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Actions Speak Louder than Words by Veritaserum27

Format: Novel
Chapters: 43
Word Count: 167,595
Status: WIP

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

Genres: Drama, Romance, Angst
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Albus, James (II), Rose, Scorpius, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: Rose/Scorpius, Harry/Ginny, Ron/Hermione, Teddy/Victoire, OC/OC

First Published: 09/02/2013
Last Chapter: 01/01/2017
Last Updated: 01/01/2017

Summary:
 Beautiful banner by Asphodelic.@TDA




 



Bravery comes in many different forms, even for a Ravenclaw like Rose.


2015 Dobby Winner - Most Addicting Story

 

 


Chapter 1: Broken: Rose POV
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Get up, wash, get dressed, class, rounds, study.

I repeat the words over and over as I lay on my bed, staring at the ceiling. They help me get through the panic attack. I hadn’t had one in a while, but it was no less intense - especially since it was early morning. Those are always the worst.

There is a moment when you realize things have gone too far. The trouble is, as always, recognizing that moment. Too many of us don’t see it until it is too late. And far too many people don’t ever see it. I almost, almost missed that moment. I did miss it, in fact; I missed many moments while I was sucked up in my deep, dark hole. And I sure as hell wasn’t going to see it during one of the panic attacks. No, the entire almost-moment-missing incident occurred much later that day.

As it is when you are sucked up in a dark, deep hole; you don’t even realize you are in it until you are not anymore. Although other people can see it, you usually can’t even hear them, above the deafening, suffocating sound of the silence that surrounds you and screams in your face every moment that you even try to open your eyes.

You are left with numbness and nothingness, because that is your mind’s only defense against the alternative.

I have been numb for two years.

After it happened, I was mostly in shock. Then denial. Perhaps denial isn’t an accurate word, but rather just convincing myself that it never took place. When the panic attacks began, I couldn’t do that any longer and I began to try to assure myself that, although it had happened, it wasn’t a big deal. I would just muddle through it and I didn’t need any help. I did muddle through it – slowly, very slowly, the panic attacks faded to less severe and less frequent. It didn’t, however, stop my mind from playing it over and over in my head. I could have fought harder… I should have been clever enough to escape…

I had done a rather fantastic job of convincing my friends and family that nothing was wrong. On the outside, you would never know that anything was different with Rose Weasley. I was the top student in my Healer courses at St. Mungo’s (just as I had been at Hogwarts) and still friendly and personable on the outside.

I swung my legs over the side of the bed and sucked in a lungful of air, opening my eyes. They landed on one of the photos on my nightstand. The one taken the day I graduated Hogwarts. It pictured the four Ravenclaws: Albus, Scorpius, my best friend Selenia and me. I don’t know why I kept that photo so near to me because, about ten minutes after it was taken, it happened. Maybe I needed that picture to remind me of who I used to be. It is the last actual documented image of the old Rose.

My stomach lurched as I felt sucked into the photo – a virtual portkey. I could feel his hands, grabbing me from behind across my shoulders and his wand pointed at my temple. It feels so fresh, like it just occurred. The grogginess fading from waking was similar to the grogginess fading from whatever he used to drug me and I suddenly knew what was coming next.

Damn.

The nausea poured over me so quickly that I just barely made it to the loo. I have learned how to brace myself with one arm and twist my long hair back with the other. After the heaving, my body started shaking violently. I sat back on the bathroom floor and put my head between my knees and wrapped my arms around. All I could do was wait for the shaking to pass.

Get up, wash, get dressed, class, rounds, study. I repeated this over and over in my head. Having a focus would make it pass with less intensity. Sometimes I would repeat magical maladies and their cures. Sometimes, I would recite the directions for making a potion. I would do just about anything to distract myself and keep my mind from travelling back to the time at the cabin, where Stannous held me captive for six days.

Get up, wash, get dressed, class, rounds, study. I squeezed my eyes shut and made the words scream into my head.

Bang. Bang. Bang! “Hey, beautiful!” Dom’s voice shouted from the other side of the door she was currently pounding upon. “You know, you have two other flat-mates that also need to get ready for training in the morning!”

Leave it to my cousin Dominique to bring me back to reality. I was actually grateful. This way, I couldn’t wallow in my self-hate. Although she is part Veela (and has the flowing blonde hair and delicate features to prove it), she definitely has more of the Weasley take-no-crap disposition. It has served her well. Her cool head and quick reflexes are what make her a great Auror trainee – and in just about a year, a great Auror. She is near the top of her class.

Me on the other hand… I inherited my Dad’s red hair, freckles and blue eyes, but that was about it. I did not come by the quick wit or quick temper or quick anything that would have helped me out at the cabin. I was too compassionate and way too trusting for my own good.

Get up. I stood and started the shower.

Wash. A pang of guilt stabbed at me knowing that Dom and Selenia, both my flat mates, were waiting outside for me to finish. I took a quick shower and finished my other bathroom needs.

Get dressed. I apologized to the two of them on my way out of the bathroom and back to my room. Dom glared at me, but Selenia offered a small smile. She was always so good natured. I have never actually seen her lose her temper. She was the perfect match for Albus, who, although looked exactly like Uncle Harry, had the exact disposition of Aunt Ginny. Selenia and Al had been together since fourth year. She was basically a member of the Potter family already.

Back in my room, I caught a glimpse of the photo again. This time, my head was less fuzzy and when I looked at it I even grinned a little at the unlikely quartet of friends. I will never forget the night we were all sorted into Ravenclaw.

I had met Selenia Cooper on the train. She shared a compartment with Al, Dom and I and she was so incredibly nervous, what with being muggle born and all. She asked anxious question after question about the wizarding world and Hogwarts. Her long, straight black hair made her look very serious, but I could tell she was really excited to enter the wizarding world by the shine in her bright blue eyes. Al and I were content to answer all her questions and not have her gawk at us like the kids from wizarding families who knew all the stories about the golden trio. We told her about the sorting ceremony and the four houses, figuring we would both be sorted into Gryffindor – as were our parents.

She was the first to get sorted, because of her last name and Al and I clapped loudly for her as the hat shouted “Ravenclaw!”

The biggest surprise of the night came when Scorpius – a Malfoy – got sorted into Ravenclaw. Headmistress McGonagall actually fell out of her chair and Hagrid had to help her up.

At that point I knew all bets were off. Albus was positively white a few minutes later, when it was his turn to be sorted. He later confided in me that he was afraid that he would be sorted into Slytherin, but was so surprised that the hat shouted ‘Ravenclaw!’ that he stood up and didn’t move for several minutes. He looked like someone had put a full body-bind curse on him, except he didn’t fall over. Not knowing which way to go, a Ravenclaw prefect finally came over and got him.

Several minutes later, Dominique was the next one from our family to get sorted and she was put into Gryffindor, with my cousin James and her sister, Victoire. I had no idea what to expect when it was my turn, and it didn’t take the hat long to say ‘Ravenclaw!’ even louder than it had for anyone else that night. I was stunned (although not as stunned as Al had been), but I looked over at the table and saw Selenia’s face beaming brightly. I walked directly over, sat down next to her, and our friendship was sealed for life.

James still insists to this day, that the hat was gattered. He maintains that it was obvious from its song. “You could hear it in the way it slurred all the words and didn’t even rhyme. Orin Wood swears it saw the hat covering up a bottle of firewhiskey at the beginning of the ceremony. That is the only explanation,” he explained at our first holidays home after going to Hogwarts; to which Aunt Ginny promptly smacked him over the head.

Get dressed. I was shaken back to reality. Now I was on a roll. The rest of the day would be relatively easy. Class. Rounds. Study. If I allowed myself a moment to consider it, I would have found it ironic that the hardest part for me to accomplish was the ‘get up’ part. But I never allowed myself the moment to consider it. That was way too dangerous.




A/N:  Soooo.... this is my very first fanfic.  Please let me know what you think.

I'm slowly updating all of the chapters becase I now have a beta for this story.  Many thanks to the awesome crestwood for all of the help!


Chapter 2: Bent: Rose POV
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It was Friday night. We always hung out at either our flat, or the boys’ – Albus, Scorpius and James all shared a flat across town. Tonight, it was their turn to host.

Saturday night was for going out – which I rarely did. It just wasn’t my scene. I preferred to stay in and study. I would get the flat to myself for a few hours and I reveled in the peace and quiet.

The party was already in full swing when Dom, Selenia and I got there. It was a big one. James had invited over his entire Quidditch team. There was an abundance of meaty, young men on the prowl and several witches and wizards that I didn’t recognize. Selenia found Al quickly and they began snogging almost immediately. They just couldn’t keep their hands off each other. For someone so reserved and composed in every other situation, Selenia just couldn’t hold back when it came to Al. They had been hot and heavy ever since they started dating. I have yet to meet another couple that never seems to tire of each other.

After about ten seconds, I began to get the uncomfortable lurch in my stomach. There were too many people. In addition to the Chudley Cannons team, there were several other Auror trainees that had obviously been invited by Al and Scorpius who were in the program along with Dom, and a few of the Healer trainees that were in the program with Selenia and I at St. Mungos.

Get a grip, Rose, this is just a gathering at the boys’ flat. No big deal. I hoped that I wouldn’t have to start reciting potions directions to get through it. People might start to look at me weird. I quickly made my way to a (somewhat) quiet corner and plopped myself down on a miraculously empty couch. This is where I would stake myself for the remainder of the evening, just long enough to make it look like I wasn’t leaving too early. I closed my eyes and started to repeat how to make the veritaserum potion in my head. I’m not weird, I told myself. I just needed a few minutes to relax.

“Butterbeer?” My eyes opened to a pint of the warm liquid right in front of my face. I would have jumped a mile in the air if I hadn't known the owner of the voice, the only voice that had the power to calm my nerves, for whatever reason.

“Thanks,” I breathed, looking up into Scorpius’s soft gray eyes. He plopped himself down next to me unceremoniously.

“So… James managed to pull off the biggest gathering so far,” he was making casual conversation. “He had to enchant the entire flat to make it large enough.”

I merely nodded, having nothing to add to this particular dialogue. I was only putting in my face time until I could leave and go back to my warm bed. To make it seem less awkward, I took a long draw on my drink and stared out at the crowd. There had to be at least 100 people here.

“Tough day?” he asked, running a hand through his white-blond hair and scratching at the back of his neck. It was one of his nervous habits. Why would he be nervous?

I nodded again but didn’t embellish. “Where did he find all these people?” I wondered. “Some of them don’t even look of age-”

Scorpius just breathed out a mirthless laugh. “Hogwarts graduation was last weekend. So James made a point of inviting all the new grads – but only the female ones. He had to have a healthy… er… supply for his teammates.”

I shook my head. Leave it to James. He could throw a party. Even at Hogwarts, he had the best ‘gatherings,’ as he called them. I hadn’t even realized that it had been Hogwarts graduation this past weekend. For once, no one in my family was graduating. Louis graduated last year, Roxy and Lucy would be next year and Lily and Hugo still had two more years to go – they weren’t even of age yet. Besides, Al and James were so protective of Lily; I doubt they will let her come even when she is of age.

“All of your cousins seem to be doing all right,” Scorpius commented, sarcastically. He was in a bad mood. I looked around to see what he was talking about. Al had his arm around Selenia and was leading her down the hallway to his room – no surprise there.

Dom was standing by the kitchen chatting animatedly with one of James’s teammates – I think he was from Australia. He had sandy blond hair and was very tan. They would make the most gorgeous babies – if Dom was in for that sort of thing, which she wasn’t. I smirked when I saw her signature move – a flick of her flowing blonde hair off her shoulders with a simple head shake, followed by a flash of her winning smile. I pointed to them and whispered to Scorpius, “I can almost hear her saying ‘Wow! You have to work out, like every day?’” He smiled, finally. We both knew all of Dom’s pick-up lines.

He nodded over to Fred, who was sweet-talking not one, not two, but three very young witches near the hallway. “It’s a good thing graduation was last weekend,” Scorpius commented. “He has gone through pretty much the rest of the entire female population.”

I couldn’t help but snicker. “Oh, Freddy. You are lucky you are so loveable.” I laid my head against his shoulder. It felt nice to be next to someone and be so comfortable. We both started to giggle and almost completely lost ourselves when I pointed out awkward Molly talking to Wolfram Longbottom across the room.

“Er… h-hello, Molly, is it?” Scorpius did a great Wolfie impression. He was such a gentle soul, but shy to a fault. “Do you come here often?”

“Oh, Wolfie,” I began playing the role of my cousin, “You look positively dashing in that purple sweater vest!” Scorpius shook his head from side to side in silent laughter and then burst out coughing violently, leaning over the side of the loveseat. I had to smack him on the back a few times. “Hold on there, Scorp. I’m not a healer just yet!” I was laughing harder now. He lifted his head up from his bent over position and grinned at me through a few more vicious hacks.

“Who is that with James?” I asked Scorpius when I could speak again. Both our moods had lifted. James had his arm comfortably around the most beautiful witch in the room – not counting Dominiqe, of course. She was someone that I hadn’t seen before. She looked a bit older – probably in her mid- to late-twenties and she was, of course, gorgeous. She had flowing, dark blond hair, soft brown eyes and was wearing a short white dress that clung to her and left little to the imagination. She looked really sophisticated for this lot of Quidditch players and trainees.

“That is Samara Tinsman,” Scorpius nodded toward her.  "She is American and working with the ministry as some sort of ambassador for international relations. Harry asked Al and Dom to introduce her to a few of the younger crowd. Although, I don’t think this is what he had in mind,” he gestured toward James and Samara as he dipped in for a steamy kiss.

“She doesn’t seem to mind,” I commented, and we both broke out into fits of laughter again at my ridiculous family.

I suddenly felt much lighter and I stood up and said, “Let me get you a refill. You practically spewed your entire drink across the room,” I drained the last of my pint, grabbed his glass and headed across the crowded room. I had to suppress a giggle as I passed by Molly and Wolfie and heard her say, “Really, Wolfram? I never knew vomit could come in so many different colours!” Eww. He was in the Healer trainee program with me, but you don’t see me discussing sick colours with anyone. They really couldn’t come up with a better topic of conversation? Well, whatever rocks your socks. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed Molly and Wolfram were perfect for each other. I catalogued the overheard conversation in the back of my mind so I could tell Scorp about it later.

I took a leap and decided to go for the more alcoholic ale than the mild butterbeer. Perhaps this night wouldn’t be so bad after all. I was still chuckling to myself about Molly and Wolfie when I felt an unknown, large hand wrap around my waist and pull me roughly sideways, so that the beer sloshed down my shirt.

“Hey, sexy,” a hot, drunk breath growled into my ear. Every muscle in my body tensed and the two pints of beer splattered more of the ale onto my shirt as my hands clutched instinctively to my chest. I could feel the cold, wet liquid soaking through. “I’ve been watching you all night. You are damn fit.” He twisted my taut body around and lunged forward with his face. I leaned back, but I couldn’t get away because his arms were gripping my waist so tightly.

The world seemed to slow down. Everything around me faded away and all I could see was this unknown wizard’s dark brown hair falling in clumps around his face that was obscured by a heavy beard. His eyes were black and beady. I dropped both glasses so I could push him back with my hands, but he was stronger and grasped a hand behind my head to force me toward his face. I recoiled and tried to twist free, adrenaline rising up inside me.

I didn’t hear the bang or see the curse fly from behind me. I just felt his grip release me and the force of my pushing throw me backwards toward the ground. It felt like I was falling in slow motion, but before I hit, a new pair of arms came from behind and caught me. They gently lifted me back to standing and wrapped around me. I don’t remember turning around, but my legs felt like jelly and I fell into Scorpius’s chest, gripping around him tightly, until I could open my eyes again and turn my head to see my aggressor. Who was he? Definitely not a trainee or a Quidditch player.

Scorpius had one arm around me and the other one holding his wand, pointed at the wizard who was now lying on his back and propping himself up on his elbows, recovering quickly from the stunning hex placed upon him and lifting his wand arm up slowly at Scorp and I. The words were on my lips to warn Scorpius, but before I could say anything, he shouted, “Petrificus totalis!” and the wizard’s torso flung back to the ground, his arms at his side and his entire body now immobilized. James and Dom immediately appeared at our side, wands drawn. The nearby party goers were forming a circle around the commotion.

I sucked in a much needed breath, just realizing that I had forgotten the simple act of getting oxygen to my system. My muscles were no longer tensed up, but now I was shaking out of control and Scorpius lowered his wand so he could wrap both arms around me tightly.

“I got it. I got it!” Dom shouted as two other Auror trainees joined her and James, wands at the ready. “Hey, arsehole! Who the fuck are you?” She demanded to the bloke who just smiled up at her and… crack – apparated away. How the hell did he do that? You can’t apparate if you’ve just been body bound. What the hell was going on?

“What the hell?” Dom’s voice boomed as she searched around the room. The entire party had now ceased and everyone was moving toward us – toward me. I buried my face deeper into Scorpius’s chest and stopped breathing again.

My mind was racing, trying to process the situation and at the same time, trying to maintain control of my body that wasn’t able to keep steady. Scorpius shifted and I faltered against him, grasping his steady arms with my trembling ones. My eyes rose up to meet his. He looked down at me and concern laced his features, realizing that I was unable to hold my own weight. He whispered something so only Dom and James could hear and slowly guided me away from the crowd. I don’t know how my legs were able to move and I kept my eyes trained on the floor in front of me.

It seemed to take us several minutes to walk the few steps down the hallway. Scorpius was doing most of the actual walking. I was just shifting my feet. Before I was able to realize what was going on, before my brain was able to slow its pace of logging information, sounds and sights around me, we were in Scorpius’s room and it was quiet and calm. I was sitting on his bed and he was next to me, his arms still around me.

He didn’t say anything until my breathing evened out and I was not shaking so intensely. I was embarrassed at my reaction. It certainly isn’t the first time some girl had been grabbed at a party. It wouldn’t be the last. I was embarrassed that a crowd had gathered and everyone had seen me cowering. I didn’t even think to draw my wand. All the others reacted so quickly and my best response was to just push him away? I was embarrassed that I couldn’t walk away without Scorpius’s help. That about sums up my life. The daughter of Ron and Hermione Weasley was a coward – worthless to even protect herself against some drunk idiot at a party.

“All right there, yeah?” Scorpius asked in a whisper against my forehead.

“Yeah,” I lied. “Much better.” Part of me wanted to get up and go back to my own flat, but I couldn’t move just yet. He lowered his arms from around me and began to lift off the bed. As I felt him pull away, my fear returned.

“Wait!” I was desperate. “Don’t go!” My hands clutched his forearms. I felt safe and calm with him close to me and suddenly the thought of him leaving was terrifying me. He lowered back down and wrapped his arms instantly around me again, grasping me tighter and gently stroking my hair.

“I’m not going anywhere, Rose,” he whispered into my hair. His voice was so soft, steadying me and bringing me back to earth. My heart began to slow its erratic pace. “I’m right here. I just thought you would like to change your shirt.”

“Oh. Yes.” I leaned back when I realized that his shirt was also wet from the spilled drink. The smell wafted up to my nose. “I’m sorry – for getting your shirt wet and… overreacting. I don’t know what came over me.” Another lie. I knew exactly what had come over me.

He accioed two shirts from his wardrobe – a clean oxford for him and a Ravenclaw Tee that had to have been from our third year. There was no way this shirt could possibly still fit him. He handed it to me and gently lowered his arms so he could unbutton his soaked clothing. I turned myself away from him and removed my own saturated shirt. It fell to the ground as the door banged open.

“What the hell happened?” Al demanded, his hair all rumpled and missing his own shirt. We must have looked completely ridiculous, the three of us in the room and none of us wearing any clothing on our upper halves (except for my bra).

“Damn it Al! Did you ever hear of knocking? Merlin!” Scorpius bellowed as he wrapped his clean oxford around my front in an attempt to give me some privacy.

Sense finally won out over outrage as Al realized he was in a room with his own cousin disrobing. He turned his head and covered his eyes, but continued to yell. “James said some blighter jumped Rose, then apparated away after being hexed. He came to get me and… and… why the hell don’t either of you have clothes on?”

What?!” Another, very similar and very familiar voice rang out behind Albus and Dom stormed through the door, followed by James and Selenia. Dom had a look of great amusement on her face. This is fantastic. Why don’t we just invite Nana Molly and Grandad here and call it Christmas.

As irritated as I was at my cousin, the disruption was enough to bring my racing mind back to reality and I explained our unfortunate situation. “The aforementioned blighter spilled beer all over me and Scorpius got it all over him trying to help me.” Hoping that was enough of an explanation to shut him up so he would get the hell out. I really wished they would just leave so I could get decent.

“Can we discuss this in, say, five minutes?” Scorpius’s temper flared again. The group just stood there, looking dumbfounded at the two of us. “As in… get the hell out of here so Rose can put a goddamn shirt on!” Finally, the crowd retreated and the door closed. Scorpius flicked his wand angrily and the lock clicked, signifying at least a few moments of peace against any other family members who felt the need to see me half naked. I tentatively handed Scorpius back his shirt and quickly pulled on the loaned tee shirt.

He was staring hard at nothing in particular across the room as he furiously buttoned up. I knew he was really irate and trying to sort it all out. He was often angry.

I stood up and took a few steps toward the door to make my escape. If the party was still going on, I could make my way to the apparition point without being noticed and… I stopped.

I didn’t want to be weak and pathetic anymore, in the same way that I didn’t want Scorpius to be angry anymore. I turned around and saw him sitting on the edge of the bed. He was still looking hard away from me as I slowly found my way back and lowered down next to him.

“Hey,” my fingers pressed into his arm and I found myself wishing that he hadn’t put his shirt on so quickly. Did I just think that? He blinked once at my voice, but didn’t turn his head. I rested one finger on his jawline and coaxed his head toward me. His tensed muscles began to relax as our eyes met. The hardened look he had been harbouring softened as he blinked again at me. Instead of taking my finger off his cheek, the other four joined it and my thumb began to trace gentle circles on his smooth cheek. Then his strong hand rested on my back and copied the motion. It felt really nice – to touch him and have him touch me as we stared at each other. I usually avoided most human contact.

“Thank you,” I whispered. “For everything.” He just nodded, staring at me with his caring silver eyes and rubbing my back. It was not until that moment that I realized that I had spent more time alone with another human being than I had in the past two years. The numbness and emptiness were not the sole emotions I was experiencing. For the first time since my kidnapping, I was able to give and receive consolation from someone else.

I felt something.




A/N:  Hi everyone!  I'm so glad you're reading this story!  Special thanks to my beta, crestwood for all his help!  If you could take the time to review, I would really appreaciate it!  

~Beth


Chapter 3: Blown Away: Scorpius POV
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I flopped down on my bed, not exactly angry, but not exactly pleased with myself, either.  I had just returned from accompanying Rose back to her flat.  She insisted that she was fine, but I needed to see her home, for my own well-being. She wouldn’t let me stay, maintaining that I should be back at the party.  I don’t actually give a damn about the party, evidenced by the fact that I am lying in my bed at ten pm on a Friday night, with the largest party in Wizarding UK going on just outside my door. 

My mind couldn’t get past the fact that Rose had been in my bedroom, half-naked, mere minutes ago.  She was here.  She touched me and let me touch her.  I had felt freer than I had felt in a long, long time.  I rubbed my cheek where I could still feel the heat from her thin, soft fingers pulling me back from my ire with Albus and his barging in.  He always had been a bit overprotective of Rose, and I resented the implication that I couldn’t take care of her.  Okay, okay, maybe his implication was less about me taking care of her and more about the fact that we were both in an obvious state of undress at the time of his entrance…  It was eerily familiar… No Scorpius, I told myself.  Don’t go there.  

I thought about the tee shirt that I had given to Rose.  She had looked at it questioningly.  I figured she recognized it – it was hers, after all.  Perhaps she was really questioning why I had held on to it for so long.  I clamped my eyes shut and willed my mind again not to go back there, but tomorrow was the anniversary… and the memory slammed into my brain like a freight train. 

“Dad, why not?”  I knew that I was treading on dangerous ground.  My upbringing had taught me not to question authority.  However, I had quickly learned at Hogwarts, that not all young wizards had had the same rearing as I had.

“Love, I don’t think today is a good day,” Mother, always so kind and understanding, usually piped in on my behalf, but today had joined forces with father.

“What are you talking about?!  Did you actually
agree that I couldn’t play a game of football with the neighbours?  What next?  I can’t visit Albus this year?...”  I trailed off when I saw the look on Mum’s face.

I looked to mother for support, but she wouldn’t catch my eye.  My yearly trips to the Potter’s house were the only thing that kept me sane during the summer holidays.  Things were so
normal there.  All right, so maybe normal isn’t the correct word, if you took into account the incessant pranks James played on everyone, frequent visits from all family members – I could swear the Potter’s fireplace saw more floo powder than the Ministry of Magic – and to top it all off, Albus’s Grandad Weasley would come over all the time to ask Harry about some muggle artifact or other.

The Potter’s house was the most fantastic place to me.  Rose, Hugo, Wolfram, Molly, Dominique and many other cousins all visited many times a week.  It was busy, busy, busy.  People were always talking, shouting, goofing off and laughing.  It was such a contrast to my cold, quiet, country home and I loved it from my very first visit.  At my house, my father barely spoke to me.  Mum and I would cook together, and that was when we would talk about other topics, but those dinners were always eaten in near silence with my father, who over the years had become more and more distant.

I knew that he didn’t love the fact that I visited the Potter’s regularly.  The bad blood between Harry and my dad was well known to everyone.  However, they both seemed to put aside whatever differences and allowed Al, my best friend and I to see each other during holidays.  I even spent the Christmas holidays at the Potters house some years.  The idea of missing out on seeing my friends and feeling a little more like a regular kid was overwhelming to me.

“This is ludicrous!” I slammed a fist onto father’s desk.  “I’m going to play football. And I’m going to visit Al next week.  Just try and stop me,” I said as I stood up to my full height.  He did the same and we stared at each other from across the desk in his study.  I realized for the first time that I was taller than him.  Not just taller.  I had a good two inches on him.

“Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy!” he bellowed.  “I forbid you to…” 

“What?!” I countered, now figuratively standing up to him for the first time in my life.  “Associate with commoners?  Non-magic folk?  ‘
Mudbloods?’”  I had heard enough.  Obviously the rumors going around Hogwarts were true.  I shoved my hands into my pockets and stormed out of the room.  I felt like blasting something away.  All I wanted was to be as far away from my father as possible.

“Scorpius, please don’t leave,” my mother begged.  “It’s not sa-”

But I never heard the rest of what she said.  The door slammed behind me.  Usually my mother was the one who could calm me down after an encounter with my father.  But not today.  Today, I was fifteen and angry and bound and determined to prove a point.  They couldn’t cage me anymore.

*

Do you want to meet up again tomorrow, Malfoy?” the irritating voice rang through my head a few hours later.

“Er… I’ll have to see, Mason.  I’m not sure when we are going on holiday this summer.”  I was searching for any excuse that would allow me to not have to give this tosser a definite answer.  I’d only agreed to hang around with him to irritate my father.  I knew it would get on Draco Malfoy’s nerves to know his son was spending time with a muggle kid from the neighbourhood.  Unfortunately for me, Mason was dull and borderline annoying.  It was obvious why none of the other kids wanted to be around him.

“We make a great team, don’t we?” the desperation in his voice was grating on my nerves.  “The M&M team!  Malfoy and Mason!”  See.  He does things like that to make everyone hate him.  I didn’t even have a reply for this immature fodder.  Mason had served the purpose of sufficiently annoying my father – although I really had wished at that moment I had chosen one of the other neighbourhood lads that were less maddening.  He just happened to be the only person around that afternoon.

“Look Mason, I’ll owl you tomorrow if I can hang out,” his face screwed up in confusion and I realized my mistake a little too late.  “I meant call.  I’ll
call you tomorrow.”  Any confusion instantly vanished as he smiled widely.  I don’t think anyone ever said they would call him before.  I turned down the walk and slumped into the house before he could say anything more.

I knew something was amiss the instant I entered.  It
smelled weird.  Not a specific smell that I could pinpoint – it was just… off.  And quiet.  It was eerily quiet.  The house was always quiet, but this was different.  It was as if all the normal sounds had been sucked out of the house by a muffliato charm or some other magic.

By habit, I walked down to the kitchen to visit with Mum.  She would be working on dinner and I rarely missed a day of cooking with her when I was home.  I knew Mum wouldn’t be put out at my earlier outburst.  She always understood.  She continually put things right with my father and I with her gentle words and warming foods.

"Mum, I -” but the words never made it past my throat.  They were caught up and swallowed by the horrific scene in front of me.  It was so bizarre that my mind couldn’t compute what my eyes were seeing.  I cocked my head to the side and just stared in confusion, which quickly followed disbelief.

I would never admit to anyone just how long I stood there, transfixed at the sight that my brain would not allow me to process.  It felt like I was there for hours and hours.  In truth, it was probably only several minutes.  My parents’ bodies lay lifeless before me and the kitchen barely resembled the room that I had known since a small child.  There was debris everywhere and part of the stove was still smoldering.

Somewhere in the back of my mind it registered that I should smell the burning from a hole blasted deep into the stone wall that had puffs of smoke billowing from it.  I couldn’t really smell anything.  I couldn’t hear the blood rushing to my ears as my heart pounded out of my chest.  Nor could I taste the bile that was rising in my throat.  I had even lost the ability to feel the floor beneath my feet or door frame that my body was now leaning against for support.  All of my senses failed in response to the overload that my eyes were suffering.

I couldn’t enter the room.  My feet would not carry me through the threshold as if refusing to acknowledge the scene before me was real and the room where my eyes were transfixed was a room I visited daily.  Twisted fragments of iron were strewn everywhere.  The table had been blasted off of its legs and lay in several shards, thrown against the far wall. Everything, everything was covered in black soot.

A body lay sprawled and bent at unnatural angles on the floor just below the where the stove used to be.  I say a ‘body’ because I couldn’t reconcile that it was indeed my mother.  Nothing about the way it lay and bled and was torn through by metal and heat left any indication that this was the woman I shed tears upon as a small child.

My father lay several yards away, toward the back door.  He appeared more or less normal.  If it weren’t for the fact that his eyes were left open and staring at nothing, I would think he had just chosen to lie on the floor of the kitchen for a brief nap.  There were some ashes splashed through his thinning blond hair, but otherwise, he looked rather unscathed.

After several long minutes, my feet began to take over my brain function and I backed out of the room.  I paced and spun in a slow frenzy around the living room, walking backwards, forwards, and every which way with my hands over my face until I bumped sideways into the fireplace across the way.  My head hit the mantle hard and I turned around in surprise that there were actually solid objects still existing in the universe.  My body had seemed that it was floating through the air and at the same time pushing its way through a thick plasma substance that made breathing difficult.  As my hand rose up instinctively to my head, it bumped against a small jar that had rested on the mantle for as long as I could remember.

The nerves in my fingers tingled with heightened sensitivity as I fisted a handful of the gritty powder, stepped into the fireplace and choked out the words “Ministry of Magic,” with every last ounce of sanity I had left.




A/N:  I am splitting this chapter in two.  I have wanted to do this for a while and, after considering the story as a whole, I am changing a few things up and this seemed like the best place to start.


Chapter 4: Bereft: Scorpius POV
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A/N:  This is the second half of Scorpius's flashback.  I split the original chapter into two smaller ones.  There are a few editing changes, but nothing major.  Feel free to leave a review and let me know what you think!

 



A kitchen accident.

That was the official report from the Ministry of Magic investigation. My parents were killed from the results of a magic-induced explosion in the oven. It was most likely my mother who inadvertently flicked her wand in the wrong way that caused the heavy, cast iron relic to overheat rapidly and the pressure built inside and eventually burst, spewing hot metal and gas across the small kitchen.

The next several hours poured into days that all swirled together into one seemingly endless period of time that was just… dark. My mother was killed instantly from the explosion that tore through her delicate frame. It was determined that my father died from a blow to the head as his body was thrown violently into the stone wall behind him.

The ministry officials interviewed me, took care of the bodies and arranged the tiny funeral. After a few days, I was sent to stay with my only living relative, my Aunt Daphne, who had married a muggle sometime after the second Wizarding war. I didn’t really know her very well. I remember her from my grandparents’ funerals when I was very young. She seemed nice enough, but, because she chose to live among non-magic folk, the house was full of muggle artifacts and everything was strange and queer to me.

I rarely came out of the small room that I had been assigned to. Aunt Daphne’s house wasn’t very big. She never had any children of her own, so she didn’t need much space for just her and her husband. He was an all right fellow, but really didn’t understand wizards and magic and looked at me warily most of the time. I couldn’t care less, I was so tired that I just stayed in bed and Aunt Daphne didn’t force me to eat, as I’m sure my Mum would’ve done. I only got out of bed to shower. The warm water pouring over my skin was necessary to wash the soot off of me. I could feel the grime that covered my parents’ bodies and the kitchen on me at all times.

A week went by and I was left mostly alone. Aunt Daphne didn’t leave the house; she didn’t really bother with me at all – except to put a tray of food outside my door at regular intervals.

The guilt was building and building inside me. My last words to my parents had been in anger, even to my mother, who hadn’t done anything to deserve my wrath. I had slammed the door behind me and didn’t even look back. I continually replayed my actions over and over in my head. If I had only listened to them, and stayed home… I would’ve been cooking dinner with my Mum that afternoon, instead of brooding with that tosser, Mason. I would’ve seen the leak in the stove – or smelled it – and Mum wouldn’t have tried to light it. Perhaps my dad would’ve stayed in his study instead of helping Mum with dinner and wouldn’t have been thrown back into the stone wall from the blast… The images of their bodies flashed into my head every time I tried to close my eyes, and although I was tired beyond belief, sleep eluded me.

Late one evening, I heard Aunt Daphne quietly talking to someone else downstairs. The voices were too muffled for me to make out the words, and I didn’t care anyway. I rolled over and buried my head deeper into the covers to block it out.

A few minutes later the door creaked open and I stilled. Aunt Daphne rarely came into the room, but she obviously wanted me to get up and meet with whoever had come to the house. Hopefully, she would fall for my ruse of pretending to be asleep and give up.

“Scorpius?” a soft, tentative voice called out to me. Not Aunt Daphne. It was Rose. I sat up immediately. What in the world was she doing here?

“Rose?” My croaky voice sounded foreign, even to me.

“Oh, Scorp!” she crossed the room, flying towards me and captured me in the biggest bear hug I had ever received. The two of us teetered backwards on the bed as she squeezed so tightly that my eyes hurt. “I’m so sorry Scorpius. So, so sorry,” she sobbed into my chest and my arms instinctively wrapped around her as she steadied herself next to me on the bed.

“Hey, Scorp,” Al followed in behind her and leaned his tall frame against the bedpost.

I was in utter disbelief that they were even here, and my mouth just kept opening and closing as I was at a loss for words. But, Rose, being Rose, I didn’t need to say anything. She took a deep, shaky breath and began ejecting words at me.

“I just… I had to see you. Uncle Harry said you’d been sent to live at your Aunt Daphne’s house, but we should give you a bit of time. I told Al that we needed to find you, straight away and come to see you. He agreed and we decided that we were coming no matter what and we had to get a bit creative with our excuses to our parents, but… I think they bought it. It isn’t easy to fool two Aurors and the head of Magical Law Enforcement, you know. Although I think the hardest one to fool was Aunt Ginny, don’t you agree Al? I suspect she knew all along what we were up to, but didn’t say anything.”

“Anyway, Al and I had to navigate muggle transportation. We flooed to Diagon Alley just before our Dads got home from work. Then we went through The Leaky Cauldron and into muggle London. We walked a few blocks and picked up a bus and finally took a taxi to your Aunt’s house and… here we are!” she said brightly. Then her face clouded over as she realized the event that had actually brought her here. She worried her lip in concern and her eyes began to glisten. The tears welled up and spilled over as she embraced me once again.

“Listen to me,” she scolded herself, leaning back and grasping my hands with her soft warm ones. “I’m prattling on about how hard it was getting here when you… you have lost… oh Scorpius, I am just so, incredibly sorry.” She flung herself at me again. “I just… I don’t know what to say, Scorp…” Her soft, red curls smelled sweet and clean against my face.

The barrier I had put up around me was crumbling with every word she spoke. She was so sincere and caring; hearing her voice and feeling her next to me was just what I needed. I looked up at Al standing by us and he nodded. He didn’t need me to say it. Until that moment, I didn’t realize how much I needed my friends.

“Rose. I-It’s all right. Just… you being here is… it’s so good to see you. B-Both of you.” I looked over her shoulder at Al again. He lowered himself next to us on the bed and gripped my shoulder. It was the most comfort I had felt since my parents’ deaths. The three of us huddled together for a long, long time.

Rose squeezed tighter and stopped talking. After days and days of living in a dark cloud of anguish, I finally began to feel real pain replace the detachment. I tried to hold back from crying at first, but the emotions overtook my body and I sobbed and sobbed onto Rose’s shoulder and she just held on and stroked my back and my hair. Albus patted my shoulders and didn’t say anything, just held on as a physical and wordless emotional support, as only a best friend would do.

I hadn’t cried when I found them lifeless in the kitchen, nor when I was talking to the ministry officials, not even at their funeral. Now every single unshed tear over the past week and a half was driving its way out of me and onto Rose’s shoulder.

I don’t remember what happened next, other than we obviously stayed there long enough to fall asleep. Even though I had been in bed since I came to my Aunt Daphne’s I hadn’t actually been sleeping. With my best friends next to me, I fell into the deepest slumber I had had in a long while.

I probably would’ve slept for a whole lot longer, if a screaming, perturbed red-headed Auror hadn’t been yelling in the hallway, demanding to see his daughter.

“Rose Jean Weasley! Where are you? Are you mad? Running away from home?” I heard as I lifted my head, groggily. I could see the sun peeking through the drawn shades. It was late morning.

“Er… sir, I am sure if you could just wait for a few moments, my wife will be home and she can help you…” My uncle’s footsteps pattered hurriedly behind Ron’s in the hallway. “Here. Let me call her on my mobile. She will be home momentarily… Sir? Sir?” his squeaky voice trailed off.

My arm was trapped beneath Rose, who had nestled herself against my chest. Her curls were now messy from sleep, but her hair still smelled the same sweet smell of… lavender? My eyes shot open at the realization of what this looked like. This was the worst possible way to be woken up by Ron Weasley – in your bed with his fifteen year old daughter clutched in your arms. Fuck.

Well I was definitely awake. I sat up and scooted over as far as I could from Rose, ripping my arm out from underneath her and rubbing my eyes, just as the door burst open and the volume of Ron’s voice raised several decibels.

“What is going on here?” He apparently had seen both of us now. My uncle’s head popped around the door frame and he let out a tiny shriek when he saw us. “Daphne, love,” his high-pitched cry squealed into his mobile. “I think you need to come home right away. Yes… I know you are at the market, but some other… er… magic blokes have arrived… and they seem to be bit put out…” his head disappeared from the doorway as he frantically whispered to my Aunt on the phone.

Rose began to stir and sat up, looking around confusedly. The color had drained from Ron’s face as he stood in the doorway in disbelief. A moment later, a dark haired wizard appeared next to Ron. Briefly, I thought it was Al, who was conveniently nowhere to be found at the moment when I blinked the sleep out of my eyes and realized that no, it wasn’t Al. It was Harry. Fuuuuuck. This was going from bad to worse by the second. They would probably find a way to stick me in Azkaban for this.

Al finally appeared at Ron’s other side and I looked desperately at him. Ron had raised his wand at me and muttered “Impedi-” Harry reached over and grabbed his wand arm, just in time to deflect the curse to the other side of the room. I could hear my uncle let out a screech in the hallway. Ron’s wand fell from his hands and rolled across the floor. I breathed out the air that I was holding in at the prospect of being hexed.

“Dad?” Rose had obviously not copped on to what her father was agitated about. “Why would you try to hex Scorpius?!”

Ron didn’t answer; instead he lunged through the door with surprising speed, growling. “Malfoy… I should’ve known. You little prick!” I recoiled, having no way to defend myself. I was underage and this was, for all intents and purposes, a muggle household and any underage magic would be detected immediately. If the ministry came here and saw Ron and Harry, they would never believe that I was a victim. And, although we were the same height, Ron was much broader – I was still a scrawny fifteen year old so there was no way I could physically fend him off.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to, as Al and Harry simultaneously shot through the door after Ron and each grabbed an arm to hold him back.

“Oh my, oh my… Daphne!!” my uncle bellowed into his mobile. “You need to get home now! Use that apparate cadabra stuff you know! Just get over here!”

“What are you on about, Dad? Nothing happened. We came to be with our friend! Who just lost his parents!” Rose stood up on the bed in front of me, obviously trying to shield me from any further attempts on my life. She seemed genuinely stunned at her father’s actions.

“Really, Uncle Ron, it’s true.” Al chimed in, keeping a firm grip on his uncle. “I slept in the chair after Scorp and Rose fell asleep on the bed. I was in here the whole time. I just now got up to use the loo.” He spoke quickly, his voice a little desperate.

“All right, let’s everyone calm down. We can head down to the parlo-” But Harry’s attempt to diffuse the situation was cut off.

“Why are you half-dressed?” Ron shot at Rose, struggling under Al and Harry’s hold on him. I wondered the same thing as I looked at her, still standing defiantly on the bed in front of me. She was wearing one of my tee shirts, her own Ravenclaw tee shirt and jeans discarded on the side of the bed. My eyes traveled up her long, freckled legs from her bare ankles to her knees and her thighs that were exposed half-way. I fought the urge to groan and cover my face in my hands. That would make me look guilty.

“I had to change my shirt, so I grabbed one of Scorpius’ to sleep in. Mine got… wet.” She was past being apologetic and flopped off the bed to slide her jeans on. I consciously looked away as her hips wriggled to pull them over her bum. She left my shirt on, however. Then she walked over to where Al and Harry were still holding back her father. If I thought there had been a hint of embarrassment in her voice, it was squelched as soon as she spoke slowly and deliberately to Ron.

“I came here to be with my friend. I needed to see him and I would do it again in a heartbeat. You weren’t too much older than me when you ‘ran away from home’ to be with your friend,” she nodded toward Harry and pushed past the three of them. “Now, if you would excuse me, I have to use the loo - unless, of course, you want to follow me in there and accuse me of doing something untoward with the toilet.” 




About an hour later, we were finally sitting in the parlor and my Aunt had returned from the market and effectively calmed my uncle down. It wasn’t that he was afraid of magic – he just didn’t really understand it. I’m pretty sure my Aunt had mostly only told him about the bad stuff – like when Voldemort was around. I knew that my father had been involved in some of that, but my parents never told me very much.

I knew it was bad, though. Bad enough to make my Aunt choose to live as a muggle. She never used magic on a daily basis and I couldn’t ever remember her with her wand in hand. Based on my father’s reaction when I asked him about being a death eater, I could conclude that my parents never had any intention of telling me about their part in the second wizarding war. If I ever even skirted around by asking a remote question, my father would hold his book up over his face and say, “All you need to know, Scorpius, is that you are much more like your mother than me.”

Rose and Albus sat loyally by my side, Rose a bit more defiantly, but Al was nonetheless not assenting to leave anytime soon. Ron was still seething, but had at least agreed to sit down to talk.

“First off, Daphne and Phil, thank you so much for having Rose and Albus over last night. We are very relieved to know that they are safe.” Harry worked to calm all the involved parties – and perhaps throw a little guilt toward Rose and Albus.

“Er… yes. Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Miller,” Al looked a little sheepish and Rose’s face bordered on mortification. She wouldn’t want anyone to think her rude or ungrateful.

“Thank you so much!” she almost stammered. “It was so kind of you to have us.”

I reached over and grabbed a second sandwich my Aunt had prepared for the group, chewing hungrily. I offered one to Rose and Al, but they both shook their heads.

“Well, I can see that they did Scorpius a world of good,” Aunt Daphne nodded toward me. “He slept for the first time last night and this is the most he has eaten in at least a week,” I stopped chewing and stared at her, not because I wasn’t hungry, but because I didn’t think my Aunt had paid that much attention to what I had or hadn’t been doing.

“However,” she continued. “Their visit made Phil and me realize that we don’t completely have the abilities to offer him what he really needs right now.” She spoke sadly as she turned to me. “Scorpius, I really did love my sister very much. But she chose her life and I chose this one. You will always have a place here in this house, but I know this is not where you want to be.”

“Daphne,” Harry was quick to pipe in, “Would you and Phil be open to the idea of Scorpius coming to stay with us for a bit? It wouldn’t be for the entire summer, but perhaps you are right and a few weeks with his closest friends would do him a bit of good.”

I looked hopefully at my Aunt. Staying with the Potters, even if it was just for a short while, would be like heaven compared to this strange house with people who were also strangers to me.

“Harry, that is very kind of you. But I will leave the final decision to Scorpius. He is fifteen and should be able to have some say in his living arrangements.” I practically choked on my sandwich in acknowledgement and Harry gave a chuckle.

“It’s settled then,” he clapped his hands together and stood up. “Albus, you can stay here and help Scorpius get his things gathered for his visit. Rose-”

“-is heading back with us,” Ron finished.

She opened her mouth to protest, but Al put his hand on her arm as I glared at her. We had just won the war, for cripe’s sake, let’s not mess with this tiny battle. She gave us both a small smile and mouthed the words “you two owe me,” to which we both nodded.




The Potter’s house was just as jovial and crazy as I had remembered. It was good to be in a place so eventful that I didn’t have too much time to dwell on my parents’ deaths. Harry and Ginny had rearranged the house so that I had my own room, for which I was eternally grateful. Sometimes, I just needed a few moments to collect myself. Other times, I wished that I had someone to distract me from the dark places my mind would go. The guilt still tortured me.

A few weeks into my visit, I had had a particularly rough day and I was just… missing them. I begged off an evening of Quidditch in the Potter’s backyard and went to my room, the horrible ghost of grief overtaking me yet again. It was odd how you could be doing just about anything that seemed normal on the outside and, without warning, feel enveloped by a cloak of sorrow and anguish in an instant.

I didn’t lock my door at the Potter’s because I never needed to. No one encroached on anyone’s privacy. There was respect and… love. So I was surprised when I heard the door creak open and I sat up in my bed. The room was dark and I blinked to make out the figure approaching me.

Rose never said a word, just climbed in next to me and found my hand. She intertwined our fingers and stroked my forehead with her other hand. I could feel my jittery nerves calming with each touch. I knew this was not about being defiant to her father. Rose wasn’t like that. She didn’t waste time fighting for the sake of it. She fought for things she believed in. Like her family and friends. She had this uncanny way of knowing when I needed her to just… be with me. She stayed the night like that – and many nights after. I am sure that Ginny knew, and possibly Harry too, but no one ever questioned me about it. When we returned to Hogwarts for our fifth year, she would, occasionally, find her way to my four-poster bed in the boy’s dorm of Ravenclaw tower – always after a particularly bad day. She was my rock.

“Go Fre-ed, go Fre-ed, go Fre-ed,” my brain was pulled back to present day as the chants grew louder. Fred was apparently doing something downright amazing out there. I knew sleep was out of the question. At this point, I couldn’t even ask for quiet. Fuck it. I was going to go out there and forget about Rose (Who am I kidding?). I would have a drink to honor dear old Mum and Death Eater Dad. It was high time I got good and drunk.


Chapter 5: Besotted: Rose POV
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My eyes blinked open to the picture on my nightstand. Al, Selenia, myself and… Scorpius. It was early for a Saturday. Sleep had been restless, as usual. But something was off; I just couldn’t put my finger on it. I felt like I needed – something.

At first, I thought I might be having another panic attack. That was the main reason I insisted on going home the night before. Usually, they come in clusters and I have a spell for several days in a row before they begin to subside. Since no one knew the truth about what happened at the cabin, I wanted to keep it that way. No need to bring anyone else into this. Besides, it was under control, anyway.

I got out of bed to head to the loo, but it wasn’t another attack. There was uneasiness in my belly – not nausea. It was like I was hyper aware of everything – but in a fog of confusion. The flat was completely silent. Selenia would be back from Al’s in a few hours so we could start our weekend studying routine. Dom didn’t come home either. I had the feeling that she hit it off with that blond quidditch player.

A splash of cold water across my tired eyes served to wake my body to match my racing mind. I was so confused about last night and I needed – something. I just didn’t know what it was yet. Did I forget to do something? No, that wasn’t it. My head lifted from the sink as I stood up. My nightdress had slipped off my left shoulder and one of the scars peeked through at me – a wrinkled, red reminder of Stannous. Instead of turning away, I cautiously pulled the sleeve of the nightdress down further to investigate the markings that I never, ever let myself look at. I peered at the discolorations as if I were seeing them for the first time. My eyes traced over the pattern and how the marks splattered across the light, freckled skin of my shoulders.

Before my brain was in control of my actions, the unbuttoned nightdress fell to the floor as I slowly turned sideways and lifted my left arm to get a closer look in the bathroom mirror. Angry streaks spiraled outward from the disfigured point on the side of my waist. They sprawled across the entire left side of my torso, extending from my shoulder down to my hip. Their colorings varied from almost blood red to faint pink depending on how deep the curses had penetrated. Or rather, one curse, performed multiple times.

Crucio flagrate.

It wasn’t enough to just use the unforgivable ‘crucio,’ curse. Stannous chose to take his torture sessions to the next level, so he created his own brand of crucio curse. It had the added benefit being akin to a searing spike jammed into your side that grew hot iron snake arms and crawled from the central point, burning you from the inside out. As a bonus, the curse would control your thoughts and play the most gruesome images through your mind. If you screamed, it hurt more. It seemed to take the noise from your shrieks of pain and turn it into more agony.

After the torture, if I was still conscious, Stannous would glare at me with a strange look in his eyes. Sometimes he stayed for a long while, just lingering over me and staring, but he never touched me. Later on, when I had finally regained consiousness, there would be a series of healer accessories in the room for me to use. I got quite good at healing my own sores without a wand. Dittany combined with an infusion of murtlap essence soothed the pain and stopped the bleeding best from the limited stash that I had to work with. It may have been the delirium from the cruelty and fatigue, but I had the feeling that someone else was at the cabin with us. I fleetingly saw some older person leaving the room one night after I came to from a short blackout. All I remember is a shock of white flyaway hair walking out of the room.

I stared and stared at my body – seeing the full damage for the first time. I looked at the scars as if I were an outsider, pondering their origin. They were repulsive, angry and a reminder of what evil really was. I was pretty sure Scorpius didn’t see them last night, as my left side was facing away from him and the room was very dark. I shuddered at the thought of anyone else seeing my hideousness.

I let my hand trace a scar across my shoulder and collarbone. My fingertips crept up to the side of my face and I flashed back to last night when I was touching Scorpius in the same spot. Twenty four hours ago, I couldn’t have done this. I didn’t even have a mirror in my bedroom because I didn’t want to accidentally see any of the reminders of my kidnapping. Even in the bathroom, I had only ever let myself look from the neck up. But I was different now. There were feelings that had surfaced. And suddenly, I knew what had been bothering me since I woke up. I knew what I needed - to get to Scorpius. I dressed quickly and apparated to the alleyway behind their flat.

The place was littered with evidence of the morning after a party. Cups strewn about, furniture misplaced and the unmistakable aroma of ale mixed with stale firewhiskey. There was a couple snuggled up on one of the love seats – appropriately named for what I was sure they had been doing on it last night. Two blonde heads snuggled up together told me it was Dom and that quidditch bloke. Good for her. I think she really liked him. After my incident last night, I saw them together again as Scorpius was leading me out of the party. I tip-toed past the love couple, down the hall quietly beyond James’s door and paused at the second door before quietly pressing it open.

He still was dressed in his clothes from the night before, face down on top of the bed, snoring softly, with one leg hanging sideways off the mattress. Feeling drawn to him, I crossed over and knelt down next to his head.

“Hey,” I whispered, to see if he was close to being awake.

“Mum,” he breathed out. I recoiled at the smell of his breath. I was practically drunk myself from just breathing near him.

“Scorpius,” I said, a little louder, brushing my fingertips to his bent elbow.

“Mum, I’m sorry,” he said, quieter than before. “I didn’t mean to storm out like that,”

My heart broke for him at the realization of this particular date. Today was the eleventh of July. It was the fifth anniversary of his parents’ accident. I couldn’t believe I had forgotten. The panic attack yesterday and the incident at the party had distracted me from thinking about other things. A pang of guilt stung my gut as I stood to sneak out of the room so he could sleep for a bit longer. I had come to make myself feel better on the worst day of the year for him. How thoughtless could I be?

“Rose?” I turned to see his head lift off the bed, his eyes squeezed shut.

“Sorry, Scorpius,” I apologized, whispering. “I just… where did… are you hung over?” Wow. I was really bad at this.

“Still drunk is more like it,” he mumbled, righting himself up and then he kept on going until he almost landed sideways on the bed. His slowed reflexes finally caught him just before he was lying down again. It took more than a few moments for his hands to push his torso to a proper sitting position.

Once he wasn’t swaying anymore, his fingers pressed to his eyes, rubbing out the sleep. “You doing all right?” he asked, referring to last night’s incident. A large belch came up with the last word.

“Sorry, pardon me.” he said quickly. Scorpius was always, always aware of decorum. It draws back to his proper upbringing. I, myself, had been brought up by Ron Weasley, so a little burp here and there didn’t even register on my radar. However, it did sound odd coming from Scorpius.

Apparently, sitting up didn’t seem to fit well with his current state and he dropped his head between his knees, sucking air in large gulps.

“Hold tight,” I commanded and turned to exit the room. “I’ll be right back.”

“Don’t think I’m going anywhere for a while,” he managed to creak as I passed through his doorway. I headed to the kitchen and worked quickly to brew the hangover potion. As usual, I tweaked it a little, accounting for the fact that he wasn’t actually hung over yet.

My friends and family were used to being test subjects on my potions experiments. I was good enough to not cause any permanent damage and most of the time I was able to make educated guesses that led to positive results.

This morning, I added a little extra gurdy root and a crumble of dried sage to account for the sheer volume of firewhiskey that he had obviously consumed. Plus, I used the shortcut I had discovered in sixth year of boiling the first six ingredients, using a cooling charm and adding the last three. It made the potion in about a third of the time. Let’s just say that, having attended my share of James’s ‘gatherings’ at Hogwarts, I was well versed in brewing hangover potion.

When I returned to his room, he was again lying down, this time on his back with his eyes closed. I thought he might be asleep again, but he let out a small moan when I put the glass of potion on the nightstand and gently began pulling the covers up over him.

“Watch where you stand, Rose. I can’t promise I won’t spray you with vomit.” Another groan. “I am so, so dizzy,”

“Can you sit up? I made you some of my famous cure-all.”

“The thought of anything passing though my esophagus right now… in either direction…”

“Trust me on this one. Just lift your head a tad.” I knelt down next to the bed as I had before and gently lifted his head from behind. Using my wand, I levitated the cup and poured a small amount of the potion into the corner of his mouth. Even given his state, I was hyper aware of how close our faces were to each other. I repeated the dose a few more times until I was satisfied he had taken enough to feel better in a few moments and returned his head to the pillow. My fingers massaged his forehead as his face slowly relaxed.

“You are amazing,” his eyes finally opened lazily, pupils wide and unfocused. “Bloody, fucking, amazing -Rrrosie…” Well, it seemed as if the potion had absorbed enough alcohol to make him just really, really drunk again. He never called me Rosie. Usually only Al and Dad did. I will make notes to my private portfolio later. I should have used marjoram instead of sage. At least it was better than him about to puke all over me.

“You know who else was bloody, fffffucking amazing?” he sat up on the side of the bed. Actually, ‘sat’ might be a bit of a euphemism. He rolled his legs off the side and pushed himself up enough to rest on one arm.

“Who?” I decided to humor him, knowing the potion would continue to work until he wasn’t so pissed and had more sense.

“My Mumm,” he slurred. I only nodded from my seat on the floor, unable to speak because a lump was forming in my throat.

He continued, “She was. She was bloody fucking amazing for putting up with that cold, rat-bastard for years and years,” he gestured wildly with the arm that wasn’t holding him up.

“She stood by that prick through all the shit he pulled. He never wanted to go out. He hardly ever spoke to either of us. I could – I was at least at school and had friends, but she had to fucking live with him. Everyday – cook, clean, sssit in the goddamn parlor. And she never complained,” he leaned further off the bed and looked right at me. “She never complained Rosie,” his arm reached for me and I placed my hand in his and squeezed.

“She was a good, loving wife and mum,” I had to whisper it because the lump had grown in my throat. The emotions were swirling through me. Twenty-four hours ago, I was completely devoid of feeling and everything that had happened since last night was building up. My hand squeezed his again.

“Shhhhe stood by him,” he repeated, his gaze was getting more intense and I couldn’t look away as he continued. “The same as you stood by me. All those times you came to be with me…”

“We’re friends Scorp,” I explained. “We help each other. You helped me last night, see?”

He shook his head. “No-no-no-no. I’m just like him. I didn’t a-app- appreciate you. You deserve so much more. I slept with every ssslag at Hogwarts. And you knew. You knew I was a piece of shit, rat-bastard like my father and you still stood by me.”

My mouth opened, but nothing came out. I didn’t want him to do this to himself. Not today, not any day. I had no idea that he knew I found out about his… indiscretions. Of course there was talk. But, being a Weasley, you learn early on to make your judgments based on actual facts instead of all the hearsay. There had, however, been a lot of talk. I had turned a deaf ear to all of it, defended him even. That is, until I couldn’t deny it anymore because it was staring me in the face. Literally.

My other hand reached up to grab his so I could get his attention away from the self-loathing. “Scorpius, that wasn’t you. You were going through a lot and you made some… poor decisions.”

In retrospect, the real reason I didn’t believe any of the talk was because I had started to have feelings for him. The feelings came about slowly, or maybe they were always there. It is hard to tell. We spent a lot of time together, doing homework, playing Quidditch (we were both on the Ravenclaw team) and we found ourselves just generally hanging out with each other more and more.

I could always tell when he had been having a bad day – and I would sneak up to his room in the boys’ dormitories after everyone had gone to sleep. Over time, these late night meetings meant more and more to me.

It was on one of these nightly trips in sixth year that I saw them. He was right; she was one of Hogwart’s slags – a slutty Slytherin, as Dom called them. And she had her hands all over him. They were both naked and there was no mistaking what they were doing. That was the moment I realized just how deep my feelings were for Scorpius. I had been fooling myself that I was just his good friend and we were only teammates, classmates, and housemates. It tore my heart apart. Unable to hide my emotions, I basically locked myself in the girls’ dorm for the rest of the weekend.

“Selenia told Al and he just about cursed me into oblivion.” Scorpius’s voice pulled me out of the past and back to his pained expression.

He cleared his throat, “I swear Al would have used the cruciatus on me if the other Ravenclaw boys hadn’t stopped him.” His speech was evening out, the reversal potion was working. “I didn’t even know why he was going after me at first until he called me a ‘stupid, idiodic, clueless prat who couldn’t see what everyone else in the world could see was right, fucking in front of me.’ And he was right. You were always there, every single time. And I just took you for granted. Fucking prick that I am.”

“Stop it.” I commanded. “You’re not an idiot. I could have told you how I felt. I didn’t even have the guts to tell you.” I had taken Selenia’s advice and just decided to wait until Scorpius came around; she assured me that he would. Something about the whole world knowing he was in love with me.

“Rose,” Scorpius said and I jerked my eyes up to his again, remembering that I was trying to be a good friend to him on this sad, sad day. He paused for a moment, making sure that our gazes had met. “He was right. I was the biggest prat in the world. And I totally didn’t deserve you. I know that I still don’t. But…” he paused again and I couldn’t look away, “you should… I haven’t… Since that night, I have never been with… anyone else. I just want you to know that.”

A strange, but old familiar feeling was growing in my chest. Something I hadn’t experienced in years. I had needed him to say that to me. I have no idea why I needed it, but I did.

“Thank you – for telling me,” I smiled at him and when he smiled back, I felt my heart lift.

“Come on!” I stood up and tugged at his hand that I was still holding. “We are going to go out and do something – anything you want. But we are not going to stay here today.” He lifted off the bed and was suddenly very close to me, looking down with his intense silver eyes.

My stomach twinged - but not from looming anxiety. I felt so, so safe with Scorpius.

“Thank you,” he said, gently taking my other hand in his. For a moment, I thought he was going to lean down and kiss me as we stood there, staring at each other with both of our hands clasped together between us. However, he didn’t move his gaze from mine. The euphoric feeling I had had just moments before was replaced with a heavy longing. I couldn’t give him what he deserved. I wasn’t that person anymore.

“You go take a shower and get ready,” I suggested. “I have to throw out the rest of that potion before everyone else drinks it and we have a flat full of drunks again.”




A/N:  Thanks for reading.  If you just recently found this story, I'd love to hear a review of it.  If you were following it before, I'd love to hear what you think of the new bits!  ~Beth

 

 


Chapter 6: Bitter: Scorpius POV
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"Mate, you need to tell her,” Albus whispered to me Monday morning during training.

“What are you on about?” I risked turning my head briefly to see the serious look on his face. Quickly, I swung it back to give my attention to the front of the room. Today was the day we met the new recruits. It was also the official start of our third – and last year in the trainee program. The auror training program was the most rigorous at the Ministry and second only to the healer trainee program at St. Mungos that Rose and Selenia were in.

“You and Rose spent the entire day together Saturday and yesterday and you didn’t do it, did you?” he elbowed me in the ribs.

I didn’t chance to move my head toward him again, for two reasons. One: I didn’t want to get caught talking during the meeting and two: I wouldn’t be able to stand the smug look on his face when he saw the burning in my cheeks. Malfoys aren’t supposed to blush. Normally, the prodding from his pointy bones would’ve set me off and I would be planning some sort of retaliation. Perhaps a swelling jinx aimed as his left shin… but not this morning. I felt oddly relaxed and, although mildly irritated at Al for distracting me during the morning session, I just couldn’t bring myself to be pissed. Rose seems to have a calming effect on me. I felt out of sorts around her, but strangely peaceful and soothed at the same time.

Two whole days. Saturday, after I sobered up, we walked along the countryside in the small village where I lived with my parents. Then we visited their graves and Rose made the most beautiful wreath of white snapdragons and purple asters. Finally, we had dinner with Harry and Ginny, who never forgot the anniversary.

Yesterday, Rose decided that we needed to do something more exciting. We went to muggle London and rode the London Eye, ate at a local pub and she took me to some ridiculous place that had all sorts of muggle famous people made out of wax. It was utterly absurd and the both of us left in hysterics.

