanne panted, noticing that Adam looked as if he might get up and rush dashingly to her aid. “I lost track of time,” she mumbled, motioning for him to stay seated.

The compartment was filled with unfamiliar faces but she spotted her older cousin, Victoire Weasley slouching prettily in a chair. With her red-gold hair, slender body and thickly lashed blue eyes, she was the most stunning person in the room and she knew it better than anyone, “Take a seat, Roxie. The Head Girl is late but the Head Boy should be in any second now.”

Roxanne, shaken and ignoring Adam's worried frown, sat beside her cousin. Victoire sent her a beaming smile before fixing her badge for her with a tsk, “Who's the Head Boy?” she asked after her cousin finished.

Before Victoire could reply, the compartment door was suddenly yanked open and she pursed her lips sourly. Roxanne felt her face paling drastically as Benjamin stepped inside, the Head Boy badge pinned neatly to the front of his robes, “We may as well get this shit over and done with,” he snapped, the air in the room evaporating along with her heart.

Thanks for reading everyone! Up next is "A Force of Wills" and after that I think I'm going back to "Albus Potter and the Dark Lord's Prince" and probably "This is Audrey Tang: The Bad Taste" after that! Updates will be a bit slow but I'll try to get back as soon as possible, real life sucks!

Chapter 13: Bits and Pieces
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A/N: Hello, all! I'm really sorry that its been a LONG time but its really not my fault, I haven't forgotten about you, I promise!


It was unfair. Roxanne couldn't help but repeat the words over and over again in her stunned mind, unable to accept the fact that she would be spending a bit more time with this new Benjamin Malfoy than she had thought. Although she resisted the urge to let out a hysterical scream, it was obvious that the color in her cheeks had drained away, “Well, this is a pleasant surprise.” Victoire's cultured voice seemed to intrude on the slight panic that was coursing through her blood, “I didn't know you were such a prankster, Malfoy.”


“This isn't a joke,” Benjamin's blue-brown eyes had been narrowed with anger and at the sound of her cousin's voice, they shifted towards her. Victoire continued to slouch rather prettily in her chair, one tone leg crossed over the other like a decadent queen, “and I'm not in the mood for egos today...whoever you are.”


Victoire's face flushed at the carefully worded slap and Roxanne could see from her expression that the obvious dismissal stung. It was very rare for anyone, especially a man to treat her without a scrap of interest, “As I'm sure everyone in this room knows, my name is Victoire Weasley,” she put a smug emphasis on the words.


Roxanne had nearly forgotten about the other Prefects in the room and shifted slightly in her seat to observe them. The compartment was oddly larger than she had thought but she was able to see that everyone had chose comfortable positions in either a chair or a couch, which the two Slytherin Prefects occupied.


Here we go...” a black girl in Ravenclaw robes muttered to her companion, who was too busy gawping at the flash of Victoire's leg that she was so brazenly showing off. “She's more of a nightmare than you think.”


That caused a brief flash of anger to intrude into Roxanne's blood but she couldn't help but think that they were true. Although the girl had whispered the words, they had carried enough for Victoire to overhear, “I'm sure that you'll understand that my presence is necessary to keep certain people in line, Malfoy.” She said coolly, her voice carrying a very nasty edge.


The Ravenclaw girl rolled her eyes heavenward but her fellow Prefect was too busy ogling Victoire's legs as she crossed them. Roxanne heaved a weary sigh but noticed that Adam wasn't immune to such glory and felt a flash of annoyance—she always felt a bit underwhelming around her older cousin and suddenly felt very fat.


“I'm sure you like to think so, Veronica,” Benjamin said dryly, taking her in with the sort of intensity he would give a heaping pile of dragon dung. “But no one cares.”


Victoire's deep blue eyes flashed like lightning and Roxanne knew from having been around her on various occasions that her temper was monstrous. Her cousin paraded herself quite shamelessly at Hogwarts as a sort of goddess and it didn't seem to help that she had the body that could cause wars to break out, “Excuse you?”


Benjamin's eyes had narrowed slightly and even though Roxanne didn't see him looking at her, she oddly felt his gaze burning into her. It caused her to feel flushed and uncomfortable, “What I'm trying to say is that I don't have the time or the patience to listen to a long rant about how gorgeous you think you are.”


“Apparently you don't have eyes in your head Malfoy but from what I hear, you can be quite attentive when it comes to us gorgeous women.” Victoire said smoothly and there was a nasty little spark in her eye. Roxanne wondered when she would stop thinking of every man as some sort of conquest and felt a possessive streak flare in her that she could have done without, “Miranda Patil told me all about it.”


Roxanne flushed in annoyance at the mention of the older girl, thankful that she had graduated last year. But her cousin's words had caused a slight ripple in the compartment and she heard the Slytherin girl give an outrageous giggle and she didn't have to turn around to see if her eyes were roaming over Benjamin.


Adam appeared more annoyed but she could sense his unease even though the other boy was nowhere near him. Roxanne glanced at him and for a second their eyes held and she felt an odd flush going into her face, recalling uneasily that he had asked her out only a few minutes before Benjamin had interrupted them.


The memory must have shown on her face because Adam's cheeks turned unbearably red, though neither of them noticed Benjamin's sneer. “I hope you're not going to bother denying it, Malfoy. There are all sorts of rumors about you and Miranda Patil just couldn't keep all the details to herself,” Victoire said gleefully, running her eyes over him with mild interest.


Although the look hadn't been kind, Roxanne felt her temper spark as the other boys in the compartment sighed with unabashed pleasure. She shifted in her seat and sucked in her stomach, “Miranda Patil has a big mouth, among other things that plenty of blokes know all about.” Benjamin replied just as smoothly, flashing Victoire a charming smile.


“Don't be crude, Malfoy.” Victoire said with a curled lip. Roxanne shot her a look for the words, noticing that she had undone the first few buttons on her blouse and wondering how her amazing cleavage was staying in place, “but I know you can't help it.”


Apparently, the Ravenclaw Prefect had had enough as well and Roxanne heaved an exasperated sigh. “Would you knock it off, Queen Weasley?” she asked acidly. “This is a meeting, not a stage.” That earned slight murmurs of agreement from the other girls even though the boys appeared sickeningly besotted by the performance and the way her cousin flipped her hair.


Victoire gave an exaggerated laugh and flipped her red-gold hair over her shoulder again, nearly smacking Roxanne in the face. “Oh, I'm just teasing. You all have heard about Malfoy, right?” she asked and there was some more muttering. “We all know that he and his dad left the country and just recently came back...I can't help but nitpick a little,”


Roxanne shot her a look, thinking that she was being very insensitive even though she should have known better. “Toire, that isn't any of your business.”


“Get off your high horse, Roxie.” Victoire said to her with a sharp look, her blue eyes flashing warningly and she received a rather cool glare. Her cousin lowered her voice into a husky purr, “its not my fault he's so delicious. I'm sure that you've noticed by now?”


The words caused Roxanne to flush indignantly when she knew that Victoire had never liked Benjamin. In fact, if she cared to remember, the older girl had been caught bullying him with her brother and Teddy Lupin, basking in his humiliation—suddenly, she felt nothing but fury, “You shut your mouth, Victoire. Ben isn't some sort of toy that you can play with, not this time.”


Victoire's brows drew together with anger but apparently, Roxanne had struck a nerve because her face flushed slightly. “So he's all yours then?” she asked lightly, quirking one of her perfectly arched eyebrows, “there's no need to get jealous or intimidated, Roxie-Woxie,” she gave her hand a gentle little pat that felt as comforting as the touch of some wizened old bitch. “Even if you can't help it.”


Roxanne's face flushed and she was aware of just how much she didn't really care for her older cousin. It would be wrong to say that she didn't love her because she loved all of them equally but she would be lying if she said that Victoire had a winning personality, “I think you should leave Weasley alone, Veronica.” Benjamin's voice suddenly said, startling the two of them.


Their brief little argument had been whispered in hushed tones but it was obvious that a few of the other Prefects had noticed. Adam was giving Roxanne a worried look, “I can talk to my little cousin all I like, Malfoy. I don't take orders from people who have less than a stellar reputation...” Victoire spat at Benjamin, flicking her gaze at him.


Benjamin's face hardened and Roxanne couldn't help but be stunned at how he had taken up for her. The fact that he had been attuned to her rising distress was enough to unsettle her but she was privately almost felt like things hadn't changed, “I've heard quite a few little rumors about you and unless you want me to go into detail, it would be better for you to keep this meeting professional.”


“I'd like to see you try it.” Victoire snapped, though she had paled slightly. Roxanne took the opportunity to smack her hand away from hers and relaxed a little, “I can walk down the corridor without being hexed and everyone knows my name. It sounds like victory but with a nice little French flair.”


Roxanne could have sworn that the Ravenclaw Prefect had pretended to gag into her robes and she snickered. “Do you remember that moment when the shape of the universe was affected by this information?” Benjamin asked Victoire, his voice dripping heavy dislike. After a significant pause in which her cousin flushed a very ugly shade of red, he added in a mystified tone, “that's funny, neither do I.”


Victoire's face turned redder. “You—”


“Despite the horrified looks that I'm getting, this isn't a joke.” Benjamin's voice had turned wryly amused but resolute. There was power ringing in the compartment and it caused Roxanne to feel an unwanted flush of pride, “McGonagall made me Head Boy for a reason and I'm going to try to make this meeting as painless as possible.”


The words seemed to carry a slight echo and Roxanne glanced surreptitiously around, noticing that the others were appearing surprised but pleased. It was strange to see the reluctant acceptance going across their features and she wondered if they would truly look at Benjamin as a leader, even if his last name made most of them cringe.


“Well, why don't we get through it then?” Adam's voice suddenly pronounced, breaking the silence and surprising Roxanne a little by how tense his face was. For just a moment, she felt his eyes on her before he glanced away, “I don't think any of us want to spend the entire trip locked up in this compartment.”


Roxanne felt an uncomfortable flush creeping into her neck and she arranged her robes distractedly, ignoring Victoire's grumbling. Adam was probably eager for this meeting to end, not only because it would probably be incredibly boring but because he might want some sort of answer out of her and she was dreading it.


“Why am I getting the feeling that you don't find me attractive, Jordan?” Benjamin asked with a cold glare, as if he found the boy nothing more than slime on his boot. An amused smile was beginning to spread over his face but it wasn't warm and Roxanne frowned at him, “I don't know how I feel about that to be honest,”


Adam narrowed his eyes on him in irritation but before he could say anything, Roxanne found herself asking irritably. “Ben, would you stop teasing and tell us what we need to know?” she was aware that the other Prefects were staring at her curiously but wondered if they already knew about their supposed friendship.


The fact that Roxanne had spent so much time with Benjamin at Hogwarts had been known for quite some time. Although she was quite sure that most of the students thought that she was mental, she felt her face flooding regardless, hoping that they didn't think he would give her some sort of special treatment.


“You just took the fun out of everything, Weasley. Shame on you,” Benjamin replied with a slight pout that caused the Slytherin girl to giggle madly. Roxanne rolled her eyes a little and scowled, earning another smile from him that made her want to do nothing more than punch him, “its not like Jordan's my type.”


That earned a snort of laughter from the two Ravenclaw Prefects and Adam glared at Benjamin hotly, his cheeks flushing. “Not that I'd give you the time of day anyway, Malfoy. You're a little too dark and brooding for me,” her fellow Hufflepuff shot back and Roxanne blinked in surprise.


“I'm an irresistible stereotype.” Benjamin replied acidly in return before regarding the rest of them with steely determination. It was enough to have Roxanne straightening slightly in her chair, reluctantly fascinated,“because the Head Girl has decided to not show up for this meeting, I'll begin by damning her to hell and wishing her a horrible death.”


Roxanne's jaw dropped in horror at the words, which were so unlike any studious Head Boy that they should have been banned. She didn't have to look around to see the pale faces of the others and saw Victoire's mouth drop a little but she wasn't certain if it were from amusement or shock, “Ben!” she snapped.


Benjamin ignored the outburst and spent a quick moment reaching into his robes, which caused the Slytherin girl to sigh dreamily. After withdrawing thick sheets of parchment and shuffling neatly through them, he lifted his gaze back to the assorted group and Roxanne was oddly reminded of Mr. Malfoy.


No matter how much the Wizarding world despised Draco Malfoy, he had proven to be a remarkable lawyer after the War in the Ministry. Roxanne didn't know very much about it but she was certain that his charity work meant much more to him than being treated like rancid trash every moment he went to his own job.


The Prophet had tore apart his arrival back into the country, spreading cruel rumors about why he and his oldest son had left in the first place, even going so far as to claim that Mr. Malfoy had committed some sort of horrible murder. Roxanne had been reading and following these stories for some time and felt her stomach clenching with revulsion at the thought that the newspaper would do anything to cause a scandal.


The reason that Mr. Malfoy and Benjamin had fled the country would remain a mystery to her, even a hurtful one that she knew he would never reveal. She sensed that murder hadn't been the reason because even though Draco Malfoy may have been a Death Eater and a nasty person in the past but she didn't think that he was that same man.


In fact, Roxanne was quite sure that he was probably the saddest person that she had ever met in her life. There were only a few moments in her memory that she could recall the man smiling with happiness and sensed that his marriage to Benjamin's mother was quickly falling apart.


A pang settled into Roxanne's chest when she knew how much both of Benjamin's parents meant to him. When he had visited her the other night, she had gathered enough to understand that their arguments were causing a large rift in the family and that his siblings and mother weren't living in the Manor with them.


It had to be painful for Benjamin but Roxanne knew that he would never admit that to anyone but himself, if he even dared. Whatever Draco Malfoy had done to leave the country last year had been severe enough to estrange his wife and she knew without thinking too deeply that Benjamin's relationship with him was strained.


Roxanne couldn't imagine being that way with her own father but she was suddenly struck with a memory from that morning at Malfoy Manor. “You don’t have to treat me like the other ones Dad, I’m not some sort of stupid kid.” There had been nothing but angry defiance in his tone while Roxanne had hidden around the corner, watching them worriedly, “I think I’ve already proved that.”


Mr. Malfoy had remained silent for a moment or two and Roxanne had sensed his anger as sharply as a needle. “I know that you’re not a child and hanging that over my head for the rest of your life is showing a weak strength of character. I’d expect better from you.”


Roxanne had been startled to hear the words but unsure on what they could have meant to the two of them. Anger had been heavy in the air, like a pulse, “I could say the same about you, Dad. The whole reason the two of us left was to stop all the rumors and make mum feel better.” Benjamin's voice had been cold but there had been a smile on his face, as if he were relishing the misery he brought his father...


For a moment or two Roxanne felt a pang in her chest even as she slowly began to understand that Benjamin may have seen or heard something that made his father out to be someone he couldn't admire. There were hidden meanings in the memory but she was unable to dredge up a possible answer or figure out what sort of rumor could have been bad enough for them to flee in the first place.


Benjamin had left for Italy the previous year without ever confiding what had been troubling him...never allowing her to comfort him. Roxanne felt empty at that undeniable truth but hoped the feeling didn't show on her face, “I was told not to go into detail about the changes at Hogwarts this year by the Headmistress since most of that information will come at tonight’s Feast.” Benjamin's voice suddenly brought her out of her mind like a slap.


The other Prefects were murmuring amongst each other and Roxanne spent a minute or two inhaling to gather herself. Adam was staring at her curiously but she looked away before he might say anything, “So there are changes happening at Hogwarts? I've been hearing rumors for weeks.” Victoire suddenly said, sounding curious.


“Things will be a bit different at Hogwarts Veronica but I'm not allowed to go into detail about what they are.” Benjamin replied calmly as he looked down at the sheets of parchment in his hands, studying them carefully. Roxanne saw her cousin scowl furiously beside her, “McGonagall made it apparent that she wanted it to remain a surprise, since its such a big event for the school this year.”


There was something knowing in his tone and Roxanne narrowed her eyes slightly, suddenly aware that he might know more than he was letting on. When she had been with him at Malfoy Manor, he had hinted at some sort of event but it was impossible to tell if it were the same Quidditch mystery that had been in the news lately.


“What's so different about Hogwarts this year that you can't tell us now?” A Gryffindor boy ask curiously somewhere behind Victoire. For a moment she had almost forgotten about the fact that her cousin hadn't been here alone, “it'll be best getting all the information here instead of waiting for a few more hours.”


Benjamin was silent for a moment or two as his eyes ran over the sheets of parchment thoughtfully before replying. “I'm going by the Headmistress's orders and unless you would like to take that up with her, be my guest.” The offer caused the boy's face to pale slightly and he gave him a weak grin, “Hogwarts will be going through some changes and we're all going to be affected by it.”


Roxanne found herself becoming curious despite herself over what could be so different about Hogwarts that the Headmistress would want to keep a secret. Both of her parents and Uncle Lee had hinted at something as well and as Benjamin quickly began going through the various sheets of parchment, informing them of rules, regulations and standards, her mind spun wildly.


If the changes at the school were such a secret, she knew that McGonagall might not have wanted to risk informing the Prefects, who would surely relate the interesting news to their peers. Suddenly, Hogwarts seemed miles and miles away and she felt an eagerness to return there as quickly as possible but eventually became distracted by Benjamin's presence in the compartment.


There was something so confident and composed about him that openly showcased how intelligent he really was underneath his snarky attitude. Roxanne wasn't able to take her eyes off of him and no matter how unwanted it was, she felt a flush of pride to see him this way, looking strong and capable despite what anyone might think.


The Malfoy name may be tainted in the eyes of the Wizarding world but she saw right now that Benjamin considered himself to be above it. By the end of the meeting, when patrols were given in the form of parchment being handed between them, Roxanne felt that some part of her was still wanted him more than ever.


It was a horrible, almost sickening realization after what he had done to her and she forced herself to recall every cruel word, reluctant to forget the reality of their relationship. “When things calm down a bit at the school, I'll be sure to arrange another meeting to go over in more detail what's changed.” Benjamin was saying with a sharp edge of authority that dared anyone to disobey him.


Victoire had been unusually quiet but now stood up from her chair with a little stretch, her skirt rising a little too high. “Is that all then?” she asked Benjamin in a bored tone, as if he had been very unimpressive and she spent a quick second folding up her patrol schedule and placing it very snugly in her bra.


Benjamin's upper lip curled but Roxanne saw the other boys eyeing her cousin with undiluted lust and thought that the universe was a major prat. “I'm sure you have souls to suck out of the living, Veronica, I'd hate to get in the way of that,” he said dryly and Victoire glared at him warningly. To the rest of them, he gave a dismissive wave of his hand, “you all are free to get the hell out of my face now.”


Ben!” Roxanne snapped annoyingly but the other Prefects were already rising from the chairs and couch with wary conversation going between them. They had all been very attentive listening to Benjamin but were now eyeing him as if it might be too dangerous to approach him with a question, which was probably something he wouldn't tolerate.


Adam had also stood up, cracking his back a little in relief before moving towards her with a welcoming smile. Roxanne felt her stomach lurch, there was a very hopeful gleam in his eyes, “Come on, Rox, the torture is over.” He said dramatically and she laughed a little at his pained expression.


The others were already leaving, some giving Benjamin tentative smiles that he only returned with a slight nod. Roxanne noticed that the Slytherin girl was practically fawning over him as she complimented his leadership skills and he gave her a flirtatious smile that reduced her to butter before she giggled out of the compartment.


Roxanne felt a spark of irritation, recalling quite nastily that he had been making out rather nicely with that girl on the platform. Did he think he was clever? Oooh, he was such a prat, looking over at her to make sure that she'd noticed! “I'll see you later, Roxie-Woxie, I'm needed elsewhere.” Victoire said before bending down to peck her loudly on the cheek.


“All right, then.” Roxanne said with an irritable sigh at her, wondering why it was so impossible to stay mad at Victoire for long. “Have you seen Molly or Lucy around?” she asked hopefully, they hadn't run into either of them on the platform and they usually shared a compartment together.


Adam's face fell a little but he covered it up with a hasty smile when Victoire raised her eyebrows at him importantly. When he failed to demonstrate his usefulness in the conversation, the girl replied, “I saw them earlier. They're in one of the last compartments but I didn't bother saying hello, you know how much that little brat hates me.” Victoire informed before floating away.


Roxanne knew that she was referring to Lucy but was certain that she may have been thinking of Dom-Dom as well. The two girls were best friends and hadn't made it a secret that they loathed Victoire's presence, “I guess I can go find your brother and let him know we've survived.” Adam said as he watched the tantalizing sway of her cousin's skirt before she left the compartment.


Benjamin had been calmly waiting for the other Prefects to leave but Roxanne felt his gaze flickering over to her with unabashed amusement. “When we get back to Hogwarts, I'm going to need you Adam. I don't want to screw up my first patrol without someone to put the blame on,” she found herself saying happily, beaming up at him.


“No pressure though,” Adam said with a laugh before offering her his arm in a very gallant way and grinning when she took it. Benjamin's face had darkened as he made his way out of the compartment with a meaningful look at Roxanne and she realized with a jolt that he was still furious with her for slapping him.


The thought caused every inch of her skin to heat unbearably as she and Adam made their way out. There was no sign of Benjamin and blew out a sigh of relief, “I'm glad that's over,” Roxanne muttered with a grin up at Adam, who was looking down at her with a smile. Carefully, she released his arm, “I'm really sorry about my cousin, Victoire is a bit much.”


“I've never been around her since she's in Gryffindor but I've heard a lot about her she's...different.” Adam said politely as if he wanted to spare Victoire. Roxanne rolled her eyes as they drifted down the hallway, his arm brushing against hers, “is she always so arrogant?”


Roxanne nodded savagely, knowing that if Teddy Lupin had been in the compartment that Victoire's attitude would have been far, far worse. The pair of them couldn't be left alone in a room together without reducing an entire flat to rubble, “Always.” She said with a short laugh.


Adam grinned at her sour expression before nudging her playfully in the ribs and she glanced at him questionably. “She's got nothing on you, Rox.” When she did nothing more than stare at him dully, he roared with laughter, “okay, she's really hot but I don't think I could stand listening to her for more than ten minutes.”


“Its why her boobs are so big, to distract you from the real terror.” Roxanne informed him casually and that caused him to laugh harder. Victoire was as different from her sister as Lucy was from Molly and she wasn't certain how Dom-Dom dealt with it, “trust me, I love her and everything but it takes strength.”


The words caused Adam's brown eyes to sparkle with laughter and they fell into a comfortable silence as they walked. It was a little crowded with dozens of other Hogwarts students making their way through but Roxanne still saw no sign of Benjamin's tall, foreboding shape and wondered where he had gone.


Of course, there were dozens of compartments on the train and Roxanne couldn't imagine him sitting with a group of friends. The image of him sitting alone without any companionship made her ache but she shook it off, “I thought you were going to find my brother?” she asked Adam eventually.


“I will in a minute but I'm not looking forward to having Bianca or one of her friends find me right now, Rox.” Adam said with a secretive whisper and Roxanne laughed. He looked very disinterested in being near his girlfriend, “she'll cling to me like the giant squid so every bit of clean air I get is welcome.”


Roxanne snorted with laughter as she continued heading for the last row of compartments with him at her side, feeling his smile on her like warm sunshine. “I think my butt is going to be sore until we reach Hogwarts.”


Adam laughed and she watched as his eyes ran over her in an appreciative way that made her cheeks turn very pink. For some reason, he was continually surprising her but the look he was giving her made a wave of panic shoot up her back,“If you want, I'm open to giving you a massage.”


“I'm not sure if Perce would like that, Adam!” Roxanne said in alarm as she thought of various excuses that would spare her. The universe was a raving prat, “I mean, he can be pretty...uhm, overprotective.” She desperately found herself saying as Adam leaned over her with a teasing smile that was far naughtier than she would have ever thought him capable of.


They were standing near a row of compartments at the very end of the train and Roxanne could distantly hear rowdy laughter from one of them. Molly and Lucy might be there and some part of her was desperate to flee, “Look, Rox I know that your brother doesn't really like me or anything but I've liked you for a while.” Adam said abruptly and she felt her jaw dropping in horror, wishing she could be sucked away.


Roxanne tried to force her face into a stunned expression and watched as Adam's face turned very red, an awkward silence falling between them. “I...I don't know what to really say, Adam.” And this was the truth, she truly had no idea what she was doing. “You have a girlfriend—”


“Me and Bee haven't been getting along for months and I've been thinking of dumping her for a while.” Adam explained seriously as he leaned away and stuffed his hands into his robes, face still bright pink. Roxanne felt dread seeping into the very center of her marrow, “I know this is coming out of nowhere but I've been wanting to get closer to you.”


These were not the words that Roxanne had ever wanted to hear from him and for a brief second she allowed herself to admit that she'd envisioned Benjamin confessing something similar. An ugly feeling caked into her chest, “We've known each other since we were kids but I didn't think that you really liked me like that.” She managed to say weakly even though the truth was smacking her like a rogue Bludger in the face.


Perce and their fathers would be quite pleased if the two of them started dating, no matter how Roxanne felt about the idea. Adam was quiet for a moment or two as he studied her face and she could feel his disappointment but there was a flash of determination in his eyes that was both worrying and admirable.


“Well, Rox I've had a crush on you for ages.” Adam admitted as he briefly looked away from her, his face turning pinker and pinker. Roxanne's chest tightened, “and its not like we don't know each other or anything. We're Beaters on the Quidditch team...Prefects so I know we could get along.”


Roxanne found herself being oddly speechless but thought she heard laughter coming from one of the compartments near them. The world felt as if it were tilting in a very violent way and she was losing her footing, “Adam—”


Adam reached out to pat her on the arm, the warmth of his skin seeping through the material of her robes. “Look, I don't need an answer right now and I'll be honest, I don't know what's going on with you and Malfoy—”


“What do you mean?” Roxanne asked in alarm.


The question caused Adam's brows to knit together in a firm line but he gave her an odd little smile. It made his lip ring look almost comical, “I mean that the two of you act like something happened and I don't know what it is but I'm not going to get in the way of that if its Malfoy you want,” he said, the words sounding forced.


Roxanne's face flushed at the words and she shook her head violently, forcing herself to remember that Benjamin didn't care about her. The person that she had thought she'd known for so long had slept with her and tossed her aside as if she were nothing more than a bit of trash, “I don't want Benjamin in fact I can't stand him!” she burst out.


Adam's brows shot up in surprise at the heated words and Roxanne felt something very foul invading her system. It oddly seemed like her heart had just died, “Wow...uhm, I didn't think that you were going to say that. I mean, that's great but...” he ran a hand over his face awkwardly before continuing, “you guys have always been together.”


“We were never together!” Roxanne snapped furiously and she wondered why her lips were trembling...why it was so hard to breathe. There was a faint tremor coming to life in her fingertips and she balled her hand into a painful fist, “I thought we were friends but he's never cared about me and he's different now—too different and I don't want to be bothered.”


The words sounded so cruel that for a few seconds, Roxanne was aware that she had sounded just like Victoire. That unnerving comparison made her feel increasingly ill but there was no way that she could take them back, “I don't want to get into it or anything Rox but you and him might make up.” Adam replied uncomfortably.


What?” Roxanne snarled.


Adam's face blanched at the frosty glare she gave him and he took a slight step back as if the sight of female anger was too dangerous. “Uhm, I'm just saying that whenever I saw you guys fighting back at school, you'd only ignore each other for like, a day.” He said with an uneasy laugh.


Roxanne felt a sting at the comment even when she knew that it was true. No matter how furious she had gotten with Benjamin, they always came back to one another almost as if they couldn't stand being apart, “That isn't going to happen ever again.”


“...If you say so.” Adam said with a hint of doubt even as he gave her a pleased smile, his eyes running over her warmly. It made her feel worse, “look, Rox I don't expect you to jump all over me even though that would be pretty damn awesome. I just wanted to let you know how I was feeling and once things are over with me and Bee, I'll be here.”


Panic was flowing through Roxanne's body like a hurricane and she tried to block out every memory of Benjamin from her mind. The taste and feel of his skin was like a dream and it hardly mattered anymore...he had forgotten about her, hadn't he?


Roxanne swallowed hard and could feel her nails digging sharply into her palms as if she were handling glass. But she forced a smile on her face when she met Adam's eager gaze, some part of her considering—“Come and, uhm find me then if you still want to go out with me and hopefully, I'll be able to give you an answer.”


Adam's face brightened and he bent and kissed her lightly on the nose in the same way her father would have. “For luck,” he said with a wink as she stared at him in confusion, her cheeks feeling incredibly hot, “I'll see you around, Rox.” He said with a grin before turning away and heading back the way they had come.


Quivering slightly, Roxanne swallowed hard before turning sharply away and reaching clumsily for the nearest compartment door. Molly would give her the right sort of advice for this situation and as she stepped inside, eager to relate every single detail to her best friend, she was met with a completely unwelcome sight.


Benjamin was lounging casually in a seat with his ankle propped on his knee as if he had been lost in deep, troubling thoughts. Roxanne's heart gave an agonizing quiver as he slowly angled his head at her, blue-brown eyes flashing like lightning, “So,” he said idly as she felt her face paling drastically. “Are you going to say yes?”


It was obvious from the anger flaring in his eyes that he had overheard everything but before Roxanne could form a response, he flicked his wand. With a loud, almost ear-splitting clang, the compartment door behind her slammed shut and a heavy silence descended between them, as if they were the only two people in the world.


Chapter 14: Crash and Burn
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A/N: Hey, all! I'm glad that you guys are so dedicated to this story but I hope at the end that you don't foam at the mouth and shake your fists at me. I can't help that I'm evil. :D



The hot summer sun was burning like a brand against the back of Roxanne's neck and she could feel sweat sliding down her forehead. Bright, brilliant colors were dominating the bit of sidewalk that she and Benjamin were drawing on with a large selection of Rainbow's Magnificent Chalk, which was the best brand to use and lasted for months.


Benjamin had invited her over to his mother's robe shop, Beauty Within nearly everyday, as if he were convinced that she wouldn't come back after a while. Roxanne had returned over the last two weeks and the pair of them, after getting a light snack from Mrs. Malfoy would run rampant around Diagon Alley, causing as much trouble as they could.


For fun the other day, they'd tossed water balloons at the older kids hanging out near the apothecary (They'd chased after them for three blocks), released Dungbombs in a fancy restaurant and tricked a haughty old man into buying a stack of Sir Farts Alot for his friends.


Roxanne snickered at the memory, knowing that that particular brand of chocolate caused the victim to fart uncontrollably for at least half an hour. They had been banned from quite a few places but that hadn't stopped them and they'd succeeded in robbing Mr. Boot's bakery, Simply Sweets yesterday and gotten a spanking.


Mrs. Malfoy didn't tolerate pranks as much as her own parents did apparently but she'd given them both a lot of candy and kissed their tears away. “What are you making over there, lump?” Benjamin wanted to know, glancing over at her.


Wiping a hand over her steaming skin with a content sigh,Roxanne considered her work curiously. They had been drawing for over an hour and there were dozens of mutilated chalk around them but she rather liked her sketch of The Burrow, “My grandparent's house.” She said happily, regarding it.


Oh, yeah?” Benjamin asked as he peered over her arm to get a better look, his eyes lighting up with curiosity. Roxanne had drawn their old house, her Grandpa Arthur's Muggle shed and rolling hills filled with what she hoped could pass for flowers, “I don't go over my grandparent's house or anything.”


Roxanne was curious but he never really talked about his family very much, even though she had met Mr. Malfoy a few times these last few days. Although she didn't talk to him very much, she couldn't help but notice that he always looked really sad, “How come? I go over my grandparent's place a lot, they're my daddy's parents.”


Benjamin hesitated for a minute and turned back to his own sidewalk drawing, which showcased what looked like pictures she'd seen of Hogwarts. He was a much better artist than she was and had even started on the Black Lake in the background, “Well, they used to live by themselves but my grandfather got into some trouble so they have to live with all of us at Malfoy Manor now.”


What did he do that was so bad?” Roxanne asked him worriedly. Even though the adults didn't like to talk about it around them, she had overheard more than enough about the Malfoy family over the years and their supposed love for Dark, evil magic.


For a moment, Benjamin said nothing at all before admitting uncomfortably. “I don't know, my Mum and Dad won't talk about it.” He finished evasively as he continued with his sidewalk drawing, adding a funny-looking ghost dancing over a tower, “my grandma is all right but my grandfather is kind of mental,”


Roxanne could hear the sullenness in his tone and she nudged him a little in the arm and he shot her an annoyed look. She smiled at him until the frown left his face, “Well, my mum's parents are really boring. Me and Perce hate going over to their house because they never like to play as much—Dad thinks its funny and puts dragon dung in my Papa's stew all the time at dinner.”


Benjamin roared with laughter and she was certain that he was thinking of doing something similar to his own grandfather. When their eyes met, she felt a weird tingling in the pit of her stomach, “I bet they don't like having him around, huh?” he asked and Roxanne shook her head, grinning at him.


Not really, they think that he's annoying, but everybody says that about my Dad after a while.” Roxanne said with a laugh, enjoying his smile. “He and my mum play pranks all the time at The Burrow, they put a giant spider in the toilet once and my Uncle Ron had nightmares about it for a month.”


The memory of her uncle's shrill screams caused her to snicker with laughter even though Uncle Ron had fainted. Grandma Molly had been furious and had made her parents sit in a corner for a few hours until they'd learned their lesson, “What happened to the giant spider?” Benjamin asked keenly.


Roxanne shuddered slightly at the rearing, hairy beast that invaded her memories, her mouth twisting. “Teddy Lupin snuck it out of the house and used an Engorgement Charm on it until he and my brother could ride it around the back garden,” Benjamin looked a bit annoyed at the mention of his least favorite people, “they were chasing Molly and Toire with it.”


It was unclear to this day whose idea it had been but she was quite sure that it had been Teddy's, he could always get her brother to do anything. Perce was probably visiting him today in fact since their mother had gotten tired of him moping around the flat for the past few days, “Sounds like something they'd do,” Benjamin grunted.


Perce loves messing with Molly, he tries to make her cry all the time.” Roxanne informed her friend with a weary sort of sigh that drew a laugh from him. After swatting away his attempt to pinch her, she said, “Teddy would try to make Toire mad anyway, they hate each other.”


Benjamin rolled his eyes slightly at the words and concentrated on his sidewalk drawing for a while, creating a yellow crescent moon over Hogwarts. “Like I've said, they only can't stand each other because they're just alike, lump.” Roxanne opened her mouth to say something to that but he pressed, “so what happened to the spider?”


Roxanne had nearly forgotten that he loved animals and realized that he was worried about what had became of the creature. Feeling a little bad, she said, “Well, Uncle Percy was nearby and he flicked his wand at the spider and it exploded all over the place! Goo flew everywhere and landed in Aunt Fleur's hair.”


There was a look of intense horror on Benjamin's face that vanished quickly when he burst with disbelieving laughter. The door to Beauty Within opened and a group of women trooped out carrying dozens of bags, a grumpy old wizard following after them with a scowl on his face, “Why'd he blow it up?!” he asked, gasping.


Uncle Percy wasn't trying to. I guess he thought the girls were in real trouble, I mean, when it exploded the whole back garden got splattered with twitching legs and slime—Uncle Harry said we probably should have taken it to Hagrid,” Roxanne said with a giggle. “He loves scary monsters.”


Benjamin nodded with genuine interest and wiped a hand over his forehead, smearing blue, yellow and black chalk dust everywhere. Mrs. Malfoy was probably too busy to get them any snacks just now and it was pretty hot outside, “I like Hagrid. I don't have his class till next year but he lets me come by sometimes.” He said excitedly to her and she saw his face glowing, “I actually saw a centaur once!”


Wow, really? You're so cool, Ben.” Roxanne said in admiration and Benjamin adopted a very arrogant expression on his face. A comfortable silence fell between them and she peered over his arm to look at the drawing he had made, “this is pretty, I wish I could draw so well,” she said with a wistful sigh.


That earned a pleased smile from Benjamin but he concentrated on his drawing, the hot sidewalk seeming to blur the colors. “My grandma taught me how to paint and everything but my mum is trying to get me to take piano lessons,” he said with a wrinkle of his nose, using a brown piece of chalk.


Aunt Fleur could play the piano very well and sometimes enchanted it so that she could dance with Uncle Bill. Roxanne thought briefly of own her parent's dancing around the living room and felt a smile forming on her face, “You don't want to learn how to play an instrument?”


Not really, Weasley, my dad knows how to play though.” Benjamin said with a little shrug, smirking at the amazed look on Roxanne's face, “I like Quidditch more, you should try out for it once you get into Hogwarts and stuff. What position do you play best?” he asked her.


Roxanne really loved Quidditch and was actually pretty good at it whenever she practiced at The Burrow with her cousins. “I'm not a very good Chaser or anything but I'm a great Beater like my daddy was, he let's me use his old bat and everything!”


Benjamin looked very surprised and he cried jubilantly. “I'm a Beater on the Slytherin team!” he proclaimed happily, sounding very proud of himself. “I forgot to tell you since we've been playing pranks all the time but I got on the team last year, the captain says that I'm really good!”


That's great, Ben!” Roxanne said happily, reaching over to hug him and earning nothing but his spluttering protest. She pecked his cheek and he let out a furious grunt, swatting her away with a flushed face, “did Slytherin win any matches?”


It took a moment for Benjamin to reply because he was blushing so much, a strange little smile on his face. When he answered, it faded somewhat, “No, we were close though but your brother's on the Gryffindor team with Lupin and we lost. Hufflepuff was easy to beat though and Ravenclaw wasn't a big deal,”


Perce and Teddy Lupin thought of themselves as Quidditch experts ever since they had gotten on the team earlier in the year. Roxanne had seen them on broomsticks for most of her life and knew that they were pretty good Chasers, “Maybe next year you'll beat them, Ben!” she reassured.


You'll be at Hogwarts soon, won't you lump?” Benjamin asked her curiously, a flash of eagerness entering his eyes when she nodded happily. “When you get into Slytherin, you can be with me on the Quidditch team!” the idea made them both fall into a blissful silence and she watched him scribbling intently on the sidewalk.


Roxanne peered curiously down at what was obviously a chalk-version of herself and she nudged him sharply in the ribs. “I'm not that chubby!” she snapped and Benjamin roared with laughter but didn't bother trying to change his work, “one day, I'm going to be really pretty and I'll show you!”


Benjamin's response was soft and she couldn't quite hear him. “You're already real cute so its not like it matters...” he spent a few moments sketching a version of himself beside her, a grin spreading over his face and warming her heart, “we're going to be together all the time at Hogwarts. People'll be so jealous,”


Yep,” Roxanne replied happily even as she thought of what her cousins would have to say when she wound up in Slytherin. They wouldn't be very happy and Perce would probably try to send her back to her real family like he'd always threatened when she got on his nerves, “I'm going to be the best Slytherin ever.”


That earned a grin from Benjamin and he nudged her a little in the arm until she was glowering at him. “Not if you stay so sweet, Weasley.” Roxanne frowned at him and tried to make her face out to be more fierce, “Slytherins can't be all nice and sweet or people will think you're soft.”


Roxanne frowned at the insult. “I'm not soft!” she snapped but Benjamin was poking her in the arm, grinning teasingly as she swatted at him, “stop that! My Uncle Harry says that thinking all Slytherins are the same is wrong you know.”


Oh, yeah?” Benjamin asked curiously, looking surprised. He spent another minute or two poking at her until she looked on the verge of tears, “is your uncle really all that great like everyone says, Weasley?”


Uncle Harry was very nice and told the most outrageous stories but Roxanne had always thought he worried too much. There was always something rather tense about him, as if he expected the worst at any moment, “He's just my uncle. Its not like he's made out of gold or something,” she said.


Benjamin snorted with laughter and they fell into another easy silence before he asked hesitantly. “Do you think I could ever meet him?” Roxanne stared at him in surprise and he rushed on, suddenly awkward, “my dad says that they never got along in school but I always hear about how nice he is...”


Uncle Harry is really nice and he knows all about Quidditch too,” Roxanne said in a soothing sort of way, sensing his real fear. Benjamin probably assumed that her uncle wouldn't like him because of his family and she was certain that that would hardly matter after everything Uncle Harry had been through, “I bet he could tell you some of his secrets.”


That caused Benjamin's eyes to flare with eagerness before reality came swooping down on him, the flash of curiosity gone. “Yeah,” he said with a gruff snort. “Not like its ever going to happen or anything,”


Roxanne frowned worriedly, wondering how she would be able to make him feel more at ease about her family. Thinking desperately for a few minutes, she suddenly got an idea that might help, “Hey, Ben?”


What, lump?”


My cousin Molly is coming over for dinner tonight, do you wanna come?” Roxanne found herself asking, hesitant on what his answer might be. Uncle Percy and Aunt Audrey came to mooch dinner off of her parents a lot since neither of them could cook very well and she was looking forward to seeing them and her cousins.


I don't know, Weasley...” Benjamin muttered, looking apprehensive.


Roxanne stared worriedly. “I know you don't like my cousins but Molly's real nice and she won't be mean to you, she's just really shy.” She said pleadingly. Benjamin's face had gone a bit dark with his own thoughts, “if they got the chance to know you, they'd like you as much as me!”


Benjamin shook his head slightly and turned away from her, his lips pressed together in a tight line. They had been spending a lot of time together but Roxanne had never seen him going into Weasley's Wizard Wheezes for long if Perce were there, “Your mum and dad won't mind me being over at your house?” he asked worriedly.


Roxanne's parents didn't seem to mind that she was running around Diagon Alley with him at all and encouraged her mischief. They thought it was nice that she had befriended him but... “They won't mind but Perce won't like it but who cares what he thinks?” she found herself saying crisply.


Those are some tough words coming from someone who loves their older brother so much,” Benjamin replied dryly and she felt her cheeks flushing guiltily. Some part of her couldn't imagine Perce being the bully that her friend claimed he was, “ really think your cousins won't be scared of me or something?”


Molly would probably be able to relax around him once Roxanne put her at ease and she was pretty certain that Lucy wouldn't mind. Perce would most likely keep her occupied since she liked bothering her sister as much as he did, “They'll be fine, I promise!” she cried.


Benjamin's face was still rather unsure and he was quiet for a long time, causing Roxanne to fear that he wouldn't answer. “They all make fun of me at Hogwarts..” his voice trailed away and there was so much sadness and anger there that it hurt. “I get in trouble when I'm caught defending myself and everyone hates me, just because I'm a Malfoy.”


Roxanne felt something very uncomfortable going down her back and she tried to fight off the urge to defend her brother. Perce loved her and she was certain that meant more to him than being a bully, “Molly's not like that, Ben.”


Yeah, I guess not but she never tries to help me or anything.” Benjamin replied with narrowed eyes, unable to look at her. Roxanne opened her mouth to form some sort of retort and he said softly, “my mum and dad won't let me go if they think its going to be some sort of trick.”


The words caused Roxanne's heart to clench with pain for him and she tried to think of something that would make him feel better. “It won't be a trick or anything Ben and if you want, why not come down to the joke shop with me? We can bring your mum or dad too and they can see for themselves!” she suddenly cried.


Benjamin's face took on a mixture of surprise and wariness at the suggestion and he was silent for a few minutes. Beauty Within was lively and very busy but Mrs. Malfoy would probably take a quick trip to the joke shop if he really asked her, there wasn't too much that she wouldn't do for her son. “That sounds okay but my mum's busy, lump. I don't think it'd be smart to bother her or anything,”


Roxanne's eagerness faded and they remained silent for a few minutes as their chalk drawings blazed under the hot sun. The thought of sending a quick owl to her parents asking for their permission to stay over Benjamin's house instead for dinner flashed through her mind but she was unsure about voicing it out loud.


They remained quiet for a few minutes and Roxanne weighed her options, distracting herself by taking a bit of chalk and scribbling their names. Benjamin's voice startled her when he said softly, “I like you and everything, Weasley but I don't think I can go over your house right now, especially when your brother hates me.”