The best part of the two days is that we held hands the entire time. I love feeling her soft, tiny fingers squeezed tight in my palm. She even let me kiss her good night when I brought her back to her flat last night. I am still riding the high from the euphoria of that moment. The confusing part is that we didn’t actually talk about what this means. Really, we aren’t teenagers anymore and it feels odd for me to ask her to be my girlfriend. At this point I just want to see her again. And again and again… all the time. Would I get a chance to see her today after training? Maybe I could ask her to dinner some night this week. Another jab to my ribs made me remember where I was and I shook my head to bring myself back.

“What are you on about?” I asked again in the quietest whisper I could make. I figured that if I feigned ignorance, he would quit trying to bait me. He was going to get us in trouble. We were supposed to be setting an example for the new trainees. Ron Weasley was the head trainer and he already didn’t like me very much. I didn’t need to give him excuses to give me extra assignments. Not to mention the fact that, because it was the first day of the new recruits all the other aurors had joined us. The entire department was here – including Harry. Who was glaring at both Al and me. Right now – as he got up to speak to the group.

Whispers began breaking out as Harry stood to address the crowd. Many of the newbies were gasping and pointing to the great Harry Potter. He ignored this as he began with his usual joke.

He had taken a different philosophy regarding the auror department – camaraderie and peace. Before Harry took over, there was a lot of competition between the aurors to be assigned to the “best” missions. It had gotten very cutthroat and manipulative as aurors held information from each other and used underhanded tactics to gain favor with the senior members and other ministry officials.

When Harry became head of the department, he used his knack for putting people at ease to build up trust and create a closeness the department had been lacking. Although this all happened well before Al and I joined, the older aurors still talk about how it was before. Harry made it clear that he didn’t have time for people who were in it for the glory and fame that came with being a member of this prestigious department. He continually stressed that we keep at the forefront of our actions the sole reason that we are here: to protect innocent wizards and muggles from the dark arts. This is the mantra that he began every meeting, including today’s opening speech.

One of his big movements was the mentor system. The more experienced aurors were expected to take the younger ones under their wings. To that end, first year recruits were assigned to third years to act as a “big brother or sister” to help them through the ups and downs of this demanding program. In turn, after our third year was up and we were full blown junior aurors, we would be paired up with a more seasoned member of the department for a one year apprenticeship.

Harry also valued mutual respect and so I wasn’t surprised to see his eyes flick to the back of the room where we were sitting every few moments, making sure that his son and friend were setting an example to the younger members.

“Look, Scorp,” Al was not deterred by his father’s glares. “You’re not fooling any of us and frankly, the way you stare at her incessantly is a little embarrassing. For me, I mean. I have a reputation to uphold and I can’t be known as the div with a best mate who is foolishly in denial about his feelings for my cousin,” he whispered harshly. I chanced a turn of my head in disbelief and I saw the mischievous glint in his eye. He was trying to get a rise out of me.

“You prick,” I muttered, barely moving my lips. “You had me going for a minute,” I turned back to the front of the room. Another glare from Harry.

“I was joking about my reputation. But not about Rose. Scorp, its time you just took the plunge. Everyone knows she fancies you-”

“Thank you, Albus!” Harry says brightly from the front of the room, voice dripping with sarcasm. He turned his head and I lifted my eyebrows in confusion.

“Don’t be shy, son. Come on up and show the new recruits a few dueling moves. You can duel with me.” The last sentence came out cold and harsh. Harry was pissed. He had obviously seen us and was embarrassed that his own son was causing a disruption during an important meeting when he is establishing the rules and regulations to all the new members of the department.

Al stood up slowly, a hard look on his face. Harry had always been a little tougher on him, and he had come to resent it. I think Harry was just doing it to make Al a better auror, and maybe to show that he wasn’t favoring his progeny, but Al just saw it as unfair treatment. In his heart, he really wanted to be an auror – it was all he had ever talked about. Al also always felt that he was disadvantaged because he had come from Ravenclaw. It is well known that Gryffindors are favored for being the best aurors. I felt it a little too, but I didn’t have to live up to being Harry Potter’s son. For the most part, Al is proud of his father and they get on well. However, as soon as our training had begun two years ago, it became clear that Al was held to a higher standard than the rest of us.

Al stalked purposefully toward his father, his green eyes trained on Harry the entire time. This was not going to end well. A pissed off Harry is never a good thing – and neither is a pissed off Al (he has the Weasley temper, after all). However, both of them pissed off at each other… the few times I’ve seen it has been ugly. At least at every one of those times, Ginny had been around to diffuse the situation, or she ended up angrier than either one of them and let’s face it – we are all afraid of an angered Ginny Potter.

The two wizards faced off at the front of the room. We were in the training room, but more than half of it was taken up with the rows of chairs that all the trainees sat in. Another space at the front of the room was occupied by the other aurors – everyone in the department was here for the first day so we could all meet the new trainees.

Ron stepped to the side and rolled his eyes. I noticed Teddy Lupin standing amongst the team of aurors as he looked on with mild amusement. None of them seemed too worried, but they didn’t know Al like I did. This thing with Harry had been building up over the past two years and he was just itching for a chance to prove himself. His temper could be explosive, but this was much more dangerous. His deliberate motions gave the impression of someone in control, when I knew otherwise. In a matter of moments he had gone from a cool, collected bloke who was taking the mickey on me for spending time with Rose (we will come back to that later) to a young man with a cold fury building within him.

The trainees all rose to their feet and our chairs vanished. We formed a circle around Harry and Al, giving them maximum room for their duel. I could hear excited whispers amongst the first and second year trainees. Since most of the third years knew Al quite well, we were all quiet, because essentially, we didn’t know how this was going to end.

They stood back to back and each took several paces towards the opposite ends of the room, turned and raised their wands. Both sets of identical green eyes had turned dark. Harry narrowed his, but Al kept a cool, solid gaze at his opponent. He was taller than Harry now, by an inch or so. Ron counted down to the duel.

“Wands ready! One – two – three – ”

“Stupefy!”

“Reducto!”

They shouted their curses simultaneously. Harry nonverbally blocked the reducto curse, but Albus wasn’t fast enough. He stumbled back a few steps, but recovered quickly from the curse. Harry obviously wasn’t trying to hit him full force. However, I don’t know if anyone else realized this.

“Impedimenta!” Al shouted. Harry’s block – and subsequent curse, was nonverbal.

Al gripped his arm as the stinging jinx grazed the side of it. I could see it swelling under his robes. A vein on his neck pulsed in anger. He wouldn’t be shown up by his father. Everyone in the room had their eyes trained on the pair and I took the opportunity to casually move toward the center. Harry took a step toward Al – an intimidation move they had taught us early on. Undeterred, Al took two steps toward his father, his eyes blazing with rage. This was going from bad to worse.

Their hexes and jinxes were coming faster now. Harry’s head flung back and a red streak sprawled across his cheek. Al had drawn blood. The older wizard refocused himself and concentrated on blocking Al’s curses, which he did with ease. This was another tactic of Harry’s: wear your opponent down and when they tire out, you send a powerful hex at them. Al really was the best in our class, and none of the rest of us could beat him in a duel. However, Harry had the benefit of experience and patience.

A glance toward Teddy told me that he was beginning to realize the gravity of this situation. He stood in a tense pose, and was fingering his wand at his side. Al’s anger was growing to dangerous levels. He wasn’t going to give in and Harry had to establish authority.

Al was throwing curse after curse at him. All of which, Harry flicked away wordlessly. Al continued to stalk toward Harry, intent and vehemence evident on his face, the vein in his neck was bright purple. They were only a few feet away from each other now. Al was getting angrier and more tired. Ron was just leaning against the far wall, looking amused. I had to intervene before someone got really hurt.

I seized my opportunity when Al was stammering for this next spell.

“Wow! Fantastic! That was a great display!” I shouted loudly as I clapped my hands together and walked between the both of them. The surprised looks on the faces of the newbies eased as they followed suit and began reluctantly applauding the duo.

“Take note all! It’s not very often that you get the chance to observe two talented wizards with such distinct styles.” I patted each of their shoulders and smiled widely at the man who was my surrogate father and his son who I considered my brother. Both father and son were out of breath due to the heated exchange. Teddy copped on to my scheme and began to wolf whistle and clap furiously. This spawned more applause and the trainees began to move forward en masse to congratulate the pair.

Harry recovered more quickly than Al, because wisdom comes with age and he was not as hot-headed. He extended his hand to his son, who took it and they briefly shook. My shoulders slumped in relief and I got the chance to look each one of them over quickly. Al’s left arm was obviously numb from the stinging jinx and he was favouring his right knee. Harry was sporting cuts and bruises on his face and neck and the left shoulder of his robes was smoking.

Ron, finally realizing it was over, stepped forward and began to divide up the newbies, pairing them up with other trainees to begin dueling together. I took advantage of the commotion to gently prod the two of them out of the training room and down the hall to Harry’s office. We walked in silence, but the tension was palpable. Both Potters were effectively pushed to their breaking point.

As the door slammed shut, the real explosion happened.

“What the fuck was that about?” Al bellowed at his father.

“Albus Severus!” I closed my eyes as Harry was middle-naming Al. This was sure to set him off. “I will not tolerate disrespect in my department. I was right in the middle of my speech about respect and trust being the most important qualities in an auror and you are causing a disruption and acting like an immature school girl with your whispers and chides in the back of the room! It is inexcusable!”

Al slumped into the chair in the front of Harry’s desk. “So, are you going to give me detention and make me clean the trophy room?” Al’s voice dripped with sarcasm. “Or will I have to do that better than everyone else as well? Nothing I do is ever good enough for you!”

“That is not –” Harry stopped mid-sentence and mid-stride as he rounded on Al, his mouth hanging open. He looked at me and I looked down, but I had essentially confirmed his question as to what was really bothering Al. I was shocked that he hadn’t consciously realized this had been building for years. His demeanor changed as realization spread over his face. He was gripping the edge of his desk – probably to stop himself from pulling his wand on his own son. Al’s head hung and he refused to meet his father’s eyes. After several moments, Harry’s breathing calmed a bit and he walked slowly to sit behind his desk.

He took a deep breath and rubbed his temples deliberately. When he spoke, his voice was quiet and steady. “This year will be the toughest yet for you two. Your course load is more intense and the practical work will be scrutinized by every senior member of the department. To top it all off, you will be expected to take on a leadership role with the new recruits.” Al shifted in his seat as I sat in the chair next to him. He seemed calmer, but was still a bit put-off that Harry was obviously skirting the real issue.

Nothing he said was untrue. This year will be the toughest, with summer, fall and winter courses to pass and then the spring will be mostly studying for our S.N.A.K.E.s (Standard Normal Auror Knowledge Exams). After passing those, we become junior aurors and will get to assist on actual assignments.  The three long years of classes and practical work will have been worth it.

Harry continued, “I just want both of you,” he spread his arms to signal to both Al and I, “– all of you: every trainee that comes through the program – to be the very best they can be. You can’t do that unless you are pushed.”

“Why am I the only one that seems to be ‘pushed?’” Al spat. He couldn’t hide the bitterness that was surfacing again.

“Because…” Harry’s eyes flicked to me and he looked like he wasn’t sure if he should continue. “You’re the best, Albus.” The older green eyes searched my face and I smiled and nodded. We all knew it. I was proud that Al was the best at training.

“And…” Harry continued, “… the twenty year-old me could never beat the twenty year-old you in a duel.” Al sat bolt upright and stared his father in disbelief.

“It’s true.” Harry conceded. “Most of my training was learned on the ground and a lot of it coincided with sheer dumb luck.” He chuckled to himself. “But, everyone has areas where they need to grow and improve. However, you should be commended for your superior dueling skills, Albus. And Scorpius should be commended for his peacemaking tactics,” he gestured to me. “Your calm handling of an escalating situation saved both Albus and I from a rather embarrassing moment earlier. I thank you for that.” I smiled and nodded to Harry. We all sat in silence for a few moments, no one really had much to say.

Harry stood up and Al and I followed. “So!” he said as if he were wrapping up a particularly meaningful speech. “It is decided. Scorpius will work harder at his dueling skills, Al will work harder at keeping a cool head and I will work harder at letting my trainees know when they excel in a particular area!” He patted us both on the back and smiled widely.

“Thanks, Dad,” Al said quietly. “And thanks to you Scorp. You did save us a bit.” I nodded back to him. There was a soft knock at the door.

“That’ll be Ron sending one of the newbies down here to fetch the two of you. No doubt he is in the midst of assigning you two your mentees,” Harry said. He swiftly made his way to the door as we followed behind.

But it wasn’t one of the new recruits at the door. It was the red-headed girl who makes my heart do crazy things and my head swim.

“Hi!” she said brightly to Harry and then her face changed to shock when she saw he was not alone.

“Hiya Rosie!” I could see Al’s smirk out of the corner of my eye. His mood significantly lightened by the first compliment paid by his father since we began our training. But before I had a chance to even wonder what he was up to, he said loudly, “Scorpius has something urgent he must tell you!” and he shot out of the room and down the hall before I could even realize what was happening.

Oh, I am going to kill him.




A/N:  I'd love a review to let me know what you think of the story so far.  Thank you so much for reading!  ~Beth

 


Chapter 7: Better: Rose POV
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I know it sounds weird, but I have always been closer to my Uncle Harry than to my own dad. I spent most of my summers at their house, running around with James and Albus. Aunt Ginny always said that Harry and I were ‘kindred spirits.’ Once, she even confessed that the reason they had Lily was because Harry was so enamored with me as a child. He even came up with my name. According to Mum, when I was born, they didn’t have a girl name picked out; they just thought I was a boy. Uncle Harry suggested they call me Lily, after his mum. Dad and Mum both said no, in case Harry ever had a daughter (good thing too, because Lily came along four years later!) That’s when Harry suggested Rose. It was another flower, one of his favourites.

“He would just hold you and stare at you as an infant, saying ‘Wow. A girl. Wow.’ Everything you did fascinated him,” Aunt Ginny recalled. “We had two rough and tumble boys running around the house and you would toddle around and just smile and giggle as James banged a toy beater’s bat against your head. You would walk up to Harry and ask to sit on his lap and have him read you a story.” 

I still loved books (apparently I got that from my mother) and I still loved my Uncle Harry. I loved my own dad, of course, but he was never great about showing his emotions and I think he was a little disappointed that I wasn’t a boy. I mean, here he had had five brothers and Harry and Ginny already had two boys. I can see his point. I just never felt really close to him. Uncle Harry and I used to talk about anything and everything. I could make him laugh and he would pat my flaming hair and call me his ‘Red Rose.’

“Hi!” I said as I passed into his office on Monday morning. I visited him frequently, especially since I had begun healer training. Today, I just seemed to feel lighter. Scorpius and I had had such a nice weekend together, I felt like spreading my happiness. If I wanted to be honest with myself, my visit to Uncle Harry’s office was only a detour on the way to see a certain blond auror trainee – and no, I don’t mean Dom.

Upon further inspection, Uncle Harry was sporting a few dueling wounds to his face. And his shoulder was smoldering. I shook my head. He never could resist the urge to demonstrate rather than just lecture.

However, this morning, the slew of wounds displayed across my uncle’s face was not my biggest distraction. It was the smell of cedar and citrus that could only mean one person.

Scorpius Malfoy was standing right next to Uncle Harry, a big, goofy grin on his face. Al was there as well. I'm sure that my confusion was evident on my face, but I was too busy trying to not let my eyes wander to the object of my affections, so I forced myself to inspect my Uncle’s injuries. My fair skin was betraying me yet again as a flush spread across my cheeks. Damn it, they could probably all hear my heart pounding foolishly.

“Hiya Rosie!” Al was beaming at me. I dragged my eyes toward my cousin, still trying to figure out why they were in the Head Auror’s office when they were supposed to be at training.

“Scorpius has something urgent he must tell you!” Al slid past and gave me a quick wink as he strutted down the hallway toward the training room.

“Albus Potter!” I shouted back to him. “You get back here this instant!” I commanded, realizing that he was sporting several injuries as well. His ‘strut’ contained a significant limp and he was favouring his left side.

Al turned around and looked at me quizzically.

“Are you limping?” I demanded. “And what happened to your arm?” Even through his robes, it was obvious that his entire left arm was three times its normal size. Al’s mouth opened and closed a few times, but I'd already worked out that he and Uncle Harry had been dueling each other, which explains why they were in his office so early in the day.

“Er…” Al began, but I wouldn’t let him try to smooth this over.

“Get back here immediately. Let me at least fix you up before you head in there to meet the new recruits.” Before he could protest, or even say anything at all, I pointed my wand at his obviously broken ribs and commanded, “Episkey!” The telltale cracking sound confirmed that I had correctly performed the spell and Al let out a small grunt of pain followed by a sigh of relief.

Next, I performed a full scan on him, fixed his pulled thigh muscle and righted the smashed bones in his left wrist. He was pretty banged up. After a few more moments, in which I executed the anti-stinging jinx and performed and a few more healing spells to right the damage from curses that had obviously rebounded upon him, he smiled in relief, winked at me again and said quietly, “Seriously, you and Scorp need to talk.”

My eyes flicked toward Uncle Harry and Scorpius, who were within earshot of us. I resisted the urge to pinch Al’s ribs right where I knew they were still a bit sore. Fortunately Harry was loudly explaining some sort of a charm or jinx to Scorpius and they were both bent over his wand, examining it.




Al grabbed my shoulders in response to the draining of all blood from my entire system as I steeled his eyes unintentionally. “Rosie,” he whispered into my ear as he wrapped his newly healed arm around me. “Just give him a chance. You both deserve it.”

I ventured a glance at Scorpius over Al’s shoulder. He was feverishly scratching the back of his neck and the sight of his nervous behavior made me feel more at ease by just a bit.

“Back to training, you two,” Harry said to both of them and he rushed them along.  They passed by me through the door.

I don’t know what made me do it, but my brain was apparently devoid of any rational thought when I yelled, much louder than seemed necessary, “Scorpius, can we meet later on?”

I was met with the biggest grin I’ve ever seen on his face. “How does six o’clock sound? I’ll pick you up at your place.” As the two tall wizards turned to walk back toward the training room, Al mussed up Scorp’s hair and Scorpius punched him hard in the arm I'd just healed. Boys.

Uncle Harry cleared his throat behind me. I guess I'd been staring for just a bit too long. To hide my embarrassment, I turned quickly back to him and began healing his injuries as well. I worked deliberately, trying to not look directly at him.

After a few moments, the only wound left was the scratch that sprawled across his cheekbone. Unable to avoid looking directly at him anymore, I raised my eyes to his face and saw the corners of his mouth trying to suppress a smirk.

“I think he fancies you too, Rose,” he said quietly as the smile broke across his face. I breathed out heavily and grinned back at him shyly. We didn’t usually discuss these sorts of things, but if I could admit it to anyone, it would be Uncle Harry.






A/N:  Somehow, I skipped over this chapter!  I know it is short, but there are a few things in here that are important.  As always, I would love it if you could let me know what you think!




♥Beth


Chapter 8: Besieged: Rose POV
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It was Thursday night. I was waiting. Scorpius and I had gone out every night that week, and every night I found myself wrapped around him at the end of the date. I could still feel the heat that rose up between us as we snogged each other’s brains out like a couple of teenagers. The way he touched me so gently and then pressed into me with a steady, building firmness made me lose my mind.


The anxiety that I’d been holding onto for so long seemed insignificant. It was replaced with a kind of peace and contentment that was mixed with a giddy excitement at the newness of it all. We could talk about everything and nothing at the same time and, next moment, couldn’t keep our hands off each other. He was very careful with me and always let me take the lead in our snogging sessions.


Nobody knew we were dating. Well, we hadn’t told anyone yet. We usually would just go for a quiet walk around a Muggle area and either eat dinner at my flat or his. We did go out to eat on Wednesday evening, but again, we were sure to go to a Muggle restaurant across town. All of us Weasleys were used to the press and I was certain that a story about the son of a former Death Eater dating in the daughter of two thirds of the golden trio would make headlines.


Although we hadn’t admitted our ‘relationship’ (if you could call it that – we hadn’t even called it anything yet), I’d gotten a few knowing glances from Selenia and a couple of raised eyebrows from Dom, followed by “…so Rose, who did you do tonight?”. I simply skirted their probing looks and questions, walking woozily to my room with a flushed face and swollen lips.


However, we decided that the eight of us (Dominique, Jax, Al, Selenia, James, Samara, Scorp and I) would get together at our flat Thursday evening. It was nothing formal, but, seeing as how the rest of them were coupled up it would probably be obvious that we are maybe, possibly, probably seeing each other.


But not to put labels on anything…


Selenia was helping me frantically make snacks for the group. She was excited to see Al. The two of them were so cute, it could border on sickening. They had a general rule of not seeing each other during the week. It started in the first year of training, after both of them got an “A” on an exam. They realized that spending the night at each other’s all the time was detrimental to their courses of study. If I had let myself think about it, Scorpius and I could’ve instituted that rule as well. We couldn’t afford to get behind in our coursework. But the thought of not seeing him for a day made me anxious. Merlin, I was getting in deep.


That Thursday night however, neither the Auror trainees nor the healer trainees had significant school work and, since James and Jax didn’t have a Quidditch match until Saturday night, we decided to take advantage of the rare opportunity and socialize mid-week.


I heard the distinct crack from the alleyway next to our flat, followed shortly by a knock and I ran to the door and threw it open in anticipation. I wasn’t disappointed. There stood Scorp, James, Al and Samara.


“Hi!” I knew I was foolishly grinning at only one of them, as I stepped aside to let them in. He let the others pass through first and placed his hand around my waist, pulled me close to him and lowered his face for a gentle kiss. As always, he was the perfect mix of decorum and sentiment. I didn’t even think any of the others saw us.


That is, until James piped in by slapping him on the shoulder to force our heads apart, “So… you and my cousin… well, I hope you know how to handle a red-headed temper.”


“I think I can manage,” Scorpius didn’t even move his eyes from mine. He smiled because it was kind of a silly thing to say, everyone knew I didn’t really have a temper. My insides always turn to jelly when he looked at me like that.


“I was referring to my Uncle Ron, of course,” James said, not missing a beat. Both he and Al started laughing hysterically, as our heads turned simultaneously towards the two of them. I might have joined in the laughter too, if their words hadn’t rung too true. Dad had made his thoughts on the Malfoy family quite clear. It’s almost as if he couldn’t even see a difference between Scorpius and his father.


“Let’s go on in,” I said, to get us off that particular conversation. Scorpius and I hadn’t even discussed what we were calling our ‘relationship’ yet, so I definitely wasn’t ready to define it with the others.


We had a great night. We played exploding snap, had hors d’oeuvres that Selenia and I made and the night went swimmingly. Selenia really hit it off with Samara, which was good, because they were dating the Potter brothers. They both seemed to have the same sense of style and fashion, while I usually wore whatever is lying next to my bed in the morning and was satisfied with just pulling my unruly curls into a ponytail.


Scorpius lingered after the others had left. I thought he found it improper to kiss me goodnight the way he really wanted to with my family around.


After a few minutes of some serious snogging, his fingers tangled themselves in my hair as his thumb traced along my jawline. My body responded by kissing him deeper. Part of me just didn’t want to stop when we were together like that.


The tips of his long fingers tickled the back of my neck, sending wonderful shivers down my center and landing somewhere in my gut. I felt my own hands pull him closer to me. I loved the fact that I could just be with him and didn’t have to analyze how I felt about everything. Every move wasn’t planned out or scrutinized by my overactive brain.


It took us a good twenty minutes to say good-bye. I actually needed a moment to get my head back together after kissing him. It wasn’t until after he left that I’d realized that we didn’t even make plans for after training the next day or the rest of the weekend. I was too giddy with the heady feeling of Scorpius Malfoy. I floated to my bedroom, smelling the distinct aroma of cedar and citrus.


*


I woke in the middle of the night, still flying high from the evening's events. I was sleeping better for the first time in ages. Blearily, I made my way through the parlor to the loo.


“Good evening, Rose. It’s been a long time. Too long,” a cold, smooth voice rumbled from the couch across the room and into my chest. I jumped as a tightness took hold of my gut and pulled me out of my half-conscious state. Stannous. How?


My trembling fingers reached for my wand in my pocket and I felt my heart plummet through the floor at the realization that I was in my pyjamas and my wand was under my pillow back in my room.


“What is the matter, Rose? Did you forget me already? I thought I was your favorite teacher.” The icy words froze me on the spot. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t even breathe as I was sucked back in time.


He had been my favorite teacher. He’d started at Hogwarts during my fifth year, after McGonagall had finally decided she was going to stop teaching transfiguration and only act as headmistress. Professor Stannous was an instant hit with the female students due to his tall, masculine form and thick, sexy foreign accent. He had dark, wavy hair, a bold jawline and olive skin. He was in his early thirties – younger than our parents and that made him immediately cool. The male students also loved him because he offered to give anyone animagus lessons after classes.


But none of those were reasons why I liked him. He was fascinating in his own right and always made his lessons… different than the other professors. We'd start off with some crazy object that seemed completely ordinary. Professor Stannous would talk about the object with such passion and intensity, describing its magical history. He'd add in interesting facts and show us little clips out of the tip of his wand of how the object passed through time. Sometimes along the way, he'd teach a new charm or have a rich smelling potion brewing in the back of the room that related to it. By the end of the class, we had transfigured the object into something else entirely. I was completely enraptured when he spoke. I never knew what topics we'd end up discussing, but I always learned something new. It was so different from the learning I had done through reading books and studying. I drank up every word he said, and was completely on the edge of my seat with every lesson. I attributed all the “O’s” I received on my O.W.L.s to him because he was so knowledgeable in just about every subject.


Upon graduation, I’d been accepted as a Healer trainee at St. Mungo’s and I knew that he’d played a big part in recommending me for the competitive program.


After the ceremony and all the obligatory photos had been taken, I felt a tap on my shoulder. “Rose, would you mind coming back to my office for a moment? I have a special graduation gift for my favorite student!” He was smiling kindly at me and I happily agreed. I didn’t even think to tell anyone that I was heading back to the castle with him.


He kept up the ruse until we got back into his office. He jovially offered me a congratulatory spirit and, considering the occasion, I accepted. That was the last thing I could remember. Later, I’d realized that it had been laced with a potion, because I woke with a screaming headache feeling groggy in a cabin somewhere in the woods. We could’ve been in Scotland, or Russia, or Canada for all I knew. For the next six days, I wavered in and out of consciousness and endured the worst torture I could’ve ever imagined.


“Rose. My sweet, sweet flower.” He was still sitting across the room, one hand on his lap and the other twirling his wand deliberately.


Why was he back? It had been two years. I was just beginning to let go and live again. Scorpius and I were just…


I shook my head to bring myself back. Focus, Rose! Get out, call for help. Do something! I couldn’t get to my wand, but Dom and Selenia were sleeping just a few feet away. How did he get in, anyway? We always have the wards up. You couldn’t apparate inside our flat and Dom had put up extra protection — all of the Weasleys had it on our homes — to ward off the media and any other people who might want to cause harm to our family. I’d even reinforced it with the duro charm every week to ensure just a little bit of extra protection.


“Rose?” Stannous stood up and took a step toward me. “I’ve missed you.”


“No. No! NO!” I didn’t command my brain to say the words, they just spurted from my mouth as he was moving towards me. I twisted myself around the back of an armchair, but he was pointing his wand at me.


Petrificus totalis,” his smooth deep voice said the words with control as his eyes gleamed wickedly. I ducked behind the chair and took cover. The spell hit the wall somewhere down the hallway.


“Still top of your class, I see Rose. You’re doing a fantastic job in the Healer Program.”


What? How did he know that? He answered the question as if he could read my mind, “Of course, I always keep an eye on my favorite student.”


But I couldn’t work that out just then, I was unarmed and my racing mind was speeding to try to figure a way out. I’d never been able to perform wandless magic, but I thought I might try to accio my wand. I squeezed my eyes tight to focus on the charm…


Stupefy!” I heard Dom shout behind me, obviously woken from my screams. I breathed a sigh of relief, but it was short lived as there were two distinct cracks. Without thinking it through, I stood from behind the chair to see two other dark haired wizards had appeared on either side of Stannous. One of them lunged forward, lightening quick and grabbed me by the arm, lifting me off the ground. I screamed and screamed. Not now. Not today. Today I would fight; wand or no wand.


The wizard who grabbed me twisted me around and grinned evilly into my eyes. My eyebrows raised in shock as I recognized the limp brown hair and beady black eyes of the strange wizard from the party at the boys’ flat. I swung my free arm up with all my strength and landed a punch square in his nose. He recoiled for a moment and released me to grab at his nose as blood spurted from it. My feet stumbled beneath me and I landed hard on the ground. All I could do was scramble backward on my hands and feet.


Get to your wand, get to your wand. I repeated over and over in my head. I was just a few feet from my door.


“Oh my,” I heard Selenia squeal behind me.


Impedimenta!


Reducio!


Stannous and his other accomplice were throwing hexes across the room. Selenia and Dom had been able to block everything.


Expecto patronum!” Dom yelled as she paced forward toward the attackers, her blond hair whipping about her shoulders. Were there dementors around as well? I hadn’t seen any, but there were so many curses flying around the room that I couldn’t be certain. With lightning-like reflexes, Selenia managed to stupefy the wizard whose nose I broke.


I was almost to my door when I heard a cold, cruel “Levicorpus!” and my feet flew up over my head. My arms swung wildly downward, grasping for anything I could reach. Selenia stretched her arms up to grab me, but I was too high up for her. Stannous levitated me across the room toward him.


“NO, NO, NO!” I screamed. I was flailing in mid-air. As soon as my ankle was within reach, he pulled me down roughly. He braced his arms against my shoulders as I thrashed to be free of his grip.

Next moment, he tumbled backward as a curse hit him on the shoulder. He did not release his clutch on me and I fell with him. I tried to use his momentary imbalance to struggle free, but he caught me by the arms before I could get away. I heard two more cracks and squeezed my eyes shut. We were completely outnumbered, five to three.


“Rose!” a familiar voice gasped my name. Scorpius. He had come. Dom had sent a patronus, she wasn’t trying to fight off dementors.


Al had arrived as well. The two other wizards apparated away instantly when they realized they were about to be caught, but Stannous lifted me up and jabbed his wand into my side. He was gripping my arms as he began to turn us on the spot to apparate away. I twisted in the opposite direction to try and stop him. He growled in anger at my defiance and poked his wand harder into my side whispering, “Crucio fla—” and in my mind I was instantly brought back to the cabin.


“NO!” I screamed and thrashed. It startled him for an instant. Someone threw a curse and we flew apart. I landed with a thud against the floor. I squeezed myself into a ball. No, no, not again. Hands landed around my waist and tried to lift me up and I screamed at the top of my lungs. I flailed my arms and kicked and screamed and lashed about until he wasn’t grabbing at me anymore. “Don’t touch me! Get away! NO! NO!”


Finally, the hands pulled away and I felt myself falling and twisting into the darkness. Again. I couldn’t breathe as the sobs overtook my body and I retched until all was black.



A/N: Thanks again to everyone who is reading this. I really appreciate it when you leave a review and let me know what you think of the story!

♥ Beth



Chapter 9: Bombarda Maxima: Scorpius POV
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“Rose!” My fingers wrapped around her arms the instant I could reach her. Her skin felt like cold metal. She was violently shivering, bordering on convulsions.

“Rose, love, he’s gone,” I said softly. I felt Albus press up against me as he almost fell, trying to get to Rose as fast as he could.

My body jerked as she started shrieking at the top of her lungs. Al scampered back a few feet, to allow Selenia to kneel down next to us. Rose was screaming nonsense at the top of her lungs.

Selenia gently removed my hands from Rose’s arms. I lifted my head to look over at her. I was too stunned to pose my question.

No, no, no. Rose began getting sick everywhere. I reached for her again and Selenia braced her arm across to stop me.

“Just give me a minute Scorp,” she said sharply. She did not take her eyes off of Rose and pointed her wand at the vomit. It was gone with a brief muttering from her lips, but I didn’t dare move just yet. Rose had passed out from the vomiting, but was still jerking about with her arms and legs.

I could feel Albus’s and Dominique’s legs pressing into my back as they leaned over to assess the situation.

“She’s unconscious Sels,” I said stupidly.

“It’s all right, Scorpius,” Selenia was murmuring incantations as she passed her wand up and down Rose’s body that was still shaking. I felt an ache pull at my gut as looked up and down her, trying to figure out if she was bleeding or anything. Rose was drenched in sweat and her hair was plastered in clumps across her pallid face.

A few wisps appeared out of the tip of Selenia’s wand and her eyes flicked back and forth, reading the results of the test she had just conducted. It must’ve been some sort of assessment. “Sometimes the body just shuts itself off. She’s not in any pain,” Selenia pronounced loudly after tipping her wand up and making some sharp movements in the air.

Slowly, Rose’s arms and legs began to quiet. Like an infant calming herself, Rose took deep, shuddering breaths inward and sobbed dry heaves as her eyes closed. I wanted to reach out and touch her, but Selenia still seemed to be doing some sort of incantation on her.

“Let’s get her moved to somewhere more comfortable,” Selenia sat back on her heels and began carefully levitating Rose up off the floor. The top from her pyjamas slid up slightly, revealing her left side.

“What the fuck,” Albus gasped behind me. I couldn’t move my eyes from the
tangled mass of red scars sprawled across the side of her body. Holy shit.

Selenia adjusted Rose’s top to lift it up and see how high the wounds spread without revealing any unnecessary parts of Rose’s front. They stretched all the way up to her shoulder. This type of mark could only have been produced by a dark curse repeated over and over.

“I heard him try to use Crucio,” Selenia’s voice was calm and even. She was going to make a great healer. I work great in the heat of the moment but, after it’s all over, I tend to lose my shit. For example, I just couldn’t stop my heart from bruising the inside of my ribcage.

“No.” Dom finally spoke. “This is an old wound. He did this to her two years ago.”

“Did you know?” I didn’t know who Albus was asking. Selenia was her best friend. I was her boyfriend and Dom was her closest cousin - other than him, of course.

“I had no idea,” Selenia grabbed his hand over the top of her shoulder. He had lost a lot of color in his face.

I just shook my head back and forth before rubbing my forehead. I needed to stop the pounding.

“I didn’t know either,” Dom was uncharacteristically quiet.

“Dom, can you give me a hand? We need to get her into the shower,” Dominique started out of her haze to follow behind Selenia.

“Can I help?” I choked out powerlessly as Rose hovered past me. I wanted to touch her and hold her, but she had reacted so violently, I was afraid of hurting her or scaring her further. Rose was still jerking about with her eyes closed, as if having a bad dream.

“I need you to get to my healer bag and grab some ‘calming draught,’” Selenia ordered. As I paced down the hall toward her room, she called out, “Scorpius, can you also bring the ‘draught of dreamless sleep?’” I didn’t answer her because of the tightness in my throat.

I know now that I am completely, irrevocably in love with Rose and I will do anything to keep her safe. After delivering the potions, the bathroom door was promptly shut in my face. Irritated, I leaned up against the wall, waiting. Al was on the sofa, head in hands.

Selenia and Dom were in the bathroom with Rose for a long while. When they finally emerged, Rose was at least walking, but they surrounded her on both sides and immediately led her down the hall to her bedroom. The door closed with a click behind them. They wouldn’t even let me talk to her.

I sunk into the couch next to Albus. He was deathly silent. My head fell back against the cushion and breathed out through clenched teeth. On the outside, it might appear that I was calming myself, but quite the opposite. Thoughts were flooding my mind, not landing anywhere. What the fuck was going on? How the hell did Stannous penetrate the wards that were always up in our flats? Who were the other wizards with him? What was going on with Rose and why did she react that way?

Rose’s violent reaction had shaken all of us.

We sat unspeaking. Time was not something I could wrap my head around.

Albus broke the silence. His head in his hands, he spoke quietly, but the words grated out of him. “Do you think that Stannous… did things... to Rose at the cabin?” he whispered.

“Er…” I couldn’t. Not Rose. No.

“She says he didn’t touch her other than that god-awful curse.” I jumped. Dom was standing behind us. I hadn’t heard the door open. All I could do is stare at her.

“It was some bastardization of the cruciatus that burned her and left those scars.”

How could I be so thick? Two years. This happened two years ago and I never thought to ask her. I never even considered it. I was too wrapped up in my own bullshit to even think about what kind of torture she endured during her kidnapping with Stannous.

“I'm going to see her,” I got up, but Dom shifted to block me from heading down toward Rose’s bedroom.

“What the…?” I was on my last nerve. She was my girlfriend and -

“Sels and I have got it, all right?” What did she mean by that? Did she think I couldn’t take care of Rose? I had decided that I had sat there for just about long enough.  Anger bubbled up and was pulsing through my veins.

“Mate.”

I twirled around and peered into green eyes. Green eyes that were hardened and a vein in his neck that was bulging, too. It was the same vein that had been pulsing when he and his dad had their encounter at the Ministry. His breath came quickly, in shallow rasps. We were both close to losing it; we needed to get out of there.

I fisted my fingers into my hair, as if pulling at it would make my brain understand.

“Come on, mate,” he said. His voice was loud and unnatural. “We’re going out.”

“Scorp and I will be back in a few, all right?” Al pulled on my shoulder as Dominique nodded her understanding. She was a good auror and knew how to summon help, if needed. She also could hold her own in a fight.  Just in case, I mouthed to her, “Call Harry if you need to.”

After putting up some more protective spells for good measure, Al and I headed out of the flat and I gave him my arm. I knew where I had to go right then.  He took it without questioning me; we were brothers.

I apparated us to the edge of the Forest of Dean. My heart hadn’t stopped its abuse on the inside of my chest since the attack. I felt bruised from the inside out.

The realization of Stannous’s violence made my head swirl. I grasped my temples and looked around. We were standing on a wide expanse of rocks with the forest ahead of us. I took a few steps back and pointed my wand at a mid-sized tree on the very edge of the forest.

“Reducto!” I let the control and frustration throw itself out of me as the tree exploded just above the base of its trunk. The power of the spell whipped past us, our hair blowing back. The tree top slowly, gracefully arched backwards, gaining speed. However, the sound of the crash was drowned out by Albus’s spell.

“Diffindo!” He aimed for one of the larger trees. The strength of his magic stunned me as about a third of the trunk was completely obliterated. The top of the tree fell straight down and, as if in slow motion, began tipping to the right. “Incendio!” he screamed and I was once again reminded just how powerful the wizard next to me was as we were blinded by the flames engulfing what was left of the tree.

“Confrigo!” I began to blast the rock away. She had been living with this for two years. Alone. “Bombarda!” I should have been there. “Bombarda Maxima!” I should have made her tell me what happened after Stannous brought her back and left her in Hogsmeade.

No. I should have known something was wrong. I was a piece of shit.

“Sectumsempra!” I shouted at a tree to my left and it split along cracks in the bark. The crackling sound was drowned out by the roar of the flames already burning brightly from Al’s spells. I paused momentarily as a dark substance began to ooze from the cracks. It traveled too slowly to be blood. The tree gave out a low moaning sound of pain and I looked over at Albus. He was too fixated on his own destruction to hear it.

“Flipendo!” he yelled as the next tree-victim toppled over itself and landed somewhere on the forest floor. “Incendio! Crucio! AVADA KEDAVRA!” Albus cried out, advancing toward the forest and aiming his curses at successive trees.

“Fuck, fuck, FUCK!” Albus lamented as he ran forward, blasting three more trees from their roots. He continued attacking every tree in his path, using nonverbal spells at this point. Twigs and sawdust and flashes of light were raining upon us as his arm was flying in a blur of fury and grief.

I let out a few more “Reducto” and “Diffindo” curses with all my strength before collapsing on the hard, stone ground and gasping for breath.

A new wave of emotion came over me as I fisted my hair and wrapped my arms around my head. The crushing weight from before had returned upon my chest. This time, it began to squeeze tears from my eyes as it pressed the air from my lungs. I wheezed an inward breath and let out a howl that did not sound human. And then another and another. You could swear a werewolf was on the prowl in the forest.

The sound roused Albus from his destruction-induced trance. He ran over to me and placed a hand on my back. He was breathing heavily, as if he had just run a marathon. Fuck, we were both spent. I gulped in the air, willing myself to stop crying like a little prick. I needed to get myself together.

“I will fucking kill that bastard the second I lay eyes on him.” Albus’s words were slow and calm, scary even.

“Not if I get there first.” I promised. My voice was uneven from the tears and emotion. My Rose. My Rose.  I resolved to make this up to her. If I have to, I will spend the rest of my life searching for him, and consoling her.

Albus and I looked at each other and made an unspoken promise. He nodded his head imperceptibly and we understood each other, like so many of our unspoken words. We were in this together.

It took a few more minutes for us to collect ourselves and several “Aquamenti maxima” charms to put out the fires in the forest.

Al and I apparated back to our own flat. We both were in need of a shower and I needed a few minutes to recover from my outburst. I threw on comfortable sleeping clothes, grabbed a change for the morning and some blankets. Albus did the same.

When we arrived at the girls’ flat, it was very quiet. Al and I immediately reinforced the protective spells around the place again, leaving no opening or even crack in the wall unprotected. I didn’t know if it would do any good, and I would be sure to check the next day for any other spells that we could use. Quietly, I opened the door to Rose’s room. She was asleep on the bed, Selenia’s arms around her and Dominique sitting in the chair in the corner, wand at the ready.

“Hey Scorp,” Selenia roused and sat up groggily. I tossed my blankets on the floor.

Selenia rubbed her eyes and swung her legs off the bed. Her sad eyes grabbed mine as she moved toward me and wrapped me in an embrace. We had been friends for so long; we didn’t need words right now.

“Albus…” I began to try to tell her that he needed her. That he was hurting so much and she was the only one that could help him right now.

“Hey,” she took a small step back and steeled my eyes again, with both hands on my shoulders. “I’ll take care of Al. You take care of Rose, yeah?” I nodded back to her and gave her another quick, tight hug. I wanted to convey to her that I would do everything and anything to take care of Rose.

“I know, Scorp,” she gave me a taut smile and a gentle brush of her fingers across my hand as she left the room.

Dominique stood up and tossed me a pillow. “I think she will be okay with you here, I’m going back to my room.”

“Thanks, Dom,” I whispered. I settled myself on the floor as she crossed the room.

“Scorpius,” she paused at the door and fixed me with a hard stare. “She needs you. You can’t be a wishy-washy dipshit this time. This is not going to be fixed overnight. Please don’t play the hero for a month and then decide it’s too intense for you.”

“I know,” was all I could manage. I deserved that.

Not expecting it, a great calm spread over me, partly from being exhausted from the evening’s events and partly from the calm I experienced anytime I was near Rose. I didn’t even hear Dominique close the door as a fitful, yet much needed sleep enveloped my weary body.






A/N:  Thanks so much for reading.  I worked really hard on this chapter and I would love it if you could leave a review and let me know what you think!  ~Beth


Chapter 10: Back to the Beginning: Rose POV
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 I woke the next morning, still tired. Waking up tired was nothing new. Most days, I wake up exhausted, eyes wide and feeling numb. Today was different. I felt heavy, like it was taking an extra effort to move my limbs. I was momentarily confused until it all came crashing back on me. The breach in our flat, Stannous grabbing for me, Albus and Scorpius coming… and the way Stannous’s wand poked into my side. He didn’t curse me last night, but it was enough to jolt my memory and I was back at the cabin again. That’s about the point when all went dark.

I was so lucky to have Selenia and Dom. They helped me get cleaned up and got me to bed. Selenia stayed with me until I fell asleep. I knew Scorp was there when I got out of the shower, but he and Al left after that. He didn’t even come to see me. I wasn’t surprised. I was playing a fool’s game, thinking that I could actually be normal. My heart twinged and tears pricked in my eyes. So this was the alternative to numbness - heartache and insomnia.

Fresh grief poured over me. I just couldn’t do this anymore. It had taken so, so long to feel like I could breathe again. I rolled on my side and squeezed my eyes shut, knowing that sleep wouldn’t come.

The other side of the bed moved with the weight of someone sitting down. Panic overtook me as my reflexes kicked in. In a lightning second, I pulled my wand from under my pillow, pointed and aimed a stunning spell before even looking.

“Holy Merlin Rose! It’s me – Scorpius!” The spell grazed his ear because my hand was quaking so much. His hand shot up to the injury. “I won’t be able to hear for a week!”

“What the hell do you think you are doing in my bed at six o’clock in the morning?!” My arm was shaking so much that my wand tumbled into the bedding. I pulled my shuddering hands into my chest and collapsed back against the headboard.

I blew out the breath I didn’t know I was holding, but I couldn’t stop quivering. Nausea was building again, waves pouring from my head to the pit of my stomach. I closed my eyes and sucked air in slowly, willing it to stop.

“Sorry, Rose. I’m really, really sorry.” Scorpius’s voice was low, but hurried.

“Dammit!” he exclaimed, “I am making a right cock-up of this. I am such a useless prat,” he continued spluttering apologies and self-deprecation for a few more minutes. I found myself focusing on the familiarity of his voice and the soothing scent of citrus and cedar. Very slowly, my nausea subsided and the violent shaking resolved to mild trembling.

“ …Rose?” He asked. Although I had felt his voice calming me, I hadn’t actually been listening to what he was saying. Clearly he was looking for an answer to his question.

“Sorry,” my speech was still uneven, “what was that?”

“Is it okay if I sit next to you on the bed?” The words came out of his mouth, but I was still too distressed to get meaning from them. I forced myself to think about what he was saying. I sucked in a much needed breath. I still couldn’t figure out what he was saying, mostly because it was so unlike Scorpius to ask permission for something like sitting next to me on the bed. My brain finally clicked on so I could at least nod my head toward him.

He slid over very slowly and rested close to me, but not touching. I felt the warmth of his hand over mine. He didn’t say anything at first.

“Rose,” he began quietly after several moments of silence. “I know. I know what he did to you.” Suddenly, his voice, his face, his presence was all I could concentrate on as my head turned toward his. A minute ago, everything around me was fuzzy and now, nothing else existed but his silver eyes, slightly pointed chin and soft, pink lips… and the words he just spoke.

I didn’t have a response. His words hit me as if I was smacked in the face. I would never be able to lie to him and try to convince him that it wasn’t true, that it never happened. I didn’t have the energy to do it anyway.

“I-I have to get up for training,” I tried to change the subject. With great effort, I swung my legs off the bed and stood on the floor.

Get up, wash, get dressed -

He didn’t say anything, just gently put his hand on my arm and coaxed me back to the bed.

“You aren’t going to training today,” he said matter-of-factly, his thumb stroking my forearm softly. “And neither am I.”

There was no more denying it. No more stories or pretending. My head felt heavy and fell to my chest. My hands covered my face and the release of two years of emotions poured out. I had never admitted anything to anyone, not even Dominique or Selenia. As the tears began to pour out of me, Scorpius had one arm around my shoulders and the other across my front, sort of hugging me sideways. The pain was thrust from my core and out of me, as I sobbed and sobbed.

“I’m so sorry, Rose. I’m so sorry, Rose,” he said over and over again. His voice was soft in my ear, his face close to me. I sank into him, unable to hold myself upright. I was shuddering from the sobs and the only real thing in the world was his voice in my head.

The numbness that had acted like a bubble around me had been peeled away and I was raw and open. I felt too much at once and the aching was unbearable.

“Rose, you didn’t deserve this. You did nothing wrong. Nothing,” Those words pulled out more emotions than anything else he could have said. I had spent the last two years trying to reconcile what I could have done, what I should have done differently. It didn’t occur to me until that moment that I needed someone else to tell me. A fresh wave of sobs overtook me. This time, they were of relief and realization.

Sometime later, I found myself with my head in his lap and his arms still around me. I felt a comfort that I had not felt in a long, long while. Slowly, I pulled myself up and looked into his soft, gray eyes. They were searching my face, trying to read it. I was so tired all of a sudden. “Please stay here with me,” I pleaded.

“As long as you need,” he replied, stroking my hair. I could see relief wash over his face, but I didn’t totally understand why. He locked his arms around me and, for a moment, I felt like he needed the closeness more than I did. My head was resting against his chest and I squeezed my hands around his. We laid there for a long time and I don’t know when, but I finally fell into a deep, heavy sleep.

I don’t know how long I slept. The sun was bright, but filtered through the drapes in my room. Splashes of light jutted across the bed and our legs that were intertwined. Waking this time, I felt a kind of relaxation, like there was a weight that, although not gone, was much lighter. My head was still against Scorpius and I tilted back to look up at him.

He was sitting up, but asleep with his head resting awkwardly against the top of the headboard. As I lifted up, he stirred. I adjusted myself so we were face to face. Without thinking, I smashed my lips upward and into his. My hands grasped the back of his head, pulling him to me. He kissed me back with the same fervor for a few, brief seconds. Then, he put his hands on either side of my face and gently pulled me slightly away, transforming the kiss into a soft, tender one. He pulled away first, and wrapped both arms fully around me, pulling me into him.

“I’m hungry,” I said the instant I thought about it. I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I ate. All of a sudden, getting food was all I could think about.

“Well, let’s go get a bite,” Scorpius said, his lips curving upward. “I feel like I haven’t eaten in days.” We dressed quickly and I felt a sense of security as he gently took my hand and led me out of the door.

*

We went to a pub in muggle London for our lunch – actually it was near three o’clock. I didn’t want to go anywhere that anyone from the wizarding world would see us and, because of the time, pretty much no one in the muggle world would see us either. We both ordered typical muggle pub fare – bangers and mash for Scorp and fish and chips for me. We also ordered two pints of beer, to calm the nerves. Eating came first – we were both incredibly hungry. He waited patiently for me to be the first to break the silence.

“So… I take it Albus knows as well,” I said timidly. “And I am sure he will tell James, too. Shit.” I was talking more to myself than to Scorpius.

“Yeah,” he admitted. “Selenia explained that she hadn’t seen that kind of damage before. Th- the scars looked pretty deep.” I knew what he was saying. I was hideous. I fiddled with a crease in the napkin and he continued, “Did she and Dom ask you about it at all, Ro?”

“I think they both s-suspected something before last night. They’re not stupid. I-It’s really hard to come out and say it, you know?” my voice broke and I dropped my head and tried to smooth out the napkin with increased force. Why can’t I ever feel normal?

“I know,” he was talking slowly and quietly, as if choosing his words carefully. “Rose, I think we need to tell Harry.”

“What? No way. No.” My head jerked upright and the response was instant. I could see his eyes boring into me. They weren’t angry like they used to be. They were kind, but serious at the same time.

“Listen Rose, your flat was breached last night, despite the protective enchantments on it. Now, I plan on being there as much as possible, but I can’t be around you every second and you are in danger.”

“Scorpius- ” I tried to interject, but he moved his chair closer to me and gently put his hand over mine for the second time that day. I noticed that this was all the contact he was willing to make.

“Rose,” he began, both hands now covered mine. They were so, so warm. He shifted in his seat and leaned in toward me. “L’erge Stannous is a fugitive and we are breaking the law by not reporting this. There is no way that Dom, Al and I can let the fact that the most wanted dark wizard in the world breached your flat last night and attempted another kidnapping.” He paused to let me think.

He was right. This was a big deal. Bigger than me – and all of us. I couldn’t ask the three of them to risk their future with the auror department by keeping this under wraps.

Scorpius continued. “Rose, you need to tell the ministry. Let’s talk to Harry. I just figured it would be handled best by someone who you trust, and who loves you.”

I didn’t answer him. I was thinking, thinking of any way to get around this. My napkin was now a pile of shreds on my lap. After a long while, my brain exhausted, I couldn’t fight it anymore.

“All right,” I conceded, “Will you come with me?”

“If you want, I will be there, but I was thinking it might be best if Albus is the one with you when you talk to your Uncle.” I nodded, understanding that his was too much for him. I was too much for him.

We finished eating and hurried back home. I wanted to get this over with and, hoping Albus would be agreeable, would try to catch Uncle Harry before he left for the day.

*

Scorpius, Albus and I arrived at the ministry less than an hour later. My quick pace had them trotting to keep up with me despite the fact that they were both much taller than me. I wanted to get this over with, rip it off like a plaster. If I waited long enough to think about it, I would chicken out. I just kept repeating the words I needed to say in my head, over and over.

The ministry was mostly empty and we were taking a chance that Uncle Harry was even there. I don’t even remember taking the lift, but moments later, we were at the door to the Head Auror’s office. Grabbing Albus’s hand before knocking, I looked up at him. I needed to know that he was there. Scorpius rubbed my shoulder and gave my other hand one last squeeze before taking a chair next to the office door. We had agreed that he would wait outside Uncle Harry’s office while Al and I talked to him.

Albus looked down at me and gave me an encouraging smile. “It’s okay Rosie, I’m here,” he said as if he was reading my mind.

“C’mon in,” I heard Uncle Harry’s voice nonchalantly from the inside. I pushed the door and we entered.

“Hi Rose! Albus!” Uncle Harry said brightly. “Come in – sit down,” he gestured to the two chairs in front of his desk.

Immediately, I began to get cold feet. The blood drained from my face and a cold sweat began to break across my forehead. I sat down quickly because my head was swimming. I tried not to think about what I had to say and just to focus on saying it. At once, Uncle Harry knew there was something wrong, his eyes darted quickly between mine and Albus’s faces. He tried to start off the conversation slowly.

“I heard that Scorpius wasn’t at training today. Is everything all right?” He spoke to Albus and my mouth went dry – I didn’t know where to start.

Thank Merlin, Albus stepped in. “Actually, no Dad, it’s not,” he said firmly. “There was an incident in Rose’s flat last night, and we thought you should know about it.” The confidence in his voice spread over me and I straightened slightly in my chair.

“What sort of incident?” Uncle Harry’s voice dropped. He knew this was serious.

“L’erge Stannous showed up, and-” Albus continued. Before he could go any further, Uncle Harry cut in. “And you didn’t report it immediately? Albus, how could you be so careless? There are enchantments and protections we could have put on their place! You are not a fully trained auror yet, might I remind you - ”

“Dad! Dominique already had every protection she could think of on the flat! He and the others got through them… somehow-” Albus trailed off, sounding like an ashamed little kid.

“Others?” Uncle Harry’s voice was straining to keep calm.

Al’s head hung down in guilt. “There were two other wizards there when Scorp and I arrived. They both disapparated instantly when they saw us. I didn’t get a good look at them.”

I knew that this was the moment for me to step in. “One of them was the wizard from James’s party last weekend,” I said.

Al’s head popped up in alarm. “The one who grabbed you? I didn’t know that!”

“Hold on,” Harry interjected. “What happened at the party? There has been more than one instance?”

“It gets a bit more complicated than that, Uncle Harry,” I said quietly. He looked right at me with his bright green eyes. I had to close mine so that I could concentrate on the words that I had rehearsed in my head on the way over here. I took a deep breath.

“When Stannous had me captive in the cabin, he… a-assaulted me… several times-” the last bit caught in my throat. Having to say it out loud is like having to live it again. I slowly lifted the left hem of my jumper slightly to reveal the bottom part of the scarred tissue.

I opened my eyes to see Uncle Harry’s face, his mouth was slightly open in a half-gasp and his emerald eyes searched my face, concern and pain showing as the realization hit him. I sped through the rest of the pertinent parts of the story, just so I could get it over with.

“When he apparated into our flat last night, Dom was able to send a patronus to Albus and Scorpius, who came straight away, but Stannous wanted to scare me, so when they arrived…” I couldn’t go on.

“Dad he was touching her,” Albus’s face was taut with rage. “That sick fuck had his hands all over her and was saying... things-”

“He wanted to scare me,” the words bit through my emotions. I cut Albus off, mostly because of the look of horror on Uncle Harry’s face. We could spare the nitty gritty details. I don’t know if I could hear anymore without retching my lunch all over Uncle Harry’s office.

“Anyway, I got pretty sick from… the… emotion of it all. Albus and Scorpius stayed over last night to make sure we were okay and Scorpius stayed home with me today.” I finished the last part up pretty quickly. Oh, Merlin, I just wanted this to be over. Albus had stood up and had one hand on my arm and another was rubbing my back. I sucked in a breath and held it, hoping against hope that I did not start to cry again.

Uncle Harry didn’t say anything for a long time. He, unlike Albus and me, needs a few moments to process information. I could tell Albus was getting impatient, but I gripped his hand that was on my arm to let him know that he needed to give his Dad a bit of time. I wondered if Scorpius was getting worried sitting outside.

After what seemed like ages, Uncle Harry finally spoke. “Well, my first instinct is to have you girls move in with Ginny and me. I know you will be safe there, but I also know,” he continued quickly as I took in a breath to protest, “you three will never go for that.”

He continued, “If you stay at your flat, we will have to put ministry guards around the clock to keep you safe. We can do that, but it will be tricky because you live in a muggle neighborhood.”

“However, I think the best option is for you six to move into number twelve, Grimmauld Place. It is unplottable and we can put a fidelius charm on it to offer more protection than you have right now. If you choose this option, you will need someone to serve as your secret-keeper. I, of course, will offer to do it, but you should all discuss it and agree to whomever you choose.”

“The six of us?” I was confused.

“You, Dominique, Selenia, Albus, James and Scorpius. There are more than enough rooms for you each to have your own space. With six of you living together, it is less likely that any one of you will be alone in the house and frankly, I’ve seen the way that Scorpius looks at you, Rose – I doubt he will be letting you out of his sight any time soon. Am I not mistaken that he is sitting right outside my door? You may invite him in; he should be a part of this conversation and, er, probably wants to be here for you, Rose.” I wasn’t so sure about that last part, but I nodded anyway.

Albus walked over to the door and stuck his head out. “Hey Scorp, can you come in for a minute?” Relief spread over me as I saw him enter and walk quickly toward me. His face was grim and worried, but his eyes found me and fixed on my face as he crossed the room. When he reached me, he grabbed my hand and held on to it, refusing to sit.

I felt myself calm with his touch. I think Uncle Harry could see it as well, because he looked less anxious than he did before. He quickly explained the plan to Scorpius, who nodded intensely in agreement. We just had to convince the others and I didn’t think that would be too hard. The girls were just as scared as I was last night and James was so easy-going, he was usually up for just about anything.

As we were just finishing up with the details, I found the courage to say the final point I needed to make. My resolve returned and I spoke with determination.

“Uncle Harry, just one more thing -- my father can never know.” He opened his mouth to respond, but I continued. “I know what I am asking of you, but it has to be this way. I don’t think that he will be able to handle it and I don’t know what – actions he would take… if he ever found out. For that matter, I really don’t want Mum to know either. They have had enough pain. I don’t want them to have to bear this as well. It is too much.” I was pleading.

“Rose,” Uncle Harry spoke slowly, “your parents love you very, very much. I think everyone” his eyes flicked to Albus, “underestimates what their parents can handle. Generally, I don’t like keeping secrets within the auror department, because I feel that it puts us in danger. However, I will honor your wishes, as I encourage you to reconsider.”

After a moment, he added, “I have always found my greatest strength lies within my friends and family…” he looked like he was going to say more, but his face hardened slightly and he said, “Talk it over with the others, you can move in tomorrow.” The three of us headed out the door, Scorpius’s hand still holding on to mine. I knew he was just trying to be nice because I was so upset.

Once we were outside and heading down the hallway, I suddenly stopped. “Er, can you two give me a minute?” I asked.

“Sure,” Albus said and Scorpius just nodded. I turned on my heel and headed back toward Uncle Harry’s office, gaining speed. I didn’t even knock on the door as I pushed through it and was almost sprinting as I ran towards him. He stood from behind his desk and I ran into his arms. We gripped each other tightly for a long minute. I think he needed it more than I did.

Raising my head, I looked into the emerald eyes bright with tears. “I’m okay, Uncle Harry,” I whispered. “Like you said, I have the most wonderful friends and family.” A few traitorous tears were flowing down my cheeks now, but they weren’t of pain or sadness. It was from relief that I cried. “I’m really okay,” I said again.

“Rose, I love you so much and I wish I could make this go away, but I am glad that you have people to watch over you. Please know that Aunt Ginny and I are here if you need anything – even just to talk.”

“I know, Uncle Harry. I love you too. Thank you for everything.” I gave him a peck on the cheek and he smoothed my hair and walked me out of his office. Scorpius was waiting to take my hand as I entered the hallway.




A/N:  Hello!  Sorry for the long chapter, but I couldn't find a place to break it off.  I'd love it if you could tell me what you think!  Thanks!  ~Beth


Chapter 11: Befuddled: Rose AND Scorpius POV
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 Things moved pretty quickly from that moment. Everyone agreed to the move to Grimmauld Place most readily. James felt guilty for not being home to help out the night Stannous broke into the flat. He had spent the night at Samara’s place.

The fidelius charm was a fantastic idea, but Harry said that while James’s entire quidditch team was a bit excessive, we would give the secret to Dom’s boyfriend, Jax, and James’s girlfriend, Samara.

We talked it over, and in the end, agreed that Harry should be the secret-keeper. Rose was hesitant at first because she thought that it would be too obvious and might paint a target on his back. Albus and James pointed out that he was, after all, the Harry Potter and had lived his life with a giant target on his back.

It actually worked out to her advantage, because all Harry had to do was say nonchalantly to Hermione and Ron that she had moved into Grimmauld Place with all of us and they, without knowing it, were let in on the secret. He did the same for the rest of the Weasleys so that everyone knew our location, but didn’t actually realize we were under the fidelius charm.

Even so, Ron was most displeased about the living arrangements (namely me), and he and Rose had a big row about it. She even brought him through the upstairs and showed him each person’s room, to prove that we weren’t shacking up together.

That did not, however, deter Ron Weasley from throwing a huge fit. Hermione tried to calm him down and I disappeared while Rose showed her parents each of the rooms.

Rose’s room was on the second floor, and Dominique had the other room on that floor. Albus and Selenia each had a room on the third floor (although it was a waste of a room because they both basically lived in Albus’s room). James and I had taken the two rooms on the top floor. He was in the room that had belonged to his namesake, Sirius, and I took Regulus’s room. It is a little weird for me to think that they were my cousins on my grandmother’s side.

Of course, Rose failed to mention to Ron and Hermione that I don’t actually sleep in my room. Instead, I continued the practice of setting up camp on her floor every night. We never actually discussed this arrangement; it was just something we did. I got pretty good with transfiguring the armchair in her room into a mattress. I figured this was a way that she would feel safer and, at the same time, I could be around her as much as possible. I had grown a little bit addicted to her scent of lavender and fresh linen.

All the same, I’d never felt this helpless - not since my parents' deaths. Most of the time, I didn’t know what to say to Rose. She was having regular panic attacks, but we didn’t talk about them, either. I helped out where I could, but things were still awkward. I knew that I would wait as long as necessary for her to make the first move. She had a lot to work through and clearly wasn’t interested in me being her boyfriend right now.