Perce won't hate you if he sees how nice you are, Ben!” Roxanne said desperately, trying not to look at him, for fear that she would cry. Although he hadn't said it, she knew that he was afraid of being humiliated and having his feelings hurt again and she would never put him through something like that, “he wouldn't be mean to you after that.”


Benjamin nudged her with his arm until she looked at him and he frowned at the miserable expression on her face. “Don't cry, lump, its all right!” he snapped in a panicky sort of way, wiping at her cheeks with his fingers and smearing chalk all over her skin, “I don't care if your brother hates me, I just like having you.” The instant the words left his lips, he turned bright red.


“Really, Ben?” Roxanne asked him sheepishly, sniffling. It seemed so wrong that he would never be accepted when there was nothing wrong with him, “I just want all of my cousins to like you and stop being mean to you all the time...” she said, wiping at her own face and smearing more colorful chalk everywhere.


Still faintly pink, Benjamin said awkwardly, trying to adopt an indifferent tone that would soothe her. “None of that stuff matters cause once you get to Hogwarts and get into Slytherin with me, I won't have to be alone anymore,” he said firmly, as if he were willing to hold onto this one belief forever.


Roxanne nodded heavily, took up another bit of chalk and scribbled the words Together Forever over their names. Benjamin scowled at her but he smiled, took up his own piece of chalk and added the Slytherin crest, “I can't wait till Hogwarts, we're going to get to play together all the time.”


That's right Weasley, so no more crying.” Benjamin said from beside her, clasping her hand and squeezing her fingers. Roxanne met his relieved stare, a wide smile brimming on his face, “you're the best.”


Roxanne's heart gave a happy little dance at the words. “Thanks, Ben. I'll always be here for you,” she said softly and Benjamin squeezed her hand in reply, a connection building between that would never break—


“Are you going to answer me or not, Weasley?” Benjamin's irritated voice was enough to scatter the memory away, making Roxanne's chest ache. It seemed impossible that they had ever been so close and she wondered if it had all been her imagination that his smile alone could have brought her such contentment and happiness. “I asked if you're going to say yes to Jordan.”


Roxanne swallowed back a panicky retort and looked around the compartment in order not to meet his eyes. A blush was working like a fever into her cheeks and she had to fight for breath, thinking that her brief talk with Adam Jordan had set her up for a battle that she wasn't looking forward to, “Its none of your business, Ben.”


Benjamin's laughter was cold and a bit forced but her eyes flickered to his form, draped lazily in his seat. The position was deceiving of course when she could sense his anger as clearly as she could a coming storm and suddenly the compartment felt ten times too small, “Considering that I heard my name mentioned more than once, it actually is my business, Weasley.”


“I don't see how it would be, Benjamin.” Roxanne snapped furiously and she watched his eyes narrowing dangerously. The anger radiating off of him was making the hairs on the back of her neck stand up but she knew that it might not be because she might date Adam Jordan...could it? Surely, that wouldn't bother him. “Who I date isn't your fucking issue.”


The words caused Benjamin's black brows to rise insolently and he chuckled lightly, turning his gaze away from her. Roxanne blew out a sigh of relief and turned to the compartment door, intent on escape, “So you can't stand me, huh? You can't be bothered with me, like I'm a piece of trash underneath your boot,” her own words were hurled back at her with enough grace to demolish a mountain.


Roxanne's spine tingled with wariness and disgust at her own callousness, knowing that she had been speaking out of hurt and anger. Adam Jordan had confessed his feelings for her, even going so far as to question her relationship with Benjamin and something in her had just snapped...she had said things that revolted her.


“You sounded so much like your bitchy cousin Veronica that I thought I was hearing things until I paid closer attention.” Benjamin continued, the sound of his voice at her back like a whip, urging her to face him without fear. She felt vulnerable with her back to him but he had made no move to stand up, “do you want an award?”


Even as Roxanne knew it would be a mistake, she turned back to stare at him and saw his lips quirk in dark amusement. Being compared to Victoire Weasley was the highest insult anyone could give her after how her cousin had behaved in their first Prefect meeting and her cheeks flushed with anger and shame, “I don't want an award from you of all people.” She said coldly, voice wavering.


Benjamin pouted as if the words had truly injured him but there was something rather cold about his eyes. Anger pulsed between them and the Head Boy badge he still wore on the front of his robes appeared oddly mocking, “So spunky all of a sudden, Weasley. I honestly didn't think you had it in you to talk about me like that,” he said, an edge to his voice that frightened her.


“W...why does it matter Ben?” Roxanne demanded weakly.


“It matters because you're not supposed to be like all the rest of your fucking cousins, Weasley. I don't appreciate you talking behind my back!” Benjamin snapped furiously and she saw an odd flush coming into his cheeks. Roxanne sensed with a panic that she had hurt him and it felt horribly delicious, “wipe that smirk off your face.”


Roxanne hadn't been aware that she had been smirking in glee at this realization but only smiled at him broadly. Benjamin's face darkened warningly and she had the unnerving sensation of being undressed, caressed and forced to submit, “Now you see how it feels, don't you, Ben? If you think that I'm going to apologize, then you're wrong,” she said with deliberate sweetness.


Benjamin's face flushed even more at the words and she saw his eyes flashing with emotions too complicated for her to comprehend. Apparently, he had never considered the fact that she might come to hate him and was deeply disturbed by the idea, though she saw that he would rather drink poison than admit it, “Grow the fuck up, Roxanne.” He snarled at her cruelly.


Those were words that Roxanne had heard more than once over the years from her cousins, Hogwarts students and her friends but never from him. Hurt flashed in her eyes before she could turn away and make her exit and the smile that flashed across Benjamin's face was enough to douse her in rage, “You never call me by my first name you know, unless you're being more of a prick than usual.” She snarled.


“I called you by your first name when we were in bed but since you were so distracted at the time, I'm sure you didn't notice.” Benjamin replied calmly and Roxanne's face flushed with fury and embarrassment at the memory that he forced on her, of his mouth so near her ear, whispering indecent promises and praise. “What, do you want to pretend it never happened?”


Benjamin was playing dirty and both of them knew it. Why was he trying to hurt her so badly again? Hadn't he been the one who'd slept with her and then kicked her out of his room? Hadn't he been the same person that had been on the platform only an hour or so ago with some other girl, flaunting his latest prize in her face?


“I try to since it wasn't anything to remember.” Roxanne said coolly, forcing herself to stare at him as the barb echoed unpleasantly in the compartment, tension flaring between them. “In fact, I haven't thought about it at all. I don't know why there are so many rumors about you being so fantastic when it isn't true,”


A thick silence fell and every other sound from the train seemed to have vanished entirely. Roxanne's heart was pounding so heavily that she was certain that Benjamin could hear it, “I don't remember you complaining but we both know that you're lying. Its written all over your face.” He said after a while, running his eyes over her as if he were reading the very depths of her mind and soul.


Roxanne's body gave a twitch at the truth and she glared at him furiously before turning for the compartment door again. She gripped the handle and tried to yank it open before remembering that he'd locked them inside, “Open the door, Ben.” When there was nothing but a snort, she snapped, “open it! I'm not going to spend the rest of the trip sitting around arguing with you!”


“You're a witch aren't you?” Benjamin's amused voice asked. Roxanne turned and gave him a nasty look before jerking back to the compartment door, taking out her wand and performing the necessary spell, “that's first-year basics, Weasley. I bet even Jordan could figure out how to get out of such a sticky predicament.”


Roxanne's anger was spiking but she ignored the deliberate barb as she tapped her wand at the compartment door. “Alohomora,” she muttered darkly again but as she tugged on the handle, she remained locked inside and felt her eye twitching with rage, “Benjamin, open this door!” she wasn't sure what sort of spell he had used and she was too furious to spend another minute testing it out.


“I'd rather not.” Benjamin's deep voice was suddenly behind her, his lips tracing the delicate rim of her ear. Roxanne gasped and felt herself shivering but she didn't dare turn around, knowing that the sight of him so close would undo her, “I think that we have a few things to talk about, sweet.”


Undeniable heat was pressing against her back and Roxanne's mind was swimming painfully, knowing that he was unbearably close. It was so strange that for someone so big, he could move without a sound and she was eerily reminded of a panther or some other dangerous animal better suited for the jungle and wild.


The scent of him was too much and even though he had been this close to her before the Prefect meeting, Roxanne felt trapped. There was no one around that could interrupt them and being in one of the last compartments afforded them a sort of privacy that she wanted nothing more than to run away from with her heart intact.


“We don't have anything to talk about, Ben!” Roxanne snapped angrily, hating that her voice came out as a slight pant. His hand was on her waist, fingertips pressing and relaxing and she felt a wave of hatred for how her body responded, “why do you always have to act like this? Why can't you ever just—stop that!” she squeaked.


Benjamin's hand had drifted idly over her hip and she nearly rammed him as hard as she could with her elbow. But just as the thought formed, his other hand went down to her wand arm, gripping her wrist in a gentle grip, “I think we have a few things to talk about, actually, Weasley.”


Roxanne tried to break free of his grip but he gave only the slightest bit of pressure and she felt his strength. Despite his size and how intimidating he could be, Benjamin had never physically hurt her, “Like what?” she snarled.


“I told you already that I went out with Meredith—don't snort like that, you know who I mean, lump.” Benjamin chastised as Roxanne's anger grew. She couldn't block out the memory of the two of them wrapped in each other's arms or the pain that had blossomed in her chest, “I told you that I went out with her but nothing felt the same.”


The words didn't offer her any sort of comfort and Roxanne found herself scowling slightly, trying to ignore his body heat. He was nearly two heads taller than she was and even though she could have handled herself with him in the past, things had changed and she wasn't sure what he would do, “I don't see how that's my fault!”


Benjamin inhaled slightly and his chest touched her back briefly, indicating that he was much closer to her than she had thought. Roxanne panicked slightly, embarrassment flooding into her cheeks as heavily as rain, “It is your fault because unlike you, I can admit that I want you again. And again and again...” his voice was oddly hypnotic, making shivers dance through her.


For just a moment, Roxanne felt his tongue on her skin, tasting and teasing and she turned around suddenly with a furious sound, wrenching free of his grip. “Would you stop it?!” she cried, glaring up at him. “I'm sure you can find plenty of willing girls back at Hogwarts that will want to sleep with you—its not like I'm all that special!”


Benjamin's lips were set in an amused smile but the anger in his blue-brown eyes was making her skin prickle with unease. Roxanne pushed at his chest as hard as she could but she may as well have been trying to shift a boulder, “What I don't get—careful sweet, that actually feels nice,” he said and she stopped immediately, “even though I slept with you, I can't stop thinking about it.”


“Maybe you're just nothing but an arrogant pig, Ben!” Roxanne snapped up at him even as she felt her fingernails digging into his robes. Through the material, she could feel his heartbeat... “you won't even admit to doing anything wrong!”


That was what bothered her so deeply, nearly as much as knowing that he had kept so much of his life secret from her. There was no amount of trust or affection that Roxanne hadn't given him but Benjamin had never allowed himself to open up to her or let her comfort him when he was hurting.


He had probably done nothing more than sleep with pretty Italian girls last year, erasing her from his mind as if she were nothing but a nuisance. Roxanne had been miserable knowing that he was gone but he had never sent an owl, never acknowledged that she had meant anything at all to him, “What do you want from me, Weasley? You're as much to blame as I am,” Benjamin said firmly, his tone dripping disdain.


What?!” Roxanne asked, jerking away. Benjamin's face was flushed underneath the tan he had acquired from the Italian sun and for just a few moments, he looked like the boy she'd known. It had been very rare to find him embarrassed once they had gotten older but the sight of him being uncomfortable had always been a rare treat—but in a matter of seconds, it was gone.


After another moment or two of nothing breaking up the silence aside from their aggravated breathing, Benjamin replied tersely. “I'll admit it, Weasley, I went to The Burrow that night because I'd missed you and wanted to see how you were doing.” He said the words quickly, as if he were willing to disbelieve them, “you were the only thing I thought about while I was gone.”


Roxanne shook her head dismally, knowing that he had to be lying because if it were true, he would have said so. But then again, this was Benjamin Malfoy she was thinking of and even still...he would have sent her an owl, he would have done something, “Don't you try to bullshit me, Ben! You didn't give a shit about me when you ran off!”


A flash of anger entered the depths of Benjamin's eyes and Roxanne flinched, aware that she had touched on something delicate. “I didn't just run off because I wanted to, I left because I wanted to make sure that my dad would be all right.” He gave a weary sigh, shaking his head in exasperation, “a spoiled brat like you wouldn't understand what its like having a family like mine.”


“Don't call me a brat! You think that I walk around thinking that nothing bad has ever happened in my family?” Roxanne demanded in an outrage, punching him as hard as she could in the arm. Benjamin barely reacted from the blow but his eyes were running over her face warily, “my parents still scream at night because of what they saw during the War!”


Benjamin's eyes narrowed slightly but she saw his mouth tightening over what might have been some sort of apology. If there was one thing that they had been aware of growing up, it was that not every rumor about their families was true, “That isn't the same as what happened with my dad, you'll never have to worry about it, since your family can do no wrong.” He said with a disgusted eye roll.


“I have never once given you a reason to think my family was perfect!” Roxanne spat out the words that were often used to describe them all. No one would ever be able to understand the sort of pain that still lingered in her relatives or the grief that still tormented her parents over the loss of so many friends and memories. “Ben, you're being an insensitive—”


“Even if your family still has hard times like anyone else, it doesn't change the fact that mine is treated like slime. I've heard all the rumors about why people think we left but for you to stand here and act like our last names don't make a difference just shows how immature you really are,” Benjamin snapped down at her, his words slapping some sort of truth into her.


Roxanne looked away from him sharply but she kept her mouth firmly closed, thinking it wouldn't make any sense to try and change his opinion. The Wizarding world had no interest in what her family was really like or what sort of secrets they had, like how Aunt Hermione had stopped speaking from shock or that Uncle Percy had once been a wanted man.


Those were dark, sordid things that the impressionable minds that read the Daily Prophet weren't interested in when it came to her family. They only wanted to believe in what they saw, that the Weasley family were perfect and put on a pedestal that was as unreachable as it was ridiculous, “That still wasn't any reason to do what you did to me, Ben.” Roxanne said at last, her voice quivering.


“Like I said, I went to see you because I'd missed you but no one forced you to come back to the Manor with me. You could have told me no,” Benjamin responded after a few uncomfortable moments, his eyes caressing every shape and angle of her face that he could, “but you didn't.”


Roxanne felt her chest clenching with the truth and the fact that he had forgotten how convincing he had appeared. How happy to see her, “You manipulated me and you know it, Ben!” she accused hotly, her eyes flashing, “I've never been able to tell you no and you used that against me to get what you wanted!”


The words were like another slap to his face and Benjamin reeled back as if he hadn't been prepared to hear it. All of the blame couldn't be placed on her as if she had intentionally set out to seduce him, “Then who's fault is that?” he snapped back, his voice nothing more than a growl.


It caused Roxanne to nearly raise her wand and hex him but Benjamin, anticipating such a move, raised his brows. They had never battled each other with spells before, at least not to harm one another...before everything had changed, he had spent many afternoons showering her in playful, tickling jinxes.


“The way you were acting with me that entire time, all the looks and the way you kissed me, you knew what you were doing!” Roxanne accused fiercely, her words coming out far more hoarse than she would have wanted. “You'd never looked at me like that before and I was so happy to see you, I thought...” she trailed away miserably, refusing to succumb to tears like a fool in front of him.


Benjamin's face flooded with heat and the flare in his eyes was enough to reduce her to ash, her breathing shallow and tight. It took him a few minutes to answer and she was aware that he was having just as much trouble breathing as she was, “I never set out to sleep with you.” He said shortly, his teeth bared in what could only be a snarl.


“So I was just a convenient distraction for you?” Roxanne bit out, feeling her throat closing at the words that he had so coldly tossed at her that morning. “You said I was nothing but a good fuck that took your mind off things and now you stand here and act like you're so you're the one that's so hurt.”


That caused Benjamin's face to contort and he let out a bitter sort of laugh that rumbled from deep in his chest. It was more like a monster's purr, “What do you want from me, Weasley?” he repeated once more, his tone slightly mocking but filled with some sort of pain that she could only barely glimpse, “I hadn't seen you in a while, I wanted you and you wanted me just as much.”


That's not—”


“And now you're standing here so hurt and angry with me. I wanted you, you wanted me but you're too stubborn to admit that you liked every single hour that I gave.” Benjamin's voice was flooded with what sounded like pity and scorn. Roxanne wanted very much to slap him again, “I can't be with someone like you.”


Roxanne's eyes were flooding with tears again but she blinked them away, aware that one might have slid down her cheek regardless. It was almost as if he were ripping out her heart and stomping on it as hard as he could... “You're just running away because you don't want to admit that you want me for more than sex.” She accused painfully.


Benjamin's eyes widened slightly but he made a bitter sound. “This is what I mean, you assume that just because I slept with you that we're suddenly made for each other. I can't deal...I'd never settle for someone like you.” He said bitingly.


It felt like a slap in the face. “Why? Why can't you be with me?” Roxanne demanded frostily, hating that she sounded so hurt.


“Because you're still just a kid, you can't even handle being forced to deal with how fucked up the world is. Sure, you might know a bit but do you honestly think that you could be with me, enduring all of that?” Benjamin asked her cuttingly, as if it pained him to ask. “You're too soft and sweet, I need a woman, not a girl.”


The words were like various fist punches to her stomach and Roxanne glared up at him hatefully, crumbling into nothing. “You're still a kid, Benjamin! You're only seventeen, what would you know about being with a woman?” she hissed and a guarded expression crept into his face, telling her he knew quite well. “Th-there's nothing wrong with me.”


“Look, lump, if it makes you feel better about everything, just date Jordan. He's simple and clean and it seems like he really likes you, he even blushes like a twelve-year old girl,” Benjamin said with a slight shrug and Roxanne's temper flared dangerously high, like a flame reaching its limit. “You seemed open to the idea.” He added with a sneer.


Roxanne glared up at him hatefully, suddenly realizing that she may have to push him out of her heart forever. Every image, every memory and every laugh that she had ever shared with him felt like a mockery, “Why should you care?” her voice was little more than a hiss.


Benjamin's brows lifted, both from wariness and surprise at the hateful look she was giving him, as if he were afraid. Carefully, he cleared his face, “I just think its funny that you would go for someone that wouldn't be able to satisfy you in any way.” He said nastily, shrugging his shoulders.


Roxanne suddenly shoved him as hard as she could, the motion catching Benjamin off guard and causing him to stumble backwards a bit. Rage was flashing through her in little bursts that threatened to make her ill, she had never hated someone so much in her entire life—that boy that she had befriended so long ago was an illusion. “Maybe I will date Adam, he's obviously more of a man than you are, at least he doesn't have to make up excuses and isn't such a coward.”


Benjamin's face had clouded and she watched as his eyes widened, as if the very idea of her with Adam was enough to make him sick. It was as clear as day then and the compartment no longer felt drowned in anger...but jealousy and Roxanne's head whirled in confusion, fury and something else that felt like satisfaction. “Call me a coward one more time, Roxanne.” He warned gravely, his voice like suppressed thunder.


“Don't act like that's what's making you so mad, Ben.” Roxanne said dryly, even though her throat felt raw. Adopting an air of carelessness, she swiftly turned her back on him and regarded the compartment door again, “after I'm done sleeping with Adam, I'll be sure to tell him all about how much of a jealous little coward you—”


The rest of those tauntingly cruel words were lost as Benjamin's hand suddenly closed around her upper arm and forced her around to face him. Roxanne's heartbeat was pounding so fast that she thought it would burst from her ribs, she had never seen him so angry before and was afraid that she had finally pushed him too far.


They stared at one another like two, wary snakes until Benjamin's mouth was suddenly crushing against hers, almost punishingly. Roxanne gasped in surprise and fury, the feel of his lips after so long was like a drugging relief, better than firewhiskey or hot chocolate or any sweet candy.


Roxanne's mind felt as if it were nearly too full to comprehend what was happening and she pushed at his shoulders weakly, even as he wrapped an arm around her. Being this close to him was both a torment and heaven—there were too many layers of clothes between them and she wanted to feel his skin, the heat radiating from his body to hers.


It made absolutely no sense that she was letting him kiss her like this after everything that had happened and she tried to turn her mouth away but he gave a low murmur, coaxing her lips back to his. Dizziness was crashing over her and Roxanne managed to tear her mouth away, aware that his hands had started roaming, tugging, undoing, “Wh..what the hell do you think you're doing?!” she gasped in alarm.


Benjamin's lips had been coasting along her throat in sweet, hot kisses that were too sinful to be real. Roxanne wasn't sure if he had heard her and she suspected that if he had, he wasn't going to let her escape without teaching her a lesson as every touch and kiss forced her to remember. “Shut up, Weasley.” He muttered against her mouth, employing a devilish kiss that nearly reduced her to nothing.


The memory of how foolish she had been back at the Manor with him threatened to flash through her mind, warning her that this would only get her hurt, that enjoying the feel of his fingertips was a crime. “Y-you need to stop!” Roxanne cried as she heard something that could only be her blouse's buttons popping, “this isn't right—Ben!” he was reaching beneath her skirt, his breathing ragged.


Although it couldn't have been easy for him, Benjamin forced himself to stop, the harsh pant of his breath against her collarbone. Her blouse was gaping open and the lacy edge of her bra was showing, “Pink,” he whispered thickly, eyes darting over her chest with intense heat. “Are you matching today, sweet?” at her outraged splutter, his mouth teased along hers again, flinging her back into a need that felt dangerously addictive, “I want to find out all about it...” he whispered, breaking away.


Roxanne felt her fingernails digging into his shoulders as every coherent thought seemed to fly away. They were in a compartment on the Hogwarts Express and anyone would be able to see but it wasn't enough to make her release him, “W-why do you always do this?” she gasped, turning her mouth away again and feeling his tongue dart over her lower lip.


“I've always been this way, ever since we were kids...didn't you know that?” Benjamin's voice was gruff and she felt his hand slipping over her blouse, yanking it from the waistband of her skirt until the warmth of his skin nearly scorched her.


It was almost too much to bear and Roxanne wasn't sure what was startling her more, his words or his touch. His lips came down on hers again and her mind went promptly blank, until she was swimming in need...Adam probably didn't kiss like this, she managed to think blearily as her grip on Benjamin tightened.


Somehow, she knew it wouldn't be the same. Almost as if he had read her mind, Benjamin's mouth lifted from hers and his voice was hard and oddly satisfied, as if he were glorying in something she didn't understand, “There...” he said soothingly, though his tone was rough. “Don't you ever call me a coward again or I'll do worse than this and make sure everyone sees.”


Before Roxanne could lose herself in the feel of his fingertips inching higher under her blouse, Benjamin was suddenly pushing her away from him. Startled, she tried to gather herself but her legs felt weak and she could barely gather a decent breath, “Y-you've never given in to me, not once.”


Benjamin's back was to her now and although she wasn't sure what he was doing, she heard his robes and uniform being shoved into place. “That's not true,” his tone was dark but there was a hint of pain there that worried her, “I shouldn't have been talking to you because it would only get me hurt in the end but I didn't care. You were the only person that was ever nice to me.”


“ never let me be there for you when you were hurting, Ben.” Roxanne murmured thickly, throat constricted. “You never told me anything about what was hurting you...” she trailed away miserably, tears pricking her eyes.


“You wouldn't have been able to handle it, you're too immature,” Benjamin replied stiffly, turning back to face her. A few wisps of his black hair were dancing along his forehead and his thick braid looked beyond repair...she had been digging her nails into it to force his mouth harder against hers, “but you just proved my point about something.”


Roxanne's fingers were trembling as she looked down at the compartment floor, seeing her blouse buttons littered beneath her feet. Embarrassed by how stupid she had acted, she straightened her robes around herself, hoping that no one would notice that her uniform was ruined, “About what?” she asked tightly.


Benjamin's laughter was enough to bring a dawning awareness onto her and she stared at him in disbelief. Behind her, the compartment door opened with an obnoxious clang with his wand that she barely heard, “Jordan's never going to be able to get that sort of reaction out of you the way I can. You'll never want anyone else,” he taunted lightly, though the flare in his eyes wasn't quite the gloating coldness she expected.


But it hardly mattered. “I'll show you,” Roxanne found herself whispering as she turned away and started walking stiffly out of the compartment, feeling his eyes on her. “You won't mean anything to me by the end of the year. I'll be with someone else and you can graduate and find yourself a real woman, just like you want.”


If Benjamin said anything else after that, Roxanne didn't hear him and she darted out of the compartment before he could see her misery. Painful tears were rising but she fought them down, knowing that they would prove useless over someone who didn't think that she was good enough. Trembling, she ran a hand across her mouth, though his heated kiss lingered, mocking and sweet.


Chapter 15: After Shock
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A/N: Hey, you guys! I'm really sorry that its taken me so long to get back to you all but its not because I don't love you. Its just that I had big girl stuff to do and not having internet access really bites...


“You let him do what?!” Molly's outraged words seemed to strike against Roxanne's ears like a banshees cry and she shot her older cousin an exasperated look. They were currently sitting across from one another in a small compartment, the scenery outside the window as gloomy as the emotions that were churning in her chest, “Roxie, how could you?!”


Roxanne looked around nervously to make sure that the words hadn't carried to any unwanted ears but they were completely alone. When she had managed to clean herself up in the loo and find her cousin, Lucy and Dom-Dom hadn't been lingering inside the compartment and she'd felt an enormous amount of relief, “Molly, would you keep your voice down?” she snapped.


Molly was staring at her incredulously, her brown eyes wide and filled with what looked like both anger and sharp disapproval. “How could you allow yourself to be even touched by Malfoy after what he did to you?” her voice had lowered into the sort of growl that would have put a lion to shame, “Roxie, I just don't understand...”


“I-I didn't want him to kiss me, Molly!” Roxanne found herself defending hotly, even though her cheeks flamed guiltily. The moment she had wandered into the compartment after straightening her uniform, her cousin had known that something was wrong and she'd found herself recounting most of what had transpired with Benjamin, though some of what had happened between them was too personal to recount.


There was a doubtful expression on Molly's face now and she pushed a stray lock of her short black hair away from her face. She was dressed perfectly in Ravenclaw robes, her uniform tidy and blindingly neat, “I honestly don't know how you feel about Malfoy anymore, Roxie. I mean, I get this feeling that this isn't the first time that the two of you have been alone know.”


Roxanne felt a blush working its way into her cheeks at the last words, knowing that she hadn't bothered to tell her cousin everything. She had already felt stupid enough with how she had acted with Benjamin and their nasty argument in his compartment continued to pulse and pound in her ears, reminding her of how low she had allowed herself to sink with her anger.


There had been cruel words on both sides and she wasn't certain if her heart would ever regain life again. It felt crushed and completely battered...Benjamin didn't think that she was good enough for him, the hatred she felt was nearly as strong as the tug and pull that kept bringing them reluctantly together. There was too much between them to ignore and just one kiss from him had made her lose her mind—


“Are you even listening to me?” Molly interrupted irritably, her voice a tad sharper than Roxanne had heard it in a while. She watched as her cousin snatched the latest copy of Witch Weekly from the seat and flip through it, “if you're not even going to try and talk to me about it, I can always just sit here and read.”


Roxanne flinched and stared at her in bemusement. “Molly, I'm not trying to ignore you or anything, what's gotten into you?” she demanded, startled. Her cousin hardly ever lost her temper unless Perce was around and she was uncomfortable to be on the receiving end of it, “why are you so mad?”


Molly gave an aggravated grunt and stopped flipping through the magazine, her face flooding with color. A worried expression crossed her features and Roxanne shifted uneasily, “I'm angry Roxie because I don't understand why you've been keeping this sort of stuff from me and letting Malfoy get underneath your skin.” Before she could say anything, her cousin murmured, “he's like poison.”


The comparison nearly had some part of her rising up in indignation but Roxanne couldn't quite force herself to defend Benjamin this time. It felt as if all of her old faith and convictions were falling away...the boy that she had always allowed herself to believe in had crushed, stepped and torn her apart, “I'm sorry but I just haven't been wanting to talk about it—”


“Why not? You can't just walk around holding all of that stuff in like keeping it a secret is going to make it better.” Molly interrupted firmly, her eyes flashing. There was a moment of silence between them before she went back to flipping viciously through the magazine, her fingernails striking sharply against the glossy pages, “...I'm just worried about you, okay?”


Roxanne instantly felt horrible for making her worry and thought of how concerned her parents and brother were. While Perce seemed to suspect that Benjamin had hurt her in some way, she was worried that their parents had already pieced the puzzle together and were simply waiting on her to tell the truth, which she could never do. She would never be able to face their disappointment, “I know, I'm sorry Molly.”


Molly pursed her lips for a moment before giving her an apologetic smile, her eyes warming fondly. The brief flash of anger that she'd shown was gone, “No, I'm sorry. I've just been so stressed out lately. NEWTs are coming up next year and I still haven't decided what I really want to do once I graduate,”


“I thought you wanted to do something with music?” Roxanne asked in surprise, knowing that her cousin truly had a passion for it. She was a talented violinist and she knew that it meant the world to her, “or get an internship at Witch Weekly? I think that you'd make a really excellent reporter.”


The possibilities caused Molly to look simply overwhelmed and she appeared uncertain for a few minutes, gnawing viciously on her lower lip. Considering that she was a rabid fan of Witch Weekly, becoming a reporter should have interested her, “I don't know...I'll make up my mind eventually, have you thought of what you want to do?” she pressed curiously, as if hoping that she wasn't alone.


Roxanne had thought about possible career choices and hesitated for a moment or two before she spoke again. There was always the chance of working at one of her father's joke shops in some other part of the country but she had decided to try and branch out a little, “I was thinking of looking into an internship at Madame Malkin's,” she felt her cheeks flushing, “or maybe continuing on with Potions.”


“Nothing Quidditch related?” Molly asked in genuine surprise, looking as startled as Roxanne felt to have voiced this curious idea out loud. “I thought for sure that you would probably want to work somewhere with your mum, since she's Head of the Department for Games and Sports,”


The option of following in her mother's footsteps had appealed to her for a moment but Roxanne hadn't wanted to feel pressured. Even though she loved Quidditch, she had always been particularly fond of fashion and painfully noted that Beauty Within, the robe shop that Benjamin's mother owned, held some of her most precious memories.


Although the thought of someday owning her own shop had tickled the edges of her mind, Roxanne wasn't sure if she would continue on with it. Potions was one of her favorite subjects and she was one of the best students that Zabini had ever had and she was certain that she would have more job opportunities if she continued down that path.


“I thought about it but I really want to try and do something unexpected,” Roxanne replied, shrugging awkwardly. Molly seemed to be lost in thought on her own future for a few minutes but she couldn't help but ask, “so, where were you and Lucy on the platform? How come I didn't see you?”


Molly had been contemplating an article in Witch Weekly thoughtfully and jerked her head up in surprise. She frowned in aggravation, “We came with Dom-Dom, Louis and Victoire because Dad was late for work,” Roxanne opened her mouth to ask why but her friend said shortly. “Mum was chasing him around the house again trying to pinch his bum,”


Roxanne roared with laughter. “I should have figured!”


“Yeah and you know how they get...” Molly rolled her eyes heavenward as if she could somehow be struck by lightning. Roxanne had seen Aunt Audrey and Uncle Percy chasing one another around their house more than once and always thought it was an enjoyably awkward affair, “anyway, things between Lucy and Victoire got out of control once we got here.”


“What happened?” Roxanne asked in alarm.


There was no love lost between Lucy and their older cousin and Molly looked a little embarrassed before she went on. “Victoire was sort of bullying Dom-Dom, Louis had already been put into a compartment,” she sounded vastly relieved. “Anyway, their parents never pay any attention to her already and Lucy got really, really pissed off when they didn't do anything.”


“Why was Victoire being so mean to Dom-Dom in the first place?” Roxanne asked her, feeling a flush of anger. It had never escaped her notice that the two sisters didn't like one another but she had never thought that Victoire would actually go so far as to bully her younger sister just out of spite, “that's low, even for her.”


Molly nodded and she looked briefly furious before she explained, her tone more worried now than anything. “I don't know what it was about, really. Dom-Dom didn't say but I sort of figured that they'd argued earlier or something but anyway, Lucy got sick of it and called Victoire a few...uhm, elaborate words.”


Roxanne's brows rose and she could suddenly understand why Victoire had been in such a nasty mood during the Prefect meeting. The fact that Lucy weighed about half a pound soaking wet shouldn't have really startled her, the girl didn't let anything get in the way once she was enraged, “Oh, God...what happened?”


Molly looked away uncomfortably and ran a hand over her hair as if she were looking for stray locks to put back in place. When she found none, she clenched her hand into a tight fist, “Aunt Fleur heard of course and we got into some major trouble and I had to drag the girls away. Dom-Dom was really upset and Lucy said that she's going to try and get our parents to adopt her,”


An indignant flush came into Roxanne's cheeks and she couldn't help but feel sorry for Dom-Dom. Although she and Molly were the same age, she knew that they had never been very close, “Where are they right now?” she couldn't help but want to see if they were all right after such an episode.


“I think they're sitting with a few of Lucy's friends in another compartment, they've probably calmed down by now.” Molly explained, looking a tad worried herself. The two girls were best friends so she was thankful that they were there for one another, “I think they're all right, even though Victoire was being really terrible.”


Roxanne knew from having dealt with her during the Prefect meeting that that couldn’t possibly be a lie. “Merlin, what on earth is going on with Victoire anyway?” she asked out loud, worried that she would have to endure more of the girl's horrible attitude in the future. “She's been really nasty lately, I almost thought she had fangs for a minute.”


“Didn't you know?” Molly asked in surprise, brows rising. When Roxanne said nothing and merely stared at her in confusion, her cousin lowered her voice into a whisper even though it was highly unlikely that anyone would be able to overhear, “Victoire got into a lot of trouble a while back and had to repeat her seventh year.”


That was truly a surprise, especially when Victoire had always been a very good student, no matter her faults. Roxanne knew that she had been hoping to continue on with ballet after she left Hogwarts but this was shocking, “What? I had no idea!” it was even more shocking that she'd been able to remain a Prefect.


Molly nodded and she looked a tad too pleased before she replied, her voice still in a low whisper. “I don't know what was going on but I guess Uncle Bill and Aunt Fleur hushed it up so no one but the family would find out. The only reason I know is because I asked my Dad why she was coming back, since she should have graduated last year,”


Roxanne couldn't help but feel as if she had been adrift in an entirely different world as she allowed the explanation to sink in. Last year, she had been too depressed over the fact that Benjamin had left the country to really notice what had been happening in her family and she felt extremely selfish, “So she's just like Leanne and Georgia Wood.” She murmured, stunned.


“Who?” Molly asked curiously.


“You know...the twins. My brother is dating one of them, they're Oliver Wood's two girls, he makes the best broomsticks in the world,” Roxanne quickly explained as she felt a slight thrill. The mention of brooms had given her time to recall that mysterious event that was happening at Hogwarts and she could hardly wait for the Feast, “I don't think you've met them before.”


Molly tended to be too shy and tongue-tied around new people and she flushed a bit at her own inadequacy. “I might have at some point,” she gave a slight shrug before bringing them back to their previous conversation, “so having to repeat a year is what's been bothering Victoire so I'd be careful if I were you.”


Roxanne waved that away carelessly, she had dealt with far worse than Victoire Weasley's temper, no matter how frightening it was. Benjamin's rage was something that could give a person nightmares and she wasn't certain how she'd managed to remain in one piece, “What's going to happen if she doesn't pull herself together this year?” she couldn't help but ask.


“I asked Aunt Hermione and she said that in this case, Victoire would have to come back and make up the subjects she failed part-time.” Molly explained with a studious expression, her mouth set in a grimace, “I'd feel more sorry for her if she weren't always so awful, you know?”


“True but she's probably just letting stress get the better of her,” Roxanne replied thoughtfully, wondering if their older cousin's confidence might have faltered somewhat with the news. Victoire was highly competitive and vain, having a red mark in her otherwise spotless record must have really bruised her ego, “but its no one else's fault.”


Molly nodded in agreement and they were silent for a few minutes, lost in their own thoughts before she heard her cousin say, her voice heavy with weariness. “I'm pretty stressed out too, though. Mum and Dad have been more annoying than usual and Lucy's been picking fights with me about everything lately,” she heaved a rather dramatic sigh.


“What's going on?” Roxanne asked in surprise. “Is everything okay?” she pressed, immediately worried that something was seriously wrong.


An awkward flush worked into Molly's cheeks and she was silent for a few minutes before she replied. “Its nothing really...” her fingers ran over a page in Witch Weekly as if soothing a furious beast, “you know how obnoxious my parents are, they're always going on about how I haven't found anyone to date, that I'm too quiet.”


Roxanne raised her brows and couldn't help but worry for her cousin a bit more, understanding that she was simply too shy. Molly was a wonderful girl but she couldn't quite allow that to show, “Why would they be talking to you about that?” Uncle Percy and Aunt Audrey were really outrageous but she didn't think that they'd actually pester their daughter over something like this.


“They were just saying that they were starting to get a little worried about me, they think that I don't have a lot of friends or something.” Molly looked increasingly uncomfortable at the words and her cheeks turned a bit pinker, causing her to appear more like a twelve-year old than the sixteen-year-old girl she was, “...and they found out about Teddy.”


Roxanne briefly forgot about her own issues with Benjamin and shot her friend a sympathetic look, feeling her pain. Molly had had the deepest crush on Teddy Lupin for years and had confessed to him at a Ministry ball a year ago only to have her heart crushed, “Shit, Molly I'm sorry...what did they say?”


Molly hesitated and gnawed on her lower lip for a few minutes as if she could force it all to go away. The fact that Teddy had carelessly broken her heart was still something that truly bothered her, even though she tried to pretend otherwise, “They said that I shouldn't let something like that stop me from finding someone but they only found out about that thing with Teddy because of Lucy.”


She told them?”


“Of course she did!” Molly groused furiously, her face morphing into one of pure embarrassment and rage. Although Lucy was far more outgoing than her older sister, the two of them had always had a good relationship, though their differences tended to get in the way on occasion, “she was trying to get Dad to go over there and demand that he date me, so I wouldn't be so miserable!”


Roxanne couldn't help but snicker a little and her friend shot her a betrayed look. It only made her laugh harder, “I'm pretty sure that Lucy didn't see it that way, though!” she quickly raised her hands defensively to fight off an attack, “she was probably thinking that she was looking out for you—”


Molly rolled up the copy of Witch Weekly with deft fingers, looking so much like her mother that it was frightening. “Its embarrassing is what it is!” she interrupted furiously, her cheeks still brilliantly pink, “I know that I'm not the sort of girl that guys immediately go for but to have my baby sister actually tell my parents?” she looked near swooning. “Humiliating!”


“But they were worried about you, you can't be mad about that!” Roxanne cried as she tried not to roar with laughter. The thought of Uncle Percy and Aunt Audrey sitting Molly down for such a conversation was suddenly too hilarious and she had to fight back the urge to ask for details, “and you need to stop thinking of yourself as unattractive, you're a really great person, Molly!”


There was a doubtful look on Molly's face just then and for a moment she was able to see how truly lonely she was. It was enough to nearly break her heart but the expression was gone in a matter of seconds, replaced by surliness, “Its still humiliating. Lucy's been trying to get me to be more like her but you know that I can't know, a raging ball of manic energy.”


Roxanne thought that that was a very accurate way to describe Lucy Weasley but still couldn't erase her own worry for her friend. A while back they had talked more about her feelings for Teddy but it was more than apparent that whatever he had really said about her had stolen some of her joy, “That's true but just be yourself, there's nothing wrong with the sort of person you are.”


“I'm boring,” Molly interjected with a miserable look that seemed to suck the entire universe of its happiness. It was a complete and utter lie of course but her cousin didn't seem to see it that way, “I'm not into Quidditch or anything like that and Merlin knows that I'm not really sexy or anything like you and Victoire—”


“You think I'm sexy?” Roxanne interrupted, surprised.


Molly shot her an annoyed glance and then snorted with laughter as Roxanne giggled and batted her lashes seductively. “You know what I mean!” she rolled her eyes. “Stop that!” she snapped gruffly, tossing the nearest object at her head and missing, “I'm too skinny, I just never feel like I'm really all that great in comparison.”


Roxanne thought it was ridiculous that she would say something like this when she had always thought that she was a little too plump. Sensing that her cousin was going down a worrying path, she adopted a bright smile, “You're not too skinny, Molly, you're just..elegant. Ethereal,” she found herself saying sincerely, thinking that those were true descriptions.


A pleasured blush worked its way into Molly's cheeks and she stared at her with a grateful smile. Companionable silence fell between them for a few minutes before her cousin spoke again, a wistful note in her voice, “I know that I'm being stupid when it comes to Teddy but I've always liked him even though he would never be interested in someone like me. Not when there's Victoire,”


“What does Toire have to do with anything? Teddy can't stand her,” Roxanne replied, wrinkling her nose. She was still a bit annoyed with their older cousin for how she had behaved in the Prefect meeting and wasn't very eager to see her again, “they've hated each other since...the womb.”


Molly gave a disbelieving laugh and shook her head a little before unrolling the mangled copy of Witch Weekly. A bitter edge had twisted the curve of her lips, “They hate each other but I've always thought that there was something between them. Sometimes I can tell, especially when Teddy thinks that no one is paying attention,” she swallowed hard and shrugged. “I can't compete with her.”


The fact that Teddy Lupin might actually have some sort of interest in Victoire was completely impossible for Roxanne to understand but she pushed that titillating thought into the back of her mind. “Molly, you're a way better person than Toire and we both know it! Don't get me wrong, I love her—”


“I love her too, even though she's...difficult.” Molly interrupted immediately, looking as if she wanted to believe this more than anything. Calling someone like their older cousin “difficult” was like saying Lord Voldemort had simply been misunderstood and Roxanne couldn't help but stare at her blankly, “she's just in a completely different league than me.”


Roxanne waved that away, wondering if she could ever convince her friend that she was just as beautiful in her own way. Seeing her so depressed was painful, “Toire is selfish and mean, Molly. The fact that she's outrageously gorgeous is just another flaw, like everything else,” she said firmly, hoping that her words were sinking through, “there's someone out there looking for you, you just have to let them find you.”


Molly's face turned red at the words and although she felt a little embarrassed by them herself, she knew that they were true. The fact that her cousin was a talented violinist and one of the smartest people at Hogwarts didn't seem to matter, “Merlin, Roxie, why don't you marry me already?” the girl asked, laughing.


“I haven't found the perfect ring.” Roxanne retorted, clutching her chest. They both collapsed in a fit of raucous laughter and after the last of their giggles subsided, she swallowed stiffly before saying, “...if you want to know about what's been going on with me and Ben, I shouldn't hide that from you.”


There was a slight silence and Molly looked up from the magazine in her hands with a worried expression. The change of topic caused her face to become pinched, “I can get why you wouldn't want to tell me everything, Roxie but this time?” she looked simply perplexed, “after everything that Malfoy has done to you, why would you just let him have his way?”


Roxanne flushed and couldn't quite explain how much of herself she had willingly surrendered to Benjamin. Just one kiss from him had completely tossed away every single hateful feeling until she had been drowning in sensation, “He was mad at me about what I'd said about Adam and I can't think straight when he kisses me,” she murmured, feeling stupid.


“Malfoy's kisses can't be that good!” Molly cried and when Roxanne remained silent, her cousin flushed a little bit but sighed wearily. After pausing thoughtfully, she asked, “are you going to go out with that other boy? I knew that he liked you that day we were at Quality Quidditch Supplies but I can't believe that he actually confessed!”


Guilt and horror flashed through Roxanne's body but she wasn't able to pinpoint where they belonged and why. Adam Jordan had seemed like such a nice guy but she wasn't certain if she could ever really like him the way he liked her, though it would be stupid to assume that she was waiting on someone else... “Yeah, he did and I don't know. I'm not sure.”


Molly frowned. “Did you tell him that?”


“No, not exactly.” Roxanne replied, annoyed with herself.


“I'm not saying that you should rush into this or anything, especially when he's still dating someone else but you should think about it.” Molly replied carefully, sounding as if she were holding back on saying something more. When Roxanne sent her a curious look, she said haltingly, “Malfoy's just not...right for you.”


Roxanne flinched, unable to bear the truth. “You don't know—”


Molly interrupted her, looking as if she had been wanting to speak her mind about this particular issue for years. “I know that you two have known each other since you were kids but after everything that he's done, why hold on to that?” her voice dripped with dislike and confusion, “all Malfoy ever does is hurt you and I'm getting scared that you're just going to let that affect your whole life.”


“You're right but I just don't understand why Benjamin keeps pushing me away from him, he actually had the nerve to say that I was too much of a child for him. He said that I wasn't good enough,” Roxanne found herself answering, her voice so tight that she knew she would cry if she allowed the feelings to take over.


Molly sounded outraged. “That arrogant toerag!”


Roxanne found herself voicing a fear that she hadn't allowed to form until now, her heart pounding heavily in her chest. “What if he's right, though?” she could already see herself fading farther and farther away from him, “I hate him so much right now, Molly. What if he's right and I'm just not good enough to have him?”


“That isn't true, Roxie! I know that there's a lot of stuff that you're not going to tell me about what happened in there with him but that is not true!” Molly snapped furiously, looking as if she wanted to fight off a horde of demons. Her ferocity was something that made her so striking, “Malfoy's the one who can't admit that he might want you, you're not in the wrong.”


Roxanne tried to allow hat thought to soothe her but it only created a hollow ache in her chest that seemed to spread throughout her entire body. From the moment she had allowed herself to truly hate Benjamin and accept that he would never really trust her, the sensation had thrived, “I know that he wants me for something more than know.” She muttered weakly, “but maybe I'm just imagining it.”


Molly was staring at her with growing concern and was silent for a few minutes before she finally spoke, her voice comforting and strong. “Roxie, even if Malfoy may have feelings for you, it doesn't mean anything if he won't say it.” There was a note of sympathy in her voice, “sometimes actions don't mean as much as words.”


Although a part of her knew that her cousin was more than right, Roxanne couldn't understand why Benjamin had kissed her the way he had if there wasn't something more between them. The jealousy and pain that she had sensed from him had been real...whatever was hurting him was something that he thought was too much for her to be able to understand, she hadn't imagined the look in his eyes.


“I just wish that I could forget him.” Roxanne found herself saying, her voice coming out so desolate that she barely recognized it. Molly's face paled slightly and she stood up and went to sit beside her until she was resting her head on her shoulder, “its like I always feel him, even when he's not in the room.”


Molly stayed silent and rested her cheek on top of her hair, sighing pleasantly until she finally spoke again. “Have you ever thought that you might know, in love with Malfoy, Roxie?” Roxanne spluttered in denial, immediately shaking her head and making a protest before her cousin laughed uneasily. “All right, all right. You're not in love him then,”


Roxanne could hear the doubt in her voice and had to bite back on a sharp retort of her own at the ridiculous assumption. How could she be in love with someone like Benjamin Malfoy after everything that had happened between them? No, that was not something that she was going to bother thinking too deeply about—it was perhaps the stupidest thing that she had, it was time to try and move on from him.


Jordan's never going to be able to get that sort of reaction out of you the way I can. You'll never want anyone else,” Benjamin's words seemed to slither into her mind as comfortingly as smoke and she felt a slight shiver go through her.


It couldn't possibly be true that she could still hold on to him after what he had said...she would find someone else and put him from her mind forever. But even as she closed her eyes, she saw nothing but Benjamin's image flaring brightly, enticing and completely beyond her reach.




“Its crowded as fuck,” the crude words seemed to voice out Roxanne's own frustrations without a trace of hesitation. Hogwarts gleamed sharply and stunningly in the distance while a cool nighttime breeze teased its away through the locks of her hair until she felt as if she had been sucked into a chilly river, “this is such bullshit.”


Roxanne felt her lips twitching in amusement as she stood shivering beside Molly on the platform, trying to work their way up to one of the horseless carriages. It was so heavily flooded with students that she was being jostled ungracefully in every direction until she'd had to snap and snarl a few times, terrifying a few helpless first years that had had the misfortune to get in her way.


For the last few hours on the train, she had done her duty as a reluctant Prefect but had blessedly not run into Perce, Adam or anyone else that she had known. But it had been during one of her rounds that she'd noticed that her badge was missing and she was now vastly aware of where she might have dropped it and with whom...


Lucy!” Molly barked furiously at the sound of her younger sister's familiar drawl.


Through the thick mass of Hogwarts robes, Lucy Weasley seemed to emerge out of nowhere with a sulking Dom-Dom in toe. Although she was a few inches shorter than her older sister, she possessed so much spirit that she appeared to be far taller and Roxanne took her in with a welcoming smile, “Where have you two been this whole time?” she asked, grinning.


“Trying to get some of these bastards out of the way, I'm surprised you even heard me through this fucking crowd.” Lucy growled furiously as she regarded her from a pair of heavy lidded eyes, the pale blue hue of them barely noticeable. Her messy brown hair was piled sloppily at the top of her head and Roxanne was amused to see that she had used her wand to hold the locks in place, “I was about to let off a Dungbomb.”


Molly groaned in aggravation and glanced around to make sure that no one had overheard before scowling at her sister. Lucy ignored her and smoothed a hand down her Slytherin robes, lips pursed in a rather haughty way, “Dad told you that if they get an owl about you on the first day back that he isn't going to let you go to Romania with Uncle Charlie this summer,” she warned. “You have OWLs this year!”


Roxanne smirked a little as Lucy shot her sister a venomous look and placed her hands on her hips, looking fierce. “If you got into a little more trouble, Molly you would be a lot happier!” she suddenly grinned, “I mean, for someone that likes to dance in her panties, you sure don't have any sense of adventure!” she laughed, swatting at her.


“D-don't say that out loud!” Molly cried in embarrassment, her cheeks flaming.


Lucy laughed uproariously while Roxanne shot them an amused look, enjoying their bickering. The furious bantering reminded her of Perce and she wondered if he had gotten himself wrapped up in Leanne Wood somewhere, “Its not my fault that you leave your door open!” her cousin cried.


Molly groaned and looked as if she were about to strangle her younger sister and Roxanne snorted with laughter before glancing at Dom-Dom. Her cousin was watching the interaction with an amused expression, though her eyes were a bit tired, “How are you doing, Dom?” she asked in a whisper, ignoring the other two girls as they fought.


“I'm f-fine, its good to see you again, Roxie.” Dom-Dom answered with a quick smile after they exchanged a hug. The crowd around them was moving and they managed to nudge Molly and Lucy along with them, hunting for a carriage, “I wish that I could have s-seen you m-more this summer, how was the rest of your h-holiday?”


There was a rather perceptive look on her face that Roxanne didn't really like and she was uncomfortably reminded of how the girl had kept Benjamin's visit to The Burrow a secret for her. “It was all right, nothing interesting happened,” she said hastily and her cousin's blue eyes narrowed slightly, as if she were seeing through her. “I heard from Molly that you and Lucy got into it with Toire,”


The immediate change of topic caused Dom-Dom's perceptive gaze to flicker away and she scowled in annoyance. “We did but only because Toire w-was being such a c-cow. I r-reminded her of s-something e-earlier and she t-took her temper out on me for it,” she explained, though the response didn't exactly answer any questions.


“What did you have to remind her of that would get her that mad?” Roxanne asked in surprise as they passed by a group of giggling Gryffindor girls. Dom-Dom remained silent and she had a feeling that she wasn't the only one keeping secrets, “I heard about her having to repeat her last year,”


Dom-Dom's lips pursed a little and it was obvious that things at Shell Cottage were far from peaceful. The fact that her parents had always paid more attention to Victoire couldn't have been easy but she seemed a little more composed than she had been the last time they'd seen each other at The Burrow, “Everyone will kn-know pr-pretty soon. Mum and Papa have been f-furious.”


Roxanne could only imagine how disappointed and enraged they were with their elder daughter, especially when they had always spoiled her. “So why did Toire have to repeat her seventh year? I never heard of her not doing well with any of her lessons before—”


“I d-don't really want to talk about it...Toire's the one th-that should take r-responsibility for her own mess. If she d-doesn't want to say, I'd just l-leave it alone,” Dom-Dom surprised her by saying, the crispness in her voice enough to have Roxanne staring down at her in both surprise and a bit of affront.


They remained silent for a few minutes as they squeezed and pushed their way through the thick crowd. Hogwarts was ablaze with hundreds of lights in the distance and seemed brighter than any star, the sheer beauty of it enough to steal her breath, “Erm, I'm sorry for asking, Dom. I know things are probably sort of tense at home,” Roxanne found herself murmuring awkwardly. “Are you all right?”


Dom-Dom shot her an apologetic glance and appeared a bit embarrassed for her abruptness. “Th-things are a bit more tense but Louis and I have b-been hanging out a lot on the beach and I spent the r-rest of the summer with a f-friend of mine,” she muttered, turning a bit pink.


“A male friend?” Roxanne asked slyly, noticing the blush.


The question caused Dom-Dom's face to turn a bit redder and she stared down at her in amazement, truly stunned. Her cousin had always been a bit of a loner and she had rarely ever seen her talking to boys at Hogwarts, “I-its not important,” she said hastily, though there was the faintest of smiles at the corner of her lips.


Roxanne smiled in amusement and as they walked, a passing lantern created a halo out of her pale blonde hair. Hagrid was up ahead leading the first years away and she could barely make out James Potter poking his chest out, “There goes another Gryffindor,” she muttered, nudging her cousin.


Dom-Dom laughed a little in agreement as they watched James walking away with Mason Finnegan at his side. Hagrid's massive form was a comforting sight and Roxanne made a mental note to visit him at the end of the week, “I'm h-hoping that we'll get at least one more Ravenclaw,”


“Yeah, its sort of lonely in Hufflepuff too.” Roxanne replied with a miserable sigh as she glanced back at Lucy and Molly. The two sisters were still bickering, laughing and swatting at one another and she couldn't help but take in her younger cousins Slytherin robes with a bit of felt like a century had passed since she had been so eager to join Benjamin there.


A line of large black carriages suddenly came into view up ahead, appearing ghostly on the dirt road leading to Hogwarts and Dom-Dom sighed in relief. The press of the crowd seemed to thin somewhat until they were able to walk more freely, their strides a bit longer, “I'm glad th-that I g-graduate next year so I won't have to d-deal with the crowds a-anymore.”


Roxanne laughed at her delighted expression and managed to spot a carriage that looked reasonably empty. The sight of the horseless vehicles filled her with a bizarre feeling, knowing that Thestrals were really the ones controlling them, though she wasn't at all comfortable with having to see death to know what they looked like. “There's a carriage up ahead,” she said loudly, so that Lucy and Molly could hear.


“Th-thank goodness,” Dom-Dom replied as they made their way over to it, squeezing through the tight mass of Hogwarts robes. There were a few grunts of annoyance but they hardly noticed as they kept walking “I always forget how crowded it is when you first get here.” She commented idly, looking around.


“Speaking of crowded, where's Louis?” Roxanne asked curiously, she hadn't seen the boy at all since she had stepped off the train and she had been certain that she might have caught a glimpse of him earlier. “Is he already in a carriage or something?”


It had been a while since she had been able to talk to Louis and she noticed that Dom-Dom appeared more animated at the mention of her fourteen-year-old brother. He was the only other Hufflepuff in the family and was very sweet, though he hadn't quite found his ground yet, “I th-think he probably already left, he's made some f-friends of his own to hang out with,” Dom-Dom explained, pleased.


Roxanne was relieved to hear this since she had always worried that Louis might become so obsessed with magical creatures that he'd completely disregard humans. He and Lucy actually had quite a bit in common but their personalities tended to clash, “Maybe we'll see him in the Great Hall. I haven't caught a glimpse of Perce either,”


“I'm sure we'll see th-them inside,” Dom-Dom assured absently as she looked over her shoulder at the their cousins, who had still been fighting. Roxanne continued to keep the carriage up ahead in her sights, hoping that it wouldn't be full, “would you two st-stop f-fighting and hurry up?” the girl snapped at Lucy and Molly.


The two sisters had been growing more furious with each other by the minute and Lucy was rolling her eyes while Molly raged on about some issue or another. “Yeah, yeah. So anyway,” the younger of the two crowed loudly as they tried to make their way as quickly as possible to the carriage before anyone else, “I heard that Malfoy became Head Boy, Roxie. Is that true?”


Roxanne felt as if her heart had been squeezed in a tight fist and she had to shake the sensation off before she could reply. Dom-Dom was watching her closely, “Yeah, its true, word sure does spread fast around here. But why ask me?” she asked, feeling as if she had been drenched in misery and anger once again.


Lucy blinked up in surprise at the question and shoved a second-year girl out of her way as she said curiously, her drawl returning. “I thought that you of all people would know if it was true or not, since you and Malfoy have always been...whatever the hell you guys are,” she said airily, ignoring Molly's warning look.


“What's that supposed to mean?” Roxanne asked sharply.


There was a slight pause before Lucy continued, looking completely unconcerned with the sight of her growing irritation. If there was one thing that her cousin didn't seem to care about, it was holding her tongue, “I don't know, you two have always been together. I can never tell if you're just friends or dating most of the time—what?” she asked annoyingly, noticing her glare.


Roxanne tried to push aside the flash of memories that went through her mind and was aware of how stiff she had become. Molly was watching her worriedly as they continued to maneuver towards Louis and his carriage, which suddenly seemed very far away, “I'm not speaking to Ben at the moment, that's all.” She muttered darkly.


Lucy's brows rose slightly and she sounded vastly annoyed, tossing any amount of consideration to the wind. Dom-Dom shot her a look, “Well, why not? I mean, Malfoy is sort of a prat and I don't like him that much but you, Roxie? You're like...his everything or something. Did you guys break up?” she demanded, looking extremely curious.


There weren't any adequate words to really describe what had happened between them but before Roxanne could answer, Molly interrupted smoothly. “Roxie is going to be too busy to worry about Malfoy anymore since she was made Prefect!” she shot her sister a beaming smile while Dom-Dom blinked in surprise.


Lucy snorted and glanced at the front of Roxanne's robes for a moment as if she were highly skeptical. And then she burst out laughing, smacking at her roughly and nearly toppling her over, “She's joking right? You of all people did not become a Prefect—don't look at me that way, Dom-Dom!” she snapped as her friend stared at her in sharp annoyance.


Roxanne found herself flushing in irritation as well and paused, folding her arms across her chest, unaware of how much her blouse was showing. It had been impossible to get the buttons back after Benjamin had ripped them off and Lucy hooted at the tantalizing view of cleavage, “Shut up!” she snapped, uncrossing her arms. “And its true, I am a Prefect!”


Dom-Dom gave her an encouraging look. “I'm sure you'll do f-fine.”


“This is just amazing, I never thought that you would wind up being a Prefect but where's your shiny new badge, Roxie?” Lucy asked with a twist to her mouth, obviously trying very hard not to burst out laughing again. Annoyed, Roxanne glanced down at the front of her robes and felt her stomach swoop, knowing exactly where it was, “have you done the right thing and tossed it?”


Molly frowned at the obvious enjoyment the thought brought her sister and thumped her rather hard on the lip. Lucy winced and clapped a hand to the wound, “It would do you good to have a bit more appreciation for academics, especially when you have a lot riding on your OWLs this year.” She chastised sternly.


The reminder caused Roxanne to squirm uncomfortably for a moment and she suddenly felt as if she would be walking into a year filled with far too many challenges. Lucy looked furious that her sister would remind her of something so cruel and turned her nose up at her, “I don't want to be reminded of the horrors to come, Molly.”


Molly rolled her eyes in exasperation. “Its not that bad!”


“Says you!” Lucy snapped back while Roxanne nodded.


“You'll get th-through it, you just have to st-stay focused,” Dom-Dom assured them as they finally reached the carriage, her tone wise and filled with what she suspected was pity. A few third-year Hufflepuffs had been eyeing the vehicle but scattered after Lucy shot them a venomous look, “its all about c-concentration.”


Roxanne groaned miserably, her chest feeling like lead. “Like anyone can concentrate in History of Magic,” she muttered, naming one particular subject that she knew would not be receiving an Outstanding from her this year. “I just want to do well in Potions or I'll have to endure Zabini making fun of me for the next two years.”


Lucy shuddered at the mention of her Head of House and looked over her shoulder as if the man were looming in the shadows, watching them. Roxanne roared with laughter, thinking it couldn't hurt to be careful, “I know I'm going to fail everything!” she wailed dramatically, causing Molly to stare at her sharply. “I hardly study as it is!”


“Whose fault is th-that?” Dom-Dom asked dryly.


“Shut your face, Dom!” Lucy snapped playfully. “Dad's been hounding me to do better all summer, he's going to be super disappointed if I don't get an Outstanding in every bloody subject.” She shot Molly a glare that made her sister flush, “not everyone's a genius like my loveable sister you know,” she grumbled, her tone a tad envious.


Roxanne saw Molly's cheeks turn pink at the words and rolled her eyes fondly, though her stomach squirmed. OWL year had been spoken of in hushed tones by most of her relatives, as if it were some sort of unholy thing that would frighten children, “I already can't wait for it to be over,” she sighed as she opened the carriage door, peeking inside.


A small lantern had been lit inside, casting the dark seats in an eerie yellow sheen but otherwise, it was empty. They had managed to have a bit of luck tonight and Roxanne slipped inside with a gasp of relief, eager to get out of the chilly weather as her cousins followed after, Lucy slamming the door shut with a little more force than necessary.


With a gentle lurch, the carriage began making its way towards the castle and Roxanne found herself peeking out the window curiously, hoping to see something of interest. The mysterious event that she had been hearing about for most of the summer had been plaguing her for weeks and her anticipation was just about to burst, she could hardly stand it.


“Have any of you guys heard about that new thing that's going to be at Hogwarts this year?” Roxanne asked her cousins, interrupting a lengthy rant that Lucy had been in the middle of. “Ben was telling us all in the Prefect meeting that there was going to be some big changes this year,”


Molly appeared thoughtful for a few minutes before she gave a slight shrug, as if she hadn't heard anything particularly interesting. It was Lucy that answered, her face aglow with excitement, “I heard about something too, whatever it is has all sorts of foreigners using illegal Portkeys to get into Britain. Dad was complaining about all the mess its made at the Ministry lately.”


Dom-Dom had never been a fan of Quidditch but Roxanne was surprised when she gave a short nod, her eyes round with curiosity. “Th-there's been some talk in the Daily Prophets too, th-that its got something to do with Quidditch. Papa's been working a bit more at Gringott's l-lately but it doesn't make any sense,”


“The only time people get all flustered and crazy about a big Quidditch thing is when the World Cup is about to begin.” Molly said with a confused frown, though she didn't look as if she were truly invested in the conversation. Roxanne was suddenly tingling with energy and she couldn't help but recall that Benjamin had seemed to know a bit more about it than everyone else, “but that's not for another three years.”


Roxanne remained silent for a few minutes and shifted in her seat awkwardly as they rolled over a ditch in the road. Dom-Dom nearly jolted forward and Lucy reached out to steady her, laughing uproariously, “I think Ben might know more about it, he was sort of acting as if he had more of an idea but he didn't go into detail,” she informed them, ignoring Molly's pointed look.


“Maybe Malfoy heard something while he was away? I know that Dad was telling us that it takes a long time to organize big Wizard events like whatever this might be.” Lucy replied, gazing at her with a rather keen look. “And speaking of, did you ever find out why Malfoy and his dad left, Roxie? I've been meaning to bug you about it,”


“I don't know anything,” Roxanne said shortly, though it was the truth.


Lucy raised her brows mockingly, her eyes sparkling. “You're awfully touchy about Malfoy tonight, even more than usual.” Roxanne shot her a warning look. “I can't believe that you guys broke up,” she sighed, adopting a surly pout that made her feel as if she had ruined one of her dearest fantasies, “that really bites.”


Roxanne flushed, feeling as if she had been tossed back into a place that she would rather not be, her heart turning to ice. The argument that she had had with Benjamin on the Express flashed through her mind and she oddly felt as if some essential part of her was missing. Her voice was vicious, “We were never together!”


This is what I mean, you assume that just because I slept with you that we're suddenly made for each other. I can't deal...I'd never settle for someone like you.” The cruel words seemed to sneak back into her mind once more and Roxanne had to fight back on the urge to burst into tears, overwhelmed by how much they had truly hurt her.


It was going to be torture seeing him in future Prefect meetings, knowing that he would never think that she was worthy enough to stand by his side, forcing her into a gloomy silence. Although Lucy obviously wanted to press the issue of their supposed romantic relationship, Molly placed a restraining hand on her arm before she could continue, earning her gratitude.


Dom-Dom glanced knowingly in her direction but quickly changed the topic of discussion to the upcoming Sorting. Roxanne nodded along every now and then but found herself gazing out the window once more as they drew up to the castle, relieved when it was over and the carriage came to a halt, jerking them all in their seats.


“Well, I don't know about all of you but I'm starved.” Lucy complained as her stomach growled loudly, causing Dom-Dom to snicker. Molly had opened the door and had already hopped out, the hem of her robes fluttering like a cape, “I hate sitting through the Sorting, it always takes forever.”


Roxanne couldn't help but agree and managed to put her complicated emotions aside as they all filed out. Molly was waiting for them and they merged quickly into the crowd of other Hogwarts students making their way up the stone steps, gargoyles leering at them from their solitary posts, “But we'll finally get to see James being put into a House this year,” she found herself saying.


Lucy shrugged disinterestedly as they entered the castle, the familiar sight of it making some pleasant part in Roxanne come to life. It was incredibly warm inside and she felt heat vibrating from the tips of her fingers down to her toes and inhaled deeply, taking in as much as she could, “James isn't going to be a Slytherin, I already know it,” her younger cousin complained.


“There's always Albus, Rose, Lily and Hugo.” Molly reminded her sister as they walked towards the Great Hall, though the Sorting probably wouldn't start for a few more minutes. The sound of laughter and dozens of conversations reminded Roxanne of the joke shop and she found the tension in her shoulders loosening somewhat, surprised by how much she'd missed the school.


Hogwarts had changed in the past twenty or so years since the War but there was an even greater sense of history and dedication. There had been extensive damage done to the school during the Battle but it was difficult to see any lingering reminders, though Roxanne knew that when it had been rebuilt, various parts of the castle had been reinforced, repaired and added onto.


It was a monstrously wonderful blend of both the past and present and Roxanne knew that her parents would have enjoyed to have seen the changes in the castle. But she painfully sensed neither of them were ready to ever step foot on the grounds again and relive all that they had seen that terrible night, they still carried far too much trauma from the experience.


“I doubt any of them will be in my House,” Lucy was saying with a miserable sigh, drawing Roxanne out of her own thoughts. Her cousins had paused a fair distance away from the Great Hall and were engrossed in their conversation, “everyone always acts like being a Slytherin is the end of the world.”


Roxanne felt a pang in her chest at the words and she couldn't help but look through the crowd, hoping that she wouldn't see the familiar flash of blue-brown eyes. There was nothing but a blinding sea of faces, ghosts and sound, “You never know,” Molly teased good naturedly to her sister. “They might have a taste for evil.”


Lucy roared with laughter and shook her head a little as if she highly doubted that their younger cousins had the courage for Slytherin House. “I'm going to go look for my boyfriend before I head into the Great Hall, I'll see you all later.” She suddenly said, giving them each a dismissive wave as she floated away, “don't look so shocked!” she snapped as Roxanne gawped after her.


“I can't help but be!” Roxanne retorted and her cousin stuck out her tongue at her and sashayed away, her messy brown hair bouncing crazily on her head. Dom-Dom was already looking eagerly through the crowd for anyone that she might recognize and soon drifted away after making some sort of excuse, her cheeks brilliantly pink.


Molly looked a little miffed at their sudden departure but Roxanne was too busy trying to get a peek at Lucy's boyfriend. Dom-Dom had seemed to melt into the thick cluster of robes and was impossible to be seen by this point, “I wonder where Dom is running off to in such a hurry?” her cousin asked, mystified.


Roxanne was awfully curious about that herself but gasped in amazement as she spotted Lucy wrapped affectionately in the arms of a handsome black boy. Molly followed her gaze and pushed her jaw back up with a laugh, “Merlin, he's gorgeous!” she cried loudly, causing her cousin to snort. “Did you know that she had a boyfriend?”


Molly shot her a reproachful look even though her lips were twitching wildly and tucked a lock of her hair behind her ear. “Yeah, it was another reason why my parents had that embarrassing talk with me a while back.” Roxanne watched with a bit of envy as Lucy and the boy shared a deep kiss, the friends around them hooting, “...I'm uh, going to go into the Great Hall.”


“Why? You can always hang out with me for a while,” Roxanne immediately said as she heard the painful longing and misery in her best friend's voice. Molly gave her a wan sort of smile and tried to appear cheerful before declining, “you can't think that for one moment that you won't be able to find anyone—come on, Molly,”


Molly bit on her lower lip and glanced over her shoulder as if she were trying to focus on something far more interesting. It was obvious that seeing her younger sister so happy had amplified how lonely she was and it made Roxanne's heart twist, “Its whatever, Roxie. Don't worry about me, I'll see you later?” she asked, hugging her.


Roxanne held her tightly and kissed her softly on the cheek before letting her go, aware that Molly was avoiding her eyes. There might be something else bothering her but she couldn't pinpoint what it was and reluctantly watched her cousin walk away, her head bent low as she wandered into the Great Hall, “My Lady Weasley!” a cackling voice suddenly crowed over the crowd, various screams announcing the presence of Peeves, “I have mourned your absence these many months!”


Turning, Roxanne gawped at the sight of the fiend floating through a few torsos, his ghoulish face alight with pleasure. A Gryffindor girl screamed shrilly as Peeves slid between her legs, roaring with foul pleasure as she tried to cover herself, “Hey, stop that!” she snapped, even though she was roaring with laughter.


Peeves continued to cackle happily while the poor girl blushed and stormed off, various hoots following after her. Roxanne wasn't quite sure why the ghost had become her friend but she was oddly relieved to see him and grinned as he dropped a crown of pink roses on top of her curly hair, “A royal welcome for the loveliest terror!” the ghost proclaimed, her cheeks turning a bit red at the gallant display.


Roxanne reached up to touch the intricately woven crown, the sweet scent of roses clinging to her fingers. The pair of them had destroyed so much over the years that Filch had set aside an entire cell in the dungeons just for her, whips and chains freshly maintained for the day he would finally get his revenge, “Why thank you, fellow terror!” she cried happily, grinning impishly at him.


“We shall celebrate our grand reunion with the destruction of the North Tower at midnight!” Peeves declared as he tossed colorful rose petals around her. Roxanne thought he was being awfully tame in comparison to what he had done last year, when he'd actually hoisted her up on a chair and carried her into the Great Hall, “and tomorrow, the world!”


Roxanne roared with laughter and promised that she would play a round of tennis with him sometime this week before he floated away, giving a few helpless victims crude hand gestures as he went. A feeling of joy and peace began in the center of her chest, chasing away every dark thought before that familiar sensation began to tug, pull and set her senses on fire...


“Its good to see that you're still friendly with men, Weasley even if they happen to be dead.” Benjamin's voice was dripping with dark amusement, the sound of it making her heart skip a painful, agonizing beat. Memories of fingertips trailing, lips tasting, teasing and taking nearly made her body go limp, “I'm not sure if I should be jealous or not.”


“W..where did you come from?” Roxanne asked in alarm, startled to see that he had appeared only a few inches from her. Benjamin raised his brows and she frowned, “I don't mean like that you prat!” she snapped furiously, annoyed when he roared with laughter.


Benjamin's mouth curved without genuine humor and she felt the anger pulsing between them like a palpable, nasty thing. Their recent fight flared like fire and Roxanne became aware of how much she hated him again, “I didn't think that I was going to be able to find you before the Sorting.”


Roxanne glanced around and was aware of how alone they looked, as if the world had fallen away. Through the thick clusters of Hogwarts robes, she saw Adam Jordan searching over the crowd and felt her heart lurch before she glanced into Benjamin's face again, the pull between them excruciating, “Why would you need to find me? I don't want to talk to you anymore.”


“Oh, I'm certain that you don't, sweet.” Benjamin replied with a cool stare after following her eyes. Roxanne saw the muscles in his shoulders stiffen and she couldn't help but think that he looked a little too composed, the striking sight of him making her lungs desperate for air, “but I'm sure your tender moment with Jordan will have to wait for a while longer.”


A blush worked its way into her cheeks and Roxanne glared up at him and opened her mouth to make some sort of retort but heard a faint giggle. Turning, she saw that two third-year Hufflepuff girls were staring at him in awe, taking in his long black braid and brooding good-looks, “He's so pretty...” one of them whispered, pointing.


Benjamin's jaw tightened and she watched a faint blush come into his face before he turned towards the girls, making them giggle all the harder. Aggravated, he bared his teeth and hissed at them, “Bugger off,” and they gasped in both horror and delight before darting away, “huh. They sort of reminded me of you just now, lump. So cute and plump,”


“I'm not fat and what do you want?” Roxanne snapped furiously as she glared at him, flushing even harder as he flicked his gaze to her, heating her from the inside out. It was difficult to push down the memories of how they had been, “I don't have time for this!”


Benjamin was silent for a moment or two and didn't seem to notice the whispers being thrust his way or the way a few students were staring. It was the first time that he had been back at Hogwarts in an entire year and she was certain that the rumors on where he had been were quickly spreading, “I've never thought you were fat, first of all're simply delicious.”


Roxanne blushed scarlet at the subtle implication and squirmed uneasily as he ran his eyes over her, branding his teeth and lips on her skin. For a moment she was overcome with the taste of his own skin on her tongue— “What do you want?” her voice was a tad more shrill than necessary and she coughed, hating that he was still able to get to her.


“You left this in my compartment earlier and I'm sure that you'll be needing it back at some point.” Benjamin replied calmly as he stealthily withdrew her Prefect's badge from inside his robes, Roxanne flushing at the sly look he sent her. “You don't want to disappoint Jordan...right?”


The sarcasm in his voice was revolting and Roxanne glared at him, opening her palm for the badge and gasping as he suddenly invaded her space. Startled, she watched as his fingers deftly went to the front of her robes, “What the hell do you think you're doing?” she hissed furiously as he started to pin the badge to the black fabric, ignoring her, “stop it Ben—”


“Stand still.” Benjamin replied softly, smirking faintly as a shiver went through her body and Roxanne flushed furiously, aware that his lips were only an inch away. There was a delicate purr in his voice as he mocked, “I know you probably hate me, Weasley but you're going to have to do a better job at convincing me.”


“I-I don't know what you're talking about, prat.” Roxanne snapped angrily as she tried to push his hand away. The instant their skin touched, her pulse shot up so powerfully that she nearly lost her train of thought, “and my badge is broken so you're not going to get it on there right,”


Benjamin was silent for a short moment as he gently pushed her hands aside and pinned the badge perfectly to her chest. Roxanne tried to shove him away but he grasped her smaller hand in his, exerting a gentle pressure that went all the way down to her toes, “I fixed it for you. You're lucky that I was decent enough to give it back, I could have been a real asshole and kept it as a souvenir,” he jeered.


Roxanne felt a wave of anger go through her that seemed completely at odds with the other feelings bouncing in her heart. They were standing too close...his heat was pressing and smothering her but she couldn't force her legs to move, “You're still an asshole Ben but for a completely different reason,”


“So spunky, tonight. Are we going to have another talk about where things stand between us, sweet?” Benjamin asked softly and she felt his fingers close around hers as if he were willing to lead her away to some private, dark corner of the world. But she knew that talking would probably be the furthest thing from his mind, “I still have so much on my mind.”


A wave of heat crashed between them and Roxanne became uncomfortably aware of the scene that they were causing. Glancing around, she saw that her brother was only a few feet away with his girlfriend, though he blessedly hadn't caught sight of them yet, “Why would I want to talk to you after everything that you did to me this time?” she snapped.


Benjamin's jaw tightened slightly and she watched as his blue-brown eyes darted away from her face, hardening into ice. There was a dark note in his voice, “I don't expect you to but I wasn't the only one saying nasty things in that argument.” Roxanne flushed at the truth, “and it would be just as wrong for you to walk around pretending that you don't still think about that morning as much as I do.”


“I don't think about it—” Roxanne started to lie, even though she knew that it would be something that she would never forget. There had hardly been a moment since that she hadn't imagined the press of his fingertips on her skin or wasn't reminded of how they had moved together, “I..I never think about it anymore.”


There was a flash of challenge in Benjamin's eyes that frightened her but it was gone in an instant, his own pain briefly coming through to her. Whatever was hurting him was something that he never wanted to share with someone like her and a well of bitterness began in the pit of her stomach, “I'm going to be more than happy to prove you wrong, Roxanne.”


The words weren't nearly threat so much as a promise and Roxanne tensed visibly, knowing that her heart might have stopped. Benjamin's brows rose innocently, as if he hadn't said anything that peculiar, “You stay away from me, Ben!” she cried. “I said that I was going to find someone else...that I was...” her words trailed away as he tilted his head, lips trailing along her ear.


“I won't believe that you hate me Weasley unless your body can prove it and I really, really want to know if you'll be matching the day you give in.” Benjamin whispered softly and before Roxanne could even splutter a furious retort, he walked away but not before she felt the lightest press of his lips on her skin.


Roxanne's lungs seemed to collapse and she watched as he melted seamlessly through the horde of black robes, not even bothering to look back. How could he keep doing this? It was like everything that had happened between them was some sort of game and she refused to play and give him what he so obviously wanted—what her body seemed too foolish to refuse.


A shudder went down her spine and she tried to ignore the stares that she was getting just as a heavy hand settled on her arm. “Hey there, little sis.” Teddy Lupin drawled the instant Roxanne turned around, jerking in shock at the familiar features staring down at her. “Its been a while, have you missed me?” he asked cheekily.


Dumbfounded and confused by his sudden appearance, Roxanne could only stare up at him in silence, her body going a bit stiff. She had had enough surprises for one night.


Chapter 16: Past and Present
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A/N: Hello, everyone! I'm so sorry that its taken me a long time to get back to you but I've had a lot of big girl stuff to take care of. In this chapter you all get to meet Teddy Lupin and if you stay on his good side, you'll have nothing to worry about...


Teddy Remus Lupin was a devil. Roxanne couldn't quite stop the thought from forming as she stared up at him incredulously, still too stunned for words. Even though he wasn't technically related to her family, he was Uncle Harry's godson and she had always thought of him as another older brother, due to the fact that he had spent many summers at her house with Perce, who was his best friend.


Roxanne couldn't imagine how her life would have been without him, no matter how irritating he could be. Teddy had always been a bit careless but there was a touch of warmth in him that he rarely showed and she knew that he could be very loyal, it had been months since they had last seen one another due to his hectic work schedule at the Ministry.


She couldn't understand why he was here at Hogwarts, he had graduated last year, leaving her brother to sulk over not having anyone to cause havoc with. “Are you going to say something?” Teddy eventually asked as he stared down at her in amusement, a flash of a gold tooth winking at her. “I'm feeling sort of unloved.”


There was a teasing glimmer in his brown eyes and Roxanne found herself laughing as she tried to take him in all at once. Teddy had always prided himself on being handsome and while she had never particularly thought so, she had to admit that he made a very striking figure and didn't have to look around to notice that several girls were watching him with interest.


The short strands of his hair were an icy shade of blue, a complete change from the usual deep blue that he'd always preferred. Roxanne figured that it had taken a few hours to get the locks to arrange themselves in such a deliberately messy fashion, “Merlin, what on earth have you done to yourself now?” she asked in awe.


“You don't like the new hair? I thought I looked rather dashing,” Teddy said with a surprising amount of sheepishness. Roxanne couldn't help but notice that he had changed in the past few months, there was something much more calm about him that hadn't been there before, “its a certain someone's favorite color.”


Roxanne knew that he could only mean a girl and stared up at him in amusement, still confused on why he had shown up tonight. “I bet it is but I think the hair is...interesting,” she said honestly, though she wasn't certain how he was able to get away with it at his job, especially since he worked in the same office as her mother. “It looks good on you.”


Teddy had always been a bit outrageous with his personal style but his grey robes were very simple and tailored around his lean frame excellently. It was a startling subdued look from the usual array of punk rock clothing, the matching dark vest and trousers making him appear more refined, composed and responsible than she had ever seen him before.


“Come on, little sis. Is that all you have to say to me after all this time?” Teddy pouted, looking disappointed. He reached out to tug playfully on a lock of her curly hair, causing her to burst into dismayed cries, “I've known you all your life and the first time you see me after months is just to ask about my hair?”


“That's all you're going to get from me, prat.” Roxanne managed to tease before Teddy wrapped a strong arm around her, lifting her easily off her feet. It brought back memories of being hoisted on his shoulders or dancing in the kitchen back home and she hugged him tightly, the scent of his cologne making her think of sultry evenings, “you smell really good Teddy. Got a hot date tonight?” she asked slyly.


Teddy laughed rather lewdly before setting her back down but she kept her arms looped around his neck. After pecking her lightly on the nose, he shrugged helplessly, as if he couldn't quite stop the overflow of female attention he received, “I'm hoping for one in the next few days, little sis.” He said just as slyly.


“I guess I shouldn't be surprised that some things about you haven't changed,” Roxanne said dryly as she placed her hands on his shoulders. She had never known him to be involved with someone for longer than a few weeks, “this lady must be pretty special if you're soaking yourself in sexy cologne, huh?” she teased, grinning up at him.


Teddy's brown eyes sparkled but she saw that his lips were set in a firm line, as if he were reluctant to really talk about it. But when he spoke, his voice was dripping with his usual charm, “She's really special but I don't think I'm her type.” She raised her brows mockingly, “smart girls can get like that sometimes, you know,”


Roxanne nodded and found herself staring at him closely but it was impossible to really trace his thoughts. Teddy could be extremely guarded and was a very difficult person to get close to, he purposefully pushed people away once they became too emotionally involved. “Why isn't she interested in you?” she asked.


There was a slight tightening of his mouth that gave her the suspicion that the answer wasn't one that she really needed to hear. But she couldn't help but be curious as to who this girl was if she was making him work for her affections, “I'm going to try and change her mind but I'm not going to tell you exactly how,” he said roguishly. “Its not for your tender ears.”


Roxanne rolled her eyes. “I didn't ask.”


Teddy laughed and regarded the crown of roses at the top of her head with growing amusement, his brown eyes dancing. “Ah, still hanging out with Peeves, little sis?” at her nod, he only shook his head in exasperation, “you just need to stop stringing him along and let him marry you.”


“Funny,” Roxanne retorted dryly as she adjusted the crown, a few rose petals falling to the floor. Teddy stuffed his hands in his robe pockets and looked eagerly around, taking in Hogwarts with nostalgic eyes, “its really hilarious coming from someone that flirted constantly with the Gray Lady back in the day,” she reminded.


“She enjoys flattery, who am I to deny her?” Teddy asked dramatically, even as he winked at a flock of pretty Gryffindor girls. They giggled and shot him flirtatious gazes that he met with a far more lascivious one until she was coughing into her fist, “women are my specialty, dead or alive.”


Roxanne wondered how he was able to have even dead women fawning ridiculously over him. There was apparently a level of skill required, “You know you scared me when you popped up out of nowhere, prat.” Teddy grinned proudly and she thought he might have been puffing out his chest, “you're lucky that I didn't punch you.”


Teddy's grin faded somewhat and she watched as he considered her thoughtfully, his eyes losing their cheerful glimmer. Unease went down her back, “You looked a little busy so I didn't want to interrupt.” At the cool words, Roxanne felt her cheeks heat, knowing that he and everyone else had probably seen her with Benjamin, “...still talking to Malfoy, huh?”


“Its complicated and none of your business.” Roxanne instantly replied, annoyed by the sharp look of disapproval on his face. Teddy and her brother had tormented Benjamin for most of their time at Hogwarts and even though the friendship she'd thought she'd had with him had never really existed, she didn't think that she would ever be able to forgive them, “I don't want to hear it.”


A hard expression crossed Teddy's features and he looked as if he had quite a bit to say on the subject. Roxanne stared up at him warningly and was completely surprised when he smiled at her, his eyes as warm as snow, “Why are you always taking up for him, Roxie?” the scorn in his voice could have put a sinner to shame.


Roxanne felt her cheeks heat and she couldn't stop herself from recalling the way Benjamin had been or the brightness of his smile. He had been a vulnerable, kind boy and she couldn't recall a moment in the past that she hadn't been able to count on him, “I don't think you really have the right to be asking me that question, Teddy.”


“I'm practically your brother, I have every right.” Teddy replied coolly, his blue brow quirking in a haughty way. It was a look that Perce might have worn and Roxanne glared up at him furiously before folding her arms, “Malfoy's nothing but poison and you're the only one that doesn't get it.”


A flush exploded in her cheeks and Roxanne couldn't help but recall what Molly had said about Benjamin earlier in the compartment. The sting of the truth nearly overcame her but she managed not to crumble underneath Teddy's penetrating stare, “The only poison is being a bigot and I'm pretty sure that's the last thing Granny Andromeda wants you to be,” she found herself snapping.


Teddy's eyes flared darkly at the mention of his grandmother and she could suddenly feel his anger sparking in the air. Roxanne had always thought that Andromeda Tonks was very intimidating and the furthest thing from a cuddly grandmother but she respected her and thought she deserved better out of her grandson, “You don't really know my grandmother to say that, little sis.”


“I know enough,” Roxanne retorted fiercely.


The anger that surrounded Teddy just then could have drowned her and she couldn't help but feel as if she had crossed some sort of line. Andromeda Tonks had been spurned by her family for marrying a Muggle and she was suddenly aware of another uncomfortable fact...even though Benjamin was adopted, he was Teddy's cousin and she knew that that was enough to make him hate the Malfoy's all the more.


Teddy's lips were drawn into a tight line and although he didn't say anything for a few minutes, she knew that he was furious. Roxanne opened her mouth to make some sort of apology but faltered at the look in his eyes, “You should really stop defending Malfoy, little sis. Rejects like that aren't worth it,” he had lowered his voice somewhat, the words making her tense.


Roxanne found herself remaining silent as she allowed the words to sink in, some part of her wanting to defend Benjamin despite everything. For years, she had done nothing but defend him and the fact that he had hurt her so badly only seemed to hurt her even worse, knowing that even with the truth, the past wasn't something she could easily forget...


Laughter and bursts of colorful balloons seemed to explode from every direction as Roxanne stood in the midst of her father's shop, the wild energy vibrating so fiercely that it made her almost unbearably giddy. There were dozens of voices bouncing back and forth but they seemed to spiral in all directions until she wasn't able to take in where one conversation ended and when another began.


There wasn't anything quite like the thriving activity in the joke shop and Roxanne watched the various customers in amusement. “Who are you waiting for, beautiful girl?” her father asked curiously as he seemed to melt out of a sea of robes, perhaps intending to give her a little spook.


Benjamin,” Roxanne replied happily as she gnawed on a bit of toffee. She had been watching an older boy arguing with his parents over their attempts to talk him out of buying what looked like a moving, breathing bucket of snot. It was really icky looking but she was already thinking of putting it in the toilet to scare Perce, “he was busy with stuff today and we didn't get to play.”