After a few weeks, we all settled into a kind of routine. Our auror training had gotten interesting, to say the least. Although Rose was adamant that her father wouldn’t know her secret about the abduction, Harry took it upon himself to give Al, Dom and I, a little side assignment. He even put our first year mentees on the task as well. Al wasn’t too thrilled about letting strangers in on the scene (he always had been very protective of Rose), but ever since the duel with Harry, he had been more willing to voice his opinions with his Dad in a more effective manner than just holding it all inside until he explodes.

They had a talk about it, and Al was able to see Harry’s point of trying to respect Rose’s wishes and, at the same time, wanting to get a set of ‘fresh eyes’ on the case. Harry, although putting up a good front as the leader, was taking the news of Rose’s torture pretty hard. Harder even than me and Al were. It was clear that he felt, on some level, that he had failed her. I could see it in his eyes, when he discussed the case with us and our mentees. There was a sadness, mixed with fierce determination. We all felt it, but Harry, being head of the auror department, burdened himself with protecting every witch and wizard. The thought of his favorite niece undergoing that kind of torture right under his nose was wearing on him, to say the least.

As a result, Al, Dom, all our mentees and I would meet weekly to discuss the case. My mentee was Caesar Corner, a fellow Ravenclaw and a right good bloke. We had been chasers together on the Quidditch team. He reminded me of Al, because he was particularly gifted in dark arts defence. Dom had been assigned to Colleen Creevey who was a Gryffindor like her father, Dennis, and there couldn’t have been a better match made. The two were downright dangerous together.

Al had been paired with Kali Goldstein, a Hufflepuff who had been head girl and clearly had something to prove. She was confident, strong and bull-headed. At the same time, she was smart, kind and quick-witted. The two had formed a sort of competitive friendship. I just hoped it didn’t get too competitive. However, Kali seemed to be very sharp. She knew just when to let Albus win.

Most days, Rose would apparate herself to the ministry after her rounds at St. Mungo’s were completed. She had taken up the habit of healing the trainees after a long day of throwing curses at each other. It was great practice for her and the auror trainees always went home with minimal broken bones and wounds. She was really amazing at it. We would all line up at the end of the hall and she would heal us one by one. I loved watching her work – seeing her assess each trainee, determine the best order to heal their multiple injuries, and always send them on their way with a warm smile and a gentle touch.

A few months went by like this and before it seemed possible, autumn was upon us. One day, I was in a particularly bad state, both physically and mentally. Physically because one of the other trainees had managed to hex me with a reducto jinx that should have taken my arm off. I was mentally in a bad state because I just wanted Rose so much. I had been waiting for her to give me any indication at all that she might be ready. She was trying to finally work through what had happened to her and I wasn’t going to do anything to set her back. I couldn’t deny, however, that it was really driving me barmy.

But, oh Merlin, she was so fit. I was constantly keeping myself in check around her. It didn’t help that we shared a room and spent several hours a day together. Let’s just say that I had taken up the habit of multiple showers a day. I had to put extra skin moisturizer on me just to counteract the amount of bathing I was doing.

“Hi,” I said to Rose as it was my turn to be healed. I had intentionally placed myself last in line so I could spend a little extra time with her.

“Hey, you,” she smiled and touched my arm. Electricity shot through it straight to my heart. With her free hand, she smoothed her hair that was coming loose from its ponytail. It was something she did when she wasn’t sure of herself, but she looked absolutely beautiful to me.

“You smell good,” I commented when I could detect the scent of lavender wafting off her locks. Did that sound weird? I don’t want her to think I’m some sort of a creep. She paused and looked up at me through her eyelashes. Sweet Circe, I lose the ability to think when she does that.

“Let’s get you fixed up,” she was in her professional, healer mode. I was trying to act the professional auror slash patient, but I couldn’t concentrate when she was touching me.

“That feels really, really good,” I moaned as her fingers prodded my sore arm gently. She stopped touching me immediately and my eyes flew open. As soon as her hand left my arm, I felt a cold chill pass through me. I sounded like a pervert. Nice job, Scorpius. She probably thinks you are going to attack her at any moment.

“Erm… sorry, Rose,” I apologized and took a step back. She reached for me, but I quickly turned away and sped down the hall. My arm was still hurting badly, but I didn’t want to see the look of disgust on her face right now.

*

“Scorpius, wait!” I called out, pushing my hurt feelings aside. It had been obvious for some time that he wasn’t attracted to me anymore, but I didn’t want him to walk away with a wound.

He stopped abruptly and turned around, eyebrows raised.

“Y-your arm looks really bad. Let me fix it up quick. Th-then you can be on your way.” For some reason, it is hard to talk around him when it is just the two of us. We do much better when there are a whole group of people around. I tried my best to swallow the lump in my throat and focus solely the healing spells for his injuries.

“All set! You are good to go,” I spoke tightly. Chancing to look up at him, I thought, for a moment that I saw the same sparkle in his eye that used to be there. My eyes flicked to the ground, wracking my brain for the perfect comment. When I tilted my head upwards, he was walking away from me, down the hall.

“See you back at Number Twelve,” I whispered to no one. Since he had found out the truth about what happened during my abduction, he hasn’t come near me at all. I mean, we sleep in the same room, hang out, eat at least two meals a day together, laugh, joke and all that other stuff when everyone else is around, but he won’t actually touch me other than to pat my back while I’m being sick.

I get all jittery every time he comes near me because I just want to continue things where we left off last summer, but it seems that he isn’t interested in me anymore. I tried to tell myself to just let it be. We were never going to be together – he just couldn’t see me that way because he knew I was… tainted.

Shortly after the attack, Uncle Harry and Selenia both tried to convince me to talk to a professional about everything I was going through. I was reluctant at first, but the panic attacks had returned in full force and I wasn’t very good at hiding them anymore. If they happened at home, Scorpius usually would kneel next to me in the bathroom while I was sick and would conjure me a glass of cold water or a damp cloth for my forehead. He would rub my back as the shivers took over my body and wrap a warm blanket around my shoulders.

After about a month of this, Selenia pointed out that I would probably give the same advice about a therapist to my own patients and, if I wasn’t willing to do it myself, how could I expect them to follow my recommendation? Damn that girl and her maddening logic and reasoning. I finally caved.

My therapist’s name was Ruth Vanadi and she was really sweet – although close to my parents’ age, she acted more like an older sister that makes you feel comfortable telling her all your secrets and fears. We didn’t just talk about Stannous and my kidnapping. She was a good listener for all sorts of things. She was very sympathetic to the fact that I had grown up in the shadow of my parents and godfather and, although I would never resent them, I had to deal with the fact that they would always be revered by the wizarding world. We also talked about my cousins, friends and, of course, Scorpius.

By October, I was actually making some headway with my therapist (she insisted I call her Ruth, even though she was much older) but, at the same time, getting so discouraged with the lack of headway with Scorpius that I was about to give up hope. My panic attacks were somewhat under control and I was able to concentrate on other aspects of my life.

Ruth suggested that I simply ask Scorpius how he felt and that, regardless of what he said, I could move on. Never having a lot of courage (I wasn’t exactly the Gryffindor that my family always wanted me to be), I was totally dragging my feet. I really didn’t think my heart could take hearing him say that he just didn’t like me ‘that way’ anymore. But this state of limbo was wearing on my nerves and the amount of time we spent together on a daily basis just added fuel to the fire.

It was late October and I had decided that enough was enough. It was time to bite the bullet and just ask him what he thought of ‘us.’ Ugh. I hated how that sounded. Why did real life have to be so much more… real?

After dinner, the five of us trainees always had the same routine. Since we all lived together, we needed to come up with some sort of way that we could all get our studying done with minimal distractions. So, Selenia and I would study in the parlor, while Al, Dom and Scorp took the larger kitchen table to do their work. Occasionally, they would have to practice spellwork and the stone walls and floor of the kitchen were much more forgiving than the wooden floors and plaster walls of the sitting room.

I knew they were done studying because Al had come to get Selenia. She tried to tell him that we needed about another hour or so longer, but I quickly excused myself so I could catch Scorpius before I lost my nerve.

I had heard him go into my room so, squeezing, my eyes shut, I opened the door with bated breath. I wanted to do this as quickly as possible.

“Rose!” I heard him exclaim – although I still didn’t open my eyes. He hadn’t been expecting me and his voice told me that I had surprised him.

“Scorpius, I-” forcing myself to look at him before continuing, but my brain stopped working when I saw him standing bare chested across the room, on the other side of the bed.

He was not the scrawny, bony boy I remembered from Ravenclaw Quidditch practice. He had filled out, specifically in the upper body region where his muscles were clearly defined. Auror training had served him well and his chest, shoulders and biceps were exquisite. All I could think about was what his body would feel like under my fingertips.

“Erm… I… er…” but my mouth wouldn’t form any actual words. I tried to back out of the room, but I missed and ended up backing up into the door jamb behind me.

“Rose, are you alright?” he moved from behind the bed. Sweet Merlin, he was wearing only a towel and was grasping it shut with one hand as he came closer and stood in front of me.

“Skurmis hi yow narken?” That was the best I could do. I had to back away to keep my hand from raking across his chiseled abs, but I forgot that I was already against the wall and I banged my head on the door jamb – hard.

“Whoa – easy there.” He reached out to me with his hand (the one that wasn’t clutching the towel) and cupped the side of my face. I instinctively closed my eyes at his touch. “Is it another attack? Do you need to get to the loo?” he said softly. His hand was so warm I felt like it was burning my cheek. I leaned into it to just savor his touch for a few more seconds.

I breathed in his scent and little by little opened up my eyes to see him searching my face with concern. When our eyes met and locked, I was silently begging him to grab me up right there and never let me go.

“Num fee,” the pseudo words stuttered out of my dry lips. I sounded like my brain had been addled. He probably thought I had been practicing curses on myself again. I needed to get out of there before any more damage was done.

I used my hand to feel my way against the wall to the door so I could make my escape with what little dignity I still retained. I ducked out of his grasp before I lost complete control and made sure to pull the door closed behind me quickly. Turning abruptly around to create as much distance as possible between us, I smacked headfirst into someone coming up the stairs.

I teetered for a moment and almost lost my balance, but Dom grabbed my elbow to steady me.

“Where’s the fire, Rose?” she asked, a smirk playing at the corners of her mouth.

“Er… nothing. No fire. Just going down to the parlor to study with Sels,” I lied badly. My head had finally cleared now that I wasn’t in the presence of bodily perfection and I could form real words again.

At that moment, Scorpius opened the door to my room, still wearing only the towel and stalked toward the bathroom. He paused when he saw Dom and me standing on the landing and swiveled his head in our direction, but didn’t say anything. Rather, he turned and continued toward the bathroom, mumbling to himself. It was obvious that he didn’t want me to see him half-naked. The click of the lock on the bathroom door confirmed that.

“Oh!” Dominique exclaimed, laughing heartily. “I see. It is all coming clearer now.”

“Wha- what are you talking about?” I rambled. What was clear? Nothing was clear to me. Things were just as confusing and blurry as they always were.

“Damn Rose, it is blatant that you are hot for Scorpius!”

“What?!” I was indignant. It was true, but I wasn’t about to concede, seeing that he did not feel the same way.

“Well, I can admit he’s not hard to look at,” she continued, eyeing the bathroom door that he had just closed behind him. “But he’s a bit on the pale side for me.”

I felt my eyes lowering at my cousin. She shouldn’t be looking at Scorpius that way. She shouldn’t even be thinking about him that way. And how could she say he’s too pale? He is gorgeous. His body is fabulous and his hands were always so smooth – not rough like most blokes. His fingers were soft but always… firm. I rubbed my cheek where his hand had been just a few moments before.

“Helllloooo! Ro-ose!” Dom snapped her fingers in front of my face and I blinked out of my daydream. “Are you thinking about what he is doing in the shower right now?” she asked coyly.

“Dom!” I was embarrassed. I could not remember the last time I was this embarrassed or this defensive. Really, I had been spending so much time warding off panic attacks and lamenting over Scorpius that I was actually relishing these new emotions.

She continued, “Well it’s obvious he feels the same way about you.” I raised my eyebrows, not understanding her meaning. “Oh, come on Rose. There’s a reason why he turned around so fast. And why he was walking so quickly.” She giggled and grinned at me.

“Oh.” I paused, feeling the flush creeping up my cheeks, “Oh. Erm… I don’t know, Dom. He doesn’t seem too interested in me – since he found out about… you know.”

Dom just shrugged her shoulders. “Rose, for being the smartest witch of our age, sometimes you can be seriously thick.”

And then it hit me. Dom was the only one who hadn’t treated me any differently once she found out about me. Selenia and Uncle Harry had been keeping a close eye, Al and James were ‘giving me space,’ and Scorpius didn’t even want to touch me. But Dom had been great. Here she was, calling me out on my not so discreet feelings for Scorpius. The only thing she was wrong about were his feelings for me.

Nonetheless, I was eternally grateful for her candidness. I felt closer to being a whole person than I had since Stannous had breached the flat. My arms wrapped around her tightly.

“Feeling a little touchy-feely tonight, Rose? I think that is what Scorpius is for.” She laughed, but hugged me back just the same.

Although I still didn’t think she was right about Scorpius’s feelings for me, her words gave me the confidence to at least talk to him - with actual words this time. I resolved to do just that after he got out of the shower. I took a deep breath and stared at the bathroom door, planning out exactly what I would say to him.

“Good idea, Rose,” Dom broke my train of thought. “I think he is going to need a few minutes in there – you know… alone.”

*

The shower was somewhat relaxing. I couldn’t seem to get Rose out of my mind. Although, I can never seem to get her out of my mind. It kept replaying the moment in her room when I was holding her head to see if she was all right. I thought I felt her nuzzle against me. Our eyes met for a moment and, for the briefest of instants, I thought she was looking at me with longing.

Then she ran out of the room. She probably thought I wanted to take advantage of her – being that I was only wearing a towel. So… I went back to my theory that she thinks I am depraved. I can’t really blame her. The thoughts that go through my mind are beyond my control.

As a last minute thought, I summoned my pajama bottoms so that I didn’t appear a sexual miscreant when I entered the room. Usually, I am much calmer after a shower, so I headed to Rose’s room feeling a bit more… relaxed.

That is, until I got in there and saw her sitting on the bed. She also gotten her pyjamas on and was sitting cross-legged on her bed. She looked up as I walked in.

“Hi,” her voice shook. Brilliant. I am now making her nervous in her own room. She doesn’t even want to be around me.

I nodded to her and continued getting ready for bed. I was in the middle of transfiguring the armchair when she spoke again.

“Scorpius?” she asked and I felt all my resolve fading away. How can she make me want her so badly with just one word?

I looked at her expectantly, waiting for her to talk.

“Hie down yum wammy mummer?” I blinked. I had absolut­­ely no idea what she was saying, but her face was so sad, I knew it was important that I at least try to understand her.

“I’m sorry Rose?” I took a small step closer to her on the bed, but I didn’t want to scare her again so I kept my distance.

“Whydontyouwantmeanymore?” She was whispering now and I still didn’t catch what she said.

“What are you on about, Ro?”

She let out a heavy sigh and her sky blue eyes bore into mine. “I said, why don’t you want me anymore?” her voice broke at the final word and a tear fell from her eye and stopped at the top of her cheekbone.

I was completely dumbfounded. She thought I didn’t want her? How do I answer this and not sound like some sort of animal?

“Rose…” I pressed forward, “I want you pretty much every second of every day. I can’t even think most of the time because I want you so badly.” I blurted out the words before my brain could censor them.

Oh my god. What the hell was the matter with me? So much for not sounding like an animal. I’m sick.

“Rose, I’m so sorr-” but out of the corner of my eye I saw her raise off the bed and caught a glimpse of her arm speeding toward my face. I braced myself for the slap that was coming.

She came at me with such force that I wobbled backwards as she launched her entire body across mine. It was not until our lips met that I realized she was not striking me, but rather kissing me.

The passion building for months welled up inside me as I regained my footing and wrapped my arms around her tightly. Her legs responded likewise around my waist and we snogged with so much fire that our teeth banged together, but we didn’t care.

My knees grew weak as one of her hands tangled itself in my hair. I barely was able to carry her back to the bed before we collapsed together. Our lips never broke contact. I was very suddenly aware of our intimate position and braced my arms on either side of her shoulders, but she was grabbing me so tightly, that I knew she wanted this as much as I did. She was making these little whimpering sounds and I thought I was going to lose my mind. We were touching, pressing, kissing. Her legs were still wrapped around me and I had to stop before we got too carried away. Begrudgingly, I rolled to the side and gasped for breath.

She let out a whimper again, but this time, it was of frustration. She was breathing heavily as well. I turned toward her and smiled. “I missed you, Ro.”

“Oh, Scorp. I thought you were done with me. That you didn’t want to be with me because…”

I put a finger up to her lips. “Never,” I whispered. “I was just trying to give you space and time to work out whatever you needed to. But I should’ve told you. We should’ve talked about it.”

“We should’ve.” Her lips moved against my finger and the sensation was so erotic. “Let’s never ‘not talk’ again, shall we?” Her warm breath beat hot bursts against the flesh of my finger.

Then she opened her mouth quickly and bit gently down on it. The uncharacteristically bold move sent my pulse racing. I thought I was going to go blind from the frenzy exploding through me. She wiggled her tongue against it and suckled gently while stroking my face with her other hand.

“I don’t want to stop right now,” she said after I had to pull my hand away. I needed a little less intensity right now. She rolled toward me and began snogging me again outright.

My hand found the hem of her pyjama shirt and slipped underneath. Her skin was burning hot and just about the softest thing I have ever touched. I didn’t want to take too many liberties and so I stopped at her ribcage and squeezed ever so slightly.

All at once, she stopped and froze. Her breath sucked in and all of her muscles were tensing. Her arms pulled up against her chest and her head dropped down. I pulled my hand away and sat up. Her scars. Dammit. I am the biggest prick on the planet.

“Rose?” she didn’t move. “Rose love, it’s okay,” I brought my head next to hers and began whispering in her ear. “Ro, it’s me – Scorpius. You are okay. I’m right here.” I didn’t touch her, but I didn’t move either. I just kept whispering in her ear. Her head lolled toward me and opened her eyes; I saw her fear. They softened a bit when she knew she was looking at me. Her muscles began to relax. She squeezed her eyes shut and tears began to spill out.

*

“I’m so-o s-sorry,” I was spluttering like a fool. How could I manage to mess this up? One arm instinctively crossed itself over my wounds that lay under my shirt as the other draped over my eyes in shame. In the back of my head, I could hear Ruth reminding me not to be sorry about instinctive actions and that the first step was to stop apologizing for things I had no control over.

“No, no, Rose. I’m sorry. You weren’t ready. I should have been more careful.” What a mess. We sounded like a pair of blithering idiots and suddenly it dawned on me that neither of us had any reason to be sorry.

“Scorpius, this is not your fault,” my voice shook with anger this time. “And it’s not mine either.” Each word was gaining in volume. “I hate that he took this from me.”

I sat up. I couldn’t help but hold both arms tight against my body. He didn’t say anything for a minute, until he finally spoke quietly, putting a wonderfully soothing arm around my shoulder and gently lifting my chin with the other hand. “He only takes it if we let him,” his gray eyes were dark with concern and I saw them travel downward to my left side. Fresh tears spilled from my eyes. He couldn’t get past the disfiguration.

His hand slid from under my chin slowly down to cover my arms wrapped around my waist. He carefully lifted each one away from my body. Before I could think about anything else, his hand was at the hem of my pyjama top. He gradually lifted my shirt up on the left side. He was careful to uncover only the side of my body.

I watched his eyes narrow as they scanned over the hideous mass of red and purple lines. He shifted to his knees and pulled his arm from around me.

“It’s repulsive, yeah?” The look of disgust on his face was evident.

The fingers of his right hand wrapped around my side with the lightest touch and I focused on not panicking. I couldn’t help myself from pulling in a deep breath. I wasn’t sure if I was trying to calm myself or reacting to his fingers on the tangled web across my side.

“No,” he said firmly and his free hand reached to caress the side of my face. His fingertips reached around to the back of my neck and the warmth of his hand soothed me. “They are not repulsive, Rose. They are a mark of how strong you are.”

“I’m not strong,” I whimpered, “If I were strong, I wouldn’t have let him do this to me. I hate those scars. I can’t even look at them.” Angry, frustrated tears spilled down my face and plopped into my lap and over the coverlet.

“Rose,” he said so quietly that if I hadn’t been looking right at him and seen his lips move, I wouldn’t have even heard him, “would you mind if I… tried -- something.”

Try what? I wondered. But before I could verbalize a response, he continued.

“I don’t know if it will work, but… if you are alright with it, I would like to try.”

The hand at my face swept down to my shoulder and guided me back down to the bed until I was laying on my back.

“Rose,” he whispered, not moving his eyes from the raised, red streaks. “you need to breathe, love. I won’t hurt you. I promise.” I pulled in a breath and blew it out slowly.

I was about to say something, anything - apologize for the fact that he had to look at such ugly marks, or just to let him know that they didn’t hurt me anymore, but then he started speaking in a strange language.

“Evo lymfo ni apeh tesre ver. Evo lym fo srac seh tesre ver.”

He repeated those two nearly identical phrases over and over while gently touching every single mark with one of his fingertips. Momentarily, I began to feel a cooling sensation that came not from his fingers, but from somewhere inside me. It pulsed in waves from my core and streamed down every mark, every red and pulsing scar and met his fingertips.

The cold inside me seemed to grow and multiply and I couldn’t help but chance a look at my side. My skin seemed to be glowing brighter and brighter at the point of each ugly defect.

When the scars were so bright, they were glowing a hot white color, Scorpius’s voice became quieter and quieter, until the white light had faded and he stopped the incantation. I looked down and suddenly sat bolt upright. The scars were significantly faded and some of them were completely gone!

“Scorpius!” I exclaimed, afraid to move just yet. “What was that? Is that some sort of healing spell? I’ve never heard of it!”

“It is a healing spell,” he answered, looking a little sheepish, but smiling just the same.

“Can you teach me?” I asked. I can’t believe they hadn’t covered this at my training.

He paused and his face fell slightly. “Unfortunately, no,” he explained, “it is magic that is handed down through the family bloodline.”

“So it is some sort of Malfoy heritage?” I asked. “Is it dark magic?” I immediately regretted making that assumption. Not all pureblood magic is dark.

“It is from my mother’s side,” he said. “It is a Greengrass trait. But, I am the last one, since Aunt Daphne never had any children. However, it only works in certain… situations.” he seemed a bit nervous about it, but he quickly continued. “It’s not dark magic, Rose. And it won’t completely remove scars this deep, but it will help…”

He seemed a bit unsure of what he had just done. I sat up and flung my arms around him, again. “Thank you,” I whispered into the side of his head.

He gently kissed my lips. The same soft kiss as before. “So, so much better,” I said as he buried his head in my neck.

In one motion, lifted me up as he sat himself against the headboard. He turned me around and leaned my back against his strong chest. I sat between his legs with his arms wrapped around me. This feeling, of being all wrapped within him, while not as intense, was just as satisfying. I closed my eyes.

“Mmmmm,” was all I could say.

“We could stay here all night like this,” he whispered softly into my ear. He still smelled clean from his shower and underneath, I could smell his own, distinct citrus and cedar scent. I could get lost in that smell.

“Tonight isn’t long enough,” I said. “How about forever?”

“Forever,” he said definitively. “I think I can do that.”




A/N:  Sorry for such a long chapter, but there was a lot of things that happened her.  Yay!  They are together - finally!  I would love it if you would let me know what you thought!

 


Chapter 12: Breakthrough: Scorpius POV
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“I don’t get it,” Kali Goldstein stated bluntly. Al’s mentee was pulling at her lip and staring at the wall of one of the ministry conference rooms as she stood, leaning against the table.

All six of us - Albus, Dominique, myself and our mentees were convened for our weekly meeting.

“What don’t you get?” Colleen Creevey asked Kali without looking up. She and Dominique were comparing notes they had taken on one of the interview files. The pair had set to scrutinizing the records from two and a half years ago, one by one. Anyone who had ever seen Rose Weasley sneeze had been interviewed after Rose’s abduction and there were quite a few files. It was rather tedious work, yet both Dom and Colleen had a great eye for detail, so they took over that aspect of the case, thankfully. The table had file after file sprawled across it.

“Well, two things, actually,” Kali contemplated. She flicked her wand at the wall and the words July the sixth - Rose Weasley is found in Hogsmeade – six days after her abduction, glowed in bright purple.

Kali and Albus had taken on the task of marking out the timeline leading up to Rose’s abduction, and then her return and added any other happenings that we thought were significant. They charmed the wall with a giant map of the events. It looked eerie, seeing it all laid out before us, almost as if I could touch time and change it.

Caesar Corner and I busied ourselves with looking into Stannous’s past. We were given access to the resume that he submitted to Hogwarts when he got the Transfiguration job. However, almost everything on it had been falsified. Even after hours of research, the investigation led to a series of dead ends. We din’t know where he was from, where he attended school, or who his accomplices were. All we knew for certain was that he had at least two other wizards working with him.

Not about to be deterred by that setback, Caesar took initiative to see if he could find out if Stannous had given any indications as to his real identity to the other Hogwarts professors. He'd written letters to each of them and we planned a visit to the school to interview anyone that had been teaching at the same time Stannous was there. I was really proud of him. I was really proud of all the mentees, they were a clever bunch.

In addition, Harry had asked Teddy to do some digging with the Department of Mysteries. So that made a total of eight aurors working the case, if you counted Harry, who was doing as much work as the rest of us combined. At one of his impromptu briefings, he let the six of us in on his own research investigations. He was working to find out if Stannous had been sighted in any other known wizarding areas of the world. He had written to the ministries throughout Europe and Asia, as well as Australia and North and South America.

I know that Harry could've easily put other aurors on the case; they would've gladly accepted it, but he was trying to keep it small, given that too many people with the same undercover assignment might get back to Ron.

So, the six of us auror trainees had basically just been gathering information. However, we were about to have a small breakthrough…

We all stopped what we were doing to look with Kali while she scrutinized the wall. My eyes were caught again on the words June the thirtieth - Rose Weasley is abducted from Hogwarts shortly after commencement ceremony. Every time I looked at that part, it made my heart pulse with anxiety. If I had just gone with her to Stannous’s office - or refused to let her go with him, or even just distracted her long enough so he decided not to go through with it, we might’ve had a different outcome.

Who was I kidding? If one thing was certain, L’erge Stannous was going to get to Rose Weasely one way or another.

Kali’s voice tore my mind back to the task at hand. “Firstly,” she stated confidently, “I don’t get why this bloke brought her back. I mean, here, he'd successfully kidnapped one of the most famous kids in the wizarding world, held her captive for six days, and then he just drops her off Hogsmeade like the Knight Bus? Why not ask for a ransom? Why not kill her or whatever?”

“I just figured he was some sicko that had become obsessed with her,” Colleen offered. “…but you're right – if that were the case, he probably would’ve killed her. That’s textbook for a fanatical fan.”

“Oi! Take it easy,” Albus stood up and growled at the pair. He did not like Kali and Colleen speaking so flippantly about Rose.

“They have a point, Al,” Dom rose from her chair while she spoke, mostly to calm him down.

“Dom, they know what happened to Rose at the cabin. They shouldn’t be talking about her this way. She’s not a case file.” He turned and jabbed an accusing finger toward Kali.

Harry had insisted that the mentees knew everything that we knew about the case. He was right. It wouldn’t do any good for them to work on it without having full access to all information.

“Wait a second,” Caesar piped in, sounding like he was on to something. “I see what Kali is trying to say. Don’t you think it's weird that he didn’t even ask for any money? I mean, he would’ve gotten it. Hell, Harry and Ron would’ve probably given all their gold in Gringotts to get Rose back.”

“What the hell is wrong with all of you?” Al’s temper flared as he rounded on Caesar. “This is my cousin we are talking about!”

“Al!” Dom stormed toward him. “Keep your hair on, will you? She’s my cousin too and Scorpius’s girlfriend, but you don’t see us losing it! This is exactly why Harry assigned all six of us this job! We need their outside perspective.”

She took a breath before continuing in a much lower voice. “Don’t you remember what it was like when Rose was gone? Or when she came back? They were the longest six days of my life.” Dom’s lower lip quivered uncharacteristically, and there was clear distress in her voice, as she stood her ground in front of Albus. “We lived in a state of complete panic and then were so relieved that she seemed unharmed that we didn’t ask these questions when we should have!” She sat down abruptly in the nearest chair and leaned over the table, pretending to be flipping through one of the files, although she clearly wasn’t reading. We all knew better than to try to touch or console her. Dominque Weasley didn’t show weakness to anyone.

Dom’s atypical outburst made Al take a step back and flop down next to me.

“You’re right, Dom,” he conceded kicking the chair next to him. “I just want this sick fuck found so Rose doesn’t have to be afraid all the time,” he fisted his hands through his already messy black hair. “Damn it, I think I need a break.” He stood up and walked across the room, pausing by Kali, who was still staring at the charmed wall.

While she didn’t dare bite back at Albus for his angry tirade, she definitely wasn’t afraid of him. That fact alone made her a great partner for him. Al wouldn’t do too well with someone who was fawning all over the son of ‘the chosen one’ or with someone who challenged his every move.

“I’m sorry Kali. I shouldn’t have snapped at you,” he put a hand on her shoulder.

“Naw,” she looked up at him. “I get it. If it were one of my relatives, I would be the same way.”

Shortly after Al left, Caesar spoke quietly to me. “How are you doing with all this? You’ve been really quiet.”

“I just want this arsehole found so he can rot in Azkaban until he dies.”

Rose deserved better than to live with the threat hanging over her. I did’t think she would feel truly free until Stannous was captured. Since we’d finally talked everything over, we had been one hundred percent better. Maybe even more than one hundred percent. Aside from the whole Stannous thing, it'd been amazing. We were officially together. Although she had’t yet told her parents, everyone else knew, including Harry and Ginny.

Guilt crept over me knowing I had just lied to Caesar. Discussing the case and seeing everything written across the wall in glowing purple letters was taking its toll on me. I felt a stab in my heart every time we discussed it, but I needed to push through it, if we were actually going to figure out what this dark wizard wanted with Rose.

Our weekly meetings always took place on Friday afternoons, because that was the day Ron went home early. It also was the only day Rose didn’t visit the ministry after her training because the aurors didn’t have any ‘curse and countercurse’ sessions. So instead, every Friday, Al and I apparated to St. Mungo’s to pick up Rose and Selenia. The other couple usually headed out from there for a night on the town, but Rose preferred the quiet of Number Twelve. She was doing so much better, but still seemed reluctant to venture out with the others. I didn’t mind. In fact, I relished our time together. Most Fridays, we would cook dinner together. I was showing her all the Malfoy family recipes that my Mum and I used to prepare.

“We’ll get him, mate,” Caesar clapped his hand on my back and smiled. He was a good bloke – knowing enough not to push any further.

“Kali!” Al burst back through the door, interrupting my train of thought. “What was the other thing you were talking about?”

We all stared at him as he stood there bouncing on his toes.

“You said there were two things you didn’t get. What was the other one?”

“Oh,” Kali said slowly. “Erm… I just don’t understand how he could breach her flat last summer. Or how that strange wizard got into the Quidditch party at your flat. I mean, it’s not like you lot are amateurs at putting up wards.”

Al, Dom and I exchanged looks. Wow. She was right. The thought had crossed my mind at the time, but, in both instances, the happenings with Rose had taken precedence and we were all distracted from that simple, obvious fact. “You make an excellent point,” I said to her. “We did have wards up – lots of them.”

“Maybe Stannous and his mates have come up with counter wards,” offered Colleen.

“I doubt it,” Dom said. “Uncle Harry and Uncle Ron take security incredibly seriously – especially in our homes. If there were counter wards out there, we would’ve known about it first.”

“Hmm.” Colleen’s face was screwed up in thought. “It is something to think about. I mean, would there have been any reason why James or someone else would have lifted the wards at the party? To accommodate guests?”

“No,” I replied. “All the guests apparated in an out from the alleyway next to the flat. That is one thing we have always been really careful about.”

“The same for our flat.” Dom added. “We never let anyone apparate either in or out from the inside. The wards were always up.”

It suddenly seemed like we were at an impasse. “All right,” Caesar stood up and flicked his wand at another wall that currently had nothing written on it. Bright, purple words were instantly emblazoned upon it:

Why did Stannous return Rose?
How did they get through the wards?
Where did L’erge Stannous come from?
Why is Stannous after Rose Weasley?
Ransom Money
Obsessed Fanatic



“Good questions,” Al approved. “It gives us some things to consider.”

“I think that is good for today,” I said, realizing that the silence that had fallen over the room pretty much meant we were all thinking the same thing. “Why don’t we all just take the week to think everything through? We will reconvene next Friday.”

“Great job, Kali,” I said to her. “I know it seems like we aren’t getting anywhere, but you just opened up a lot for us to contemplate.”

“Thanks,” she said with no cheer in her voice. “But I feel like I just gave us more questions instead of answers.”

“No, you didn’t. We had a breakthrough today, any way you look at it.” Albus nodded at her. “I want to apologize again. We… need you to solve this case.”

I could tell by the look on her face that she had needed that confirmation from him. As we filed out of the room, I turned and cast the charm that would hide our enchantments on the walls. I was going to head to St. Mungo’s early today. I needed to see Rose as soon as possible – just to be near her. We all left the room with mixed emotions and I still had those words emblazoned on the back of my brain:

Why is Stannous after Rose Weasley?



A/N: I need to send a huge thank you to Sarah (LightLeviosa5443) for looking at the outline of this story and telling me it didn't suck. Actually, she was rather cute and said that she really, really liked it and can't wait to read it- so, thanks Sarah! I really needed the vote of confidence.

Chapter 13: Breakdown: Rose POV
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 “Do you want to talk about your scars?” Ruth asked me during our weekly therapy session. We had a standing appointment before classes began every Friday morning.

“Nn-” I started to say. It was a gut reaction. She asked me the question every week, and every week I blurted a firm ‘No.’ This time, the word caught in my throat as I turned it over in my mind.

I must’ve been thinking about it for a while because Ruth eventually asked, “Would you be comfortable enough to show me your scars?” I had no idea why, but for some reason, it seemed easier to turn and stretch the thin fabric of my blouse up the side of my ribcage than to bring myself to discuss the topic.

“They look much, much better than they used to,” I explained. Most of the red ones had paled to light pink and the lighter ones were now the same color as my skin.

“So, they’ve faded over time?” Ruth asked. She was looking with interest, but not staring.

“No. Scorpius used a special healing power he has. He said it was passed down from his mother’s side. He spoke in a language that I didn’t know and his fingertips glowed bright white. Felt like someone was cooling me from the inside out - a soothing type of cooling, not icy cold or anything. Have - have you ever heard of that type of magic?” I hadn’t asked anyone else about it, despite the fact that I was insanely curious. I was sure the hospital staff would know about it, but if I asked them, it might lead to a discussion that I didn’t want to have.

I had looked in a few books, but a lot of magic that is passed down family lines isn’t recorded because either only a few people possess it or it is mostly myth and not able to be proven. I trusted Ruth. She was technically a healer as well. Even therapists had to go through the Healer Trainee program before choosing their specialty.

She cocked her head and deepened her gaze. Her eyes flicked to mine and she spoke slowly. “Yes, I have heard of that type of magic.” She nodded and continued to peer at me. “It… is very powerful and can only be done under certain - er - circumstances.”

“Scorpius said it isn’t dark magic,” I was looking for her confirmation.

“No, no - nothing like that. Tell me, how is it going with Scorpius?”

“Good - Great!” I corrected myself. “It’s great. We’re great.” I realized that I sounded like I was trying to convince myself that everything was great. It really was great. Fantastic. Super.

“We haven’t had sex yet,” I blurted out. Oh sweet Circe and Morgana. I hadn’t intended to reveal that little tidbit. I sounded like an idiot.

Ruth took it all in stride. “Rose, every couple makes that very personal decision when the time is right. There isn’t a schedule or anything. Perhaps Scorpius doesn’t think you’re ready?”

“I am ready,” I retorted. Boy, was I ready. I wanted to jump his bones every chance I got. It just - never seemed to happen. It’s not like we don’t do things. We definitely enjoy our time together. But, there was something missing. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but we always seemed to stop before anything got too close to the real deal.

“Have you discussed this with him?” she asked casually. She really was a natural at this. I couldn’t have this conversation with Selenia - she and Al had been together for so long, they don’t even remember the discomfort and awkwardness that accompanies taking steps forward in a new relationship.

“We’re not that great at talking,” I said meeting her eyes. She had this way of looking at me that wasn’t judgmental at all, but still told me that I wasn’t exactly being honest.

I bit my lip. That wasn’t true. We could talk about anything. Except us.

Healer Vanadi didn’t say anything, just lifted her head up and raised her eyebrows so nudge me a bit.

“Alright,” I admitted, “I’m not that great at talking.” The last time I had tried to talk to Scorpius about ‘us,’ only jibberish had come out of my mouth.

“Talking isn’t the only way couples communicate with one another,” she paused to let me think this though.

“I just…. I don’t - I don’t really know if he wants to… erm… be with me,” I said, looking away in discomfort. I didn’t need him to actually say the words either, I just got the feeling that something was a bit… off.

When my eyes landed back on Ruth, her lips were twisted in an odd shape and her eyes were really bright. I was thoroughly confused.

“Rose,” she said deliberately as if she were trying not to let the words come out too fast. “you said that Scorpius and you have been interested in each other since your Hogwarts days?”

“Yeah, fifth year. Or maybe earlier. I don’t know exactly.”

“And you both are now what? Twenty years old?”

“He was twenty-one last month,” I replied.

“Well, although it is not my specialty, I have spent enough time around men in general to feel fairly confident in saying that a healthy, twenty-one year old male who has spent the last six years or so pining after one woman wants to have sex with her.” Her face split into a wide smile and she couldn’t suppress a light guffaw.

I started to giggle. Dom was right - I could be seriously thick sometimes. Scorpius was most likely waiting for me to give him a sign. Yet again, we had fallen victim to the ‘let’s not talk about it curse.’ How many times were we going to dance this dance before we figured it out?

“All available medical personnel report immediately to the triage area. Repeat: All available medical personnel report immediately to the triage area.”

I stood up. “Ruth, I have to respond to that.”

She raised herself out of the chair. “Normally, I would be responding as well, but there is another therapist on duty. I’m actually going on holiday early and then sabbatical for the next four months. I’ll be returning mid-April, remember? I mentioned this earlier?”

I nodded and smiled. “Have a great time in Bulgaria! Wish I could stay and say a proper thank you and good-bye-”

“No worries,” she said. “You can always owl me if you need to.”

I nodded again on my way out of the door.

*

The scene that assaulted my eyes as I entered the emergency waiting room was gruesome. Patients were everywhere – at least seventy of them. They were stretched across the waiting chairs, lying on the floors, leaning against walls as they groaned in pain, clasping around their middles or clutching their chests. Some of them held rags to their bloodied wounds, but most showed no sign of trauma – other than their cries of anguish.

All the healer trainees and other responding medi-persons were briefed in the far corner of the room. There had been a horrible accident during a ministry test conducted at an offsite location. The Department of Magical Transportation was trying out some new method of transport. We weren’t given any more specifics, other than something had gone terribly wrong.

At this point, the healers were treating people in the waiting area, because all the rooms had filled up and they were coming in faster and sicker than we could manage. Our orders were to stand at the ready until assigned a job by Healer Lawrence, the head of St. Mungo’s, who was currently interrogating the ministry official in charge of the test. They were speaking loudly against the wall not too far from where we were all standing by.

“MacLaggen, I need to know exactly what happened, or I can’t treat these people!” Healer Lawrence was a very intimidating man, both physically and in temperament. He towered over McLaggen, who was tall in his own right. He didn’t beat around the bush; he had a hospital to run.

“I can’t say exactly,” MacLaggen responded, sounding exasperated and frantic at the same time. He was quite tall and would be considered handsome under normal circumstances. My parents knew him from Hogwarts, but I don’t remember them talking about him a lot. “It should’ve worked. All the magical theory was sound. This was going to change magical transportation forever,” MacLaggen trailed off, staring at the people writhing in pain around the waiting area.

“Get a hold of yourself!” Lawrence barked at him and fisting the ministry wizard’s robes. Not one hair on Hr. Lawrence’s thick, graying head wavered. He pulled MacLaggen toward him, “WHAT WAS THE SPELL?”

“No spell... not a spell,” MacLaggen dropped his head to his hands and Lawrence let go, defeated. “I don’t know what went wrong. It should’ve worked. It was a magical combination between a portkey and apparition. We designed the bus with the ability to take over sixty people at once! Sixty! I was going down as the wizard who completely re-defined…”

“So you didn’t use any particular spell?” Lawrence growled, rubbing his neatly trimmed beard. He was losing his temper with MacLaggen. When the ministry official just shook his head that he was still grasping in his hands, the healer let out a strangled cry and turned to survey the chaos around the room.

All of us trainees were ready to report to whatever duty we were assigned. Obviously the first and second years would only be able to assist, but us third years would be able to take on some of the simpler cases.

“Weasley, we need you over here, STAT!” Healer Lawrence shouted as he walked away from a defeated MacLaggen. I was surprised he had called on me, of all the third year trainees. Although I wasn’t surprised he knew my name - everyone knew my name.

All the same, Healer Lawrence had been very vocal about his thoughts on the ministry. He claimed the Ministry of Magic usually got in the way of the hospital’s ability to do its job. From time to time, the ministry puts undercover aurors in the hospital to protect a certain patient who had been attacked. The hospital has its own security and Lawrence views ministry protection as a knock on his ability to maintain safety in his own building. Given my family connections with some fairly high ranking ministry officials, I assumed I was not high on his list of healer trainees.

He commanded, “We are short staffed at the moment. I hear from your teachers that you are the top of your class. I need you to attend to those three patients straight away!” He pointed to a group across the room. I was in shock. Not only did he need me to help him, he wanted me because I was good. I shook my head to avoid the ego trip I was about to take and ran to his side.

“Yes, sir! What is their status, sir?”

“I don’t know Weasley, that is what you have to determine!” he barked at me, the disappointment poorly hidden in his voice. My temporary high was suddenly deflated and I was determined to make a good first impression with my abilities. “Take Astatine with you,” he commanded, “there aren’t any more medi-persons available.”

Astatine was an older witch who served as a hospital assistant. It was her voice that had heralded the cry for all medical personnel to report just moments before. She wasn’t medically trained, but she knew every department really well. She even worked with us trainees, as our records keeper, assigning us our weekly rounds and organizing our classes as well as the application process for the program. Everyone in the building knew her well, with her wispy white hair and sharp, cockney accent.

“Oi! Guess we be workin’ together, love!” her accent coming through. She followed along behind me as I mentally switched my brain from the one filling in the charts to the one giving the orders.

My first act was to triage each patient quickly. There were two middle aged men and a woman who looked to be close to Victoire’s age – mid to late twenties. She had some lacerations to the left side of her face and some broken ribs. I fixed these up quickly and then had her rest on a spare gurney for a few minutes, promising I would be back to check on her later.

All around me, the commotion was mounting. Healers were running around, potions were being summoned and patients were being levitated to other parts of the hospital. Others that did not make it were being vanished to the morgue. The sound of moaning and pain permeated through the voices of the healers, giving orders to their assistants. Thus far, no one seemed to have determined what was causing all their pain.

I turned to the two wizards who were my charges. Upon further inspection, the first one was only partially splinched across his chest. It was mostly superficial and I was able to heal him quickly after summoning some dittany.

I was just finishing up with the other wizard when I heard a strangled voice say, “Healer! Oh Heale-” it was cut off by the sound of severe coughing. Instantly, I looked up to see the woman I had just healed violently coughing and struggling to get breath.

“Astatine! I pointed to the wizard that I was in the process of healing. “Give him one vial of curatio dolor and mark the time in his chart,” I ordered as I ran to the young woman immediately. She was clutching the same side of the ribs I had just healed. Did they break again? There must be something else going on.

I did a quick scan with my wand and realized something was really wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. She was still coughing, but losing her breath quickly. I performed the bone healing spell again. She responded by screeching out in pain.

“Intra vide,” I hovered my wand over her chest and whispered the complicated x-ray charm that would allow me to see inside her rib cage without opening her up. I wasn’t sure it would work. Most healers couldn’t even do it without the aid of additional equipment, but I had spent weeks practicing last summer, just in case I needed it.

“Oh, Merlin.” I couldn’t believe my eyes. Her insides were all twisted up and in the wrong order.

“Two vials of curatio dolor over here, Astatine, straight away please!” The helper was immediately at my side, conjuring the pain relief medication I ordered as I tried to figure out what was going on.

“Love, she’s gone out!” Astatine couldn’t even administer the potion because the woman had stopped breathing and was unconscious. Her head lolled back and she was very, very still. I performed the spell to clear her airway, knowing that time was precious. Nothing happened.

“Ictus,” I pointed my wand at her chest. Her body pulsed once, but she lay unstirring immediately after. Still no breathing. I had to get her heart beating again or she wouldn’t be able to survive the other spells I needed to sort out her insides.

“She’s splinched from the inside,” I said aloud to Astatine. I had never seen or heard of anything like this. “It must’ve been from the combination of the portkey and apparition bus! The two forms of magic must have scrambled her from the inside out!”

“Ictus Maxima!” I said louder. Another electric shock was administered to her system and her body convulsed for an instant but again, no response. No, no, no, no.

I tried a general body-healing spell we had learned last year. I tried another spell to right her internal organs. I tried the ictus maxima again and again and again.

I was wracking my brain for any other spell that might manage to get her heart pumping. Why couldn’t I think of anything? I knew there was a spell out there, but everything I was coming up was unsuccessful. Something must work. Something had to work.

“Love,” I heard a strong cockney accent say as a soft, wrinkled hand rested on my wand arm. “It’s too late, love,”

No, no. Merlin, no. This woman was the same age as Victoire. They probably went to Hogwarts together.

Another ‘ictus maxima’ and then another spell, I don’t even remember what it was.

“I’m sorry, love,” Astatine was talking from somewhere far away. “You mus’ call time o’ death.”

“No! I just need to remember the spell!”

Rose,” The old woman’s voice was louder now. I was frozen. Just staring at this young, beautiful, lifeless woman before me. My wand was still poised at her chest. The sounds of the hospital were drowned out beyond our little space. We were in a cloud that held only Astatine, me and this poor woman.

“Rose, love. You did everythin’ you coul’. We forget sometimes, that e’en tho’ we ‘ave magic, we is still ‘uman.”

I shook my head and pulled in a breath through my nose, still not believing this was happening. My eyes found the large clock that loomed high on the wall and I called time of death.

Astatine whispered the vanishing spell away and suddenly the woman was gone. Not there. Only an empty hospital bed remained. I turned slowly around and was mildly surprised to see that there was still a crisis going on. My other two patients seemed to be doing well and Astatine moved them to the other side of the room, where a recovery station had been set up. I turned completely around again to see the empty gurney.

She was dead.

Dead. I was her healer and I couldn’t save her. She was so young.

I was still staring at her empty bed, trying to gather my thoughts when I heard a familiar strangled cough and a gasp for breath behind me.

I spun around. “Check for internal splinching!” I shouted to the healer working on a young man behind me. “Everyone! Listen up!” I stood on the nearest chair and pointed my wand at my throat, muttered sonorus, and spoke loudly.

“CHECK ALL PATIENTS FOR INTERNAL SPLINCHING! THE BUS ACCIDENT MUST’VE SPLINCHED THEM FROM THE INSIDE!”

“CHECK EVERYONE!” Healer Lawrence’s voice boomed above everything else going on in the ward. “DID YOU HEAR HER?! EACH AND EVERY PATIENT GETS ASSESSED FOR INTERNAL SPLINCHING!”

The pace in the already busy room accelerated. Healers taught the assistants the correcting spell for the simple cases. The more complicated ones were instantly moved to the severe curses ward. I jumped down off the chair and helped out where I could, performing the x-ray charm and healing any wound that came my way.

It was too late for some. We couldn’t save everybody. By the end of it, most patients were in recovery or had died from injuries that were too severe. All total, we lost fifteen of the seventy-three victims. Some of them weren’t even on the bus; they had just been standing nearby, monitoring the test.

Healer Lawrence found me as I was making my way to the staff room for a much needed shower.

“Nice work, Weasley,” he shook my hand. I nodded my thanks, but it didn’t make me feel any better.

“I lost my first patient today,” my voice sounded robotic because I was trying not to cry in front of him. I wanted to act the professional. “I couldn’t save her.”

“The first one is a tough one Weasley,” his normally gruff and dominant voice was suddenly kinder. He rested his hands in the pockets of his robes. “It’s alright to be upset,” I blinked at the tears that were coming, but it wasn’t enough to hold them back.

“Hell, they are all tough. If it gets easy to lose someone, then you know you have been doing this too long…” He looked around the room, surveying the remainder of the cases that were left. His words comforted me a tiny bit.

“But you saved lives today, Weasley – don’t forget that. The death toll would’ve been much higher if you hadn’t figured out the internal splinching. I hope that bumbling ministry moron gets a few months in Azkaban for this. Playing with people’s lives like that…” he shook his head.

I wiped a few of my tears away, still haunted by the face of the woman from earlier. I didn’t even know her name.

“Go home, Weasley. That’s an order. And remember – you saved lives today. That’s another order.”

I nodded toward him and headed to the staff room where I could have a complete breakdown.

*

I cried all the way down to the trainee staff room. Part of me felt foolish. I knew this was part of it. Death is a part of life. Dealing with death is part of the job description of a healer. We even had seminars on how to break it to the families of the deceased. But no one ever tells you about the empty, helpless feeling that tunnels through your center. They don’t warn you what it is like to stare down at someone when they can’t hear or see or feel anymore. I felt like a little part of me was gone too. I couldn’t help comparing the young woman to Victoire. She may have been a newlywed too, just starting a life with her Hogwarts sweetheart.

When I got to the staff room the other first, second and third years were there and we cried together. Some of them had lost their first patient as well. We held on to each other through our first, real tragedy. There were many hugs and words of encouragement. Some of the trainees were related to some of the victims, but thankfully, not any of the ones who didn’t make it.

Wolfie Longbottom had an arm comfortingly around my shoulders. “Great job today, Rose. If you hadn’t figured out about the splinching on the inside, I know we would’ve lost loads more today. I was able to save two ministry workers.”

One of the first years piped up. “Right after you announced to check for internal damage, the healer I worked with acted so quickly, it made my head spin! There were three victims right in front of us and all three made it.” Slowly the talk turned from stories of grief to stories of those who pulled through and I felt my spirits lift slightly.

I fell apart all over again in the shower. It got to the point when I couldn’t even hold myself up anymore. After I cried out every last tear, I pulled myself up and took a few more moments to calm down.

Checking the clock as I got dressed, I was surprised that it wasn’t even 5:00 pm. It felt much, much later. The victims had started to arrive around 9:00 am. The world seemed so different than it had been this morning. The hole inside me was still pushing through my center and I didn’t know how long it was going to be there. There would be no more tears – I had cried everything I could, but the emptiness that was left began to ache.

The ache continued - until I walked back into the staff room and saw him.

“Oh, Scorp!” I ran across the room in my clean healer robes and wrapped myself around him. The hole began to fill up.

He lifted me easily off the floor to hold me tight to his six foot two frame. I buried my face in his shoulder and breathed in his scent. Bit by bit, I was becoming whole again.

Scorpius was gripping me just as tightly. “The others told me about your day. Are you alright?”

I didn’t lift my head, but nodded into his shoulder. “I think I am now,” I said. “I just want to be close to you.”

“They said you figured out what was causing the damage and saved loads of lives. I’m so proud of you, Rose,” I slid down his front so I could stand and grasped both his hands in mine.

“It was terrible,” I said. His eyes pierced mine with great concern. “We lost fifteen patients and one of them… was… mine.” Deep, steadying breath.

He gripped me around my waist and rested his chin on my head. Just being with him and touching him was so soothing.

I leaned up for a proper kiss. “Did Selenia head out already?”

He nodded. “She asked Al to take her out tonight. She just wanted to get away for a few hours. They wondered if we wanted to join them. What would you like to do?”

“I want…” I paused, thinking it through. “I just want to be near you,” I said honestly. The only thing I could think about was never letting go of him.

*

We apparated home to an empty Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place. All of the others were out, as was usual for a Friday night.

“You must be starved,” Scorpius commented. I had missed lunch and I was a Weasley, after all.

“Not really,” I hadn’t let go of his hand. I felt like his touch was keeping me from going everywhere at once and the adrenaline was still pumping from the day’s events. “I just… need to be close to you,” I wrapped myself around him again and inhaled, using his cedar scent to calm my nerves.

“Is this close enough?” he encircled my waist with his arms and pulled me into him.

I shook my head. “Closer,” I said.

He whisked me off my feet and carried me bridal style up to my – our room.

“Is this close enough?” he half-joked as he laid me down on the bed and settled in comfortably next to me. He twisted a piece of my hair in the hand that was propping himself up on one elbow and traced some of the freckles on my face with his fingertips of his other hand.

The contact was sending waves through my skin right to my core. I brushed his lips with my thumb and then next moment grasped his head in my hands, pulling him down to me. I needed more - more of him against me. My hands fisted the hair on the back of his head as my lips attacked his jawline, face and neck.

I sat up and pulled my healer robes off. As I cast them over the side of the bed, he did the same with his training robes. I crawled toward him and sat in his lap with my legs wrapped around him. Our foreheads leaned together, but our eyes never left each other’s.

Scorpius’s hands lovingly caressed up and down my back, landing on my hips.

“Is this close enough?” he whispered in feather light touches across my lips.

“Closer,” I said, tugging on the hem of his shirt. “I need to be closer to you.”

“Rose… are you sure?” And then I saw it. His eyes were full of hunger. Even though his words said that it was alright if we didn’t, his eyes told another story. Finally, I knew what Ruth had been talking about.

“Closer.” I pulled off his shirt and kissed him with all my want and need. I was all passion and haste, grasping at all of him at once.

He nodded as he rested one hand on my shoulder and lifted my chin with the other one, forcing our eyes to lock. “Closer,” he whispered, slowing our pace and ghosting my cheek with the backs of his smooth fingers. His hands traveled carefully, lazily. Everywhere he touched was slow fire and steady tingling. I fell into him.

*

Merlin, Rose.” Scorpius snuggled into me as I pressed heady kisses all over his chest. “That was bloody…”

“Amazing,” I finished for him. He reached down and tilted my head up.

You are bloody amazing,” his eyes pierced my own.

We both sat up and he wrapped himself around me, resting my back against his chest as I shivered a bit from the chilled air. My eyes closed with complete contentment as my stomach let out a dissatisfied growl. I giggled. “I think I may be a bit hungry now.”

“It’s about time!” he popped off the bed and threw on his tee shirt and trousers. “Get ready for ‘Malfoy’s Marvelous Meatloaf’ – ready in under ten minutes!” he grinned at me and leaned in for a quick kiss, pausing to stroke his fingers at the back of my neck. “Meet you downstairs, love?”

I nodded back, letting out another giggle at how hopelessly adorable he was. Then crack, he apparated himself downstairs to begin preparing our dinner.

I stood to throw on the most comfortable clothes I could find when an absolutely brilliant idea came to me. I didn’t have much time, as the promise of dinner was only a few minutes away, so I ran across the hall to Dom’s room, searching for the necessities.

*

“It smells absolutely wonderful,” I commented about ten minutes later as I entered the kitchen.

“Well,” he didn’t look up as he placed two thick slices of the meatloaf on two plates for us and expertly poured some heavenly-smelling gravy over the top. “It was my Mum’s recipe. It was one of the first things she taught me to cook,” he moved his attention to the task of adding a generous helping of haricot verts to each plate.

“… and Voila!” he lifted one plate in each hand and turned toward the table, but didn’t quite make it there. He had stopped short once he saw me standing in the doorway, wearing Dom’s bronze colored sequined dress that came to just above my knee and a navy blue wrap. I had used a quick spell to fix my hair and let it hang long and wavy down my shoulders and back. I had even put on makeup.

Scorpius just stood there, holding the plates in midair. For several moments all he did was open and close his mouth.

My mouth was watering and I couldn’t wait to taste the wonderful dinner. But I was thoroughly enjoying watching his reaction to me. I raised my head higher and revelled for just a moment before I spoke…

“I want to go out.”




A/N:  Aaaaaand whaddya think?  I'd love to know!

 


Chapter 14: Breakout: Rose POV
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“I want to go out,” I said, surprising myself.

After a lovely and completely filling dinner, Scorpius changed into a fetching pair of black trousers and a dark grey jumper. We spent a few, serious moments snogging before regaining our equilibrium and he held out his hand to me like I was a princess. He had the widest grin on his face and I knew that my own made us a matched set. After another slow kiss that made my insides zing, we apparated to Diagon Alley – just outside ‘The Quaffle.’ The new pub opened up about a year before by Oliver Wood and a few other retired quidditch players. It’s where everyone congregated on the weekends.

We hurried inside, escaping the chilled December air to find The Quaffle was completely packed. We were thrust immediately into a mass of people. After our quiet evening together, the noise from the music and crowd was deafening. That, accompanied by the smell of humidity, ale and butterbeer was an assault to the senses. Scorpius put a protective arm around me. I couldn’t see very much as the horde of people began to blur. I was getting pushed and bumped around by drunks trying to pass through to the bar. My gut knotted. Oh please, not now. Not a panic attack. I tensed up.

“Hey,” Scorpius turned me around carefully as the mob closed in on us and put both hands on either side of my face, blocking out the crowd and touching our foreheads together. “You want to head back? We definitely don’t have to stay here. We can just walk around Diagon Alley if you want.”

“Uh-uh,” I shook my head, closing my eyes briefly to get my bearings. “Just give me a minute.” I wasn’t going to let this get the best of me.

“Hey, Scorp!” I heard from across the room. “Over here!” said the familiar voice. I let Scorpius lead me over to a set of pub tables up against a wall on the far side of the tavern. It was a little quieter when we got there and I was relieved to see the voice belonged to James. He was standing with Samara, Lily, Fred and even Molly was there with Wolfram. Albus and Selenia were wrapped around each other in the corner and didn’t seem to notice they were in a bar with about 200 people around.

“Rose!” Fred saw me first. He enveloped me in a big hug and stood back. “You look great!”

“Yeah, Rosie,” James commented. “There’s something different about you…” I quickly looked away to avoid them seeing the flush in my face. Scorpius’s hand slid gently up my back and pressed firmly around my shoulders. As usual, his touch grounded me and eased my breathing.

“Hey, Lils! You guys are home for Christmas Holidays?” I quickly said, giving her a hug. A small pang of guilt pulsed in my stomach. I hadn’t even checked in with Hugo.

“Just back today,” she replied. “Hugo is staying to do some work with professor Longbottom.” It figures. Hugo was really into plants. I was sure that Professor Longbottom would be returning in a week or so - definitely before Christmas, I would be sure to check on my brother then.

I was startled by a crushing force around my arms and I tensed for an instant before I realized it was Albus. “You’re here!” he screamed like a little kid who just saw Santa Claus. He was bouncing up and down. He stood back and looked at me pointedly. “You look really good, like really good,” he commented.

The rest of the group nodded and before we got back on this topic of conversation, I decided to head them off. “It’s just been a long time since I’ve been out!”

It worked.

“I think you look radiant,” Selenia beamed, a sly grin on her face. I knew that I couldn’t fool my best friend, but I also knew that she had enough discretion to wait until later to ask for specifics. I couldn’t hold the smile off my face, anyway. Samara was nodding alongside Selenia in agreement. They were both incredibly beautiful, but in opposite ways.

Selenia was the dark haired stunner with pale skin and sparkling, deep blue eyes. Her hair was short and straight. Since starting training, she had kept it cropped in a pixie cut that accented her heart-shaped face. She always dressed smart, but added her own flair. For example, tonight she was wearing a chocolate brown pencil skirt with a cream colored cowl neck sweater. She had offset the simple outfit with a chunky orange bracelet and a thin gold belt.

Samara, in contrast had gorgeous long blond hair that was never out of place. She always looked tan – like she had just come back from vacation in the south of France. Her makeup was perfect and she wore a confidence that said she knew she could get any bloke in the place. Sporting a black and white large print maxi dress with a diamond necklace, anyone else would seem overdressed for a bar scene, but Samara Tinsman pulled it off. And although they seemed a bit of a contradiction, she was the perfect match for James.

I usually felt a little self-conscious around these two girls. They were both so put together. Tonight was different. I was with Scorpius – finally. Not that I felt that I was just as stylish or with it as they were, I was just so happy. “Thanks,” I smiled to both of them. “The dress is Dom’s.”

“Speaking of,” James’s head swung around. “She’s here somewhere with Jax. I am sure she would want to see you… What can I get you to drink?”

“Firewhiskey,” I said without hesitation. “I’m making up for lost time.”

“Make it two,” Scorpius added. And then quietly so only I could hear, “No more lost time for either of us,” I felt my insides melt. I leaned up and planted a deep kiss (with tongue) right there in front of everyone. He reciprocated willingly and placed a hand on my cheek to make the kiss last longer.

“Oi! Scorp! She is our cousin, you know. If we could keep the public displays to a minimum that would be appreciated,” Albus was mocking his shock. What a hypocrite. He and Selenia were practically dry humping in the corner a few minutes ago. Not to mention what they do at other times. I decided to give him a taste of his own medicine.

“Like we haven’t had to listen to the two of you go at it all hours of the night,” I grinned. “You know, my room is directly below yours, Albus, and a silencing charm is not the worst idea,” I mock-scolded him. He gave a sheepish grin and Selenia turned her head into his shoulder, growing redder by the second, but giggling all the same. I know the two of them are really in love, and it doesn’t matter to me what they do together, it just felt great to be having a normal conversation that normal people my age have with each other.

The night went on like that for a while. Scorp’s mentee stopped to say a quick hello – Caesar Corner. We had played quidditch together and I remember that he was a fairly decent player. I knew Scorpius was happy to be working with him. He was at the pub with Colleen Creevey, Dom’s mentee. They made a cute couple. Scorp looked shocked to see them snogging each other. Men can be so clueless. We also got to meet Al’s mentee, Kali Goldstein. After talking to her for ten seconds I knew exactly why Scorpius said she was a great match with him. She will definitely keep him on his toes.

We all talked and even danced a little. After a few rounds, I figured it was my turn to buy. “Another round?” I asked over my shoulder as I headed toward the bar. Scorpius sent me a worried look and I knew what he was thinking. “I’m fine,” I mouthed at him and sent a grin his way. I wanted him to know how much fun I was having. He relaxed a little, but didn’t move his gaze from me.