The two of them had been causing destruction in Diagon Alley for the past several weeks but the summer was quickly ending and Benjamin's parents had decided to spend a bit more time at home. It was a rare treat for him since Mr. Malfoy tended to be at the Ministry most of the time and his mother was always busy with her robe shop, though she'd never been too busy to scold them whenever she caught wind of their latest pranks.


Each day with Benjamin was more fun than the last but Roxanne couldn't help thinking that he was very sad. It was the downward swoop of his eyes and the occasional silence between them that made her wonder what really went on at Malfoy Manor, “Are you going on a date, beautiful girl?” her father asked slyly.


No, gross!” Roxanne spat, blushing.


That caused her father to roar with laughter and he seemed to find her disgusted look highly amusing before he looked around, apparently thinking Benjamin was near. He had grown used to seeing the pair of them together, “Speaking of little Malfoy, where is he today?” he asked after reaching into his robes and offering her a small lollipop.


Roxanne took it with a smile and unwrapped it gleefully while her father popped a bit of chocolate into his mouth. With the shop so busy, she could only feel a bit of sympathy for Verity and could hear her cursing fluently near the cash register, “Ben told me that Mr. Malfoy was taking them all to the Wizard circus today but he's going to come over and tell me about it,” she explained with a pout. “Its boring without him.”


Why don't you go find Fred and Teddy, beautiful girl?” her father proposed with a fond smile, amused by the disgruntled look on her face. Roxanne had been more than thrilled to see Teddy Lupin earlier today when he had been dropped off by his imposing grandmother but he'd run off with Perce shortly afterward. “I'm sure they're around here somewhere.”


Roxanne frowned slightly and kicked moodily at the maroon carpet with the tip of her trainers, they wouldn't want her tagging along. “They won't let me play with them, they think I'm too much of a baby.” She mumbled around her lollipop.


A sympathetic smile came across her father's features it was apparent that he may have suffered from the same thing growing up. “Don't listen to those two, they don't know what they're talking about. You're not a baby, beautiful girl,” her father comforted even as he bent to kiss her cheek gently. “Little Malfoy seems to like you just fine,” he teased.


Roxanne found herself grinning happily and allowed them to seep into her skin as she devoured the last of her lollipop. Benjamin could be a little grumpy but he was always really nice to her and she never felt like a little kid with him, “He's my best friend and super nice, Daddy. I wish I could get everyone else to like him too,”


There was a brief, thoughtful silence from her father at the words and he seemed unable to ignore the frown on her face. Roxanne knew that she could count on him for nearly anything, he was the love of her life, “Your lovely mum and I have been thinking that we might ask little Malfoy's parents for permission to bring him round the Burrow this weekend.”


“Really, Daddy?” Roxanne cried in astonishment.


Her father's eyes warmed at the sight of her immediate delight and he adopted a firm tone that she rarely ever heard. It was obvious that he and her mother had concerns about the idea of taking Benjamin to the Burrow, “We've just been thinking about it, Roxie so don't get too attached to the idea until we're sure its okay.”


Roxanne nodded but she barely heard him as she instantly became engrossed in the idea of telling Benjamin the great news. He had become intensely fascinated with her tales of the Burrow and she knew that if he was able to spend more time with her family that they would grow to like him just as much as she did. “Of course its okay!” she cried with a defensive frown.


I'm not sure if his parents are going to feel the same way and I can't really blame them, they have a rougher time than most people.” Her father replied with a weary smile as he watched her doing a victory dance. “Sadly, people aren't as kind or as accepting as you are beautiful girl,” he complimented with a sad look, her glee evaporating.


The Malfoy's seemed to be under such cruel scrutiny and Roxanne had already seen the way people in Diagon Alley tended to look at Benjamin. It was as if they expected him to be some sort of monster and she couldn't imagine what that had to be like for him or how painful it was for both of his parents to see their son being mistreated just because of his last name.


Roxanne frowned and placed her hands on her hips to appear a lot more serious and grown up to make her point. The sight seemed to turn her father into a puddle of goo but he regarded her with a very serious expression, “If Ben can come to the Burrow with us, I'll make everyone understand that it doesn't matter—he's going to be my best friend forever,”


Before her father could make some sort of reply at the bold declaration, Verity's sharp voice seemed to explode over the array of pops, bangs and raucous laughter. “MR. WEASLEY!” she screamed shrilly and they turned to see that she was being overwhelmed by raving customers, boxes and shrieking merchandise being thrust at her from every direction.


What was that, Verity? I'm afraid I'm hard of hearing!” her father shouted back merrily, cupping his ear. Roxanne laughed as he pretended to cradle his lower back with his free hand, looking pained, “I'm past my prime you know!” several customers laughed but Verity shot him a vicious glare that reminded her of a hag.


The door to the shop opened with an almost ear splitting wail just then and Roxanne turned curiously as Perce and Teddy Lupin strolled in. They were looking extremely smug and pleased, their clothes covered in dirt, “Hey, Uncle George!” Teddy called with a grin, his arm tossed around her brother's shoulders.


Roxanne saw that Perce was avoiding her eyes and appeared a little uncomfortable, his shoulders slumped. Their father seemed to notice the subtle unease coming from his son as well but he managed not to show it as he gave them a warm greeting, his eyes roaming over Teddy for a minute longer than necessary, “Welcome back! Make sure you two clean up before Angie comes home,” he warned.


Perce gave a weak smile but Teddy merely shrugged unconcernedly at the thought of being fussed at by their mother once she came back from work. Roxanne couldn't wait to ask her about bringing Benjamin to the Burrow and she smiled up at her father as he placed his hand on her shoulder, “We'll continue our conversation later, beautiful girl, okay?”


Okay,” Roxanne said happily. He bent and kissed her temple before giving the boys one last look before wandering over to the cash register to give Verity a hand, pretending to hobble, “where were you two all day?” she asked curiously once she'd walked over to the two boys.


The pair exchanged a secretive look that was filled with all the interesting and miraculous things older children experimented with. Teddy gave her a careless wink but it wasn't enough for Roxanne to ignore the bruise on his jaw or the way Perce was shooting him wary glances, “We weren't up to anything much, little sis. Just taking out the trash,” he added with a sly grin.


What do you mean?” Roxanne asked warily.


Perce shifted uneasily. “Its nothing, he's just being a prat.”


Now, now,” Teddy laughed, the sound reminding her of a bark. He was thirteen, tall and a bit skinny, the messy strands of his hair a deep shade of blue, “I'm being pretty awesome right now!”


Roxanne raised her brows a little as something unpleasant went down her spine and she stared up at the older boy keenly. Teddy had always been a bit of a bully towards some of her other cousins and even though she had always thought of him as another brother, some part of her could understand why Victoire disliked him.


As nice as he could be, his mood could slip into nastiness easily. There was something in that smug smile that was making her uncomfortable, “What happened to your jaw, Teddy?” Roxanne asked worriedly, looking at her brother immediately to see if he were hurt as well. “Are you okay, Perce?”


Aside from a simmering pool of shame in his brown eyes and what might have been the beginnings of a swollen lip, Perce appeared unharmed. But there was obviously something wrong and Roxanne couldn't understand what they could have done or why Teddy was grinning so much, “Its nothing, Roxie.” Her brother said firmly, avoiding her hug.


But your lip...” Roxanne complained in growing concern as she darted a glance at Teddy's bruised jaw. It was obvious that they had gotten into some sort of fight and she wondered if it were with the normal bullies in Diagon Alley, “I can get some dittany for you.”


Perce wasn't able to meet her eyes and when he spoke, his tone was so gruff that she barely recognized him. “I'm all right, Roxie!” he snapped, startling her. Roxanne flinched and felt her lower lip trembling, he had never looked like this before, “just...go upstairs or something and play.”


Roxanne sniffled a little and pushed Teddy's consoling hand away. They were always treating her like a baby and as she tried to muster in the tears that were threatening to fall, the shop door opened and a tall man entered, looking mutinous, “H..hello Mr. Malfoy,” she croaked, recognizing him instantly.


Draco Malfoy was dressed surprisingly simple in dark blue robes, locks of his silver-blonde hair loose around his forehead. His piercing grey eyes were narrowed into slits and he was reeking such rage that Roxanne quivered, “Hello, Roxanne.” He replied stiffly, forcing a smile.


Perce's face paled drastically at the sight of the man and he seemed to shrink several inches when Mr. Malfoy flicked his gaze to him. Roxanne had never seen him so angry and knew that something was seriously wrong for him to be here like this, “Shit,” Teddy muttered furiously under his breath.


I'm sorry to come in at such a busy time but are either of your parents home? I'd like to speak with them privately for a minute,” Mr. Malfoy said politely as he glanced between Roxanne and her brother, his tone like ice. “Would that be all right?” he asked more gently.


Roxanne managed to find her voice and gave a curt nod. “My Dad is up at the register, I can go get him for you if you want,” she offered helpfully, though Mr. Malfoy's sudden arrival in the shop was already causing a few customers to gawp and stare, so it was probably unnecessary.


Mr. Malfoy gave her a swift smile and Teddy scowled with fierce dislike as he crossed his arms over his chest. Perce was trembling like a leaf by the time Roxanne heard their father approaching, his welcoming smile quickly fading at the look on the other man's face, “I have a feeling you're carrying bad news, Malfoy.” He said without preamble, his tone heavy.


I'm afraid so,” Mr. Malfoy replied with a cool tone that should have iced over an entire city. Roxanne thought that the energy wafting from him could have made the most vicious demon slither back to the underworld and she watched her father's face become grim, “I promise that my wife and I won't take up too much of your time.”


Roxanne's worry increased at the cryptic words and she peeked tentatively over Mr. Malfoy's arm to see Mrs. Malfoy and Benjamin entering. The delight that she would have taken at seeing him again was replaced by shock at the state of his battered face and the paleness to his mother's cheeks, “Its all right, darling.” Mrs. Malfoy soothed to her son as he pressed a cool cloth to his bleeding nose.


Benjamin's right eye was nearly swollen shut and was a shade of purple that made Roxanne think of bruised plums. The sight made her chest ache and for a few seconds she actually thought that she might be sick, “B-Ben, what happened to your face?” she cried weakly, instantly worried, “are you okay?”


Mrs. Malfoy looked stricken and her kind face took on a look of worry and regret that she never would have thought possible. A tendril of her black hair had come loose from its simple bun and her white robes looked rumpled, “Draco,” she whispered crisply to her husband, who seemed to have become distracted with rage. “This isn't the sort of conversation that children need to hear.”


Mr. Malfoy stiffened slightly and he regarded his wife thoughtfully for a moment before he glanced at the three of them, his eyes like ice. Perce quivered guiltily from the look but Teddy merely stared back at him with enough hatred to drown them in, “You're right, of course. Mr. Weasley, is there somewhere we can talk privately?” he asked her father, his tone polite.


We can all talk in my office Malfoy. I can close up the shop and send everyone out before they start thinking the entire world is ending,” her father replied as his brown eyes settled on Benjamin's bruised and bloody face. A look of genuine sympathy crossed his features, “I understand why you're here and I hate that this happened to your son,”


The Malfoy's seemed to flinch a bit at the words but were unable to sense any mockery or scorn in them. Mrs. Malfoy's lips trembled and she ran her hand comfortingly down Benjamin's arm while her husband merely nodded, looking unforgiving, “We would have preferred to have come after hours but weren't sure if we would be able to reach you and of course, the severity of the situation—”


Roxanne was trembling, unable to stay silent anymore. “Is Ben going to be okay?”


Benjamin seemed unable to help himself from moving towards her before his mother held him back, his bloody nose appearing swollen. For a moment it seemed as if the entire world were pushing them apart before he managed to look away, his gaze hardening into stone the moment he glanced at her brother and Teddy.


Fred, take your sister upstairs.” Their father suddenly commanded, his eyes darkened with a sort of sadness that she didn't understand. When Roxanne looked up at him in alarm, she was startled to see that he was barely able to control his own fury, the customers in the shop beginning to whisper as they took in the scene, “now.”


Perce seemed to wither on the spot at the look he was given and he quickly took Roxanne's arm in a gentle grip. “Come on, Roxie. We'll go up and play Exploding Snap and I'll tell you about the new broomsticks I saw in Quality Quidditch Supplies,” he offered as she let out a protest.


But I want to see if Ben is okay!” Roxanne whined, frowning. When she sent their father a pleading look, he shook his head firmly and she nearly burst into tears, not wanting to be away from Benjamin when he was obviously in pain. “But Daddy...”


“No, Roxanne. Go upstairs with your brother and we'll talk later, I don't want to hear anything else about it,” their father said sharply and Roxanne flinched. Although their parents spoiled them and they were disciplined, it was very rare for him to be harsh and she knew that no amount of crying or whining was going to sway him.


The thought made the situation all the more precarious as her brother began to usher her away from her friend, Benjamin's good eye averted. Teddy, sensing that it wouldn't be wise to stay near the adults began making an attempt to follow, “I don't think so, Teddy.” Her father snapped, reaching out to snag his arm. “You're staying right where I can see you,”


W-what for?” Teddy demanded furiously, shaking loose.


Mr. Malfoy's grey eyes narrowed on him as if he would very much like to take him somewhere and spank him senseless. Mrs. Malfoy was too busy taking the cool cloth from Benjamin's bleeding nose and shushing his whimpers of pain to notice, “You know exactly why,” the man said, his tone like a level of Hell.


Teddy flushed an ugly sort of red and stared up at the man as if he would rather eat dirt than offer up any form of an apology. Roxanne tried to piece together what had happened but was unable to really understand, some part of her not wanting to,“What did Teddy do to Ben, Perce?” she asked her brother worriedly as they walked farther away.


Nothing, Roxie, okay?” Perce snapped nervously, practically dragging her.


Roxanne dug her heels into the carpet until he was forced to stop and clutched his arm tightly, hating that he was making her so sad. She loved her brother more than anything and she refused to believe that he was anything less than perfect, “No, tell me what happened!”


Perce's brown skin flushed the same ugly shade of red and he had a hard time really looking at her. After taking in her face, he finally said, “We were just coming out of Quality Quidditch Supplies, Teddy was mad at his Gran for not giving him enough spending money okay? Malfoy was walking by, he looked really happy and I dunno...Teddy just snapped and started picking on him.”


Why?” Roxanne asked angrily. “Ben didn't do anything to him!”


A defensive look came across her brother's face and he glared at her a little, as if he were surprised that she wasn't sympathetic for Teddy. Roxanne frowned, feeling sick, “It got out of hand real quick. I told Malfoy to stop playing with you..all you do is talk to him now and he said something back and Teddy just...wouldn't stop hitting him.”


Roxanne's face paled, horrified. “Y-you didn't try to stop him, Perce?”


Of course I did! I mean, I sort of did! Malfoy hit me and Teddy was really gone so I had to drag him away. Malfoy ran off to tell his mum but we didn't think that they would come over...I didn't...” Perce looked just as sick as she did just then and she wasn't certain from what. “I'm sorry, Roxie.”


The words seemed to be torn from an unpleasant place in his heart and Roxanne stared up at him as if she couldn't be sure that she'd heard correctly. Benjamin had told her that they were bullies but she hadn't wanted to believe that it was true, “...I-I hate Teddy! You always do whatever he says, I'm never going to forgive you!” she suddenly cried, shoving him away.


Perce flinched and although Verity had managed to distract the customers at the register, her voice seemed to have carried. Dozens of eyes were suddenly staring at them but Roxanne barely noticed, she had never been so upset, “That...that's not true, Roxie! You have to forgive me, I'm your brother!”


Roxanne sniffled and turned her back on him until she was running towards the back of the shop, intent on going up to the flat alone. It was one thing for her brother to always follow Teddy's lead but it was almost as bad for the older boy not to look sorry, she would never forget the smug look that had been on his face...


“Teddy!” Perce's disbelieving voice jerked Roxanne out of that painful memory like a bolt of lightning and she watched as her brother rushed up with a wide grin. Georgia and Leanne Wood were trailing after him with equal looks of surprise, although the latter appeared quite ill. “What are you doing here, git?!” he asked, looking delighted.


Roxanne couldn't quite erase the moment of anger between them and instead, focused her attention on Georgia and Leanne. The twins were both tall, willowy and identical down to the last freckle and it had taken a long time for her to tell the difference between them but thought that there shouldn't be much confusion now when Leanne's brown hair was wavy and long, contrasting with Georgia's short, dyed blonde hair.


“This is just what the world needs,” Georgia muttered as she shook her head, displeased to see Teddy, “I thought we were free of you.” Roxanne smirked a little as she watched a look of pure distaste go across Teddy's features at the sight of her, he had dated one of her friends the previous year until before growing bored and moving on.


“Now, now,” Leanne interjected laughingly, patting her sister on the back.


Perce shot them an exasperated look and briefly reached out to tug on her hair before focusing on Teddy once more, his grin infectious. Roxanne had a feeling that he had heard far more than he'd wanted to about how Georgia felt about Teddy, “What are you doing here, prat? I thought I recognized that horrible shade of blue,”


Roxanne watched as Teddy seemed to toss aside his earlier frustration with her and grin at her brother, the sparkle back in his brown eyes. Georgia gagged, “I couldn't stay away from you, Freddie, no one cuddles the way you do,” he replied boldly as Perce roared with laughter and enveloped him in a tight hug, squealing and giggling.


The two friends hadn't seen one another in a few months but it was obvious that it would take far more than that to strain their relationship. Roxanne thought that they appeared more like brothers just then than they ever had before, Teddy seemed to instantly relax and his smile became wider and much more genuine, “Merlin, why don't the two of you just sneak away together?” Leanne Wood asked dryly.


Roxanne couldn't help but feel a bit embarrassed as she watched the pair of them pretending to swoon, both talking at least a mile a minute. Perce was currently offering his soul while Teddy kept bumping up the price, “Jealous?” she asked in amusement, giving her brother's girlfriend a pitying look as she and her sister continued to watch the boys.


Leanne wore her Gryffindor robes and uniform in sloppy folds and tucks, the long locks of her wavy brown hair hanging down her back. Both sisters were repeating their seventh year after failing their NEWTs but it was impossible to think so when she appeared so careless and spirited, “Not really, Freddie always comes back to me,” the girl replied, turning her grey eyes on her.


“But goes right back to Teddy when you two fight,” Georgia replied with a sorrowful shake of her head, her eyes on her brother. There was something odd in her expression as she stared at Perce, her eyes holding enough bitterness to suffocate a small city, “Ted has a lot of nerve showing up here causing drama.”


Roxanne didn't want to point out the fact that Teddy probably hadn't come back to Hogwarts to remind her of their doomed friendship but remained quiet. It seemed a bit silly to say when she was having such a difficult time with Benjamin, “Oh, give it a rest, George.” Leanne snapped at her twin, thumping her. “I swear, its been a whole year and its not like you two were all that close to begin with before he dated your friend,”


“Don't call me George and who cares about that?” Georgia snapped back as she rubbed the spot her sister had thumped. Roxanne thought that it was interesting that the two of them were named after her father and Uncle Lee but knew that it was a subject that either made them laugh or, like now, annoyed them, “unlike you I believe in the power of true love and I refuse to let it go...”


Leanne rolled her eyes heavenward and Roxanne stared at the lovesick expression on Georgia's face in growing amusement. Oliver and Katie Wood were very good friends with her parents and she had seen her drown hopelessly in romance or revenge more than once, “God, kill me.”


Georgia shot her sister a glare and appeared quite wounded that she hadn't noticed her turmoil. Roxanne gave her what she hoped was a sympathetic look before turning to the boys and interrupting what sounded like plans for a honeymoon in Fiji, “So what are you doing here, Teddy? Are you ever going to say?” she asked loudly.


The bustle of Hogwarts students and ghosts seemed to have thinned somewhat and Roxanne knew that they didn't have much time to continue socializing. Lucy had already wandered into the Great Hall with her boyfriend apparently, since she hadn't seen a glimpse of her again and she had no idea where Dom-Dom had gone, “I'm a surprise guest tonight, little sis,” Teddy replied evasively, giving a shrug.


“Surprise guest for what?” Leanne demanded, instantly annoyed. She placed a hand on her hip and somehow managed to flip her hair at the same time in a way that would have broken a normal mortal's neck, “our dad and Uncle Lee have been keeping this big Quidditch thing such a secret all summer, do you have something to do with that?” she asked doubtfully.


Teddy ignored the blatant note of sarcasm in the girl's voice and draped a casual arm across Perce's shoulders. They were nearly the same height but he had one slight inch over her brother, “This may come as a surprise Lee, but I may or may not know something about that Quidditch thing.” He jeered.


Georgia rolled her eyes, though she had adopted a rather sassy tilt of her head that showcased a good stretch of her neck. Roxanne almost vomited at the lovelorn look in her eyes, “Do you or not? Why didn't you just send an owl that you were going to be here?” she asked annoyingly, as if he had been supposed to send her a naughty letter.


“I would have but where's the fun in that?” Teddy asked with an impish grin, his ice blue hair reminding Roxanne of some supernatural beast. In another life, she was certain that he had been king of the underworld, “McGonagall is going to explain everything before the Feast and I'm not even allowed to say much more, sorry to douse your curiosity.”


Leanne and Roxanne exchanged an irritable look while Perce gave his friend a betrayed glare as he stepped away, frowning. “Spill it, Teddy. Mum and Dad have been hinting at something major for the longest and she told us that a lot of things are going to be different this year, what'd she mean?” he demanded, his impatience spreading.


Teddy gave a loud bark of a laugh that made the hairs on the back of Roxanne's neck stand up in reluctant excitement. There was a gleam of knowledge in his eyes that he couldn't quite push back, “Look, I really can't say! We haven't seen each other in months Freddie, is arguing really what you want from me right now?” he asked, his voice a near growl.


“I want a lot of things from you Teddy but we can talk about how you're going to strip for me later.” Perce replied casually, as if this were the sort of thing that he didn't mind anyone else overhearing. Roxanne saw Leanne quirk her brows curiously, as if she had no real objections, “what's going on?”


Roxanne watched as an arrogant smirk teased the corners of Teddy's mouth and she couldn't help but think that he was enjoying this. He had always loved being the center of attention, “Can we at least get into the Great Hall? I don't want McGonagall or Zabini on my ass,” Leanne said rudely, snapping her fingers.


The last thing that any of them needed was to have Professor Zabini swoop down upon them, detentions at the ready. Roxanne snickered a little at the looks of pure horror the others got at the sound of his name and Teddy made the sign of the cross while Perce let out a small prayer, “You know, he's not that bad,” she defended around a laugh.


“He's a vampire, little sis and he's after our tender young flesh.” Teddy retorted seriously and Perce burst out laughing. Leanne rolled her eyes, “it doesn't help that he never eats and drenches himself in human blood,”


Roxanne shot him an exasperated look even though she was trying very hard not to burst out laughing herself. Zabini was a tad overbearing but he had never given her a reason to think that he was insane, just a bit weird, “Would you stop? He is not that bad! I honestly think he just likes messing with people sometimes, he has an odd sense of humor,”


Georgia reached out and pinched her cheek playfully. “Of course you would say something like that Roxie-Woxie, when you're like a Potions genius,” Roxanne swatted at her, annoyed but pleased that she seemed to think so. Teddy wrinkled his nose, “but I always figured that if Zabini wasn't so mean, he'd be awfully hunky.”


Roxanne had never thought of Zabini as handsome but there was a certain appeal about him, like rolling around naked in a beehive. “Maybe the vampire will give you the time of day, George and make all of your wildest dreams come true,” Teddy drawled meanly as they all wandered into the cavernous Great Hall, hundreds of conversations throbbing in the air. “Since no one else will.”


Georgia flushed an ugly red at the remark. “Teddy, you are such an ass,”


“You love it,” Teddy replied in an offhand manner, Perce heaving a weary sigh.


Leanne frowned in annoyance and kicked him sharply in the leg, causing him to curse and glower at her furiously. Roxanne roared with laughter, “Don't talk down to my sister, okay? I don't know what your issue is Teddy but if you cleaned up your bullshit and actually acted like a human being, a real woman would want you.” She snarled threateningly.


Teddy's blue brows rose up in both indignation and surprise, Roxanne getting the distinct feeling that he was impressed. Perce was looking between them warily and she knew that he would jump in the middle of a fight in a heartbeat but it was unclear who he would be defending, “Marry this girl, Freddie. There's always something so nice about having a woman that speaks her mind, even if no one else gives a shit about what she has to say,” he sneered.


Perce's face hardened and he raised his hand to stall Leanne as she took a step forward, her wand at the ready. Roxanne hadn't been aware that she had made a sound but noticed the warning look Georgia shot her way, “Teddy, knock it off, all right? I've told you more than once that people don't appreciate your finely honed skills of being an asshole,” he said crisply to his friend.


Roxanne felt sharp bites of irritation and anger going through her system as she watched Teddy open his mouth, consider her brother's words and shut it. He shot Leanne and Georgia a mocking smile that could have put a demon to shame, “I suppose he's right, its not like we don't know each other. I could have come up with something a lot worse to say to make you all feel special,”


Leanne's face was a mask of fury and she shot Perce a look that should have flayed him alive on the spot. Roxanne saw a flutter of panic go across her brother's face and it was apparent that he had seen this expression more than once, “Why are you always sticking up for him? I am seriously sick of it, Fred,”


“He's my best friend, we've grown up together. All of us,” Perce defended with just the right amount of anger and confusion. The awkwardness of the moment caused Roxanne to shift uncomfortably, “can we talk about this later, Lee?” he asked, glancing at her.


A sour look twisted Leanne's face and she scoffed a little before motioning for Georgia to follow, her sister too furious to meet Teddy's innocent gaze. “I think you need to remind yourself of who you're dating sometimes, Fred, this shit is getting so old. I don't see why you would want to be friends with someone that always causes trouble,” she said bitingly, her irritation palpable.


“Leanne, its not like that—” Perce started, pained.


Save it, okay?” Leanne snarled furiously before stomping off, her long, wavy brown hair seeming to stand on end. Georgia gave her brother a compassionate look that seemed to linger for a bit too long before hurriedly rushing off to keep up with her sister's long strides as she headed to the Gryffindor table.


Perce let out a vicious curse and ran a hand through his brown hair as if he were willing himself not to strangle Teddy, who looked unaffected by the exchange. Roxanne couldn't help but wonder if anything ever got underneath his skin, “Look what you've done now, Teddy. I'm going to have to fix things with Leanne tonight or she might not talk to me for a week,” he snapped furiously.


Teddy rolled his brown eyes heavenward as if he were having trouble finding any empathy and Roxanne suspected that he had none. “Be thankful, I don't know how you've lasted this long with her.” He said dryly and Perce's eyes narrowed with so much anger that she felt a small bite of fear, “might want to go patch things up with her now before she gets it in her head that we're getting married.”


“Shut the fuck up Teddy,” Perce snarled angrily as he stared at him in disbelief, his mouth nothing but a thin line. It was obvious that he wanted to say more but he glanced at Roxanne thoughtfully before thinking better on it and giving her a warning look when she opened her mouth. “Go sit down at the Hufflepuff table, okay, Roxie?”


Teddy heaved a weary sigh and looked as if he might have regretted his words but made no attempt to apologize. Roxanne gave a short nod to her brother even though she wanted to have a few words with his best friend herself, “Okay, Perce. Everything with Leanne will be just fine, she loves you.” She assured, giving a weak smile.


Perce's expression hardened slightly but he gave her a grateful nod before he walked off, not even bothering to give Teddy a second glance. “That was sweet of you to say, little sis but I don't think her feelings for him are that strong. Now, Georgia on the other hand...” the blue-haired boy murmured, his tone reeking of mock passion.


“Teddy, would you stop?” Roxanne asked wearily as she tossed his words away, knowing that he was trying to be cruel. She had no idea why he always tried to do this and wondered what else had happened to him in the past few months, some of his comments had been beyond anything that he would have said before. “Its like you're just trying to get into a fight with everyone. Why?”


A rueful smirk played across Teddy's face and he stared down at her with a fond look in his eyes before reaching out to tap the crown of roses on her head. Roxanne reached up to hold them in place, frowning, “I've never liked Leanne, I don't think she's good enough for your brother and her sister doesn't have any real idea of what courage is. The fact that they're both in Gryffindor bugs me,”


You were in Gryffindor, Teddy.” Roxanne found herself pointing out sourly as she crossed her arms, feeling as if there would be nothing that might get through to the cynicism etched around his soul. It had always been there and she felt a spark of sympathy, even though he didn't deserve it, “bravery is different for everyone.”


Teddy considered the words for a moment or two and smiled at her as if he found something reluctantly accepting. Tension left his shoulders, “Has anyone ever told you that you're a lot more mature than you act, little sis?” he asked lightly and when she merely stared at him, knowing that most of her cousins found her childish, his eyes warmed. “I never would have thought of that.”


Roxanne was unable not to feel slightly flattered by the words and wondered if he were being honest or manipulating her with charm. It was difficult to tell, “Teddy, you're not a bad guy, just a flawed one.” His blue brows rose in offense and she hastily added, “I mean, that's not different from any other person in the world, stop acting like you're so awful.”


A small silence fell between them and she was unsure if he would answer but watched as he shot her another warm, fond smile. Although Roxanne knew that she was being ridiculous, she somehow knew that Benjamin's eyes were running over her but refused to acknowledge the sensation, “I can tell you're super pissed off at me but you're still standing here like you're willing to listen to me bitch.” Teddy eventually said, his tone wry.


“Well, you've pissed everyone off but I don't think the best thing for me to do is to just stomp away.” Roxanne found herself saying, surprised by how earnest the words seemed to be, her mind jumping back to all the occasions that she had allowed her fights with Benjamin to get the best of her. “I've had enough of that sort of thing.”


Teddy gave a low chuckle and she saw a naughty gleam entering his eyes and immediately became exasperated. Roxanne wasn't certain if he could ever be serious, “I swear, little sis, sometimes I wish we weren't related,”


Roxanne reeled away at the words and couldn't help but raise her upper lip in disgust, which only caused him to roar with laughter. A small horde of Hogwarts students entered the Great Hall but they hardly paid them a glance as they talked amongst each other, the Fat Friar giving her a wave as he drifted over their heads, “We're not technically related, Teddy.” She reminded dryly.


“But it feels like it sometimes, I can't look at you as anything other than a sister.” Teddy replied honestly, his tone a bit regretful. Roxanne was surprised by the words even though she felt the same, “I know I'm a prat but the girl I am interested in is the only person that doesn't expect anything more from me and you reminded me of her just now,” he said, his tone wistful.


There had been a bit of tenderness in the words that Roxanne hadn't expected to ever hear from him and she stared in amazement. Smiling, she said, “You know, you can be really wonderful when you're not trying to get other people to think otherwise,” she ended pointedly, wondering just who this girl was that he obviously found himself infatuated with.


Teddy's eyes flickered and she wasn't certain what she saw there before he gave a twist of a smile. Roxanne heaved a weary sigh as more students wandered into the Great Hall, the flash of their dark robes reminding her of India ink as she briefly caught a glimpse of Dom-Dom walking towards the Ravenclaw table with a tall, red-haired boy, her eyes shining.


Although she had teased her cousin earlier, it was apparent that the friend that she'd had over the summer wasn't quite just a friend. They weren't physically touching but Roxanne could somehow tell that their relationship went beyond what Dom-Dom had tried to deny earlier, the affection between them was very clear and she felt her envy spike.


But it wasn't as if she and Benjamin had ever been...“So you talked to Dom-Dom lately, little sis?” Teddy interrupted carefully, having followed her eyes. There was something in his expression that she could have mistaken as jealousy but it was too possessive, too hot and Roxanne felt the energy around them crackling with ferocity. “Have you or not?” he asked impatiently.


Roxanne couldn't help but think that it was a strange question, considering that Dom-Dom had never liked him. He had been the cause of a very nasty prank with pigs when she had been a little girl,“Our Dom-Dom?” she asked, wary and distracted.


Headmistress McGonagall and most of the staff were already getting seated as thousands of candles gave the Hall a haunted but beautiful glow and she suddenly couldn't help glancing towards the Slytherin table, knowing that it was ridiculous to want just one glimpse of Benjamin Malfoy after everything that—


Teddy waved a hand in front of her face and she jerked in annoyance to have been caught daydreaming again. There was an amused smile on his face but she saw a nasty glimmer in his brown eyes, her cheeks turning pink with both anger at herself and his blatant disapproval, “Yes, our Dom-Dom, Roxie.” He paused, adding, “tall, blonde, smart mouth?” he emphasized, grinning.


Roxanne would never have used that particular word to describe Dom-Dom but then thought back to how abrupt she had been on the platform. Apparently Teddy Lupin wasn't the only one who had changed over the summer but even still, she didn't know why he would be interested in her cousin when he'd never cared before, “What about her, Teddy?”


“Have you talked to her?” Teddy pressed impatiently, frowning.


“Yeah...but not that much,” Roxanne replied suspiciously.


Teddy pursed his lips and adopted a careless smile that made her wonder just what he was trying to hide from her. There were a million secrets hovering in his eyes, “Has she...said anything about me lately?” he asked curiously, as if he were hoping that his name had been brought up in endless conversation and Roxanne stared up at him as if he had lost his mind.


But before she could think of a suitable response, Victoire's voice suddenly came out of nowhere, as frosty as a snowstorm. “What the hell are you doing here?” Roxanne flinched and spotted her older cousin sauntering importantly into the Great Hall, her long mane of red-gold hair trailing in a lovely pattern down her back.


Perfect,” Roxanne groaned.


“Victoire,” Teddy said coldly.


A look of deepest loathing was on Victoire's face as she walked over to them, her blue eyes narrowed hatefully. It was obvious that the sight of Teddy Lupin was far too unpleasant for her to ignore and Roxanne shot her a pleading look, “Teddy,” she replied with icy formality, running a contemptuous eye over him. “Doing well?”


Teddy's upper lip curled and he opened his mouth to make some sort of scathing retort but Roxanne intervened, her eyes narrowed on her cousin. “Toire, no one is in the mood for the two of you to start clawing at each other, all right? Back off.” Victoire's blue eyes flicked to her briefly before settling on Teddy again, “I mean it.”


Victoire tilted her head prettily as if she were considering the words, a petulant little pout on her pretty pink lips. Roxanne frowned but knew that she would hardly make a fool of herself in front of most of the population of Hogwarts, “I'm not going to do anything to Teddy, Roxie-Woxie. Relax,” her cousin sneered, batting her lashes up at the older boy as she said it.


“Considering that you've done just about everything with half the blokes here, I'll count myself lucky.” Teddy retorted with a nasty little gleam while Roxanne tried not to allow her own temper to spark. Victoire shot him a vicious glare, her blue eyes narrowed with such ferocity that it made the air nearly freeze over, “really, really lucky.”


It was impossible not to remember how deeply the two of them had always hated one another just now. Roxanne couldn't understand what had happened between them but she despised being in the middle of it, “Jealous, Teddy?” Victoire asked sweetly and it was obvious that she found that to be simply too delicious.


Teddy's upper lip curled at the question and Roxanne glanced between them warily, noticing that his entire body had gone stiff. There were unspoken words hovering in the air and she sensed that their hatred of one another was extremely complicated, “Don't you have a small child to devour?” the blue-haired boy drawled menacingly.


“Bite me, Teddy.” Victoire purred.


“How hard?” Teddy hissed back, his brown eyes burning into her face.


Victoire's brow quirked but she didn't reply and Roxanne watched in relief as she turned and walked away towards the Gryffindor table. If she hadn't known any better, she could have sworn that she'd put an extra sway in her hips, “Uhm, I'm going to take a seat before things get any worse. I'll see you later, Teddy,” Roxanne replied wearily, giving his arm a rough pat as she went.


“Yeah, I'll see you, little sis.” Teddy replied absently as he gazed after Victoire with pure loathing, his brown eyes far away. There was a hollow sort of disgust in his voice when he answered her, “hopefully I won't be seeing another succubus for a while,” she thought she heard him mutter.


As Roxanne managed to find a decent seat at the Hufflepuff table, she couldn't help but think that her fifth year at Hogwarts was starting out to be amazingly difficult. There were going to be more than a few challenges but none of it seemed to compare to how her heart continued to dwell on a boy and time that had painfully passed her by.


Chapter 17: The Ultimate Quidditch Royale
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A/N: Sorry that it took me so long everyone! I hope you enjoy this chapter and are able to forgive me!

Chapter 17
The Ultimate Quidditch Royale

A thousand candles danced and flickered, bathing the Great Hall in an almost unearthly glow as Roxanne sat at the Hufflepuff table, taking in her surroundings with a nostalgic smile. Even though the thought of facing her OWL year made her body go stiff with nerves, she couldn't ignore the fact that there was something truly wonderful about being in the familiar confines of Hogwarts. The cavernous Hall seemed to be as magnificent as ever, the gold plates and goblets freshly polished like the most precious jewel, the sight causing Roxanne to relax all the more as she waited for the Sorting to begin, her earlier tension melting away.

The turbulent encounter with Benjamin Malfoy had nearly faded from her bones but the pounding of her heart was as powerful as ever. Roxanne had caught only a brief glimpse of him as she had left Teddy Lupin behind, though it was obvious that he hadn't seen her as he'd situated himself between two imposing Slytherin boys. Benjamin had been an intimidating figure as he'd ignored the whispers and pointing from his peers, the cut of his robes hanging from his frame brilliantly, a loose lock of his black hair trailing along his forehead and giving him the appearance of a dark, enchanting prince.

Roxanne had tried to ignore him but it had been impossible as he'd seemed to capture her fixation even with so much distance between them. There had been a pensive look on his face then and it had been enough for his fellow housemates to contain their antagonism but she couldn't imagine how they would treat him once they were all in the comfort of the Slytherin common room. The Malfoy name was extremely infamous and she didn't know what sort of person Benjamin was now but she knew that he would never tolerate his father's name being dragged in the mud.

Although Benjamin had never told her what had transpired between the two of them over the past year, Roxanne sensed that he had seen a side of his father that he despised. The reason for their abrupt departure from the country had something to do with what he might have seen or heard and she wondered if she would ever stop caring...if the pain would ever fade away before it swallowed her whole. It was hard to let it all go, however when that tug and pull kept pushing them towards one another and she hoped that their story relationship would be resolved by the end of the year.

The entire situation still caused Roxanne's head to pound and she didn't think that she would ever truly understand what had really happened between them. Benjamin had pushed her away that morning that they had argued so terribly at Malfoy Manor but his actions since then had continued to confuse her even though she knew that she was partly to blame for some of their previous encounters. A blush heated her cheeks as she recalled what had nearly happened on the Express and she had to banish the memories of his mouth on hers abruptly, she would never allow it to happen again.

Benjamin didn't think that she was worthy enough to be with him, he thought of that entire morning as nothing but a mistake. Roxanne had been cruelly used as some sort of pawn to distract him from whatever pain was eating him up and she felt foolish for still wanting to know more about what it could be...even though he had made it more than obvious that he would never confide in someone like her. But if that were true, why did it seem to bother him so much that Adam Jordan was interested in dating her? Why had he even dared to become so jealous? And why, despite everything that he had said and done, had she been been happy about it?

Roxanne felt her heart twist and couldn't help but wonder why she was still so immature after everything that had happened. It had delighted her to see that Benjamin had been had even made her a bit too happy when she had torn him apart on the Express , intent on making him hurt as badly as she had. The unintentional plan had backfired of course when Benjamin's temper had gotten the better of both of them, his kisses holding more power over her than she ever wanted to feel again. Poison wasn't even an adequate word to describe what he did to her.

“You look like you've got a lot on your mind.” A curious voice whispered beside her and Roxanne jolted out of her thoughts almost painfully, suddenly aware of her surroundings once again. The Great Hall was buzzing with hundreds of eager, impatient voices and the orange flame from the floating candles above their heads were suddenly far too bright, “I have never seen anyone space out that well.” Karen McMillan continued with a teasing grin, her dark green eyes meeting her brown ones as she shifted to smile at her, reaching out to play with the crown of roses that Peeves had given her.

Roxanne flushed. “Sorry, I wasn't trying to.”

Karen waved away her explanation and twirled a lock of her black hair around her finger, the strand appearing to glow from the candlelight. Small and slender, she had always reminded Roxanne of a mischievous fairy but knew that her penchant for gossip hadn't exactly helped with her nosy reputation over the years, “Peeves spoiling you again, I see.” The girl teased while a delicate petal floated gently onto the table as if his name had conjured a round of fear, causing them to suppress a round of giggles. “I was going to ask you where you got this but you looked like you were far away.”

“I wasn't trying to space out on you, I was just thinking of some things that happened over the summer.” Roxanne explained with an apologetic shrug. The pink roses were giving off a sweet scent that made her curly hair turn into its own garden, though she worried about how long it would take to remove them by the time she went to bed. “My brother always pinches me whenever I space out like that, we used to fight about it all the time,” she said with an embarrassed laugh, it was something that Perce had always teased her about.

That caused Karen's face to brighten a little in amusement and she reached out to pinch her cheek gently, causing her to groan in mock agony. “I don't even think you noticed me sitting here the whole time you were in dreamland.” The girl pouted after releasing her and accepting a small bow that had a few other students around them snorting with laughter. Roxanne shrugged helplessly at her friend's disgruntled expression, “its a wonder you've made it to your fifth year but you're going to have to pay a lot of attention during OWLs or you'll fail.” Her friend warned gravely.

Roxanne shivered with revulsion at the thought of how strenuous the following few months would be and the amount of homework that she would have to finish. The fact that she had to juggle Quidditch practices and her Prefect duties caused her head to throb with a painful migraine, “How did you survive them, Karen? I hear that they're pretty horrible and you never get any free time for anything.” She said worriedly, thinking that she might not have enough time for her usual round of pranks and hoping that the girl would somehow be able to give her some advice since she had managed to scrape through them.

Karen's face paled slightly with some sort of distant memory and she could only imagine what horrors she had faced during OWLs. There were still NEWTs to complete next year and Roxanne had heard that those final exams were far worse, “To be honest, I'm lucky to have made it to sixth year—I was a complete mess during OWL week trying to study for all of my classes.” A brief look of horror went over her face. “By the time I finally got through all of them, I was surprised that I hadn't combusted! I even managed to get three Outstandings despite how much pressure I was under,” she said with a relieved expression, her face flushing with happiness.

Roxanne felt a thick lump rising in her throat and couldn't imagine how she would be able to get through the year without collapsing from the stress. Although her marks had always been good, she had never been a very spectacular student and knew that she would be using any spare time that she could find huddled in the library. It was a very sad fate when she would much rather be blowing up toilets with Peeves or practicing the latest techniques for the next Quidditch match, “I have to at least get decent marks in Potions and Transfiguration.” She replied, her voice holding a slight panic over how amusing Zabini would find her failure.

“Merlin, I was thankful that I made it through either of those exams in one piece. I was certain that I would botch everything, Potions was always my weakest class and Professor Chang always told me my Transfiguration could use a lot more work,” Karen said in a shameful whisper as Roxanne snickered. Her Aunt Hermione, who was nearly brilliant at almost everything, had always emphasized the importance of Transfiguration since it was necessary for a lot of jobs, “I did marginally better there than I did in Potions but got excellent marks in Divination and History of Magic, of all things.”

“I know that I'll fail History of Magic.” Roxanne admitted with a sour twist to her mouth, she had never been able to stay awake during Binn's insufferable lessons about interchangeable Goblin wars. It had always been one of her worst subjects and she doubted if she would be able to stand even the simplest question during the OWL exam this year, “I think Charms should be all right so long as I don't turn a teapot into a turtle instead of a tortoise,” she continued miserably, the blood draining from her face in slow degrees.

“I think its a left flick but I conjured a herd of rabbits during that exam.” Karen said with a broad grin, Charms being a difficult subject for her. Roxanne found herself snorting with laughter at the image that came to mind and how much trouble it must have been to get all of the rabbits collected, “Hagrid took most of them for pets and set some free in the Forbidden Forest but I think a few are still roaming around somewhere.” The girl commented with a mystified expression, her brow furrowed. “I swear I heard the Fat Friar talking about them being made into stew.”

Roxanne's jaw dropped slightly and she felt her stomach squirm unpleasantly at the thought and hoped that it wasn't true. There were plenty of stray cats lingering around the grounds or settling in odd places around the school and she hoped that the rabbits hadn't been added to their list of treats, “Let's try and avoid any sort of stew tonight.” She responded firmly while Karen appeared worried. “I'm not sure if I'll be able to make it through my OWLs without becoming a nervous wreck. My dad's marks were always really good but he didn't make any real effort and my mum will be disappointed if I don't try my best.

Karen gave a nod of understanding and patted her gently on the arm as if she were protecting her from some sort of horrible catastrophe. Roxanne bit back a smile, “You can try asking your older cousins for help—Molly is the really smart one right?” the girl asked hopefully and she nodded happily. OWLs wouldn't be nearly as bad if she would be able to talk to her best friend about them, “maybe she'll be okay with helping you study but in the meantime, you can relive all the happy times before your life was torn apart by the threat of heavy textbooks and mountainous piles of homework.” She teased playfully.

“You're so cruel,” Roxanne laughed.

“Speaking of, you must have had a way more exciting summer than me, Roxie.” Karen suddenly remarked with a maudlin sigh as her gaze drifted towards the staff table. There was a sadness in her green eyes that caused Roxanne's smile to fade somewhat and she wondered what could have happened in the past few months, it was unusual to see her so depressed after vacation. Whenever they returned, she would inform Roxanne of all the latest gossip and adventures that she had gotten into while they'd been away but something had obviously changed, “ever since my parents got divorced and married other people, its been so awkward.”

Roxanne followed her friend's saddened gaze until she found herself staring at Professor McMillan, who taught Ancient Runes and was Karen's father. He was a gleeful looking man with short brown hair and an infectious smile but she had heard that he had had quite the temper behind closed doors, “I'm really sorry to hear about your parents,” she said sincerely, even though the couple had been apart for almost five years. Karen hadn't been able to completely accept either of her parent's decision and was still having trouble adjusting, “were they arguing much?” she asked in a low whisper.

“No, not so much arguing. It was almost as if they weren't even willing to acknowledge each other, the only reason they saw each other at all was when my dad dropped me back at my mum's,” Karen explained with a slight frown and Roxanne couldn't imagine how the experience could have been for her. They had once been very close but her relationship with her father had gone rather forced since his new marriage, “I can see now that they just stayed together all those years because of me and that's the sad thing.” She said with a dispirited smile.

Roxanne gave her a sympathetic look and thought of the few moments in the past when she had worried about her own parents. As cheerful and happy as they could be on the outside, there had been more than a few times when their nightmares had nearly driven them apart and she was thankful that they had managed to save their marriage, though she knew that what they had seen during the War would never truly fade. Inexplicably, she couldn't help but think of Benjamin and wondered how his family was coping since his return but didn't think it was something he would ever relate.

When Benjamin had abruptly arrived in the alley of the joke shop that night, Roxanne had learned only a bit of what his family life must be like. Mrs. Malfoy was currently staying with her parents and his siblings while he and his father remained at Malfoy Manor, it had been obvious that the woman had had no intention of being anywhere near her husband at the time. Roxanne recalled uneasily that Benjamin had mentioned that whatever had caused Mr. Malfoy to flee with him to Italy had been horrible enough for his own wife to hold it against him even a year later and she wondered what had caused the rift between them.

“Maybe things will work out for the better, you never know.” Roxanne replied encouragingly to her friend, once again banishing anymore thoughts of the person she could never have. The Slytherin table might as well have been on the other side of the world but some part of her felt as if Benjamin were directly across from her, though she only encountered Adam Jordan's cheerful smile when she foolishly checked. After returning his grin awkwardly, she continued with a more sober expression, “your parents might find a way to work things out.”

“Yeah, I guess they might some day.” Karen replied with a stiff shrug, though there wasn't much hope in her eyes as she tore them away from her father. Roxanne searched around for a moment for any sign of Teddy Lupin at the staff table, he seemed to have been some sort of bad omen the instant he had stepped foot back in Hogwarts but she didn't see the flash of his gold toothed smile or his icy blue hair. Apparently, he had found another place to sit but she still couldn't understand what the mysterious Quidditch event that they'd heard of had to do with him. “I'd like them to get along again, at least.”

Roxanne placed a gentle hand on her arm that was briefly accepted with a soft smile that appeared more resentful of her family's fate than dismayed. Apparently she hadn't been the only one to go through a rocky summer and she sighed glumly, knowing that it probably couldn't compare to what Dom-Dom was going through at Shell Cottage. The fact that Victoire had been sent back to repeat her seventh year still surprised her and she had a feeling that Teddy Lupin's sudden interest in her sister didn't bode well either, “A lot has happened this summer to everyone, I guess.” She remarked, voicing her thoughts out loud.

Karen nodded slowly before reaching out and toying carelessly with the rim of a gold goblet, the action nearly causing it to topple forward. Hagrid still hadn't arrived with the batch of new first years and Roxanne wondered if there had been some sort of accident in the Black Lake again with one of the giant squid's babies. They had a bad habit of wanting to snatch the children from the boats and play volleyball with them, “I'm starving,” her friend whined piteously. “ was your summer Roxie? Meet up with any old friends?” the girl asked a little too lightly.

“What do you mean?” Roxanne asked warily.

Karen flashed her a coy smile that made her appear like an impish fairy queen and an uneasy blush worked its way into her cheeks. Roxanne suddenly felt as if she were underneath a magnifying glass and for several minutes she tried to ignore Adam Jordan's curious stare as he glanced between them, obviously sniffing for an opening in the conversation. “Don't give me that face, Roxie!” her friend cried with an outrageous pout, her earlier woes about her family completely irrelevant now. “Didn't anything exciting happen to you this summer?”

Roxanne saw the sly cast in her grin and rolled her eyes, knowing that she had probably heard about Benjamin's abrupt return to Hogwarts. As she had been easily carried away by their conversation, she hadn't noticed just how many people near them were currently watching her, their gazes curious and almost condemning. Benjamin had never been welcomed in their common room and despite allowing him in more than once, he had been regarded as an omen of death, “You don't have to look so sneaky!” she snapped annoyingly and Karen roared with laughter.

“Don't be so touchy!” Karen soothed with a chuckle as Roxanne avoided the eyes of a few of their housemates, who saw nothing at all peculiar with staring. The surprising news that Benjamin had returned would of course cause a flurry of outrageous gossip and she knew that because of their past friendship that many would assume that she had all the answers to the mystery. They couldn't have been more wrong, “I just heard from a few people who shall not be named that they saw you and Malfoy together earlier, looking extra cozy.” The girl drawled lazily.

“We weren't—”

“Want to tell me what that was all about?” Karen interrupted excitedly, her dark green eyes shining with eagerness. Roxanne recoiled at the sight and ignored the painful fluttering of her heart and the memory of heated, delicious kisses, “I knew that if Malfoy ever came back that you would be the first person that he came to see! No one was surprised to find out that you two were reconnecting and gazing so longingly into each other's eyes.” The girl crooned wistfully, making her stomach boil with revulsion. “Its so romantic!”

Roxanne's face flamed and she glanced around quickly, unsettled to see that more than a few people were listening in to the exchange. After giving them all a threatening glare that caused most of them to turn away, she answered her friend with an uncomfortable frown, “I-I don't have any idea what you mean, it wasn't anything like that!” she snapped as Karen seemed to drift away with her own love story. It was amusing to see that she was as much of a hopeless romantic as Georgia Wood, “Ben just...he just came to say hello, I hadn't seen him at all until now.” She spluttered.

Karen's brows raised at the lie and Roxanne quickly looked away, her face continuing to burn with humiliation. There was nothing more humiliating than reliving every single moment that she had had with Benjamin and then having it ripped apart into tiny pieces so effortlessly, “I can't believe that Malfoy wouldn't want to contact you or anything, Roxie.” The girl mused thoughtfully. “I mean, the two of you have always been together....” her friend said with a dreamy sigh that caused her stomach to boil. “The way he would look at you sometimes, I used to get so jealous.”

“Why does everyone keep saying things like that? We were never together!” Roxanne cried embarrassingly, though her shrill words backfired and caused quite a few people to peer around at them. The floor beneath her feet could have happily sucked her in just then and she wouldn't have noticed, “Ben and I have always just been friends, Karen.” She emphasized curtly, “when he and his dad left for Italy, I never heard from him and just because he's back now doesn't mean that anything is going to happen between us.” The truth of that couldn't have been more clear.

Karen appeared severely disappointed by the declaration but Roxanne saw Adam Jordan give a small smile of triumph from the corner of her eye. A queasy feeling spread in the pit of her stomach and even though she had given him the impression that she would give him a chance when he broke up with his girlfriend, the thought made her feel suddenly light headed and ill. It was almost impossible to imagine herself being romantically involved with anyone after what Benjamin had put her through but she had to remember that he had easily moved on from her.

Roxanne felt the color drain from her face as she thought of the girl that she had seen him kissing so passionately on the platform. Had it been so easy? If Benjamin could toss her so callously aside without a second thought then she had every right to be with someone else, it wasn't as if she were destined to be with him or had made any silly promises. In fact, he had been the one to destroy whatever might have happened between them that morning at Malfoy Manor and she didn't want to foolishly forget that like she had once before. That had proven to be a dangerous mistake.

Despite Benjamin's arrogance in the compartment, Roxanne didn't think that he could possibly want her as badly as he had claimed. But those kisses....if he didn't still want her for more than sex, that kissed could have proved him wrong if she had been able to think properly at the time. It hadn't been the right thing to do, running out the way she had without pointing that out but it didn't seem worth it now, she had already made her choice and forgetting about him completely was her only chance at happiness. By the end of the year, she was certain that things between them would have cooled somewhat and he would graduate without having a single memory of her in his heart.

The thought oddly depressed her further and Roxanne frowned, wondering how one person could continually cause this much pain. It wasn't fair, “I thought you and Malfoy were the best of friends.” Karen eventually said in surprise, the shrill sound of her voice causing her to nearly flinch in reaction. The last thing that she wanted to talk about was her failed friendship with Benjamin but she didn't think that her friend cared about the pale cast to her skin, “I can't believe that he wouldn't send you at least one owl while he was away, do you think that he was just busy and lost track of time?”

Roxanne shrugged unconcernedly but she felt a bitter thing nestle in her chest like a poisonous snake. Benjamin had probably been too preoccupied with wrapping himself in the arms of every beautiful Italian girl he encountered to even bother remembering anything about her. Jealousy flooded every pore, “I'm pretty sure that he wasn't thinking about me at all.” She replied calmly, though her voice held a note of sourness that made Karen's eyes sparkle with interest. “I'm not freaking out over the fact that he's back, its not like we're going to have a lot of time to talk.”

“Why wouldn't you—oh, wait. Malfoy graduates this year, right?” Karen pressed boldly and after Roxanne nodded stiffly, becoming deeply annoyed by her friend's rampant curiosity, the girl frowned thoughtfully. The gold goblet that she had been toying with nearly fell over and she righted it without really looking, her mind obviously somewhere else. A thoughtful frown began to form on her mouth, “why didn't he and his dad just stay in Italy? I know I wouldn't have given up that gorgeous scenery to come back to Hogwarts.”

“I have no idea why they came back,” Roxanne replied tersely, knowing that it was something that she had wanted to know herself. The scandal that had driven Mr. Malfoy and his son from Britain in the first place couldn't have possibly been resolved after an entire year, she could still see the secrets in Benjamin's eyes and she was certain that it had followed his father back into the Ministry. It was just one more mystery that she would never be allowed an explanation for, “I wish everyone would stop assuming that I know something about it, Ben and I aren't even talking anymore.”

Karen ran her eyes over her face carefully, perhaps noticing for the first time that the conversation had lost its appeal. Although the grin on her face dimmed somewhat, her green eyes lost none of their sparkle and Roxanne couldn't help but think that she and her cousin Lucy had a bad habit of neglecting a person's feelings. Molly would understand how she was feeling but her best friend was at the other end of the Hall at the Ravenclaw table, lost in her own troubles, “Okay, okay.” Her friend appeased with a disappointed look. “But tell me, aren't you just a little excited to see him again? I didn't get a look at him but Linda Boot told me he's as gorgeous as ever.”

Roxanne's cheeks flamed brilliantly at the question and her heart threatened to skip a beat, though it did nothing to erase teasing images from her mind. When Benjamin had first appeared so unexpectedly at the Burrow that night, she had been in complete awe of him but she was blessedly spared from answering the question as the Great Hall's doors suddenly opened with a resounding thud. Professor Finch-Fletchley was leading a group of bedraggled first years towards the staff table, where someone had already placed the Sorting Hat on its preferred stool, “About damn time.” Adam Jordan muttered with a relieved groan to one of his friends.

“I wonder what took so long.” Karen mused aloud.

“No telling,” Roxanne replied in amusement as she watched Hagrid lumbering carefully towards his seat at the staff table, his moleskin coat a little wet. Professor Lovegood, the Divination teacher, greeted him with an inquiring smile while Professor Smith, the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, wrinkled his nose in a snooty fashion. The half-giant made some sort of reply in a low whisper that sent the woman to giggling and she saw the infamous Zabini cough into his fist as if he were holding in a laugh, the sight completely unlike the crazed vampire that he was rumored to be.

“Merlin, what on earth happened to that first year?” Karen asked in amazement, catching sight of a bedraggled boy squishing stiffly along with the others with a mutinous expression on his pale face. Roxanne followed her eyes and bit the inside of her cheek to hold in a burst of laughter, knowing that it would only make the poor kid feel worse about walking past hundreds of other older students in such a state. It had to be beyond embarrassing and she wondered if he would be the subject of bullying, “must have had something to do with the giant squid babies again,”

The unfortunate first year in question happened to be Mason Finnegan, the boy that Roxanne's younger cousin James had introduced she, Adam and her brother to on the Express. There was a deeply annoyed expression on his face as he sloshed forward with her cousin by his side, his sandy brown hair tangled and dripping wet, “The giant squids grabbed him!” James called to her gleefully after catching sight of her and roaring with laughter. Mason shot him a vicious glare while the other first years laughed or shivered with renewed fear, “they played volleyball with him, Roxie!”

Roxanne snorted with laughter and waved at him as he swaggered away with his soaked companion, her mood lifting at his familiar grin. Professor Finch-Fletchley reproved him for the disruption and she caught just one glimpse of Mason Finnegan's gleeful smile before they were lost in the crowd, “What House do you think your cousin is going to wind up in, Rox?” Adam asked her curiously as they watched the terrified children eye the Sorting Hat with wide, wondrous eyes. Headmistress McGonagall watched them all with a fond eye, a small smile on her face, “I bet his dad wouldn't want him to wind up in Slytherin.”

“Uncle Harry doesn't really care about that stuff as much as people think.” Roxanne found herself defending rather coolly and the boy's smile dipped. If there was one thing about her uncle that she truly loved, even more than his heroic deeds and fantastic stories, it was his surprising kindness and forgiveness. Although it had probably been difficult for him, she knew that he held no grudges against Slytherin House after all these years for their lack of courage during the Battle, “he always said that it wouldn't change anything if you wound up in Slytherin, he never put any sort of pressure on his kids to end up in Gryffindor.”

Adam opened his mouth to make some sort of apology but she brushed it off with a brief smile that made a flush spread to his skin. It contrasted rather nicely with his brown skin and Hufflepuff robes but the sight of his nose and lip ring only made some part of her wince with pain, “I, uhm, didn't mean anything Rox. Honest,” he said uneasily and Roxanne felt herself flush as well, wondering where her temper had come from. It wasn't as if he had done or said anything completely unusual, there had been many comments from students about what they assumed her family was like.

Roxanne gave him a wider smile that seemed to soothe him immensely and one of Adam's friends nudged him teasingly in the ribs. Blushing, the boy turned hastily away from her and regarded the first years with renewed interest, “I do wonder what House your cousin is going to be in too, Rox.” Karen said after a moment of looking between them with a slight frown. It was then that she remembered that she was best friends with Adam's girlfriend, Bianca Shepard but she was a little surprised to see that the girl was nowhere near either of them.

In fact, Bianca was situated as far away from Adam as possible and she felt something ugly curl in the pit of her stomach. Had he already broken up with her? On the Express, he had been more than clear in his intentions to date her and she was afraid that she had suddenly been tossed in a difficult mess that she couldn't get out of...even if she had given Adam the impression that she would give them a try when he was single again. “...I don't know. I think James is going to be another Gryffindor but I've been wrong before,” Roxanne managed to choke out as she remembered her own Sorting and how much it had devastated her.

“Really?” Karen asked.

Roxanne nodded and gave a helpless shrug, knowing that Uncle Ron and a few others were probably betting again this year. They usually lost to Grandpa Arthur almost every single time and he'd wasted no opportunity to remind them, “Most of my cousins aren't anything alike so its not really shocking when they wind up in a completely different House.” Perce and Victoire were Gryffindors and had been truly stunned when she had ended up in Hufflepuff, as if some sort of tradition had been broken. “So far, Lucy is the only Slytherin we have but Molly and Dom-Dom are Ravenclaws while me and Louis are the only Hufflepuffs. The rest are in Gryffindor,”

“You have more cousins that are coming right?” Adam ventured carefully.

Roxanne sent him a reassuring smile that caused him to noticeably relax, though it only caused Karen to look between them with narrowed, suspicious eyes. “My cousins Albus and Rose will be here next year and then after that it'll just be Lily and Hugo. I don't think any of them are really excited about it aside from Rose, she's certain that she's going to end up in Gryffindor like everyone else.” She said with a fond smile, knowing that her younger cousin would be highly affronted if she ended up elsewhere. Albus was the complete opposite and intensely worried about being in Slytherin, “Lily and Hugo are so laid back that I don't think they'll make much of a fuss about it,”

“That's so strange, I'd expect a lot more of you to be in Gryffindor.” Karen replied with a faint bit of chagrin, her eyes appearing a bit round with obvious fascination. The two of them had been friends for a while but she had never really been able to become close to her other relatives and Roxanne suspected that she was either too intimidated or nervous to approach most of them. Victoire had the worst reputation and she could understand why she wouldn't want to be anywhere near her but her other cousins were usually friendly, “do you think your little cousin could wind up in Hufflepuff?”

“I honestly doubt it,” Roxanne responded with a laugh. That earned a grin from her two companions and they turned their attention towards the group of first years, the soft murmur of conversation dimming slightly as Headmistress McGonagall tapped her wand against a sparkling crystal glass, the sound coming to their ears like the splitting of a thousand bells. Wincing, she rubbed at one of her ears with the heel of her hand, “I guess we're about to find out if McGonagall doesn't make us deaf first,” she said with a frown while a few other students rubbed at their ears.

Professor Finch-Fletchley appeared cheerful but composed as he stood before the trembling firs years, a roll of thick parchment clutched lightly in his hand. Although Roxanne had never taken Arithmancy and had no intention of trying to implode her brain, Molly had told her that he was actually quite nice but could be rather stuffy every once in a while. Oddly enough, the man reminded her a little of Uncle Percy but she suspected with amusement that he would never subject himself to being caught chasing his giggling wife around the house with his immaculate robes in disarray.

A complete hush had finally fallen over the Great Hall and Roxanne drifted out of her musings as the Sorting Hat began to shift on the stool, startling a few of the children. It was always enjoyable to listen to its song and after a slight pause, the brim opened wide like a mouth and its booming voice surged forth:

“Now that the time has come again
When you will get no lies
As you face off against me, the knowing Sorting Hat
I’ll tell you where you belong, even if that seems wrong
If you will put me on
Maybe as time goes by
You won't think it was a lie
Perhaps you’ll be in Hufflepuff, where loyalty is strongest
Or maybe in Ravenclaw where brains are valued most
Or perhaps in Gryffindor, the House where boldness thrives
And maybe still you’ll shine with Slytherins, where ambition is highly prized
Who am I to lie?
Only time can tell who you really are
Each year you grow and each year you'll know
That I tell no lies
So put me on so I can prove
That you really have nothing to lose
I see all that you are and all that can be
Even as time passes you by
But you will get no lies
As you face off against me, the knowing Sorting Hat!”

There was a round of clapping throughout the Great Hall after the Hat was finished, the air throbbing with eagerness and a joy that only Hogwarts could bring. Roxanne found herself watching in anticipation as Professor Finch-Fletchley unrolled the bit of parchment with a welcoming smile before reading off the first name, “Axley, Rebecca!” he called over the thunderous clapping and hoots. A little black girl with pigtails timidly strode forward, waited for the teacher to hold up the Sorting Hat and then sat down on the stool with a worried frown, “Poor thing looks like she's going to faint.” Karen remarked with a laugh.

Roxanne couldn't blame her, there was something very unsettling about having hundreds of eyes on you at such a crucial moment. During a Quidditch game, she was usually too distracted with the thrill that she hardly noticed the roar of the crowd but during her own Sorting, she had been very nervous and hadn't been able to stop every inch of her body from trembling. “RAVENCLAW!” the Hat cried after making itself comfortable on the girl's head for a few seconds and they watched as her face broke into a relieved smile while the Great Hall exploded gleefully.

“I hope this goes quickly for once.” Adam Jordan said to no one in particular after they had watched a small, trembling group of students become Sorted. They now had three new Hufflepuffs and the Slytherin table was welcoming another student that looked as shocked as Roxanne had been the night she hadn't become one. Even after all these years, it still confused her, “I want to find out about that Quidditch thing that everyone was hiding from us. Aren't you still wondering what it might be about, Rox?” he asked, shifting his body to stare at her.

Their parents had been rather sly about this mysterious Quidditch event and Roxanne felt a renewed flush of interest. Molly, Dom-Dom and Lucy had both mentioned it as well in the carriage on their way to the school but they had had little idea what it might be either and she was suddenly bursting with curiosity, “Of course, I haven't forgotten!” she cried determinedly to the boy, who broke into an amused grin. At Karen's puzzled look, they quickly informed her of what they knew, “so apparently, after the Sorting, we're going to find out all about it or that's what my mum said.”

Karen's green eyes had widened and her skin had turned pink with amazement, as if she had run for miles without catching a decent breath. Both of her parents had been avid Quidditch players and she followed each professional game as religiously as any other rabid fan, “Merlin, what do you think it could be?” she asked in an awed voice as two twin girls were Sorted into Gryffindor amid raucous applause. Adam looked as if he might pop with impatience and thrummed his fingernails on the table, “both of my parents mentioned that a lot of foreigners were trying to come here illegally...maybe its some sort of big international conspiracy?”

“Stop reading so much of the Quibbler, Karen.” Roxanne laughed, nudging her.

“I thought that it might be something for the World Cup but that doesn't happen for another few years. I should know since my dad usually commentates for it every year when he's taking a break from the radio show,” Adam replied in an offhand manner, his eyes narrowed with frustration. Uncle Lee had been just as tight lipped about the event as Roxanne's parents and she wondered how important it must be, “I tried asking, begging, bargaining and even blackmail but he wouldn't give up any information so I'm completely stumped on what it might be.” He complained.

Karen's shoulders slumped with defeat. “Damn, does anyone have an idea?”

“Not that I know of,” Adam replied morosely.

Roxanne was silent for a few minutes as the Sorting continued, her mind wandering back to the morning that she had spent with Benjamin at Malfoy Manor. While he hadn't told her anything specific about his life in Italy last year, he had mentioned that she would soon be finding out for herself once they returned to Hogwarts and it had been more than obvious that he had known something important that she hadn't. “I think Ben knows something about it.” She found herself blurting out after a moment of indecision before glancing between the two, her cheeks flooding with heat at the betrayed looks on their faces.

“What, how?” Karen asked in surprise, her brows rising.

Adam's face had hardened somewhat and he regarded her levelly until Roxanne felt as if she were being carefully scrutinized. He suspected that she and Ben were still very close but even though she had denied it hotly earlier, she saw that he hadn't completely believed her then, “I don't see how he would know more than any of us, he was probably just trying to show off or something.” There was a note of deepest contempt in his voice that caused Roxanne to frown. “Malfoy might be rich but he doesn't hold all the answers to the world.”

Karen snickered. “Jealous, much?”

“I'm not jealous—” Adam denied furiously, though Roxanne suspected that he might have been as he glanced at her with a fierceness that made her vastly embarrassed. The confession that he had given on the Express flared to life between them and she knew without a doubt that he hadn't been telling some sort of deluded lie, his infatuation with her wasn't something she would be able to ignore. If he had truly broken up with Bianca, she owed him at least the truth but she was afraid that it would hurt too badly, “Malfoy's an arrogant prat and always has been.”

Roxanne felt her temper flaring in an instant need to defend Benjamin but she choked on the words, knowing that it was stupid to try to protect him. It had become such a habit for her to take up for him that she found it hard to break but she forced herself to remember every cruel word, every taunting kiss and gradually pushed the urge down, “I was only trying to say that Ben was abroad for a year. He probably knows more about what's going on than we do,” she explained to the disgruntled boy with a frown, knowing that there was really no point in trying to defend the person that had ruthlessly ripped her heart open.

“That's true but where do you think he might have heard the news from? This thing sounds like its been a secret for a while.” Karen pointed out with a slight tilt of her head, as if she were listening for some sort of answer from another entity. Adam appeared smugly pleased and Roxanne felt her annoyance spiking, she had no idea why she was even allowing herself to be angry over how the boy viewed Benjamin—hadn't she learned anything? “even if Malfoy's privileged enough to have access to that kind of information, why hasn't he said anything?”

That was a good question and Roxanne found herself contemplating it for a while, her mind wandering for possible explanations. Benjamin had never given her any details about the school that he had gone to in Italy or what it was even called but she was certain that he may have heard something but it was still sort of a stretch. Who knew what this Quidditch event really was to begin with? The Daily Prophet had been unable to leak out any information to the public, though she knew that rises in brooms and other supplies were in high demand. Roxanne knew that that information alone was very peculiar but added on to that were the slew of foreigners using illegal Portkeys into the country.

“Ben might have heard something at the school he was going to in Italy.” Roxanne informed thoughtfully, aware of the awkwardness that had fallen between them. The Sorting had continued despite it, however and she could hear the furious round of clapping from the Ravenclaw table, “but I'm sure that if it was supposed to be this big deal that he wouldn't just go around telling people about it. He's not the kind of person that likes getting a lot of attention.” Although he had had no problem teasing her at the Manor, she doubted that he would have wanted to become the central focus of anyone's curiosity.

Teddy Lupin thrived on the attention that he could gather from others and adored being in the middle of the action but Benjamin, accustomed for so long with being ridiculed and isolated, despised any sort of “spotlight”. Roxanne knew that he had spent much of his time alone at Hogwarts whenever they weren't together and it had made her chest ache with loneliness for him. Despite being adept at magic, having high marks in all of his classes and being an accomplished Beater on the Slytherin Quidditch team, it had only caused more resentment from both his peers and other students.

“Malfoy might have heard something but that still doesn't mean much.” Adam replied grudgingly and she realized just then that he would rather eat dirt than mention that Benjamin had become Head Boy, she could see his lips tightening stubbornly with each second. During their Prefect meeting, the older boy had mentioned that there would be changes coming to Hogwarts and Roxanne sensed that the mysterious Quidditch event had something to do with it but refrained from mentioning it. “Its not right that someone like him can come back and be hailed as some sort of paragon.”

Roxanne flushed indignantly, anger bubbling. It was suddenly difficult to control herself and she wanted nothing more than to reach across the table and give Adam a very nice slap—though she wondered how she would be able to explain herself. After all, hadn't she been the one to tell him that she had no feelings for Benjamin anymore? Why did the world suddenly lose all of its color? Desperately, she managed to push down her anger and gave Adam a level stare that caused his brown skin to darken with a blush, his jealousy so evident that it thickened the air. “No one is going to treat him any differently than they did before, you've already proven that.” She said bitingly, “and Ben doesn't care what anyone thinks.”

Adam spluttered, his eyes flashing. “Rox, you know I wasn't trying to—”

“What's going on with you two tonight?” Karen interrupted in confusion.

“Its nothing, all right?” Adam replied irritably, giving Roxanne a betrayed look. It was obvious that the heartfelt confession he had given her earlier hadn't merely been some sort of joke on his end and she wondered what kind of mess she had gotten into and blamed herself for letting her anger at Benjamin carry her away. “I'm just not interested in going on and on about Malfoy, its the only thing everyone's been talking about since the Express.” The boy grouched, his eyes narrowed with intense dislike, “even the ghosts are gossiping about him.”

Karen snorted with laughter. “Adam, just admit that you're jealous.”

Adam's dark cheeks flushed with anger and for a moment he looked like a petulant child that had been denied its moment of glory. The sight was rather unpleasant, “I am not jealous of that prat!” he denied furiously before making a sour face at the pitying look the girl gave him. Roxanne was growing more than a little annoyed with his attitude and wondered how long he had been harboring such a strong hatred for Benjamin, “you should have heard the Gray Lady and Nearly Headless Nick, they sounded like twelve-year olds.” He said with an aggravated eye roll.

Benjamin's unexpected return to Hogwarts was apparently going to be hot gossip for at least a few weeks and Roxanne couldn't imagine how he was handling himself. When she had caught a glimpse of him earlier at the Slytherin table, he had appeared unaffected but now she wondered what strength kept him going, “I know you've never liked Malfoy, Adam but you should really just get over it.” Karen stated firmly. “Roxie's been his friend for years and she isn't just going to sit here and let you talk shit about him,” she warned bluntly, deliberately forgetting that Roxanne had told her that their bizarre friendship was over.

“Karen,” Roxanne started annoyingly.

Karen's enthusiasm faded and she adopted an offended pout that would have put even the most hardened temptress to shame. Roxanne recoiled at the expression, “Well, its true!” the girl replied a little too loudly before lowering her voice and continuing on with a spark in her green eyes, “its just so romantic that Malfoy would come back to you after all this time—you shouldn't let anyone get in your way, Roxie!” she lamented, her face flooding with a blush that made her almost severely ill. It was obvious that she wasn't thinking about her as she said the words, “Malfoy is insanely rich, gorgeous and mysterious, you don't know how lucky you are!”

Adam scowled. “Merlin, am I the only one who's not in love with him?”

Roxanne's heart twisted.

“You might find this surprising but a lot of girls secretly had a thing for him.” Karen piped and Roxanne jerked in surprise, she had never thought that any of the other girls at Hogwarts would have dared. There had been rumors of course but she hadn't suspected that any of them had harbored a genuine crush on Benjamin, “even though Malfoy was treated like crap by everyone else, he was always really popular in a completely different way from what I can remember.” The girl informed them, looking as if she had been dying to spread this bit of gossip for quite some time. “Lots of girls were trying to figure out a way to get on his good side.”

Roxanne scowled and felt her fingers curling into tight fists on her lap, a nasty sting of unwanted jealousy working its way into her blood. It had been aggravating in the past to be pushed aside while Benjamin had been swept away by girls who had been enamored with his jaded family history and charm—it had been painful to see him smiling at anyone else but her. Back then, there had been nothing more frightening than having him taken away from her forever and she could still feel a well of panic going through her body at the thought and quickly squashed it. “Not all of those stories about him are true, some of the girls were just making things up,” she foolishly defended.

Karen merely shrugged. “I know but it is true that he got around.”

“Now that he's back, I bet he'll be up to his old tricks before long.” Adam said with a twist to his mouth, his eyes sparking with satisfaction. Roxanne was aware of him staring at her hopefully, as if he were willing her to realize that there was no one else that could possibly fill in the void and she felt her cheeks flushing. This was a completely different side of him and she was aware of just how little she knew of him, “I figure that there are dozens of girls that will want to have a bit of alone time with him, you know.” He said in an offhand manner, causing one of his friends to snicker.

Roxanne knew that the jeering remark had been intended to annoy her and she felt her face heating with anger and was tempted to slap him. But before the sensation could take over, Karen's excited voice cut through the tension like a knife, “Oooh, Roxie, I think your little cousin is up next!” she cried, pointing towards the dwindling crowd of first years that were huddling together. Mason Finnegan had already been Sorted and after looking around for a few seconds she was barely able to make out his damp hair at the Gryffindor table, “maybe he'll be in Hufflepuff after all!” the girl said hopefully, her eyes shining.

James's confident smile had wavered somewhat as his name drew closer and she saw that his face was a bit pale. Professor Finch-Fletchley shot the remaining first years a grin that was probably meant to be reassuring but only caused the children to tremble, their eyes glancing towards the Sorting Hat as if it were some sort of monster, “Potter, James!” the professor called loudly over the excited whispers of the other students. The Great Hall seemed to quiet almost instantly and Roxanne sensed that her cousin's place in Hogwarts had been discussed almost as frequently as Benjamin Malfoy's return and she felt a stir of excitement beginning in her chest.

“Are you sure you read that right?” James shot back.

There were a few ripples of laughter throughout the Hall and Roxanne shook her head slightly, not sure where he had gotten his smart mouth from. Headmistress McGonagall had a look of forced patience on her face as many of the teachers around her tried to stifle their chuckles, though Hagrid was having more difficulty than most. Professor Finch-Fletchley managed to control himself and reexamined the bit of parchment in his hand before giving the boy a nod, “I'm more than certain that you're up next.” He announced gravely. “Come on, don't stare at me like that young man!” James had given the teacher a betrayed glare before swaggering up to the stool and taking a seat, the Hat poised over his head.

Roxanne chuckled. “He's trying so hard to be brave.”

“I've got my fingers crossed,” Karen whispered.

An intense silence thickened the entire Hall as Professor Finch-Fletchley placed the Hat on top of James's brown hair. There was a moment of consideration and Roxanne saw that the last traces of healthy color in her cousin's face had drained away almost completely, making him look rather ill. Seconds passed before the Hat finally cried in its loud voice, “GRYFFINDOR!” and while James slumped with relief, his new House exploded in a round of cheers that made her eardrums throb. Perce and a few of his Quidditch friends were making the most noise as their cousin hopped off the stool and marched over to them, though his legs looked as if they were wobbling somewhat.

Karen groaned loudly amidst all the gleeful cries, hoots and cheers before covering her face with her hands as if she couldn't bear another moment on earth. Roxanne patted her on the back consolingly, “I thought for sure that we would get a bit of luck! The famous Harry Potter's son in Hufflepuff would have been such a boost for us!” she wailed piteously while Adam and one of his friends exchanged what looked like a small sack of Galleons between each other. The outrageous cheers from the Gryffindor table was like a stampede of enraged elephants and Roxanne feared that her cousin would be treated like the pompous little king he already pretended to be.

“Oi, we're not as bad as all that!” Roxanne cried to her aggrieved companion. They weren't the most popular House but they had won their fair share of Quidditch Cups over the years and if it weren't for Slytherin, they would probably be the second best in the entire school next to Ravenclaw. “I told you that it wasn't likely that James was going to be in our House anyway! That kid reeked of Gryffindor, he'll probably do well with that lot.” She assured her friend, barely able to hold in a laugh. “James would have been miserable here without my brother around.”

James had always admired Perce but Roxanne worried that the current Hogwarts teachers and students were in for a very disastrous six years. Filch would probably have him in his office polishing his manacles by the end of the week if the little terror was going to successfully follow in her brother's footsteps, “I figured as much.” Karen moaned while Roxanne laughed and gave her back one last pat. “The Gryffindors are going to have another reason to be cocky,” the girl moaned miserably as she peeked at her from between her fingers with a weak grin. “They always act like they own Hogwarts and now they've got a lucky charm.”

Roxanne snorted doubtfully. “They're not going to have more luck than anyone else.”

“That's your fear lying to you, Roxie.” Karen moaned.

It took several more minutes for the Gryffindor table to settle back down but their boastful exclamations and hoots had made Roxanne's ears pound. By the time their loud cheers and hoots had subsided into excited conversation, Professor Finch-Fletchley patience had been worn very thin,“See, what did I tell you?” Karen whispered waspishly but Roxanne ignored her and scanned the staff table curiously, wondering where Teddy Lupin was currently lurking. It was strange not being able to see him since she knew that it had been very important for him to see James's Sorting and she sensed that he wasn't very happy wherever he was at the moment.

The remaining first years shifted restlessly amongst one another while the Sorting Hat appeared to be huffing impatiently. After giving the group of rowdy Gryffindors one last warning look, Professor Finch-Fletchley scanned the bit of parchment before finding his place and continuing on with the last of the Sorting. “William, Tiffany!” he shouted and a surprisingly tall girl with thick blonde hair strode up to the stool, her entire face a worrying green color. “No need to look so afraid!” the professor assured the poor thing as she shakily sat down on the stool.

“RAVENCLAW!” the Hat cried after a minute or two on the girl's blonde head and Roxanne clapped excitedly, though her stomach had begun to clench in hunger. It seemed as if the remainder of the Sorting would take a century to finally end but she knew that it couldn't have been more than fifteen minutes, “Merlin, I'm starving.” Karen groaned beside her as she stared longingly at an empty gold plate in front of her. Roxanne nodded solemnly in agreement and tried not to think about how her stomach was currently growling ferociously with hunger, “I only had a Cauldron Cake on the Express, its a miracle that I'm not a bag of bones,” the girl whined.

Roxanne laughed but ended up flushing as she recalled that she had been nearly devoured by Benjamin on the Express. Things had escalated between them so quickly that she still couldn't understand how just a few skillful kisses from him had been able to wash away nearly every horrible feeling hovering around them. A wave of guilty heat spread deliciously into her veins at the memory of those kisses and she was more than thankful when the Sorting finally concluded (A small boy went sobbing into Slytherin) and Headmistress McGonagall rose from her chair and walked slowly to the podium.

There was an air of silent strength and power radiating from the woman despite her age and it was enough to quiet the excited chatter amongst the students. The Great Hall became almost eerily silent and Roxanne felt a slight shiver work its way up her spine that she couldn't explain, “Welcome to Hogwarts and for those of you returning, welcome back. As some of you may have heard or noticed, there are dozens of rules that I expect to be followed and honored during your stay here,” Headmistress McGonagall said in her crisp voice as she gazed around at the large expanse of the Great Hall with a look of such severe control that it made Roxanne wince.

“Glad to see that McGonagall is as delightful as always,” Karen whispered to her.

Roxanne laughed a little. “She's like a hawk.”

Headmistress McGonagall was dressed simply in a dark red robe and had pinned her long grey hair back in a constricting bun. The woman appeared so uncompromising and powerful that Roxanne could understand why her Aunt Hermione had always admired her so deeply and when she spoke again, her tone was a tad softer. “I know many of you have heard your own stories about how I expect my students to behave here at Hogwarts but you will soon find that not all of them are true.” She assured in a strong voice that seemed to carry like a stroke of lightning. “But with the changes that will be taking place for the majority of this year, I will demand the very best behavior out of both my older Hogwarts students and our new arrivals.”

A faint buzz began in the Great Hall at the curious words and Roxanne heard various whispers floating around the cavernous room, confused on what she could mean. The blood in her veins seemed to pump harder until she was unable to really hear anything else but the hard thump of her own heart, “...feel free to look at the list of banned Weasley's Wizard Wheezes products that will be listed in Mr. Filch's office, you are all more than welcome to check at any time.” Headmistress McGonagall's voice was crisp but firm and Roxanne felt herself grinning at the mention of her family's business. “I know that some of you at least will want to behave properly in the halls,” the woman said promptly, though the entire Hall seemed to go momentarily deaf at the suggestion.

Roxanne hadn't spotted the grouchy caretaker skulking about tonight and glanced around for a minute to see if he were glowering at them from a dark corner. It didn't take very long to spot the crouched form near the Hall doors and she scowled in annoyance as the old cretin sneered dispassionately at a few other students who turned to regard him, his rheumy eyes holding nothing but bitterness. The ghost of his beloved cat, Mrs. Norris wrapped lovingly around his ankles like smoke, “Merlin, he's more frightening than a gargoyle.” Karen murmured to her and she turned hastily away from the older man as she was nearly overcome with giggles.

The sound of Headmistress McGonagall's stern voice caused the bit of laughter to subside and Roxanne unthinkingly straightened in her seat. It was a terrifying skill to make even a nun feel like a hopeless sinner, “...warn you that the Forbidden Forest, no matter how tempting it appears is restricted to all students, it hardly cares how skilled they believe they are.” There was a deliberate pause after the words and her eyes drifted along each of them as if she were able to see into the depths of their mischievous souls. “I will like all of you to be aware that any students caught sneaking to or from will be punished severely.” The Headmistress warned gravely and Roxanne was certain that she was glaring directly at her brother as she said this.

Roxanne highly doubted that her brother wouldn't pass up an opportunity to sneak into the confines of the Forbidden Forest now that Teddy Lupin had returned. Hagrid would most likely be busy trying to keep the pair away from the centaurs, who weren't known for being very hospitable or friendly when it came to strangers wandering foolishly into their territory. “Before I go through the more significant changes that will be occurring at Hogwarts this year, I would like you all to give a round of applause for our Head Boy and Girl.” Headmistress McGonagall's frown melted away as she said this, a pleasant smile beginning that only emphasized the wrinkles marring her pale skin.

There were questionable murmurs from the other House tables and Roxanne couldn't quite blame them for being confused. The announcement of the Head Boy and Girl usually wasn't something that was declared after a Sorting, it traditionally appeared as a boastful notice on the common room bulletin board later in the week. Congratulations and parties were usually held for the selected pair by their House but she doubted if there would be any exclamations of joy from the Slytherins this year, “Benjamin Malfoy and Samantha Travers would you please rise,” Headmistress McGonagall gently commanded in a strong voice that sounded like a subtle boom of thunder.

A mystified silence hung in the Great Hall after the words before being quickly replaced with a flurry of whispers and disbelieving cries. Roxanne watched motionlessly as Benjamin slowly stood up from the Slytherin table with an expression of such arrogant pride that she wouldn't have been stunned to discover that he had conquered the entire world. It was like tossing a deer in a cage of ravenous wolves, “I can't believe it, this is unbelievable!” Karen cried in amazement while Adam merely scowled darkly and folded his arms over his chest with a grunt. “Don't tell me you two already knew this and didn't bother telling me?” she accused, noticing their lack of reaction.

“Well...we already knew because both of us are Prefects.” Roxanne informed the girl with a flush of shame before revealing her badge. Benjamin had ripped the buttons of her blouse off earlier and she had been using the folds of her robes to cover up the damage and wasn't surprised that Karen hadn't noticed the blasted thing, “we were just as stunned as you are to find out that he was Head Boy—I am not making this up!” she cried in annoyance as her friend reached out to examine the Prefect badge as if she expected it to vanish beneath her fingertips. “I'm not exactly happy about it you know, its humiliating.”

Karen ran her fingers gently over the engraved Hogwarts seal before drawing back with an irritable frown, strands of her black hair nearly standing on end. Roxanne eyed her with a dull stare that only seemed to aggravate her further, “You could have at least mentioned something this huge to me!” with a vicious look, she glared over at Adam, who was watching them with a faint bit of amusement. “What's your excuse? I'd like to see that badge and make sure that McGonagall isn't as insane as I think!” she snapped a little too loudly, causing quite a few people to turn and look at them.

Adam glanced around to make sure that none of his friends were watching before he reached into the depths of his robes and withdrew his badge. Roxanne couldn't help but think that it was funny that he held it away from him with a bit of revulsion, as if the thing reeked of old death and decay, “Look, I don't want this going around. Its damned hard for me to accept that I've brought such shame onto my family,” he said in a harsh whisper as he passed it to Karen discreetly, his lower lip trembling. “You have no idea what I had to suffer through, my dad was even saying that he was thinking of taking me to the orphanage.”