“’Ello Love,” the bartender said in a familiar cockney accent.

“Astatine!” I exclaimed, “You work here?”

“Yes, love,” she replied. “Don’t pay me ‘nuff at St. Mungo’s, do they? Anyway, this place is fun. I like seeing all the young folks. Sorry, dear, but I never noticed you ‘ere before.”

“I haven’t been out in a while,” I really didn’t want to go into the details. I think she caught on, because she changed the subject. “What is you drinkin’?”

“Eight Firewhiskeys and two butterbeers please!” I said, after counting in my head the number in our fairly large party. She moved quickly for a witch in her sixties and promptly delivered my order. I left her a ten knut tip.

“See,” I said to Scorpius when I got back with the tray of drinks. I was trying to sound reproachful, but it is so hard when your face it simply beaming because you are so smitten. I knew his eyes had never left me.

“It’s all good,” I pecked him on the cheek. He stretched his hand to the back of my neck and brought me in for a more proper kiss, lightly tickling with his fingers. The tingling down my spine combined with the scent of citrus and cedar made my head swim.

“Now, it’s all good,” he said and flashed me a smile as he turned back to talk to Albus. I couldn’t restrain my own smile as I distributed the drinks to the rest of our group.

“Rose, love!” I heard from a few yards away. “AAAAAhh, I can’t believe it! You’re finally here! I just love, my lovely Rose love,”

Dom was drunk. She draped her arms around me. I turned to her and gave her a big hug. “Do you like my outfit?” I asked, taking a step back and twirling.

“You look fa-bu-lous…wait – did you have SEX?” she screamed. “Did you finally shag Scorpius?” I put my hands on her shoulders and shushed her loudly. Our entire family was basically standing right behind me. When I cautiously looked over my shoulder, Scorpius, Wolfie, Albus, Fred and James appeared to be deep in conversation with each other. Selenia and Samara also had their heads bent together. They weren’t fooling anyone, but I appreciated their attempt at propriety. Lily and Molly were both staring right at me, Molly with a look of utter shock on her face and Lily was giggling uncontrollably. At this point, Jax swooped in to rescue Dom from making a complete fool of herself – and me. “Alright there Rose?” he said, putting his arms around her and snuggling her close.

“I’m great, actually,” I replied. And I was saying it truthfully and wholly for the first time in a long, long time. It felt good to say it when you really felt it.

“That’s because she got lai—”

“Alright, love,” Jax squeezed Dom a little tighter. In reality, the three firewhiskeys I had drunk had made it so that I cared a lot less about her comments than I would have normally, but I didn’t think this was the time or place to clarify my sexual status.

After seeing that Dom’s filter was somewhat reestablished, Jax wandered over to the group of boys and we talked with Lily and Molly for a few minutes for some much-needed “cousin time.” Dom caught us up on Victoire and Teddy. Molly talked about what Lucy was up to. Lily was just excited that her parents had let her come out tonight. She was still a sixth year, but Aunt Ginny had agreed as long as Albus was with her.

I looked over at Scorpius and was pleased to see him in an animated conversation with James and Albus, no doubt about quidditch, by the gestures they were all making. Fred had, as usual, charmed his way to the only two girls not related to us in our party and was talking with Selenia and Samara about Merlin knows what. He was quite the smooth one. They were both sucked in by his dark skin and sexy grin. He always could snag any girl he wanted. It is a good thing that James and Albus were so confident with their women. Any other bloke would have been green with jealousy.

The night ambled on with drinks, good friends I hadn’t seen since Hogwarts days and, of course, my family. A few hours later, I found myself alone standing quietly against the wall, finally getting a little sleepy when Al came up to me and put an arm around my shoulders.

“It’s really, really good to see you out, Rosie,” he said earnestly. “We were all really worried about you – for a long time,”

“I know Al,” I felt myself getting a little emotional and I put an arm around his waist. “I’m not one hundred percent yet, but I’m getting there. Scorpius helps. A lot.” I looked around for him, but didn’t see where he was. Probably at the loo. Actually, I didn’t see anyone around. The pub was still busy, but there were significantly less people than when we had arrived. Wolfram had taken Molly home about an hour before and Samara and Selenia just left together, both having to get up early tomorrow. Dom and Jax had wandered off to talk to some of his quidditch buddies. James was working the crowd with Fred– they knew just about everyone in the pub.

“Where’s Lily?” I asked, realizing I hadn’t seen her since Molly left.

“In the back room with some seventh year git,” Al looked down at the floor, clearly irritated. He grimaced at his shoes and I knew he had been just chewed out by her. Lily had a temper to match her mothers and being the youngest with two brothers sometimes was just too much for her.

“Lily can take care of herself,” I tried to console him.

“Yeah, I just worry about…all you girls. Rose, if I never said it before, I want you to know that I’m really glad you and Scorpius are together. It seems like he helped bring you back.”

“You might want to mention that to my father. I don’t know how on board he’s gonna be when he gets the memo about us.”

“He’ll come around… maybe,” Al faltered. “Ron Weasley is a tough nut to crack. Anyway, what I wanted to say is that it works both ways. You helped Scorpius come back too. We thought for a little while he was headed for eternal dickheadedness.”

I laughed out loud. I don’t think I could’ve had this conversation with anyone else in my family except Albus, not even Dom. Al squeezed me a little tighter and I reached up and grabbed him in the tightest hug I’d given anyone since I was a little kid.

“I love you too, Al,” my voice was thick. I was so lucky to have the best family in the world.

“Hey, what’re you doing with my woman?” Scorpius boomed in mock alarm.

Al transferred my hug over to him. “I have more than I can handle, as it is,” he joked. He patted Scorpius on the shoulder. “It’s good to see the two of you smile.” Wow. If I didn’t know Al better, I would’ve thought he was drunk. I gave my cousin a warm smile as Scorpius pulled me in tighter.

All at once there began a disturbance in the pub. It started by the door and traveled in a wave across the entire building. There were gasps of shock and then screams of terror. I was so confused. Next came the hexes and curses. I couldn’t hear what they were shouting, but rather saw them shooting across in all directions. Scorpius and Al drew their wands first; I followed.

Then we saw them: tall figures in dark masks. It took me several moments to realize they were death eaters. I’d never seen one in person before. They were walking quickly and purposefully, aiming spells at people in their way, all who fell down instantly. Some people came to their senses and began apparating the hell out of there.

Albus pointed his wand toward the ceiling and shouted “Aurelius Adveho!” Red sparks shot up to the ceiling and passed right through it, into the night sky. Scorpius repeated the spell. A few others around the pub did the same. One of the cloaked wizards was headed toward us. I pointed my wand at the figure and – the words left me. He was getting closer. I started to tremble. “Studdify!” I shouted. Nothing happened.

“Petrificus Totalis!” Albus got there first. Scorpius grabbed me and pushed me up against the wall. Placing himself in front of me, he was holding me back with one arm against my chest and the other with his wand pointed at another attacker. “Diffindo!” the death eater was pushed back into the crowd by the force of his spell. Several people fell in a heap on the floor. Aurors were beginning to apparate all over the place and spells were flying everywhere.

“Rose! You have to get out of here. Get to the Potter’s, NOW!” he shouted urgently. My brain finally started to function. “Lily! She’s not of age yet! I have to help her!” Albus heard my cries and turned toward me, white as a ghost. “Shit, Rose, GO GET HER!”

I began to run toward the back room when a spell shot right in front of me. It passed by and hit someone to my right. I couldn’t see who it was, but they immediately crumpled to the ground. I screamed and ducked to the floor. Scorpius, thinking I was hit, roared and ran over to me, aiming a spell at the offending death eater. The man was hit squarely in the chest and flew back several yards across the bar, feet flying over his head. Scorpius pounced like a cat and landed, crouching down next to me. “Rose, Rose, are you okay?”

“Y-yes,” I stammered. “I need to get Lily! She’s in the back room!” Scorpius hoisted me up by my arm and we ran, staying as low as we could to the ground. We reached the back room and it was thankfully empty except for Lily, who was cowering in the corner. I turned to Scorpius. “I want to stay and fight,”

“Look, I can’t argue with you right now. You must get Lily home. She can’t fight and you are both in danger. Please take her wait at the Potter’s for me. I promise I’ll come as soon as this is over.” My retort was on the tip of my tongue when two death eaters paced through the doorway at that moment. Scorpius’s back was turned. I set my wand, but I was shaking so much. “Expularm..” the words faded in my mouth.

“Red!” the first death eater growled. Then he shouted behind him “I’ve found her, she’s back here!” His wand pointed at me and Lily, I panicked again and felt myself sinking into the floorboards. Before either one could get a curse off, Scorpius acted and aimed a protego charm around the three of us. It gave us a few seconds and I remembered my cousin, “Dom! Scorpius, she’s drunk! She’s in no state to fight. We have to get her out of here!”

“She’s an auror and she’s with Jax. We don’t have time to go and look for her. YOU NEED TO GO NOW!” The charm started to fade as more death eaters arrived, hitting the protective bubble with more spells. Without thinking, I grabbed Lily who was crying uncontrollably and turned on the spot, thinking the Potter’s, the Potter’s over and over in my head.




A/N:  So I'm hoping to update a bit faster for the summer.  Please let me know what you think!  Feel free to make any predictions!  ~Beth

 


Chapter 15: Breakable: Rose POV
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Crack.

Somewhere in the back of my mind it registered that the ground beneath me felt squashier than the grungy floorboards of the pub. My knees buckled and hit soft carpet as Lily and I slumped to our the floor, kneeling. My arms were locked tight around her and the only sounds in my ears were her hysterical cries. Someone grabbed me from behind and I turned abruptly around and pointed my wand upward to send a curse at -

“Aunt Ginny!” I cried. I lowered my wand shakily as she knelt down to us and wrapped herself around us.

“Girls, what happened!?” The panic laced the edge of her voice. We were starting to upset her with our hysterics.

“Death eaters… at the pub… attacking everyone…” was all I could choke out. One arm still gripped Lily tightly. I had to consciously relax my muscles. We were at Aunt Ginny’s house. We were safe.

“Death eaters?” Aunt Ginny couldn’t hide the shock in her voice. “Oh, Merlin,” she bit her lip and ran her hand through her hair. She was in her nightdress and had obviously been woken up.

Lily was still sobbing frantically. I brushed my fingers through her hair, trying to soothe her hysterics. “Lily. Lily, love. We are all right. We are home,” I said to her, smoothing the tears from her cheeks.

Lily’s head jerked up and she gasped in fright. I grabbed her eyes with mine before I spoke again, holding her head in my hands firmly, but gently. “You’re alright Lily,” I said in a calming voice, recalling from training how to console an upset patient. As I had learned, my grip relaxed a little and so did Lily. She reached for her mother. Helping her to stand, Aunt Ginny and I guided her to the sofa.

“Where’s Uncle Harry?” I looked around, just realizing that he wasn’t there.

“He was called in to help. There is a spell that Aurors can do to summon each other.”

“Aruelius Adveho.” I just realized what Albus and Scorpius had been doing.

“Yes, that’s it. I am sure that your Dad responded as well…” Aunt Ginny trailed off.

As my breathing returned to a somewhat normal pace, I began to go over the events in my head. Screaming, curses sparking and spiraling through the darkened pub, the tall masked figures taking control… and my panic. I had frozen. What the hell was the matter with me? I had an E in defense N.E.W.T.s and I couldn’t think of the proper ‘stupefy’ spell or ‘expeliarmus’? Terror welled up inside me once more. I could have put everyone in danger. I should be there, fighting with them. I didn’t like being stuck here, not knowing what was going on. I wanted to go back, to help.

Was Scorpius okay? There were loads of death eaters in the back room. I had left Scorpius alone to fight them all. We had both left Al behind to get to Lily. How many death eaters did Al have to fight alone? What about James? And Fred? And Dom? Oh shit! Did Dom get out? Was Jax with her?

The anxiety and dread swirled in my gut, simultaneously pulling me upwards to a panic and downwards through the horror of my entire family being under attack. Face after face of my loved ones screamed through my mind. My hands flew up to my head to hold myself together.

“Aunt Ginny, they are all there! Fred, Albus, James, Dom, Scorpius…” and I was here – in the safety of the Potter’s living room. Doing absolutely nothing.

“Rose, it will be okay,” Aunt Ginny reached for me from her position on the couch. She was holding on to Lily, who had begun to cry harder now. “Harry and your Dad have been on hundreds of these types of missions and they have always come back,” she spoke to both of us. While her words tried to sound reassuring, her voice sounded worried. “The best thing we can do is to take our mind off of it. I’ll make some tea.” Tea? Is she for real? Our entire family is under attack and she wants to make a cup of fucking tea?! Aunt Ginny gently lifted Lily from the sofa and steered her into the kitchen.

I stayed behind, dumbfounded. I knew my Dad was an Auror and I knew he went on missions and had to fight death eaters, but until tonight, I never thought about what that really meant. I figured the Aurors were always going to win – we are the good guys, right? Anger began to seep up from inside me. I was angry at Aunt Ginny for trivializing the situation, I was angry at the death eaters for attacking all those people, but most of all, I was angry at myself. How could I just freeze like that? Scorpius could have been hit by a curse while he was trying to deal with me. That first death eater could have hexed all three of us while my spell failed to attack. I can’t always assume that Scorpius or someone else will be around to protect me.

Instead of going into the kitchen with Aunt Ginny and Lily, I tromped down into the cellar. Uncle Harry had put in a practice dueling room down there. There were wooden dummies that had fake wands. They were charmed to point and block. Uncle Harry had made sure that all of his kids and all of us Weasleys knew basic defense against the dark arts skills from a young age. He didn’t have anything against the DADA professor at Hogwarts; he just didn’t want any of us to be in a situation where we didn’t know how to protect ourselves.

Exactly like what had happened to me tonight.

We would gather weekly at the Potters and practice during summer holiday. I don’t know exactly how we were allowed to do magic down here when we were underage, but I guess the ministry made an exception for Harry Potter. He showed us all the basic spells. Every single one of us could produce a corporeal patronus before fifth year. Right now, I was so disappointed in myself, but I was angrier because I felt that I had let Uncle Harry down. I was more than angry, I was pissed off, I was furious.

“Stupefy!” I shouted at the first dummy. “Stupefy! Stupefy! Stupefy!” I went down the line of dummies and hit every one with the spell. I did it again, and again. Until the stupefy charm was embedded in my head. I then proceeded with expeliarmus, diffindo, reducto, protego, impedimentia, and any other defense spell I could think of. I went down the line again and again. Then I began to mix it up. Just like a Ravenclaw, I was studying the spells. I was committing them to memory as if there would be some kind of exam at the end of the chapter.

Finally, fatigue overcame me. I knew that I could practice with these dummies for days and days, but it wouldn’t matter unless I had an actual opponent to determine my abilities. Looking up at the dummies, I realized that I had pretty much pulverized most of them.

I was wracking my brain for a spell to fix them, when Aunt Ginny appeared at the bottom of the stairs. I stared blankly from the other end of the room, sitting on the floor in exhaustion, with my arms wrapped around my knees. “Instar Reparo,” she spun her wand round the room as she headed toward me and the dummies instantly were made right again.

“It’s harder, you know,” she said, sitting next to me on the floor, “being the one who stays behind. It takes a lot of trust and faith to believe they are going to come back. The one saving grace I can tell you is that it gets easier. However, being the wife - or girlfriend - of an auror takes a special person. A strong person.” She paused and waited for me to say something.

“I don’t feel like a strong person,” I commented, pulling my frizzing hair out of the loosened hair tie. My fingers pulled the unruly curls tights and twisted it back into a ponytail without thinking. Most days, I felt like a stiff breeze would break me in two. Every time I think I might be getting better, something comes along to remind me how fragile I am. “I hate feeling this way…”

“Rose,” her voice was tentative, “you’ve been through something that would cripple even the strongest, most confident woman… something that I would never wish on… anyone.” I looked up at her, surprised. She knew.

“Harry told me,” she explained. “Please – don’t be angry. I think he just really needed to talk to someone about it. You are very special to him and I think... sometimes, he feels that he fought so hard for years so that his family wouldn’t have to suffer.”

“I-I didn’t tell him to make him feel bad,” I was very quiet, taking it all in.

“We know that, love,” Aunt Ginny’s voice broke. Since I could remember, I’ve never seen my Aunt Ginny cry. Her arms fell around my quivering body as she choked out a sob. As my hair became damp from her tears, she said, “I am just so sorry that I didn’t know earlier. Harry is too. We could have been there for you. I can’t even imagine how hard this has been.”

She sniffed in a deep breath to compose herself and spoke deliberately and slowly, “and I think, if you were willing to share this with your Mum, you might find that she understands better than you realize.”

I pulled away and looked up at her, completely shocked. I couldn’t even get air into my lungs because those muscles had ceased to work. Her words did not get past me. I knew what she was implying.

“Mum…?” the word was blocked in my throat, and I couldn’t go on.

“The war was really tough for all of us,” she described. “Harry and your Mum and Dad saw the most horrifying things; dark magic, wizards who were pure evil, wizards and witches who followed evil for the sake of power. They were underground for almost a year and were even caught at one point and taken as prisoners to... Malfoy Manor. Because of your Mum’s blood status, she was... tortured.”

My stomach twisted as nausea flowed over me. My eyes couldn’t leave Aunt Ginny’s face. No wonder my Dad hated the Malfoys. I bet Scorpius didn’t even know about this. I mean it’s not like you go around telling your kid stories from the good old days when your house was used as a POW camp and a hideout for pure evil. How did my Mum ever get through all of it? She didn’t even have her family to help her. I am pretty sure she left out specific details when she reinstated her parent’s memories and explained to them about the Wizarding war.

Aunt Ginny continued, her voice gaining strength. “I think that is why Harry became an auror. He knew – and still knows – that there will always be people out there, seeking power and pushing the dark arts. He feels a duty to the Wizarding world to do the best he can.”

“I think Scorpius wants to be an auror because he wants the world to know that he can be better than his family name,” I said. “He has a really good heart, Aunt Ginny. He has helped me so much. I don’t think he knows very much about his parents’ past. He didn’t even grow up in Malfoy Manor. His father sold it shortly after Lucius and Narcissa died.” My mind wandered back to the pub and the fighting. Waiting was torture. Who was hurt? I couldn’t even let my mind think that any of them might be worse…

“Rose? Love?” I heard Mum’s voice at the other end of the room and my head shot up. Aunt Ginny and I both looked up at her. Her eyes were red and swollen with tears.

“Mum? How long have you been here?” I didn’t need an answer; her face told me that she had heard enough. I climbed out of Aunt Ginny’s arms and ran to her.

I held onto her the way I’d done when I was a small child. The world was so much more frightening than I ever thought it could be. She gripped me with such ferocity that I couldn’t tell who was consoling whom. We both cried into each other’s shoulders and stroked each other’s hair.

After several minutes had passed, I pulled back and opened my mouth, but words failed me. There were so many things I wanted to say, but I couldn’t put my voice to them.

She spoke first. “I know, love,” Mum traced the curve of my cheek and across my chin. “I’m so sorry. I wish with all my heart I could take it away from you. I would do anything to prevent you from having to go through that. I’m here now and I promise to help you through this.” She hugged me again. I sighed into her shoulder and realized that we didn’t have to say anything to each other. Finally, I recognized Aunt Ginny was right: tea did sound like a good idea.

Once we got upstairs, my anxiety returned. Why were they taking so long? How many were hurt? Did the death eaters take anyone captive? Was Stannous there too?

Stannous. My breath sucked in. The one death eater had said “Red… I’ve found her…” Was this an attack to get to me again? Had I put everyone in danger? Who could have known I was at the pub?

Everyone.

I spoke to countless people that night, so many old friends and friends of friends. It could have been just about anyone. I looked down at Lily, who had fallen asleep on one of the couches and the anger from before began to bubble inside me again. What. The. Hell. What is going on? I wanted to know and I wanted my answers now.

“What the hell is taking so long?” I shouted out to the room. Lily stirred from her sleep on the sofa and sat up. She stood up and wrapped the blanket around her, kissed Aunt Ginny and headed up to bed.

Neither Mum nor Aunt Ginny answered my question because they knew that they didn’t have anything to say that would make me feel better. I walked into the kitchen for no apparent reason, just so I could move and feel like I was doing something other than sitting there. As soon as I left, I heard a distinct crack in the living room.

“Scorpius!” Mum’s voice was shocked. I hurried to the living room and ran straight for his arms. I buried my head in his chest and he jumped back, groaning out in pain.

“Holy shit, what happened to you?” He was sporting a wound that went right through his sweater and undershirt and into his flesh. The black mark dug a large gash that ran across his chest from his right shoulder down past his navel. Thankfully, it passed just under his heart. It was still smoldering slightly from the dark magic that had produced it. I took a moment to look up at his face, which was half covered in dried blood from another cut on his scalp. His hands were also black in places and he was holding his side tenderly.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” I was yelling at myself more than anything. “That looks like a laceration from violenti totalis. How the hell did you survive one so deep?!” I recognized the wound from training and remembered what to do. “Aunt Ginny do you have wolfsbane and snake fangs?” She didn’t answer me, just ran from the room to look for the ingredients. I pulled my healer bag from my pocket and tapped my wand to make it normal sized. Opening it up, I knew what to look for. Finding the essence of dittany, I turned to Scorpius. “You,” I ordered, “on the couch, now.”

“Ro, I can’t. I only came to see you because I promised. I have to get to the ministry to meet with all of the aurors for a debriefing.”

“Forget the debriefing,” I commanded. “You can go in ten minutes. If I can get the ointment on you before it starts to bubble and pus, you will heal in one-fifth the time.”

“Scorpius,” Mum began tentatively. “How are the others?”

My heart stopped. What a piece of shit I am. As soon as I saw Scorpius, I didn’t even think about anyone else. How could I do that to my family? Albus, James, Uncle Harry, Dad, Fred, Dom… I looked at Scorpius with my eyes wide, holding my breath. Knowing he wasn’t getting out of here any other way, he lowered himself onto the other couch as he spoke.

“Dom got hit pretty hard with a cruciatus,” I could hear Mum suck in her breath and my hand clasped itself across my mouth to suppress a whimper. “I think she will be okay, but they took her to St. Mungo’s. There were three casualties that were patrons from the pub. James got hit with the same curse as me, but it just grazed his side. Fred’s face is pretty banged up, but I think he was actually muggle dueling one of the death eaters after they both lost their wands. Ron and Harry are fine,” he paused. “Albus got the worst. He has a big gash all the way down his wand arm. But he wouldn’t let us take him to St. Mungo’s. Stupid git.” he looked up at Aunt Ginny as she entered the room carrying the ingredients I requested. She had a stern look on her face, but I knew she was putting up a brave front – just like the wife of an auror. Now she is also the mother of an auror and I can’t imagine that makes things any easier. I decided that I was going to help out any way I could.

“Stupid git is right,” I said. “Fine. I’ll go to him. Aunt Ginny, I will need some more essence of dittany, some bandages and if you have any quills from a peacock - that would be brilliant.” She immediately hurried out of the room. I ran into the kitchen and grabbed the mortar and pestle; I pointed my wand and set it to work grinding all the snake fangs she had given me. I needed all I could get. I scooped out two spoonfuls and let it continue grinding so I could bring more to the ministry. After sending a patronus to Uncle Bill and Aunt Fleur, Mum gave me a tight squeeze with a little more gusto than our normal hugs usually convey. I found myself blinking back fresh tears as I looked at her, not sure what to say again. “I love you and I’m so proud of you Rose,” she smiled and I felt my mouth stretch a bit at the corners. Her face relaxed as she stepped in the fireplace to floo to St. Mungo’s to check on Dom.

I hurried back to the kitchen. Mixing the powdered fangs with the essence of dittany and the crushed wolfsbane, I assembled the ointment for the antidote to the violenti totalis curse that Scorpius needed. When I applied it to his wound, he yelped, arching off the couch, “Fucking hell, Rose! A little warning would have been nice.”

“Sorry, sorry! It should only sting for a minute.” I wrapped a bandage on top of his wound. Next, I recited the spell to fix his cracked ribs. After a few more bandages and a cleaning charm for the blood that was dried onto his face, he looked much better. “Okay, you are all set. Let me grab the rest of the ingredients and we can apparate together.” I hurried from the room and collected everything I needed in the kitchen. Aunt Ginny was putting the last of the powdered snake fangs in a vial for me. I paused for a moment and gave her a big hug. “Thanks, Aunt Ginny… for everything.”

“Rose,” she hugged back, “you are strong. You are one of the strongest women I have ever met – and that’s saying something, in this family. Of course, you have had excellent role models,” she raised her eyebrows and her brown eyes glinted at me. Now that we knew everyone in our family was safe, more or less, our moods were much lighter. I packed the last of my things in my healer bag and headed to the living room to Scorpius.

I made sure to stand on his side that I hadn’t just healed. He wove his arm around my waist and tugged me close. I looked up into his pools of liquid silver and his head bent down for a desperate kiss. The intensity of the moment pulled at my insides and my fingers found his face, lightly stroking and thanking Merlin that he was still here. We pulled apart and I took his arm, perhaps gripping a little tighter than usual.

Crack.




A/N:  And - another chapter done!  So Rose finally learns about Hermione and Malfoy Manor.  Uh-oh!  I really appreciate all reviews and I'd love to know what you think!  Thanks for taking the time to read my story!  ~Beth

 


Chapter 16: Breakages: Scorpius POV
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We landed in the ministry and quickly made our way to Harry’s office. I couldn’t help but remember the last time Rose and I visited there together - after the attack on her flat. Something in the back of my mind stirred and it dawned on me that we were yet again visiting Harry after an attack... The emotion from the whirlwind of events of the night swelled up from within me and I grasped Rose’s hand in desperation.

“How are you doing?” I asked her for the first time since the battle. We had stopped just outside Harry’s office. She looked down at her healer bag dangling from her other hand.

“I’m - erm - alright…” she said with a heavy sigh. I turned to give my full attention to her, lifting her chin to meet me and grabbing her eyes with mine. Her face was knit with worry. Clearly she was not alright. I raised my eyebrows at her.

“We’ll talk about it after the debriefing,” she said definitively. She let go of my hand to grab the doorknob and pushed it open. The conversation was closed for now.

Harry’s office was large, but even so it was quite crowded. There were at least twenty aurors plus the trainees that had been at The Quaffle – along with James and Fred. Everyone was clustered around the large room. The most injured had been granted seats in the chairs and couches, but most were standing, crammed against the wall or leaning on a free chair arm. All heads swung toward Rose and me as we entered. For the briefest of moments I was the tiniest bit hopeful that we could sneak past and no one would notice, but no such luck.

Ron Weasley, standing with arms crossed next to Harry’s desk, eyed me through lowered lids. “Look who finally decided to show up,” his voice was scathing. He didn’t even look at Rose, conserving all of his energy for the loathsome look on his face. “That’s the second time you broke protocol tonight, Malfoy,” he jabbed his finger toward me. “This is not going to reflect well on your training.” I glanced over at Harry, who said nothing. Oh shit. This was going to go very bad for me. I eyed the room, searching for a free space to stand and slid between two junior aurors against the far wall.

Albus was sitting in a chair in the corner of the crowded room, his head propped against the wall and eyes closed. He was holding his bad arm gingerly against his side. Rose immediately marched over to him and opened her healer bag. She gently rubbed his good arm and whispered something to him. He didn’t even move.

She took out a bottle from her healer bag and raised her wand. “Evanesco,” his sleeve disappeared to reveal a nasty gash with bloodied red spirals twisting from a central point a few inches above his elbow. “Hold on Al, this is going to sting a bit.”

Sure. He gets a warning.

Rose dripped some liquid from the bottle on his wound. Al sucked in his breath as his head fell forward and his arm tensed. Rose raised her wand and murmured some spell under her breath several times as she slowly moved the tip up and down his arm. After a few seconds, the wound looked like it was well on its way to healing. He opened his eyes and gave her a small smile, “Thanks, Rosie,” he said through tired eyes.

“That wound needs to stay uncovered and open for forty-eight hours. I'll have to apply more dittany every twelve hours, so make sure you find me, alright?” She gently rubbed his good arm again and gave him a comforting smile.

Rose then made her way over to James, whose side was visibly smoking through the tear in his jumper. She stopped when she was halfway there, realizing that all the aurors were staring at her. “Don’t mind me,” she said loudly. “Look, if you idiots wouldn’t be so proud and moronic and simply go to St. Mungo’s to get treated first, I wouldn’t have to be here.”

Harry spoke first, since everyone else was pretty much tongue tied, in awe of her... well, balls.

“Rose, we just need to be sure that we are maintaining security here. This meeting is to debrief the aurors and therefore is highly classified with very sensitive information.” Ron was just staring at the floor. His expression was unreadable, but I knew his anger hadn’t decreased.

“James and Fred aren’t aurors,” she pointed out. I had to suppress a smirk. Rose always thought she was so meek, but it’s times like these I want to burst with pride. Yup. That’s my cheeky girlfriend. Not afraid to call out the Head Auror right in front of a meeting with all of his department.

She continued, “Besides, I was there. I saw what happened; there aren’t any ministry secrets I’m gonna give away.” Harry opened his mouth to protest again.

“Look,” she continued firmly, “I know Stannous was either there or he was behind it,” her voice wavered slightly at the dark wizard’s name, but she nonetheless bent down next to James and pulled out some more of the ointment that she had put on me. “I also know he was looking for me – or Lily…” she lifted James’s shirt and found the black wound in his side. It was bubbling a little bit. She dabbed ointment on the end of a little stick and began smearing it on his gash.

“FUUUCK!” James screamed as he jumped nearly two feet in the air. That settles it. Albus is her favorite. She continued to bandage him up and finally stood up to face the crowd of aurors that was at least half made up of her own family members. They were all staring at her.

“When one of the death eaters stormed into the back room, he saw Lily and me standing there and he said ‘Red… I found her, she’s back here.’ He must've been referring to me or Lily. Since I'm the one he kidnapped last time, I assume it’s me, but we should probably consider all possibilities. Now, please, just let me get a look at each of you and help however I can. I promise to keep my mouth shut and stay out of the way.” She made her way over to Fred to look at the mass of bruises and cuts on his face.

I smiled. This was the first time Rose has spoken about her abduction to any sort of an audience. Albeit, she was pretty focused on healing the mounting pile of injuries, but all the same, she wasn’t letting the emotion get to her.

Her explanation was apparently good enough for Harry, so he continued. “Okay, did anyone else hear anything from the death eaters?” Everyone shook their head. “So… we’ve already determined that Stannous is targeting Rose Weasley. The real question is why.” His eyes darted between Al and me. I shrugged and shook my head to show him that we weren’t any closer to figuring out an answer to that question.

Harry tried another tactic. “Rose, can you think of any reason?” She paused while she was mixing together some sickly green colored paste and stirring it with a peacock quill. “Honestly, Uncle Harry, I have no idea why – except for the obvious. I’m a Weasley.”

“But why not go after Dom, Molly or Roxie? There are lots of Weasleys.” Albus pointed out.

“Exactly,” Harry agreed. I noticed that Ron was still looking at the floor, but his face was bright red with rage. I couldn’t tell if he was angry that his daughter was being targeted or he was just really pissed at me for breaking the protocol and leaving Albus. Although aurors are expected to think on their feet during battle, there are a few basic protocols and priority number one is to never leave your partner. Since Al and I had been the closest to each other when the death eaters entered - we were automatically paired up and I shouldn’t have left.

My eyes wandered to Rose. Merlin, she was absolutely amazing as she worked her way around the room, moving from person to person, administering her healer care to them. She really knew what she was doing. Harry continued to go through each auror that was present and what they saw, trying to reconstruct the exact events of the attack.

“Alright,” the head auror concluded, “on Monday, we will form a joint task force with the Department of Mysteries to work on getting intelligence to determine what Stannous’s intentions are and why.

“Next order of business: While this was not a training session, since many of our trainees were involved, let’s evaluate their responses. First off, great job to Albus for summoning the aurors immediately when danger was apparent to civilian witches and wizards,” he nodded toward Al.

“Thanks, Dad,” Albus was standing now. Clearly Rose’s ministrations had worked and he was feeling much better.

“And all of the other trainees sent out their summoning charm in a timely manner as well,” Harry continued.

“Is that about when Malfoy broke protocol and left his partner alone to fight off several death eaters and retain a SERIOUS INJURY?” Ron’s voice started off softly, but ended in a roar. He was furious. I closed my eyes. I was expecting this and I knew the best thing was to just take it.

“Uncle Ron, he left to go aid your daughter, who'd fallen to the floor to avoid a curse.” Albus was alarmed. “He helped both Rose and Lily escape. Didn’t we just establish that Rose was most likely the target of this attack?”

“That’s not my point, Albus. YOU NEVER LEAVE YOUR PARTNER! The point is that we can’t have rogue aurors taking it upon themselves to think with their dicks during an attack!”

“Oi!” Albus and James both grunted their surprise and displeasure at their Uncle’s brashness. Albus walked quickly to stand next to Rose and James stood up, taking a few steps toward Ron.

“Dad!” Rose abruptly stood up from healing Auror Stephens’s broken ankle. She couldn’t hide the hurt in her voice. She closed her mouth and set her jaw, trying not to cry at his betrayal. I wanted to go to her and hold her, but I thought that might just make everything worse. The room was dead silent. The other aurors had gasped at the initial outburst, but Ron Weasley still held the title of Senior Auror and commanded the respect of all of the department.

“Alright.” Harry was taking control again. This time, there was an edge to his voice. “It’s late and we have covered enough for now. We'll reconvene on Monday at noon. If you're on duty tomorrow, we're going to do another walk-through the pub at 2 pm. If not, see you Monday.” The others were filing out and I held back to wait for Rose, who was packing up her healer bag.

I knelt down next to her and heard her sniffling. I took a deep breath to try and control my anger. How dare he make her cry. She leaned into me when I put a hand on her shoulder. I just wanted to get home so we could be together, without all this other bullshit.

“Ron, hold up, please,” Harry’s voice was firm. Rose and I stood to go. Harry stopped us. “No, you two need to stay as well,” he said firmly. I was getting very close to losing my temper, but Rose’s small fingers slid into my hand and she squeezed tight, and I felt the rage drain slightly from my body. But I needed more. I broke contact for a moment so that I could wrap one arm around her and pull her close. Quickly, I grasped her empty hand with my other one and guided her to Harry’s desk where he and Ron stood, glaring at each other and waiting for the other aurors to file out.

Ron took one look at Rose and I and made the connection that we were now a couple. I hadn’t pressed the issue of her telling her parents because of all the other stuff she had been dealing with. Whatever pace she was ready to do things, I would accept. Now I found that I would not only accept them, I would defend them. I pulled her closer in a protective move and stared hard into Ron’s icy blue eyes.

“What. The. Hell,” he growled between clenched teeth.

Harry took a deep breath. Apparently he thought that ignoring Ron was the best move at this point. There were more pressing issues. He began, “Since we are fairly certain you're a target Rose, I’m going to have to ask you to refrain from any public places until further notice.”

“What?!” she did not take the order very well. “What about training?”

“The ministry will provide extra security for you during your training at St. Mungo’s. Don’t worry - I promise they'll be inconspicuous,” he said quickly before she could protest. “Scorpius, I am assigning you to Rose as her personal guard when she's not at training. I'll rearrange your schedule so that you can take her to and from St. Mungo’s every day and you'll be with her unless another auror or third year trainee is with her anytime she's not at training.” Read: you, Albus and Dom better keep a good eye on her. I nodded in agreement. This was my first official assignment.

“No way in hell,” Ron’s face was contorted.

“Ron, I’m only asking him to do what he’s going to do anyway – what he’s been doing for the past few months. He’s proved himself in training and in sticky situations.”

“He can’t follow the rules, Harry. He’s just a Malfoy, out for himself-”

“Ron!” Harry’s voice boomed. Rose jumped within my arms. I had only heard him yell a few times before, usually when James and Albus had destroyed something in the house during my summer visits. “I think you have lost some perspective and need to be reminded of a couple of things,” Harry spoke through a clenched jaw.

“Oh, really? And what are those things?” Ron growled, and rounded on Harry, not about to back down.

“First and foremost: Parents should never, ever abandon their kids if they can help it. You just as good did that with your comments and actions tonight,”

“Wha- what? What are you talking about?” Ron spluttered, “If you were really concerned, you would put an actual auror as her guard and make sure she was in a safe house. This isn’t about me – you might as well just tell him it’s alright to shack up with her!”

“They are already in an unplottable house with a fidelius charm and have been for the last three months,” Harry said unapologetically. I could almost see the smoke coming from Ron’s ears. The red in his face reached all the way up to the top of his head, blending in with his fire-orange hair.

Harry continued, ignoring Ron’s fuming, “your judgment is clouded by your prejudices. Please do not question my motives, Ron. I am still your superior.”

That did it. Ron’s clenched fist banged on the desk next to him. “What the fuck, Harry? Did everyone know about this but me? Have you forgotten what the Malfoys did? I don’t think you would be so clear minded if we were talking about Lily instead of Rose!”

Harry was white with rage, “So now you are going to acknowledge her? You haven’t even looked at her since she came into the room, or conducted yourself in a manner that implied your daughter was present. You need to leave and cool off. And if you have another outburst like that in front of the department, know that I will take administrative action.”

Rose’s mouth was open in shock. I don’t think she ever saw her father and uncle fight like this before. They always seemed to get on so well. I guess the name ‘Malfoy’ was a hot button. Normally, I would have been angrier, but there seemed to be enough people pissed off in the room at the moment. There was no doubt where Ron stood.

As if to show her father exactly where she stood in all this, Rose snaked her arm around my waist and rested her head on my chest. I gave her a squeeze and leaned my chin on top of her head. I knew she was crying. Ron looked from her to me and back again to Rose. Without saying anything, he turned and stormed out the door, slamming it behind him. Harry put a comforting arm on his goddaughter’s back.

Rose’s voice was barely above a whisper as she spoke into my shirt, “What was the other thing?”

“Come again?” Harry said distractedly. He was trying to mask his rage from her.

“You said that you needed to remind my Dad of two things.”

Harry’s demeanor softened, he looked at Rose and me and sighed, “You can’t help who you fall in love with.” I think I even saw the traces of a smile on his face.


Ron

Ron was too enraged to go home, but he was hungry. He usually had some form of a snack in his office, but realized that he had eaten it earlier that day. He pushed his hunger aside for the first time since he could remember and tried to concentrate on paperwork. After several minutes, he was unsuccessful at distracting himself.

Harry was wrong.

How could he take the side of a Malfoy? He knew what had happened to Hermione. How it took her months to recover after the war. His hands shook as he remembered how she would wake up screaming night after night. All he could do was hold her and rock with her until it had passed. Ron hung his head. Harry didn’t know about all that.

Harry didn’t know that Hermione would shake until she was sick and Ron would sit next to her in the loo and hold her hair back. Harry didn’t know that Hermione reached a point where she couldn’t go to any public places for several months. They always made clever excuses, but she barely would travel to the burrow or to Harry’s place. It was all because of the Malfoy’s.

Harry was wrong.

Ron couldn’t go home, not yet anyway. He didn’t want Hermione to see him this upset. He settled for walking around Diagon Alley for a few hours. He didn’t want to run into anyone, so he avoided the Leaky Cauldron. He thought about visiting George for a chat, but the lights were off over his shop and he didn’t want to wake him and Angelina. He stewed and stewed over this Scorpius situation. How could Rose choose a Malfoy?

Finally, as the light of a new day had begun, and exhaustion and hunger were threatening to overtake all rational thought, he apparated home.

When he arrived at his house, he immediately headed to the kitchen. He was so hungry; he couldn’t remember the last time he ate. He stopped short when he realized his kitchen was full of people.

Bewildered, he blinkingly found Hermione sitting at the table with Ginny and Harry. They were all staring at him as he stood in the doorway. His eyes lowered at Harry, he was still angry from their earlier confrontation. But Harry didn’t look angry, he looked sad. As Ron looked from Ginny to Hermione, he knew something was wrong; both of them had red, swollen eyes.

“What happened?” Ron’s gut clenched in guilt, immediately thinking of Dominique. He hadn’t even checked on his niece at hospital.

“Sit down, love,” said Hermione softly. “We need to talk.”


Rose

Scorpius apparated us home, to the steps of number twelve, Grimmauld Place. It had only been a few hours, but it seemed like years ago that we apparated to the pub. I'd been so excited, so happy to be with him and go out to see family and friends. Then it all came crashing down.

Stannous, again.

He took everything - again. The realization that Mum had gone through the same thing during the war washed over me like a wave. At Malfoy Manor.

Suddenly, I was too tired to even think. It was overwhelming. I couldn’t look at Scorpius, I didn’t even have enough energy to apparate myself to my room. I just trudged up the stairs and my heart ached a little as I passed Dom’s door, promising myself I would go see her as soon as I woke up.

I slumped into my room and fell onto my bed, not even closing the door. There were just too many things that had happened. My brain was shutting down. I was half-conscious as it registered somewhere within me that Scorpius had followed me and was lying next to me. I had flopped onto my side, facing away from him. His powerful arms pulled me tightly against his chest and I breathed out. He tucked my head underneath his chin and squeezed tight. Tonight could’ve gone so much worse, I knew that he needed to hold on for a few moments. I grasped his wrists and squeezed back. He was not his family. The last thought that entered my mind as I drifted off to sleep was the realization that without a doubt, without bias or fear or complications, I loved him.

I just didn’t know what I was going to do about it.



A/N:  So, I did something a little different with this chapter - I broke my POV and wrote a small scene with Ron as thrird person POV.  I thought about leaving it out, but I really liked it and it helps with some stuff that happens later on.  I also tried to leave out Rose's little part at the end, but it just doesn't work at the beginning of the next chapter, either.  So.... let me know what you think!  

All of these chapters that start with "break-" happen in the same day.  It was sort of my way of tying it all together.  I was running out of words to use that started with break- and that is the main reason this one took a few days longer to post - haha!  I absolutely love all reviews and I will respond to all of them!  Thanks again for reading!

~Beth


Chapter 17: Beloved: Scorpius POV
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I woke late next morning, alone. Rose was gone.

“Ro?” I called, trying to get my sleepy brain to start processing information. No answer. Forcing myself to wake up, I dragged my protesting body out of bed and checked the bathroom. Note to self: do not take any more violenti curses to the chest.

She wasn’t there. Not in the kitchen or any of the other bedrooms or anywhere else I could think to find her. In fact, I was the only one home. As I searched each room my head started racing, trying to think of where she could be that would make sense. Could Stannous have broken into the flat? Not possible. Panic set in as I realized I was failing at my very first Auror assignment after only a few hours. Shit!

Immediately, I sent two patronuses. One to Al and one to Rose. I wasn’t going to get Harry involved until I at least had some more information. Very soon after though, I started to get really nervous, thinking the worst. I was trying to think how I was going to tell Harry that I lost his goddaughter and screwed up my first ever assignment. I would probably be dismissed from the training program and get kicked out of the house. Unable to find a job, I would become one of those homeless wizards who live in the Underground of muggle London and bewitch people late at night to think they saw aliens or something.

It was with great relief that Al’s patronus arrived. “Rose is with me. We are visiting Dom. Don’t worry, you didn’t screw up. Take a shower and we’ll be home in about an hour.” Al always could read my mind. I really did need a shower. In front of the bathroom mirror, I slowly pulled off the bandage that Rose had applied over the wound last night. The curse had passed directly over my heart, but for some reason, didn’t affect the vital organ.

It actually looked really good. It was still tender and I had to be careful when washing, but she had done a fantastic job patching me up. The cut on my scalp was virtually gone and I didn’t feel any more pain from my cracked ribs.

After the shower, I realized how incredibly hungry I was. Apparating down to the kitchen I decided to make a big lunch for everyone. I figured Al and Rose probably wouldn’t eat at the hospital and they couldn’t go anywhere else since Rose is banned from public places. Mum and I used to cook all the time and it made me calmer to know I was making a good meal for my friends.

The intensity of the night before buzzed in the back of my mind, as I prepared a hearty soup and some warm bread for the gang. I began to replay the events over and over in my head. So much had happened. Everyone finally knew we were together and that made my heart soar. We had been having such a good time with all our friends at The Quaffle… then the attack ruined everything and practically scared the wits out of Rose. The worst part was the aftermath in Harry’s office. I never wanted Ron to find out about us as a couple that way. It just sort of happened. Rose had looked so hurt when he left us standing there.

There was a crack and I raised my head in anticipation of Rose and Albus walking into the kitchen, but was disappointed to see James and Samara. She was holding on tight to him as they entered the room, a worried look on her face. I smiled at both of them, but was getting a little nervous that Al had not returned with Rose.

“Soup?” I asked.

“Sounds great, mate,” James replied. He gave Samara quick kiss and came over to help me scoop it into bowls for the two of them. I pulled the warmed bread out of the oven and put it in a basket on the table.

“Rose and Albus should be back soon,” I said, craning my neck to peer down the hallway, hoping to hear the telltale crack that indicated apparition to the entryway. Since we were under the Fidelius, anyone with the secret could apparate directly into the foyer. “They went to see Dom,” I explained to James. “Have you checked on her yet?”

“No,” said James. “We will head over in a bit. Mum said she was doing alright, just needs to stay at Mungo’s for a few days to make sure there aren’t any residual effects. I don’t envy her Healers, Dom is not going to want to miss any training. Although, I’m sure you and Albus will keep her posted on anything she misses. Wow, this soup is really good!” he exclaimed with a mouthful dribbling down his chin.

“Thanks,” I shrugged. “All right there, Samara?” I noticed how quiet she was being.

“Sure,” she shrugged and looked into her soup. She wasn’t really eating, just sort of stirring it around the bowl.

Samara was absolutely beautiful. Not in the way Rose was beautiful, in everything she did and the way she cared for her friends and family, but more in a traditional sense. She wasn’t part Veela, but you could easily mistake her flowing blond hair, large blue eyes and graceful manner for Veela. She was also really funny and nice. I could see why James was attracted to her, but I always felt a little bit like she wasn’t his type – I just couldn’t put my finger on it.

“Sam’s just a bit upset at the events of last night,” James put an arm around her and pulled her closer to him. “I told her it goes with the territory of dating a Potter!” James chuckled with mild arrogance. That didn’t mean he was wrong. Trouble does seem to follow the Potter-Weasley clan. And the Malfoys…

“You get used to it, after a while,” I attempted a joke to make her feel better. She smiled briefly and I laid the butter on the table before checking on the soup once more.

Another crack down the hallway indicated that Albus had finally arrived with Rose. I could hear her chatting happily; her visit with Dom must have gone well. As they entered, I looked up in anticipation and then felt relief wash over me. She looked really amazing, as she smiled and turned to laugh with Albus. Her sunny face radiated into the dark, dank kitchen when she entered. I couldn’t put my finger exactly on what made her so beautiful, it just looked like all light in the room came directly from her.

“Mate,” James whispered in my ear, as he ladled another helping of soup into his bowl. “I think she’s yours now, you don’t have to drool over her from across the room anymore.”

James always did have a way with words.

“I can’t help it,” I said not looking away from her, “She does it to me every time.” I really didn’t care who knew I was desperately in love with Rose Weasley. I would do anything to make sure that she did not have another sad moment in her life.

I just needed to tell her that.

Before they could ask, I served both of them large bowls of soup and brought the bread down to their end of the table. I got myself a bowl and sat down next to Rose. She looked up at me gave me a quick kiss – too quick.

“Wow, this looks great!” Albus sounded famished.

“Thanks, Scorpius,” Rose gave me one of her special smiles. I melted. James rolled his eyes at me from the other end of the table, but I didn’t care.

“Does Harry know you went to see Dom?” I asked cautiously. I knew Rose wasn’t thrilled that she was basically on house arrest and required an Auror guard at all times, but I didn’t need any more trouble with the department and had been genuinely worried when I couldn’t find her earlier.

“He came and got us this morning,” Albus spoke first. “We didn’t want to wake you. Don’t worry; you are not on his shit list – unlike Uncle Ron.” Rose nodded to affirm that fact. Great. When Ron Weasley is pissed off, it usually meant trouble for me.

“So I take it you filled him in?” I spoke to Rose but was gesturing toward Al; referring to the conversation that happened after all the other Aurors had left Harry’s office last night (or was it this morning?).

“Uncle Harry did most of the talking,” she said dismissively. “But Al and Dom both know the deal now.” She looked deep in thought and then became very somber. I lowered my eyes with concern when she leaned over to whisper, “I do need to talk to you as well, somewhere private.” Her tone was very serious and all traces of the smiling, happy Rose that arrived a few minutes earlier were gone.

“Reg’s room?” I suggested, my heart rate rising with the pained look on her face. It was weird that we referred to every other room in the house by the current occupant - except for Regulus’s. It was on the top floor along with James’s room and was more secluded than her room or the parlor.

Although I had unofficially moved into Rose’s room, I still had some clothes and furniture in the dark, funereal room that used to belong to Regulus Black. If the room wasn’t so depressing, it would have been an ideal bedroom. Each floor had two bedrooms and one bathroom. Since James stayed in the other bedroom on that floor, it would have been a nice setup. He wasn’t home a lot, because he was usually travelling with the Quidditch team or staying at Samara’s place.

Rose nodded into her empty soup bowl and I tensed up next to her. Whatever was bothering her, she didn’t need it right now.

“We’ll clean up,” James announced and Albus nodded. “You two go on.” The entire room must’ve noticed the change in atmosphere between Rose and I.

“Thanks,” I stood up with her and held out my arm so we could apparate up to the top floor.

Regulus’s room was clearly decorated by some sick, twisted, dark witch who seemed to want to evoke every depressing thought within a young wizard. It didn’t feel cozy, just cold. Today, however, with her standing there in front of me, somehow the room felt warmer. I put my arms around her and pulled her close. She smiled warmly, but still had a look of worry in her eye. Placing my hands on either side of her face, I pulled her into a soft kiss. I missed kissing her, even though it had only been a few hours. Her face softened a little bit.

“I love you, Scorpius,” she said simply, twisting her fingers in the hair above my ears. “Uncle Harry said it first, and I guess it’s kind of obvious to everyone, but I wanted you to hear it from me,” her voice still had a trace of sadness to it, which did not evade me. However, I was so elated with the words that I pulled her into another, much deeper kiss. It lasted several moments. I was so wrapped up in her that it took a few seconds after we broke for me to get my own words out. My head was fuzzy with Rose.

“I love you too, Rose,” I breathed against her soft cheek. “I’ve loved you for so long; I can’t remember what it was like before.”

She smiled as a tear began to form at the corner of her eye. I couldn’t tell if it was from happiness, her face still had that look of worry.

“What is it, Ro?” I implored. I couldn’t think of anything that would be in our way now. We obviously had Harry’s blessing. The rest of the family seemed pretty happy for us – except for Ron. Was that it? Had Ron forbidden her to be with me? I resolved that no matter what it was, I wouldn’t let anything get in the way of us. Not after it took so long to get here.

“I need to tell you something,” Rose began slowly. “But I need you to know that I love you before I say it, and this has nothing to do with how I feel about you.”

“All right,” I was cautious. Why was she being so cryptic?

Rose sat down the bed. I followed and put my arm around her. I knew she would start when she was ready.

“When I was waiting for you at Uncle Harry’s house last night, I spoke with my Aunt Ginny,” she began, talking a little faster than usual. “Uncle Harry had confided in her about… what I told him a few months back. She began talking about the war and some of the horrible things that happened…”

I shifted uneasily, but didn’t move my gaze from Rose. I knew that our families had been on opposite sides of the war. While my father never really told me much, I knew that my grandfather had been imprisoned in Azkaban for his crimes until he died when I was about five. My grandmother had passed away shortly after that.

Once at Hogwarts, I had to endure some painful jeering because of the Malfoy name. When I asked my father about it, Draco Malfoy refused to speak. He told me to ignore the remarks and remember that I was much more like my mother than him. That was why I was sorted into Ravenclaw and not Slytherin. I knew it was not an issue I should press. It didn’t seem to matter to my friends, either. Neither Rose, nor James or even Albus had ever brought this up to me. Nor had Harry, for that matter, in all the times I spent at the Potters' over the years. But I knew how Ron felt. That much had been apparent last night.

Rose continued, “Scorpius, during the war, Uncle Harry and my parents were taken captive to your grandfather’s house, Malfoy Manor. My mum was tortured…” she paused for a long time, “… tortured a great deal because she was a muggle-born. I think that is why my father hates your family so much…” Rose put her head in her hands.

My mouth went dry. No words could come. Never in a million years could I have imagined this. My hands left her and dropped to my sides. I looked at Rose, but it was like I couldn’t see her. I could feel her trembling hands on my own, but I couldn’t move.

There was no way. No way. How could Father have allowed this to happen? It can’t be true. Ron must have made this up, told this lie to trick Rose into leaving me. I couldn’t believe that the cold, distant man I knew as my father was even capable of torture. He always seemed so… passive, letting life move past him while the rest of us were trying to muddle through the living part. Most of the time, he just sat in his study and did absolutely nothing at all.

“No,” I said hoarsely. “You’re lying.”

She began to cry. She had expected this. I could see in her eyes that she needed to tell me this, so it wouldn’t always be there, stuck in between us.

Confusion swirled around my head. I felt sick. Did Father do this to Hermione? My stomach lurched in revulsion to the image of Father torturing Hermione. I bolted across the hall to the bathroom and retched in the toilet. She had kept this from Rose, so that meant that probably most of the Weasley’s didn’t know other than Harry and Ginny. Had my mother known? She had always been so kind. Was that all part of an act? Did she keep the family’s dirty little secrets? The questions came faster and the confusion began pounding into the front of my head. I grasped my temples and squeezed as I collapsed backwards onto the cool tile floor of the bathroom.

The pressure in my head was building and I thought I might be sick again when I felt the warmth of a body sitting near my head and light pressure against my forehead. I carefully opened my eyes for a moment and saw Rose kneeling next to me, rubbing circles on my temples with her hand. No. She can’t do this. She shouldn’t be near me – or even look at me. I had to get out of there. I pulled myself up to the sink and dropped grasped the side for support. I didn’t even look at her as I turned to leave the bathroom. I heard her whimper as I walked down the hallway, but couldn’t react. I knew where I was going, but had to tell Albus first.

*

The forest looked much different in the day than it had the night Albus and I had visited months ago. There was much more damage than I remembered. The entire tree-line had been pushed back about thirty yards and there were many more craters in the rocks than had been there before. It was barren, dead, and dry. Gray stumps of varying heights peppered the expanse of rock that led to the treeline. I didn’t even notice the white smoke that was rising from within the trees. The sky was completely overcast, but the smell of burning wood was present. A December chill whipped through my robes, catching them up and wrapping them around my weak legs.

These things barely registered with me as I began my destruction. I was shaking so much, with anger and hurt and questions that I knew would never get answered. There was no one left to explain them to me. Why? How? I ran forward and flung my wand again and again at tree after tree. I set fire to about twenty feet of trees at once, with one great swoop from left to right of my wand. I tried blasting the rocks again, but found that less satisfying than watching the trees split apart and shrivel at my mercy. The smoke billowed around the edge of the forest and slowly crept toward me. I went for the largest trees I could find, using every curse I could imagine again and again.

I didn’t see the tall, dark-cloaked figure approaching from the far edge until it was almost next to me. As the shadowy figure paced toward me, I caught a glimpse of darkness in my periphery, and I whirled around and squared up with my opponent. My wand raised in response to the one pointed at my own chest.

As the words of the curse were on my lips, I froze, seeing a flash of bright orange from under the hood.

We stood for several moments, blue trained on silver with the cold December wind blowing our cloaks high.

I took a step back and lowered my wand, breathing heavy from the rush of adrenaline.

Ron, in turn, lowered his wand and pulled off his hood. We both stared at each other for another long minute. Finally, I turned to walk away.

“Hey!” Ron shouted behind me after I had gotten about ten meters from him. I stopped but did not turn. I wanted Ron to curse me, to do his worst. There wasn’t anything left for me anymore.

“Do you love her?” Ron’s words echoed angrily across the rock, but there was a hint of desperation behind them.

It seemed like such a silly, pointless question, in the midst of all this. Why would it matter? We could never be together. Not now. Now that I know what my family was, what they did.

“Do you love her?” Ron’s hot breath growled into my ear, grabbing the back of my robes and turning me around, he had snuck up behind me, without a sound.

I couldn’t speak due to the fabric stretched across my throat, so I only nodded as my silver eyes pierced the fierce blue ones that looked…hurt? And in that instant I knew that Ron learned what had happened to Rose at the cabin. That’s why he was here, at the place where a wizard can release his anger and magic and pain.

“Then, you stay with her. You put everything aside for her. And know that you will never be good enough for her.” I already knew that. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t be with Rose because of what my family had done.

Suddenly a realization hit me. I had to ask.

Ron was the only one who could answer my questions. With greater effort than I can remember every putting forth to make sounds escape my mouth, I choked out the words.

“Rose told me about Hermione,” Ron looked confused for a second until I continued. “About Malfoy Manor…” Realization glimmered in his eyes and he blinked up at the white sky undulating with the smoke we had both created and closed his eyes, sucking in a breath. We had more in common than either one of us had ever thought possible. Unadulterated, compulsive need forced the next question out of my mouth.

“Was it – my father?” Each word was quiet, but punctuated, if Ron hadn’t been face to face with me, he wouldn’t have heard them.

“No,” Ron replied curtly, but his eyebrows were raised in surprise. He had obviously not been expecting that question.

But then his throat caught, “it was - Bellatrix.” I nodded in relief, but I was unsurprised at his response. I had heard vicious stories about my great aunt’s brutality – especially toward muggleborns. Unable to speak, I acknowledged my understanding.

The fabric loosened around my neck as Ron slowly released his grip on my robes.

“I do love her,” I confirmed, being sure to catch his eyes this time. “I’ve loved her for as long as I can remember. And I won’t ever, ever hurt her. I will protect her with my life, because she is my life.”

We didn’t break eye contact. The haunted blue eyes slowly closed and opened again. I think I even saw some understanding within them. It had begun to snow ever so slightly, and flecks of white swirled like confetti around the choking gray smoke.

Ron patted me on the back, surprising both of us.

“I know that now. I just wanted to hear you say it. She loves you too. Everyone can see it.”

“I don’t know… I don’t know how she can forgive…this.”

“Why don’t you let her decide that?” Ron turned to face the forest, his voice suddenly lighter. “Nice place, isn’t this? Harry told me about it. Apparently, Albus brought him here a few months ago, to blow off steam…”




A/N:  Hello again!  Thank you to everyone who has been reading/reviewing this story.  I wanted to mention that I am working off of the premise that Draco didn't talk about the war at ALL with Scorpius.  I think I mentioned earlier that Ron/Hermione were pretty much the same way with their kids.  I thought about this a bit, and it seemed to fit (at least to me) that they weren't about to relive some of their darkest moments to their own children, in the hopes of sparing them the gory details.


Anyway - please let me know what you think of this latest chapter!

~Beth

 


Chapter 18: Beautiful: Scorpius POV
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I returned to number Twelve, Grimmauld Place to find Albus and Selenia snuggled on the couch in the drawing room, talking and giggling in quiet whispers.


“She’s in Reg’s room, mate,” Albus answered the question before I could ask. “She wouldn’t come down and said she would just wait for you there.”


“Thanks, Al – for keeping guard.” I swiped at my filthy robes, trying to lessen the soot that was ground into the fibers. It seemed I was just making them dirtier. My hands were stained with ash and grime. An attempt to shake out the cinders that clung limply to the sweaty strands of my hair was also futile.


“She’s my cousin and you’re my best mate. Easy call. But since I’m off duty now…” Albus stretched his arms over his head. His left arm was bare and still bore the marks from battle. While my wound looked like someone had gouged out a smallish black crater across my chest, Albus’s arm was slashed nearly to threads, with angry whip-like marks criss-crossing from his shoulder to his wrist. The lacerations were thin but deep and each one curled up at the end. I had never seen anything like it. As Al turned to face his girlfriend, I could see that Rose had applied another dose of dittany.


He spoke to me, but was staring hungrily at his lover, “You won’t mind if we have few moments to ourselves? I promise to use that silencing charm Rose mentioned.” He grinned as he kissed her fingers.


Selenia, being careful to avoid his wound, placed her arm around his waist and stared back into his eyes, smiling at the raven haired young man who was giving her all his attention.


I chuckled. “Is James here?”


“Nope. Went out with his Quidditch team after visiting Dom.” Al’s eyes flicked up after giving Selenia a kiss on her exposed neck. His good arm pulled her closer into his side. Al and I had been effectively living together for ten years, which means that Selenia and I had been effectively living together for seven years. The two of them had long since gotten past being discreet around me. Not that they were ever that discreet around anyone.


Her hand was playfully sliding up and down his thigh - my cue to get the heck out of there. “Don’t think he’ll be back tonight,” Al said as his head twisted to claim Selenia’s mouth. She responded willingly. Those two could seriously get it on anytime, anywhere.


“Thanks again mate,” I shook my head at the pair, and turned away before the clothes started coming off. From experience (more experience than I cared to recall), I knew that I was approximately thirty seconds away from seeing more of Al than just his naked arm.


From the sounds they were making as I walked down the hallway, Albus didn’t hear me; he was too busy snogging Selenia. I didn’t think they would even make it to his room.


Instead of apparating, I decided to walk up the three flights of stairs to Regulus’s room, needing an extra few minutes to compose my thoughts before I spoke to Rose. I found myself on the top landing before coming up with anything. The door to my room was open and I could see her in profile sitting on my bed, her knees pulled up to her chest and her arms wrapped around her legs. She was looking away from me, staring off in thought. Rose looked like a warm ray of sunshine, beaming through the dark cloud of a room.


My weight rested against the doorway and I gaped at her simple beauty. Her red waves were pulled easily in a ponytail, trailing down her back, as she usually wore them. I meant every word I had said to Ron; she was my whole life. I stared at her for another minute, desperately searching for the right words.


Nervously, I shifted in the doorway and the floor creaked beneath my feet.


Rose blinked and turned her head to me, a relieved smile spread across her face and her shoulders relaxed.


This was the moment to start talking, but my throat was tight and nothing came out. How could I describe the feelings of remorse, regret and helplessness? I gave her a tight grimace, in the hopes that it would pass for a smile, while I rubbed my hands together. She shuffled herself off the bed and paced across the worn, gray floorboards in haste toward me. I followed her gaze downward as she took and studied my fists smeared with soot and grime. Soft, warm hands cradled my cold, rough ones as she pulled them against her. She then lifted her head to meet my eyes. A look of relief washed over her face and her deep, blue orbs were pleading.