“Honestly, you two are pathetic.” Karen said after examining the badge and tossing it back at Adam, who caught it with skillful ease. Roxanne sighed miserably as she straightened the badge on her robes, unsettled at the thought of walking around with it in full view of the public, “my parents would have been really happy to see that I had been made Prefect but it never happened, my marks weren't nearly good enough.” A careless shrug followed the words, “it shocking though, what McGonagall has done. If Malfoy is Head Boy, then who do you think is going to be working with him? Obviously its a Slytherin but—”

Roxanne shushed her as the Head Girl finally stood up from the Slytherin table, her mane of thick brown hair shimmering under the candlelight. The familiar, sharply delicate features could only belong to one person and a pool of revulsion bubbled in her stomach, “Travers?” she gasped in outrage. Samantha Travers had been the cruelest and most persistent bully that she had ever encountered growing up in Diagon Alley, her taunts and insensitive remarks would always linger in the darker parts of her memory, “I...I can't believe that she's actually going to be Head Girl. That doesn't make any sense,” she whispered, her hand closing into a tight fist as she saw the bright blue eyes gazing smugly around the Hall.

“I'd take anyone but that bitch!” Karen whispered harshly, just as stunned.

Roxanne couldn't help but agree completely and forced herself to jerk her eyes away from the impertinent smile on Samantha Traver's face. Benjamin's body was brimming with impatience and his eyes were narrowed as if he were expecting the most painful death, though it was nearly impossible to detect the awkwardness in the confident way that he stood, his cheeks only the faintest bit red. Being the unwanted center of attention for hundreds of people was something that Roxanne knew that he had always dreaded but despite everything, she found it difficult to ignore how captivating he appeared, more alluring than any exotic prince.

Quite a few students at the Slytherin table were in shock over the news and were staring hatefully at Benjamin as if they had been hexed with some horrible spell. Roxanne sensed that they would barely be able to tolerate having him as Head Boy and sensed that there would be many cruel taunts over the next few weeks, “I think McGonagall has lost her mind.” Karen murmured with a stunned expression, though she didn't seem particularly displeased to be running her eyes dreamily over Benjamin. “This has got to be the oddest choice of Heady Boy and Girl in years. I wonder if the other teachers are okay with the decision, my dad said absolutely nothing to me.”

The decision might have caused a bit of a riff but Roxanne doubted if any of the other teachers would have fought the headmistress over the decision, especially if there was a good reason for it. After a small century had passed and the Great Hall had fallen into an unsteady silence, McGonagall finally motioned for Benjamin and Travers to sit back down. A thick silence seemed to have fallen after the announcement and she was still trying to control her own surprise at the thought of Travers being Head Girl...she was nothing but a pampered bully and had already shown how little the position mattered to her by not showing up at their first Prefect meeting on the Express.

Headmistress McGonagall seemed to have been able to read through the tense atmosphere with an expert eye and tapped her wand on the podium. Even though there had been no general outbursts from anyone, the whispers had begun to mount until they were like the buzzing of a million insects and Roxanne listened to them dim down immediately, “Now, I'm sure that I've truly shocked some of you with my choice of Head Boy and Girl this year but I've witnessed how easily the Houses have turned against each other in the past,” Headmistress McGonagall said with weary patience, her tone incredibly sharp. “I will be making progressive steps to end such foolishness this year in every way that I can.”

“House unity has been something that we've sorely lacked in times of great hardship and with the changes that will be coming to Hogwarts soon, there's little room for grudges or immature strife.” The Headmistress continued prosaically and her words were met with a silence that seemed to stretch to the ends of the earth. Roxanne knew quite well how House prejudice tore the students apart and thought of Perce and Teddy Lupin's cruel bullying of Benjamin for a moment before pushing it painfully aside, “of course, competitiveness might become just as much of a problem.”

Roxanne felt something electric go down her spine at the words and she exchanged a curious look with Adam, wondering if they would finally know the truth. Headmistress McGonagall remained silent for a few second as if she were waiting for the proper moment to continue, though no one had dared to even take a deep breath. When she was satisfied that she had their attention, she continued, “This year at Hogwarts will be the first ever Ultimate Quidditch Royal. I've personally constructed this event for the past three years and am more than proud to see it played.”

“Ultimate...what?” Karen asked in bemusement.

Roxanne frowned, confused and excited. “I don't know,”

There were murmurs amongst some of the other students but the Headmistress gave her wand another sharp rap against the podium until they quieted. Adam had sat up a bit straighter in his seat, a wide grin breaking out over his face, “The Ultimate Quidditch Royal will be somewhat similar to the long ago Triwizard Tournament that was canceled indefinitely after the tragic loss of a student several years ago,” she said, her throat seeming to tighten for a brief moment. “Two foreign magical schools will arrive here to compete in a series of challenging trials and Quidditch matches for their chance at the Ultimate Cup.”

There were exclamations of disbelief and awe echoing throughout the Great Hall at the declaration and Roxanne was positive that she had let out a shrill scream. Adam's jaw seemed to have gone slack with shock, “No wonder it was such a secret!” he cried in amazement as he nudged on his friends rather sharply in the ribs. Roxanne could only imagine how Perce, Leanne and Georgia were reacting at the Gryffindor table and knew that the raw excitement she felt would make her dizzy if she didn't gather her wits. This was perhaps the most significant thing that had ever happened at Hogwarts in over twenty years and she glanced at the staff table to gauge their reactions, amused to see that quite a few of them were just as startled.

Professor McMillan looked as if he were able to burst into rapturous tears while Zabini sickeningly handed over a green handkerchief. Professor Lovegood seemed excited by the news but mystified while Smith's eyes were ready to pop out of his skull, “Where's Hagrid?” Roxanne asked worriedly to her companions after she couldn't spot him, finding it strange that someone so large could move without being seen. Before Karen or Adam could respond, Hagrid suddenly reappeared from a small room nearby carrying a large, bejeweled trophy, the brilliant gold sheen of it like sunlight. “Tell me that I'm not dreaming...” she murmured, slack jawed.

“You're not dreaming,” Karen replied, eyes wide.

The trophy was nearly as large as a dragon's skull and so heavily adorned with rubies, gold and silver that it had to weigh a ton. Roxanne felt her mouth watering and watched greedily as the half-giant placed it reverently on the Sorting Hat's stool before backing away and taking his seat once more at the staff table, “The Ultimate Quidditch Royal will be a test of will and teamwork, showcasing the best Quidditch players in Hogwarts against the finest students that our foreign companions will be offering as a challenge.” Headmistress McGonagall continued in a proud way, her tone holding just enough firmness to keep the overwhelming wave of astonishment at bay before the entire Hall went mad.

“Is she mental?” Adam cried.

“Each Quidditch team will be given points after each specific trial and it will be added onto how well they perform at the Quidditch game but won't guarantee them a spot towards the finals.” McGonagall warned and Roxanne sensed that this game would be far more difficult than anything that they had attempted before. This was perhaps the most startling thing that she had ever heard happening at Hogwarts and she could hardly stop herself from imploding with astonishment. The Triwizard tournament had been an excellent way to increase morale and companionship with foreign schools but had gone horribly wrong that year when a student had been murdered and Voldemort had reemerged back into the Wizarding world.

Roxanne couldn't help but wonder what Uncle Harry might have thought about this new event or if he could even approve. It had been over twenty years but she was certain that those wounds would never really heal, “The foreign schools that will be joining us at the end of October are the House of Salem from America and Academia Di Magi from Italy, two of the finest magical schools in the world.” Headmistress McGonagall informed after a few minutes as the students settled with the overwhelming news. There was a crisp precision to her voice, her eyes darting around at them all with a look that suggested that they needed to uphold Hogwarts’s honor.

“Americans? God, help us.” Adam laughed.

“After a long consideration, I have decided that before our foreign guests arrive for the games, there will be four consecutive Quidditch matches between our four House teams to determine who will eventually compete against for the Ultimate Cup.” Headmistress McGonagall continued with only the slightest bit of excitement, a faint smile coming into her face. Roxanne's head was swimming, “I wish you all the best of luck, Quidditch Captains will be expected to report to me by the end of this week to work out an appropriate schedule for practices and drills.”

Roxanne knew that the pitch would be completely flooded the moment she dared to even step foot outside and worried about Hufflepuff's chances. They weren't nearly as crafty as the Slytherin or Ravenclaw teams and she was certain that the Gryffindors would use brute strength in order to have the pitch to themselves, “During the Royale, we will be proud to have Teddy Lupin here, filling in for Angelina Weasley, Head of the Department for Magical Games and Sports to take note of the intricacies and details of the game for the Daily Prophet.” Headmistress McGonagall stunned her further by declaring, her head turning slightly to welcome the newcomer.

Roxanne watched in awe as Teddy appeared from the room that Hagrid had vacated earlier, his gold tooth winking like a small sun. Karen's eyes brightened instantly with interest at the sight of him but Adam frowned with a mixture of dislike and reluctant acceptance, he had never been overly fond of Teddy. Hagrid and a few teachers thumped the boy on the back as he passed and she watched as his face brightened with the smug quality of a child being offered the most rarest of candies, “Just what he needs,” she couldn't help but grumble, finally understanding.

Neither of her parents were strong enough to face their past traumas from the Battle and Roxanne felt a pang of disappointment and sadness. It was difficult to imagine them ever finding the power to overcome what they had experienced, “I feel honored to be back,” the sound of Teddy's voice snapped her out of her thoughts and she watched as he smiled cheekily at Headmistress McGonagall before striding up to the podium. There was a very pompous quality to his smile that made Roxanne want to vomit, it was hard to forget how cold he had been only an hour before, “Hogwarts has always held a place in my heart,” he purred silkily, adopting a bashful look that only caused the older woman to roll her eyes.

Roxanne snorted. “That's doubtful,”

After giving Teddy a warning look to behave himself, Headmistress McGonagall tapped the side of the podium with her wand once more for silence. There had been wild cries of glee from various tables at the sight of the boy and Roxanne had a feeling that her brother had probably fainted in his seat, “Because of the uniqueness of the Royale, Mr. Lupin will be here to document and be of assistance for the next few months until the event is concluded.” The woman said loudly over the proclamations of intense love and profound hatred being thrown Teddy's way. Roxanne watched as the blue-haired boy took a slight bow before smiling charmingly around at the Great Hall the way a king would his most loyal subjects.

“Roxie, you know him right? Introduce me.” Karen pleaded, shaking her.

Roxanne laughed uneasily and fended her off. “I'm not sure if you'd like him,”

Before Karen could reply, Headmistress McGonagall interrupted them in a firm tone that viciously demanded their wavering attention. “Representatives from the Department of International Magical Cooperation were unable to attend tonight but will be making an appearance in the next few weeks,” she explained reassuringly, the safety of such an event something that many parents would be more than concerned about for fear of what had happened in the past. There would probably be dozens of rules to keep every single student safe and protected during the games and Roxanne could only imagine how intricate they could have been, “I have spoken to both the Minister of Magic and the Undersecretary to ensure that this will be a safe environment. With the help of the foreign school's headmaster and headmistress, I believe that Hogwarts will be ready to embrace this new challenge.”

Headmistress McGonagall's voice was firm in this belief and Roxanne was certain that she had done far more than what she was willing to say tonight. Something this large and complex must have taken a very long time to organize and she was sure that there were various things that would come into once the Royale began, “The Ultimate Quidditch Royale will be the first of its kind at Hogwarts and will be treated as something of a...test. If this first attempt is a success, I am sure that there will be many more in the future.” The woman continued, her smile causing the wrinkles along her face to deepen. There was a hopeful expression there that made Roxanne realize that she had put a lot of her own personal time and energy into the games.

It would be an incredible disappointment if the Ultimate Quidditch Royale was a complete failure and Roxanne felt a flash of fierce determination. Even though she wasn't sure when McGonagall would retire, it would be better to send her off with the knowledge that all of her hard work had been more than a success. “Any other questions regarding the Royale will be answered in the following weeks but I think that you've all handled enough excitement for one night.” The elderly woman said with a startling amount of amusement as she looked around at all the flabbergasted and eager faces staring back at her.

Teddy Lupin had stepped politely aside as the headmistress continued speaking, his posture more reserved and controlled than Roxanne had ever witnessed. He had annoyed her earlier with his snarky attitude but she felt a spark of fondness for him, though she noticed that he appeared distracted and restless, his eyes scanning intently through the faces at the Ravenclaw table. A bizarre flush crept into his cheeks as he found the person he was looking for and she watched as a strange glow flared in his brown eyes, it was the look of a predator on the hunt, “...tuck in!” McGonagall's voice cut through the disturbing thought like a knife.

Roxanne felt an unpleasant shiver go up her back at the analogy and barely noticed as the Great Hall became flooded with the delicious scents of thousands of carefully prepared meals. Stews, soups, casseroles, stuffing, racks of chicken legs, turkey, glazed ham, towers of buttered dinner rolls and what seemed like a million meat pies suddenly appeared on each House table. Chatter erupted from nearly every direction and she found herself blinking rapidly and tearing her gaze away from Teddy, still a bit disturbed at what she had seen, “Has she...said anything about me lately?” that strange question reverberated in her skull once more, making her pause.

Why would Teddy Lupin suddenly have such an interest in Dom-Dom? It made no sense at all to her when she couldn't even remember the last time she saw them speaking civilly to one another. There was something bizarre about it for sure but Roxanne didn't think that she would really have the time to investigate and her older cousin wasn't the sort of person that was willing to talk about her private life without a good reason and despite being friends, they weren't nearly close enough for that sort of conversation. Dom-Dom had always been very quiet and she couldn't imagine what might have happened between her and Teddy but decided not to press the issue, she could barely keep up with what was happening in her own life.

Teddy had retreated stealthily to the staff table, where Professor McMillan had conjured another chair for him and Roxanne studied him curiously. That peculiar look of hunger on his face was gone now, “Thank God that we're able to eat! I wasn't going to survive another minute, I think I was about to pass out.” Karen suddenly cried, handing her a plate of potatoes loaded with gravy. Adam and a few of his friends were already reaching for anything in sight and it was a miracle that none of them lost any fingers in the process, “what's the matter with you, Roxie?”

“Nothing, I'm just still a little surprised about everything.” Roxanne replied with a bit of a forced smile even though the words were true. Karen gave a grave nod before stabbing Adam lightly with her fork as he attempted to steal the pork chop off her plate, “I never thought that McGonagall would actually be able to organize something as big as this without the entire Ministry being against it.” The Triwizard tournament had been such a disaster that she knew several people might have been against the Royale, fearing that it would somehow be more dangerous than entertaining for the students. “I'm really surprised that the Minister of Magic went along with it.”

Adam nodded in agreement, though he was unable to reply since his mouth was currently stuffed to bursting with baked chicken and peas. After swallowing and wiping his mouth off with a napkin, he answered, “It is really shocking. I never thought that they would ever dare bring something like this back to Hogwarts and not only that but we're going to have to be a lot stronger as a Quidditch team if we're going to even make it to the actual Royale.” He frowned worriedly before admitting reluctantly, “Slytherin is the toughest team to beat next to Ravenclaw and we've never been able to get the upper hand on them and I heard that Malfoy might be made Captain this year.”

Karen's green eyes flashed with delight but she appeared just as concerned, it was a bit frightening to imagine how much stronger the Slytherin team would get after having Benjamin as a captain. “You guys are going to be in some major trouble if that happens, I remember that Malfoy's the sort of person that goes for blood when he's swinging his Beater's bat around.” The girl shivered dramatically. “The bloke is a maniac.”

Roxanne selected a bit of steak from a plate and tried not to allow the panic in her blood to overcome her, worried about their chances. The Royale was definitely something that would be talked about for years if it were a success and she hoped that things went as smoothly as Headmistress McGonagall hoped they would, she was eager to get back on the Quidditch pitch and practice with her team again and hoped that they would be strong enough. The difficulty and trials of the upcoming game would keep the excitement bubbling in her blood but she knew that there would be other desires and memories that she would rather deny keeping her awake tonight.

Chapter 18: Poison
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A/N: Hello, everyone! I'm really sorry for the long wait but I've been busy and real life has been a pain! I hope you enjoy this chapter! Much love.

The corridors were almost eerily silent a few hours later as Roxanne made her way to the Owlery, intent on sending her hastily written letter to her parents. They would be curious to hear what she thought of the Royale and she hoped that her handwriting wasn't too sloppy since there hadn't been an opportunity after the Feast and leading the fresh batch of Hufflepuffs to their common room, “We're pretty close to the kitchens so if you get lost, you can always ask the Fat Friar. He's usually hanging around there and he loves to talk,” Roxanne had informed a few of the students, who had happily followed behind her while Adam had given advice on how to survive Potions.

After the new Hufflepuffs had been taken care of, Roxanne had spent the remainder of the evening gossiping with the girls in her dorm and organizing her things. By the time she had finished unpacking, it had been very late and she'd used the spare amount of energy she'd had to start and finish her letter, “I hope the ink isn't still wet.” Roxanne said worriedly to herself as she held up the parchment in her hand thoughtfully, the pink string that she'd wrapped around it a bit too tight. Even though she could have sent the letter in the morning, she wanted her parents to also know that she understood why neither of them had been able to return to Hogwarts.

Roxanne had never been able to talk to them about it much and there were a lot of things about their years here that they never spoke of. Uncle Fred was almost like an enigma in their home, she knew all about his pranks and what sort of person he had been but she had never been told how painful it had been for either of her parents to lose him. Perhaps it was something that they would rather not share but she felt that she would never really know them, “Dad never even admits how he feels about you having Uncle Fred's old wand, let alone anything else.” Perce had mentioned more than once when they had found themselves talking about their parent's issues.

The fact that Roxanne carried her dead uncle's wand had always disturbed her somewhat and she knew that her brother had a point. If there was one thing that their father would never speak of, it was how torn up he had been over his twin's death and what tragic events had finally brought him to their mother, “I don't even want it,” she whispered softly, thinking of the wand that was nestled comfortably in her robe pocket. Carrying around a bit of her uncle was unsettling but she had never been able to tell her parents about wanting another...she wasn't sure if they would be able to tolerate that sort of conversation. It would be like losing him all over again.

Roxanne sighed miserably and shook off the thoughts desperately, there was something so maudlin about roaming the corridors at night. Hogwarts had such a jaded, violent past and had a strange way of bringing up emotions that were better left buried for the time being, though she had never really thought about it much before now, “I really need to stop letting everything get to me.” She murmured as she started to turn around a corner and nearly collided with a brick wall. Giving a soft curse, Roxanne swiftly turned back around, wryly noting that Karen had been right about her spacing out a little too often, “I hope things won't be this depressing when I'm on Prefect duty—”

“If I knew that I had to spend so much time with Jordan, I'd be depressed too.” The voice was like crushed velvet and smoke, immediately conjuring images of Hades resting imperiously on his throne in the underworld. Roxanne barely had time to adjust to the unbearable tug and pull as she nearly ran into Benjamin, barely managing to step aside as he seemed to materialize from some indecent place in her mind, “you shouldn't talk to yourself, sweet. People will begin to wonder about you,” he teased mockingly. A mortified blush worked its way into her cheeks as his eyes ran over her, not missing the anxious way she tried to step around his large frame.

Roxanne glowered up at him as he easily blocked her path and she wondered what sort of game he was trying to play and if she would be able to slip past. Her chances weren't very good. Benjamin had the agility of a jungle cat and would have her pinned in less than a second, she knew enough from personal experience not to even dare running when he was intent on having a word with her. When she had ran away from him that morning at Malfoy Manor, he could have easily caught up with her but had probably been too angry at the time, “Ben, I hope you know that it's spooky the way you just pop up out of nowhere like that.” She retorted dryly, sensing that he had been lingering the corridor long before she had arrived.

“So I've been told.” Benjamin replied with aggravating calm.

“I'm not in the mood to talk to you tonight.” Roxanne was instantly annoyed, hoping that her voice had held a warning that she hoped would strike a nerve. “Sneaking up on me like this only makes you seem kind of weird, Ben. You can't just pop up out of the mist or whatever and expect me to be happy to see you,” she said with a frown, wondering how he was always able to sneak up on her so easily. It felt like he could literally read her mind sometimes but she wasn't in the mood to play any of his little games right now and she hoped that she could be strong enough.

Benjamin's expression was hard to decipher and she watched as he stepped forward until there was only a small bit of space between them. The glow from a lantern light nearby merely made him more attractive, as if he were suddenly bathed in a heavenly sheen that Roxanne found only too ironic, “I'm not nearly as creepy as people make me seem. Can't a bloke take a walk without being labeled a stalker?” he asked her blandly, a rumble of laughter making her skin break out in an embarrassed flush. It didn't surprise her that he would have a lot on his mind but she dreaded how they kept running into one another like this, “and you seemed perfectly all right with having a conversation with yourself a few minutes ago, lump.”

Roxanne scowled. “I'm not a lump, stop calling me that!”

“Why, it's not my fault that you're so delicious.” Benjamin replied with a soft smile, his eyes running over her with deliberate heat. Roxanne immediately felt her knees go weak and she cursed under her breath, knowing that he was doing it on purpose, “I've noticed that you space out a lot whenever something is weighing on your mind and from the thrilling conversation you were having with yourself that that hasn't exactly changed.” He continued with a curious frown as she rolled her eyes annoyingly, intent on thinking of some way past him that wouldn't resort in stolen kisses or tears.

“Shut up, Ben. I don't make a habit out of talking to myself!” Roxanne snapped.

“Really, now? It seems like you've had a lot of practice.” Benjamin replied with mild curiosity, the feel of his eyes drifting over her like an intimate caress. Roxanne shivered with reluctant pleasure and glanced around anxiously for a few minutes, disturbed that they were completely alone again so soon after their battle on the Express, “Weasley, you don't have to stand there acting so terrified.” A frown had twisted onto his face but his eyes appeared to be dancing with humor, “I'm not the sort of person that would give in to kidnapping a person in a dark corridor.” He assured with dry amusement, unable to miss the way her body had stiffened defensively, “even when I'm really tempted to take something I want.”

Roxanne's heart clenched with foolish longing and she scowled in annoyance, knowing that he was trying to make her uncomfortable. There was an undercurrent of anger sparking in the air around them and she knew that it wouldn't take much for it to explode, causing her to fear what cruel words or actions might be unleashed. It felt like an eternity before she was able to speak without a trace of nervousness, “Knock it off, what are you doing taking a walk this late anyway?” she wasn't certain if his Head Boy duties had started tonight and she couldn't imagine him readily prowling the twists and curves of Hogwarts with Travers by his side.

“That's exactly what I was about to ask you, Weasley.” Benjamin replied with the same amount of politeness he would have given a small child. Roxanne fought against the urge to shove past and settled for giving him an impatient stare that she hoped made her look far more formidable than she actually felt, “with all the wild excitement in the Slytherin common room, I wasn't able to sleep and thought about taking a stroll to cool my head, since when was that a crime?” he asked blandly, his black brows rising in mock surprise.

Roxanne caught on to the hidden meaning in the words easily and ran her eyes over him more closely, hunting for any bruises or cuts. There were no signs of any outward damage done to him but she was amazed by the concern that went through her and knew that if things had been different between them that she would have tried to comfort him in some way. Now, she wasn't sure what to do, “I guess the other Slytherins weren't happy about finding out that you were Head Boy?” her voice was nearly a whisper but Benjamin didn't seem to mind as he ran his eyes over the lush curve of her mouth. “People have been asking me if it's true ever since McGonagall announced it but I'm...”

Proud of you. Those were the words she couldn't bring herself to say.

Benjamin's face clouded for a moment before he gave a short nod, his blue-brown eyes seeking hers with an intensity that nearly made her breath catch. It was obvious that his recent encounter with the rest of his fellow Slytherins had been like drowning, “To put it mildly, they weren't very welcoming at all, sweet.” There was something hollow about his tone that bothered her and Roxanne couldn't help but wonder what had been said between him and his hateful housemates. “It's strange how people will hate you for no reason and make certain that you know it,” he remarked calmly, though she could hear that there was a dark amusement in his voice that mixed nastily in with the anger that was simmering beneath his skin.

“Are you all right?” Roxanne asked him worriedly.

“I'm fine.” Benjamin's voice was curt but she saw that there was a hint of rage lingering in his blue-brown eyes that reminded her of hell fire. Roxanne wondered where he had been intending to spend the rest of the evening and knew without asking that he had probably been about to relax at their favorite spot near the Black Lake. There were dozens of memories there but were now too bittersweet to bring her any joy or sooth away the pain that was throbbing in her chest, “a few of them were brave enough to try and fight me but learned their lesson pretty quickly. They'll be walking a little funny for the next few days but they should recover,” he drawled with the sort of arrogance that was almost repulsive.

Roxanne shivered, she knew that there were probably going to be rumors about the attack tomorrow morning. The last thing Benjamin needed was to fuel everyone's fear of him by proudly admitting to it but she saw that he hardly cared, “...Didn't Zabini try to step in? I thought that he was Head of House for Slytherin.” It was a foolish question considering that the man had always openly despised Benjamin for as long as she could remember, “I doesn't seem right that they would try to attack you knowing that you're Head Boy now.” In all honesty, it felt exactly like what a pack of bitter Slytherins would do to express their dislike and both of them knew it.

“Zabini wouldn't bother interrupting something as exciting as that, especially when it was me that was jumped.” Benjamin replied scornfully, his eyes narrowed into slits. Roxanne felt her heart lurch in reaction to his pain but vainly tried not to react, “the fact that I'm Head Boy this year only pissed off the snakes more than usual but hopefully, they'll learn to stay away from me before the year is out. McGonagall is putting her reputation on the line by giving me this position and even if I never asked for it, I'm not going to give anyone the satisfaction of seeing me fail.” He finished confidently, though it didn't hide the amount of hurt that she managed to hear in his voice.

Roxanne was amazed by the words and felt a burst of unwanted admiration for him, it went against his nature to show any weakness to his enemies. It was something that had kept his true self hidden away from her for so long and she couldn't help but wonder what really weighed on his heart and why it was banned from her, “Of course you wouldn't, Ben but you have to admit that beating up a bunch of Slytherins isn't exactly going to make McGonagall clap you on the back.” That earned her a wry smile, though it faded away far too quickly. “Everyone will get used to you being Head Boy eventually and...and I don't think that you'll fail,” she said hastily, the words coming out in a nervous rush that made her flush.

“You don't have to go out of your way to say that to me, sweet.” Benjamin replied softly, his eyes gently tracing every angle of her face. Roxanne fumbled for a response but it felt trapped on her tongue, her eyes sinking into his until she was certain that she had been carried away, “I'll make an apology to Zabini in the morning, the prat already gave me a detention for fighting back against my oppressors.” He whispered dramatically, as if the two of them were sharing a sordid secret. A smile nearly managed to form but Roxanne bit back on the urge, aware that the air was thickening with tension and she felt as if he had stripped her bare and kissed away every sting his words had ever given her, “I certainly wasn't expecting words of encouragement from you.”

Roxanne flushed. “I-it doesn't change anything,”

Benjamin's presence suddenly became both sheltering and threatening all at once and Roxanne stepped away until she wasn't being consumed by his shadow. There was suddenly a strange urge to flee but there was no explanation for the sensation, “What's the matter?” he purred silkily. “Scared to be alone with me, lump?” he asked, though he didn't seem at all perturbed to step closer, bathing her in the scent of him. A tremor began from the tips of her hair down to her toes and she couldn't have been more aware of how isolated they were just now, “or are you just afraid of what might happen?” he jeered, bending down to brush his lips along her forehead.

“W-what do you think you're—” Roxanne gasped, jerking at the soft caress and flushing with humiliation as she heard him laugh. Benjamin had easily caught her off guard and she was furious with herself for becoming so distracted, “this isn't funny, Ben. Don't you dare take your anger out on me,” but she had a feeling that he was going to. They had too much history together and she knew that the hurtful words she'd hurled at him on the Express wouldn't be forgotten, “...I'm not interested in having another row with you. I'm exhausted and we've already talked about this.” They hadn't but she didn't want to admit that she was terrified.

Benjamin studied her for a few calculating minutes, his expression unreadable and making Roxanne wonder where his thoughts were turning. Even though they had known one another for a long time, there was a part of him that she had never been able to reach and she realized that this guarded side to him was far more dangerous. It was nearly more frightening than his anger, “I didn't expect to have another moment alone with you so soon,” he said after a while, enjoying the sight of her nervousness. Roxanne frowned deeply and tried to make her face as impassive as ever but it only seemed to amuse him, “my luck must be better than I thought.”

A bolt of alarm went down Roxanne's back at his tone and she knew that it would be more than foolish to stay a moment longer. Hogwarts was almost obscenely large but it suddenly felt like the smallest place in the world and she tried to step around him and make her retreat but he carefully reached out and caught her elbow. There was so much strength in that one little touch and it would be useless to try and break free, “Ben, what do you think you're doing?” the question came out as more of a squeak and she gritted her teeth as he chuckled. “Let go of me,” she said sharply, glaring up into his handsome, grinning face.

“I'm not going to hurt you,” Benjamin assured, amused.

Roxanne was unable to relax and his hold didn't loosen, though she was certain he would never even be harsh enough to leave a bruise on her skin. The thought forced her to remember every single kiss he had given her...some of them in the most indecent places and her face flamed, “What do you want, Ben? I really...I really don't feel like arguing with you again tonight after everything that you've done.” She was stunned by how much her voice wasn't shaking, “I'm exhausted and I've got a lot of things on my mind and I don't want to waste another minute fighting with you about what happened on the Express.”

“We still have a few things to sort out about that little argument we had on the Express, you're not going to be able to avoid the inevitable, Weasley.” Benjamin replied with only the faintest bit of annoyance as he drew her closer to him, her body fitting so neatly against his that Roxanne fought against the urge to rest her head on his shoulder. In the past, there would have been no hesitation at all but things were so different now and she didn't trust herself, “we're going to be seeing a lot of each other because of the Royale and Prefect meetings so we need to work something out between us so our history with each other won't interfere.”

Roxanne knew that their growing antagonism for one another would cause problems and be a distraction during Prefect meetings. On the Quidditch pitch, however, she knew that it could be dangerous if she were constantly aware of every move he made and there was nothing worse at the moment than causing her team to be disqualified before the Royale even began. Carefully, she pressed her hand against his chest but Benjamin's larger hand covered hers, holding it over his heart, “...I'm not going to let whatever is going on between us get in the way of what I need to do.” Pleasure hummed through her as his thumb stroked along her skin, “you were the one who threatened me earlier so I—”

“I was merely making a promise, sweet. You accuse me all the time of not telling the truth about how I feel but you can't even accept how much you still want me,” Benjamin's lips were roaming along her cheek and Roxanne's breath caught before she jerked away with a harsh gasp. “Both of us are going to be busy in the next few weeks, you'll be studying for your OWLs and I have my NEWTs to get through. I'm not sure when I'll be able to get you alone again so we're going to talk about this now and you're not going to be able to run away from me when things don't go your way. Not this time,” there was something in his tone that frightened her.

Roxanne made a half hearted attempt to twist away from him but Benjamin wrapped an arm around her waist, anchoring her to him. It took all of her strength not to waste away completely but there were too many unspoken words, memories and emotions between them and even if she had wanted to run, she would still be trapped. “What do you want to even talk about, Ben? How much of a rotten prat you were?” the sharp accusation came out far more coolly than she had intended and his brows lifted, eyes shifting with genuine anger, “...what makes you think that I even want to hear it?” some ridiculous part of her leaped at the thought of a possible apology and she nearly cursed.

Benjamin was silent for a moment but she could practically feel the twist and turn of his thoughts. There was something unsettling about the silence that fell around them and Roxanne wondered what he could possibly be thinking, her throat felt tight, “Let me remind you, sweet that I wasn't the only one hurling insults earlier.” An indignant sound exploded from between her stiff lips at the uncomfortable truth, “you did your share of damage too and while we're on that subject, we're going to have to put what happened on the Express behind us.” He paused for a moment as if he were allowing the words to sink in, “I won't have the time to be arguing with you anymore.”

“What do you expect me to do?” Roxanne demanded, startled.

“Let it go.” Benjamin's voice was nowhere near harsh but for some reason, the words caused Roxanne to reel slightly. The world felt like it was spinning for several minutes before he gently tilted her face up, his touch firm but gentle, “I've been thinking a lot about what we talked about and I'm not going to deny that I've been a prick to you but you need to own up to the fact that you expected too much.” He paused for a moment as if he were unsure of continuing and Roxanne wanted nothing more than to burst into tears, that morning roaring to life again in her mind, “ was wrong of what I did and we both know it but you wanted something that I can't give and you're not the sort of girl that I need.”

“You're too soft and sweet, I need a woman, not a girl.”
Roxanne felt as if her soul had been properly stepped on and she struggled to gather her breath, finding it difficult to hold his stare. These were the words that had been whispering in the back of her mind and even though he had already said them before, it hurt to see the regret in his eyes. Why did he have to keep pushing her away and then toying with her when he was upset? What was she to him? “I...” there was a hard lump in her throat. “You seem to change your mind quite a bit about what you want, Ben. One minute you're like this and the next you're trying to seduce me, you should really try making up your mind.”

A ripple of tension gripped Benjamin's body and she tensed visibly, knowing that she had spoken the truth. Even after they had fought so viciously on the Express, he had intentionally sought her out outside the Great Hall, “Maybe you're right but you know I can't help teasing you.” There was a wry twist to his mouth and Roxanne wondered if he would have used any excuse to talk to her for just a few minutes but couldn't imagine why he would go through the trouble. “I suppose I don't appreciate the fact that you pretend not to still want me but it's not fair of me to keep pestering you...even if it is a lot of fun.” He appeared only mildly apologetic but she sensed that there was more that was being left unsaid.

“You deliberately embarrassed me in front of everyone earlier outside of the Great Hall just to prove some kind of stupid point, didn't you?” Roxanne asked him furiously, finally beginning to understand why he had tormented her so ruthlessly earlier. Although her jumbled mind was trying to pick up the pieces, she couldn't help but think that he had wanted Adam to see them together, it would explain why he had appeared so smug. There was already a lot of tension between them and she hated that he enjoyed toying with her so much, it was more than a little cruel, “I know that I can't control what happens whenever I kiss you but you're not going to be able to use that against me just to give yourself an ego boost.”

Benjamin's black brows rose in astonishment at the heated words and she felt his body stiffen with what could only be anger. Roxanne was certain that she had unconsciously struck a nerve with her remarks and she gasped as his grip on her hand tightened, the pressure no longer warm somehow, “Since when would someone like me need an ego boost, Weasley?” he asked with a wicked amount of arrogance. “I never knew that it was so embarrassing for you to be seen with me in public,” her heart skipped a beat at his vicious tone. “I was handing over your well-deserved Prefect badge that you'd dropped and I couldn't help but tease you just a always seem to bring out the worst in me.”

Chills danced down Roxanne's spine and she struggled to free herself from his hold, knowing that it was impossible. It was like being held against a solid brick wall and she glared into his infuriated face, her face heating with aggravation, “I've never been embarrassed of you Ben so you can really stop acting so wounded.” She snapped with barely controlled anger at both his nerve and sarcasm, “I'm sick of playing games with you!” her voice rose and she quickly bit back her next words. The last thing anyone needed to see was the two of them standing like this in a darkened corridor, she could only imagine the gossip that would erupt. “You're always pushing me away and you made it obvious that I'm not good enough,”

Benjamin's lips tightened slightly at having his cruel words tossed back at him and she felt her body being pressed more closely against him. Roxanne allowed her fingernails to curl into his robes, ignoring the gentle caress of his thumb sweeping along the curve of her hand, “That's what's really bothering you now, isn't it?” he asked her softly, his tone holding a bit of weariness. “Maybe I was a little harsh earlier but I was just trying to be honest, you know more than anyone how people treat my family,” he hesitated for a moment and she wondered what secret was on the tip of his tongue. “...I can't risk having you break down whenever things get too tough for you.”

“I do not break down!” Roxanne snapped, taken aback.

“Weasley, you're a brat.” Benjamin replied calmly, ignoring her outburst. Roxanne felt her face flushing with heat, knowing that it was the same insult that her own family had been throwing around for years, “your parents have spoiled you rotten and whenever you don't get your way, you either cry or make a major fuss. A lot of things have changed since I've come back and everyone's going to be sniffing for me to step out of line and I've already been accused of starting fights,” she opened her mouth to say something but he cut her off with a dark stare that made her stomach squirm. “I'm not going to risk putting my dad's reputation on the line by dating someone who won't be able to handle the scorn that comes with my last name.”

Roxanne thought that she would collapse from the accusation and she wondered if he had truly forgotten how protective of each other they had been in the past. When they had been younger, the children in Diagon Alley had teased them mercilessly and their attitude towards their friendship didn't change once she came to Hogwarts, “I've never abandoned you, Ben and a few little taunts have never been enough to stop me from standing by you when we needed each other.” What sort of secrets were he hiding that he was so afraid of leaking out to the public? “...I thought...” her voice was beginning to fail her and she knew that she would cry if she didn't control herself.

Benjamin remained silent for a very long time and she felt his hand running down her back to soothe away the tremor she couldn't control. Roxanne was fighting against the urge to lash out at him and curl against his chest like a pitiful child, it had never failed her in the past but the memories only hurt to remember, “Calm down.” He whispered softly, easing away the tremors with effortless skill. Rage bubbled in the pool of her heart and she stiffened, fighting against the burn of tears, “things are different now and I'm grateful for everything you did for me when we were kids but I'm not the same. I'm not the same person you knew a year ago but you're the one who's been trying so damn hard not to change.”

“I have changed,” Roxanne gritted out fiercely.

“Then why are you crying?” Benjamin asked, wiping away a stray tear.

Roxanne felt her heart lurch but an overwhelming rush of agony swept through every fiber of her being, making it hard to breathe. The force of it was so powerful that it was a miracle that she didn't burst o grotesquely out of her skin, “Stop belittling me and get your fucking hands off!” she cried, twisting in his arms. Benjamin held onto her easily enough, though his face drained of color in the lantern light, “...I hate you so much! You can say how much you want me until you choke but it's not going to change the fact that maybe you don't deserve me.” Benjamin seemed so surprised that his grip loosened, allowing her to shove him away.

Roxanne knew that she wouldn't have had the power to even push him back a few inches if she hadn't caught him so off guard. Benjamin actually stumbled away from her and she saw a strange flush come into his cheeks, his breathing becoming rather harsh with emotions that were too intense for her to comprehend. The world felt as if it were swaying dangerously underneath her feet and she knew that what she had just said was affecting him in a way that hurt far more than any physical pain, “...Isn't that what you want me to say?” she whispered gently, her eyes stinging. “You don't think that I'm good enough for you but I'm starting to think that you're the one...”

“Be quiet.” Benjamin snarled, startling her.

“You have a lot of nerve—” Roxanne said defiantly.

Benjamin's expression was difficult to really see and even though there were only a few inches between them, she couldn't discern his emotions. The lantern light in the corridor only offered a haunting outline of his features and she watched as he blinked harshly, his breathing ragged, “Be quiet, Roxanne!” he snapped angrily and she felt herself jump. A wound had just been opened and too late, Roxanne knew exactly what deep-rooted fear she had unintentionally touched, “...I'm pushing you away from me because I know that it would be best for you. Being attached to a Malfoy would only bring you trouble and you're not mature enough to handle it but I can't help but wonder how long you've thought that about me...”

Roxanne thought that the corridor was beginning to shake but she realized with a harsh gasp that it was just her legs threatening to give way. Benjamin had been scorned and rejected his entire life and while she didn't understand how he could justify his actions with such flimsy explanations, her words had truly devastated him. “...I've been trying to tell you from the beginning that that's never how I felt about you,” he flinched away from the truth as if she had burned him. “You've always been a part of my life but after everything that's happened, what do you expect?” she asked hoarsely, her hand trembling slightly as she wiped her streaming eyes. “...Isn't it what you want?”

“You don't know what I want.” Benjamin hissed tightly, his eyes vacant.

“Then talk to me, please—” Roxanne started, stricken.

Benjamin forced himself to meet her gaze and she saw that he appeared completely lost and vulnerable. It was a side of him that she had rarely seen and Roxanne wondered how he continually had the power to draw her in, “You wouldn't understand, stop staring at me like that. I hate it when you stare at me like that,” he whispered harshly, a note of desperation entering his voice that concerned her. Roxanne wasn't sure what compelled her to move closer but she took a hesitant step forward on rubbery legs, her heart aching for him, “it's already hard enough to stay away from you—I always seem to know how you feel even when you're nowhere near me.”

Roxanne found herself coming to a halt abruptly, those were nearly the same words that she had spoken to Molly on the Express. It was exactly how she always felt about him, the unbearable tug and pull forcing them together time and time again, “Ben, how long have you felt that way?” she asked him quietly. The question seemed to confuse him and he watched her warily as her steps drew closer, his body tensing and a flush going into his cheeks that was either embarrassment or need. “I wish that you would just talk to me, it's not healthy to bottle up everything like dad has the same problem whenever things are too hard for him to handle.”

The unlikely comparison only caused Benjamin's face to cloud with shame and what looked like a bit of denial, his eyes straying away from hers. There were a thousand meanings in that one gesture but Roxanne feared that he was too proud to reveal them, “It's not the same thing, Weasley.” He whispered, his voice so low that she barely heard him. It seemed to take him an eternity to finally meet her stare and although there wasn't much distance between them, they may as well have been miles apart, “Weasley, I don't expect you to understand—”

“Stop telling me what I wouldn't understand.” Roxanne interrupted firmly and there must have been something in her expression because he appeared to waver. The pain that he was keeping so carefully guarded was threatening to burst and some part of her knew that she might regret not turning her back on him now but it would haunt her forever if she became that cruel. There was no time now for running away from her problems and she refused to leave things so tattered again, “you don't have to tell me anything, it's obvious that you would rather not but at least answer my question. How long have you felt that way about me?”

“I've always felt that way about you, you're everywhere I go.” Benjamin replied with a look of perplexed look, as if he dreaded the thought of some other force guiding his actions. Roxanne let out a shaky breath, wondering how the universe could be so cruel as to have something so monumental come from the one person that would never be allow himself to love her, “when I was in Italy, it was nothing but torture being away from you for so long, one year felt like ten. I wasn't able to...” he quickly reigned in his emotions but she was immobilized by the force of the confession, “you're the only person that's ever had that kind of hold on me and I can't fucking stand it.”

Roxanne was stunned by the admission and she wondered how long he had been trying to deny the feelings that had been eating her alive. Benjamin wasn't able to hold her gaze and she thought that he appeared far younger just then, as if he had regressed back to the boy that she had known all those years ago, “You can't stand knowing that you might actually care about me a little more than you're willing to admit.” It wasn't a secret between them but it was so glaringly obvious now that she couldn't understand why he was so willing to hurt her in order to protect himself, “....after everything that's happened between us since you've come back, I can't wait for you to change your mind or even hope that you will.”

Benjamin's shoulders stiffened but he gave a slight nod as if he were more than willing to accept the words, his eyes becoming round with disbelief. An unbearable silence descended upon them and Roxanne began to wonder if he would change somehow in the next few minutes, sweep her into his arms and make everything right but nothing happened. What was wrong with her? It had been so stupid to even think that she should even think something so ridiculous and she gave him a curt nod before turning awkwardly on her heel. “I'll, uhm, see you at the next Prefect meeting but just a bit of advice,” she turned slightly to smile at him weakly, “you should try smiling every now and then. It works wonders—”

Before Benjamin could respond, the sound of footsteps descended upon them and Roxanne turned away from him distractedly. Hogwarts was such a large place but had shrunk down to the size of a den as they had talked and she wondered if a ghost or teacher had somehow heard them, “I thought I heard voices.” Adam Jordan commented idly as he appeared down the length of corridor that she had come from, his wand held aloft to light his way. The lantern light nearby had nearly been snuffed out and she wondered how long she had been talking to Benjamin, “Rox, is that you? I figured something was wrong when you didn't come back to the common room and I guess I was half right.” He said dryly, spotting Benjamin.

“Yeah, it's me, Adam.” Roxanne muttered.

Adam lowered his wand. “Thank Merlin, are you okay?”

“I'm all right,” Roxanne assured, forcing a smile.

“Good to know,” Adam replied with a glance in her direction, his eyes assessing her flushed face and posture. His brows rose questionably and for a moment he looked so much like his father that Roxanne was stunned by the rush of affection she felt, he had never appeared so capable before, “one of your dorm mates told me that you were just going to the Owlery but it's dark and I was starting to think that something had happened since you didn't come back.” A blush was beginning to burn underneath his brown skin and she heard Benjamin snort with suppressed laughter, “I know you can handle yourself but I just thought I'd come look for you.”

Roxanne was touched by his concern and shifted slightly, uncomfortable with having Benjamin at her back. There was a ripple of tension going through him that she could practically taste and it made her wary, “You didn't have to go through the trouble but thank you.” She said to Adam, ignoring the scornful look Benjamin shot her way. He was glancing between them keenly, as if he were searching for any lingering traces of passion on their skin, “I was just on my way back to the common room when you showed up.” Her explanation only caused Adam to frown skeptically and he darted a quick glance at Benjamin suspiciously, “we can walk back together if you want.”

Adam sent her a beaming smile and she saw that his eyes had lit up with hope, a sheepish expression following soon after. It was obvious that he didn't want to look like a besotted idiot in front of the person he hated the most, “Er, sure, Rox.” Before Roxanne could motion for him to start walking, intending on ignoring Benjamin and putting this horrible night to an end, the boy gave a sharp glance in his direction. “Malfoy,” he said with all the politeness he could muster.

“Jordan,” Benjamin acknowledged coolly.

The haughty, disinterested response only seemed to aggravate Adam and Roxanne saw that he was clutching his wand far too tightly. Benjamin noticed the subtle action as well but merely sent the boy a pitying glance that would have destroyed a small horde of demons, “It's good to know that you're sneaking around Hogwarts keeping everyone safe.” Adam drawled with a look of offended outrage, his lips turning down in an ugly scowl, “what were you doing skulking around so late at night anyway? Hunting for more victims to feed on?” he asked meanly, his voice reeking with contempt.

“Now that you're here, I can get started.” Benjamin said delightedly.

Adam flinched. “You think everyone is afraid of you, don't you?”

Benjamin shrugged carelessly. “Shouldn't they be?”

Roxanne frowned, glancing between them. “Stop it, both of you—”

“I'm not afraid of you,” Adam started threateningly but forced himself to stop as he caught the look Roxanne gave him. The boy folded his arms across his chest and muttered something foul underneath his breath that caused Benjamin to grin tauntingly, his blue-brown eyes narrowed maliciously, “I don't know what's going on but I'm not a complete idiot.” He glanced at her with a knowing glance that made her feel as if he had looked inside of her soul, it was another side to him that she hadn't expected, “anyone looking could tell that you're upset and I'm going to make a wild guess and say that it was probably Malfoy's fault.”

Roxanne felt a blush work its way into her cheeks but she was uncomfortable to realize that he might have overheard their conversation. Adam regarded Benjamin with open distrust and she worried that he would go too far to avenge her, “Adam, stop trying to pick a fight over nothing, I already told you that I was all right.” She said firmly and the boy instantly looked embarrassed and sent her a soft smile. Their petty fight during the Feast apparently was forgotten and he genuinely appeared to have been worried, “...sorry that I worried you but I lost track of time.” Benjamin sent her a guarded glance that tore her to pieces.

“And the raised voices were because....?” Adam asked loftily.

Benjamin's eyes narrowed slightly but Roxanne managed to gather her breath before he could say another word. The anger pulsing around him was becoming dangerous and she didn't want Adam to be caught in the cross fire, he wouldn't be able to make it out of that fight with his body parts intact, “We were arguing about Quidditch and which House would be able to make it in the Royale.” She explained quickly, the lie slipping easily from her tongue and instantly distracting Adam. “Malfoy and I were having a bit of a disagreement about our two teams and what he also wanted to let me know what he'll expect out of us helpless Prefects in the next few weeks.”

Adam didn't seem to miss the pointed use of his last name and Benjamin's eyes appeared wounded before he forced the emotion to vanish. Roxanne felt as if she had deeply injured him but she had to make it clear that things between them were really over, especially after everything that had been said tonight, “Uhm, right. I can understand why you'd want to get that out of the way,” her fellow Hufflepuff said after a moment with a smirk in Benjamin's direction. He received a murderous one in return and the air seemed chill, “I can't really blame you but if the two of you are finished...talking or whatever, we can head back down to the common room now.”

Roxanne gave a short nod. “Right,”

Benjamin watched the exchange with a fathomless expression and she sensed that he wanted to reach out for her but was holding back. That tug and pull between them was as strong as ever and Roxanne wondered if it would ever fade away, she didn't like having a mocking reminder of him everywhere she went, “I suppose we'll have to continue our little discussion about the Royale during the next Prefect meeting.” The boy said with a charming smile in her direction, his eyes piercing into hers like shards of glass, “I can hardly wait to find out which team makes it. Slytherin is going to be hard to beat this year, I'll make sure to not hold anything back,” this last was said in Adam's direction, his charming smile nothing but teeth.

Adam's face hardened slightly at the unsubtle threat and Roxanne knew Benjamin well enough to know that he meant every single word. They had opened up more than a few wounds tonight and it would take much more than just a talk to put it behind them, “Looking forward to it, Malfoy. Hufflepuff isn't filled with as many pushovers as you've always thought,” Benjamin ran his eyes over him critically before giving her a mocking bow. Roxanne felt her face burn, it was perhaps the rudest taunt that he could have ever given, “what the hell was that for?”

“Don't worry yourself over things that aren't any of your business.” Benjamin replied darkly to the boy before turning his back on them and striding away from them. Roxanne saw that his fists were clenched tightly to his sides, sensing that he would be taking out his anger on more of his fellow Slytherins if they even dared to look at him wrong, “I hope the two of you have a good night but I'm pretty sure that it'll be over before anything interesting happens.” Adam's face flushed with humiliation and he opened his mouth to make a retort but Roxanne placed a hand on his arm, watching as Benjamin disappeared.

Adam cursed under his breath and Roxanne urged him to start walking back the way they had come, allowing him to calm down on his own. They walked in silence for the majority of the trip, his wand light illuminating their way and she wasn't able to ignore his covert glances, “Rox, I need to ask you something.” The two of them were standing outside of the common room, his words startling her out of unpleasant thoughts and forcing her to accept reality. Roxanne nodded for him to continue, “I'm not stupid, I think I know what happened. Is it really over between the two of you now?”

The question didn't surprise her but Roxanne's mind swirled with various images of Benjamin by her side, his familiar smile tormenting. Over the years, she had given him nothing but affection and support but he had given her nothing but emptiness in return and there was nothing left to hold onto, “Yes,” she said softly, resolute. “It's over.”

Chapter 19: Antidote
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A/N: Hello, my lovelies! You guys are really amazing for coming back to this story after all this time and I hope you enjoy this chapter! Much love.

Roxanne thought that the steady pop and crack of sizzling liquids was oddly relaxing as she found herself adding the last ingredients to Maiden's Wrath, a difficult poison that Zabini had assigned. Magical Drafts and Potions named it as one of the most unusual poisons that had ever been created, namely for the fact that it could reduce a person into a dream-like state that was nearly impossible to cure. The Potions classroom was located deep in the castle's dungeons but the common draft that Roxanne had always loathed had fled quickly as the rising steam from dozens of cauldrons had filled the air, “This has got to be the hardest poison that the vampire has ever given us.” Adam Jordan muttered viciously across from her. His cauldron was spewing a rather noxious green cloud that made her nostrils burn, “I don't know how you do it, Rox.”

Potions was a curious form of magic that required both concentration and patience but never failed to relax her. Roxanne found something the entire process to be peaceful and doubted if there were many people that felt the same except for Zabini himself, who never failed to remind them all of their ineptitude. For the past four years, she had been considered his most skilled student and although he refused to praise her often, his rare smiles were enough, “I think the vampire is going to sweep you away and make you a part of his nest if you're not careful.” Perce had warned the other day after he had overheard Adam bragging about her latest accomplishment. “He might not keep you for long once he realizes how annoying you are,” he had teased before she had swatted him away.

Roxanne thought that the silly rumors about the Potions master being a servant of the living dead was completely ridiculous. Zabini was far from a jolly man but she had heard from Professor McMillan that he had fought during the Battle of Hogwarts and still had many wounds that had yet to fully heal, “I think that you're giving me a little too much, credit Adam.” She replied wryly to the awestruck boy. Adam merely shook his head at her humble words and went back to flipping roughly through his battered textbook, “It just takes a little practice.” That caused him to laugh a little, considering that both of their partners (Who were usually very competent) had been sent to the infirmary earlier after their cauldrons had exploded and sprayed them in a sticky orange goop that had made them swell nearly three times their normal size.

The mess had taken nearly twenty minutes to clean up and Roxanne thought that they had both been a little too hasty with their bold ingredients. Amanda Rivers had been intent on outdoing her this lesson and had been far too engrossed in Erick Spinks's “improvised” instructions to really listen to reason, “I think that the two of them are going to give Hagrid's pumpkins a run for their Galleons this year.” Adam remarked with a grin as he looked up from his textbook. His brown eyes were twinkling and Roxanne couldn't help but snicker in amusement, “Rivers was a bloody idiot for listening to Spinks's crazy ideas.” Zabini wouldn't have appreciated their attempts to create a completely different poison regardless but Roxanne thought that they had learned their lesson.

“Rivers is always trying to get a little attention and I think she was getting desperate since her poison wasn't turning out right.” Roxanne informed with a grin. The fact that she was the best student in their entire year had always irritated the girl but she had never bragged about her talent and had never thought of it as a competition. Georgia Wood thought that she was just modest but the only competitiveness that she showed was when there was a Quidditch game and she always made sure that she tried her hardest, “it's a good thing that their potion didn't get on too many other people.” Catherine Jones, Phoebe Yaxley and a few other students had been splattered with the mess by accident, “Hagrid could have used them for props in his garden, though.”

Adam nearly choked on his laughter and wiped his brow with the back of his head, his brown skin flushed to a dark red. The Potions room was beginning to stew and Roxanne could hardly wait for the lesson to be over, her uniform was sticking nastily to her damp skin, “It was a pretty dumb thing for them to do but I can't blame them for trying to stand out a little. Zabini is a bloody hard person to get a smile from,” he gave a curse as his poison began to burp green clouds the size of Bludgers, “you've got a natural talent for this, Rox.” His voice was filled with unbridled admiration, “if I don't scrape through my OWL exam with a decent mark, my parents are never going to let me live it down and the last thing I want is to spend another year with Zabini glaring a hole into my forehead.”

An expression of pure horror flashed across his face, causing Roxanne to laugh a little as she added a small drop of mermaid's tears into the depths of her cauldron. Maiden's Wrath had proven to be quite the challenge but she was determined to recreate the sample that Zabini had allowed them to see before the lesson had begun, “Adam, I don't think either of your parents would want you to suffer through another year with Zabini either so you have to make sure you pass.” Her voice was wry but she watched with satisfaction as the poison turned into a pale blue color that smelt curiously like peppermint. Adam sent her a bland stare as she stirred the bubbling brew counterclockwise, “I'm pretty sure that Zabini is just trying to get us prepared for OWLs but Potions has never been very hard for me.” She admitted with a helpless little shrug.

Transfiguration had always been a bit more difficult for her to grasp and the amount of homework that was being assigned was driving her insane. It had only been two weeks but OWLs were turning out to be a complete nightmare but she managed to steal away in the library with Molly or Karen to tackle the mountainous pile of homework that the professors had started to give them. Molly patiently helped her through the dull notes from History of Magic and Astronomy while Karen offered to help her create a small picture dictionary for Care of Magical Creatures, “I don't think it's wise to talk about OWLs in front of anyone right now, Rox.” Adam warned her in a low whisper that caused him to look simply devilish. “You're going to make someone go into shock,” he added carefully.

Roxanne barely managed to stifle her laughter as she finished stirring her poison and inhaled the sweet fragrance. Maiden's Wrath may be a poison but she couldn't help but admit that it was deliciously deceiving, which was probably why it had been considered so deadly, “I've already gotten more than a few migraines and if Molly drags me into the library to stare at another moldy old book, I'll scream.” Her cousin was often found roaming the aisles after dinner but she had never been able to tolerate the scent of old leather, parchment and aged ink, “the only OWL exam that I'm worried about is for Transfiguration but there's no telling what Zabini might make us do and he'll laugh at me if I fail.”

Adam merely shook his head in despair and peered into his cauldron with a revolted expression that made her wince. His blonde Mohawk was beginning to droop and she thought that he appeared rather panicked, “Rox, Zabini will make sure that you pass your exam because you're his favorite student.” The green cloud wafting from his cauldron was causing his skin to appear grey and she knew that the stench alone was powerful enough to defeat an army, “I think that you've got good genes, my dad told me that your mum was always really good at Potions.” Roxanne couldn't help but nod in agreement, her mother had been the genius behind many of Weasley's Wizard Wheeze's most famous trick sweets. “Neither of my parents were very good at it. I was doomed before I even began,” he said dramatically.

“You'll be doomed if you don't finish in time,” Roxanne warned, smiling.

Adam shuddered visibly. “Don't remind me,”

The past hour had flown by far more quickly than Roxanne could have anticipated and she glanced absently at the clock across the room. It would be a relief to finally step outside again and inhale a fresh gust of air, “You should at least try and get something done before the class is over, you know how Zabini is. He'll make an example out of you,” her voice was grave. Adam's brown cheeks paled drastically and he glanced around apprehensively but let out a sigh of relief as they spotted Zabini hovering menacingly over Alfred Runcorn's rumbling cauldron, “my dad says that he's a lot like Severus Snape used to be but I never see him favoring anyone from Slytherin.” She commented idly, knowing that the imposing man was their Head of House and treated them all like undeserving scum.

“I think he just hates everyone,” Adam replied dryly.

Roxanne opened her mouth to say something to that but found herself remaining quiet as her mind became swarmed with images of blue-brown eyes. The breath seemed to leave her lungs in harsh pants and she was aware of a flush coming into her cheeks that had nothing at all to do with the heat of the room, “...I think he hates some people more than others.” Her voice was nearly too low to be overheard but Adam shot her a perplexed glance that made her chest feel as if it had been properly stepped on. The last thing that she wanted to do was dwell on the disaster that was Benjamin Malfoy but she couldn't help but recall that Zabini had always despised him, though it was Mr. Malfoy that he held a deep grudge for.

Mr. Malfoy had failed to be brave during the Battle of Hogwarts, choosing to hide instead of fighting back and Roxanne remembered Benjamin saying a year ago that Zabini had never forgiven him for it. Slytherin House had been plunged in disgrace for several years after the War because of their cowardice but she thought that holding such a dislike for the man proved nothing, Mr. Malfoy had personally helped fund the money for the school's reconstruction. It was incredibly unfair that the Wizarding world remembered all of the evil but never focused on the good that his father had done and Roxanne knew that it had to be a heartbreaking existence, “...I'm pushing you away from me because I know that it would be best for you.

Benjamin's voice echoed in her mind like a taunting melody and Roxanne was so startled that she knocked over an open bottle of salamander eyes. Two weeks had passed since they had last spoken and she had been so busy lately that her mind had promptly swept the painful memory of that night away, “Rox, you're looking kind of green. I know that I'm making a major mess out of my potion but are you all right?” Adam asked her worriedly as she managed to gather a decent breath. Benjamin Malfoy was a curse no matter what her heart had told her, they had gone their separate ways but he still had the ability to steal her sanity, “it's gotten pretty warm in here, do you think that you need to step outside for a little while?” his eyes were roaming over her carefully, lingering on her wounded eyes.

“No, no. I'm...I'm fine,” Roxanne assured hastily.

Adam frowned doubtfully. “Are you sure?”

Roxanne sent him a beaming smile but it felt forced and flat, her heart suddenly heavy with far too many memories. It's just not fair, she thought bleakly, “Really, Adam I'm fine. I think that you should be paying more attention to your poison, we've only got a few minutes left.” Her voice held a faint tremor but Adam thankfully didn't comment as he allowed his gaze to drift back to his bubbling cauldron. The green clouds had turned into wisps of pink smoke that smelt suspiciously like moldy feet, “Zabini might not have time to make fun of you if you hurry.” Their professor was currently regarding the clock with a look of pure longing, “just take your time and try not to get impatient or else you might end up making things worse—don't add those dragon scales until after you've let it sit for three minutes.”

Adam let out a slew of harsh curses as he allowed the bottle of dragon scales to slide from his fingers and land with a hard thud on his open textbook. Roxanne watched the brilliant slivers of purple, red and gold scatter along the station like blood before checking the progress of her own poison. The batch of Maiden's Wrath was the exact shade of blue that the textbook preferred and she let out a sigh of relief before stirring it one last time to test its thickness, “You know, Rox...if something is bothering you, you can talk to me about it.” He murmured awkwardly after they had fallen silent. A noticeable blush flashed across his cheeks like fire, “I know that you probably won't want to talk about you-know-who with me but I'll still listen.”

“Who are you talking about?” Roxanne asked stupidly.

Adam shot her a dull stare. “Malfoy,”

Roxanne's voice hardened. “You're right. I don't want to talk about him,”

An anxious expression flashed across Adam's face and for a moment he appeared mollified but she was surprised when he spoke again. His voice was filled with a strange mixture of jealousy, kindness and concern, “I think that it would probably be best if you did try talking about it.” There was something in his tone that made her feel as if she had unintentionally hurt him somehow, “the two of you were always together and no matter how it makes me feel, I know that you must have cared about Malfoy a lot.” A faint blush swept across his brown cheeks and Roxanne was suddenly overwhelmed by the amount of feeling that passed between them. It was clear that his feelings for her weren't some passing fancy but the amount of warmth that went through her system was only matched by her panic.

“It doesn't matter how much I care, Adam but I've realized that he never really valued our friendship the way I thought.” Roxanne found herself replying calmly. The panic that was boiling in her system had spread to her heart and she was thankful that he wasn't able to read her mind or know that each word she spoke created a deep wound, “I never even heard from him after he left to Italy and the two of us have hardly spoken now that he's come back home.” The lie was easy to say but her mind was bombarded with the sensation of tender caresses that still had the power to weaken her soul, “everyone thinks that he came back to be with me, you should hear the stupid things Karen says in the common room every night but the truth is that we just don't have a lot to say to each other anymore.”

There was no point in holding on to the past but Roxanne was aware of her eyes threatening to sting from the force of her misery. Even though she had been too busy to dwell on Benjamin's absence in her life or what painful secrets were beginning to eat away at him, he had always lingered in the back of her thoughts. It would be impossible to forget him completely and she dreaded the day when she could look at him without sensing his hurt, “People have been gossiping about Malfoy since the Express but I can't blame them for thinking that he came back for you.” Adam responded darkly, his eyes burning with dislike. Roxanne stared at him in baffled amazement, “there's just something about the way he looks at you and I figured that I wouldn't even stand a chance with him around but since you've told me that things are over between you, I got my hopes up again.”

“Adam—” Roxanne started.

“Rox, I know that I shouldn't be saying this when I'm still trying to figure out a way to break up with Bee but I just wanted you to know that I'm still here.” Adam interrupted firmly, his voice laced with both determination and sadness. Roxanne wondered if she had been pining for Benjamin despite her best efforts not to and suddenly felt ashamed of herself for sinking back into that weakness, “this isn't time right place to be talking about this or anything and I'm pretty sure you're thinking that I'm a major dork.” He let out a shaky laugh, “I can't tell you how you should feel about Malfoy when I don't know what's happened but just seeing you so upset over him puts things into perspective for me. You haven't mentioned anything about how you feel but I know that it still hurts,” he lowered his eyes in an effort to shield his emotions from her.

The careful observation was startling in its accuracy and Roxanne felt her face flushing with guilty heat, unable to meet his inquiring stare. Adam Jordan was proving to be far more complex than she had ever thought possible and she had found herself enjoying his company these past two weeks, “I haven't mentioned anything about Be—Malfoy because there's nothing left to say. We were never together, despite what everyone has always thought and we haven't spoken since that night,” she replied uncomfortably, her chest aching. Benjamin hardly acknowledged her presence during Prefect meetings and she felt as if he had erased her from his mind, “we had a lot of issues to work out and now that we've talked it through, we're probably not going to have much to do with each other.”

A look of intense relief flashed in Adam's eyes before he sobered his expression into one of puzzled concentration. Roxanne was thankful that he hadn't pestered her about what had really transpired that night but she had often caught him fumbling for words, a dozen questions whirring in his mind, “Really?” he asked in unabashed delight. When she remained quiet, he stumbled for the right words, “look, I know that it's wrong of me to be happy about something like that but...I am.” He let out a harsh laugh before running a hand nervously down the front of his robes. The action was somehow endearing and she realized that he had been worried that something more would happen between them, “you and Malfoy have always been friends and it always felt like there was something more going on so I never wanted to get in the way.”

“Adam, you don't need to worry about that, it's all in the past.” Roxanne responded softly, even while the truth of her words were painful to hear. Benjamin's presence in her life had faded completely and she was certain that the two of them would never spend another moment together, though some part of her doubted if she would be so lucky. It was already difficult to see him during Prefect meetings but his disregard of her was so acute that she may as well have been invisible, “I've known Malfoy since I was ten years old so it's going to be kind of hard to forget him but things have changed and he doesn't have the time for...” her voice trailed away uncertainly. The past hardly mattered anymore but she was suddenly overcome as Benjamin's voice forced her to remember something else that he had said that night—

“I've always felt that way about you, you're everywhere I go.”

The confession had been completely unexpected and while Roxanne had always known that his feelings for her were complicated, they had still shocked her. Benjamin would never allow himself to admit that he could possibly care about someone he didn't deem good enough to share his world and that was what hurt the most—they had always been together. Roxanne had been devastated when he and his father had fled to Italy and she now knew that Benjamin had missed her just as strongly, had wanted to be with her so much that he might have hated her for it. How could something like that be her fault? Did he think that she was to blame for whatever he was feeling? Did he think that she made him weak?

Roxanne hadn't been able to stop that thought from forming and some awful part of her suspected that it might be true. There was nothing more terrifying to someone like Benjamin than voicing out their fears, hopes and desires, which were things that she had never kept a secret from him. A dull, stinging pang blossomed in the pit of her chest as she tried to force herself not to remember every moment that they had shared together but being back at Hogwarts had brought everything back, she had been bombarded with the past so often for the first few days that she had wondered if she were going mad,“You probably just don't want to talk about it right now. I'm sorry for bringing it up, Rox,” Adam's concerned voice banished the thoughts.

A peculiar warmth spread through Roxanne's body at the sincerity in his voice and she wondered why it felt like some kind of monumental betrayal. Benjamin had no intention of accepting how he felt about her and she didn't owe him anything, so why did it still hurt so much? “Adam, you're honestly a great person for asking.” She told the boy honestly, surprised by how much that seemed to flood her with gratitude, “but you shouldn't worry so much about me. There's nothing going on between Malfoy and me, we've let the past go,” her voice was far more confident than she would have thought possible but her heart twisted nastily at the lie. “Uhm, you had better try and finish up your poison now, we've only got about ten minutes left and I know that you don't want to be the butt of Zabini's jokes again.”

Adam had been staring at her with an absorbed intensity that created a strange sensation to stir in her heart. The feeling was completely alarming, frightening and unwanted but Roxanne wondered if it were purely a part of her own ridiculous longing for someone that continually haunted her every thought, “Right, right.” A nervous laugh escaped from the boy's lips as he turned back to his cauldron with a revolted expression, his shoulders slouching with defeat. Zabini was beginning to wander between stations with a clipboard at the ready, his dark eyes scanning for either the first sign of tears or a futile attempt at victory, “we'll find some other time to talk about this but I just thought I'd let you know that you can cry on my shoulder anytime you feel like it.” He lowered his voice conspiratorially, “I may end up crying soon myself if I have to stay latched on to Bee for much longer.”

Roxanne shot him a glance for the remark but he merely shrugged innocently before returning to his work, a soft smile on his face. Bianca Shepard apparently was far from giving up on their relationship and although she had seen them arguing a few times and ignoring one another, she wondered what strange thing bound her to him. Was it the same tug and pull that tore her apart whenever Benjamin was near? That was a question that she didn't dare ask, though memories of passionate kisses and heated, delightful caresses made it hard to breathe. Images swam unbidden in her mind for several minutes and no matter how much she tried to forget that morning at Malfoy Manor, her lips still stung from kisses that had done nothing more than to ensure his hold over her, “I've always felt that way about you, you're everywhere I go.”

The words teased the corners of her mind, taunting but Roxanne vainly pushed the sound of his voice down into the depths of her soul. Benjamin's presence in her life was over and she had to force herself to accept that fact without causing Perce or any of her family to suspect how truly hurt she was. Roxanne longed to be more like her mother, she felt so weak in comparison, “'re the only person that's ever had that kind of hold on me and I can't fucking stand it.” She had never thought that it would be possible to see Benjamin Malfoy's defenses break down but she would never forget it. He had never allowed himself to be so vulnerable before and her mind drifted back to the odd boy that he had been so long ago, wondering why the past could still hurt so badly if it were truly over.


The remainder of the morning seemed to pass by in such a blur of activity that Roxanne found it almost a miracle that she survived. September was proving to be wet, cold and appropriately miserable for everyone and she had felt herself wilting with each step by the time Herbology came around, “I swear to God if I don't die from this weather, these slippery grounds will kill me first.” Adam had proclaimed moodily as they had walked towards the greenhouses with their class. It had rained the night before and Roxanne had had to use all of her strength to keep moving through the sludge, her robes caked with dirt and grime by the time they finally made it to their destination. Slytherin had shared the lesson with the Ravenclaws before them and Roxanne briefly caught a glance of Molly as she walked out, her head bent low against the biting wind as if she were holding back either a distressed sob or scream.

Roxanne was unsure what could be troubling her best friend but the sight had sent a bizarre feeling through her, though Molly had been far too engrossed in her thoughts to notice that she had been spotted. The image of her miserable face had been so worrying that she had been completely careless during Professor Longbottom's lesson and a vicious Tentacula ended up biting her wrist for her lack of interest, “Son of a bitch,” Roxanne had muttered angrily, sucking furiously on the wound. Cynthia Brocklehurst had winced in genuine sympathy but Adam, who had been nearby, quietly laughed at her injury until she'd sent him a warning glare that was met with a challenging one that had made her cheeks turn uncomfortably red. She had been unable to forget about their conversation during Potions.

Their moment together had caused a faint ripple of awareness and awkwardness to linger over their heads but Adam had blessedly refrained from mentioning it again. Roxanne doubted if he would be brave to talk about it again but she was privately glad that he had reached out to try and comfort her—it probably hadn't been easy for him to do when his dislike of Benjamin was so strong. The boy was cordial during their Prefect meetings but their Head Boy held as much kindness towards him as he would a pile of dragon dung and Roxanne doubted if she was the only one that noticed. Adam didn't seem to mind but she sensed that he was a little afraid of Benjamin, which was something that she couldn't quite blame him for after seeing the pure hatred that had flared in his eyes the instant he would step into the room.

Roxanne was completely ignored during those meetings, however and knew that Benjamin would never bother acknowledging his own envy. Thoughts of him tormented her for most of the morning and she was a bit thankful that the Tentacula bite was able to distract her enough from both Molly and the hue of his eyes, “You had better be more careful in the future when you're dealing with these, Roxanne.” Professor Longbottom had warned after the lesson was over and she'd wandered over to him, holding out her throbbing wrist with a pitiful whine. He had quickly taken care of it with a small dab of dittany before shooing her out of the greenhouse and Roxanne had been especially thankful for the lollipop as well. “Don't tell Hermione that I gave you this either,” he had warned playfully.

Even though Aunt Hermione had told him that it wouldn't be fair to spoil them, he couldn't quite help himself. Roxanne had promised the Herbology teacher that she wouldn't tell a soul, living or dead before wandering back into the castle feeling far more pleased with herself than she should have been. Charms went by without much incident and she managed to slug through Transfiguration and History of Magic without falling asleep. Professor Binns's descriptions of goblin wars were dull enough to reduce even the most enthusiastic student to tears of boredom and she had doodled lazily on a sheet of parchment for most of the lesson. Roxanne was certain that she wouldn't be achieving a very high mark for that particular exam and knew that none of her relatives would hold anything against her if she did.

“Thank Merlin that's over. I've heard nothing but horror stories about OWLs my entire life but I don't think my parents are going to be all that shocked when I get a T on my History of Magic exam,” Adam was saying cheerfully to her as they wandered towards the Great Hall for lunch an hour later, his eyes sparkling with amusement. The corridor was bustling noisily with dozens of conversations, arguments and laughter that made it almost hard to hear him over the unending roar, “Binns has been teaching for so long that I think he's forgotten that he's dead. Shouldn't he have moved on by now and gone to the great beyond?” his tone was dry and Roxanne glanced up at him curiously, amused by his disgruntled expression.

“Maybe it's not all it's cracked up to be,” Roxanne replied, laughing.

Adam's face broke out in a grin. “Can you imagine how bored you'd be without Peeves?”

Roxanne had never given it much thought before but couldn't imagine what her days at Hogwarts would be like without the poltergeist. Her face must have been a comical mixture of horror and disbelief because Adam roared with laughter, “I think that Filch would miss him a lot more than I would to be honest.” The caretaker had been intent on banishing the ghoul for half a century and she wasn't quite sure what he would do with himself if he ever succeeded, “Peeves is always harassing him and I think he might actually give him a heart attack one of these days. I don't know why everyone says he's such a pest because he's never done anything to me, he's actually quite the little conversationalist.”

Peeves had helped her succeed in various pranks over the past two weeks and on those rare nights when there was nothing to do, they talked. Roxanne didn't think that there was anything unusual about this or the bouquets of roses that the ghost left for her every morning but Adam was staring down at her with a baffled look, “You have to be out of your mind to think that he's good for conversation.” The boy said with a mournful shake of his head as they rounded a sharp corner and passed by a group of gossiping Ravenclaw girls, “if that's what the competition is like then I think I've got a pretty decent shot at making you mine.” He was merely teasing but the words caused a blush to blossom on her cheeks and she shot him a dubious glance, “...we don't have to talk about that but just know that I'm bound to surprise you.”

Roxanne allowed a silence to fall between them and was aware of her heart pounding, though she wondered how it could betray her so swiftly. The scents wafting from the Great Hall became more pronounced as they walked and she desperately tried to think of a topic that might banish the awkwardness that had fallen, “Are you prepared to meet me on the pitch for the Hufflepuff try-outs this weekend?” the question instantly captured Adam's attention and his face brightened. Quidditch try-outs were something that she had been looking forward to and she was relieved that the new captain had managed to steal the pitch for a few hours, “the Royale isn't until October but everyone is fighting for a chance to get a practice ready, I hope that we haven't missed our chance. Gryffindor and Ravenclaw already have their teams,”

Perce had been unable not to brag about securing the Chaser position once again with Leanne and Georgia Wood the other night. The thrilling news of the Ultimate Quidditch Royale had been nonstop gossip for nearly everyone in Hogwarts and Roxanne was becoming increasingly impatient to be back on her broom, “My mum told me the other night that everyone has been fighting with each other like a pack of trolls to get a chance on the pitch.” Adam informed, his mother was the Muggle Studies teacher but coached Quidditch games during her spare time, “I don't know what McLaggen was thinking, waiting so long to hold try-outs but if he doesn't scrape together a team, we might not even make it to our first game.” His voice was grim, “Hopkins wouldn't have made such a dumb mistake.”

Annabelle Hopkins had been their Quidditch captain since they had joined the team their second year and Roxanne couldn't imagine a game without her. The girl had been demanding and uncompromising but their team had worked well together and she hadn't had much a chance to determine what kind of captain McLaggen would turn out to be now that she was gone, “The team just won't be the same, it's too bad that we didn't win the House Cup before she graduated.” Ravenclaw had flattened them during their last match and she had been afraid to show her face afterward, “I know that she's probably pissed that she isn't here.” Her voice was filled with misery and Adam laughed, clutching at his chest.

The Ultimate Quidditch Royale was the first of its kind and Roxanne knew that there was an unlimited amount of anticipation from the public. Quidditch Weekly had already released a small article about the upcoming games the previous day and she sensed that there were still more than a few mysteries about the event that Headmistress McGonagall had neglected to inform them of. The thought of competing against foreign schools was enough to fuel dozens of rumors but Roxanne had been more curious about what the trials would be once the games really begun. Uncle Harry had faced various dangers while competing in the Triwizard Tournament nearly twenty years before but she doubted if anyone at the Ministry was willing to take the risk, “Do you think that you're going to be able to make it back onto the team this year?” she asked Adam lightly, sending him a glance.

“I know I will,” Adam said confidently.

Roxanne merely nodded, her lips pursed in a mocking line that did nothing but cause him to shove her lightly in the arm. The action was playful, almost brotherly and yet the look he gave her was far from it, “I tried asking Teddy about what the Royale will be like but he said that he can't tell me anything.” Her brother's best friend had been skulking around Hogwarts often lately but was staying in a small room in Hogsmeade until the Royale was over and she could picture his arrogant grin. Adam wrinkled his nose at the mention of him but didn't say anything, “I wish that my parents would have been able to come but they've never been able to even look at Hogwarts since the Battle.” She had sent them a letter to reassure them that she understood but she had been privately saddened by the force of their pain.

Adam nodded solemnly, his eyes narrowing thoughtfully as some uncomfortable memory swam through his mind without warning. Roxanne had never seen him look so pensive before and was aware of how tense his body had become, “My dad doesn't like coming to the castle very often but he's got other problems to deal with,” the tone of his voice was dark and she wondered what he could mean by that. “Maybe your parents will want to come if you ask them nicely, I hear Uncle Oliver and Aunt Katie might show up at some point.” The twins hadn't mentioned anything about it but Roxanne didn't think that they were eager to have their parents watching their every step, “my dad told me that they might change their minds though so he wasn't sure.”

The thought of having the former Gryffindor Quidditch team back at Hogwarts brought a wave o joy into Roxanne's body. It would be good for her parents to see their friends again in the place where they had shared so much happiness, “I hope that they'll be able to make it. They might be able to convince my parents to show up,” her voice was hopeful but her heart twisted with doubt. Adam shot her a reassuring glance and looked as if he wanted to say something more but he remained silent, his eyes drifting over her as if it were hard to breathe, “Perce and the twins should be around here somewhere but I don't see them.” She said after a small pause, “they're probably already inside—no, wait there they are.”

The thick crowd had parted for a few minutes and she had been able to spot Perce, Leanne and Georgia Wood with Teddy Lupin, his icy blue hair gleaming. Roxanne was instantly suspicious, Teddy looked sneaky even from a distance, “There's something about that fake brother of yours that really gives me the creeps.” Adam whispered to her as they wandered towards them, pushing their way through. A haughty Gryffindor girl shot them a dirty look before stomping away with a harrumph, “I'm not sure if it's because he can change his face anytime he wants but that's always been a little weird to me.” He admitted, ignoring the look she sent him. “Teddy always has something to say even when he shouldn't open his mouth,”

Roxanne thought that that was more than accurate but knew that there were very few people who were able to tolerate Teddy's attitude. There had always been an air of abrasive despair hanging around him that could be very unpleasant but the wildness that had always gotten him into so much trouble in the past was diminished. He appeared far more responsible than he had ever been before and she wondered what sort of girl could cause such a change in him, “I was just about to come and look for you, Roxie.” Perce said upon their arrival, a pleasured smile spreading over his face. Georgia and Leanne sent them warm smiles, “but I guess you were a little caught up.” Her brother remarked idly as he shot Adam a glance, “it's good to see you laughing and having fun with your real friends.”

“What's that supposed to mean?” Georgia asked, frowning.

Perce shrugged, smirking. “Oh, nothing.”

“Shut up, Perce.” Roxanne warned, scowling.

Adam coughed uneasily into his fist to stop the storm that would have broken out, his eyes darting around warily. Teddy's lips tightened with suppressed mockery, “Hilarious joke but it's nothing like that, Fred. I was only walking with Rox, not trying to get her to marry me,” Roxanne avoided his eyes, her face threatening to burn with heat. Georgia sighed wistfully, her gaze roaming over the pair of them as if she were witnessing some profound moment, “we just got out of History of Magic an hour ago and anyone would be happy to get out of there with their sanity intact.” He said honestly, causing the group to laugh in both pity and genuine amusement.

“I guess you're just biding your time to ask Roxie out, then.” Perce piped, smirking.

Adam spluttered, paling. “I told you that it's not like that—”

“So, what were you all talking about?” Roxanne abruptly asked, annoyed.

Perce seemed to take the hint but she could see a million questions flaring in his eyes before he jerked his thumb at Teddy. The boy was staring at Adam as if he were trying to place him on the evolutionary scale, “You missed most of the discussion but Teddy was telling us all about the preparations for the Royale.” Roxanne nodded for him to continue, her heart fluttering with eagerness for any bit of news, “the Prophet can't get any major information out of the people organizing it but he says it might be even bigger than the Triwizard tournament.”

The thought was exciting and Roxanne could barely stifle her curiosity and she saw Teddy preening expertly. He smiled down at her warmly, “What took you so long to find us, little sis?” Teddy asked curiously after bending down to peck her cheek. His brown eyes were twinkling with amusement and she frowned, though he appeared genuinely pleased to see her, “you missed some really juicy gossip about the Royale. I wasn't able to tell you guys anything about it before the Feast but now that you know what's going on, you should be expecting a lot of big, thrilling changes this year,” he appeared rather pleased with himself. “The Ministry has put a lot of money into this thing and from what I was able to hear, we might actually be having a veela performance, wraiths, mermaid serenades and dragons.”

Georgia's skin paled, her eyes popping. “Wraiths?”

Teddy nodded and he seemed to find her sudden fear amusing but he ignored the stern glare that Leanne shot his way. Roxanne had noticed that the two of them were still rather prickly around each other even though they had grudgingly accepted one another's presence, “I'm not sure if it's going to be a good idea, considering that people still remember when Dementors were roaming around.” The beasts had been banished from Azkaban but she knew from reading A Revised Hogwarts a History that they still fed on unsuspecting victims throughout the country, “I actually hope that we'll see something a little more interesting than the usual fireworks display. The trials alone are going to be intense so a little entertainment between each one will go a long way to making this Royale a success.”

“Don't we get enough veela arrogance from Toire?” Perce asked dryly.

Teddy's upper lip curled. “She's a hag, not a veela.”

Roxanne shot him a look. “Honestly, Teddy!”

Perce was desperately trying not to choke on his laughter but managed to bury it into his robe sleeve. Her brother managed to control his chuckles long enough to warn, “I wrote to Uncle Bill saying that I'd keep an eye on the two of you this year.” Teddy's eyes narrowed and she sensed a wave of intense dislike go through him, “seriously, Ted you should try to be a little nicer to her.” That would be completely impossible but she was privately glad that her brother and his best friend were no longer arguing, “Toire's been meaner than a giant and I don't want to scrape up your remains after she's done ripping you apart.”

“I can hardly wait for it,” Leanne said with relish.

Teddy shot the girl a cold stare and opened his mouth to make some sort of retort but glanced at Perce cautiously. Roxanne saw her brother's brow quirk daringly and she was surprised when the boy ignored Leanne to smile down at her with a look that reminded her of a sneaky demon, “You're the only person around that's going to miss me if I'm torn to bits, little sis. Aren't you super upset that you missed most of the amazing gossip about the Royale?” He asked curiously. A ridiculous pout spread over his face and she couldn't help but laugh, “I came all the way from Hogsmeade just to visit my two favorite people and you were nowhere around, were you wandering around causing trouble with Peeves again?” he seemed positively delighted by the idea.

“Afraid not,” Roxanne answered, smiling.

“I'm very disappointed in you,” Teddy said, looking outraged.

Roxanne rolled her eyes heavenward. “I know, I know.”

“I heard from Karen McMillan that you've got an entire file cabinet dedicated to most of your pranks.” Georgia remarked lightly, laughing. Roxanne thought she saw Teddy wipe a tear from the corner of his eye, “I'm really proud of you but Filch is going to catch you if you're not careful, Roxie.” The fact that she usually participated in her own share of outrageous pranks wasn't the issue just now, “he's got a whole drawer filled with manacles, I overheard him complaining to McGonagall a few times about how he doesn't get a chance to use them anymore.”

“I'm pretty sure he's never gotten lucky enough to use them,” Teddy drawled.

“Don't be a pig,” Leanne snapped irritably.

Teddy's lips turned up in a sneer. “I have a fondness for pigs,”

Roxanne thought that he was being rather crude, considering that he had once played an awful trick on Dom-Dom with pigs several years ago. Leanne shot him a withered look and the locks of her wavy brown hair rippled along her shoulders like a waterfall before she turned to stare at Adam curiously, “Why are you being so quiet? You're looking pretty good, Adam but I don't think my mum is going to like the new piercings.” She remarked with mock disapproval, her grey eyes beaming with interest. Adam had been trying to melt into the corridor wall but flinched as all eyes turned to him, Perce's eyes appearing to glow with a satisfaction that made Roxanne's stomach knot, “you've got a lot of guts, I'm not sure if I'd be able to do it.”

Adam shrugged carelessly and avoided Teddy Lupin's penetrating stare as he answered the girl, casually shoving one of his hands into his robe pocket. Georgia was staring at his nose ring as if she were trying not to vomit, “It's really not that big of a deal. There's no way that my parents are going to be able to stop me from doing what I want,” he said boldly but he added hastily. “My mum looked like she was going to faint the first time she saw them but I paid for my piercings with my own money so there's nothing that they can do anyway,” he grinned widely and his lip ring gleamed curiously in the light, as if it were laughing.

“You're such a rebel,” Perce laughed, nudging him in the ribs.

The playful action caused Teddy's brows to raise and Roxanne shot him a look, sensing that he was desperately trying not to snort. Perce tugged on a lock of her curly hair lightly, a knowing glimmer flashing in his eyes, “Aunt Alicia just doesn't like the thought of you growing up and speaking of, how have the two of you been handling your Prefect duties?” Georgia asked curiously. Leanne shuddered with revulsion and Teddy looked around as if he expected the entrance to Hell to appear beneath their feet, “it can't be all that bad since you two haven't pitched yourself from the nearest tower or gone into the Forbidden Forest to die like so many others before you.”

Roxanne roared with laughter at the image that sprang to mind and fought her brother off as he tried to pinch her cheeks. She already knew that he was suspecting that something more had began to blossom between herself and Adam but it irritated her that he would be so thrilled when he could hardly tolerate the boy. Perce had always found him to be more than a little dull and she was suspicious of the friendliness he displayed, “It's really not that bad.” Leanne reached out to tentatively touch her Prefect badge before yanking her hand back as if she had been burned. “The patrols aren't as boring like I thought and the meetings always go by pretty quick,” Adam's lips tightened somewhat and she knew that he would rather chew nails than admit that Benjamin had turned out to be a responsible and respected Head Boy.

“Even with Travers there?” Leanne asked in surprise.

The sound of the wretches name made Roxanne's brows knit together with annoyance and Adam grunted something under his breath. Rachel Travers was perhaps the worst thing to ever happen to the small band of Prefects this year and couldn't help but think that she was a major pain. Even Victoire's volatile moods were nothing compared to the Head Girl's, who tended to treat them all like dirt, “She hardly ever shows up to meetings and whenever she does, she tries to start petty fights.” Adam informed the four of them with a sour expression, “of course she'd favor the Slytherins but everyone else had better not say a damned thing about the way she handles things or she'll rant for hours.”