Lightly, she coaxed me along with her, turning me around by our entwined hands. We moved as one, in a half circle, stepping out the door and into the hallway. Rose continued walking backward and gently pulled me with her through the hallway and into the bathroom. Our eyes stayed locked until we were inside the white tiled room and she stood on her toes to to kiss me sweetly. I felt tears prick in my eyes. She stepped back, released her grasp on me and, in one gentle movement, swished her wand from her robes to close the bathroom door. My fingers reached toward her face to trace the side of her cheek, but the contrast between my filth covered hands and her porcelain skin caused me to recoil and pull away from her.


If she noticed my reticence, she didn’t let on. Her hands found the fastening to my robes and she deftly undid the clasp. She guided it off my shoulders and let it fall to the ground.


Rose pointed her wand at the shower and the water started. We began to undress each other slowly and deliberately. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and saw black streaks across my face from the ash. The darkened wound that slashed from my shoulder to my abdomen had faded a little, but was still tender. My hair was matted and had bits of bark and burnt wood ground into it.


She took my hand again and led me into the warm shower. Once inside, I cupped her jaw to savor the soft, freckled skin. I frowned when I realized that I had smudged her perfect face, leaving an ugly gray streak. Before I could pull away, she grasped my hand with her thin, tiny fingers. She pressed my hand to her cheek tightly and dug her eyes into mine, as if she knew that I was wrestling internally.


Very slowly, I dipped my head toward her and brushed my lips lightly against her cheek, then her forehead and nose and finally ended on her lips as I brought my other hand up to her face, to hold the moment a bit longer. I could feel the tension easing from my mind and body.


As her arms encircled my waist, she opened her lips to mine and the kiss deepened. We danced for a few moments like this, the hot water soothing my sore and tired bones; her touch soothing my strained and fatigued mind.


We could’ve been there for hours; time seemed to stand still in our small, heated waterfall. I released her when she took a step back and pulled away.


Rose put her hands on my chest and smoothed her thumbs over my skin. She carefully traced her fingers around the wound from the night before and followed it down to my lower belly. Unlike last night, when she had looked upon with the eyes of a Healer, now she saw the gash as the battle wound of her lover. She contemplated how deep it went and how close it had passed to several vital organs. Gingerly, she placed her palm against my heart, pressing with the lightest touch, as if to assure herself that it was still beating beneath the lesion.


Both my hands were resting on her hips and I slid my left fingers up until they covered the densest mass of what remained of the scars on her right side. We were both marked now, inside and out.


Rose lifted a cloth dampened with soap and warm water. She traced the edges of my face, ridding it of the dirt and grime. Then she set to work on my hair, lathering it up and massaging it through while she stood on her tiptoes. She continued with the rest of me, paying special care to each mark I had sustained in the battle. Rose used the softest touch to remove all traces of sawdust and cinders from my hair and skin.


She washed my hands last and it took quite some time to get them clean. Every smudge and streak was removed with love and care. I watched her in amazement as she worked, refusing to use magic. I couldn’t stop a tear from escaping as I was, at long last, clean from the grime that plagued me. Rose kissed that tear away as she had removed all my other pains and troubles.


I stepped back and marveled at her. She had never seemed so beautiful to me as she was at that moment. This woman, this woman standing before me was to be honored, revered.


Her hair had come loose from its ponytail and I reached for the shampoo. My hands suddenly felt overlarge, as I worked the soft bubbles through her tresses. The lathered soap felt like velvet as it cascaded down her exquisite skin. She guided my hands through her hair as we rinsed it out together.


It was my turn to lead her. I carefully lifted her out of the shower and summoned a towel to dry her off. She smiled as I fumbled with my inept hands and her delicate features. I attempted again with her thick hair, to try to twist a towel around her head the way she did so effortlessly, but it still hung awkwardly and finally fell off. I settled on a drying and warming charm. She then proceeded to give me similar care, with much better skill. She was a natural with her patient, kissing ever so softly at my wounds and wrapping the towel warmly around my waist. Afterwards, she summoned a nightdress for her and pyjama bottoms for me.


We walked down the two flights of stairs to our room, holding each other the whole way. As soon as the door was closed and locked, Rose turned to me, slid herself out of the thin cotton dress and removed my trousers. I scooped her up when she leaned in for a kiss.


As I lowered us to the bed, she leaned up into me while pulling me down to her. We moved together the way we had in the shower, dancing slowly and deliberately. Our love was unhurried and magnificent.


In the afters, Rose pulled the covers over both of us and she snuggled herself sideways into the crook of my arm, careful to avoid my healing gash. Our eyes locked again as we drifted off to sleep; I knew that she didn’t want me to ask for forgiveness, that I didn’t need to ask her. Rose told me that I was everything to her and our love was all that both of us needed. She told me that we were stronger together than we could ever be apart. She told me that we had a bond that most people wait an entire lifetime for and never feel. She told me all of this and we never spoke one word to each other.






A/N:  So this chapter is quite a bit different than the others.  I know it is really short, but I thought it was necessary so that Rose and Scorpius could move forward.  What do you think?  I would love it if you could let me know!  Thanks again to everyone who has been reading and reviewing this story!

 


Chapter 19: Bombs and Bonds: Scorpius and Rose POV
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Harry paced the front of the room, hands jammed into the pockets of his dark grey Auror robes. In contrast, Ron was leaning against the wall, arms crossed over his chest and mouth pursed. Instead of the usual crimson face, he was a ghostly white, all blood drained from his head. Ron Weasley was known for his animated lectures, so the sight of him bracing himself, stilled against the side was enough to sober up the room full of Aurors.


It was even more surreal to see Harry grappling with keeping himself together. For the most part, he always maintained a calm demeanor - especially when he addressed us as a whole. The entire department sat in rows facing its two most respected members. The silence in the room was palpable. We were still digesting the bomb they’d just dropped on us.


Harry’s breath punctured the air in short spurts out of his nose. I knew him well enough to recognize that this was his way of steeling himself. He probably had practiced the speech a few times before giving it, but the emotional nature of its content was just too much for him.


I shook my head in a desperate attempt to clear my mind, but little bits of the information I just received were jammed into my brain.


Stannous… testing Rose… mother… torture… definitive… Department of Mysteries… powerful magic… pro-


“Obviously, this is information of the most sensitive nature,” Harry cut off my thoughts, his voice barely above a whisper. It didn’t matter. Every person in the room was intent on hearing him. “This case is now priority number one for this department,” Harry continued stalking the front of the room as Ron tiredly swiped a thumb and forefinger across his eyes and pinched his nose. “We are not removing any cases, but I’m shifting around some duties so that we can focus our best talents... where we need them.”


“When do we tell Rose?” Kali Goldstein piped in. Ron tipped his head upward to exchange a glance with his best friend.


Harry sucked in a breath. “Right now, we don’t. The Department of Mysteries is still working on the authentication and given what she’s already been put through, I’ve…” Harry caught Ron’s eye, “... or rather we’ve decided to wait until we have enough specifics to merit it. The information I’ve given you is extremely preliminary, and we’re still learning more and more everyday,” his stare ended on me and Al. I blinked. It was the only motion my body would make. I wasn’t even sure I was breathing.


“No one outside of this room knows, d’ya understand?” Ron looked surprised at how loud he was addressing the group, but he continued, “This does not get leaked to The Prophet or anywhere else.” He began listing on his fingers. “Spouses don’t know, girlfriends don’t know, twin brothers don’t know. Got it?” Most people nodded. I was still frozen.


“And protection?” Caesar said gravely from his seat to my left. I was grateful for him and all the others. My head was swirling too much and I couldn’t get through the reality of this news to focus on what we should do next. The mentees, being a little more removed from the situation, had the clarity of mind to ask the pertinent questions.


Harry answered him. “Rose is currently under the fidelius charm, is confined to her home, work and a few close family members’ houses. An Auror guard acts as escort whenever she transports between locations and we have undercover Aurors at Mungo’s for added protection.”


Caesar nodded, assenting with the proposed safeguards.


“What’s our next move?” This time it was Teddy who spoke.


“Well,” Harry blew out a big sigh as Ron rocked his head back against the wall and stared at the ceiling, “The problem is, we don’t know Stannous’s current location so we can’t track his movement to know when he is mobilizing. What we do know, however, is that he will, at some point, attempt another kidnapping. We also know that he’s got several accomplices working with him, so he may choose to lay low and let his lackeys do the dirty work.”


“No.”


The word was so soft, but clear and it came from the man sitting on my right. My head swung involuntarily to gaze blankly at Albus.


“He won’t send others to get her,” Al continued, staring at his feet, as if talking to himself. “I saw the look on the fucker’s face and he liked it. He gets off on being part of the action, being the center. He might bring others along for backup, but he’s definitely going to be the one to put his hands on... Rose,” he choked out the last words and had to clear his throat.


The last sentence passed through me like a blast of arctic air and I shook it off. From somewhere in front of me, Harry was talking again and people were asking more questions, but I couldn’t make out any words, just voices all around me. I felt a hand pressing into my back and found it to be surprisingly steadying. After several moments, I realized it was Caesar and my mind was able to refocus on Harry’s instructions.


“...need to treat this like any other case even though the subject - er - Rose is related to many of the department, myself included.” Harry eyes were on me as he spoke the last of these words. He was sending me a message with his piercing emerald orbs.


We’re all in this together. For Rose.


*

“Rose?”


Mum?” I had heard the crack in the entryway, but had assumed it was James, returning home from his Quidditch practice. We weren’t connected to the floo network, for obvious reasons, and only people given the secret could apparate into the house. Once inside, you could apparate between the floors, but the entry hall was more or less our come and go room.


I extricated myself from the piles of books, parchment, quills and ink to escape the drawing room and flit out to greet her.


“Hullo!” I wrapped my arms around her and squeezed tightly. “What’re you doing here?” Mum wasn’t a regular at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place. I couldn’t exactly blame her. The entire house had a sort of depressing air to it. The dingy rooms hadn’t changed in years, so I couldn’t tell if they’d all been painted different variations of gray or had faded to that as time passed and fashions came and went, leaving this dull, depressing house behind.


“Well… your father had a meeting at work and I thought,” she pulled at the corner of her lip with her thumb and forefinger. “I thought we could, you know… visit.”


Visit? I raised an eyebrow. We were not a pair of pure blood witches from the nineteenth century. Clearly this was not a social call, and it was obviously serious enough for her to come to me, instead of an owled invitation to my parent’s house for dinner.


I smiled, actually grateful for the company. These restrictions were wearing on me. No public places meant no Diagon Alley, no walks in the park or even Muggle London. I had finally been feeling more like a normal adult and suddenly my freedoms had been revoked. For the time being, the only places I could go other than Number Twelve and St. Mungo’s were my parent’s house, Uncle Harry’s, and of course, The Burrow. Christmas had been wonderful, as usual. My parents (well, Mum more so than Dad) were somewhat accepting of Scorpius and I as a couple, and Dom had even been discharged from Mungo’s in time to enjoy the holidays with all of us.


“How’re you holding up?” she asked, sitting stiffly down at the long table in the kitchen as I made us a pot of tea. Her voice had false cheer to it.


“It’s great Mum,” I gave my standard answer, as always. “Studying is going well, the lot of us are incredibly busy, so there isn’t much time for -”


“Rose.” She reached across the table to grab my hand as I laid a plate of biscuits out for us. “I don’t mean your studies. I meant you.” Her fingers were soft but cold as they closed around mine.


I paused and stared blankly at her. Mum always asked about my studies. It would drive Hugo mad when she asked how his classes were going and how much time he was studying for each subject, but I loved reporting all of that to her. I even felt it made us grow closer when I showed her my review tables for my O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s. It’s not like Mum never took an interest in my life, it was just that studying and books were what we had in common.


Until now.


Suddenly, I realised what she was asking. And the reason for her nerves became apparent. I nodded and squeezed her hand right back as I wrapped both of mine around hers, trying to warm them.


“I’m doing really well, Mum. And I can say it and mean it for the first time in over two years.” My blue eyes bored into her warm brown ones and I rubbed her chilled hands again. “This kitchen is cold.” I pulled one of my hands away to grasp my wand in my pocket and, with a flick and a nonverbal spell, the fire that had burnt down to embers roared to life.


Settling down on the bench next to her, I poured us both a cup of tea. All of a sudden, I felt like I was seven years old again and I laid my head down on her shoulder.


“Stannous used cruciatus flagrate,” I said, almost as if we were discussing the latest brand of floo powder. “I’m fairly sure he created the spell on his own. It left some pretty nasty scars, but… they’re better now. Not gone - but… b-better,” my voice faltered. Guilt seeped through me. I had avoided this moment for so long. Actually avoiding this moment was the purpose of my entire existence for over two years until…


“Scorpius has been really, truly amazing Mum,” I blurted out, almost desperately. “I need for you and Dad to give him at least a chance. No. He deserves more than a chance. I love him. Probably more than I’ve ever loved anything or anyone,” I was whispering. “And he loves me.” The confession poured out of me as both her arms wrapped around me and squeezed tight.


“I know. Rose. I know. I - I know you need this from us. Please understand - your Dad is trying. He’s actually come further than I’d ever thought he would. But I - I think it’s time you know the whole story. About... the war,” her voice dropped.


I felt her body go rigid. My Mum never talked about the war. I’d learnt as a child not to ask. After getting a cursory response I never pressed the issue. As I shifted to look in my mum’s face, I could see how much this was weighing on her. It was my turn to place my arms around her and pull tight. She responded by resting a hand on my forearm that was crossing her chest.


“After the war was a really dizzying time - for all of us,” she began with a deep inhale. “We were war heroes, but I think that everyone forgot that we were eighteen-year-old war heroes. Hell, I think we even forgot that bit.” My eyes shot up to hers. She wasn’t kidding about having a serious conversation. This was the first time I’d ever heard my mother use that word. This was the first time she ever sat down and willingly gave me information about the war. She stopped herself and pulled at the edge of her lip.


After a moment, her hand sank into her lap and she subtlety recomposed herself as I loosened my grip. “What I meant to say was, it was extremely busy. The summer after the war was insane, really. The three of us were expected to attend ministry functions almost nightly. Some were to help prepare the new government, others were to celebrate the victory, and still others were to mourn the dead. We worked to help rebuild Hogwarts during the day and I took a few weeks to get my parents from Australia.


“Harry, your Dad and I were hounded, day in and day out by reporters, ministry officials and fans who just wanted to be close to us. We really did our best to respect that everyone had a right to know… erm… to know as much as possible about the correct version of events. Harry was very adamant about that - to a certain extent. We learned early on that some reporters would rather make up facts than worry about our reputation or publishing accurate information. For that reason, we decided to tell the story as truthfully as we could. There were a few details that we chose to hide but, in the end, we told everyone about the prophecy that had been spoken and how Harry was ‘the chosen one,’ destined to kill Voldemort by his own wand. At the time, it felt like the right thing to do.”


I knew about the prophecy. But not because my parents ever told me about it - we had learnt about it in History of Magic classes at Hogwarts. My initial confusion was leading me to a new emotion - aggravation. So my parents had thought it prudent to reveal all of this information to the general public, but never to their own children?


My brief moment of frustration faded when I saw her hands were shaking slightly in her lap. I poured her another cup of tea and fixed it up for her. She smiled warmly at me, and her nerves seemed to settle a bit, after taking a few long sips before continuing.


“That proved to be a huge mistake. Once word of the prophecy got out, every would-be seer this side of the Atlantic Ocean started having visions about Harry - or your father, or me. They ran the gamut from what restaurant we would be dining at for Halloween to predicting our untimely deaths - again, and again,” her voice slowly rising in timbre also caught an air of bitterness to it.


She paused for a moment to let it sink in with me. This was the most decomposed I’d ever seen my mum and it was more than a bit unnerving to me. She’d always been so in control of everything from keeping track of our daily schedules to arguing cases in front of the Wisengamot. She was a true Gryffindor, although I never realized until this moment how brave she really was. She took a deep breath and I could swear I felt a tremor pass through her core.


“I really wanted to finish my final year at Hogwarts. McGonagall had made me head girl and focusing on my studies and duties kept me busy enough to… not deal with things. Things I should’ve dealt with. Things like… like seeing people die and escaping death more than once and… and… my own torture,” while she spoke slowly, her voice was firm.


“The nightmares began the summer after the war.”


This was her confession and I knew. I knew how hard it was to say the words. I knew she had to get through it without me interrupting. So I snuggled deeper into her side and let her tell me everything at her own pace.


“I rationalized it. I told myself of course I would have some recurring dreams of the horrors for a bit. I struggled through for the summer and through my year at Hogwarts. As head girl, I didn’t even have two seconds to think about things for nearly a year. Actually exactly a year.


“The anniversary celebration was a large scale event at the castle. The idea of a celebration seemed absurd to me. I’d been sinking deeper and deeper over the previous months and the nightmares were becoming more frequent. I felt so alone, not even realizing that I was pushing everyone away.” She turned to face me and traced her fingers down the side of my face. Oh Merlin, her words rang so true. It was the same for me and she knew it. But Mum was so much braver than I was and she kept going.


“I hadn’t seen your dad in months. I kept owling him that my studies and head girl duties were taking most of my time. But the truth was that I’d gotten to a point of barely eating or sleeping. During the day, I put up the front of a girl with everything together, but at night, alone in my head girl room, I was a complete wreck.


“The celebration was supposed to be a happy one, but as soon as your father saw me, he knew. After the ceremony, he refused to go back. He stayed with me until the end of term. I don’t think I’d have made it through my N.E.W.T.s without him. Shortly after graduation, we moved into a small flat in Diagon Alley.


“The nightmares got worse and worse. I couldn’t understand why he stayed,” she shook her head. “It was the worst time in my entire life. After all the years of Muggleborn hating, living on the run and defeating Voldemort, I just… wasn’t expecting - I thought - rather foolishly, that it would just be over and everything would go back to… peace and calm.”


“Oh, Mum,” my heart swelled for her and Dad.


“Most of my nightmares were about being tortured at… at Malfoy Manor, but that was really only part of the problem. The crazy seers making prophecies just got worse and worse. Each one tried to outdo the previous. It became so sensationalistic, so absurd. It added to my trauma. I felt like I couldn’t move on and I was… stuck. Your Dad never gave up. By the end of summer, he decided to leave the joke shop and join Harry at Auror training. Both he and Harry saw first hand that the end of the war was not the end.”


The end is not the end. No words were truer than those.


Mum took a deep breath and blew it out. “Your Dad still holds on a bit. He holds on to what happened at Malfoy Manor and all the prophecies and all of it. But I also know that he sees how you are with Scorpius - and how he is with you. I think he sees so many similarities that it makes it harder for him to accept. Am I making any sense?”


I nodded into her shoulder, “You’re making perfect sense.”


Two distinct cracks sounded in the entry hall.


“Rose! Rosie?” It was Dad.


“Rose, are you home?” Scorpius.


“Down here - in the kitchens!” I called as Mum smoothed her hair and collected herself.


“Hiya!” I tried to make my voice light as Scorpius paced into the room, relief washing over his face. Dad was right on his tail, almost as if he were pushing past Scorpius to get to us. “Dad, you look a bit peaked, you alright?” I asked.


“Fine,” he answered quickly. His eyes darted between Mum and I. For a moment, I thought he’d guessed the topic of our conversation. “‘Mione, everything alright there?” he asked as he skirted round the table and stood behind the two of us. His hands instinctively began rubbing Mum’s shoulders. Fortunately, he took her muffled mm-hmm as an acceptable response and sat down on the other side of her.


“Would you like to stay for dinner?” Scorpius asked, finding my hand and lifting it from my lap as he stood behind me. “Rose and I can whip up something quick.”


“Oh! We wouldn’t dream of putting you out,” Mum gave the polite response timidly.


“Nonsense,” Scorpius replied, “It’s really not a bother at all.” I could hear the eagerness in his voice. He loved to cook. I think sharing the recipes that his Mum taught him made him feel closer to her and also was a way to show how much he cared for others. I really, really wanted Mum and Dad to say yes.


But Ron Weasley came through - even if it was with his stomach more than with his heart. “Well, perhaps a quick bite wouldn’t hurt, Hermione. We could spend some time with Rosie… and Scorpius.” He was now cuddled up next to her, one arm around her shoulders and drawing her close. I wondered if he sensed what we’d just been discussing. It was a rare moment to witness this tenderness between them.


Scorpius led me to the other side of the kitchen and we began prepping his Mum’s meatloaf recipe that he knew I loved so much. He leaned in close as I set my wand to chop the onions. We stirred the gravy together - he always insisted that be made the Muggle way. I felt like he was making excuses to be close to me, rubbing my arm and grasping my hand whenever he got a chance.


“You alright?” I asked as we were plating the four dishes for us. We’d made about ten times more than needed, but it wouldn’t go to waste. James and Al were famous for their midnight snacks that regularly cleared out the refrigerator.


“I’m great, Ro.” He sent me a tight-lipped smile with bright eyes.


I was about to call his bluff when Dad bellowed, “That smells incredible! When do we eat?” 






A/N:  So this chapter was an add-in to my original outline.  I need to thank kenpo for the idea of Rose and Hermione having a heart-to-heart about their common experiences.  Thanks Georgia!  You mentioned it in one of your reviews and this chapter would never have been written without your comments.  It may look like filler, but this chapter really kicks off the second part of the story.


Special thanks also goes to my awesome beta reader, crestwood, whose encouragement, edits and reassurances are invaluable to me!  ♥


Chapter 20: Boredom: Rose and Scorpius POV
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“I’m going to go positively mad!” I groaned to Selenia during our potions practical. “I’m sick of being locked away all the time,” Selenia had just finished telling me about her and Albus’s plans. They were taking a romantic weekend at a Bed and Breakfast in Hogsmeade. I was so incredibly jealous. It’d been months since I’d even seen outside - the real outside, not just the enchanted windows from St. Mungo’s.

I’d been able to convince myself that I didn’t really need to go out and do anything during the chilled winter months, but now it was nearing the end of March and while not exactly warm outside, the weather was getting milder and I was suffering from the absolute worst case of cabin fever. Even though all my friends and family put forth a concerted effort to make my twenty-first birthday celebration special, the fact was that I still felt the restrictions pushing in on all sides. Without wanting to seem ungrateful, I’d put on a smile for the entire party, which was a very nice dinner at my parents’ house. I couldn’t help but think that I would’ve traded it all of a lovely walk outside in the chilled February air.

I pouted and turned back to my cauldron. The pregnancy-test potion we were charged with making for today’s lesson was the perfect shade of silver. I couldn’t help myself from thinking that it perfectly matched Scorpius’s eyes. Being locked up day in and day out was made – er - not so terrible by the fact that I was spending my nights with him. Merlin, I was in deep!

Potions had always come really easy to me. I had made this one seamlessly, getting it to the right temperature without bubbling. If it were to bubble, I would’ve had to start over, like most of the other healer candidates. Selenia had to start hers over once and poor Wolfram Longbottom was on his fourth try. I’d been done for the last hour and I’d already made a timetable to study for my obstetrics finals that were next week, then briefly reviewed the symptoms of the most common witch ailments to have during pregnancy, and was now re-reading the letter I’d received that morning from my therapist Ruth, who was still abroad along the Bulgarian-Romanian border.

Dearest Rose,

I hope this letter finds you well. My research has been enlightening. I happened upon some interesting information that might prove valid to your situation, but I don’t feel confident writing it in a letter. Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to returning to London in about four weeks time. I wanted to remind you to keep doing things that bring you peace and joy, but to also expand your horizons when you feel up to it. The more you keep to doing regular, everyday activities, the faster your recovery will be.

Much love,

Ruth

Regular everyday activities. I scoffed to myself and tucked the letter back into my pocket. Clearly Ruth hadn’t been up-to-date on the Death Eater attack at The Quaffle and the protective measures that ensued thereafter. I’d be sure to send her a response later on. For the moment, I was still stewing over my own predicament. I was tired of having to stay put. It was ironic, really. I finally wanted to experience life outside of my own little cocoon and wasn’t permitted to.

But what if there’s another attack? The voice in the back of my head reasoned with me. Was it really so absurd to consider fighting back? But how?

These thoughts tumbled through my brain while I was putting the finishing touches on my potion. Having reserved a small sample for grading, I was now filtering the rest into several vials for the obstetrics department to use. The entire time, I was getting more and more irritated.

“I can’t take it anymore – I’m locked in my own private Azkaban day after day!” I blurted across the table to Selenia, letting my frustration get the best of me.

“I don’t think they let you shag your boyfriend every night in Azkaban,” she pointed out with amusement. “You know, someone once suggested a silencing charm to Albus…” she had a sly little grin on her face as she carefully added three drops of essence of hydrangea. Selenia was one of the top Healer Trainees and she always carried herself in a confident, reserved manner, but to her closest friends, she definitely had a wild side.

I could feel the heat rise up my cheeks. Scorpius and I had experimented with interesting ways to occupy our time over the past few months. My face was getting hot thinking about the things that we’d been doing. Perhaps a silencing charm was in order. He was so incredibly gentle and sensitive with me, always letting me take the lead. Fact was, sometimes I just lost control around him. He made me think about things I never thought before. My breath quickened as I recounted the night before.

“Earth to Rose… Hey – are you thinking about shagging right now?!”

“Shhh – why don’t you announce it to the entire staff of Mungo’s?” I whispered ferociously. “It’s not like we have a whole lot of other things to do, ya know,” I hissed.

I knew I was being a little overdramatic about being locked in Azkaban. But, in reality, it did feel like I was in a sort of prison. I was getting more than a little tired of looking at the same walls every day.

That’s when it hit me. I knew exactly what would fix my problem of boredom – and the other problem that had been plaguing me for the past few months.

“Actually,” I wiggled my forefinger upwards as I answered Selenia, “you just made me think of a brilliant idea of something productive I can do with Scorpius!” I was getting really excited.

“Great! But I don’t want any details about your sex life.”

“Don’t worry, you’ll be there too,” I giggled at the look of horror on her face.

“Oh no!” she exclaimed as the potion started to bubble furiously. “I have to start over again!”

*

“What are you on about, Rose?” Albus turned to Rose, he the first of us to recover and actually respond to her request. We’d just finished eating dinner. The eight of us were, as usual, gathered around the large table in the kitchens. During the week, we made a point of eating together whenever possible, each couple taking a turn to cook. The meals ranged from really quick, easy food when Albus and Selenia cooked to more complicated, but filling meals when it was mine and Rose’s turn. We really enjoyed cooking together – I was able to show her a lot of the stuff my Mum taught me. Tonight was Dom’s turn... so, as per usual, she’d waited until the last minute and Kreacher reheated whatever was left in the refrigerator.

Rose looked directly at Albus. “I want you to give me defense lessons. You, Scorpius and Dom. I want you to teach all of us special practice in defense.” Her voice was different. She wasn’t asking and she spoke with a grave determination.

She continued, “I’ve already worked it all out. We can practice in that field at the far end of the Muggle park on Stanton Street. We’ll put up Muggle repelling charms!”

This was not good. I looked over at Al and Dom. They carried identical sober expressions. In light of our discoveries a few months back, I didn’t think this was going to fly with the heads of the department.

“Rosie... you already have an ‘E’ in Defense N.E.W.T.s,” Albus was the first to respond.

“That’s just because I did so well on the written part of the exam.” Rose explained. “I can’t have another incident like what happened at the pub,” her tone was getting urgent, desperate even.

“Ro,” I began. “The muggle park isn’t a good idea. In fact, I’m pretty sure that would go against Wizarding law - to use a park for our own purposes. Besides, you don’t have to do this.”

“Yes I do, Scorp.” She said with determination. “We got lucky that night in The Quaffle. It’s foolish for me to think there will always be someone to come to my rescue. I don’t want to have to depend on that. I need to be able to defend myself,” she paused and glared right at me. “I froze. I couldn’t think of the spells and couldn’t react. That can’t happen again. Come on Al,” she turned to her cousin again. “Everyone knows you’re the best,” she wrapped her arms around him and squeezed. It was true. Al just had a knack for spells and thinking on his feet. He would breeze through the training sessions, while the rest of us trainees were out of breath and exhausted at the end.

“Sorry Rose,” he said, patting her on the arm twisted around him. He looked really uncomfortable as he spoke, “if my Dad ever found out… I just don’t think he would approve of an underground DADA course.” Al trailed off.

“Al, please, we don’t have to use the Muggle park. We could use an empty lot in Diagon Alley - or maybe the Canon’s Pitch when they aren’t practicing!” she begged.

“What’s the big deal?” Selenia chimed in, coming to Rose’s aid. “You three just help the rest of us polish up?”

It was Dom’s turn. “The ministry is very secretive about Auror training is all. We aren’t permitted to show you most of the stuff we learn.”

“How is being secretive going to keep us alive?!” Rose spat as she stood and dropped her arms from around Albus. She stalked toward the center of the room to address all of us. Her face was flushed and her eyes pierced Dom’s as she pointed an accusing finger. “You’re being ludicrous! Do you realize that one of us could have died that night? It could have been any of us! Jax or Selenia or Samara… or Lily!” She gestured around the room and her eyes landed back on Albus.

“Ro,” I began softly, trying to make her see reason, “that’s what the Aurors are for. The ministry puts a lot of time and effort into keeping up to date with intelligence and their response systems. No one got seriously hurt, because the system works.”

Rose looked at me with her mouth hanging open in disbelief. She swung her head around the room and saw Al nodding his agreement. Dom was looking at her dinner, a bit more intently than re-heated lasagna deserved. Anger bubbled to the surface as Rose stood up; rage I had never seen was taking hold.

“What the fuck?! Three people DIED, Scorpius, we’re just lucky it wasn’t more!” She exclaimed. Jax moved uncomfortably toward Dom and put his arm around her. Samara had yet to speak. “Do you all feel that way?” Rose continued. No one dared look at her.

Selenia spoke next, trying to come to Rose’s defense, “So, until the ‘Ministry’ shows up, we are just supposed to lie there and take it if some dark wizard decides he is going to take a turn with us-” She stopped abruptly, realizing the significance of her words. Samara and Dom both jerked their heads up at her. Rose’s red face drained to white with shock. She slowly backed out of the kitchen, turned and hurried down the hall. The distinctive crack that was heard left no mistake. She was gone.

“Shit!” Albus mumbled. “What the hell?” He got up and followed the path Rose had taken and then hurried up the stairs to see if she had just apparated herself up to one of the bedrooms. I stood there in disbelief. She wouldn’t. She knows how dangerous it would be for her out there. Actually, she doesn’t even know half of it. Shit!

A sob escaped Selenia as she backed against the wall, wrapping her arms around herself. How could she have been so insensitive? Guilt permeated her features as her chin bowed against her chest and her eyes squeezed shut. After a few moments, she lifted her head up and looked around the room with the same look of disbelief that Rose had. I don’t know how this got so out of control. Why was Rose so upset over silly defense lessons? We were trying to protect her - why couldn’t she see that?

Dom and Samara were too shocked to speak. Dom was still huddling against Jax – a rare moment of vulnerability for her. I looked away and stood up to go check down the hallway - foolishly, as if Albus just didn’t see Rose and she had been standing there all along.

“Bloody hell,” I said to the room as I walked back in. She was really gone. James ran his hand through his messy hair. “Dammit,” was all he could say. He didn’t know the severity of this situation, but he was quick enough to figure out that this was very, very bad. We have to find her. Now.

“How are you idiots not getting this?” Selenia, still pressed against the wall yelled as soon as Al apparated into the room and shook his head. Tears flowed freely down her cheeks. Her head was bobbing frantically between all the blokes in the room.

Al reached an arm around her and she shoved him away. As far as she was concerned, he was the main culprit here.

She was sobbing uncontrollably now, “The ministry couldn’t help Rose when she was in that cabin with Stannous. They didn’t get there in time to stop-” she broke down and slid to the floor, cradling her head in her arms.

The room was dead silent.

“Fuck!” I spewed. This was bad. Really bad. Rose doesn’t even know how bad this was and she could be anywhere.

“Where do you think she went?” James was the first to come around.

“All right,” My thoughts started to clear. Panicking would not help. We need to stay present and identify the task.

Find Rose.

I may not be as quick as Albus at spells, but I was pretty good with organizing a group. “Dom, you and Jax go to the Burrow and see if she’s there. Don’t say anything to alarm Nana Molly or Grandad, just act like you came for a quick visit and send me a patronus.”

“Selenia, why don’t you go and check St. Mungo’s on the off chance she just went there to cool off in the staff room or something.” I softened my voice when I asked her; she was still crouched on the floor, but was at least able to look up and nod at me. Al was standing close, unsure of how to approach her.

“Scorpius,” her voice was still tight from her crying. “Today at training she was talking about how she is sick of being stuck here all the time.” She and Rose were such close friends. “Maybe she went to Diagon Alley. You know, just to get out…”

“Shit, it will take forever to find her there,” I thought out loud.

“It’s almost 7:00 on a weekday. Most of the stores are closing up,” Samara pointed out.

“Okay, okay,” this wasn’t as bad as I thought originally. “Al and James, you’re the quickest. Go to Diagon Alley and cover it as fast as you can. See if Fred is around at the shop to help you. Samara,” I turned to the blonde. “You stay here, in case she comes back. Anyone finds her, send a patronus to the rest of us.”

“Where’re you going to go?” James wondered.

“To Ron and Hemione’s house. It’s possible she just went to see her Mum. If not, they need to be aware their daughter is MIA. I know Rose won’t like it, but there’s good reason she was put under protection. And maybe they can think where she might be,” I added as an afterthought

Everyone nodded their agreement and went down the hallway to apparate to their respective assignments.

*

Crack.

I landed in the living room of the house I knew so well. My long, red curls swished in front of my face, suffocating me. As I reached up to swipe the mass of hair from my face and suck fresh air into my lungs, I felt my head spin from the apparition and I instinctively leaned over, holding tight to my knees with my eyes closed, focusing on letting the nausea subside.

This time, it didn’t.

As the bile rose up my throat, I hopelessly tried again to gulp some air.

Oh, shit!

I didn’t need to open my eyes, as I knew the steps to the bathroom by heart, getting there just in time to vomit violently in the toilet. My head swelled with dizziness from the panic attack and I pressed my forehead into the seat. Sometimes the cool porcelain would ease the spinning, but not this time.

Slowly inhaling and exhaling to quell my nerves, I knew what was coming next. The shivers spread from my center out to my extremities. Stay here. Don’t think about the past. Stay in the present. Breathe. Breathe… Another round of vomiting, but this time, it was less intense. I felt the warmth of familiar, steady hands twist up my hair and rub my back. The shaking subsided a little bit and I took another deep breath.

“Thanks,” my voice was raspy.

“All right, love?” The voice said, knowing that I wasn’t all right, but just done with the vomiting part. I nodded and finally opened my eyes after rubbing the tears that had been forced out due to the viciousness of the retching. I didn’t say anything back, and I knew I didn’t have to. We would just sit there in the bathroom together until I was ready.





A/N:  Hello to all!  So, this chapter started off slow, but had a bit action at the end.  All I can say is... hold on to your hats - It's gonna be a bit rough for the next few...

Special thanks to -BookDinosaur- (or Emily the Awesome, as I call her) for the chapter title.

And also thanks to my Beta reader, crestwood - I'm so appreciative of all your advice and edits! ♥

Beth
 



Chapter 21: Bedlam: Scorpius and Rose POV
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I decided to floo to Ron and Hermione’s instead of apparating. It was a tad more civilized and, I didn’t want to barge in on them after I’d made some headway with Ron recently.

“Scorpius!” Hermione looked up from the book she was reading on the couch, obviously surprised. “Is something wrong?” I don’t regularly visit their house, especially without Rose and especially uninvited.

I tried to keep my voice calm, but I knew my eyes would give it away. Rose always said she could tell how I was really feeling by looking in my eyes. “Have you seen Rose?” I asked bluntly.

“No,” was her shocked reply. “Is she missing?” She stood up and crossed the room to me in a few strides, letting the book fall to the floor. Her voice inflected the panic behind it. In that small moment, Rose’s disappearance became real. It was all too familiar. A replay of the events at Hogwarts nearly three years ago. Rose can’t be found. Everyone is looking everywhere.

“She just left – apparated away. She was angry… with me.” I swallowed hard. No good would come of me padding the events with half-truths. My fists clenched and I pressed them against my forehead to keep the thoughts that were flashing through my mind at bay. Where could she be? I spoke through my hands, “Selenia is checking St. Mungo’s, Dom is at the Burrow, and James went with Albus to Diagon Alley.”

My fists turned to claws and I pawed through my hair across the top of my head and smoothed down the back of my neck. “I was really hoping she came here,” I said, getting a little desperate. “I can’t think of anywhere-”

“Harry’s house,” my head jerked up to see Ron standing in the doorway. He was stiff and seemed bigger than I remembered him. “She would go to Harry’s house,” he repeated. He knew his daughter.

“I didn’t even think of that,” I said as a spark of hope blinked at the possibility. On the inside, I was beating myself up. Why couldn’t I think of that? Of course she would go to Harry. I grabbed the floo powder and was ready to go when Hermione put a gentle hand on my arm.

“Why don’t Ron and I go and check? If she is there, we can let you know. If she is really upset, maybe we can talk to her.” Her voice was calm, but hurried.

“I really need to see if she’s all right,” I didn’t even try to hide the tears brewing in my eyes. “If she wants me to leave, I will, but I... have to see for myself.” Hermione nodded her understanding and, to my surprise, Ron gave a curt nod as well as he moved to put an arm around his wife. “We’ll follow behind you,” he said.

*

I stood up in the bathroom, splashed water on my face and rinsed the acid taste out of my mouth. Slowly inhaling another deep breath, I stared at my face in the mirror. My cheeks were flushed, but I wasn’t nauseous anymore.

“All right there, love?” Aunt Ginny’s voice was laced with concern.

Fresh anger stirred inside me. I knew I shouldn’t have left, but I had been so angry and – sick of everything. Despite my irritation, guilt stabbed at me. I couldn’t be in that much trouble, could I? If you have to flee your own personal Azkaban, wouldn’t it be best to go to the Head Auror’s house?

“Is Uncle Harry here?” I asked, deliberately avoiding that particular question. I was still staring at the mirror. Another wave of frustration mixed with remorse. I didn’t want Aunt Ginny to think that I was ungrateful for her kindness. I just really wanted to talk to my uncle.

“I’m right here, love,” Uncle Harry appeared behind me in the mirror. He had been outside the door the entire time, letting Ginny take the lead.

Something welled up inside of me. It wasn’t sadness, fear or anger. I couldn’t put my finger on the exact emotion, but it was strong. “Uncle Harry,” I began, twirling around with a confidence I didn’t know was inside me. “I’m done. I cannot continue like this. I feel like I’m the criminal, not the victim. I have to constantly be under protective care and I’m restricted to essentially two buildings. This is enough.” My voice was firm, but I wasn’t shouting.

Harry nodded, understanding brimming on his face as I spoke. “Does anyone know you are here?” he asked me, pressing a little.

“No,” For the first time, the guilt was gone. I didn’t want all of them worrying, but I was still really angry with Scorpius and Albus - and even Dom a little bit. She could’ve come to my defense like Selenia had. “I’m not trying to be rude or ungrateful, but I’m not doing this anymore,” I was repeating myself, but I needed Uncle Harry to know that I was serious about this.

“Alright love,” he nodded at me. His lips were pursed tightly together, but his bright green eyes met mine with honesty. He continued, “but there are a few things you should know first. And we need to make sure everyone knows you’re here - and safe. Are you feeling better?”

I nodded, taking in a deep slow breath. Actually, I felt the best I’d felt in weeks. I don’t think I’d fully realized how much the restrictions were affecting me.

Uncle Harry patted my shoulder and gently eased me out of the bathroom toward the family room, Aunt Ginny following behind. She sat next to me on the scarlet overstuffed sofa and Uncle Harry turned to take a seat in his plush golden armchair. As he was about to sit, the fireplace roared high with green flames and spluttered out a frantic looking Scorpius.

He scrambled to his feet and hurried over to check if I was alright. His silver orbs were a mix of relief and pain, but I folded my arms and stared pointedly at the corner of the room. I was still really pissed that he thought three deaths were insignificant. Plus, I was frustrated that he didn’t even listen to my reasoning. I wanted freedom, some semblance of the normal life of a twenty year old.

It took all of about two minutes after Scorpius sent out his patronuses for Dom, Jax, Al, Selenia, James and Fred to appear in Uncle Harry’s living room. Looks of relief poured over my friends and family, but I was still too angry to even acknowledge them. I set my jaw and stared firmly at Uncle Harry. I had not changed my mind just because they had organized a medium sized search party.

“Rose, Rose, I am so sorry,” Selenia was sobbing. She ran over and threw her arms around me. “I d-didn’t mean what I said, it just c-came out.” I hugged her back. “It’s okay Sels,” I whispered. “I’m not mad at you. You were trying to make them see my side!” Selenia continued to weep quietly into my shoulder. She settled herself on the other side of me and took my hand in hers.

Scorpius didn’t say anything. He had retreated to the opposite side of the room, not talking to anyone. At least he’s not stupid.

Harry began to speak and the room became awkwardly quiet. “Alright, everyone?” he began, making sure they were all okay from the night’s adventures. The whole lot nodded, even Fred and Jax who sort of just fell into this mess.

“Good,” Uncle Harry continued. “We need to discuss some things that Rose has brought to light. First off, I agree that you need to have some restrictions lifted,” he nodded toward me. Finally! Some sanity!

But it was short lived. He was met with cries of disbelief and a few “What the hell’s?” from Albus and Dom.

“Dad, what about the – you know…” Albus ended in a harsh whisper. All of the Aurors in the room traded serious looks. This secret exchange did not escape Aunt Ginny and Mum.

“What’s going on, Harry?” Aunt Ginny asked pointedly. Normally, she didn’t get involved in the Auror business, but it was obvious that there was a bit more going on here - anyone could see that. This wasn’t business. It was family.

“Harry – don’t.” Dad’s voice matched his sister’s. She immediately took this as a challenge. I sat up, knowing there was a lot more information out there than I had been privy to. Mum squeaked as she walked to the couch and moved to squeeze down next to Aunt Ginny on the end. I was sitting on the other side of Ginny and Selenia was next to me as well. It was a little tight, but we were banded together. The room now appeared divided. All the men were on one side (plus Dom) and the women on the other. Uncle Harry, ever the peacemaker, stood in the middle.

“Don’t what,” Ginny spat back, giving Harry a hard look.

“Uncle Harry,” I was trying to keep my voice respectful, because I really do have the utmost respect for him and feel that he has my best interest at heart. “You said that keeping secrets puts people in danger.”

“Merlin, Rose,” Albus was the first to bite back, and he was pretty worked up. “You make it sound like we are treating you like a criminal. Don’t you realize? This is all for your protection?!”

“Wrong choice of words, Al. You can be a right prat sometimes,” Selenia barked at him. I almost choked, but managed to make it sound like I was angrily clearing my throat. The room was equally shocked. Selenia was always so reserved around the family – and she pretty much worshipped Al. “What would you call it if you were confined to your house and work, with someone constantly keeping guard?!” I put my hand on her arm and rubbed it in encouragement. I knew that Selenia must really be upset and I wanted her to know that I appreciated her efforts.

“I wouldn’t exactly call us lot a group of dementors! You are being completely unreasonable. This doesn’t even concern you,” Albus growled through clenched teeth.

“Albus Severus!” Aunt Ginny beat me to admonishing Al. He could be a right prat. “How dare you speak to a lady like that! I raised you better. Besides, she is right!”

“If we could all just settle down and clear our heads…” Uncle Harry’s voice was drowned out by Dad.

“Ginny, don’t get into this. It’s Auror business. There’s a confidentiality element - you should know that by now!”

Ron-ald!” Mum’s voice had that dangerous tone - the one she only used for him when he was truly being inconsiderate or particularly clueless.

“What the hell is going on?” James asked. Fred looked over to Dom, who just shook her head. Jax looked utterly bewildered as he witnessed his first Weasley-Potter blow up.

“I think we can clear the air with just a few-” Harry’s voice was louder this time, but not loud enough. Selenia burst into tears all over again and dropped her head into her hands. Albus paced across the room towards us.

“Don’t!” she shrieked, thrusting her hand forward to stop him. “You don’t get to play the hero this time Al!” The viciousness in her voice caused him to halt in his tracks. I grabbed her hand and rubbed to help calm her down.

All hell broke loose. Mum was yelling at Dad, Dad was yelling at Aunt Ginny, who was yelling at Al. Selenia was trying to catch her breath. Dom was arguing with Fred and James, who were getting more demanding by the second. Jax was trying to calm down his girlfriend.

Only Scorpius stood silent, backed against the far wall. One of his arms was folded across his chest and the other one propped up, massaging his forehead. Almost as if he could sense I was looking at him, he lifted his head up and our eyes met.

“EEEEEEnnough!” I jerked my attention to my Uncle standing in the middle of the room. “That is quite enough!” he said, voice still booming. He eyed both sides of the room and slowed his breathing for a few seconds. “Now,” he began again, much quieter. “We’re going to talk about this calmly. Like adults.”

“Talk about what, exactly?” Aunt Ginny asked, staring hard at the Aurors.

Uncle Harry turned to face all of us sitting on the couch. His face softened and he stared directly at me.

“There’s been another prophecy.”





A/N:  Ooo!  Two cliffhangers in a row... Well, um.. - I'm sorry?

I really need to thank some faithful reviewers.  MargaretLane and paddlewaddle religiously review every single chapter within a few says of it being up - Thanks so much, guys!  And special thanks to CambAngst - for being the very first reviewer almost every single time.  You've pushed me to be a better, more thoughtful writer through this whole process.  I know that you actually check every few hours to see if the next chapter is up when I tell you that it's been submitted to the queue, and you always take the time to make special mention of it.  Sorry to be all gushing and everything, but Gah! ♥

Of course, none of this would be possible if it weren't for my amazing beta, crestwood.  Thanks Joey!


Chapter 22: Baleful: Rose POV
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“There’s been another prophecy.”

Uncle Harry’s voice wasn’t loud, but the words rolled over me and seemed to rumble around the room. His voice was solid, as if he’d made up his mind and wasn’t going to be beat around the bush. The outburst had its intended effect. You could’ve heard a pixie’s wings flutter by.

“Harry!"  Dad’s alarmed voice broke the deafening silence and I jumped. “That’s secure information from the Department of Mysteries! We’re not to divulge that to civilians!” Dad was outraged, as he paced toward Harry, his face turning the Weasley red and fists clenched at his sides. “Why don’t you just post it in Witch Weekly! How are we going to keep Rose safe now?!” His last words were bordering between rage and panic as he shouted Uncle Harry down.

“A… a… pro-prophecy?” Mum croaked in the faintest whisper. Oh, Merlin. A prophecy. I hadn’t initially realized how this would affect her. She must be going out of her mind. I reached across Aunt Ginny to squeeze Mum’s hand. I could feel her fingers trembling. Aunt Ginny had already put an arm around her and leant a comforting head on her shoulder. It surprised me that I was more upset for Mum than myself. I really was alright with the idea of a prophecy. Knowing facts seemed to calm me more than what my imagination could dream up.

Dad’s anger melted the moment he heard Mum’s strangled cry and he crossed the divide in an instant and knelt next to the arm of the couch nearest to where Mum was sitting, cradling as much of her as he could reach. Aunt Ginny and I loosened our grips to let him pull her close.

“’Mione Love”, he nuzzled her cheek. He was whispering as if no one else was in the room. “We just wanted to work out all the details. Once it became clearer, it just seemed better to keep it inside the department. We still don’t know everything – there are a lot of guesses. It’s not an exact science and some interpretations have been wrong in the past.” Translation: I was trying to protect you, too.

“Jax and Selenia,” Harry’s somber eyes flicked from Dad and his head swiveled to the other two. “Unfortunately, I’m going to have to ask you to leave. Everyone else here is family or in the Auror department. It’s nothing personal.”

Jax nodded his understanding. “Wait for you at Number Twelve, love?” he leaned in to Dom, pecked her on the cheek and rolled his fingers through the end of one of her blonde curls. He looked relieved for an excuse to head out of our self-inflicted chaos, but was searching her face to make sure she was alright with this. She gave him a quick nod and a squeeze with her hand.

Selenia didn’t even look at Albus, but nodded to Uncle Harry, stood and turned to grasp both my hands. She steeled her eyes with mine, cheeks stained with tears. She didn’t say anything, just stood up and stiffly made her way to Jax and the two apparated away together.

“A prophecy?!” Mum said immediately after we heard the distinct crack indicating they were gone. Her voice was the usual high pitch it got when she was nervous. “How long have you known?”

Harry put a hand on Mum’s shoulder, but he turned and spoke first to Albus and Dom. He quietly said, “You two will have to use obliviate. I know you are close, but this is not anything we can trifle with.” Al and Dom nodded their agreement without hesitation. He then turned back to Mum and gave her a tight, but warm smile. “Why don’t we all sit down – this may take few minutes.” She took in a shaky breath. Although I was still determined to stand my ground, I was a bit unnerved by the fact that the very idea of a prophecy had this much of an effect on the immutable Hermione Granger.

At Uncle Harry’s request, everyone who had been standing found a seat, with some people couching a seat on the floor. Everyone that is, except Scorpius. We were used to this, being in the Weasley-Potter Clan meant that you spent many family occasions on the floor. I was glad that Scorpius chose to stand in the corner. I was still resolved not to look at him.

“This is not what we agreed upon,” Dad growled at Harry, but I must admit, he was at least trying to hide his anger. He was still gripping tightly to Mum, awkwardly across the arm of the sofa. “Harry, please think about what you are doing.”

“Ron!” Mum couldn’t contain her angst anymore. “How could you keep this from me? A prophecy about our daughter? How could any of you keep this from the family – from Rose?!” Her voice got squeakier and squeakier as she went on. Finally, she broke and Dad’s eyes closed as he leaned his forehead against her shoulder and cradled her sobs.

“I know what we decided Ron,” Uncle Harry continued calmly. “But I think we may have been wrong to keep it from those most concerned.”

“But…” Mum began with a gulp of air. The conversation we’d had a few months ago crashed over me. “You’re not wrong about this prophecy, are you?” Sadness dripped from her. “Ron, if this concerns Rose, don’t you think that I should know as well?” she was still squeaking. I knew she was upset for me as much as for herself. “Harry, please…” she begged.

Harry took a deep breath and settled himself into the overstuffed gold armchair before he started. He aligned his arms on the arms of the chair, but was sitting rather stiffly. “The prophecy actually is several years old - we almost disregarded it because of the sheer number of prophecies that were coming in at the same time,” his eyes waved warily toward Mum and Dad before continuing. “It wasn’t until we started digging deeper after the attack at The Quaffle that we deciphered what…or rather who it was referring to.”

“So, obviously it is me,” I said flatly. “Does it say ‘Rose Weasley will be attacked’ -or something like that?”

Dad’s face fell a bit at my flippancy. We had passed the point of no return and he straightened up from being hunched over Mum. My need for an explanation was taking hold of me and I bore my eyes into his.

After a long moment, he spoke with uncharacteristic patience.

“No, love. Prophecies are made by true seers and they often don’t have control over when or where they are made. Trelawney didn’t even know she was having a vision most of the time, but she was really batty.”

Harry continued, “Actually, this particular prophecy tells about a child descended from two very different family lines. One is a line of blood traitors and the other is a line of death eaters. The child it refers to has unparalleled magic. It speaks of the coming together of good and evil and the power created by this union.”

Sweet Morgana and Circe. I was not expecting this. Unparalleled? Good and evil? Good magic and… evil magic? My brain started to work overtime and I just couldn’t reconcile a conclusion. I was confused and I spoke as the thoughts tumbled out of my mind. “But… I’m not descended from a blood traitor and a death eater… I guess Grandad Weasley is considered a blood traitor, as are all the Weasleys, but Mum’s parents are muggles – definitely not death eaters.”

Albus was next to speak and his voice was so soft and unlike the Albus Potter that it left an eerie feeling over the entire room.

“Rosie, the Department of Mysteries doesn’t think you are the child in the prophecy… they think you are… the child’s - mother.” He was barely whispering and looking down at the floor.

Mother. I am the child’s mother...

I was staring blankly at Albus, trying to make my brain grasp this information. Eventually, my eyes wandered the room, taking in each of the Aurors, and I landed back on Al because Scorpius was refusing to look anywhere but into the far corner.  Taking a deep breath, I braced myself for the tears, but they didn’t come. I wasn’t weepy, just trying to take it all in.

Mum squeaked again and Dad clutched her tighter. Aunt Ginny, who’d been leaning forward to hear Albus better, sat back in her seat in complete shock.

“The fuck, you say,” was James’s undignified response. He rubbed his messy black hair and Fred let out a slow, heavy breath. Without remembering how angry I was at him, I sought Scorpius on more time. But it was no use. He wouldn’t look at me or anyone else, staring intently away from any person in the room, holding his mouth in a tight pout.

“How do you know it’s me?” I was still trying to understand. “If it just said a blood traitor and a death eater, it could be numerous people.”

“It specifically mentions a red-headed witch who is a child of the trio that defeated Voldemort,” Dom spoke for the first time. “You are Ron and Hermione Weasley’s daughter – with red hair.”

Again silence as everyone thought through all this information.

“It could be Lily,” I thought out loud. The realization spilled out of me. “Oh Merlin, it could be Lily! Her father defeated Voldemort and she has red hair! Did anyone put some added protection around her?” My mind went back to the night at the pub. They could have been after Lily, not me!

Aunt Ginny stood up, but Harry was instantly out of his chair and met her, taking her hands and pressing them into his chest. His green eyes stared directly into hers.

“We already considered all possibilities and we are most certain that the prophecy cannot be referring to Lily.” Ginny searched Harry’s face, needing reassurance. I was staring intently at him as well. He seemed really sure, but how could he be so positive? He turned to me and pulled Ginny along with him.

“For the past several months, Albus, Dominique and Scorpius have been working with their mentees on sorting this through. First off, the prophecy was made on February seventh, 2006.” He looked at me and Mum and I understood.

“The day I was born.” I sighed. That made sense as to why it wasn’t Lily. She wasn’t even around for another four years. The prophecy couldn’t be about her. Relief passed over me. Aunt Ginny slumped back onto the couch on my other side so I could shift toward Mum and lean my head on her shoulder. Ginny leaned on me a bit and squeezed my arm tightly. I was so glad it wasn’t Lily, she is just too sweet and too young to have to have this hanging on her shoulders. Now I was sitting in between Aunt Ginny and Mum, I felt like I needed both of them close. Mum shifted toward me and put both her arms around me, as if she held on tight enough, she could act as a barrier between me and the world. I guess you just want to protect your kids as much as possible.

“That’s only part of it Rose,” Uncle Harry said and I noticed all of the Aurors began to shift around uncomfortably. Most notably was Scorpius. His hands clawed through his hair until he rested his forearms on top of his head, blocking out whatever nastiness was about to come.

“What is it?” I demanded. “You lot have got to stop treating me like this. I’m not about to wither and die… am I?” My attempt at a joke to diffuse the tension suddenly seemed in poor taste.

“Quite the opposite,” Uncle Harry’s mouth tipped up and the faintest smile appeared. I felt marginally better.

His face immediately went back to its stoic expression as he continued. “We are certain that you are indeed the mother that the prophecy speaks of. The problem is that Stannous also knows this. He confirmed it when he kidnapped you nearly three years ago. The…” he paused to check on my parents and Mum nodded to him. She was feeling better and able to handle this. The initial shock had worn off.

“The - erm... curse that Stannous performed on you would’ve - should’ve been fatal almost instantly. The fact that you survived six days is nothing short of remarkable.” He turned fully to me so that it was abundantly clear that I hear exactly what he was saying.

“Rose Jean Weasley, you are quite simply too strong to be killed by the nastiest curse performed by the nastiest wizard on the planet.”

I blinked. ‘Strong’ and ‘Rose Jean Weasley’ were not words that normally appeared in the same sentence.

“I’m sorry Rose,” Dom piped in. “We didn’t want to keep it from you, but we unanimously agreed that the less you knew, the-”

“-safer I would be?!” anger bubbled up within me again. “I don’t know how the hell keeping this from me was making me safe! I swear to Merlin-”

“Not safer,” Dom finished. She was, as usual, calm and collected. “We figured that you knowing about the prophecy would just give you one more thing to worry about…one more thing to bear.”

“Why don’t you let me decide how much I can bear,” I snarled. What am I, some sort of invalid? Not anymore. Like I told Uncle Harry: I. Am. Done. “I’m tired of being treated like a child. I’m past being of age – 21 years old! You wouldn’t treat any other witch like this. You are just doing this because I’m related to you,” I knew I was ranting, but I couldn’t stop the words from barking out of my mouth. Albus had moved from across the room and knelt in front of where I was sitting on the couch. I said my last words directly to him. He didn’t look angry or defiant at me. He just put his hands on my knees and looked directly into my eyes.

“Rose, there’s more,” he said carefully. “The prophecy also says that the other family ancestor of this child was very close to Voldemort. The father is descended from someone who was considered at his right hand.”

I was thinking again. My mind usually worked really fast, but something was slowing it down. I was ever the Ravenclaw, trying to figure out the puzzle. Death eaters close to Voldemort? It could be anyone. What was Albus not saying to me?

“L’erge Stannous was born Unos Lestrange,”

Albus looked right at me. “He was the son of Bellatrix and Rodolphus Lestrange, born while they were serving their sentences in Azkaban. They managed to smuggle him out of the prison. To keep his identity a secret, he was sent to live in Bulgaria. He was basically raised by Karkaroff and taught the dark arts from a young age. He changed his name and got hired at Hogwarts. He knows about the prophecy and-”

“He is the father of this ‘child,’” I stated as the realization washed over me. Oh, Merlin. I swallowed hard, nausea coursing through me again. No. Not now. Not again. I do not want him to have control anymore. I inhaled slowly and deeply and put my hands over Al’s. I am strong. The shivers started again and I clasped tighter through my shaking hands. Al knew I was steeling myself and he grasped my hands firmly. His touch and eyes gave me strength. Again, I looked across the room to find Scorpius. This time, he looked back. His eyes held such sadness. Mine held determination – although my hands told a different story, but thankfully Albus held on tight to me.

“We don’t know that for sure,” Harry’s voice was firm I felt his words break through my dread. My eyes shot back to his bright green orbs. “We know that Stannous knows about the prophecy and he thinks he is the father. Rose,” he looked directly from me to Mum and then intently back to me. He wanted to be certain we heard him and punctuated each word, “we don’t know that for sure.”

“But we do know that he is determined to get to you,” Scorpius’s voice was gruff. His face was hard, but his eyes were still sad as they bored into me. I understood. But I can’t be kept captive anymore. I shook my head at him and got the trembling in my body under control.

“Rosie, that’s why he went after you in the first place,” Albus implored me with his eyes. “That’s why he – assaulted…”

“Tortured.”

Albus’s head jerked.

“He tortured me. With cruciatus flagrate.”

Albus nodded slowly. Mum and Aunt Ginny both gave me squeezes of support. Dom rested her head on James’s shoulder. He put an arm around her as he ran his fingers from his other hand through his hair. I was grateful that I couldn’t see Dad’s face, but I continued.

“I’m not going to be afraid to say it anymore. It lets him win. It gives him back the power that he tried to take,” I felt Mum and Aunt Ginny’s strength grow as I firmly said the words I needed to say. “He tortured me every day for nearly a week. And now he has forced me into hiding and is still exerting his power over me.” The room was dead silent and all eyes were on me as I spoke. I kept my gaze on Albus because I knew that this was hard enough for Scorpius to hear and I needed to stay firm.

“Uncle Harry,” I started, finally breaking eye contact with Albus to look at my uncle. “I haven’t changed my mind. I still want my freedom. This only makes me want it more.” I half-expected my Mum to squeak, but she just hugged me. She knew more than anyone how much it meant to have a normal life, a real life. Dad made a noise of protest, but she shushed him and he relented.

“Are you sure, love?” The green eyes had become watery, but Harry kept his voice firm.

“Rose,” Scorpius was pleading and his voice was weak. “He won’t stop. He won’t stop until he gets…”

“I can’t Scorp,” I looked at him and tried to make him see with my eyes how much this meant to me. Why couldn’t he see that I needed this? Albus, who was still kneeling before me squeezed my hands again. “How long until we find Stannous? A few months? Years? Maybe Uncle Harry is right and the prophecy is about another death eater.”

“But that won’t stop-”

“I don’t care. I need a life – my life. That is also why I need to learn to fight.” And there you have it. We were back to where we started this evening. “I want to be able to defend myself and the only way I will get better is to practice against someone who is better than me. Which, at this point, is pretty much everyone…”

“I think that is an absolutely brilliant idea!” My eyes almost popped out of my head. I didn’t think Uncle Harry would deny my request, but I thought he would take some convincing.

I decided to press my luck. “I want to start tonight. Now.”

“Rose,” Albus was dumbstruck that his father was so overwhelmingly approving of my plan. “You’ve had a really rough night. There was… a lot of information. Don’t you want to rest? Take it all in?”

“All the more reason to start now. I have a lot of pent up feelings I need to get out. Let’s go!” I stood up with renewed energy and even more determination. I walked over to the opponent of my choice.

“You,” I pointed. “I think you will do.”

“Huh?” James was clearly flabbergasted. “What are you on about, Rose?”

“I want to practice dueling with you,” I said plainly. “The rest of these divs will be too easy on me.” I gestured around the room of shocked faces.

“All right!” he said, pulling his wand from his robes, a grin spreading over his face. “To the basement!”

“I’ll come too,” Dom trilled. “-and I won’t be easy on you.” That’s my girl. I beamed.

“Why don’t all of you kids go down to the cellar and have a workout,” Aunt Ginny suggested. “I’ll make a snack for all of us in about an hour.” Mum nodded and Dad finally stood from his place next to her. Even he had a small smile on his face.

“Geez Mum, you make us sound like a bunch of twelve year olds,” Albus grumbled. “Oooo! Can you make treacle tart? It’s my favorite!” He suddenly jumped up. Al could be such a little kid sometimes. I couldn’t help but smile. The mood in the entire room had shifted and I felt lighter than I had all evening.

“I can’t do this,” Scorpius spoke to the whole room.

We all stopped and stared at him. “I can’t believe we all just agreed to this! We have no idea where Stannous is. We don’t know how many he has working with him or what they are planning and we are just going to lift all the protections we have put in place? We went out once – ONCE – and she got attacked!” I knew he wasn’t going to take this well, I knew he didn’t understand.

“Scorp, am I just supposed to live in a hole until I’m 30? 40? Why can’t you see that I need more than just…”

“Me?”