Roxanne folded her arms across her chest stubbornly, whenever Travers entered the room there was always bound to be trouble. The girl had been a constant torment when she had been growing up in Diagon Alley and had so far kept true to her former self, sending snide comments her way whenever the opportunity struck. “I'll send a good curse her way if she starts bothering you too much, little sis.” Teddy promised with a naughty little smile on his face that was worthy of a deranged wolf. Perce shot him a weary glance and she wondered when they had managed to make up in the past two weeks, though she wasn't really surprised when they rarely stayed angry at one another. It was something that apparently annoyed Leanne the most for some reason, “how does your precious Head Boy behave?”

“Teddy,” Perce hissed darkly.

The older boy merely shrugged his shoulders helplessly but Roxanne could smell the malice coming off of his skin. Teddy may have been dressed like a responsible Ministry employee but there had been nothing responsible about the notorious bully that he had been, “What? I'm just asking a question. I was just as shocked as everyone else when McGonagall announced that Malfoy was going to be Head Boy,” his lips turned up in a rather cruel smile that made Roxanne's skin prickle with nervousness. Adam appeared far too pleased by his sudden aggression, “I think that she was being pretty gracious giving him the position, considering that his family is nothing but a bunch of former Death Eater's and murderers.”

“Way to be a prat, Teddy.” Georgia said, revolted.

Teddy grinned coldly. “I speak the truth, Malfoy's a reject.”

The cruel barb caused Roxanne's cheeks to turn pink and she was aware of Perce sending her a covert glance. Her brother had noticed the subtle difference in her and although he hadn't tried to pester her too badly about what was wrong, he was worried. Georgia and Leanne were staring at her avidly, as if they were expecting some thrilling tale but she kept her voice flat, “McGonagall knew what she was doing, Teddy. Everyone was afraid of him for a while but they're warming up to him almost every day, Travers can't bully him into doing what she wants so she ends up pouting in a corner whenever she bothers to show up,” a heady note of satisfaction had entered her voice.

Benjamin had quickly turned out to be a fair and understanding Head Boy, he was a natural leader and no one was able to deny it. Roxanne thought that the onslaught of new responsibilities would have sapped him of energy but he never appeared stressed, tired or impatient and she sensed that he was willing to spit in the devil's eye if anyone dared to test him, “You should see the way Phoebe Yaxley fawns all over him.” Adam said with a roll of his eyes. The Slytherin girl could hardly stop giggling whenever Benjamin happened to glance in her direction and Roxanne had seen her talking to him more often outside of meetings lately—an ugly flare of jealousy sprang up in her blood completely without mercy, “Malfoy thinks it's funny so he makes sure to wink at her every now and then.”

Perce snorted. “Malfoy's not that great,”

Teddy stared at Roxanne's expressionless face thoughtfully. “Of course he isn't,”

Adam sneered. “Everyone else seems to think so,”

“Malfoy is gorgeous though,” Georgia remarked lightly.

Leanne grinned at Perce's expression. “And forbidden,”

Roxanne felt her face flaming slightly and she was aware of the twins sending her teasing smiles that would have made her grin any other day. The thought of Benjamin catching the attention of other girls made her feel empty but she waved them away, “Oh, give it a rest!” she cried and they laughed. Teddy was sneering privately to himself but Adam was watching her carefully, as if he were trying to delve into her mind. “I know that everyone is whispering about him, he's the only person that's gotten more attention just for breathing,” her face scrunched and Perce roared with laughter.

Teddy remained silent but Roxanne could practically hear his mind whirring with unkind thoughts and she was surprised when his eyes brightened with joy. Following his gaze, she saw that he had spotted Dom-Dom wandering through the crowd, her pale blonde hair appearing to glow like molten silver, “Dom-Dom!” Roxanne called loudly. Her cousin jerked out of her thoughts at the sound of her voice and began walking towards the group before noticing Teddy, “what's the matter?” she asked worriedly. The girl stared at Teddy for several minutes, the color slowly draining out of her face before quickly turning away, heading into the Great Hall with such speed that it was a miracle her trainers were intact.

“What was that all about?” Leanne asked, frowning.

Perce shot his best friend a furious glare. “What have you done to her now?”

Teddy's eyes had lost their shine and he scoffed in outrage, his face flushing with a peculiar heat that Roxanne had never seen before. Adam and Georgia exchanged a brief glance, looking equally perplexed, “Don't look at me like that. I haven't done anything to her!” the boy protested hotly. There was something in his flustered tone that made her frown but she couldn't guess what might have happened between them, Dom-Dom had always been a little afraid of him, “she's just scared of me for some reason.” He sighed dramatically, though his eyes were gleaming with secrets, “you'd think that I was walking around sucking the souls out of the living—”

Georgia snorted. “I wouldn't put it past you,”

Roxanne was still contemplating what Teddy's secrets were when she felt that familiar tug and pull. It began from the tips of her toes like a vibration and settled wildly in the center of her heart, “Great,” Adam muttered viciously beside her. The air seemed to become trapped in her lungs and she turned around unwillingly, spotting Benjamin's tall shape as he slipped out of the cluster of robes like a ghost, “I don't care how good-looking or cool people think he is, that prat gives me the creeps.” Her fellow Prefect gritted out but his words were oddly muffled and strained to her ears—the entire world was falling away in rapid pieces and the only thing that mattered was the one person that she should forget.

A tense silence fell over the group but Teddy's body stiffened with hostility as Benjamin scanned intently through the sea of faces before spotting them. Roxanne thought that time may have stopped at the brief flare of heat that flashed in his eyes when their gazes locked, “Don't start anything with him, Teddy.” Perce was saying harshly to his best friend, though he looked far from calm himself as Benjamin began walking towards them, his presence creating a ripple in the crowd. He looked intimidating, arrogant and compelling all at once and hardly noticed the whispers that followed his every step, “you can lose your job if you start acting stupid again—”

“Spare me, Freddie.” Teddy interrupted coolly.

Roxanne felt a shiver of unease go down her spine and tried to compose herself before her chaotic emotions got the best of her. It had been so long since Benjamin had even looked at her—why was she acting like a complete fool? Having his eyes on her for just a few seconds had completely undid her control, “Relax, there's no need to look like I'm about to kill you, I've already met my quota for the day.” Benjamin drawled sarcastically as he closed the space between them, his keen eyes missing nothing. Georgia and Leanne were openly gawping at him with either fear or delight but Perce was sending Teddy warning looks from the corner of his eye, “I've outdone myself.”

“That must be a new sensation for you, Malfoy.” Teddy jeered.

Benjamin's jaw hardened and Roxanne could sense his coiling anger, though it was difficult to detect the fear that was boiling under his skin. It had to be hard for him to see his childhood bully after all this time and although Teddy had been sleazing around Hogwarts for the past two weeks, this was the first time they had been this close. The air thickened with hatred and for a moment it was hard to breathe without inhaling the vapors, “Charming, Lupin. I can't imagine why everyone says you're such an asshole,” the boy retorted with a baffled expression. Leanne coughed into her fist to stifle a bout of laughter and Perce sent her a dark look, “I'm having a difficult time holding in my joy at seeing you again.”

Well played, Roxanne thought numbly.

“What do you want, Malfoy?” Perce demanded, scowling.

Benjamin's blue-brown eyes flickered towards him dismissively but Roxanne could see the tension that was going through him. To everyone else, he appeared calm but she knew that seeing Teddy Lupin again was only bringing back unpleasant memories of the bullying he had endured for so long, “Your sister.” The boy replied calmly and Perce spluttered furiously. Roxanne's face flamed but she frowned when he roared with unabashed laughter, the sound settling nicely in her chest, “don't get your panties in a wad, Weasley. I just need to talk to the Prefects for a minute but if you want me to toss your sister over my shoulder and carry her away, I'd be more than happy to oblige, so long as you give me your blessing.”

“If you put your hands on my sister—” Perce started furiously.

Leanne placed a hand on his arm. “Relax, Fred. He was joking,”

Roxanne forced herself not to grin and ignored the penetrating stare that Teddy sent her, his smile nasty and cruel. Benjamin's eyes ran over him briefly, his eyes hardening at the mocking wave that he received, “What is it, Malfoy?” the sound of her voice seemed to jar him from his thoughts and he stared at her alertly. For as long as she could remember, she had never called him by his last name and was aware of the stunned silence that fell, though Adam appeared more pleased. A strange light entered Benjamin's eyes and she felt too many emotions passing between them, “do we have another Prefect meeting tonight or are you just here to bless us with your presence?”

“Since when do you call him by his last name?” Leanne asked rudely.

Benjamin ignored the question and the wary stare that her brother sent them before reaching into the folds of his robes. They were as immaculate as always and Roxanne thought that he must have made a very striking figure with his long braid of black hair and sharp, brooding features, “Jordan, you might want to pick your jaw up from the floor and pay attention to this.” The Head Boy remarked dryly as Adam floundered for words, his face turning a ruddy red that made him look like a bruised tomato, “the Prefect meeting that I scheduled for tonight had to be canceled but I drew up another time slot for your patrols. You'll be having a grand old time wandering the dungeons this weekend,” He informed as he withdrew two scraps of parchment.

“The dungeons?” Adam asked, aghast.

“Yes, Jordan. It's the place where all your bad dreams lie,” Benjamin answered with a roll of his eyes, though Roxanne sensed that he was very pleased. Roaming the dungeons during patrols was the worst and she snatched the sheets of parchment from his hand with a glare before opening one, “I would have given it to your cousin, Weasley but I doubt if even the Slytherins are willing to put up with her attitude.” Roxanne handed over the other schedule to Adam with a groan of annoyance, they would be spending five hours shivering and sneezing this weekend, “try not to look so disappointed, sweet or I'll have to arrange for something cozier.”

Roxanne sent him a withering look that caused his lips to twitch with amusement and for just a second she wanted to have him completely. The thought was disconcerting and her face must have revealed too much because Benjamin's eyes hooded with intense, overwhelming longing, “Don't worry, we're not going to complain, Malfoy.” Her voice was tight. Why was it always so easy for him to get to her? They hadn't spoken in two weeks but it felt as if nothing at all had transpired between them and she realized that the past was creeping up on her all over again. “We'll see you at the next Prefect meeting.”

Benjamin's mouth quirked up in a smile that was pure sin and stunned her by reaching out and stroking the side of her jaw with the back of his fingers. The desire that roared between them was immediate, “Don't be late,” he whispered softly, before giving the group a curt nod and melting back into the cluster of black robes, taking some small part of her with him.

Chapter 20: Pressure
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A/N: Hello, everyone! I'm sorry that its been so long but I've been busy and I hope you really enjoy this chapter. Don't be angry at me too much. Much love.


“I think I need to change my panties,” Leanne's husky voice jerked Roxanne roughly out of her tormenting emotions until she gasped for breath. The savory scents from the Great Hall, combined with the loud shrill of conversation from various students suddenly assailed her senses like a whirlwind and she felt a moment of disorientation. An awful, agonizing thump of her heart was enough to make her head spin dangerously but she somehow managed to gather herself before creating a scene. It was almost as if she had been struck painfully with some terrible curse and she shakily reached up to trace her jaw, feeling the burning heat of Benjamin's skin long after it should have faded away. Don't be late, he had said. Adam was watching her with a worried, anxious expression that was rooted in envy but she was finding it extremely difficult to think, wondering how the past was able to creep up on her without warning.


“I may faint,” Georgia said dreamily.


“I didn't think it was possible for one person to be that sexy. I may never be able to get the image out of my mind,” Leanne continued with a wide smile on her face that made her appear quite devilish. Teddy muttered something extremely foul under his breath but Roxanne's heart was pounding too hard to really hear anything besides the rush of her blood, “I should be ashamed of myself for admitting something like this but Malfoy is tempting me to become single again. If I beg, maybe he'll give me a chance to sniff him or walk in his shadow,” Georgia roared with laughter but Perce's face had darkened with anger and she could smell the anger bouncing off of him. It was enough to make her head spin wildly, “Merlin have mercy on my dreams tonight,” the girl gushed, pretending to swoon.


Leanne!” Perce snapped.


Georgia roared with laughter. “I'll sleep well tonight,”


A thick silence must have fallen between them all since Benjamin's brisk departure and Roxanne felt a wave of embarrassment go through her. How long had she been standing here gawping like a fool? The answer must have been far too revealing because she was aware of the penetrating stare that Teddy was sending her and sensed that Leanne's outrageous comment had been for her benefit. It would be even more humiliating to thank the girl for taking some pity on her and she wanted nothing more than to happily leap into a black hole, “Miranda Patil wasn't lying when she said that he's got the sort of looks made for sin.” Leanne continued idly, her grin infectious. She seemed to be taking full advantage of the awkwardness that was hovering in the air and she felt her brows knitting together with annoyance, “I can't blame any girl for losing their head when he walks into a room.”


Georgia nodded in agreement and Roxanne wondered if the two of them had always had a curious fascination with Benjamin Malfoy. Their families had never made it a secret that they loathed the Malfoy family and unlike her own parents, they didn't think that time would cure them of their past atrocities and betrayals. “It should be a sin for anyone to be that good looking and from what I've heard, he's got the body to match.” A very lascivious look crossed her features and she seemed to be drifting away on the wings of some dirty fantasy. Roxanne was having difficulty not withering away, her entire body drowning in humiliation, “did you catch the scent of his cologne? I was trying my hardest not to melt on the spot.” She shivered dramatically and Teddy raised his upper lip, “it's the kind of scent that gets on your skin after a long, hard night of straight fu—”


“Stop! I haven't blushed like this in ages,” Leanne interrupted as she fanned herself, grey eyes flashing with pleasure at the look that went over Perce's face. Roxanne was deeply mortified by what had transpired and although Benjamin had merely been teasing her, it would have been stupid to assume that no one had noticed the fierce attraction between them. Despite the fact that they hadn't spoken in two weeks, it was more than clear that there was still that tug and pull leading them back to one another and she wanted to bury her face in her hands with frustration. It was one of the worst possible realizations that she could have been forced to accept and she could barely even hold her brother's stare without feeling her whole world crumbling beneath her feet. “Those eyes of his are amazing, I've always thought so and his voice makes me want to stop wearing underwear altogether.”


Perce's lips were compressed into a tight line and she could feel the annoyance rippling off of him in a noxious wave of heat. Roxanne knew that he suspected something had transpired between them and although he had been keeping his eye on her for the past two weeks, she sensed that he would quickly piece together what he needed to know. The thought of being confronted with his cold disappointment and fury was like being tossed head first into a thunderstorm, “Give it a rest, Lee. The only person who's going to have anything to do with your panties is me,” He retorted with barely contained anger at his grinning girlfriend. The bold declaration caused Adam to look distinctly uncomfortable but she was dimly aware of his hand at the small of her back, as if he were willing her to snap out of her daydreams. A strange feeling bubbled in the pit of her stomach that wasn't entirely unpleasant, “I've heard enough rumors about Malfoy to last a lifetime, there's nothing special about that cocky bastard.”


“I'd beg to differ,” Georgia shot back, giggling.


Leanne laughed, cheeks pink. “Agreed,”


Georgia sighed dreamily, tucking a loose lock of her blonde hair behind her ear as if she were a besotted bride. Roxanne thought that she looked rather lonely just then but her mind was still too chaotic to think straight, “I would give anything for a guy to look at me like that.” Her eyes glanced wistfully at Perce before sliding quickly away and Teddy raised his brows slightly as if he were having a difficult time reeling in either his laughter or a cruel remark. He had remained ominously silent but she could feel something nasty coiling around his head and wondered what sort of things were twisting in his mind, “I always figured that the rumors that I'd heard from Miranda Patil about Malfoy's allure were just exaggerations.” She looked relieved that they had been true and placed a hand over her heart, “I've never had the pleasure of being that close to him before and I have no idea how I'm not pregnant.” The girl went on, going so far as to wipe a dismal tear from her eye.


Roxanne felt her lips twitching reluctantly as the twins erupted in laughter, nudging one another playfully as if they had accomplished some great task. A prickle of gooseflesh was scattered along her skin and she inhaled shakily, aware that she was far more shook up by the brief encounter with Benjamin than she would have liked. It had only been for a few minutes but she felt rattled and off kilter, her heart beating so heavily that she was afraid it would burst from her chest, “I have to say that it takes guts to actually be that much of a prick in front of people who want to beat the shit out of you. Malfoy isn't a coward like his father,” Teddy said dryly, a twisted smile on his face. He was running his brown eyes over her knowingly and she felt a wave of panic engulf but was surprised when he remained silent, as if the two of them were sharing some sort of dirty little secret.


It made her uneasy.


There had been a subtle change in Teddy these past few months and Roxanne was sure that it had something to do with the girl that he was interested in. His earlier reaction to Dominique made her worried, however and she wondered what the two of them were carrying against one another, her cousin had appeared horrified to see him. He had been sleazing around Hogwarts these past two weeks like an unwelcome reminder of every bad thing and Roxanne wondered if he had intentionally made sure to stay out of her cousin's way, which only made her more confused than curious, considering that they had never spent much time together. It was one more little mystery that would have to be pushed aside and she bit on her lower lip to hold in a question that might not have gotten the most polite response, “I honestly don't think that Malfoy is the type of person who gets intimidated easily.” Leanne was saying in response to Teddy's earlier comment, her eyes gleaming.


Georgia grinned widely and reached out to pinch Roxanne's cheeks, even going so far as to wink at her. Adam stiffened slightly, “He certainly didn't care that you two were here when he wanted to flirt with Roxie.” Teddy and Perce exchanged a quick look at that and she felt her face flooding as every single eye seemed to turn on her with all the subtlety of a laser beam, “I don't think I've ever even heard him talk much before. I was always too scared to get close to him even though he was always hanging around Roxie,” she didn't enjoy the way she was looked at just then, as if she were being accused of holding back some scandalous information from the rest of them and she hated that it was true, “he's got this...thing about him, his energy makes you feel all smothered and breathless.” Perce gagged, “I was never sure how you could handle it but I guess it was different when you guys were always together,” she surmised.


“We were never—” Roxanne started, uncomfortable.


“You don't have to lie to me, Roxie.” Georgia teased, pinching her.


Roxanne flushed brilliantly. “It was never like that,”


Leanne looked genuinely surprised. “You never dated?”


No!” Roxanne cried, flustered.


That caused the twins to exchange a quick, bemused look and it was apparent that neither of them had been expecting this reply. Roxanne felt as if there were dozens of eyes on her and she ignored the suspicious stare that Teddy was giving her, his lips pulled back in a way that caused his gold tooth to flash menacingly in the light. Georgia reached out to tug playfully on a lock of her curly hair, “Why not? I always assumed that the two of you were a couple since you were so close.” A pool of dread went down her spine and she wanted nothing more than to disappear, “Freddie, if you're not careful, your face is going to get stuck that way.” The girl warned idly as her brother's expression became simply ghoulish. Adam appeared thoroughly sickened at the prospect and she saw his jaw harden like a slab of stone, “I never wanted to pry into your business so I never asked but how is that possible? From the way he was looking at you earlier, I'm surprised that nothing else was going on.”


Roxanne felt her face heat with a guilty blush that was highly noticeable underneath her brown skin and desperately tried to gather her wits. Leanne was currently laughing uproariously at her sister's boldness but Perce was appearing more aggravated than she had ever seen him, his eyes holding a dark edge that frightened her. Teddy's lips had been pulled down in a severe scowl and she thought he looked like a monstrous angel with his icy blue hair, his brown eyes swimming with his own memories...painful taunts and hurtful promises, “We...we were never like that with each other. I don't care how it looked but there was nothing going on between us, okay?” Adam was watching her carefully, sensing the lie. Her face burned even hotter, “we've known each other since we were kids but I never heard from him after he went to Italy, he didn't even send an owl and we've barely talked since he's come back so I don't know why everyone keeps saying stupid things like that.”


The curt reply caused a bit of the playfulness to fade out of Georgia's eyes and she appeared a little remorseful. Leanne's brows had risen with surprise but it was obvious that she doubted the truth behind her words, “Relax, I didn't mean anything by it. I was just teasing you, it just seemed like there was something going on, especially since he went out of his way just to see you.” The girl remarked, frowning thoughtfully despite the exasperated looks from the rest of the group. Roxanne must have appeared confused because she explained with a brief laugh, “I thought that it was obvious. Malfoy was flirting with you, Roxie.” Teddy frowned with displeasure and made a great show out of ignoring them, though she could hear the gears spinning in his head, “I'm sure that he could have given you those Prefect schedules some other time but I could tell that he just wanted to be around you for a few minutes.”


Roxanne felt her chest warm and was overwhelmed by the delight that shot through her system, despising the longing that took hold. The brief flare of need that had flashed between them had been so acute that she found it miraculous that she had remained standing all this time without turning into a puddle of nothing. How could he still have such a hold over her? It wasn't fair, “...Don't be silly, Georgia.” It took her a few seconds to find her voice again and she swallowed roughly, “Malfoy wouldn't waste his time flirting with someone like me when he probably has other girls willing to slobber over him, you should hear the things that they say in my dorm.” Her voice was devoid of any emotion but her chest was heavy with jealousy, hating the fact that she could still care that Benjamin may have already indulged in his fair share of girls. “We've never had that kind of...relationship to begin with,” she said hastily when the girl looked far too perceptive.


Leanne became distracted by the severe look on her brother's face and busied herself by smashing his cheeks together and crooning as he fumed. Roxanne had never seen her brother so furious before but she was relieved that he was no longer weighing her down with that stare, though Teddy had easily taken his place without much effort. Adam was glowering at nothing in particular as if he were sucking on a rotten lemon, “I've heard a lot of rumors about him these last few days but I can believe that one of them might be true at least,” Georgia was saying with a sly cast to her features that made her look like a naughty angel. Roxanne sent her a questioning look as she tried not to completely drown in her anxiety and fear, “it's obvious that the reason he's come back to Hogwarts has something to do with you, Roxie. Karen McMillan's going around telling anyone who'll listen that he left Italy to come back and propose to you and I honestly wouldn't be surprised.”


“ was nothing like that.” Roxanne muttered uncomfortably.


Georgia's eyes twinkled. “I dunno, seemed like something was—”


Adam interrupted tersely. “He's not a bloody miracle,”


Jealous, Adam?” Leanne teased, grinning.


Roxanne felt the boy stiffen incredulously beside her at the truth and she shifted away from him, allowing his hand to fall away. Although the action was a subtle one, she saw the way his fingers curled into a tight fist and a peculiar sense of guilt went through her system that was only made worse by the keen stare Teddy sent them. He had fallen silent but she could hear the gears in his mind spinning, “Would you come off it? Why would I be jealous over someone like that?” Adam finally retorted, though his voice was taut. He looked suddenly bereft, as if he had been cast at sea without warning and she wondered how long it would take before he was dragged back to shore, “I'm not desperate,” he said firmly even as Teddy shot him a pitying glance. “I haven't seen Malfoy do anything more outstanding than glower but everyone makes it sound like he's saved the bloody world.”


There was a wry edge to his voice that caused the twins to smile sympathetically but Roxanne could see the jealousy flaring in the depths of his eyes. Although the Ultimate Quidditch Royale was spawning multiple rumors and theories, there was still a ton of speculation about Benjamin's sudden return to Hogwarts and why he had fled the country a year ago with his father. Roxanne had heard more than her fair share in the Hufflepuff dorms late at night, the majority of them so ridiculous that she had had to stop herself from groaning in revulsion. Someone had started a theory the other day that depicted Mr. Malfoy as a raving lunatic, claiming that he had fled the country with Benjamin in order to stop himself from murdering an entire village, “When it comes to glowering, you might have him beat.” Georgia said idly, enjoying Adam's ugly scowl. “I hear that Malfoy's really smart though, he always got top marks when he was here,” she finished cheerfully.


“So?” Adam grunted, frowning.


Georgia laughed, unrepentant. “I'm just teasing you, Adam.”


Adam scowled moodily. “You're hilarious,”


“Malfoy is not only outrageously good looking but I heard from someone that he might be making Captain this year.” Leanne suddenly said with a competitive gleam in her grey eyes, ignoring the exasperated look that Teddy was sending her. Roxanne could feel her brother's aggravation and the frosty anger that rippled off of Teddy with each ragged breath, “I've tried to snoop around but I can't find out if that's actually true or not, he's going to give us a hard time, either way. He almost cracked my skull open with a Bludger two years ago.” She rubbed a spot on her temple to emphasize her point and frowned thoughtfully, “the bloke's a damned good Quidditch player, he might even kick our asses during the Royale,” her mouth was twisted sourly, as if she had been dreading the thought of complimenting his skill on the pitch. Roxanne could remember quite a few games in the past that had left the Gryffindor team in shambles and she felt a stirring of pride in her chest before banishing it into the wind.


Roxanne had been trying her hardest not to dwell on any of the rumors that she had heard these past few days concerning Benjamin but she felt a spark of worry. The Royale was something that she wanted to compete in more than anything in the world and she didn't like the thought of being derailed by the Slytherin team crushing them before they even stood a chance, “Malfoy is a decent player, Leanne. If you call what he does on the pitch playing anyway, he's way too brutal and I'm pretty sure he'd knock someone's head off if it would actually give him the win,” Perce was saying dryly, finally managing to fend the girl off with a warning glance. Teddy muttered something rather unkind under his breath that sent chills down Roxanne's back, “we've already got a good team set up so I'm not worried that we're not going to make it into the Royale. Even if Malfoy became captain, we'll just end up beating him like always.”


“You have to admit that we've had some pretty close calls, though.” Georgia ventured carefully, aware of the tension that was thickening around them. Roxanne thought that she would have given anything just to walk away but she was oddly rooted to the spot, unable to get her mind in order or understand why Benjamin continued to be such an irresistible topic. It was making her uneasy and she wondered if there were more than a handful of questions being left unsaid, though that only increased her sudden desire to flee, “if the Royale is going to be anything like what McGonagall was saying at the Feast, then I'd like to know as much about the competition as I can. Ravenclaw is always predictable and at the moment, Hufflepuff doesn't even have a team so I'm not really worried about them yet.” She sent Adam a playful smile when he looked rather affronted by the words.


“We're having try-outs this weekend,” Adam informed her smugly.


Perce seemed curious. “Are you going for the Beater position again?”


Adam nodded, looking fierce. “Naturally,”


Leanne pinched Roxanne's cheek. “And you?”


“Yeah, why?” Roxanne asked, swatting her hand away.


A curious smile spread over Leanne's face and she looked so pretty that it was impossible not to understand why her brother loved her so much. Roxanne shifted anxiously away, the scents wafting from the Great Hall only making her stomach roil, “Oh, nothing.” Her eyes were sparkling naughtily, causing a trickle of suspicion to go through her. “You two have to be in sync for that, you know and it would be a bad thing to get saddled with the wrong person.” The girl said cryptically, ignoring the blush that swept quickly across her cheeks. Adam scowled fiercely but Perce appeared annoyed by the subtle warning and Teddy looked as if he were having trouble not doubling over with laughter, “if you're not balancing each other out, it's just going to make you an easier target and the last thing I want to do is knock you off your broom.” She lamented, though Roxanne had a feeling she might if it meant winning a match.


The thought of being back on her broom for a few hours brought a douse of joy into her system and Roxanne could hardly wait. Adam seemed to sense her train of thought and he wrapped a loose arm around her shoulders and nearly tucked her into his side, “If you've seen some of the other people that are going up for the position, you wouldn't doubt our skills for a second.” The boy boasted happily as Perce glanced between them with barely controlled pleasure, his eyes sparking with satisfaction, “I seriously don't think that we have anything to worry about. It's a shame that we haven't been able to get on the pitch though, it's been booked by the Ravenclaws for the rest of two days and they'll hex me before I get close,” he said with a disgruntled expression. It was obvious that he had tried without much success, “Karen McMillan told me that their team is pretty good but they'll never let me watch them practice.”


Leanne seemed to think about that and glanced between them for a long moment before nodding in agreement, her lips pulled up in an understanding smile. “The last time that I tried spying on a team I ended up having antlers growing out of a very inappropriate place and there's no way in hell that I'm going to go through that again. Poor Madame Brown knows more about my—well, let's just say that it's not the sort of thing you want to talk about in polite company.” She said with a hasty grin at the looks of horror that flashed over their faces. Perce flipped her skirt teasingly and she swatted at him with a glare that promised retribution, “you should reconsider doing that because I'm pretty sure it could disqualify you for the Royale.” The girl warned and Adam sighed roughly, as if he had been planning on interrogating the Ravenclaw team, “I know, it sucks but it would be pretty embarrassing if you were kicked out of the games before they even started and I'd never let you forget it.”


“Thanks,” Adam said dryly.


Roxanne bit back a smile and tried to imagine what the try-outs would include, her mind swarming with possible techniques. It had been a long time since she had been able to get on her broom and she was worried that she might be a little rusty, “Maybe we can try talking to McLaggen about getting on the pitch sooner. The Ravenclaws can't hog the entire thing to themselves forever,” she said with a small frown. Although McLaggen may have been their new team captain, she hadn't had a chance to talk to him these past two weeks and didn't know much about him. He didn't hang out in the common room very much and he didn't appear to socialize very often, “I'd actually like to practice a few times before this weekend. I didn't get on my broom at all this summer,” the fact that she had been distracted by Benjamin's sudden arrival only made it worse. “I don't think that they're going to be fair about who gets the next slot.”


OWLs had made it difficult for her to truly immerse herself in Quidditch and Roxanne realized that it might prove to be a disadvantage. The Royale would begin next month and she hadn't even had a chance to practice, Hufflepuff didn't even have a team and she was certain that the rumors about Benjamin becoming Captain were true. “Rox, I don't think anyone is going to be playing fair with everything that's supposed to happen with the Royale next month.” Adam said after a short moment, his brow furrowed. “I could try and talk to McLaggen later though, he'll listen to what I have to say if it has anything to do with Quidditch,” he explained with a casual shrug at the others. Their Uncle Oliver had never given up his obsession with the game either, “we'll both be able to make it back on the team and then we'll have a fun time putting Slytherin back in their place once the Royale starts—”


“You sound awfully confident, Jordan.” A dark, looming shadow seemed to spread across them like a slow, withering disease and Roxanne heard the others groan. The new voice was drawling, bored and filled with enough sarcasm to smother an entire nation and she wasn't at all surprised to see Zabini hovering like a cloud beside them. Even though there were a few stragglers wandering into the Great Hall, she hadn't heard his approach and wondered if he actually could float. “If you were as determined to create a decent potion in my class as you are in making it back on your Quidditch team, I wouldn't be dreading the next time you fire up your cauldron.” He remarked flatly, ignoring the choking laugh that issued from Teddy, “I would advise you to study a little harder over the weekend or I'll be poisoning you next lesson,” the teacher warned gravely.


“Yes, sir,” Adam muttered, paling.


Roxanne couldn't help but think that if he actually bothered to smile, he would be quite handsome but she had a feeling that he had forgotten how. The thought oddly depressed

her and her mind drifted back to Benjamin and his father, wondering what sort of things they were hiding that kept them from smiling, “Hello, Professor.” She said politely after a smothering silence fell over the group. Georgia and Leanne appeared horrified by the sudden arrival of this new guest and she was certain that Perce was getting ready to bolt, though he had the tact to plaster a weak smile on his face. Teddy had never been overly fond of any of his teachers but his skin looked a little pale, he had probably gotten more than his fair share of detentions thanks to the man, “the batch of Maiden's Wrath that you gave us today was pretty hard for everyone.” She defended lightly, knowing that Adam's face was a mask of humiliation.


Zabini didn't appear very perturbed by the awkwardness hovering in the air but he flicked his dark eyes toward her with the faintest of smiles. Roxanne rarely saw him interacting willingly with any of the students but he occasionally went out of his way to deliver bad news about a detention or to torment the students with his presence. It was obvious that he felt no guilt as he glanced at Adam's ashen face, “I'm sure that you're merely being polite, though I remember quite a few disasters with fondness.” He glanced at Perce and the others pointedly. Teddy scowled, “a talented potioneer such as yourself would never find something like that poison difficult, Ms. Weasley.” The man said with a dismissive wave of his hand, which spoke volumes of his opinion of her. A bashful blush threatened to form and she forced herself not to grin, “I would normally wait for our next lesson to bring you this news but I would rather not delay and there's a treacle tart that I'm dying to devour.”


Roxanne stared at him quizzically. “What is it?”


Zabini paused for a moment before reaching into the pockets of his robes, which looked to have been tailored with exquisite detail. Roxanne wondered if she were in some sort of trouble, she hadn't even begun to attempt any daring pranks this year but waited patiently as the professor eventually said, “I've talked to your other teachers and we all agreed that this would be a good opportunity for you.” It seemed odd that he would be concerned about her other classes, her own Head of House hardly paid her any mind, “I thought that you might be interested.” He withdrew a small, bound copy of The Practical Potioneer and handed it to her with another one of those faint smiles. Perce bit back a gagging noise as Roxanne took it, she had hardly read much of the magazine but was suddenly very curious, “they're offering an internship at the Ministry this summer and I think that with your skills, it could prove to be very beneficial.”


The gesture was so unexpected and thoughtful that Roxanne could merely gawp up at him, her mind spinning a little. Adam was peering down at the magazine with a faint frown, his eyes narrowed in thought, “Th...thank you, Professor.” She managed to say, overwhelmed with a curious feeling of purpose. Zabini appeared pleased and even though he didn't smile, she thought that he wanted to just then, “I guess my batch of Maiden's Wrath was better than I thought.” Adam sighed miserably. She hadn't been able to make a decision on the career path to take after Hogwarts, thinking that she would just wait until they discussed their options with their Head of House later in the year. Her mind had been fogged with awful spells for OWLs, miserable memories of Benjamin and her own doubt that she had nearly forgotten about the future, “I'll think about it—I'll read all of this tonight and see what I have to do.”


“I'll be looking forward to hearing your decision,” Zabini replied as he watched her tuck the magazine inside of her robes after scanning it for a few more minutes. Teddy and the others appeared to have faded away, though they were muttering amongst themselves as if they were in the middle of some deep debate, “I know that OWL year can seem like the worst and I remember that mine were far more unbearable than necessary.” He heaved a weary sigh, Hogwarts had been taken over by that old hag Umbridge during that time and she thought it was a miracle he had even survived the entire year, “I heard from Professor Chang that you've improved very well over the past two weeks and we're both confident that you'll make it through the year in one piece.” He informed with a slight shrug that made him appear less stiff. Roxanne was unsure how to properly express how much it meant to her but he waved a hand dismissively, as if he were uncomfortable with any amount of gratitude.


Roxanne thanked him again and watched the professor dip his head in a polite nod before turning smartly on his heel and heading towards the Great Hall. The sound of his feet connecting with the stone floor eliminated her earlier thought about his supernatural abilities but it was a tad disappointing to know that he was human after all. That was one rumor that might be put to rest at least, “Merlin, how did you get Zabini to actually smile?” Adam asked in an awed voice after the others regained themselves. They looked disturbed by the brief encounter and she rolled her eyes heavenward when Perce made the sign of the cross, which caused Teddy and the girls to roar with laughter, “Rox, you're amazing. I thought that you had cast some kind of spell on him—shit, it's a miracle his face didn't crack from smiling for the first time in centuries!” the boy gushed wildly, his mouth hanging open a little.


“He's not that bad,” Roxanne defended, laughing.


Perce was nearly choking on his laughter and Roxanne scowled in annoyance, it seemed to take her brother's ages before he said anything. “Zabini is a scary bloke and might take your soul but I think it's pretty cool that he let you know about the internship.” Roxanne was eager to look at the magazine and write their parents about the news, “I'm sure that he doesn't go out of his way for students like this all the time,” he said with a grin. Adam grumbled in agreement and watched as her brother tugged on Leanne's wavy brown hair playfully, “I'll admit that the vampire did have me craving a treacle tart though.” Georgia watched them enviously, “you want to share one with me, Lee? I'll even let you have the crumbs.” He purred silkily, even going so far as to bat his eyelashes at the girl until she giggled.


Teddy watched the pair as if he wanted to rip them apart but smiled wildly when Leanne shot him a smug smile. Roxanne wondered if they would ever be able to get along but she had a feeling that they were fighting for her brother's attention, “I've suddenly lost my appetite.” The boy muttered gravely and Perce shot him a warning glare. He placed a hand over his heart dramatically, his lips set in a ridiculous pout, “I have to be back at Hogsmeade in another hour but I'll stay just to have a nice cup of tea.” She suspected that he would have put something a little extra in his cup if he had been allowed to, “there's someone I'd like to ogle while I get the image of you two out of my head.” He said dryly as he began to walk away.


“Who?” Perce asked, curious.


Teddy laughed impishly. “I'll never tell!”


Roxanne thought that he really must have been serious about this mystery girl that he was infatuated with then. Teddy had never bothered to really care about any of the girls that he dated and she was genuinely surprised by this subtle change in character, “What's gotten into him?” Leanne asked, stunned. Perce shrugged helplessly, “could it be that there's actually a girl that he's interested in for more than one night?” she asked with mock curiosity. Teddy's pale hair had vanished in the sea of black robes but he would have sent the girl a scathing look if he had heard the comment and she was certain that he would have unleashed a few remarks of his own, “he's been acting weird ever since he's come back.” Perce shot her a warning look but she ignored him, “I'm not sure if I like this new, responsible Teddy.”


Although Roxanne didn't appreciate Leanne's flippant attitude, she was relieved to know that she wasn't the only one who had noticed. Teddy wasn't a completely different person, exactly but there was something calmer about him that hadn't been there before and she figured that he had gone through a major change in the past few months. It would have to remain a mystery because she didn't have the time to figure it out, “Rox, could I talk to you for a second?” Adam suddenly asked. Perce and the twins had said their goodbyes and were wandering towards the Great Hall, her brother stealing one last look at the two of them before turning away, “now that everyone's gone and everything, I feel like I can finally breathe.” He quickly unwrapped his arm from her shoulders and took a hasty step back, his face turning red, “uhm, sorry about that. I wasn't trying to get all clingy or anything.”


Roxanne nodded as she felt a pool of nervousness go into her stomach, dimly aware of the world going on around them. The Great Hall suddenly felt miles away, “No, it's all right.” Adam looked visibly relieved and gave an anxious laugh. “I know that you were just trying to cheer me up about this weekend,” they would be dealing with Quidditch try outs and suffering through the worst patrols in the dungeons in a few days but despised Benjamin for giving it to them in the first place. She had a nasty feeling that he had done it out of spite, “I'm sorry that Zabini was being a prat to you in front of everyone and I'm really sorry that they were picking on you earlier.” It had been clear that Adam had been more than a little embarrassed by the entire episode, “I know that it was pretty annoying,” she said suddenly, her words coming out in a rush. Adam nodded but he was watching her carefully, “they were just teasing, I'm sure that they weren't trying to make you upset or anything.”


He grinned weakly and shrugged as if the entire thing had meant nothing to him but she sensed that it had. Roxanne understood that her brother and the others would have been delighted (She wasn't quite sure about Teddy) if she had dated him but she was certain that they hardly cared about whether it would make her happy, “I'm used to the twins and Teddy being obnoxious but it was pretty annoying with the way the girls kept going on about Malfoy and how bloody fantastic he is.” Roxanne heard the jealousy in his voice easily and he looked away from her, his lips tight. When he met her eyes again, they were pensive and worried, “they think talking about him a lot in front of me will make me man up or something,” he had a rather sour expression on his face. “It kind of doesn't seem like I have much of a chance with you—”


“What do you mean?” Roxanne asked.


Adam was silent for a few tense minutes and she could hear the crashing, lilting sounds of conversation around them. Peeves was chasing a few Gryffindor girls with a bag of steaming dragon dung down the corridor and she heard their shrieks echoing over to them like bursts of fireworks before he finally spoke, “I was thinking this after Potions but I didn't want to give you the impression that I'd given up and then Zabini had to show up and give you that magazine...” he inhaled swiftly. “Rox, it's not like I'm not interested because you know that I am but it's just that you're so good at everything. I don't think that I'd be enough for you,” he looked wretched as the words left his lips but she simply stared at him, shocked that he would actually think something like that. “I know that you and Malfoy were together for a while so I don't think that you would even consider being with someone like me after being with him.”


Roxanne felt as if he had struck her and she felt an unexpected rush of affection for him that settled like a heavy mass in the pit of her chest. It had been clear that his jealousy of Benjamin had been festering for some time but she had never considered that it had been because of her this entire time. He didn't think that he was good enough. The scenario was familiar and she realized that it was exactly how she had been feeling the other night when she had finally broken away from Benjamin, “I...I don't think that and even if Ben and I were together all the time, he never felt that way about me.” And she would never admit to herself that she loved him that much, not after everything that he had done to her, “I think that he was really lonely when we were kids and I helped him get through that but as we got older, he grew apart from me.” It was silly that it could still hurt so much. “I've never been a snob and if you think that I would turn you away because of that then you don't really know me at all—”


He interrupted her abruptly. “Then will you go out with me?”


Roxanne's heart plummeted. “W..what?”


Adam inhaled roughly and fell quiet for a moment as he regarded her, staring as if he saw something that he couldn't be without. Roxanne was completely unprepared for this and wondered how the ground was still intact, her head was threatening to spin but she didn't have the courage to say a word, “I know that you're still having issues with Malfoy but I meant what I said in Potions.” He hesitated for a short breath. “I'll be here for you if you need someone and you said that you were willing to give me a chance,” he reminded after a brief pause. She had given him that assumption back on the Express but it had been out of anger and a sick need to hurt, “Rox, I've always liked you and I'll give you all the time that you need to think about us but I'm not going to give up.” Her mouth opened to form a question that felt swollen on her tongue, “don't worry, I'm going to break up with Bee this weekend.”


Roxanne felt as if her heart was being properly squeezed and she thought that it was hard to take in a decent breath. Their revealing conversation earlier in the Potions dungeons had unleashed something in him and she thought that it was admirable of him to be so open about his emotions...Benjamin had never allowed such a weakness. He had never even admitted that he cared about her, “...I have to have some time to think about this but you know that I won't want to rush anything.” What other choice was there? This wasn't what she really wanted but it hardly mattered anymore, it was clear that her brother and friends would have no objections, “if you break up with Bianca, I...I would just like to take things slow.” There were still a few things that she had to work out but Adam didn't seem to care, he looked almost overwhelmed with glee, “in the meantime, I'll help you with you study for Potions because I'd—”


The nervous words were cut short as Adam closed the small bit of distance between them and wrapped his arms around her. Roxanne felt herself jerk in surprise and was startled to sense that this was far from distressing...there was an endless amount of comfort in the gesture that she had sorely missed these past few days. It was nice. It was more than what Benjamin had ever dared to offer her and the thought of him was nearly too much to fathom—she prayed that the past would no longer hurt. Adam pressed a warm kiss to her flushed cheek just as her heart erupted with reluctant hope, “Sorry, I couldn't help it.” He murmured sheepishly. “I don't care how long it takes for you to warm up to me but thank you for giving me a chance.” He broke away from her long enough to stare down into her face, “thank you, Rox. I promise that you won't regret this.” A proper response became trapped in her throat and smiled weakly as he hugged her again, nearly lifting her off her feet.


Reflexively, Roxanne clung to his shoulders and smothered a laugh but felt a pool of dread congeal in her stomach. Her eyes scanned around wildly and widened when she caught a glimpse of Benjamin jerking to a halt in the swarming crowd. There was a fair bit of distance between them but his gaze found them if he had felt her inner turmoil. A flare of need nearly engulfed her soul, the tug and pull between them becoming nearly painful. Roxanne was struck numb with it, her heart cracking like shards of glass as she saw the expression on his stunned face, he looked as if he had been struck numb with misery before abruptly turning away, leaving her more alone than ever.