“That’s not what I was going to say,” my voice croaked. I couldn’t believe he thought it.

“I can’t do this,” he said again, shaking his head. And with that, he twisted and disapparated away. Gone.

My heart sank. Everyone was quiet for several moments. Did he mean he can’t do ‘us’? I grabbed Albus for support and put my head into his shoulder. Do not cry.

“Rosie, you know he just can’t bear to see you hurt – none of us can. He loves you so much.” I was shocked the words came from my Dad. He continued, “I know the feeling. The idea of you being a target haunts me day and night. But I know that you need to do this. Scorpius will come around. Just give him a bit.”

I nodded. I wasn’t really angry anymore, just frustrated – and a little hurt. Why couldn’t he see that I needed this? “Al?” I pondered to my cousin and Scorpius’s best mate. Was it over? Did I just let him go forever?

“He’ll be all right Rosie, just give him a bit, like your Dad said. He loves you way too much… just needs some time to cool off.”

I nodded, still a little unsure. “Let’s go,” I said quietly to my cousins. James put a reassuring arm around me. We all headed for the dueling range in the basement.

*

Treacle tart is really an amazing bit of pastry. An hour later, we were munching happily – Aunt Ginny truly does make the best and we happily ate while Uncle Harry began laying out the new regulations for my protection. The fidelius charm would still stay in place and guards would still be around at St. Mungo’s.

“We still need to know where you will be,” Uncle Harry continued. “We are going to have to be able to respond to you if another attack happens. You need to learn ‘Arelius Adveho.’”

“The charm to summon the Aurors,” I said, remembering it from the attack at the Quaffle.

Dad smiled, “That’s my Rosie – smartest witch in her class.”

And I think you should continue to practice dueling. That was really a great idea. It reminds me of Dumbledore’s Army.” Mum and Aunt Ginny smiled. Harry continued, “At least one senior Auror and at least one trainee should know where you are at all times, if you are not at St. Mungo’s or Number Twelve. At first, you will have to still have an Auror or trainee with you. If it goes well, we will reconvene to determine if we can lift more restrictions.” I nodded, willing to agree to almost anything at this point.

“Got it,” I said. I should be happier, but I felt uneasy without Scorpius here. My nerves were acting up again and the nausea was returning. I held my breath and looked down at my treacle tart, I didn’t want everyone else to see that I was having a mini panic attack.

“Rosie?” Dad noticed my quiet demeanor.

“I’m getting kind of tired,” I said. “We all have training and work tomorrow. Let’s head out, guys.”

“One more thing, Rose,” Uncle Harry was very serious. “We are keeping this information to only the Auror department and the people in this house tonight – plus Scorpius, of course. The rest of the Weasleys will not know about the prophecy, nor Selenia, Jax or Samara.”

We all nodded. I kissed my parents and Aunt and Uncle good night. I gave him an extra tight hug. “Thank you, Uncle Harry. I really needed this.”

“I know love,” he smiled warmly. “You head back with Dom, all right? I need to speak with Albus and James – don’t worry. No more secrets. Just family stuff.”

“See you later, guys.” Dom and I apparated home.

I didn’t realize just how tired I was until we climbed the stairs to our rooms. I opened the door to my bedroom and it looked so empty. Scorpius wasn’t there. I really thought he would be. Where did he go? Dom was behind me and she put her hand on my shoulder. “He’ll come around, Rose. He loves you-”

“-too much. I know. Why does everyone keep saying that?” I asked.

“Because everyone knows. It’s obvious to anyone who looks at either one of you. You two are just… completely into each other. Even more than Al and Selenia. If I were into that sort of thing, I would be insanely jealous of you.” Dom always was the skeptic. None of her boyfriend’s ever lasted very long. I couldn’t believe that Jax was still around. This may be as close as Dom gets to the real thing.

“Good night Rose, I have to go obliviate my boyfriend now,” she said nonchalantly. I gave her an appreciative smile. Harry was right, we needed to keep this information close. A leak would be really dangerous.

I decided, regardless of how tired I was that I would climb the two flights of stairs to his room - he most likely decided to hole up in Regulus’s room. I didn’t have any energy left for apparition. I knocked heavily on his door, knowing he was in there. He never left the door closed when he wasn’t.

“Scorp?” My tired head leaned against the door. I didn’t have much energy for this. “Scorpius, please?” This was my last attempt. I was about to fall asleep against the door. It opened and I fell inside – into his strong arms.

I pushed myself back. “Sorry,” I said, looking at the ground.

“What do you want, Rose?” his voice was hard. This was not the time. He was still really upset.

“I just wanted to see you. I’ll go now. Maybe we can talk tomorrow,” When I am less tired.

He didn’t say anything and I wanted to grab him and hold on. There was so much to consider, so much to think about. Emotions and words just started pouring out of me all at once.

“The prophecy said I am the mother of the most powerful wizard since Dumbledore, maybe even more so. Some crazy fuck wizard is after me because he thinks he is the father. I am still having panic attacks. I don’t know what is going to happen next. I just wanted to see you-” I was repeating myself, so I stopped before I sounded like a complete moron. He was just staring at me with a hard look.

I sighed. I was not going to get any understanding from him – not tonight at least. Slowly, I turned to go, half expecting him to grab me back or at least call out. He didn’t. My legs were heavy as I trudged back down the two flights of stairs. As I passed the third floor, I could hear Al and Selenia fighting in her room – loudly.

“If Rose says she needs this, then she needs this, Al! None of the rest of us has any right to judge what the best thing is for her. We haven’t had to endure what she went through!” I winced.

“You’re right, love-”

“And I can’t believe you spoke to me that way, in front of your family no less. I was mortified,” she was sobbing now. Selenia loved Harry and Ginny.

“I’m so sorry, ‘Lenia. It won’t happen again.” I could tell he was really remorseful.

“I think I need to sleep in my own room for a bit. I just need to think this over.”

“Okay, love, I understand.” Then I heard a much quieter, “Obliviate.”

If possible, my body felt heavier and more tired than before. How many people was this going to affect? Al and Dom were obliviating the people they loved the most. Scorpius and I are both suffering from a broken heart. Mum, Dad and Uncle Harry couldn’t seem to escape the past no matter how hard they tried to live a normal life. Part of me just wanted to run away, far away and live out the prophecy without hurting anyone. This thought played in my mind as I descended the last steps to my room. The clock next to my bed said it was only 10:30. If it had read 3:30 am I wouldn’t be surprised. I felt like I had been up for three days.

Quickly, I got ready for bed and flopped down, completely exhausted. I didn’t think anything could convince me to move from the comfortable position I found as I began to sink into a much-needed slumber, until I heard a gentle tap-tap on my door.

Scorpius! Immediately awake, I flew to the door to let him in. Momentarily, I was confused by his black hair and green eyes.

“Oh,” trying not to sound disappointed. “Hi, Al.”

“Hey Rosie,” he choked out as he threw his arms around me. I squeezed back and we stayed like that for a long, long time. Tears I had been fighting all night finally fell without reservation – and they weren’t all mine. He needed this just as much as I did. Albus was my best friend since birth. We would always be connected.

“I’m sorry you had to obliviate Selenia,” I sobbed. What a mess I was. Get some control, Rose. Taking a deep breath, I said, “I’m really sorry.”

“Rosie, Rose, Rose,” Al sniffed into my shoulder. He pulled his head back and looked right at me. “You are unbelievable.”

“What?” I didn’t understand. I really felt terrible about it. All of it. Scorpius, Al, Uncle Harry. I put everyone through a lot tonight. “I’ve been incredibly selfish.”

“Rose, you were just told that the biggest prophecy in a generation is the reason you have been tortured and hunted for almost three years now. And it is playing out a big part of your future. I think it’s okay for you to be a little concerned about yourself.” He held me close. I fell into him.

“How much did you have to obliviate from Selenia?” I asked into his shoulder.

“Only the part she heard about the prophecy,” he said quietly. It was a testament to how much he loved her. He could have obliviated the entire night. Or just the part that made her angry with him.

“You’re such a good bloke,” my heart went out to him. “I heard you two fighting. I guess we are all going to spend some nights in our own rooms for a while.” My voice trailed off, thinking of Scorpius again.

“Listen,” I began again, wanting to get this out before I started crying again. “Can you please check on Scorp tomorrow? I want you to hang out with him for a bit. He is really torn up. And I have – my whole family to talk to. He needs you, Al.”

“I’ll make a deal with you,” he smiled. “You take Selenia to Hogsmeade this weekend and I’ll take care of Scorp.”

“I don’t think I can give her the same kind of… er… attention you can give her in Hogsmeade,” I countered.

“You are too funny,” he looked at me through sarcastic eyes. “There’s no way that is happening anyway. She is furious. This way, you get a weekend away to relax and not think about anything. You can’t even talk about the prophecy because she doesn’t know. Scorp and I can have a bloke’s weekend.”

“I can’t,” I admitted. “I have to be with an Auror at all times, according to your dad.”

“Dad already knows. We worked out the details. There will be Aurors around the village, keeping a safe distance,” he said quickly, reading my face. I didn’t want any more babysitters.

He continued, “And, you are to take and use this.” He handed me a large piece of cloth. It was shimmery and smooth. It took a minute to register with me what it was. “Keep it with you at all times. Dad’s orders. If any trouble comes about, get underneath it as fast as possible.”

“Albus! This is James’s invisibility cloak! The cloak! I can’t take this.”

“We all agreed you need to have it. It keeps the bearer completely invisible. Death Eaters – Stannous - won’t be able to see you. Like I said, this is the biggest prophecy in a generation." The ‘family stuff’ that Uncle Harry had to discuss with James and Al suddenly became evident.

My sigh was heavy. “Okay, I guess you’re right.” Sleepiness crept over me again. “I’m tired, Al. I’ve got to get some rest,” I turned toward my bed. It seemed to call me and I collapsed down again on it. I only vaguely remember hearing the door click as Al edged out.






A/N:  Hey there!  So - a lot comes out in this chapter!  Thanks to everyone who's been reading and reviewing.  I'd love to know what you think - send me your thoughts, predictions, ideas... 

♥ Beth


Chapter 23: Broomsticks and Breathing: Scorpius and Rose POV
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The empty pints of ale began to pile up on our table at the Leaky Cauldron. It was nearly three am.

“Drink up, mate,” James commanded from across the pub. “We’re headed to ‘The Quaffle’ in a few.”

“How does he do this three… four nights a week?” I scrubbed my eyes to force myself awake. I was incredulous at James’s stamina.

“Easy,” Albus’s head hung low as he massaged his temples with his fingers. “His job doesn’t require him to get up at seven am. He flies a fucking broom for a living, for Merlin’s sake. I could do this too if I slept till two pm every day.”

It was day two of our ‘bloke’s’ weekend. The night before had been a blast. We’d gone to one of James’s quidditch buddy’s house for a get together. I’d been reluctant to go, but was really glad after a few firewhiskeys. I finally got my mind off Rose and her new freedoms – for a bit. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that something bad was about to happen. I was used to being with her almost every second that I wasn’t at training. It was more than just making sure she was safe, I was missing her. Her smile, her jokes, and the way she looked at me across the room when we were at the Burrow as if no one else was in the room but us.

Even though I knew the answer before I’d asked, I’d tried to pull the Hogsmeade duty for this weekend. Albus snorted and rolled his eyes, but Harry gave me a sympathetic look and said, “Sorry Scorpius, but there’s no way that’s going to happen. You need a break more than you realize. I need the best Aurors we’ve got on this case after the weekend. We need to catch this demon. Besides, Ron and I are going to do it.” Knowing that Harry and Ron are watching over her was the only thing keeping me sane. They’d never let anything happen to her.

All the same, I still felt guilty about how we’d left things. We hadn’t spoken since she came up to my room Wednesday night. I’d realized my last words to her had been ‘What do you want, Rose?’ in not exactly the nicest tone. I’d acted like a complete git, but I’d been so upset…

Rose and Selenia had left from St. Mungo’s after training on Thursday afternoon, getting special permission to miss Friday’s session (being Harry Potter’s goddaughter has its advantages).

Images of Stannous grabbing her and taking her Merlin knows where to fulfill the prophecy had been swirling into my mind at the most inconvenient times. At training, I’d been really off. Al had tried to cover for me, but I had to get my game back. Initially, I’d just planned to spend the weekend in my room, alone. However, Al had other plans. He’d threatened to imperious me, so the decision was essentially made for me. I had no choice but to enjoy this weekend and then set things right with Rose. I just hoped that she wasn’t too pissed. She probably used her time with Selenia to think over what a complete prat I’ve been and wouldn’t even speak to me anyway. At least Al and I would be partners in misery. Selenia hadn’t spoken to him since that night either.

A figure loomed over me and Al from above. James was standing up on one of the tables, singing some quidditch fight song with one of his teammates, their arms draped around each other. I stretched my tired neck to look up at him. The song ended with James shouting, “To The Quaffle! To The Quaffle!”

“To The Quaffle?” I turned to Al and asked, my voice thick with exhaustion and alcohol.

“Why the hell not,” he replied, lifting his head as if he’d just woken up. “We might as well.”

Gulping another swig of my pint, I looked over at Al. “We really are pathetic, you know.”

“Don’t you mean whipped?”

“Tomato, tomahto,” I felt a second wind coming on as I stood up, downed the last bit of ale and thumped the empty glass on the pub table.

“C’mon mate. To the Quaffle!”

*

“That’s it!” Selenia slammed her copy of Advanced Healing Techniques for Maladies of the Expectant Witch textbook down on the table in the suite she and Al had rented for their romantic getaway.   It was a really nice bed and breakfast, complete with a romantic bedroom, sitting room and bathroom with a huge tub. I must say, Al has taste. He’d rented the best room in the place. We were at a quaint, but large Victorian house on the very edge of the village. There was a fantastic view of of the Forbidden Forest from the sitting room and I could even see the faint outline of Hogwarts from the bedroom window. Lily and Hugo were there and I couldn’t help but think that it would be really nice to see them.

“We are going out!” she exclaimed. “This is your first weekend of freedom in months and we are going to spend it – free!   We did not come here so we could do exactly the same things we do at home every weekend!” She was on a roll. It was very amusing.

“We aren’t doing what we normally do every weekend,” I pointed out, grinning at her. “Usually we both get lai-”

“You know what I mean, Rose. We usually spend our time on the weekends studying. I want to go shopping.”

I contemplated her offer. Going shopping would be fabulous. I hadn’t been properly shopping in months and months. It would get my mind off the prophecy. Don’t get me wrong. I was really, really grateful that my restrictions were lifted and even more grateful that I was able to take this weekend away, but I did want to talk about the prophecy. There were so many questions. Scorpius obviously didn’t want to discuss it. That was pretty clear on Wednesday night. Al would come through for me, he always did. But arranging a time and place for us to be alone for any period of time could be problematic - especially considering the fact that Scorpius wasn’t taking all of this very well.

My mind drifted back to him and his sad eyes. A pang in my gut for the millionth time in the past two days told me that we had unfinished business. Who was I kidding? I really just missed him. He was my rock. He brought me back from… from nothingness. Missing him made me uneasy and I was on edge- perhaps shopping wasn’t such a bad idea.

“Ro-ose?” Selenia was bordering on whining at this point.

“You’re right,” I replied. “Let’s go. -And we’re getting makeovers!” I added as an afterthought

“Eeep!” She squealed with delight. This was going to be fun.

“But we have to study later on today – both our obstetrics finals are this week.” We were nearing the end of our advanced training. Later that week we’d finish obstetrics with our written and practical finals. After that we only had two more courses left. The week following our finals, we would begin medical records along with advanced internal injuries. I guessed they combined the most complicated technique course with the most boring part of training. No one liked medical records. It was just one of those necessary parts of being a healer. After that, we’d have a three week break and begin our first session as interns within our chosen specialty. Ugh! Choosing a specialty was another ordeal I wasn’t looking forward to. I truly enjoyed every course I’d taken. I had no idea how to narrow it down.

“Alright,” she put her hands on her hips and cocked them to one side. “I promise to study later on, if you do not mention or even think about training and studying while we’re out today.”

“Deal,” I smiled for the first time in what felt like forever.

*

“You did not!” I exclaimed as we exited our fourth store. Hogsmeade had grown a bit, with many more shops and boutiques. Selenia had just confided in me one of the places that she and Albus had, er… been amorous.

“Okay, okay, we need to stop this conversation. He is my cousin!” I was giggling, but serious at the same time. I still wanted to be able to look Al in the eyes. My laughter stopped as I caught a glimpse of a large orange head across the way. He was nonchalantly reading today’s Daily Prophet. Really? How had Dad ever made senior Auror? He was absolutely terrible at being stealth. That was the third time I’d spotted him today. Earlier he was pretending to smoke (Mum would kill him) as he leaned against the side of a building and then, when we came out of Lady Monique’s Chic Boutique, he was sipping tea at the café across the way. Al failed to mention that one of the guards for this weekend would be Ron Weasley.

“When did you buy all that stuff?” Selenia pointed at the six bags I was holding.

“Two are for me and two are for Scorpius,” I answered. “His clothes and robes have been getting really worn from all his training. One is a bag from the Sweet Scents for your Sweet store. Remember, we bought a bunch of lotions and candles? The last bag is for Al. I picked up a few things for him, too – I hope you don’t mind.”

“Of course not! I know how close you two are – even though he can be an arsehole sometimes,” she grumbled. Clearly shopping had not lifted her mood to the level of forgiveness.

“About that… Selenia, I don’t want to stick my nose where it doesn’t belong, but he is really a great bloke and I know he is really sorry and he really loves you and if I’ve forgiven him, don’t you think that you could consider letting him off the hook?” I said it all so fast because I didn’t know how she would take it, not wanting to ruin the fun we were having.

“So, you’ve forgiven Scorpius?” she countered with an edge to her voice.

“Good point,” I acquiesced. I actually had forgiven Scorpius, but I took this to mean that she was done with the conversation. “Let’s not talk about it anymore. Here’ the salon. Lunch after this?”

“Absolutely, I’m already working up an appetite,” she grinned her bright smile and opened the door to the salon.

*

“Whoooooooohaaaaaaaa!” The screams of excitement and pure pleasure escaped from me as I soared higher and higher above the pitch.

“This was totally worth it!” whooped Al. He spiraled in a vertical dive toward the ground, caught himself just before smashing into the earth, completed a tight U-turn and sped straight upwards again into the sky peppered with stars.

We were on the Chudley Cannons pitch, flying in the chilled March moonlight. Only a few experiences in my life had come close to this much excitement – and all of the those involved a certain redhead. I began to weave in and out of the goalposts, glancing over at James and Al. It’d been so long since I had been on a broom, I almost forgot the total and complete freedom you felt while flying. James was lazily flying around the outside of the stadium, while Al was going totally nuts.

“We are definitely doing this again!” he screamed. He then proceeded to fly upside down – and backwards. I was really glad that I’d stopped drinking when we got to The Quaffle. I don’t think I would have enjoyed this half as much if I were completely smashed. At that point, I was still just slightly buzzed – just the right amount to completely revel in the moment. The only thing that could’ve made it more perfect would be if Rose had been there. She loved flying and I bet she missed our days of Quidditch at Hogwarts just as much as Al and me.

A wonderful and completely amazing idea came to me just then. I mean it was totally perfect. I swooped over next to Al and told him of the plan that was quickly forming in my head.

“You are insane!” he screamed. “And brilliant,” a smile spread across his face. “Of course I will help you. We have to time this just right. Race you to the goalposts!”

*

I twirled around and around in the middle of Main Street in Hogsmeade. I felt light as a feather. Thinking back, I couldn’t remember feeling this carefree and elated since I was a little kid. My lungs filled themselves with air that didn’t smell like a hospital or a three hundred year old dingy house. This was what I needed for so long. A small bit of walking down the street.

“I can’t believe you cut off all your hair! You look fabulous,” Selenia exclaimed as the pair of us practically skipped down the lane.

“What about you?! That streak is so cool – and hot. I think you are going to drive Al crazy with that. It is so unlike you!” I leaned in to get a closer look. She had kept her short, smart style, but had added one bright streak of purple that swept across the front of her straight, raven hair. She could really pull it off with the stylish and conservative clothing she wore on a daily basis. My own hair was cut to chin-length, and, as a result, the color was a little bit darker and the texture had gone from wavy to curly as it framed my face. It felt incredibly light as I shook my head from side to side. I definitely looked older and more professional. Coupled with the new makeup and lessons we both got, we’d gone from students to professionals in a matter of only a couple of hours. It was a good choice considering we’d be interning with actual patients in a few months. Hopefully, Scorpius would like it as well.

“Let’s eat!” I commanded. I was so hungry, I felt nauseous. It was really late – almost four pm, so we were really having tea, not lunch. It was hard to tell if I was more hungry or tired. I would need some sustenance to keep me going to make up all the studying we had missed during our excursion.

I couldn’t help but roll my eyes as we entered the tea house. Dad was there – again. It wasn’t a very large shop, and he was sitting at one of the five tables in the dining area. We sat down at a table next to him – they were so close together, all of the tables were next to him. Not wanting to be rude, Selenia said hello.

“Hello, ladies,” Dad tipped his cup at us and then his eyes flew open. “Merlin, Rose! I didn’t even recognize you! You look so different with your hair cut. Wow.”

Honestly, I can’t believe he ever hunted down and found all those Death Eaters that were hiding out after the Second Wizarding War. I am sure they used disguises and aliases. Maybe Uncle Harry did all of the groundwork and Dad was just the muscle. Maybe Mum helped. For Merlin’s sake, I can’t figure that man out.

“Hi, Dad,” despite my annoyance, I gave him a peck on the head and a tight squeeze. “Do you like Selenia’s hair?”

“Very chic,” he commented. I giggled. I didn’t know he even knew that word.

“Thanks, Mr. Weasley,” Selenia smiled. “Do you want to join us for tea?” I stifled a groan. Ron Weasley never turns down food.

“Well, I am on duty, but I don’t think it would hurt to have a bite, considering my charge is right here!” he smiled at me and I just couldn’t stay annoyed with him. He could be so cute sometimes.

*

The morning after flying was a whole heck of a lot easier to get up than the morning after the Quidditch party. I am off firewhiskey for a while. It was Sunday and Rose would be back later on today. My heart began to thump, thinking about seeing her. We hadn’t been apart for this long in about six months. Could you actually go through withdrawal from another person? Then I remembered how we’d left things and my heart was beating faster with anxiety. This could go either way. A familiar lump in my stomach returned. It hadn’t been there since Rose and I’d gotten together. I pushed it down and went to go make breakfast for Al and me.

Immediately, I knew that nervousness was spreading around Number Twelve like a bad cold. Al sat with his head in his tea at the breakfast table, his knee bouncing up and down with worry. He didn’t even look up to acknowledge me as I began the preparations for our breakfast. He just sat in silence as if all the answers to his problems could be found at the bottom of his teacup.

“Mate, you need to calm the hell down,” I slid a spinach and feta omelet onto his plate a few minutes later.

“Can’t,” he was still staring at his tea, but he picked up his fork absentmindedly and stabbed at the omelet. Apparently his nose still worked.

“Look, I know you are in a tight situation, here. You can’t tell Selenia the truth because that would break your trust with Rose and Harry. But you can’t let her think you are a major arsehole either, when you really aren’t.”

“Thanks for summing that up, Scorp. Any other flashes of brilliance within you today? Considering you are the one who walked out on Rose the other night. Right after she got the worst news of her life.”

Deep breath in. Don’t kill the son of the savior of the Wizarding World. “I’m going to let that pass because I know the stress you are under. I was just trying to say, that maybe you could plan a nice evening with Selenia. You know, meet her in Diagon Alley when she gets back… take her out to dinner… grovel until the sun comes up.”

A heavy sigh left his lips. “Sorry, mate. Just thought you should know that the rest of us care about Rose and this prophecy as much as you do. We aren’t taking it lightly. But she needs you more than she needs me,” he shoved a forkful of omelet into his mouth. “Good idea about Selenia,” he said with his mouth full.

“Hey, I have my own reasons. I want you to come to Diagon Alley with me today. I need your help – remember?” Besides, if you take Selenia out to dinner, Rose and I can be alone for a few hours.

“Alright, we can head out after breakfast. I will send her a patronus to meet me there.”

*

After Dad kissed me goodbye in the entryway of Number Twelve, I slipped upstairs to my room. Selenia had reluctantly accepted Albus’s invitation to dinner in Diagon Alley. I had to work in some major persuading on that one, but in the end, the fact that she was completely in love with him won over.

I assumed Scorpius was up in his room, still brooding. The house seemed unnaturally quiet. I opened the beaded bag that Mum let me borrow and began removing my purchases from the weekend shopping trip. I felt lighter than I had in a long, long time. Laying out Scorpius’s clothes on the bed, I set the candles around the room and then turned to the purchases I’d made for myself. Most of them were new outfits for when I began my internship. I wanted to look professional around the patients.

Hanging them up in my closet, I paused when I got to the new traveling cloak. It seemed silly that a piece of cloth could make me so excited, but I fell in love with it when I saw it in the little boutique. It was periwinkle trimmed in black. I’d never seen a cloak like it. So soft, but it was charmed so it would not get wet in the rain, it was perfect to wear during the rainy London spring - and the fall as well. Thinking more about it, I knew I’d just wanted it so badly because it meant I finally had places to wear it; out to dinner, shopping in Diagon Alley or just going for a walk in the park. Carefully, I hung it up and ran my fingers down the smooth fabric once more before turning back to the beaded bag.

The last package to pull out was quite small and I began to giggle uncontrollably at the images that popped in my head.

After tea with Dad, he wanted to hang out with us for a while, but I knew it was just to keep his eye on me. I politely declined and we began to walk around town, after the renewed energy from the tea and biscuits. However, there he was, at every turn. I decided to teach him a lesson. We ducked into Lady Lindsey’s Luscious Lace and I roared with laughter, knowing Dad would never follow us in there. Selenia was laughing too, but I wasn’t done yet.

“I am going to buy something here!” I declared, feeling really adventurous. Scorpius wouldn’t have any objections. “You should too!” I squealed to Selenia. “I just absolutely cannot know what it is. I have already learned too much about you and Al.” I was still laughing, but she knew I was half serious.

We left the shop a little while later and lo and behold, the orange-headed man was closely examining the fountain in the middle of the square, just a few yards away. He looked up expectantly at me and I made sure to dangle the package that was clearly too small to be pyjamas on my finger, with a defiant look on my face. I turned to Selenia, who was examining her package (that was no bigger) and began to giggle uncontrollably. I didn’t even have to look. I knew he was turning redder and redder. Suddenly, Selenia’s eyes grew wide and her mouth dropped open as she looked over at the fountain.

“What is it?” I was alarmed. Dad was just going to have to stop babying me. What could he possibly be doing? I dragged my eyes away from Selenia’s shocked face to see what she was looking at – and my hand flew to my mouth to keep me from guffawing at a shocked Harry Potter, standing next to Dad, his hand still in a semi-wave at his son’s girlfriend. Selenia waved awkwardly back and dropped her head.

“We need to get out of here!” she whispered loudly, trying frantically to stuff the package into her cloak.

“Come on, Sels. He can’t possibly think that you and Al just kiss and snuggle and then go to your separate bedrooms!” But it was too late. She was horrified.

“Look,” I continued, “I know for a fact that Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny categorically adore you. Ginny even said to Mum that you were the best thing to happen to Al. Don’t worry about it. We can head back now if you want,” I was still giggling a little. “We have to go study anyway. For what it’s worth – thanks for a great day,” I gave her a hug as we headed back to the inn.

That was the day before. We both woke early that morning to get a few more hours of studying in before we’d left to come back. I couldn’t stop thinking of Scorpius. My head kept doing funny things and drawing my thoughts away from my studies to his touch, his smell, his lips.

With bated breath, I got myself and the room ready for this evening. All last night, I was thinking what I could do to show Scorpius how much he meant to me. First, I took a quick shower and used some of the new lotion I bought. I put on the new makeup, remembering the ‘less is more’ rule the lady taught me and Selenia. The light dusting of powder made my freckles less noticeable.

Changing the sheets to the bed, I was getting really lightheaded, suddenly so excited to see him, I didn’t think I could wait much longer. Selecting a new pair of straight-legged, dark jeans and a white wrap-around knit top, I smiled. It tied with a little navy blue bow on the side. Back to the bathroom for a quick dry of my new hairstyle, I puckered my lips into the mirror. I did look really different. Definitely older. This was a new Rose Weasley – professional healer and… girlfriend extraordinaire? The jury’s still out on that one. And for the final touch of the romantic evening I had planned, I was going to make him dinner. He was such a wonderful cook; I wanted to show him that I had really been paying attention to all the things he’d taught me when we cooked together. I apparated myself down to the kitchen.

The anxiety of my situation combined with the lightheadedness from not eating a proper lunch two days in a row caused a wave a queasiness to wash over me from apparating. I had to close my eyes and take a moment to keep my stomach where it belonged. It took a minute for me to be able to look up, and even then, I stumbled and almost fell over. I would have been kissing the hard, cement floor if someone hadn’t caught me.

“Whoa – hang on there,” that voice. His voice. His arms were around me. It took me a second to realize I had stopped falling halfway to the ground, but I was still looking at the floor. When I heard him, my breath caught. All queasiness was gone. I shifted in his arms to look at him properly.

“Hey.”

“Ro?!” His arms went limp and I felt myself sinking toward the hard floor again. A squeal escaped my lips and reflexively, I grabbed for his arms. He came to his senses and pulled me to an upright position – a little too quickly – my head was spinning. I panted as my eyes squeezed shut. My hands were gripping his forearms. I can’t believe that he makes me do this. Normally, I am a very controlled person. His arms tightened around me as he pulled me closer. When I opened my eyes, we were staring at each other. My body relaxed. I was home.

“Ro?” he said again. Actually it was more of a question. My head was clearing from the spinning, but I was confused at his confusion.

Scorpius?” I countered. What the hell was the matter with him? His eyes widened and he pushed me away. It wasn’t exactly a push, more like he stood back to get a good look at me. He kept his hands at my waist. Finally, he darted toward me and planted a kiss on my lips. I tried to kiss back, but he pulled away really quickly, licking his lips with a look of concentration on his face. What. The. Hell?

His eyes softened and he exhaled. “Rose,” he breathed as his eyes roamed me from top to bottom.

I was about to ask him what the hell was the matter with him, when he spoke first.

“You look amazing. I didn’t even recognize you. I mean, you look good. Really good. Really, really good.” I stifled a giggle at his backpedaling. How long would he continue if I didn’t stop him? This could actually be fun. I stepped back.

“Are you saying you don’t even know your own girlfriend?” I drawled, crossing my arms against my chest.

“No! I mean, yes. I mean…you look incredible. Everything…,” he ended really quiet. I knew he thought he was cocking this up. He was so adorable; I had to let him off the hook.

“I missed you,” my fingers found the side of his face. He hadn’t shaved in a few days and I massaged his stubble. A smell wafted across the kitchen and I realized that he had actually beaten me to my plan. Dinner was about to be served, but it was the furthest thing from my mind. I was really hungry – but not for dinner. Slowly, I leaned into him and pressed my lips against his. After a few moments I pulled away, my fingers still playing with his stubbly chin. As I pulled away from him, I could smell something else. The smell that was specifically Scorpius. My body took over my actions and I crashed my lips against his as our feet began sliding across the floor and out of the kitchen. My fingers fumbled with his shirt and we had to break our embrace for a few seconds so I could shed his shirt on the floor in the hallway.

Finally able to really feel him against my desperate hands, I was taking full advantage of his naked chest. He slipped his hands under my new shirt and the warmth of his touch sent my heart racing and gasping for breath. We clung to each other desperately as we climbed the stairs as one. Sounds came from both of us, but no words. I began to lose any thoughts other than pure desire to be as close as possible with him. Clothing was discarded along the stairs and it was somewhere at that point that I became completely lost in the moment, lost in Scorpius Malfoy. We made it to the bedroom, but just barely.






A/N:  So Rose is a bit different in this chapter.  I know it's a bit fluffy, but I really thought she deserved some fluff after the last two chapters :)  I'd love to know your thoughts!

♥Beth
 


Chapter 24: Baffled: Scorpius and Rose POV
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“I missed you too,” I breathed out to Rose as I looked up at her, just a few short minutes after we had entered our bedroom. We were lying (half lying, my feet were still on the ground) on the bed, not having quite caught our breaths yet. Somehow, I summoned enough energy to grip her waist and slide the two of us up the bed so we could properly lie next to each other, I rested on my side so I could see her better. Okay, I admit, I wanted to stare at her. Her skin was glistening from our lovemaking and I caressed her soft shoulders, bringing my fingers up to trace around her face. She looked so different. Amazing.

“So,” I went for the obvious, “cut your hair, did you?” I knew I had a ridiculous grin plastered on my face.

“Oh, you noticed?” she played along, sweeping her hand through the soft curls and tossing her head seductively. “I couldn’t tell if you liked it or not,” she giggled. I loved that sound.

“Actually, I’m not sure if I like it or not,” I said and she scowled in confusion and adorable annoyance. But I continued, “I think we might have to ‘try it out’ a few more times before I decide.”

This warranted several blows from the pillow nearest her.

When she was done with the beating, I gently took the pillow and tossed it aside. She shivered, finally cooling off from the heat we had both just generated. I threw an arm and a leg overtop her and pulled her into me. Her head was buried in my chest and I smelled her new hairstyle.

“Better?” I asked.

“Much.”

“I missed you.”

“I think we already covered that,” she was giggling again. Her breath tickled my chest.

“Okay. I love you.”

“I love you, too,” she lifted her torso up and leaned on one arm, holding my face in her hands. “Did you have a nice weekend?”

“I did, actually. Al took good care of me. On your orders, I assume.”

“We may have struck a small bargain.”

“We went flying on the Cannons pitch at night. It was absolutely amazing. Next time, I’m taking you with me. What did you girls do – other than the obvious?” I tangled my fingers through the sexy curls springing from her head.

“The usual girl stuff – makeovers, shopping, studying for healer obstetrics finals… It was completely refreshing and I really, really needed it. Listen, Scorp-”

“You don’t have to say it. You were right. We both needed a break.” I sat up and wrapped my legs around her, pulling her to sitting between them. My chest was touching her back. I snuggled her close to me as she leaned her head back and rested against my shoulder. I knew she loved this. She leaned back into me and let out a satisfied sigh. All of a sudden it hit me, how right she was. Here we were, enjoying ourselves and each other and not letting this bloody prophecy rule our lives. Rose knew this: we needed to live, not live for the prophecy. There is still happiness and joy and love to be had, fate be damned. At every turn, this woman amazes me. I squeezed tighter around her and whispered another “I love you” in her ear.

“Do you know what the best part about spending a weekend away is?” she asked.

“What’s that, love?”

“Coming home.”

“I must say, that is my favorite part so far.” I half expected her to resume the beating in some form. But, yet again, she surprised me.

“Would you like to try out my haircut again?” She didn’t wait for an answer, but twisted around in my arms and sat on her knees. I felt my shoulders being pushed back as we fell together on the bed.

*

We tried out my haircut at least three more times that afternoon and night. That man has some stamina. We weren’t the only ones. We could hear Al and Selenia trying out her new hair as well. Apparently a few days apart makes them forget how to cast a silencing charm.

I managed to fit in a few more hours of studying by getting up early the next morning. I was so tired, my body wasn’t used to that much excitement in one weekend, but the studying had to be done. Selenia and I had our obstetrics practical on Tuesday morning, with Tuesday afternoon off to study for the written test on Wednesday. After the written exam on Wednesday, I came immediately home and fell into bed. Scorpius brought me up some dinner, but I was too tired to eat. I mumbled a promise that I would be ready for our defense lessons at Uncle Harry’s house in an hour.

I had to drag my weary body out of bed. Falling asleep in the middle of the afternoon is never a good idea. I needed to splash some water on my face. The water felt good, but I regretted skipping dinner. My stomach was rebelling furiously. I actually gagged into the sink, but at least that woke me up. Not having enough time for a shower, I threw on some old clothes. There was no need to look fancy so I can go and duel with my family members. Due to lack of time, I apparated into the kitchen and the nausea took over again. Fortunately, the table was close enough for me to grab onto. Unfortunately, Scorpius chose this moment to shove a plate of goulash under my nose.

“Hungry, love?”

I knew he meant well, and probably spent a good amount of time preparing it, but to me, it looked like something that I would empty out of a bedpan during rounds. Simultaneously, I pinched my nose and covered my mouth, taking a step back. I had to wait a few seconds before responding.

“I think I’ll just grab some bread. We don’t want to be late.”

He looked hurt, but didn’t say anything. Probably because the entire house was sitting in the kitchen and staring at both of us. Samara and Jax were there as well. We were all going over to practice. I nodded hello to all of them as I munched on the bread. Two by two, we apparated to Uncle Harry’s house.

Al, Scorpius and Dom ran the practice, taking turns showing us different basic defense moves. We started off pretty easy and everyone gave their best go – except Samara. She was never as close as the rest of us and we tried to make her feel included. I could put up with the fact that she was American, but not the drama queen. She wasn’t even trying to master the spells. If she didn’t get it on the first try, she would pout and call over one of the guys to help her. Never Dom or me.

Selenia, on the other hand, was trying really hard, it just wasn’t her thing. I don’t think Al actually minded being her personal tutor. As I was dueling James, Samara was using Scorpius as her personal tutor. She had this ultra-annoying high-pitched giggle that was only three notes and ended with a high squeak (ha-ha hee!). If I’d heard it one more time as my boyfriend was showing her how to properly hold her wand by gripping her wand hand in his, she might’ve been accidentally mistaken for one of the dueling dummies. What a shame that would’ve been.

We switched partners and I dueled Dom while James worked with Scorp. This left Jax to be Samara’s partner. She started with the same act again. “Oh Jax, I’m just no good at this. Ha-ha hee!” He would run over and show her the wand movements. “Did I mess that up? Ha-ha hee!” Dom and I exchanged glances. You could get away with playing coy around the sweet-tempered Rose Weasley’s boyfriend but you do not mess with Dominique Weasley’s man.

“Ha-ha hee! Jax, I’m so sorry. That was a complete accident. Ha-ha hee!” Dom was now seething. She sent three consecutive stunning spells right at me, followed by an impedimenta curse, all the while, her eyes trained on her boyfried and Samara. I had to think fast, but I managed to deflect the first two spells, jump out of the way of the third and completely block the impedimenta.

“Whoa – Down girl!” I was breathing hard from the training.

“Oops – Sorry Rose.” I knew she genuinely was and I knew what had made her lose her temper. We both started giggling. “You were awesome,” she tipped her head toward me. “I can tell you’re getting better.”

“Thanks! And don’t be sorry. This is the kind of practice I need.” I nodded over to Jax and Samara, who was now rubbing his biceps saying, “So how much do you have to lift on a daily basis to keep up your beater strength? You are incredibly buff. Ha-ha hee!” Dom aimed her wand at her and before she could send off her jinx, I stepped in.

“Hey guys! Why don’t we all take a break?” Aunt Ginny had left some snacks on a small table on the far side of the room. There weren’t any chairs, so we all just sat in a circle on the floor and ate.

When are we going to get to some harder spells?” Samara whined. “I don’t know about you guys, but this is pretty much fourth year stuff at Salem Academy.” This comes from the girl who couldn’t remember the wand movements for an ‘expelliarmus’ charm.

“I think we just want to make sure everyone is capable of basic spells, you know - before moving on to more difficult magic,” Dom said slowly, through gritted teeth.

“It’s alright Sam,” James put his arm around her and glared at Dom. He must have missed the show earlier. I don’t think he would’ve been too pleased, either. “We’ll catch you up, even if it takes extra lessons.”

“Thanks, Jamsie,” she deposited a kiss on his lips. Jamsie? No one was allowed to call him anything but James. I was getting tired again. Samara Tinsman was exhausting all my energy.

But she wasn’t done yet. “I was really hoping you guys, you know, being in Auror training, could show us something a little more advanced. Ha-ha hee! Like, when are we going to get to avada kedavra?”

“The killing curse?” my eyes were almost popping out of my head. “I don’t think we need to-”

“Oh, come on!” Samara interrupted me. “Isn’t that the ultimate defense? Even Harry Potter used it – on Voldemort. I figured since we were in his house, using his dueling range, it would be okay,” her whiny voice was sending me over the edge.

“He did not use it!” I stood up. This was a very sore point with Uncle Harry, and with me. I always got so defensive when someone thought that Uncle Harry killed Voldemort with avada kedavra.

“Voldemort used it on Uncle Harry. Three times, in fact. Uncle Harry used expeliarmus and Voldemort’s curse rebounded on himself. That is the whole point. We don’t have to fight with unforgivable curses. If you are a good dueler and clever, you don’t need them!” I had my hands on my hips as I was practically preaching the last part. Mostly, this was pointless because everybody else already knew all of these facts. Even the non-family members knew, because Uncle Harry would come to Hogwarts about three times a year as a guest speaker in the DADA class. He always made this argument as the theme for one of his lectures. Samara probably never got to hear him speak, being from America. I maybe should have gone easier on her, but she’d already gotten under my skin for the evening.

“We know, love,” Scorpius had stood up as well and gently put a hand on my arm.

“He didn’t use it, Scorp!” I rounded and looked wildly around at everyone. Except for Samara and Dom, they were looking at me with concern instead of being outraged along with me, which made me even angrier. Samara had her eyebrows raised, as if I’d just said something completely insane. I was just about to explode, when I noticed Dom staring at the floor. At first I thought she was trying not to laugh, but then she said quietly, “Nana Molly used avada kedavra.”

“What?!”

“No way!”

I was flabbergasted. “That can’t be. Nana Molly?” Dom must be mistaken.

“Dad told me about it. She used it to kill Bellatrix Lestrange during the final battle when Bellatrix was going after Aunt Ginny.”

“The fuck you say.”

“Merlin, James! That is our grandmother you are talking about. Have some respect.” Al was clearly offended by James’s (as usual) vulgar mouth.

“What?! That was a downright respectful ‘fuck.’ I mean, honestly, that woman is totally badass. Props to Nana Molly for killing the biggest bitch of all time. Sorry Scorp - ” he tipped his head. Bellatrix was, after all, Scorpius’s great-aunt.

Scorp just shook his head, embarrassed. He didn’t want to be associated with any Death Eaters, relatives or not.

I just rolled my eyes. Leave it to James to defend the word ‘fuck’ as respectful. I was still having a hard time accepting this whole scenario. Nana Molly. The woman who knitted us sweaters every Christmas and gave us bone-crushing hugs whenever we entered the Burrow. The woman whose fiercest quality is cooking up a meal for thirty plus relatives - murdered one of Voldemort’s closest allies with an unforgivable curse. Ho-ly shit.

“I guess it’s different when you are protecting your own child,” Dom explained. “That’s what Dad said anyway. He said he never fully understood it until Vic, me and Louis were born.” One look at Albus and James told me that they had no idea about this piece of information. We were all equally shocked.

“Honestly, how did you guys not know that?” Samara sounded exasperated. “It’s in the history books. Everyone in America knows that Molly Weasley killed Bellatrix Lestrange. I’m with James on this one. She is pretty fucking badass.” This chick was seriously getting on my nerves.

“Samara, it’s not like they talk to us about it that much. I doubt they even talk to each other about it,” Albus tried to explain. “It wasn’t exactly the ‘good old days’ for them.”

“If you say so.”  She was so blasé about the whole thing. I was just about to give her some advice as to alternative places she could shove her wand and her avada kedavra curse when Selenia stepped in. Good timing too, as Al’s face was beginning to contort.

“Samara, how would you like to head over to The Quaffle for a nightcap? We haven’t had a chance to catch up in ages.” She was always the picture of grace and composure.

“Sure Sels. This was getting pretty boring anyway.” Good riddance. She planted an inappropriately long kiss on James while Selenia and Al said their goodbyes. “Tell your Mum thanks for the snacks,” Selenia reminded Al. Dom whispered to Jax, who made some excuse that he had to be off as well and the three of them tromped up the stairs and I heard three faint cracks to indicate they’d left. It all seemed to play out too well.

“What is going on?” I was suspicious – and getting anxious again. I just could not take any more bad news right now. “Please tell me there isn’t any more prophecy stuff.” I rubbed my forehead.

“Nothing like that, Rosie,” Al put an arm around my shoulders as we ascended the stairs. “Dad just thought that you would like to have the chance to ask some questions, now that the news has sunk in and you’ve had some time to process it.”

I heaved a sigh of relief. “That is actually a really good idea.” We climbed the stairs and walked through the living room into the kitchen. Mum and Dad were sitting at the table, along with Aunt Ginny. Uncle Harry was standing at the counter.

“Selenia says thanks, Mum,” Al delivered her message.

“That girl is so sweet,” Aunt Ginny cooed. I noticed she didn’t say anything about Samara. Actually, she never says anything about Samara.

“Hello, love,” Uncle Harry walked over and gave me a squeeze. “Have a seat.”

“It sounds like you and Selenia had a nice weekend. Your hair looks fabulous, by the way.” Mom gave me a pat on the arm as I flopped down into the chair across from her, drained. A quick glance between my Dad and Uncle Harry told me that neither of them mentioned the ‘packages’ that Selenia and I had picked up. They were probably too embarrassed themselves.

Dad reached over and grabbed my hand. “We know that we kind of blind-sided you with the prophecy and all that last week. We’ve had a few months to let the information sink in. Do you have any questions about it? Take your time, love.”

I did actually have several questions, but there was one that was more pressing than the others.

“Can I hear it? I mean, the actual prophecy – can I hear it word for word? I want to know exactly what it says. Maybe there is something in there that I would find significant.”

“I thought that might be your first question,” Uncle Harry looked proud of himself. He began to fumble with some sort of odd shaped box that was sitting on the kitchen counter. It looked like it was made of wood, but it wasn’t exactly box-shaped. It had six or so sides at its base and then angled up to only three sides on the top that came to a point. There were lots of levers and knobs on each side. It looked like some weird, old wireless.

“The only people who have heard this, other than a few Department of Mysteries employees are the Aurors and trainees. As soon as we realized that your attacks were linked to a prophecy, we kept in under wraps. The other departments at the ministry don’t know. We are going to keep it that way for now, but won’t do anything in the future without your knowledge, all right?” he explained and I nodded. “So, if you’re okay with James, your Mum, and Ginny hearing this, we can proceed.”

“Of course, they can hear. Mum is the smartest witch I know. I can’t believe you didn’t show it to her first!”

“All right then,” Uncle Harry proceeded to move the box to the table and fidget with the levers. The three sides on the top opened up and a platform from inside rose up. “Thanks to some advances, we have this new machine that can play a memory to a group of people, instead of having to use a pensieve.” New? Advances? That thing looked at least 150 years old. Slowly some smoke rose out of the box, but instead of spreading around the room, it formed itself into the figure of a woman that I didn’t know. She sort of looked like a patronus, but it was not silvery, and kind of blurry.

The room was completely silent as the woman began to speak:

As a new generation of magic unfolds
There will be a child born with power untold
For only by the union of lines of evil and good
Will this power be unleashed upon the world
The child is born from a family of blood traitors
The child is born from a family of death eaters
A red-headed witch rises from the trio of defeat
A lost soul descends from those who were the Dark Lord’s retreat
When these two hearts combine as one
A child is born whose powers rival none


I was struck dumb by the sing-song voice of the woman and the realization that she was speaking about me. There was utter silence around the room, until...

“Whoa. The fuck you say.”

“James!” Ginny gave her obligatory reprimand. Though I think she quite agreed with him. As did I. It was one thing to have it told to you and quite another to hear it firsthand.

“Rosie?” Dad spoke softly and squeezed my hand from his seat to my right.

“I’m okay Dad,” but I don’t think the shakiness in my voice convinced anyone.

Scorpius, who had been standing somewhere behind me, moved next to my seat and knelt down on my left. He took my other hand and kissed it, drawing circles with his thumb. His other arm reached around my waist and pulled me protectively toward him.

“This changes nothing for us, Rose,” he whispered as he leaned his forehead against the side of my head, his lips even with my ear. His words were feather light, but everyone could still hear.

“Actually, I’m not so sure about that,” my head whipped around at my mother’s blatant remarks. I half-expected this from my Dad, but even he seemed more willing to accept Scorpius and I lately.

“Mum?” I must’ve heard her wrong.

“I said that I am not so sure this won’t change things for you and Scorpius.”

“What do you mean?” Uncle Harry sounded intrigued. Now I was getting angry. They were discussing my life as if I wasn’t here.

“I can’t say just yet,” Mum was thinking really hard. She put her hand up to her face and pulled at one of the corners of her mouth with her index finger and thumb. She always did this when she was trying to figure something out. “I need to do some research. I’ll visit the ministry archives tomorrow and get back to you. There is something about some of the lines that don’t seem to fit with the current interpretation of the prophecy.” She stopped herself, suddenly realizing she was talking about a prophecy that involved her own daughter. I was gaping at her. How could she treat this as another puzzle to solve? Her eyes softened and even watered.

“Rose, I’m sorry! I only meant that it just doesn’t fit to me. I want to know the true meaning, for your sake. But I won’t do anything unless you are all right with it,” she squeaked hurriedly, so I knew she was really upset. I pulled my hand out of Dad’s grasp to rub my head.

“No, no, it’s all right.” I massaged my eyes. “I want to get to the bottom of this and the more minds we have working on it, the better off we will be. I’m just really tired.” Scorpius, still kneeling beside me, was rubbing my back and it felt really good, relaxing.

“Uncle Harry,” I began with my next question, “did anyone determine a time when this is supposed to happen?”

“No. Some prophecies will give a general time period, but this one does not.”

“Have you looked into the possibility that it could be some other death eater? Are you still thinking it is Stannous?”

“Rose, Stannous thinks it is Stannous. We have no idea who it could be. Well, that isn’t entirely true. The department of mysteries is working on that part mostly. We have been trying to locate Stannous and see how big of a following he has. But,” he emphasized, “I want you to know that Stannous does not have any more significance to us than any other of the possibilities.”

“Okay,” I nodded my head, but couldn’t say anymore. My anxiety was returning. Scorpius had been right last week. Even if it wasn’t Stannous, as long as he thinks he is the father... I shuddered again and Scorpius pulled me even closer. My head lolled against his chest as he rested his chin on top of it. All of a sudden, it was taking its toll on me and I was too tired to think. “Is it alright if we just go home? I have some more questions, but can I ask them some other time?” The other questions that were plaguing my gut were too intense for me to ask in front of everyone.

“Of course love,” Dad stood and patted me on the shoulder. The others followed him. “See you all next week?” Everyone gave their affirmations. Mum and Dad left first and flooed home. Dom, James and Al apparated next. I hung back, with Scorpius. I was half hoping to ask Uncle Harry a few questions without the other Aurors around. As if he could read my mind, Uncle Harry said, “Scorpius, would it be alright if I bring Rose home in a little bit. I know she said she was tired, but I have a few, quick things to discuss with her.”

“Sure!” Scorpius said, a little too quickly. It almost looked like he was relieved. “I actually have… stuff to do, so I will see you at Number Twelve later on, Rose?” He sounded distracted, worried. Was I getting to be too much for him? Maybe he wanted out. This prophecy was overwhelming everyone. Before I could check if he was all right, or even kiss him goodbye, he apparated on the spot and I was alone with Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny.

She gave Uncle Harry a peck on the cheek and said she was off to bed for the night, she smiled at me and I knew that they had a way of communicating with each other that was really special. I don’t think either one of them are a true legilimens, but they seemed to always know what the other was thinking. Definitely more so than my own Mum and Dad, who still bickered most of the time.

I pushed my worries about Scorpius out of my mind as Uncle Harry sat down next to me and began to fiddle with the box. “So, Rose… do you want to hear the prophecy again?”

“Not right now, Uncle Harry, maybe some other time. I think I heard what I needed to for now, but I do have a couple of really pressing questions.” I paused, “I just didn’t want to ask them in front of everyone.”

“I gathered that,” Uncle Harry said as he closed up the box and put it back on the counter. He sat down and stared at me with his intent, green eyes. “What would you like to know?”

I didn’t know how to ask the first question without sounding pathetic, so I just blurted it out. “Why me? Not that I would ever want to pass this fate on to someone else, it’s just that… I don’t really understand what’s so special about me to have this… this… series of events – forced upon me. There are so many other, more important witches and wizards out there.”

“Ah. You have asked the one question that I do not have an answer to.” Uncle Harry sighed. “All I can tell you is that before I had a prophecy spoken about me, I was bound to be just a kid with a couple of parents, living in Godric’s Hollow. No one can say who or why events happen to certain people – even events that are not predicted.” He actually chuckled. “I sound like Albus Dumbledore; who would most likely have said ‘Why not you, Rose?’”

This did not make me feel any better, although Uncle Harry did have a point. I never thought about it before, but I guess he was just some random kid before all this ‘chosen one’ and ‘savior of the Wizarding world’ happened. Actually, except for that part of his life, he was pretty much just as boring as everyone else. Definitely more sane that most of the Weasleys. I thought about this for a long minute. Mostly because I was really dreading asking my last question – I don’t think I wanted to know the answer.

“Rose?” I must have been quiet for a little too long. “You look like you are struggling with yourself.” Was I that transparent? I took a deep breath.

“Sorry… it’s just…” another deep breath, “…the prophecy talks about the coming together of good and evil. Two blood lines from opposite sides. Also, it says the child will have great power – ‘untold’ I think was the word. However, it doesn’t say if this child…” my voice could barely whisper the next part, “my child, is… g-good… or evil.” I couldn’t even look at him. This thought had been haunting me since the first day I’d heard about my fate. How could I live with the fact that I brought the next Voldemort into the world? If these things are already decided, was there even anything I could do? I’d been tormenting myself with this for days and I couldn’t hide the furrowed brow or sigh that escaped as the words rolled off my tongue.

Uncle Harry put a warm, reassuring hand in mine, but didn’t say anything until I looked up and him and met his eyes. They were fiery and bright, while I knew mine were brimming with tears. “Rose, that is the one thing about this prophecy that I am indisputably certain about.” His voice was steady and strong. “I know, in my heart, that any child that has you and your wonderful soul for a mother will be absolutely, one hundred percent, without a doubt - a kind, warm, perfectly brilliant human being. Being an ultra-powerful wizard is just icing on the cake.” He grinned at me.

He was so sincere, so honest, that I couldn’t help but let out a huge sigh of relief. For the time being, my anxiety subsided. My hands began to relax. I hadn’t even realized that one of them was white knuckled against the side of the table and the other one was squeezing Uncle Harry’s for dear life. “Sorry,” I mumbled, embarrassed.

“Don’t worry about it, love,” he dismissed. “Now, unless you have any other questions, I think it’s time we got you home! You looked a bit tired – and peaked.”

“Thanks. I am quite tired. But, I really wanted you to know how much I appreciate everything you’ve done for me. Using the dueling range, lifting my restrictions, answering my questions – thanks for…understanding.”

He smiled at me again, and we stood from the table. Just as I was about to grab his arm for our side-along apparition, there was a knock at the front door. It was rather late to be receiving visitors.

Uncle Harry turned his head in the direction of the sound, but not before I saw the furrowed look on his face. “Stay here a moment, Rose,” he instructed with a directness to his voice that I knew not to argue with. “I’ll be right back.” He casually drew his wand as he set for the door.

Because the front entrance was in the parlor adjacent to the kitchen, I could hear most of the conversation. It sounded like a young woman was at the door.

“I’m sorry sir, to bother you so late at night.”

“Please, Kali, call me Harry.” It was Al’s mentee, Kali Goldstein. Uncle Harry thought removing the formalities in the department would create a more cohesive unit. I’d heard him say to the recruits on the days that I visited the ministry that when they were trusting each other with their lives, there was no need to be formal with titles.

“Erm… sure,” I noticed she still wouldn’t call him Harry. “Erm… you said not to use a patronus or an owl for any information that we thought involved L’erge Stannous.”

My feet carried my body into the adjacent room before my mind could think about what I was doing. Information on Stannous? Was he found? Did they capture him?

“Oh!” Kali jumped at my presence. “Hi Rose. Erm…” She looked uneasily up at Uncle Harry, clearly not sure what to do in this situation.

“It’s alright Kali. Rose is going to be kept abreast of all information regarding this case. Please come in. What is the information?”

“Oh! Sure.” She stepped through the entryway, but wouldn’t sit in any of the chairs Uncle Harry offered to her. “Well - erm. We just got this memo from the Bulgarian Ministry.” She handed a scroll of parchment to Uncle Harry. It had a foreign ministry seal on it, which I could only assume was the official Bulgarian seal. Uncle Harry unrolled it and began reading.

Bulgaria? That’s where Stannous was from. It makes sense that he’d return there. Had he been captured? My heart thumped at the possibility that this was all over.

“I was working the night shift when that memo came in. None of the Aurors on duty recognized the name of the witch it mentions. But because of the nature of… her death, and the fact that she was murdered in Bulgaria, we thought you should know immediately.”

Uncle Harry nodded as he finished reading the letter.

“Do you recognize the name?” Kali asked him.

“I do.” Uncle Harry closed his eyes for a moment before looking at me. “But Rose knew Healer Ruthenia Vanadi much better than I.”

Ruthenia Vanadi? Ruth?! My Healer therapist was… dead. In Bulgaria.

My breath caught. No.

“There must be some mistake,” my voice cracked. “You are mistaken.” I looked hard at Kali. “Ruth was on sabbatical. She was on a leave to do research. She’s coming back next month. You need to check with the Bulgarian government. They must be confusing her with someone else.  Or... they haven't checked properly.” I let out a sob. I knew what Uncle Harry was going to say before he spoke, but my brain couldn’t accept it.

“Rose, I’m so sorry but,” Uncle Harry put a hand on my shoulder, “they’re not wrong. She was found murdered last night. Killed with cruciatus flagrate.”








A/N:  Special thanks to Emily (-bookdinosaur-) for the chapter title!

Aaaand - the actual prophecy comes out!  Ruth has been murdered.  Ugh!  What's next?  I'd love to hear what you think of everything!  Thank you so, so much to everyone who has been reading and reviewing.  I get so excited with each one!  ♥Beth

 


Chapter 25: Bone Tired: Scorpius POV
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Ruth’s death hit Rose really hard. She was nearly inconsolable at the funeral. Selenia and Al came too, because Selenia had worked with Ruth as well. It was completely insane, but Rose blamed herself for the murder. She said that it never would’ve happened if Stannous had been able to kidnap her last summer.

“Rose.” I cut in. I wasn’t about to let her do this to herself.

I grabbed her tear-stained face in my hands and tipped her head up so she had to look at me. “You are not responsible for what that maniac does. And you have a right to keep yourself safe. But she won’t have died in vain, love.”

“That’s right Rosie,” Al added, as he rubbed her arm. “The Bulgarian Ministry has given us carte blanche to search their records and we know he is hiding out somewhere in that country - or very near there. We also know about how many people he’s working with.” He didn’t divulge to her that we’d suspected Stannous’d amassed a small army of followers that we were certain he’d infiltrated other countries, including Britain. We would tell her when the time was right. Not while we were standing at Healer Vanadi’s gravesite and she could barely stand.

Nonetheless, my words made an impact and Rose snuggled herself against my chest. Her sobs ebbed away to hiccoughs and finally an occasional sniffle.

*

The next couple of weeks were really busy for all of us. Rose had just started her most difficult round of courses and all us Auror trainees were gearing up for our S.N.A.K.E.s. (Specialized Normal Auror Knowledge Exams) there are two exams, one is written and one is a practical exam in defense, offense and ministry procedures for different situations. After passing these, we are then assigned a senior Auror guide for one year. We are sent on assignments and assessed in the field as situations arise. After that, it is determined whether more time is needed to be guided or if we can become an entry-level Auror and work as full-fledged partner.

We barely had time for each other. Either one of both of us were studying almost every moment we were at home. Most nights, she would come home from training, take a nap and then get up, eat quickly and study with Selenia until bed. Dom, Albus and I were studying constantly as well. And with James (and Jax) on a six week Quidditch Tour, we had all but stopped our nightly house dinners. We did manage to escape about once per week for a dinner out, but Rose was so preoccupied with her studies, she usually brought a book along to keep up with the coursework while we were eating.

She did, however, like wearing some of her new clothes – especially the light blue traveling cloak. It was a really fabulous item, as far as magical outerwear goes. She just beamed when she put it on. I was really glad that she likes the color blue.

We also kept up our weekly defense lessons at Harry’s house. Although they had gotten considerably shorter, we all needed the break and it was nice to just socialize with the group instead of studying day in and day out.

All this studying was making both of us stressed out. We were together, but had very little time to actually be together. She was almost always asleep by the time I finally wound my way up to our room from the kitchen where Al, Dom and I were hitting the books. Then, she usually got up early to get some more reading done before training started. We needed a break. I had an idea, but it still needed a little tweaking.

I guess I didn’t realize just how much time I had spent thinking about it when I was caught off guard one evening by Dom, Al and Selenia.

“We need to talk,” Dom said pointedly, giving me a hard look. We were in the parlor and Rose had excused herself to take a quick shower and head up to bed.

“We talk all the time,” I chuckled. “We see each other every day and we live together and practice together. Look! We are talking right now.” My smile faded as I saw the serious look on her face. Glancing over at Al, I realized this was more than a light, roommate conversation over who left their laundry in the washer too long. Al had his arm around Selenia, who was staring at the ground and chewing on her nails. My mind went to them right away. There must be bad news. Was Selenia okay?

“Sels? What’s going on? You aright?” No answer.

“Al? What is it?” Their concern must’ve been bigger than I’d thought. None of them were speaking.

“It’s Rose,” Dom finally spoke. Leave it to her. She always was one for cutting out the bullshit, unafraid and uncontrolled by emotions. She was the opposite of Rose, yet they got on so well.

“What about Rose?” I was wary. Was Selenia really this upset over Rose? Had I done something wrong?

“Haven’t you noticed how distant she's gotten lately?” Selenia’s voice was very quiet and I noticed Al pull her in closer. “She falls asleep most of the time we are studying and hardly says anything to me. It’s just like the last time. When she pulled away from all of us… and we didn’t realize something was wrong-” she didn’t continue.

“Do you think this prophecy is just too much for her?” Al picked up her thoughts. “That, combined with Ruth’s murder seems to be a bit much for her to cope with. I mean, Rose probably wouldn’t say anything to us. It’s just not like her to bring her troubles to others. She always thinks she has to handle everything on her own. She has to be the strong one.”

What a complete prat I’d been. How did I not notice? Thinking back, we’d barely had an entire conversation in the past three weeks.

“I think she’s having panic attacks again,” Dom added. “I’ve heard her in the loo a few times, getting sick.”

I stared at the wall as the memory came crashing back. “She told me she was still having them. The night she found out about the prophecy. Shit!” my eyes shot helplessly to Al. “She all but admitted it to me and I blew her off… but – she seemed so much better after her weekend with Sels, I thought she was alright.” Maybe Al was right and she didn’t want to burden me with her issues.

“She looks really pale. Also, in training she is messing up small things. It’s just not like her to miss questions asked in class or forget to study for an exam.”

“She forgot to study?!” Now I was in full-blown alarm mode. Something was definitely up. I began pacing around the room with my head in my hands, wracking my brain to think of any little thing she might have told me. “Has she said anything to any of you?”

“We thought you might know,” Dom explained. “I mean, she could just be really stressed out with all her training and the prophecy and stuff, but it just seems like there is something… more. We also thought… you would be the best one to talk to her. She always seems calmer when you are around.”

“All right,” I said slowly. “I will talk to her tonight – right now. You guys let me know if you think of anything else, okay?” They all nodded and Dom put her arm around me. I expected her to say ‘don’t worry,’ but instead she came out with, “Let me know if you need anything.” This only set my nerves up a notch.

Without waiting for anyone else to boost my confidence, I headed up to Rose’s room. I didn’t apparate so I could collect my thoughts along the way. She was the one that kept insisting that we needed to live our lives and not focus on what fate had in store. Before I realized it, I had opened the door to her room and was staring at her – sleeping on the bed, medical documents and photographs strewn about her.

“Rose,” I arranged myself next to her on the bed and propped myself up by one arm. Leaning forward, I gently kissed her on the lips.

“Mmmm,” she mewled contentedly and shifted, rolling towards me with the sweetest smile on her face, but didn’t wake up. I softly pushed my lips against her again. “Ro?” I said again, whispering very close to her face.

Her eyes opened slowly. “Scorp? I must’ve dozed off…”

“You’ve been doing that a lot lately,” I commented, bracing myself for the denial and brush off that would follow.

“Have I? Yeah, I guess so. I don’t know why. I’ve just been really tired. I think I’m fighting something,” She smiled at me and stretched herself up to a sitting position, resting my head in her lap. She began rubbing her hands through my hair, massaging my scalp. This was my Rose. But I couldn’t let myself get distracted from my mission.

“Ro, are you sure everything’s alright with you? How are your panic attacks?” I paused. “Everyone’s a bit worried.”

“About me?” she sounded genuinely shocked. “Honestly Scorp, I am doing just fine. Why wouldn’t I be? I have you,” she moved her hands to either side of my face and looked into my eyes. I swear she could hear my heart thumping to beat out of my chest. “I mean, Ruth’s death was a bit of a shock, but I’m getting used to that now. I still get sad sometimes and I am still having some panic attacks,” she admitted, looking away from me. “They definitely make me sick, but they seem to pass quickly and don’t stress me out nearly as much as before. Don’t worry; I won’t ever go back to the other Rose. This one is so much better. Prophecy or not, I feel like I can handle anything when you’re around.”

“Me too, Ro. You will let me know if the attacks get worse, right?” she peered over my face and bent her head down. Our lips met and brushed lightly. Instead of answering, she nodded as the kiss deepened. Before I knew what was happening, she shifted herself around and was straddling me, pushing down on my shoulders. Achingly slowly, she lowered herself down to me and just barely nipped at my jawline. I let out an involuntary groan. She sat up slightly and smiled, raising an eyebrow.

“I’m not tired right now, love. Do you have any ideas what we could do?” She was so sexy; I grabbed her waist and lifted her up, turning both of us over. She let out a wicked chuckle that did things to me I can’t even explain. When she looked up at me with her stunning blue eyes and smiled seductively, I lost all control.

*

“Good news,” I reported to Al, Dom and Selenia about an hour later. They were all studying in the drawing room. “She’s just fine. I spoke with her and I can attest to the fact that she is doing alright. Just a bit of nerves from all the studying and working through Ruth’s untimely death.”

“You are shameless!” Al just shook his head.

“Wha-”

“Don’t even try to tell me that you two were only talking up there, when you come down here with your JBF hair…She’s my cousin, please don’t forget that. I’m only asking that you just try-”

“Come off it Al, it’s not because she’s your cousin,” Dom interrupted his tirade. “It’s because she is Rose, and you have always been so protective of her – even more so than Lily. I’m your cousin too and you’ve never said two words to Jax.” Dom wasn’t pissed, just trying to calm Albus down. It didn’t appear to be working; I don’t think he even heard her, so I looked to Selenia for help.

“Al, love,” she gently put a hand on his arm. “Do you think that maybe we should take a study break as well?” She moved her hand to his chin and turned his face toward hers, “you know I can think of a few things that might relax you.” That worked. The filthy hypocrite didn’t even look over at me as he allowed Selenia to lead him out of the room.

I headed back upstairs and was not surprised to find Rose asleep again. I covered her up and got myself ready for bed. She was so beautiful, I made my mind up right then and there. Glad to see she had fallen asleep early, I fell into an easy slumber, cradling her body close to mine.




A/N:  Hi everyone!  I know this chapter isn't very thick in the plot department and I struggled with it in terms of whether I should just skip over it or not.  I decided to leave it because it lays a little groundwork for what's to come... duhn, duhn, duuuuuhn!  Thanks so much to Joey (crestwood), my awesome beta reader!  And thanks to everyone who's been reading this story.  I'd love to hear what you think! ♥ Beth

 


Chapter 26: Bound by Love: Rose and Scorpius POV
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A/N:  Update - Jan 2015 - I changed the name of the chapter and edited some typos.  Sorry for the confusion but "Barfing and Bloodrush" was just too gross for me to have to look at...




“Rose,” a voice said, somewhere off in the distance. I snuggled deeper into my soft bed.

“Ro?” I felt a soft prod against my shoulder. I lifted my arm and draped it over Scorpius – but it fell limply all the way to the mattress. He wasn’t there. Oh, well. Sleep was good.

“Rosie-Ro, time to get up,” Another gentle shake. What was going on? Who was disturbing my rest? I needed to sleep. Suddenly, there was softness against my lips and then the sweetest smell in the world. Scorpius. I breathed him in and opened my eyes as our lips stretched from my smile.

“Hello, love,” I whispered against him. Happiness swept over me. This was a nice way to wake up. Somewhere it was beginning to register that things were out of sorts. Scorpius wasn’t lying in bed with me, he was kneeling on the floor with his head perched next to mine on the mattress. Also, it was still the middle of the night – I couldn’t see any light shining through the window. He got up and sat down on the edge of the bed. He was fully dressed.

“Time to get up,” he repeated, smoothing my hair. I grudgingly lifted my head to look around, making sure that this was not a dream.

“Have you gone mad?” I asked. “It’s dead of night. It can’t be time to get up.”

“Actually, its 4:30 am – so not dead of night. But, I have a surprise for you and we have to leave now to go see it.” He had a goofy grin on his face – and he reached up to scratch the back of his neck - his nervous tick.  Why would he be nervous?  Unless he feared the wrath from waking me so early...

My body stretched itself up to a sitting position. I couldn’t say no to him – never could. Slinging my feet over the side, I sat next to him and gave him a sweet, proper good morning kiss. “All right – but how long is this going to take? I need to get some serious studying done today.”

“Well, I’m not exactly sure,” the hint of nervousness appeared in his voice once again and I searched his face, looking for a reason for the anxiety. He continued, “I thought we could spend a relaxing day together and forget about studying,” he explained cautiously.

“Scorp! I already told you I am behind and this is-”

“-the most difficult round of courses,” he finished for me. “Yes, you’ve already told me.” Now he was grinning and he squeezed my hand. “But you’re not doing yourself or your studies any good if you get stressed out. How about this?  You give me until, let’s say… lunchtime, and then you can decide when we come back to study.”

Damn. Why did he know me so well? He knew I couldn’t say no to him - not for just the morning, anyway. I pouted briefly at his clever argument.  “Deal,” I said finally, still wary of his plans. “What do I need to wear to this… event?”

“Just dress warm and comfortable,” having won the debate, he hopped off the bed,grinning in self-satisfaction. He blew me a kiss as he turned and swept out the door, still with that goofy grin on his face.

I was not liking how cryptic he was being. Nonetheless, I put on a pair of jeans, a tee shirt and a warm jumper. For extra warmth against the April, early morning chill, I added my periwinkle traveling cloak.

“All set, love,” I smiled up at him. We stood at the bottom of the stairs after I had visited the bathroom to quickly to splash some water on my face and brush my teeth.

He paused, “You look beautiful,” he brushed his fingers against my cheek. I melted and words failed me. He held out his arm and I took it.

Crack.

We landed outside somewhere – it was still dark, and it took my eyes a few minutes to adjust to the moonlight. Scorpius had to hold me up – the apparating made me dizzy, as usual, and I lost my footing, as usual. The ground was soft beneath my feet. He waited for me to open my eyes.

“All right there?”

“Yup. All good.” A deep breath in to calm my stomach. The crisp morning air was soothing and the charmed cloak kept my body warm. “Where are we?”

He flicked his wand and two brooms flew toward him. “Fancy a fly?” he asked, cocking an eyebrow as he caught them and handed one to me.

“Are we on the Cannon’s pitch?! For real? This is amazing!” My eyes were adjusting now and I swiveled my head around to see the stands and the goal posts. I hadn’t been flying at night in ages – I hadn’t been flying in ages. The broom was calling to me and I threw my leg over and kicked off, sailing up up through the air and zooming around the pitch. The high speeds and my empty stomach made me a little bit nauseous, but the cool air in my face felt great.

I did slow twists and turns, arcing widely around the pitch. Scorpius was flying too and we were criss-crossing from side to side of the pitch. We zoomed toward each other and his hand reached out to touch my fingertips as we passed. I let out a silly giggle.

Next moment, he was flying along with me, but slightly behind. I turned my head back and smiled. Flying was one of the purest forms of freedom I’d ever experienced. He accioed a quaffle and we began tossing it back and forth. I tried to score on him and then we switched. Not fair, as he had been a chaser and I’d been the Ravenclaw seeker. The quaffle easily sailed past my attempt at a save and into the third loop. I pouted at him as he grinned and zoomed around and up in a celebratory victory fly. However, I couldn’t stay angry for long, we were having far too much fun. The sky had lightened considerably and there were birds chirping in the woods beyond the pitch. It smelled like freshness and morning.

“All right,” Scorpius cried from across the pitch. “Here you go seeker, see if you can catch it!” He tossed a snitch high into the air.

My eyes followed it. From years of practice, I knew how to follow the snitch with my eyes without moving my head. This was necessary as the other team’s seeker could follow your line of sight and use it to their advantage. I rocketed forward as the snitch continued to rise up, up, up.

He was making this too easy. Somewhere in the back of my mind, it registered that there was something unusual about this snitch. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but the seeker skills in me had clicked on and I was too focused on catching it to analyze what was off. It suddenly changed direction and began spiraling downward.

I squinted and concentrated on the fiery glint that I saw elegantly fluttering toward the ground. The sun was rising up over the horizon and twinkled against the object. I sped up and drew closer... closer and held my gaze on the glinting gold. One last jolt of speed and my fingers clasped tightly around it just as I was sailing to the earth. Success! A cry of excitement and elation left my lips and I remembered the feeling of triumph from my Hogwarts days. I tipped my broom up slightly and slowed my pace to a gentle cruise so I could disembark.  My feet found solid ground as the broom hovered in the air next to me.  Now that I was no longer fixating on catching the object, my brain kicked into gear, trying to evaluate what exactly was wrong with this snitch.

It was tiny. So tiny it lay hidden within my hand. I heard Scorpius land just behind me as I opened my palm to see not a golden ball with quivering wings, but a ring, made of warm gold with a deep blue stone in the center. The metal that made up the band was interlaced with a twisting, filigree pattern. I’d never seen anything like it.

“Rose,” I heard behind me. I turned around to look up at Scorpius, but my eyes had to drop to find him. He was kneeling down – on one knee. My mouth fell open.

“Rose,” he began again. The sunrise gleamed across his golden hair and he smiled a nervous smile. “You are the most amazing woman I’ve ever known. You make me feel like I can do anything, accomplish anything. I didn’t think that I would ever be happy again, and you brought me out of the pit I was in to show me how much love there is in the world – and you asked for nothing from me. At every turn, you surprise me how with much grace and compassion you have for others. I can’t imagine life without you in it. If you give me the chance, I’d like to spend the rest of my life trying to show you just one iota of the joy that you’ve given me.” He took my hand with the ring in it and clasped it between his two hands. “Will you marry me, Rose Weasley?”

I was completely devoid of words. My thoughts were swirling around me. Did Scorpius Malfoy just propose?   To me?!   Without warning, a wave of emotion passed over me and tears pricked into my eyes. I never expected this. He wanted me – forever.

“Rose?” he asked tentatively after several quiet moments. “I was kind of hoping for an actual answer,” he was still holding tightly to my hand. The sunlight was getting brighter and streaked across our faces. A tear dropped from my eye and I knew that I would love this man forever. I looked in his silver eyes and nodded, “Yes, yes. Yes!” I tried to shout, but the emotion took over again and the word caught in my throat.

Relief washed over his face and he blew out the air he’d been holding in his lungs. He stood and pulled me into him. Brushing the tear from my face with his thumb, he moved his lips to mine and I breathed him in. My hands rested around the back of his neck. To my surprise, he released my waist and grabbed my wrists, removing my hands from his neck, gently. We broke apart and I looked at him, questioningly.

“I think we need to make this official,” he grinned. He gently pried my fingers open and took the ring out of my palm. I had forgotten all about it! What an idiot. Holding out my hand, he placed the beautiful ring on my finger. Now that I could see it properly, I couldn’t stop looking at it. It was stunning. The gold wasn’t yellow, but more of a bronze color and the stone was a deep blue that looked like light shone from within it.

“Ravenclaw colors,” I whispered, unable to take my eyes off the beautiful object.

“It’s rose gold,” he explained. “With a sapphire.”

“Scorpius, it’s… the most beautiful ring I’ve ever seen,” I was tearing up again. I threw my arms around him. He lifted me up and swung me around and around. We both laughed. When he finally put me down, I had to grab on to him from the dizziness. I held on tight, but it built up and spread through my head down to my stomach. The nausea throbbed and I shut my eyes tight. Not now. Why now?

“I’m going to be sick,” was all I could manage as I ran off the pitch toward the changing rooms. I only just made it to the loo. Thank Merlin my hair was short now. As it was, I got some sick on my face and cloak. I can’t believe that I ruined the most special moment of our lives. Damn panic attacks. Would they ever stop? The tears began to stream down my face.

Scorpius had been right on my heels and knelt behind me, rubbing my back as I was sick again. I heard a very quiet Scourgify behind me. My cloak was clean and I grabbed some loo paper to wipe my mouth, but I couldn’t stop the tears. I turned to face him, “I’m so sorry Scorpius. I didn’t mean to. I’m really sorry that I completely ruined this perfect day that you planned.” Looking at the ring again, I just began to cry harder, “You obviously worked so hard to work out this wonderful moment-”

He put a finger to my lips, effectively shutting me up. I was blathering on, so I’d needed it. He conjured a much needed toothbrush for me and I took a few minutes to clean myself up at the sink, feeling much better and refreshed, and at least a little calmer.

“Now love,” he began, coming up behind me. I could see him in the mirror over my shoulder. “We need to figure out what’s going on with you.” He spoke to my reflection as he wrapped his arms around my waist again.

“Honestly Scorp, it’s just nerves-” I looked at the Scorpius in the mirror.

“Rose, you can’t believe that you’re having a panic attack after just getting engaged. That’s the sort of thing Dom would do, but not you. Why don’t you just list your symptoms and think of what could be causing them?” He leaned his head on my shoulder as he dipped in to plant a kiss on my neck, sending waves of wonderfulness down my body. I had to inhale slowly to keep my focus on the conversation.

“You’re on your way to being one of the top Healers in the wizarding world, I’m sure you can figure this out. Maybe you’re allergic to something, or have been eating something that doesn’t agree with you – like bread. It seems to me that all you’ve been eating lately is bread and crackers.”

“Scorpius,” I turned to look at the real Scorpius, trying not to sound condescending, but really? “As helpful as you’re trying to be, bread-eating is not an actual symptom for an illness, magical or otherwise.” It took a lot of strength for me not to roll my eyes.

“Alright, what about your attacks? Do they seem to occur at any particular time? During studying? Stressful exams? What’re you doing right before you have them? – And you’ve been so tired lately. Selenia mentioned that you forgot to study for an exam.” His eyes pierced mine, wanting an answer to this enigma.

He really was taking this too far. It was as if he just figured that there was some magical ailment that lined up perfectly with the symptoms of being dog-tired, getting sick and eating bread to calm your stomach-

“Ho-ly… For the love of Morganna.” I thought I might be sick again.

No.

It can’t be
.

“Rose, you’ve gone white. What is it? Ro?”

I couldn’t move. I wasn’t breathing. No way. No way in hell. I had to be sure. I had to get proof.

“Come with me.” I grabbed his arm and apparated us to St. Mungos.

*

Rose’s reaction was making me panic. She was always the calm one. I’d never seen her so pale. We landed in the waiting room of St. Mungo’s and she ran off down the hall, pulling me with her. Luckily, it was still really early in the morning and there was hardly anyone around.

“Rose, slow down, love. What is it?” She didn’t answer.

“Rose, it can’t be that bad.” Or could it? Maybe she’d just realized that she has some terrible, terminal disease. Maybe someone’s been poisoning her. That would make sense, as to why she'd been tired and sick. She’d brought us to the hospital right away. She must’ve needed to be treated immediately. How much time would she have left? My heart stopped and my feet planted on the spot. I braced our arms that were still attached by our hands and she jerked around, panic apparent on her face.

“Rose,” I began gravely, “What do you think it is?” I wasn’t able to hide the worry in my voice.

“I just have to be certain,” she whispered, still ghostly white. This was bad. Really, really bad. I squeezed her hand as I felt tears start to form in my eyes. No. I had to be strong for her.

“Alright,” I nodded. “Let’s go find out.” She turned back around and started pulling me down the hallway again - not as fast as we’d been going before, but we were moving at a healthy clip.

I had no idea where we were headed. She probably knows all the Healers here. Maybe she was looking for one of her teachers to help her confirm her illness. We quickly walked down a long, white corridor and then turned down another identical one. We were headed toward the classrooms, where she and Selenia took their courses. It was kind of weird to be here, with no one around on a Saturday. Maybe she expected one of her professors to be in the room, working on lessons. Finally, she pushed open on double swinging doors that led into a darkened classroom, but nobody was in there. It looked more like a laboratory rather than a place for lectures.

She sped with determination over to one of the cabinets that lined the walls and began pulling open drawers. Finding what she’d been looking for, Rose pulled out a bottle with some kind of grey, shimmery potion in it. She worked quickly, opening another cupboard and extracting a small kit that was encased in sterile plastic. Inside there was a tiny cup and some gauze. Rose then muttered some spell with her wand over the index finger of her left hand and a pinprick appeared, piercing her skin. A small globe of red blood beaded upon the pad of her fingertip. With her free hand, she poured a small amount of the silvery potion into the cup and then squeezed a few drops of blood so it landed and mixed with the potion.

We both looked at it together for a few moments – or was it several hours? I put my arm around her shoulders and wanted her as close to me as possible. Kissing the top of her head, I squeezed her into me.

Suddenly, the potion turned different shades of pink, ranging from pale to violent and she gasped and stepped back. “No, no, no…” her voice trailed off. She braced herself with both arms against the countertop. It was the worst. I didn’t know what the pink swirls meant, but I knew she’d just confirmed her suspicions about her disease.

“What is it?” I asked softly. My voice would waver if I tried to make it any louder and I had to be strong right now. We were both still staring at the pink, swirling potion as if it would suddenly spell out all the answers racing through my mind.

“No, no, no,” she repeated, taking a step backwards.

“Rose,” I cupped her face with both hands and moved in close to her. Our noses were almost touching. Grabbing her eyes with my own, my need to know the truth won over my desire to want everything to be alright and I finally had the strength to speak firmer. “Rose. Whatever it is, we can figure out-”

“I’m pregnant,” she breathed out.

Nothing, nothing in the world could have prepared me for this. I’d been bracing myself for news of her imminent death. News of a horrible disfiguring illness that would leave us both broken and forever in pain.

I felt a rush of blood burst from my heart and into my ears.

Pound. Pound. POUND.






A/N:  Erm... did I just put a proposal and a pregnancy in the same chapter?!?  I hope this makes up for the last one...  Thanks to Joey (crestwood), my totally awesome beta reader.  And thanks to everyone who's been reading, reviewing and favoriting this story!  I'd love to hear your thoughts!! 

♥Beth
 


Chapter 27: Bound by Blood: Rose and Scorpius POV
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I couldn’t believe it. It was really true. I was pregnant. That’s why I’d been sick. They weren’t panic attacks – it was morning sickness… which doesn’t have to occur in the morning - as I’d learned from training - and experience, apparently.

Training. How the hell had I not realized it before? I’d have to be the most ignorant witch in the wizarding world. My mind tried to calculate how long it’d been since my last monthly. A while. A long while.

We just finished our finals on obstetrics. Every symptom I was experiencing could’ve been explained by pregnancy. Even the anxiousness. And forgetfulness. And tearfulness. Speaking of…

They began to flow softly down my cheeks and I swam out of my thoughts to Scorpius. We were still staring at each other, his hands still on my face. Or rather, I was looking at him and he wasn’t breathing. Oh, shit.

I squeezed the sides of his arms that I was holding on to for dear life. No movement.

It was too much – for both of us. I blinked to try to stop the tears, but they just came harder. I really didn’t think I could take anymore. I wanted to go home and just hide in my soft, warm bed and not deal with any of this. There was some movement in front of me and I realized that Scorpius’s mouth had opened. He took a breath and closed his eyes in a long blink.

“A baby,” he opened the silver orbs and steeled into my eyes. “Our baby,” I hadn’t even considered the baby part. I truly was an idiot. I was so focused on the pregnancy part, it didn’t even process with me that the pregnancy ended in… a baby. Our baby. Some healer I would make. Some mother I would make.

It was my turn to stop breathing.

I was going to be a mother.

A Mum.

Scorpius began blinking again, more rapidly than normal. “Holy shit. A baby.”

Pause.

“A baby,” he said again.

“A baby,” he repeated for what seemed like the hundredth time. As if he kept saying the word over and over, it would sink in at some point. He at least had the power of speech. I, on the other hand, hadn’t reached that milestone yet. I was still concentrating on getting air into my lungs. The tears, however, continued to fall.

He slid his hands to the top of my shoulders. “Rose, don’t cry. This isn’t a bad thing. You have no idea what horrible illnesses were going through my mind.” His voice was choppy, as if the words didn’t want to come out.

Not a bad thing? It wasn’t exactly a good thing. What the hell was I going to do? I still had over a year of training. So did Scorpius. We were both only 21. I already had the prophecy to deal with. And Stannous.

The Prophecy.

Bad, scary, overwhelming thoughts began to consume me and I fell into my head. What did this mean? Was this the baby in the prophecy? It couldn’t be. What will happen to the baby if it’s not? Was I in danger? Was the baby? I’d just found out about it, but the thought of something happening to my baby… our baby… was terrifying. What if Uncle Harry was wrong and this baby was really part of some dark magic. The anxiety began to overtake any coherent functioning I had as the thoughts of what Stannous might do; of what he was capable of doing to me or – the baby. My head worked out of control and the most sickening, horrid thoughts were forming. I tried to stop them, but it was too much.

“Rose, what are you thinking about? Hey. Are you alright?” Scorpius was right in front of me, but he sounded so far away. I blinked to try to hear him better, but now my eyes weren’t working. I squeezed, but my grip on his arms was loosening. The edges of my vision went dark and everything faded away.

*

Rose’s body went limp in my arms. Her head fell back and my arm swept out to grab her and pick her up bridal style. Gently, I guided us to the floor and I tried to jostle her to see if she would wake up - to no avail. I looked up at the hot pink potion on the counter. It was still whirling around in the cup, confirming Rose’s pregnancy. My first instinct was to summon a Healer – we were in the hospital, after all. However, something told me not to. If Rose had wanted, she could’ve had any Healer at her beck and call. She was, after all, a Weasley and a respected Healer trainee. Obviously, she’d suspected she was pregnant, but wanted some privacy regarding this… erm, matter. But I needed help – and fast, so I sent a patronus to the only person I could think of that Rose would trust enough to help her. I just prayed that she didn’t bring her over-protective, pain in the arse boyfriend with her.

No such luck.

“Scorp, what the hell is going on?” Albus barked as he stormed through the double swinging doors behind Selenia. His face paled when he saw Rose lying unconscious on the floor in my arms. “What the fuck?” He paced toward me.

A fire erupted inside me. This was not about Albus and his hot temper. I shifted Rose in my arms and pointed my wand at my best mate for the first time, ever.

“Look Al, she fainted and I know she needs a Healer, but I also know Rose would prefer to keep this as quiet as possible. If Selenia decides Rose need more care than she can provide, then we’ll get it. But my primary concern is helping Rose and not making her twit of a cousin feel at ease!” My gaze was intent and I felt I was giving him more explanation than he deserved at the moment. I think the combination of my panicked explanation and my not-so-idle threat of a wand pointed at his chest caused him to back off. He raised his arms and retreated to the corner of the room by the door, contented to play the role of observer, in light of being hexed into the next millennium. I think it may have been the first time in his life where he realized what Rose actually meant to me and how far I was willing to go to protect her.

Selenia knelt down immediately on the floor and began assessing her patient. She seemed completely oblivious to mine and Al’s conversation. She began with Rose’s head and surveyed her best friend with concern and caring. I caught her eye and pointed at the pink, swirling potion on the counter, knowing that Selenia would understand, without letting Al know too much. His emotions were always right at the surface, and although he’d been shamed to the corner for the time being, I knew that any little thing could set him off - and this was no little thing.

I opened my mouth to ask Selenia what we should do next, but nothing came out. I knew that pregnancy could cause fainting - but so could stress - and Rose had looked really stressed out just before she passed out.

Selenia’s couldn’t suppress a gasp when she eyed the multi-hued pink potion. “Oh my Merlin. That explains a lot.” She glanced nervously at Albus, realizing my reasoning for being discreet.

“Al love, can you do me a favor?” she said loudly, eyes still on her patient. “If you go five doors down on the right, there’s a gurney on wheels. Please bring it here, so she can lie down properly. Don’t worry love; she’s going to be just fine.” The last sentence was said more to me than to Al, but both of us nodded. Once he left, she began asking me several questions.

“Do you know how far along she is?”

I shook my head. “We’d only just arrived and she used the potion. She told me she was pregnant and she started crying. Then we just kind of looked at each other for a minute and I noticed her losing color. She fainted and I called you. There was no time to discuss any specifics.”

“Okay. Has she eaten anything today?”

“No! Damn!” What a piece of shit boyfr- fiancé I am.

“I’d planned a breakfast for us in the players club at the pitch. We got distracted when Rose got sick and… and… all the chaos that ensued thereafter. The breakfast is now sitting in the dining room overlooking the pitch, getting cold. I could’ve gotten her some food – anything…” and now I am starving the mother of my child…

“Scorpius,” Selenia’s voice was calm as she reached across Rose to squeeze my arm. “It’s okay. I just need to know the facts. She’s going to be alright. Look at me, Scorp.” I had to drag my eyes away from Rose for an instant. “I already have to deal with ‘Al the bumbling cousin,’” she flicked her thumb over her shoulder, “so don’t make me kick you out of here as well. Like you said, if I think for one second that she needs more help, I’ll have a Senior Healer in here faster than you can say ‘Merlin’s pants.’” She smiled reassuringly and I felt a little calmer.

“Should I go and get something for her to eat?” I asked, desperate for some way to help.

“No, I think that’s the perfect job for Al, when he gets back. I’m going to have to keep him occupied for a few minutes. Was she complaining of any lightheadedness or did she say anything hurt before she passed out?”

“No, just… I think the shock of the realization is what did it.”

Selenia didn’t look up as she nodded. She was now going over Rose with her wand, whispering some sort of incantation. She seemed to be focusing her efforts on her head and abdomen area.

“Does anything look… is the baby okay?” I could barely whisper this question. I didn’t want to interrupt her important task, but Rose was still unconscious and I was was having a hard time keeping my panic in check.

Again another quick nod as she continued to focus on whatever she was doing with her wand. Next moment, there was a loud bang as Al pushed through the double doors with the gurney. I lifted Rose up so that I could place her on the bed as he wheeled it underneath her.

She began to stir as soon as I settled her upon the thin mattress and the three of us looked down at her. Selenia quickly sent Al to get some juice and toast. He immediately complied, running out the door and down the corridor repeating, “Juice and toast… Juice and toast… Juice and toast...” What a complete tosser.

“Rose love,” Selenia spoke in a soft but clear voice. I grabbed Rose’s hand as I stood on the opposite side. Her eyes fluttered open and she looked confused at seeing Selenia standing in front of her. I opened my mouth to let her know I was there, but Selenia spoke first, in a completely confident and calm voice, “Hello, sleeping beauty. How’re you feeling?”

Rose breathed out and looked around the room, until her eyes found me. “I feel… okay… just confused and tired.” I squeezed tighter as she answered Selenia’s question.

Selenia continued to speak while she turned to the row of cupboards and fiddled with some bottles and cups. She began mixing a few things together and tapping some sort of brew with her wand, muttering quick incantations, but all the while, with an ear on what Rose was saying.

“Well then, that makes sense. The confused part is because you fainted and the tired part is because you are expecting!” Selenia said brightly as she turned her head to speak to Rose. “Can you tell me what is the last thing you remember?”

“The pink potion,” Rose answered eyeing it on the counter next to whatever concoction Selenia was working up. “Expecting.” Rose repeated slowly. “Oh yeah.” Her eyes clouded over and she furrowed her brow. “I remember.”

“Here, sweetheart,” Selenia continued, adding one last tap to the small goblet she’d conjured for the liquid she’d been concocting. “Drink this prenatal potion. I added a few drops of anti-nausea serum and some ginger root, which my Mum always gave to us to help a weak stomach. I’m going to check you over in a few minutes to make sure you’re alright, but I think you should stay in this bed for the time being. At least until Al gets back with a little nourishment.” Rose drank the potion as requested.

“Al?” Rose was suddenly more alert and concerned. “Does he know-”

“No,” I answered and brought her fingers to my lips. “I had to summon Sels because you wouldn’t wake up, but she was absolutely fantastic and knew exactly what to do – she even kept Al busy enough so that he has no clue what’s going on. He only knows you fainted.”

“Would you two like to hear the baby’s heartbeat?” I hadn’t even realized that Selenia had walked away to give us some privacy. She returned with a small object that she fit on the end of her wand. It was wooden and in the shape of a wedge - sort of like a piece of pie.

The pointed end fit onto the tip of her wand as she passed it over Rose’s belly and muttered a spell. She had to move it around for a bit until she found the spot she was looking for and a soft, pulsing sound came from the wide end of the object. The sound grew in volume and had a strong, solid rhythm to it. It strengthened and seemed to fill the entire room. I don’t know if I’d ever heard anything so wonderful. I put both my hands around Rose’s and found her blue eyes tearing up.

“Scorp, what in the world are we going to d-?”

“Shhhh.” I squeezed her hand again and shook my head. Leaning in close to her, I brushed her lips with mine and whispered into her ear. “This is not the time for worrying, love. Everything will work out. This is a time to hear our baby’s first sounds.” As the rhythm of the new life pulsed around us, I realized that there was an actual baby growing inside Rose. We made that. Those sounds were coming from a being that would be a whole, real person that I could touch and see and smell in just a few months. Everything, everything that I did from this moment on would affect this new person: my child.

We listened for another few moments, and we probably would’ve stayed there all day, but Selenia finally lifted her wand and removed the pie-thing from the tip. “I think Al will be returning soon,” she explained. “Do you feel like sitting up?” she asked Rose, who nodded, brushing away her tears. I admit, I had to swipe at my own eyes briefly, it was so amazing and overwhelming and magnificent. I was still holding on to Rose’s hand, not wanting to let go just yet.

“I actually feel much better after that potion. I think I’m hungry for the first time in ages.” Rose answered as Selenia adjusted the bed so Rose was in a sitting position.

Selenia placed a hand on each of Rose’s and my shoulders. “Now, my lovely friends and the soon-to-be parents,” she was beaming, “I think congratulations are in order! As near as I can tell, Rose you are very close to three months along, so you really need to get in to see a Healer quite soon. Make sure you get an appointment for this week. I’m sure that Healer Chang will take your case – she’s the best, you know. Here’s some more of ‘Selenia’s special prenatal concoction.’” She handed it to me in a sealed vial. “Rose needs to take a few ounces every morning – at least until she sees her Healer. Also – and this is a must – if you feel the slightest bit lightheaded, you must lie down immediately and get right back here to be seen. No exceptions, Rose.” Her warning tone was not to be trifled with and we both nodded in unison.

“Juice and toast!” Al proclaimed as he bounded through the doors again. He appeared quite proud of himself. “Alright there, Rosie?” he asked after noticing she was sitting up.

“I’m much better now, thanks Al,” Rose replied. “That looks positively fabulous, don’t mind if I do.” She nibbled hungrily and drank the juice in one gulp.

“What ever happened?” Al wondered. I knew we wouldn’t be able to get out of here without some sort of an explanation, but I was at a loss for words and Selenia didn’t say anything, perhaps hoping that we wanted to tell Al the good news ourselves.

“Er…” Rose began stammering a bit for a quick explanation, “actually, I was so excited that Scorpius proposed this morning, I fell quite ill.” She lifted her left hand to show them the ring. It seemed like that happened ages ago, and it was really just about an hour past that we were on the pitch and I was on one knee.

“That’s brilliant!” beamed Al. “Congrats to the both of you! I know Dad will be thrilled. Not so sure about Uncle Ron, though.”

Selenia just squealed and gave Rose a huge hug. “Wow! It has been quite the big day for the two of you, yeah?” She turned to hug me as well.

“Yeah,” I replied. “I’m not too worried about Ron,” I said to Al, who looked confused at Selenia’s remark, “we had a chat beforehand. He gave us his blessing. Hermione too.” Al looked impressed. Rose looked shocked.

“B-but we’re keeping it a secret for now,” she insisted loudly. “We erm… want to tell the family all at once. So - so let’s just keep this between us - very few people for right now.”

“Sure Rosie,” Al looked at me questioningly and I just shook my head. I needed to talk Rose alone - soon.

“Now, love,” Selenia slid her arm around Al’s waist. “I think we need to give them some privacy. Rose is recovered and this is a – big day for them. We will see both of you later at Number Twelve? Can we plan on a small celebration?”

“That’s up to Rose,” I said. “It’s her day and whatever she wants is fine with me.” I knew we weren’t done talking, but I thought Rose would like to plan for something later. “How does dinner sound?” I asked her.

“Actually, it sounds fabulous,” Rose said, “but I need breakfast first…”

I chuckled. “We can eat all day long if you want, Ro.” I looked up at Al and Selenia, “We’ll send you a message later with the details, yeah?” They both nodded and she led him out of the room and down the hall. Rose and I were left staring at each other with the pink potion still churning on the counter.




A/N:  Thanks to everyone who has been leaving such kind reviews.  I love to hear it whenever someone is excited by the story!  I feel like I need to put up a warning - this and the next few chapters are a bit fluffy.  I worked through it a bit and I decided to keep in most of the fluff instead of skipping over it.  Maybe it's the hopeless romantic, but I feel like Rose and Scorpius deserve a little bit... for now (mwah - hah - hah!)

Special thanks to my beta reader, crestwood.  He has put up with me being particularly needy over these past few weeks and I totally love him for being so wonderful! ♥  He has some absolutly amazing work on this site, so I encourage you to check out his stories!

 

 

 


Chapter 28: Bound by Honor: Rose and Scorpius POV
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We sat at a muggle diner, eating our breakfast, just sort of staring at each other.

I should rephrase that.

I was inhaling my second breakfast in a manner indicating that I hadn’t eaten properly in nearly two months (which was true) and Scorpius was grinning from ear to ear, just watching me.

“What else can I get for you, love? Do you want some more pancakes? Eggs? Banger?” He held up a sausage and wiggled it on the end of a fork. I shook my head, finally filling up.

“More juice?” he asked.

“That sounds great. I’ve been eating so fast, I didn’t even realize I already finished mine.” I held up the empty glass.

He just beamed and passed me his own juice.

“Thanks,” I said.

He didn’t reply, just sat there with that goofy smirk on his face as I gulped down his orange juice.

“Scorpius,” I commented, “you look like someone has hooked both sides of your mouth and tied it to your ears!”

“I can’t help it Ro, I don’t know if I’ve ever been this happy or excited,” he looked down at his plate for a moment and then his eyes found mine, bright with tears. “When I woke up this morning, there was only one Malfoy in the world – just me. And now, there are going to be two more…” he caught himself and cleared his throat.

I smiled back at him, warmly. Sometimes, I just took the fact that I had such a large family for granted. There were so many Weasleys (and Potters) that usually there wasn’t even time to think. I forgot that Scorpius didn’t have a lot of his own family, even considering Uncle Harry had basically adopted him. There was always his Aunt Daphne, but they weren’t very close, and she wasn’t a Malfoy, anyway.

I wished I could’ve been just as happy as he was. I mean, I was happy, I just had a nagging feeling that something else was bothering me. I couldn’t remember anything that happened after the pink swirling potion, but something must’ve made me faint – it had to be more than just not eating. I couldn’t shake the feeling, but I didn’t want to dampen Scorpius’s good mood – he was so overjoyed that I couldn’t help but grin along with him.

We decided to take a walk in the muggle park across the street. He wrapped an arm around my shoulders and I put mine around his waist. We walked aimlessly and talked about nothing, both trying to avoid any serious conversation.

Scorpius was jabbering on about his impending S.N.A.K.E. exams and asked about my Healer classes. He could hardly control the speed of his chatter. I didn’t want to bring up any of my reservations and spoil his blissful day.

But the heaviness of ‘Oh Merlin, what the hell are we going to do?’ built up to pressure cooker levels until it just began to spill over and out, in the typical fashion for me. Don’t let the red hair and Weasley name fool you, I didn’t scream and yell and lose my temper; I started to cry. Actually I started to sob, uncontrollably.

“Come here, love.” Scorpius stopped us from walking and turned me to face him. He put his arms around me and held me, letting me cry into his shoulder. He wasn’t even surprised. “There it is. I’ve been waiting.”

He knew I would do this. I was actually too upset to be upset. I just continued to sob into him. “This way, love,” he ducked us behind a large tree and apparated us back to Number Twelve, where we quietly made our way to our room.

I was still crying, but not as hard. We settled together on the bed with his arms around me and he rocked me until I cried it all out and had nothing left. I was drained. “Tired?” he asked.

“Yes and no,” I hiccoughed. “I’m still too anxious to be tired. Too many thoughts.”

“Well, let’s work them out,” he said, matter-of-factly. “What’s bothering you? Just say the first thing that comes to mind.” He grabbed my left hand with his right and began rubbing the sapphire ring with his thumb. We both looked down and our hands and I couldn’t hold back a small (very small) smile.

“How am I going to finish training?”

“You can take a leave. Or I can take a leave. We can both take a leave and just finish later on.” He had a point. Obviously one of us would just put our training on hold for a bit. His parents had left him enough gold in Gringotts that we didn’t need to work right away. His eyes twinkled. “What else?” he inquired.

“We can’t raise a baby here – not in this house.”

“We’ll buy a house – or a flat, anywhere you want.” He planted a soft kiss on my cheek.

“We have to tell everyone.”

“Not yet, if you don’t want to. We can wait until you see your Healer. But yes, we will have to tell people eventually. They might get suspicious when you grow a beach ball out of your middle.” The silly smile from before returned to his face as he began to bounce up and down slightly in his seat. I knew the thought of telling our families and friends excited him. His smile was infectious and I returned one to him.

“We’re not married.”

“You know I’ll marry you right this second, if that’s what you want.” He slid back on the bed so that he was sitting against the headboard and pulled me along with him, so I was nestled in between his legs. His arms enveloped me and I tried to relax. “However, I thought you might like to have a few more redheads around for the occasion.” I was facing forward, but I could feel another grin spread across his face as his head dipped in to kiss my neck.

“There’s the prophecy.” It just spilled out and the memories came flooding back. That was what had been really bothering me. Until now, I couldn’t remember what horrible thoughts had made me lose consciousness, but everything crashed over me like a wave. “There’s Stannous.” The terrible, frightening memories made me shudder. I knew what he was capable of. I felt Scorpius stiffen around me. He tried to hide this by squeezing a bit tighter. I knew he wouldn’t have an answer to this one.

“Rose, I will never let him get to you again,” he whispered as his hands rubbed up and down my arms. “Never. And it’s not just me. You have Al, your Dad, Harry, Dom – the entire Auror department – plus your Mum, Ginny, James, Fred…”

“Okay, I get it,” I said to stop his babbling. “It’s just… I’m not a fighter, Scorp. Not like you – or any of the rest. I just freeze. I know we’ve been practicing, but it’s not the same. If it were a real battle-”

“You’re right, you're not a fighter Rose,” he interrupted. My body jerked at his candidness and I turned around to face him, sitting on my knees, confused. He pierced my eyes with his own.

“You are a Healer.” His hands rested on the small of my back and his thumbs traced my spine. “Instead of joining the rest of us trying to tear this world apart, your only concern is how to keep it together.” Soft, gentle lips brushed mine. “We spend our days trying to seek and destroy all that is bad. But you see the world differently – you and Sels – just want to make everyone a little better. It’s probably the thing I love about you the most – your unquestioning ability to love. The prophecy makes sense to me. Someone whose heart is so pure, so full of complete love for others. You are the one. The one who can bring together the ‘good and evil’ that it talks about.”

That was why I loved him so much. I didn’t think he could say anything to make me feel better about the prophecy. I don’t know why I doubted it, because yet again, his words were perfect. His fingers brushed my neck and gave me that tingly feeling that made me shudder in an entirely different manner as he cupped my face. His lips moved close to mine, without touching. “That’s how I know you’re going to be the greatest Mum.” I melted into him as our lips crashed together. I ran my hands down his sides and the kiss deepened.

“Scorpius, I love you so, so much.” I said in between passionate kisses. “I’m sorry I don’t say it enough,” I breathed as we slid together sideways to lie on the bed. His mouth roamed down across my jawline and then he moved to my neck, sucking and pulling with his lips. I couldn’t take it anymore and I flung one leg over the top of him, straddling him.

Pregnancy hormones. At that moment, I had to love them. I didn’t think Scorpius minded them all too much, either. Grabbing at his shirt, I struggled with the buttons until I finally just used my wand to remove the fabric. My shirt was easier for him to remove, but I was too preoccupied with the rest of his clothing.

“Rose… Rose. You need to… slow down,” he begged through puffs of air escaping from his lungs.

“Not now, love.” I groaned. And then I lost all control.

*

“Wow,” he spoke first. “That’s all I have right now. Wow.”

“I know.”

“Rose, you never cease to amaze me. That was incredible.”

“Yes it was,” I agreed, snuggling into the crook of his arm. I loved it when our skin could touch all the way down to our toes.

“Do you feel better?” he asked, playing with the tips of my hair.

“Hard not to feel better after that,” I commented, but the uneasiness was creeping back. “We’re gonna have to tell everyone. I’m just not sure how to go about it… And everyone includes my dad…”

“Well,” he said slowly, “I thought we could sort of ease into it… by telling Harry first. We could gauge his reaction and then move on to Albus. If that goes well enough, then we can tell your Dad.” He was only half-joking. I had a feeling that if Scorpius could some how figure out a way to marry me and have multiple children without Ron Weasley ever finding out, he would do it in a heartbeat.

I could tell what he was doing. Ranking the protective male members of my family in order of who was the least-to-most likely to hex him into the next century with the news.

“Actually, I think you’re right – about Uncle Harry at least.”

“Oh?”

“Well, I’ve been thinking. I really don’t know whom to tell first. I don’t want to hurt Mum and Dad’s feelings, but there are some things I need to know about how this will affect the prophecy.” Despite Scorpius’s previous remarks, I was still very nervous and Uncle Harry should know first about this… new development.

“I guess Uncle Harry needs to know,” I continued. “I’m sure that he’ll understand that we are waiting until the right moment to let everyone else know. Are you alright with that?”

“On one condition,” he looked incredibly serious and I nodded.

“I want you to be happy about this,” he said as he lifted my left hand and rubbed the ring again. “And this,” he rested his palm on my bare abdomen and spread his fingers. He rubbed ever so gently as his head lowered. Scorpius’s lips pressed in the space between his thumb and forefinger. After he was done kissing the place where the baby was, his head lifted slightly. As he spoke, his lips brushed my belly and I could feel the warmth from his breath on my skin.

“Hello, baby. I don’t know if you can hear me yet, but I wanted to introduce myself. I’m your Dad.” He whispered the word ‘Dad’ and his voice sounded the tiniest bit shaky. I would’ve thought it was too clichéd, if it wasn’t beautiful because he was being so sincere.

He continued talking to the baby, “You have the best Mum in the world, but she’s going to need our help, my love. She needs us to let her know how wonderful she is. You see, she worries a lot – too much if you ask me. And she spends so much of her time and energy on others, that she often neglects her own needs. So, if you could just help me to tell her how much we both love her and need her to take care of herself first , that would be great.” He ended with another kiss on my belly and then tipped his head sideways to grin at me again.

“I don’t think the baby can hear for a few more weeks - developmentally,” I explained weakly. “But I did. I promise to put the baby first. I think talking to Uncle Harry is a good starting point,” my voice was soft as I stroked his hair. Merlin, I loved him so much and I didn’t want him to think that I wasn’t happy. I don’t know what I ever did to deserve this man.

“Scorpius,” I stared right at his beautiful eyes. “I am happy.” I grabbed his free hand with mine and twisted our fingers together. “So incredibly, over-the-moon happy to have you and now – a part of both of us, together.” I put my other hand over his hand that was still resting on my belly. “You… make me happy. Happier than I ever thought I could be.”

He squeezed my hand back before I continued. “Right now, though, I might take some of your advice, because I am positively knackered. It takes a lot out of you, you know – getting up early, flying on the Cannon’s pitch, getting engaged, discovering you are pregnant, passing out from said discovery, eating the equivalent of breakfast for a small army, having an emotional breakdown, having ‘pregnancy sex,’ and trying to figure out this prophecy. I could sleep for a week.”

Scorpius lifted the blankets over the both of us. “I think I might join you. While not as tired as you are, I need to keep up my strength – now I have doubled the number of people to protect.” He lay down next to me and wrapped his arms around me to pull me into him. Our bodies fit together perfectly. He still had that wonderful, silly, permanent smile on his face. It was a lovely way to drift off to sleep.

*

Rose slept for about two hours. After a 30-minute power-nap, I woke and just watched her for a few minutes. She looked really peaceful. The events of the morning washed over me like a long draw of firewhiskey.

I’m going to be married. To Rose.

I’m going to be a father. Rose and I are having a baby together. My heart began to pace rapidly in my chest, but I felt strangely calm about the whole thing. About both whole things. Everything felt right, normal. Well, not normal. There is still the fact that the prophecy states she’s the mother of the next most powerful wizard. I know that she needs time to sort that part out – and I can’t blame her. That’s why she wants to talk to Harry so badly.

When I looked at her, I still couldn’t believe that she was with me. And as of that morning, she wanted to be with me forever. And we were having a baby. I was going to be someone’s father.

Whoa. Holy shit.

The overwhelming desire to protect Rose and our baby sped up my spine and shot like adrenaline down to my fingertips. I stroked the side of her face, needing to just touch her and make sure this was real. No one will hurt you. I said the promise over and over again in my head. No one. She stirred in her sleep and rolled over. Not wanting to wake her, I quietly shifted and got out of bed, dressed and made my way out of the room to seek the person I needed to talk to.

Selenia was studying down in the kitchen – without Al, thank Merlin. I was lucky to have found her straight away.

“How is the Mum-to-be doing?” She asked quietly.

“It’s going to take a little while to settle in with her,” I answered honestly, sitting down next to her on the bench at the kitchen table. Selenia still didn’t know about the prophecy, but wasn’t surprised at Rose’s apprehension nonetheless.

“Becoming a Mum is a major life-changing event. She’ll be fine after she has a bit of time to let it sink in. How are you doing?” she asked earnestly as she put down her book and pen and turned to look at me.

“I’m… great, actually. I’m brilliant! This is unexpected, but so… completely… brilliant. I mean, I can’t believe I am going to be a father,” I whispered the word in case there were any other roommates around. “And I can’t believe that Rose and I are finally going to be married. It’s positively brilliant. I know we’re young, but it feels like it’s been forever to me. It’s just so - brilliant.”

She graced me with an amused smile.

“I’m rambling, aren’t I?”

Selenia covered her mouth to suppress a giggle. “Sorry, Scorp. It’s actually quite adorable. You and Rose are just – meant to be together. We all saw it for so long and it seemed like you both were just so miserable all the time and now… well, I’m just so thrilled for both you. Al is too, despite his crazy, uncalled for, overprotective nature when it comes to Rose. He may try to hex you, but when you’re ready to tell him about the baby, I’ll make sure I’m around to keep him in line. I know that you two are going to make the most wonderful parents… And there’ll be a little Malfoy around! How cute! Do you think the baby will have red hair or blond hair? I guess I’m the one rambling now!” She burst out in laughter as she got up and threw her arms around me. I squeezed back tightly.

“Oh! I almost forgot!” she exclaimed. “I got this for the baby!” She handed me a small package wrapped in light green paper.

“Wow Sels, thanks!” I was completely overwhelmed by her generosity. She was such a good friend to us. “And – thanks for this morning. You were absolutely amazing. Rose is so grateful for you and I – just can’t thank you enough for your great bedside manner. You’re really a fabulous healer.”

“Thanks, Scorp. I think I’d like to go into obstetrics as my specialty. It’s very complicated and extremely competitive to get accepted, but I really enjoyed working with you and helping Rose this morning.”

“You should go for it, Sels! You’re fantastic. I know you’ll get it!” She smiled modestly before changing the subject. “Listen,” she grabbed both my hands, “if you’ve any questions, anything at all, you can ask me. Sometimes it’s hard to have a Healer for a – wife.” She smiled and her eyes brightened at the word. “We just sort of assume that everyone knows what we know and sometimes forget to include our significant others.”

“Thanks, Selenia. Actually, I’m willing to take any advice you have to give to me. This is completely new territory and I don’t really have… Erm - I just appreciate anything you can tell me.”

We talked for about an hour and she filled me in on the stages of pregnancy and what she knew Rose had been going through. She, like the two of us, put all the pieces together after she found out Rose was pregnant. I really felt like I could ask her anything and told her I was eternally grateful for her expertise and, more importantly, her friendship. I asked her if there were any books or anything I could read that would help me and she promised to send some my way.

After our chat, I thanked her again for the baby gift and excused myself to go and check on Rose. I promised to let her know our dinner plans for later and explained that we hadn’t yet decided when we’d be telling the rest of our family and friends. She nodded her understanding and smiled sweetly. I could see in her eyes that she was almost as excited as Rose and I.

Rose wasn’t in her room, so I checked the bathroom to find her in the shower. I slipped silently into the steam-filled room, wanting to join her until I heard a quiet voice mixing with the pattering of the warm water.

“…you know, love, your Daddy is the most amazing man I’ve ever met. He loves both of us so much. We have to give him some extra-special love because he misses his own Mum and Dad a lot.” My heart jumped into my throat. Rose and I didn’t talk about my parents’ deaths very often – not recently anyway, but I did miss them from time to time. Especially when there were big events – like a wedding and a baby. Just another example of how well Rose knew me. It’s not so much that I missed them, but really more like I just felt empty. I didn’t even realize how much it mattered until Rose and I had started seeing each other and then, with the baby and everything…

She continued, “On your Malfoy side, you pretty much have your Dad’s Aunt Daphne – there aren’t too many other relatives, except maybe Teddy. But he’s kind of on both sides of your family. It’s a little complicated. However, on your Weasley side – well let’s just say it’s a good thing I have about 6 months to explain it all.” I held in a chuckle. She wasn’t kidding.

“Right now, I’ll start with your Nana Hermione and Grandad Ron. Nana is going to be over-the-moon excited for you to come, and Grandad… well… I think once he meets you it will be a different story, but you might hear some yelling and a few hexes before you actually get here.

“Then there is your Uncle Al. He isn’t technically your uncle, but you’ll call him that, anyway. He’s really great and will always look out for you. He’ll be married to Aunt Selenia someday and she is just about the kindest person I’ve ever met. Uncle James is downright crazy and he’ll most likely buy you your first broomstick – and your first drink – and other stuff I probably won’t want to know about.” I leaned back against the door and rested, taking it in, and letting out a soft snicker when she spoke about James. I thought she might’ve heard me because she stopped talking for a minute.

“The thing about the Weasley’s is that we’re loud and crazy and in each other’s faces all the time, but we love each other so much it hurts.” I had to lean forward a bit because she was much quieter now and I thought I heard a small sniffle. “I just want you to know that I’m your Mum and I will always, always love you, no matter what…”

The water turned off and there was another, definite sniffle. “I know that you’re special because your Dad and I love each other more than we have words to say. Any baby that comes from that kind of love is very lucky indeed.” My heart returned to its original position inside my throat and choked out my breath. Rose stepped out of the shower and, saw me as she reached for her towel. She was startled, but didn’t scream; she just looked at me with a small smile.

I suddenly needed to blink. A lot. “I thought you said the baby couldn’t hear for a few more weeks,” my throat was tight, but I managed to smile back at her.

“I know,” her bottom lip was trembling as she wrapped the towel around her. She was looking at the floor. “There were just some things that I had to say.” She bit her lip to gain some control.

I nodded. “I’m glad I got to hear them, too.” I said as I wrapped my arms around her toweled body. We stood for a few moments, just thinking the same thoughts about our new life together. I kissed the top of her head as I squeezed a bit tighter.

“Why don’t we just keep our big news under wraps for a few days?” I proposed to her. “We can celebrate the engagement with Al and Sels tonight and just tell them we’re waiting a week to tell the family. You can see your Healer this week and then we’ll decide when to tell everyone – we can just tell them everything at the same time.”

Rose didn’t say anything. She just kept looking at the ground. Oh shit. Did I piss her off? Did I offend her?

“We don’t have to do that… if you don’t want to.”

No response.

“Sorry, Rose. I d-didn’t mean. We can tell them today – or whenever you want-” The hormone imbalance that Selenia had mentioned was at the forefront of my mind. I didn’t want to upset Rose any more, considering what she’d been through today.

She finally looked up, grinning and still biting her lip. “Scorpius, will you calm down?” She stepped back and looked at me pointedly. “I like the idea of waiting – just until I can see the Healer. That way, it’s kind of our secret – if only for a few days. It makes it seem a little more normal, anyway. I still want to tell Uncle Harry first and see if he has any insights regarding the prophecy, but we can wait until I see the Healer.”

The force welled up inside me again – the one that makes every part of my body want to wrap myself around her and safeguard Rose and the baby. I pulled her in tighter and just held on for a few moments. I knew that after we talked to Harry, there would probably be information that made it impossible for me to keep them safe. I knew the news of this baby would eventually get to Stannous and he would retaliate in some way. But at this moment, in this bathroom at our unplottable house in the middle of Muggle London, I could make her feel a little more normal.




AN: Wow. This chapter took much longer to edit and post than I'd intended. I'm so sorry! I have the next few nearly ready to go and my plan is to update about once per week. I get so excited when anyone takes the time to let me know what they think about this story, so THANK YOU to EVERYONE that has left a review! :hearts; you really keep me going!

Special Thanks to my beta reader, crestwood. He really has put up with a bit of my indecisiveness over this entire section. His writing is amazing, so if you have the chance, you should definitely read his work!

♥ Beth


Chapter 29: Bound by Hope: Rose POV
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The next few days were a blur of classes and anxiety. I got an appointment with Healer Chang for Thursday – the earliest she could take me. I was lucky she agreed to take me at all.

As Thursday approached, I got more and more nervous. I felt that I was constantly teetering on the edge of panic and exhaustion and Scorpius was absorbing the brunt of my outbursts and mood swings. Of course, he was being absolutely rotten about it. He was so completely understanding and compassionate; it was aggravating me all the more. Luckily, Selenia’s prenatal potion had really helped my nausea most days, but on the big day of the appointment, it wasn’t doing anything to ease my stomach.

“All right there, love?” Scorpius was rubbing my back as I retched into the toilet just after breakfast.

“Does it sound like I am all right?” I shot back as soon as I could draw in a breath. I was talking into the toilet bowl because I couldn’t lift my head up any higher for fear of dizziness. But that didn’t stop my tirade. “Yes, absolutely. Doing the technicolor hurl into this porcelain bowl approximately ten minutes after eating my eggs and toast is completely fantastic!” The words left my mouth shortly before another round of heaving took place, and I felt the guilt build up in my head along with a pounding headache.

“I’m so sorry, Scorp. I didn’t mean it.” I said, rubbing my head as soon as I could get the words out. The tears came to my eyes and I gingerly stood up and rinsed my mouth out at the sink. He didn’t deserve my anger. I began brushing my teeth, but I was still talking. “I’b buss so mermous aboud seeig be Heaber pobay.” I pulled the toothbrush out of my mouth, spit the toothpaste into the sink, rinsed and lifted my head up only to be spun around and tightly hugged.

“Even when you are trying to be snippy, you are cute and sweet. I know you’re nervous, but I’m coming with you and we’ll get all of the news together. Then we’ll go and see Harry and just take it from there.”

“Scorp,” I said into his chest. “I love you and I appreciate all of your support. But if you spin me around like that right after I just threw up ever, ever again, I will make sure that the next vomit session ends up on you. In fact, I can almost guarantee it.”

He took a step back and had a look of slight distaste on his face. I felt satisfied that I had finally gotten to him – at least a little bit.

*

About an hour later, we were in Healer Chang’s office, discussing the pregnancy. She was incredibly nice – and thorough. She answered all of our questions. I had a lot, but Scorpius had even more.

Officially, I was about 13 weeks pregnant. That meant that I was in my second trimester and hopefully the nausea and fatigue would get better, but there were no assurances. I should start showing a little bit very soon, and would need to get some maternity clothes and robes. I could participate in training until the baby was born – as long as I felt good and there weren’t any other problems. From all of the sickness, I had lost nearly five kilos from my normal weight. This information caused Scorpius to spiral into a complete panic.

“Is that alright?! I mean, she barely weighs anything as it is! Shouldn’t she be gaining weight?!” I was used to him being the one to steady me, or even navigating his anger from time to time, but blind panic was a new emotion and I wasn’t exactly sure how to juggle this.

Not to mention the fact that I could’ve possibly been doing my rounds with this woman when the internship part of my training began, and I didn’t want to be known as the patient with the completely insane boyfr- I guess fiancé - who went off the handle because of a few pounds.

But Healer Chang didn’t bat an eye. Instead, she spoke directly to him in a calm and soothing voice, “Actually, Scorpius, it’s quite common for women to lose weight in the first trimester. And I will definitely be keeping an eye on Rose because we do want her to start gaining a few.” This calmed him down considerably, but didn’t ebb his tidal wave of questions. I sat silently while he fired question after question at her.

“How often does she need to come to see you?”

“About once per month for the time being, but as it gets closer to her due date, there’ll be more frequent visits.”

“Does she have the baby here? At St. Mungo’s?”

“She can, if that’s what you two decide. We have an excellent maternity ward. Some witches still choose a home birth, but that’s up to you and Rose.”

“Is it safe to apparate? What about floo?”

“Rose can safely apparate until the third trimester. After that it’s floo only until the baby is born. Some witches find flooing really uncomfortable and choose to use muggle transportation.”

Scorpius nodded intently, hanging on her every word. He didn’t say anything for a few moments, so she continued. “In short, Rose, you are a very healthy young woman. Now, it is time to see your baby!”

“What? Why?” I was surprised. I knew from training that women don’t get their first scan until 20 weeks. “Is something wrong?” I felt Scorpius tense beside me.

She smiled and placed a reassuring hand on my shoulder. “We just like to check with women who discovered they were pregnant after the ten week mark. It will give us a more accurate idea of your due date and we can take some measurements.” She gave me a gown to cover with and instructions for how to put it on. Then she left to give us some privacy for a few moments. I looked over at Scorpius, who was beaming.

“You’re excited to see the baby, aren’t you?” I asked, taking off my skirt and handing it to him.

“Uh-huh.” He was bouncing up and down in his seat next to the examining table. I spread the gown over my bottom half.

“All set?” Healer Chang asked from the door before entering.

“Yes!” Scorpius answered before I could say anything. She stepped through with what looked like a white roll of parchment in her hand. She gently pulled the gown down, exposing my bare belly to the cool room. It was only cool for a few moments, however, until she squirted some very warm jelly on it. She unrolled the parchment and cited Levipapyrus, at it. It hovered in mid-air, eye level for both Scorpius and I. Next, she pulled a transducer from her robes and affixed it to her wand. I was familiar with all of this equipment and even knew the order of the spells needed to create the image. However, being on the patient side of things was entirely different.

She gently applied pressure with the round end to my abdomen. She shifted and slid it around for a few moments, and finally she declared Infans Imago, and a fuzzy image appeared on the parchment.

All of my worries and anxiety disappeared in that moment. It was as if someone had chanted Evanesco at my head and they had never existed. As the image of our baby came into focus, my thoughts became clearer as well. There it was: with a tiny little head and a body that was mostly belly. The thin legs were curled around each other and tucked up against it. I could even see the umbilical cord that I knew led to me – and then it hit me. The realization that our baby was growing inside me, swept through me, hitting every nerve. I had seen many scans during my obstetrics course, seen women cry at their own realizations – even seen some men cry. It was touching, but nothing, nothing like this. This was Scorpius and me, together. Physical proof of how much we loved each other.

“Everything looks great!” Healer Chang exclaimed. She began touching and tapping the part of her wand that wasn’t attached to the round object like she was playing a flute, while muttering the incantations under her breath. Little lines were drawing on the parchment and I knew she was measuring the head, spine and other important parts of the baby, but I didn’t even see all of that. I was too enamored with the fist picture of my baby.

“Oh, Scorp…” I couldn’t say anything else because my throat was so tight. He was now standing and leaned against the examination table so that our heads were next to each other and as close as possible to the parchment, squeezing my hand. It was absolutely the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Healer Chang began to point out the different parts of the baby. The head, spine, belly (super cute!), we could even see a tiny little nose. Just as she was showing us one of the hands, the baby moved its arm up to its head. Scorpius and I both sucked in our breaths. I gripped his hand for dear life as a few tears escaped. I glanced away for a moment to capture his eyes that were also bright with emotion. “I love you,” he mouthed. He brushed my tears away with his free hand. I could only nod, because if I opened my mouth I knew a huge sob would come out. Our eyes turned back to the baby and Healer Chang began to speak again.

“According to these measurements, you are thirteen weeks as of yesterday. That puts your due date at-” she was calculating in her head. “-October 31st. How fitting! Everything else looks great.”

We were still too engulfed in the picture to speak to her. She carefully pulled her wand away and handed me some tissues to wipe off the jelly. Her wand now free from the rounded object, she tapped the parchment and it rolled up. She tapped it one more time and conjured a thin ribbon. It wrapped around the outside of the roll and tied itself together. She handed the parchment to Scorpius. “We save a copy here, for our records, but this one is yours to keep – your first memento of your little one.

“Our last little bit of business is the matter of a pre-natal potion. Since you’ve been so sick, it may be hard for you to keep it down in the morning, so I recommend taking this at night.” She handed me a bottle.

I was broken out of my reverie. “Actually, Healer Chang, my friend, Selenia Cooper created one for me that works great! She is a fellow Healer trainee and I have hardly experienced any nausea since I started taking it last weekend.” I handed her the potion that Selenia had created.

She took it and examined it with her wand. “How interesting! This is a fabulous concoction. Many of my patients would really benefit from this. Cooper, you say? I seem to remember the name. I believe she was top of your class for the obstetrics seminar – after you, of course, Rose.”

“She is really phenomenal – and I think she may be interested in choosing obstetrics as her specialty.”

“Please tell her to contact me. I’d like to know how she makes this potion – and if she is serious about obstetrics, I would be willing to take her on as my trainee.”

“I will, Healer Chang. She’ll be very excited to know that!”

Please, call me Cho. Now, if you’ve no further questions, please be sure to make an appointment for one month. Also, I want to see that you’ve gained at least three kilos by then, if not more.”

“I don’t think that’ll be a problem, now that I’m not as sick.”

“Fabulous. Take care!” She said on her way out of the room.

Scorpius helped me off the table and I put my skirt on.

“Look at this,” he said softly, pointing to the parchment. The ribbon around the outside was labeled ‘Weasley-Malfoy Baby – 13 weeks, 1 day.’ He gently rubbed the edge of his ribbon with his thumb.

“Wow,” was all I could say. “Kinda makes it feel more official, huh?”

He only nodded and grabbed me around my waist with one hand. The other one was holding the parchment against his chest like it was his most prized possession. Actually, at that moment, it was both of ours most prized possession. I lifted a hand and placed it on the roll, at the same moment that Scorpius lunged forward to take my lips hungrily. Initially, I was surprised at his boldness right there in the examining room, but I had to admit, I felt a whole lot better after the visit. My free hand found the back of his neck and pressed him to me.

The kiss lasted for at least an entire minute. When we finally broke apart, Scorpius gently moved the parchment between us and untied the ribbon. It opened and we could see the image of the baby again. It almost looked like it was waving at us when its hand moved. The air in my lungs released into a cross between a sigh and a giggle. My eyes looked up at Scorpius and he was so captivated by our little miracle that he didn’t even see me put on my cloak. He only looked up when I touched his arm.

“Come on, love.” I coaxed him out of the room. “The easy part is over. Let’s go see Uncle Harry.”




A/N: Hi all! So yet another fluffy chapter... I'm sorry, but I know some of you are loving the fluff - hehe. Either way, the next chapter has more plot - I promise.

So I must thank EVERYONE who has left me a review - they all totally make my day! Special thanks to crestwood, my beta reader. He has been cranking out some AMAZING stories lately, and I encourage everyone to check them out!

♥ Beth


Chapter 30: Bound by Fate: Scorpius POV
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Edit: 2nd February, 2015: I've changed a small part of this chapter to reflect a more realistic reaction from Ron :) Thanks to Dan (CambAngst) for the awesome cc. I'm much happier with this version.




I convinced Rose to stop for a bite before we met with Harry. I knew she had not kept her breakfast down due to nerves and I wanted to make sure that she got some food into her. I fiddled with the parchment while she ate.

“Scorpius, I know you want to look at it again, but we can’t here!” she admonished in a loud whisper. When I looked up at her imploringly, she couldn’t hold her smile back.

“You are adorable, you know that?” She grinned.

“I do know that. I have been told before… by others,” I said playfully.

“Really?” she played right along. “Who would that be? James or Albus?”

“Selenia,” I admitted sheepishly and she burst into giggles. It had been a while since she was in such a silly, fun mood and I was reveling in her good spirits. I turned back to the parchment, wanting more than anything to open it up.

“Scoooorp,” she said in a warning tone. “Not here. I promise we’ll look at it all afternoon.” I knew she was right. We were at Fortescue’s and couldn’t risk anyone seeing the picture of the baby. I gently fingered the green ribbon around the outside, reading the words over and over – Weasley-Malfoy Baby. I would have to settle for a smile at the way that looked when it was written out.

I felt her eyes on me and I dragged my own away from my new favorite words to meet the intensity of her blue orbs. They were sparkling and her face was glowing. She looked like she did the night we went out for the first time - so exceedingly beautiful – and much, much calmer since we’d seen Healer Chang. A tiny smile pulled at the corners of her mouth.

“Let’s go get this over with.”

Even her words were lighter as they skipped off her tongue. She didn’t seem like she was dreading the implications of telling our little secret to the family. She jumped up like a spring and I noticed how her short hair was bouncing. She grabbed at my arm and began pulling me up along with her.

We flooed to the ministry from Fortescue’s fireplace and headed directly for Harry’s office. Rose talked non-stop. She talked about where we would go for dinner and how she wanted to tell the rest of the family this Saturday – perhaps we could have a small gathering at her parent’s house. James and Jax weren’t back yet, but she didn’t want to wait another two weeks for them to return. She thought of owling James, but this wasn’t the sort of thing you put in an owl. When she finally got around to asking me what I thought – I really wasn’t sure which thought she wanted.

“About what? Dinner? Telling the rest of your family? A gathering on Saturday? Or owling James?” She realized she had gone overboard in her excitement and began to giggle. “How about we figure it out over lunch after we meet with Harry.” I suggested, pointing to the door in front of us that said ‘Harry Potter – Head of Auror Division.’

“Oh!” she exclaimed and giggled even more. I loved seeing her like this and pulled her close as I knocked on the door.

It took a few moments for the door to open and the troubled look on Harry’s face deepened as he saw Rose and me standing there. After he recovered, his eyes softened, but he was unable to hide the surprise in his voice.

“Rose! Scorpius – it’s… I’m in a meeting at this moment-”

“Rose?” The door opened further and Hermione’s figure appeared to the left of Harry’s shoulder. Through the door, I could see Ron sitting down in one of the chairs in front of Harry’s desk. The golden trio assembled for a meeting? The look on each of their faces told me this was definitely not a pleasure visit between the three.

“Mum!?” Rose’s voice was a mix of surprise and confusion. “Dad?” she asked when she saw Ron as well.

“It’s all right, Harry,” Hermione conceded. “We might as well just include the two of them in this meeting as well. They need to know as soon as possible, anyway.”

“Why aren’t the two of you at training?” Ron stood from his seat and strode toward us, concern and suspicion etched on his face. Hermione and Harry stepped back to allow us to enter.

“I had a Healer appointment and Scorpius came with me.” Rose looked right at him as she answered and we all met at the center of Harry’s office. She was so excited, the news was practically spilling out of her. The scenario actually worked out well for her, because then she wouldn’t have to feel guilty about telling Harry before her parents. Rose didn’t seem to notice the dark looks they were giving each other.

“Healer appointment?” Ron’s voice rose a notch in alarm. “Are you all right?”

“I am.” Rose was beaming. “I’m more that all right.” She turned to her mother and grabbed both Hermione’s hands in her own, wanting to see her face when she gave the news. Rose’s eyes were bright with excitement and I couldn’t contain my own smile at seeing her so giddy. I turned my gaze to Harry and Ron, wanting to gauge their reactions.

“Mum, I’m going to be a mum! I’m expecting!”

Hermione’s eyebrows shot up, and she didn’t say anything for a few moments. Her mouth opened, but still no words came out. She looked to me for confirmation, and then looked back at Rose. Finally, after several moments, she began to squeak, “Oh! Er… That’s interestin– I mean that’s a surprise – a good surprise? It’s good. Very good. Sorry, I just… I – d-did not expect you to say... Merlin.” She exchanged more looks with Ron and Harry and I knew that there was more going on than we had been privy to. She collected herself and a smile graced her features. “Darling! That is wonderful!”

Ron’s reaction was one of confusion – and then realization as he rounded on me.

“I thought you were going to propose! H-how does… this happen be-before one proposes, Malfoy?!” He started off in a splutter and ended in a growl. It wasn’t going well.

The two women turned their heads at his outburst. Harry took a step to stand between Ron and me, most likely to prevent any wands from being drawn. Just to be safe, I slid my hand into my robes and put my fingers around mine, even though I knew that Harry and Ron would notice this gesture. In fact, I was counting on it, as I felt my emotions rise up. I wasn’t a fifteen year old kid anymore.

But before I could say anything, Rose beat me to it.

“He did propose, Dad. Actually he proposed before we found out about the baby.” Technically, she was right, even if the two events were separated by only about an hour. Rose held out her hand to show the ring to all of them. Ron and Hermione had already seen it; I had brought it to their house the night I went to tell them of my intentions with Rose. Hermione admired how it looked on her daughter’s finger.

Ron was still fairly upset. “You are too young! Both of you are t-too young to be d-doing… things… to be having babies!”

Merlin, Ron” Harry shook his head and let out an amused sigh. “You’re just about the most immature forty-seven year old on the planet. I don’t think that’s the most pressing issue at hand.” Rose looked relieved that her Uncle had come to our defense, however, I had the distinct feeling that Harry was not defending me, but rather referring to whatever they’d just been meeting about.

“Harry, this is not good. You know why this is not good at all. Now he,” Ron rasped, poking a finger at me, “has added another level of-”

“Rose,” I interrupted, trying to keep my voice light. “Here – don’t forget this!” I shoved the parchment in her hands to distract her from Ron. It worked. She immediately opened it up to show Hermione. I used this opportunity to pull Ron and Harry a few steps away from them, summoning all the courage that a non-Gryffindor could. Fueled by my indescribable need to keep Rose and the baby as safe as possible, I put one hand on Ron’s shoulder and pulled my wand out of my robes. I didn’t raise it, but rather let it hang at my side. I turned us so that both our backs were to the women and Harry was facing us.

“Listen,” I said sharply to both Harry and Ron, but my words were mostly directed at her father. “Rose has been completely panicked about the prophecy and the baby. After her Healer visit today she is finally, finally getting more relaxed about everything. She’s already lost a lot of weight and needs to start gaining it back. I don’t care that you are one of the most bad-ass Aurors in history and I don’t care that you have the power to bust my arse back to a desk job for the next five years or so, nobody, nobody is going to say or do anything to upset her right now.”

I took a breath and continued, slower this time. “She gets to have this. Whatever it takes for me, or this family, or the ministry, or anyone else that I need to hex -” I sucked in a deep breath of air and repeated my words. “She gets to have this. Because you and I - and even Rose - knows that she still has the prophecy to contend with. As long as she’ll let me, I’m ensuring that no one,” I pierced Ron’s blue eyes that were identical to Rose’s, “no one upsets or stresses her out in any way.” I glanced over at Rose and Hermione, who were both giggling and oohing over the baby’s first picture, unaware of the intensity of our conversation. During my speech, my wand arm lifted up and, although I wasn’t specifically pointing it at Ron, a few sparks shot out of the end.

Ron’s face went from beet red anger to slightly pink shock. His eyes widened and mirrored the o-shape his mouth was stretching into. I took a step back and breathed in, but remained ready to defend anything he was ready to fire at me.

“Wh-what… You - This is not…” he trailed off for a moment, with his mouth lolling open.

“Scorpius,” Harry put an arm on my shoulder and I tensed, but quickly lowered my wand when I saw the amused look on his face. “You had him at ‘bad-ass.’” He let out a chuckle, shaking his head.

Although Ron didn’t smile, I would take his lack of hexing me into the next millenium as a sort of truce for now. At least he knew where I stood when it came to Rose. Ron grunted some sort of a reply, more directed at Harry than me.

“Congratulations – on both counts,” Harry said, clapping me on the shoulder.

However, there was little cheer on his face when he continued. “But you’re right and we were in the middle of discussing Rose and the prophecy because we’ve some new developments that I think you both need to be aware of.” I started to protest, hoping to convince them to wait a little while so Rose didn’t have more things to worry about, but Harry cut me off. “I’m sorry Scorpius, but I can’t, in good faith, keep the two of you in the dark on this one – and it’s not all bad news.”

“Oh, Scorpius,” Hermione squeaked as she skittered toward us and threw her arms around me. “I am so happy for you – for Rose and all of us! Congratulations!” I hugged her back and thanked her. “Look!” she exclaimed at Harry and Ron, who were busy congratulating and hugging Rose, showing them our parchment of the baby.

“Is that th- the baby?” Ron’s eyes were bigger than I’d ever seen them as he looked at the picture in Hermione’s hands. He just stared and watched his grandchild wriggle around. I think I may have even seen them begin to glisten when the baby’s hand moved. My suspicions were confirmed by his avid blinking. “Wow…” was all he could say. “Wow… wow.” Rose was right. Ron Weasley was a man of few words.

“That’s absolutely brilliant,” Harry was all smiles for us. “I hope you’re feeling well, Rose.”

“I’m doing alright. Just a bit of sickness, but I think we’ve got that under control,” she admitted.

“All right then, well, all pleasantries aside,” Harry began by conjuring a few comfortable looking couches and an armchair for all of us to sit, “I think it is best that we discuss the business of the prophecy – that is, if you feel up for it, Rose?” he sounded a little unsure and I appreciated that he gave her the option – especially considering the fact that he just told me how important it is for us to have this information.

“Thank you, Uncle Harry, but you’re right. We need to know as much information as possible.” She sat on one of the couches and gently pulled at my hand, indicating for me to sit next to her. Ron and Hermione took the other couch and Harry sat in the armchair. We could’ve been discussing the latest Quidditch match in one of our living rooms.

“Hermione,” Harry began, “Why don’t you start?”

“What?” she was still preoccupied with the baby’s picture and was startled when Harry spoke. “Oh! Sorry! I’m a little bit in love over here.” Everyone let out quiet laughter and Ron put his arm around her. He gently took the parchment from her, tapped it so it rolled up with the ribbon and handed it back to Rose. As soons as she took the parchment from him, the took out her own wand and muttered Gemino. Rose handed the copy emerged from the wand tip to her parents and tucked ours into the pocket of her light blue traveling cloak that she’d draped over the arm of the sofa. Hermione smiled warmly and handed the rolled up photo to Ron, who clasped it in his large hand.

“Right then,” Hermione refocused herself with a deep breath in. “Do you remember the night we all heard the prophecy for the first time?” Rose and I nodded. “Well, something about the wording of it made me think. I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions so I thought I would do some research.”

Hermione Weasley was the most respected ministry official in the Magical Law department. She had spent years helping to shape wizarding law and updating practices. She was known for being a champion for magical beings that didn’t have a voice at the ministry – and she’d been able to do it without making too many political enemies. In short, she was really, really smart and incredibly clever with a kindness to her that made her well liked among most wizards and witches. There’d even been talk of her running for the next Minister of Magic – something she refused to discuss. If Hermione Weasley was doing some research, then you could bet that it was the most thorough research that had ever been done on that subject.

She continued, getting excited – as if doing all this research was a fantastic way to spend her days. “I started by looking up old prophecies to see how they were worded and how the events that they indicated actually unfolded. Then I researched different seers to see if there was a certain ‘style’ in the way that a prediction was made for each individual oracle.”

I was trying really hard to pay attention. Mind you, I loved Hermione, but she tended to be a bit, well… dry. If this particular topic did not directly pertain to me, I think I could’ve easier stayed awake during one of Professor Binns’s ‘History of Magic’ lessons. In fact, if the whole Minister of Magic thing didn’t work out for Hermione, I would’ve suggested she consider applying for a job at Hogwarts.

She continued, “The next thing I looked at was any other prophecies that were made regarding the same event or time period. Occasionally, but not always, more than one seer will predict the same event. But – no such luck in this case. That would have been helpful because having two sets of predictions to go off of usually makes figuring out the specifics much easier.” Rose and I were nodding intently.

Hermione stopped for another breath. Ron grabbed her hand, a gesture that did not go unnoticed by Rose nor I and I felt like a big bomb was about to drop. Rose, in turn, grabbed one of my hands and I put my other arm around her waist. She was so tiny that I could wrap my arm around her and rest my hand on her belly. I liked being able to hold my family this way.

My family. That had a nice sound.

Hermione spoke slowly, as if choosing her words carefully. Her right hand pulled at her upper lip as she began to speak, “Finally, I started to research who the wizard in the prophecy might be – the f-father of the baby.”

Hermione paused for a long moment and looked down at her feet. Rose tensed next to me and it took all my strength to control my body from reacting the same way. Rose (and secretly I) had always thought that the father of the baby in the prophecy was Stannous. Even after all the assurances from Harry and all the promises I’d made to Rose that Stannous wouldn’t touch her again – if it had been prophesied and must happen according to fate… then, shit.

Shit, shit, shit.

I felt so unbelievably helpless. Rose’s tiny body began to shake and I adjusted her in my arms so that she could lean back against me and I could wrap both of them around her. She grabbed onto my forearms with both hands. I steeled myself and looked up at Hermione again to see that Ron was stroking her hair and whispering, “It’s alright love, just tell them.”

Hermione’s voice was squeaking again. “There are two lines in the prediction that describe the father: The child is born from a family of death eaters and A lost soul descends from those who were the dark lord’s retreat.” Another pause.

Next, it was Harry who urged her on, “Hermione, you’ve done a fantastic job with this. I’m confident that your conclusion is correct.” She nodded, with a small sniffle that reminded me of Rose. “I started looking at death eaters, their families and who fit the description the best.” She took a deep breath in. I thought that drawing it all could’ve constituted some kind of torture.

At long last, she continued. “Well, after I came to my deduction, I consulted with the Department of Mysteries and the Auror Department,” she nodded to Harry, “and the Centaurs… and we’ve all agreed that…” another deep breath, but that didn’t subside the squeaking. “…the father in the prophecy is… you, Scorpius.”




A/N: So - there it is! I know some of you have guessed at the father in the prophecy - and great job! Thanks to all of you who have been reading and reviewing. Special thanks to Joey (crestwood), my beta reader. I sent him something like 5 chapters all at once and he didn't even flinch! If you get a chance, make sure to check out his amazing writing.

♥ Beth


Chapter 31: Betrothed: Rose POV
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I didn’t know what to say. Partially because I couldn’t believe it was true and partially because I didn’t dare want to let myself think it could possibly be true.

Scorpius? The father? The father in the prophecy? My head didn’t want to believe it, because my heart was leaping with too much joy.

Scorpius had stopped breathing. I could feel how still he was against me.

“How - ?” was the only syllable that I could manage.

“W-well...” Mum began, but stopped. I think the absolute look of disbelief on our faces had shaken her, so Uncle Harry stepped in.

“Your Mum approached this as a true academic, Rose. She was searching for the truth and then figured we would come up with the best way to deal with it.” I was nodding absent mindedly.

Uncle Harry continued. “The first line about the father being descended from death eaters is very general. Hermione made a list of all the known death eaters and their descendants. That was easy enough, but it left us with a bigger list than we wanted.”

Scorpius shifted behind me. His arms dragged off my middle and fell limp to his sides. I quickly grabbed both of them and pulled them around me, so mine were pinning him to me. I placed his hands around me and squeezed. He wasn’t alone. I knew what it meant to have a prophecy spoken about you.

“The second line was the one that originally made Hermione think that we needed to delve into the interpretation.” Harry nodded at Mum. “The ‘descendant from those who were the dark lord’s retreat.’ We are most certain refers to the fact that Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy used Malfoy Manor as the headquarters for Voldemort and the death eaters during the second wizarding war.” Harry spoke very matter-of-factly, keeping his voice calm. I noticed how he used their full names, instead of calling them Scorpius’s grandparents. “Scorpius, you’re their only descendant.” Again, he chose to be more formal with his wording.

Scorpius cleared his throat, but still sounded a little hoarse when he spoke. It brought tears to my eyes and I was glad he couldn’t see my face. “A-and what about the ‘lost soul?’”

“Scorpius, you lost your parents at such a young age.” Uncle Harry’s voice was firm and kind at the same time. “We all know how difficult that was for you. We think it is referencing that your loss was… erm - very great. Believe me, I can relate.” It didn’t seem so bad when Uncle Harry compared himself to Scorpius.

“Uh-huh,” was the only response. He pulled one of his arms out from me and scratched the back of his head. He lifted his other arm away and folded them across his chest, turning slightly away from me.

It was Mum’s turn to try. “If it’s any consolation to you, Scorpius, the rest of us are actually pretty excited that you’re the father in the prophecy. She nodded at my Dad and Uncle. It seems to make sense – since you and Rose are together – well, engaged actually and now having a baby…”

“Mum,” I started, the realization hitting me as the words came out of my mouth, “Is this baby,” I held up the parchment, “the one from the prophecy?” My voice wouldn’t make actual sounds so the last words were just a whisper.

“I think that’s what we have to conclude.” Uncle Harry answered for her after a few moments of silence. Her mouth just opened and closed a bit and she nodded when Uncle Harry spoke.

I couldn’t form actual words to respond. Instead, all I could do was blow out a puff of air in disbelief. I was just adjusting to the idea of being married and a Mum. I was in the middle of trying to figure out how I’d be able to fit in the rest of my training and still have time for motherhood. This added an entirely new layer of responsibilities. I turned to look up at Scorpius, who was now sitting beside me. He didn’t look back; he was holding his head in one of his hands, the other arm still crossed over his middle. He was taking this really, really hard.

After a few minutes when no one spoke, Mum decided to change the subject. Or so it seemed. “Rose, have you thought about when you would like to tell the family?”

I took a deep breath. “Well, Scorpius and I were tossing around the idea of having something at your place on Saturday, weren’t we Scorp?”

“Yeah,” he said from under his hand. It was more of a grunt than an agreement. He did not look up. I figured that was all the response I was going to get for the moment.

“However,” I continued. “We wanted to check to see what we should do, because of Stannous. Even though we now know that he isn’t the father from the prophecy, he is probably still going to think he is.”

“And there’s also the press to consider,” Mum looked grave. “We aren’t going to be able to keep any of this a secret for much longer.”

“All right,” Uncle Harry was always one to cut to the chase in sticky situations. “We really have three things to share: the engagement, the pregnancy, and the prophecy. Once word of your pregnancy gets out, Stannous is going to put two and two together and realize the prophecy isn’t about him. But don’t let that fool you into a false sense of security. He’s still a very dangerous criminal. This information will most likely infuriate him, which makes him more dangerous because we won’t know what tactics he will employ now that his main objective has been compromised.”

Scorpius shifted a bit further down the sofa. He held his face in both hands, elbows resting on his knees. Surprisingly, this upset me more than the information that Uncle Harry was disseminating.

I took a deep breath and tried to maintain my focus on what Uncle Harry was saying. “Many of the family know about the prophecy, but not about how Scorpius fits into it. I’ll make a formal announcement to the aurors at a meeting tomorrow morning. Since the prophecy is confirmed as being legitimate, we’ll treat it as such and keep to a minimum the number of people who are privy to the details.” Uncle Harry’s voice dropped a few notes. “I’ve seen firsthand what can happen when the general public is allowed to comment on prophecies.” His eyes briefly flicked to my parents and Dad pulled Mum a bit closer. I remembered the talk we’d had about her experiences in the Second Wizarding War - and the aftereffects.

But Uncle Harry didn’t linger on the topic. He spoke quickly, “Other than the necessary ministry officials and the family, we won’t be making it public. Obviously Stannous has discovered it somehow, so it’s fair to conclude that he and whomever is working for him knows as well.”

Scorpius didn’t move beside me and it was gut-wrenching. Not wanting to break down in front of everyone, I focused Uncle Harry.

He continued, his voice much lighter, “As for the engagement and the baby, it makes sense to just communicate all of it at once. Especially since you’re in your second trimester. This is good news for the whole family and it should be celebrated.” He had a twinkle in his eye and I smiled back. It’s not like I wanted his approval or anything, but the fact that he was genuinely happy for us made a huge difference. I tried to grab one of Scorpius’s hands, but he’d sat back heavily against the seat and had his arms crossed on his chest, so I settled for holding on to a few fingers that were peeking out from under his folded arms.

“What about tonight?” Mum blurted out.

“What’re you on about?” Dad countered.

“Tonight – it seems like it’s been such a long time since we’ve had good news to announce, I don’t want to wait.”  She lifted her head in determination and set her chin. I knew that look. Mum was already planning the whole party in her head.

Dad must’ve recognized the look as well, because he put an arm around her and shuffled her a bit closer to him. When she turned her head to challenge him, he nodded toward my fiance.

Mum’s eyes followed Dad’s look and she faltered “Erm, I mean – if it’s alright with Rose and Scorpius of course. And if the Aurors think it’s a good idea…”   She seemed less confident.

“It sounds lovely -” I was actually quite relieved that we were going through with this idea. Once Scorpius saw how excited everyone was for us, he wouldn’t be so upset about the prophecy.

“It’s brilliant,” Uncle Harry conceded. “You’re right that it’s been too long since we had a real celebration. We can’t hold off forever, anyway.”

“And what about Stannous?” I couldn’t help but ask.

“We have to continue on with our lives – but keep up our defenses as we have been doing. If there are any new developments, we’ll deal with them as they come up.”

“Then it’s settled,” Mum said. “We’ll tell the family tonight about all our good news! I must get going. Ron, you owl all the Weasleys. Harry, you tell the Potters. Rose, you let all your friends know, and Ginny, Molly and I will take care of the food. See all of you tonight at around seven?” Now that she’d been given the go-ahead from all of us, she was moving full speed ahead with her party organization.

“Sounds great Mum!” In typical Weasley fashion, we’d planned a party for upwards of fifty people in less than two minutes. It was happening so fast. Really, really fast. All the same, I felt lighter than air. I pulled at Scorpius’s fingers to try to get him to turn his head. He finally did, but looked past me and scratched the back of his head again. The tension was seeping out of him, and I wanted him to share in my elation.

“Er… why don’t you go on with your Mum?” he said distractedly. “I need to find Al and figure out what I missed at training today. I’ll catch up with you later.”

“Oh. Okay.” I knew he was taking the news really hard. It still hurt. The dramatic change in his mood from when we first came to Uncle Harry’s office to now was pressing against my chest. I tried not to sound too disappointed.

Whilst my parents and uncle spoke briefly, I leaned up to kiss Scorpius. For just a moment, I caught his eyes and saw all of his angst and turmoil in them. Before he could turn away, I grabbed both sides of his face and stood on my toes to lean our foreheads together. “Hey. I love you,” I whispered, drawing circles on his cheeks with my thumbs. “Always and forever. The prophecy didn’t matter to you before and it doesn’t matter to me now.” Before I could say any more, he had already turned his head away and said, in a strained voice, “See you tonight.” And with that, he was gone.

Mum came over to me. I think she knew that I wasn’t ready to talk about it right now. “Come along, love. We’ve got some food to prepare.”

*

As it always was with the Weasleys, everyone came together to pull off the party in just a few hours. It was fabulous. Nana Molly and Aunt Ginny sent over most of the food and Mum and I did the decorations. Mum and Dad’s house looked great after we put up bronze and navy streamers. I knew Dad would grumble about it later. He was really proud that I was a Ravenclaw, but his heart belonged to Gryffindor and he couldn’t change that.

We decided to tell everyone that it was an engagement party and then announce the news of the baby when they’d all arrived. The planning took up most of my afternoon so I didn’t even get to see Scorpius until he arrived shortly before seven. Mum and I were in the kitchen, getting the last of the food set out. Most of our parties are not formal sit-down dinners (except holidays) and we just had a bunch of hors d’oeuvres and drinks. He came by and gave me a quick kiss before excusing himself to go and say hi to the other Weaselys. I think Mum could tell I was a little hurt at our quick exchange.

“Rose, love, he needs a little time. This prophecy thing is really big.” I wanted to bite back that I knew how big it was, being that I’d been dealing with it for the past few months. I pushed my frustration down and took a deep breath.

“Dear, why don’t you make yourself a plate? You’re the guest of honor and people will start to eat once they see you’ve tucked in.”

“Mum, this is our family – they don’t need me to follow any special sort of decorum. Besides, Dad’s been eating since he came home two hours ago.”

She smiled, but handed me a plate anyway and pointed to the table of food. She’d been making sure that I had a meal or a snack about every two hours all day long.

“Did Scorpius tell you that the Healer said I need to gain weight?!” I finally copped on. “He went really barmy about that.” I shook my head and muttered.

“No…” Mum did not sound convincing and I stared her down. “Well… not technically. He may have mentioned something to your father who passed it along.”

“Uh-huh.” I was distracted from my annoyance as Aunt Ginny and Uncle Harry entered the kitchen.

“Darling!” Aunt Ginny wrapped her arms around me after setting down a large tray of sandwiches that she’d brought. “You look so wonderful tonight!” Squeezing both of my arms she said, “I sent some of your favorite treacle tart over to Number Twelve. You make sure Albus doesn’t eat it all, okay?” I nodded, smiling as I hugged her and Uncle Harry in turn.

“Thank you, Aunt Ginny,” I said, returning the hug.

She whispered in my ear, “Your Mum sent me a peek at the baby! It’s absolutely beautiful. Harry and I are so happy for you,”

“Thank you,” I said again, and quickly excused myself. I was trying really hard to be excited for this party but I wanted Scorpius to be excited with me - the way we’d been that morning after the appointment with Healer Chang. It seemed like months had passed and our elation was short lived. Why couldn’t we ever seem to be happy for long enough to enjoy it?

I managed to find Scorp talking to Dom. They looked like they were deep in conversation.

“Hey,” I said, sidling up to him. “Hi Dom. How’s training?”

“Oh,” she said airily, “Probably about the same as it is for you. We are knee deep in studying for S.N.A.K.E.s. Huh, Scorp?”

“Yup,” he said. He put his arm around me and I took a step closer to him. It felt nice, being close to him again. He began to rub my arm gently and I leaned my head into him. “It’ll be over soon. And then the hard part starts – assignments. Al is hoping to be paired with Teddy, but probably won’t be… because of the family connection.”

“That can’t be the reason!” Dom exclaimed. “If that were the rule, half the Auror department would be off limits for Al – and me for that matter. Rose, how do the Healer assignments work?”

“Well,” I began, “we put in our requests for which specialties we’re interested in. Each trainee lists their top three, in order. Then the Healers look at the requests and decide who to take on as their apprentice trainees.” Scorpius waved over to Teddy and excused himself. I smiled at him, but he didn’t seem to notice. Trying not to convey my disappointment, I turned back to Dom.

“So… what are your top three choices?” She was genuinely interested, but also not stupid. I am sure she saw the disappointment on my face. “Obviously, you’ll get your top choice, but I’m just wondering what specialties you have considered.”

“Actually, I haven’t decided,” I said, smiling at her compliment. “I really liked our seminar on healing dark curses. I also enjoy emergency care, but it can get a little tedious. After healing James’s and Albus’s broken bones and bruises for the past 10 years, I’m an old hat at most of that.”

She nodded in agreement. Over the years, I’d healed more than Dom’s share of damages from duels and pranks gone wrong. “I guess I haven’t really found any one specialty that piques my interest. Also…” I slowed down, “I have a lot on my plate at the moment. I might have to put training on hold for a bit.”

She raised her eyebrow at me. “What’s going on?”

“I can’t say right now. But you’ll know soon enough.” I felt guilty as a sigh escaped my lips. Suddenly, I felt the need to be near Scorpius. “I’ll catch you later?” I said, trying to make my voice light, but failing miserably.

“Sure.” Dom was clever enough to know not to push me right now. “Love ya, Rosie. Congrats to you and Scorp.” She went to find Victoire and I turned to see the rest of my family gathering around the house.

Everyone came – except Hugo and Lily, who were still at school finishing up their sixth year. The biggest surprise (for me) was when James tumbled out of the fireplace. I positively screamed in delight.

“Oooooo! James! How did you manage to come?!” For a minute, I forgot about Scorpius and the stress he was causing me. I threw my arms around my cousin and didn’t let go.

“Couldn’t miss it Rosie! Dad owled me earlier today and said you and Scorp were getting hitched. I needed to be here.”

“Thank you.” I felt my eyes getting a little teary. “And thank you, Uncle Harry.” I said as he walked over to greet his son. He just grinned at me.

“Now that everyone’s here, Rose, why don’t you and Scorpius make your big announcement?” Uncle Harry suggested.

“All right,” I replied and left Uncle Harry and a very confused looking James. My eyes scanned the room, looking for my fiancé. He was talking to Louis and Molly. I managed to catch his eye and summon him over.

“I think it is time that we told the… crew.”

“Sure.” He was scratching the back of his neck again and looking past me. I took a deep breath. He was usually the one who took the lead in these situations, but it didn’t look like that was going to happen. I grabbed his hand and pulled him along with me to the center of the room.

“Hi everyone!” I began loudly and they all quieted somewhat. The Weasleys didn’t usually make big, long speeches, so I cut to the chase. “Thank you for coming tonight - all of you,” I nodded to James, who was being greeted by the rest of the gang. “Scorpius and I are so happy to celebrate our engagement with everybody. But we have more news! We’re going to be parents! I’m due October thirty-first.”

Most of the family began clapping and cheering, led on by Mum and Uncle Harry. Dom, James, Fred and Al exchanged dark looks, because they knew about the prophecy. They convened together in a corner and I made my way over to them, Scorpius behind me. We were waylaid on our trek by congratulating family members, but we finally got there.

“Rosie!” Al started, “What the f-”

He was cut short by Dom smacking him over the head. “Don’t start, Al,” she said warningly. “This is a pregnant woman. And you don’t swear at pregnant women. Or say anything to upset them.” Scorpius shifted next to me and put his arm around my waist.

“I’m just saying,” Al began again, rubbing his head. “What – how the fu-” he ducked a second swat by Dom, but continued. “– is this going to work in with the whole ‘death eater’ prophecy thing?”

“Well,” I started slowly and looked around to make sure that no other family members were listening. Obviously, everyone had to know at some point but, given Scorpius’s current state, I didn’t want to start spreading around news to the entire family until he was ready. “Today, we found out that the father in the prophecy is Scorpius!” I leaned the side of my head into his chest. “Mum figured it out and checked it over with the Ministry.”

“Wow,” Dom was shocked. “That – that’s great Rose.”

“Brilliant!” was James’s response.

Fred just shook Scorpius’s hand and said, “Well done, mate. On knocking my cousin up – and all the other stuff.” I rolled my eyes.

Scorpius stepped forward to shake Fred’s hand and released his arm from around my waist. “Thanks,” he muttered. “I – I’ve got to go see…” he trailed off and just walked away.

Again. This was getting exhausting. I looked at Al and sent my question to his eyes. He didn’t say anything, but nodded and headed after his best mate, who had ducked down the side hallway. In the back of my mind I thought that having the party the same night as we found out he was the father in the prophecy might’ve been a bit soon for Scorpius.

I continued to talk to Dom, James and Fred for several minutes, halfheartedly. James had to head back in the morning, but would be home in two weeks. Fred was gearing up for the summer season in the joke shop. And Dom confided to us that she would really like to be paired with one of the female Aurors for her apprenticeship.

As they were talking, I started to get more and more irritated with Scorpius. Enough was enough. I knew he felt bad that the prophecy was about him – because I understood the enormity of that weight on his shoulders. But, this was really the best case scenario for us. What did it matter anyway? Our baby was going to have two parents that loved it and wanted it. I decided that I needed to talk to him. Right then and there.

Excusing myself from my cousins, I made my way decidedly down the side hallway where he’d disappeared earlier. I found him and Al sitting next to each other on the floor up against the wall. They both stood when they saw me.

“Er… I’m gonna go talk to James.” Al excused and slid past me.

“Hi,” I said, a little more curtly than I wanted to – or maybe not. “You know, it is our party out there. We should probably both be… present.”

“Yeah, I guess so,” he mumbled.

“Look,” I started again. “I know this is really, really big news. But it’s not that bad! We are together – just like it says. I thought you’d be a little more, I don’t know – excited that I’m not about to be attacked by some random death eater and…” I shuddered. The memories would always make me shudder. Then I started to get more than a little ticked off. Did he want it to be some random death eater instead of him?! What was wrong with him?

“Scorpius, you’re not being fair. I’ve had this hanging over me for months and I finally get some good news and you’re being sulky,” I was intentionally lowering my voice to control my emotions. He was still looking at the floor with his lips pursed together so I begged, “Say something, please.”

“I envisioned the father in the prophecy being…” he blurted, “Stannous or some other truly evil bloke. And – you would raise the baby from your good heart. The baby would be mostly-”

“No!” I began forcefully, frustration bubbling up from within, “You envisioned us raising the baby together. I know you did. That hasn’t changed. Other than the fact that is it our baby – your baby!” I poked him in the chest for emphasis. He took a step back. I wanted some reaction from him. Any reaction.

“You’re angry?” His voice was full of surprise. “You don’t ever get angry.”

“You’re damn right I’m angry, Scorpius. This is my family! There are a whole new set of rules. We have a baby to think about. A baby. The baby didn’t ask for this any more than you or I did.” A look of confusion shadowed across his eyes and it only made me angrier.

“Hey Scorp,” James suddenly appeared in the hallway and cut in from behind him, resting a hand on his shoulder. As usual, he was completely oblivious to the fact that we were having a private conversation. He entirely ignored the death stares I was shooting his way. “You have got to see the new Mercury eighty-five hundred broomstick. Each of us Cannons got one to test out whilst we’re touring in Germany. I have mine out back. Want to give it a spin? I’ve got to bring it back with me tomorrow.”

“Er… sure,” Scorpius allowed himself to be led away by James and me standing there in utter disbelief. He didn’t even look at me.

What. The. Hell. I knew he was upset. But leaving me standing in an empty hallway to ride a broomstick? It was inexcusable. For the first time in a LONG time, I was too pissed off to be weepy. Never mind me, how could he do this to our child? I reached into my robes and pulled out my wand. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do with it. I racked my brain for a hex that fit the situation of ‘my fiancé is being a total arse because he just found out that we share the same prophecy.’ I figured I would just make up something when I caught up to him. It would be some sort of a combination between the bat-bogey hex and a knockback jinx.

I didn’t get two steps down the hallway when Albus rounded the corner. He held a butterbeer in one hand and a plate piled high with food in the other. Handing me the plate he said casually, “So… trouble in paradise?”

“Honestly, did Scorp tell everyone that I need to gain weight? I don’t think he understands that the Healer didn’t mean for me to gain it all in one day!” I took the plate but was way too full (and too upset) to eat anything. “I just can’t believe him right now. He’s being a total… arsehole.” I grumbled, effectively answering Albus’s question. Not a word that I would normally use, but I was too irritated to think about that.

“Well,” Al began, “I can understand.”

“What can you understand?” I said bitingly. I knew that I was transferring my anger to Albus, but I couldn’t help it. I was sick of men and their half-explanations of things. “Do you mean you understand me or Scorp?”

“I understand both of you,” he said softly, rubbing my arm. “He’s my best mate and you are my… Rose.”

“So you’re playing Switzerland. Neutral. Not going to get involved.” Anger was resurfacing and I thought that maybe I could just hex Albus instead and that would be enough to satisfy me. “I get it. Just don’t come here and act like you’re trying to make me feel better,” I scoffed and turned to walk down the hall and back to the party.

“That’s not what I meant, Rose,” he gritted, having a hard time hiding his temper and took a deep breath. “I understand that you are relieved. Happy, even. So are all the rest of us,” he calmed as he took both of my hands in his, the same way he did the night that I learned about the prophecy for the first time. “I can’t tell you how much stress this takes off of me – and Dad – and your Mum and Dad – you get the picture.” His voice was kinder now. Was he close to tears?

“But,” he began, steadier, “Scorpius is a different story. He didn’t see this coming and he’s devastated.”

“About the baby?” I choked. That can’t be. He was so, so happy earlier. When we were looking at the scan of the baby and asking all our questions to Healer Chang.

“No, Rosie. He – we – always knew you were the ‘good’ side of the prophecy and he used to say all the time how that made perfect sense to him.” I nodded. He’d told me that as well.

“It’s just…” Al twisted his mouth, searching for the right words. “He just can’t… reconcile with the fact that he’s the ‘evil’ side.”

“Evil?” I didn’t understand. “What do you mean, evil?”

“The prophecy says that the baby comes from two family lines: one good and one evil. I… think Scorp is distancing himself because he doesn’t want to… influence the baby with his – evil heritage.”

“That is the most absurd thing I have ever heard.”

Albus was really reaching now. I swear, the lengths he will go to make me feel better.

“I know it, you know it. Hell, our whole family knows that. He dropped one of my hands to sweep around in midair, indicating all our relatives who were in the next room.

“But it’s not about our family – it’s about his,” he said somberly. “His dad didn’t talk about the war to him all that much. And he died before Scorp was old enough to start asking some serious questions about it. Personally, I think Draco kept quiet to protect Scorpius. The less he knew, the less he would have to defend. The upshot of that is that Scorp doesn’t really know details about what his family did during the war. He has to find out in pieces – and in prophecies.”

My anger began to ebb. I had no idea he felt that way. I should’ve put all the parts together myself, but I’d been a little wrapped up in my own life situation.

I began, “I repeat: there is no way Scorpius has one evil bone in his body. He feels so much, loves so much; he’s an Auror, for Merlin’s sake, fighting the dark arts. Not exactly the calling card of evil.”

“Yeah, we all know that. But we need to give him time to figure that out himself. He’ll get there. But Rosie, please let ‘Lenia and me know if you need anything, anything at all.”

“Actually, I think you and I should tell Selenia about the prophecy tonight when we get back. Your dad is going to give a press release about everything tomorrow and I’d rather she hear it from us. It’ll be nice to have… to be able to talk to her about it.”

“That sounds great, Rosie.” He smiled and rubbed my shoulder.

“Great. Let’s do it as soon as we get home. I’m just so tired right now. This has been a really, really long day. Will you do me a favor – and check on Scorp from time to time? I know I keep asking this of you, but he needs his mates right now.”

“You know I was going to do that anyway, right?” Albus said, giving me his arm.

“Yeah, I do. Let’s get back to the party.” I took his arm and we walked back to the living room.

James was back from his test flight and showing off the new broomstick to my Dad and Uncle Harry. I scanned the room for Scorpius. He wasn’t there. I craned my neck and looked around again, catching Al doing the same thing. His eyes met mine and his face twisted with worry. Scorpius was gone. This was far from over.






Hello! I'm so, so sorry that it's taken me this long to update. I don't expect to have another break this long for quite some time. Thank you to everyone who's been reading this story. If you could take the time to leave a review, I'd be so very appreciative!

Special thanks to Emily (-BookDinosaur-) for the chapter name.

And as always special thanks to my beta reader, Joey (crestwood). He's been a writing MACHINE these past few months, so if you get a chance, stop by his page and check out his amazing work!


Edit:  15 April, 2015 - I just wanted to send a quick thanks to MargaretLane and CambAngst for the amazing cc.  I've updated based on their recommendatioins (this AND many other chapters) and, as usual, I'm much happier with the story.  Thanks you two!  ♥ Beth


Chapter 32: Blackout: Rose and Scorpius POV
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Scorpius left the party without saying goodbye. I didn't think most of my family noticed - there were just so many Weasleys mulling about that even when the guest of honor went missing halfway through the party, the only thing they remembered is what food was served. However, my friends knew that I was putting on a brave face for the majority of the time.

When I finally crawled up to our room in Number Twelve, Scorpius wasn't there. Al and Selenia, who'd escorted me home, found him sleeping in his original room on the top floor of Number Twelve - Regulus’s room. In fact, over the days following the engagement party, he basically moved himself up there. After my talk with Albus, I understood where Scorpius was coming from. My ire with him had wilted into something between guilt and pity when I realized that the beautiful, kind soul that I'd fallen desperately in love with didn't have the same nurturing upbringing that I'd had.

The following weeks were a blur of studying, talking and tears. Not talking to Scorpius, of course. He'd get up really early and leave before anyone else was up. He always made me a big breakfast with a warming charm sitting in the kitchen as well as a full, packed lunch in the fridge. I kept telling myself that he just needed some time to work everything out.

My anger about the situation had ebbed, but that didn’t make it easier. It was replaced with a heavy sadness. I cried myself to sleep most nights, but I'd never let anyone know that. If Scorpius knew, he’d just feel worse and draw away even further. If Al knew, he wouldn’t be so sympathetic to Scorpius’s cause and thus alienate him more than he already was.

My one saving grace was Selenia. Thankfully, Uncle Harry agreed that Al and I could let her into our confidence regarding the prophecy and I finally felt like I had my best friend back. She took it really well and, though I never told her that Al had obliviated her all those months ago, she did seem a bit suspicious about how long we all knew about it – but she never asked. She was a great support, as a friend and a colleague. Since Al was pretty much on ‘Scorpius duty,’ Selenia and I had lots of time together to study and talk. I hoped that Scorpius and I being – whatever it was we were being – didn’t put too much of a strain on Al and Selenia’s relationship. Whenever I asked her about it, she always assured me they were just fine.

We were knee deep in throes of our very last Healer Trainee course. The Magical Records Seminar wasn’t really as difficult as everyone had made it out to be. Once we got past the boring part of learning all the medical codes for illnesses, most of it consisted of looking up old files and determining if the Healers had adequately diagnosed the conditions. Some of them were really fascinating. For example, ever since the dragon pox vaccine came out when I was around three, there are very few cases anymore. I'm proud to say that my Uncle Charlie played a lead role in that vaccine, having accidentally discovered that a simple combination of dragon saliva and flobberworm slime could prevent the disease. Therefore, none of us trainees had ever seen an actual person with the disease. We had to rely on photos taken of victims and the medical reports.

Selenia didn’t care for this type of Healing. She, like most of the other trainees, found it tedious. I could agree with her that it was more rewarding to interact with an actual patient, but after we got through the basic parts of proving our skills at recognizing common ailments from photos and medical records, we were given tougher cases to solve. Some of them were cases that had never been cracked before. I really fancied the intrigue of deciphering a puzzle that other Healers couldn’t.

We were each given five unsolved cases as our final exam. We had the last eight weeks of the course to report on the cases to the best of our abilities. I solved three of them in the first week. The fourth one took me another week, mainly because the patient had suffered from both a Fanged Geranium bite and an allergy to kneazles.

The final case was what really stumped me. It was a couple who died nearly seven years earlier. The Healer who worked their case determined c.o.d. (cause of death) to be a muggle auto accident. When I examined the photos of the couple’s injuries, it just didn’t seem to fit.

First off, while more witches and wizards were indeed driving automobiles, an accident was really rare, due to the enchantments typically put on motor vehicles. They almost always had stretching charms on them so that if an object did get too close, the car would shift shapes to move around it. It’s not very likely that a magical couple would be driving a car that didn’t have even some basic charms on it.

But that wasn’t the only thing that seemed unusual about this case. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was that was troubling me. I stayed up late, night after night, just staring at the photos and reading over the reports, hoping something would jump out at me and explain the uneasy feeling I got when I looked at them. My nightly routine consisted of settling in to my room at around eight o'clock, working on the case for about an hour, and crying my eyes out over Scorpius until I fell asleep. One night in mid-May, a knock at the door broke me out of my concentration.

“Come on in.” The gentle tap-tap told me that it was Selenia, most likely coming in to check on me.

“How are you doing?” she asked. I hadn’t seen her at all that day. We’d spent our time visiting different parts of the hospital to talk to all of the Healers and see how the different departments interacted. Our final apprenticeship requests were due by the end of the following week. Selenia was pretty set on obstetrics and she’d spent most of her day with Healer Chang. I was envious that she already knew what she wanted, especially considering that I had absolutely no idea what specialties to consider. Everything interested me.

My day consisted of visiting the severe curses ward, the emergency care unit, the preventative care ward, and I topped it all off with a visit to the poison unit. After all of that, I still couldn't decide. It was all so overwhelming. Since my pregnancy was no longer a secret, a few of my colleagues suggested that I just take a year leave and be a Mum. I could join the next year’s class in their apprenticeship and it would leave me some time to decide. And while their reasoning made sense, it just felt like I'd be using the baby as an excuse because I couldn’t make up my mind. Also, indecisiveness aside, I was really, really looking forward to practicing Healing. It was what I'd wanted since I was fourteen years old, and it seemed like a little bit of a let down to take a leave of absence right when I was about to reach my end goal.

“I’m all right,” my voice wavered with the weight of everything pressing down on me - Scorpius, indecisions, finishing up my training. It seemed as if everything was happening all at once. Oh, no. The nightly tears were coming a bit early.

“Sorry, Selenia,” I could feel them streaming down my face and pattering onto my shirt. “Please don’t tell Al. I don’t want Scorpius to know that I get so upset.”

“Rose, Al and I both know you cry every night,” she said matter-of-factly, conjuring a pile of tissues and handing one to me. “We just want to help you, love.” She herself next to me on the bed.

“A-Am I that transparent?” Now I was sobbing. I dabbed at my eyes with the tissue.

“No, sweetheart,” she continued, peeling another one off the pile and wiping my face gently. “You are that pregnant. And missing a certain blond companion. It’s completely understandable.” She was rubbing my back with her other hand. Scorpius used to do that. It only made me miss him more and cry harder. I sobbed into a sopping tissue and began to massage my belly with my free hand, where I could feel a slight bump as of late. My next Healer appointment was a week off, but, as with most everything else that only made me feel blue. The thought of Scorpius not coming with me was unbearable.

“You still working on that one case?” Selenia decided to change the subject.

“Uh-huh,” I sniffled, welcoming the distraction and gesturing to the files spread out over the coverlet. “I’m stumped. Want to have a look?”

“Sure!” she said brightly, picking up a photo of one of the victims. “Wow! This is pretty messy. What does the report say?"

"Muggle automobile accident," I was regaining my composure. Focusing on schoolwork had a calming effect on me. "But I don't buy it. There are shards of twisted metal found in both victim's wounds, but no glass. At the very least, you'd think that there'd be some glass from the windscreen..."

"Wait," she sat up, staring at the photograph of the woman. "I’ve seen this type of wound before. It looks like the one Al had after that night at the Quaffle. He said he got hit with a rare curse. Something called verbero scalpere. I recognize the thin red lines that look like whip marks. See here,” she pointed to one of the pictures, “on the female victim?”

I leaned over to look at the photo more closely. She was correct. The very edge of one side of the wounds had distinct, red slashes. It was easy to miss, but I remembered treating Al’s wounds twice daily with dittany. I began scanning the other photos.

“Look!” my heart was in my throat. “The male victim has the same thing! Except, this one is on his temple.”

"So - this wasn't an accident at all... not if curses are involved," she said slowly, reaching for the autopsy reports.

I shook my head, staring intently at the strange mark in the photo. “Can't have been. Nonetheless, this is a huge breakthrough. Thank you Selenia!”

I peered closer at the male victim’s head. The image didn’t show the entire head because of privacy issues. The names had even been removed from the paperwork – from all of the cases. However, because this wizard’s injuries were on his head, the photo showed only the top part of his crown, encompassing the temple and one eye, which was open as it stared out of the photograph without seeing. For a moment I got lost in the depths of that steel-gray eye. It emphasized the tuft of white hair speckled with ash. I could see along the rim of his skull. Looking closer at the hairline, just above the temple, I saw an unmistakable shape. My breath caught at the distinctive injury. I had only seen the shape as a years-old scar, not a fresh wound. However, I would know that lightning bolt anywhere.

Slowly, an idea formed in my mind. “I was wrong. This wound is not from verbero scalpere.”

“How do you know?”

I was too wrapped up in my discovery to answer her. My heart pounded and my eyes widened to be sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing.

“Selenia, do you think that this could have been… a-a murder? The victims were attacked and murdered with the killing curse... and then… it was covered up somehow to make it look like - an accident?”

“Holy Merlin, Rose. What makes you think that?” she whispered.

“This.” I pointed to the jagged line. It was thin, but bright red. “It looks just like Uncle Harry’s, but his is quite faded.”

“I see it. I see it! Wow…” she breathed. She pulled the photo closer to her so she could examine it better. In turn, I picked up the photos of the female victim. Because her injuries were confined to her torso, all the pictures of her were cut off at the neck. I scanned the injuries very closely. It was very graphic. Shrapnel had torn through most of the skin on her chest, into the tissue below. At the very heart of the wound, there was another jagged, lightning bolt shaped blemish. But this one was black against the red surrounding tissue. I found it amazing that apparating downstairs could make me so queasy I would lose lunch everywhere, but looking at these photos didn’t even give me butterflies in my stomach. I was just so focused on the task. Solve the puzzle. Figure out the mystery.

Selenia was equally impressed when I pointed out the lightning bolt on the female victim. “Rose. This is serious. According to this, the male victim was hit with the killing curse outright, but the female was tortured first. You should present this to Healer Lawrence first thing in the morning. This is a really big deal. If this is murder…”

“I wish I could know more about the victims. I mean, if they were murdered, there was probably a reason why. It’s not likely they were randomly chosen. And the fact that it was made to look like an accident…” Something else was bothering me about this, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I needed some time to think and the emotion was steadily building inside me.

“Sels… I’m getting pretty tired. I think I’m going to put this on hold until tomorrow and just get some rest.”

“All right, love. Want me to stay? It’s still a bit early.”

“Thank you, but not tonight. I… have to… just rest, I guess.” I knew I was being really obvious, but the tears were already threatening to fall again. Usually, after I made a big breakthrough with one of my courses, I'd share it with Scorpius, but not this time.

She gave me a small smile. I knew I wasn’t fooling her, but I really wanted to be alone and cry by myself – like I did every night. Selenia wrapped me in a warm hug and, when she released, patted my back gently. I smiled in appreciation. All too soon, she was climbing the stairs to her and Al’s room.

As I snuggled into the chilled and empty bed, I couldn’t get the weird feeling out of my head. Something else was amiss with those photos. The thought that I was looking at murder victims sent a shuddering chill through me, but it was more than that. I pondered until my head hurt as I fitfully turned around in the sheets.

Selenia was right, I should bring my findings to Healer Lawrence first thing in the morning and maybe he could shed some light on the case. At the very least, he’d be able to look up their names. Exhaustion trumped my curiosity and then melted into extreme sadness as my thoughts drifted to Scorpius. The tears came, but my fatigue won over in the end. I fell asleep thinking about that one grey eye.

*

Next morning, I trekked up to Regulus’s room. I knew Scorpius wouldn’t be there. He'd been getting up really early and heading out – to where I'd no idea, but he always seemed to be gone before everyone else was stirring. I was actually running a bit late, having slept in. I wanted to leave him a note about my Healer appointment the following week, on the off chance that he wanted to come. As a last minute thought, I brought the scan photo of the baby with me. Once in his room, I conjured a picture frame and put the parchment in it. Then, I hung the green ribbon marked with “Weasley-Malfoy Baby” that he was so fond of across the edge of the frame. I left it with the note on his bed about the day of the Healer appointment. I knew how much he loved that picture and the ribbon.

I stopped off in my room on the way down to the kitchen to pick up the files for my case. Even though I was running behind, I decided to walk instead of apparating to the bottom floor. Apparation was still making me queasy, so I only did it when necessary. I was examining the photos one more time on my way down when something caught my foot. The entire folder flew from my hand as I looked down to see what I had tripped on. There was nothing there, but all the same, I stumbled down the stairs. I had a moment of relief as I managed to regain my balance on the next step. I let out a breath as my foot found solid ground, but it was fleeting as my other foot slid out from under me and down the next step. My arms immediately flew out to grasp at something, but they couldn’t make contact with the handrail. The next thing I remember was an inexplicable force pushing me forward. Try as I might to avoid it, I tumbled down and down, bumping my shoulder, back and knee as I rolled head over heels. My head banged roughly on an unforgiving wooden tread. As I was desperately flailing my arms to grab on to something, I caught a glimpse of a fuzzy figure in a dark robes with light hair stood on the top step. Then everything went black.

*

The cool morning air rushed past my face and made my eyes water. I didn’t put on my Quidditch goggles in my haste to get on the broom and start flying – and start forgetting. These early morning flies were meant to keep my nerves in check, but they did little to soothe the anguish of the prophecy and Rose and the baby and our future. Fly and forget became my mantra.

The flying felt great, but the forgetting part wasn’t going so well. Every day, it was getting harder to be apart from Rose. Occasionally Al came with me to the pitch, but the mornings were the only time he had a few minutes with Selenia, so he usually just met me at the Ministry for training.

It'd been nearly three weeks since we found out about the prophecy – or the second part of the prophecy. I was still having a hard time processing it. It left me with more questions than answers. What was my father really like? What did my grandparents do during the war, exactly? Clearly they were housing death eaters and Voldemort at their home, Malfoy Manor. Had they killed innocent muggles and wizards to gain favor with him? How many? And I couldn't get past the fact that my father was involved in that horrible incident that happened to Hermione when Rose’s parents and uncle were taken hostage. Had my father been her torturer? I squeezed my eyes shut against the burning wind and the burning frustration at not knowing.

My thoughts drifted to Rose. I loved her so much it physically hurt to not be near her – and our baby; but I had decided they were better off without me and my tainted blood. My stomach lurched at the thought of how my lineage could poison our baby. If the one thing I could do for my child was to stay far, far away, then I'd do it. It already had the burden of a prophecy hanging over it; I didn’t need to add a wicked family line to the mix.

My eyes began to prick with tears at the thought of how close I'd come. I almost, almost had a family. A wife who loved me and a child on the way. Truthfully, it was all I'd ever wanted - since my parents’ accident. It'd seemed so close I could touch it, only to be cruelly taken out of my hand as if I were a child stealing a sweet from the table meant for someone else.

None of that mattered now. I landed my broom on the edge of the pitch and walked into the changing area. Rose had her family to help her and she was better off without the Malfoy name and all the encumbrances that come with it. I hadn't exactly worked out where I would go, but the sooner I left Number Twelve, the better.

I took a long, hot shower, contemplating how best to tell Al. He'd try to talk me out of it, I was sure. I'd probably have to leave the Auror program - another feat I'd come so close to accomplishing. Al would just have to understand why I was cutting all ties with the lot of them. Rose would need him to be there for her and I wouldn't want to put any of them into a position of choosing sides. I was doing it for the future of my family. The best way for me to take care of them was to be as far away as possible.

Speak of the Devil, and he shall appear. Al was standing outside the washrooms as I entered to change into my training robes. His face was ashen.

“Scorp,” he began, “we have to go. It’s Rose. She’s had an accident.” His green eyes were wild with fear.

My heart stopped and my stomach fell through the floor. No. Not Rose. Not the baby.

Not my whole world.



A/N: Dun dun duuuuuunnn! I don't really have much to say - as I think I've sorta said it all in this chapter - heh heh. Special thanks to Emily (-BookDinosaur-) for the chapter name :) I'd really, really love to know what you think of this one, so please leave a review! ♥ Beth

Chapter 33: Beating Heart: Scorpius POV
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In his haste, Al apparated us to the Healer trainees wing – probably out of habit, as that was where we usually picked up Rose and Selenia. As a result, we had to run to the other end of the hospital to get to the Emergency unit. I couldn’t remember the hallways being so long before. There must’ve been some sort of magical enchantment on them to make them longer when you needed to get through them as fast as possible. As we sped through one long white corridor after another, my heart bounced erratically around my chest. I could feel the blood pounding in my ears and an uneasy feeling told me Stannous was behind this – somehow.

When we finally stumbled into the waiting area, I immediately spotted James across the way, hunched forward in one of the chairs with his head in his hands. There weren’t very many people around at that hour of the morning, so he wasn’t hard to see, sitting alone and fisting his messy hair. Tufts of black clumped between his fingers. He was alone and it just seemed odd that none of the other Weasleys were there as well.

“Where is everyone?” I blurted. They were her family. She needed them and they should’ve been there.

His head popped up, startled at the sound of my voice. “I sent Al to get you first,” James answered blearily, looking around as if he wasn’t exactly sure where he was. “He went to get you… as… as I was apparating her here. I knew you’d want to come straight away. Selenia’s gone to find Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione – but she didn’t go until after we got here. They just… took her from me and wouldn’t let me g-go with her.” His eyes were red and his hands were shaking.

“What happened?” I was finding it hard to take in enough air to make words.

“Dunno,” James choked. “just found her at the bottom of the stairs. I didn’t even hear her fall. She had all these photos and documents around her. I figured she'd tripped, but I swear – I didn’t hear her. Sh - shouldn’t I have heard it?” He dropped his head into his hands again. Al put his arm on his brother’s shoulder.

“It’s alright James. ‘Lenia and I didn’t hear her either and we were only one floor away in the kitchen. It’s lucky you found her. If you’d apparated to the kitchen like we did, nobody would’ve noticed…”

My stomach gave a violent twist at the thought of Rose lying unconscious for hours until one of us got home or someone realized she wasn’t at training and finally thought to go look for her. The protective feeling began to possess me once more. It swelled from deep within and poured itself to the very end of my fingertips. I needed to see her. I needed to see what her injuries were. Without thinking, I turned from the Potter brothers and headed determinedly toward the double doors that led to the emergency care wing. I pushed through them and was immediately stopped by the receptionist on the other side. Her desk was positioned right in front of the hallway that led to the patient rooms.

“Name, please.” She spoke as if she repeated those words about 1,000 times per day. She didn’t look up as she flipped through some magazine.

“S-Scorpius… erm Mm…” I began

Patients name,” she cut me off. “I don’t have a Scorpion or whatever registered in this wing.” She had a nasally, bored voice.

I shook my head to clear it.

“Rose W-Weasley,” I managed to choke out. I looked past her, down the hallway, to see if there was any movement or other indication of what room Rose was in. The hallway was mostly empty, with a few medi-witches meandering in and out of rooms, checking on their charges.

She finally looked up, raising her eyebrows and lowering her chin to peer over her reading glasses. “I’m sorry, sir,” she said curtly. “She’s just been admitted and needs to be evaluated. Even then, visitors will be limited to immediate family, only.” I turned to look at her and she stared up at me. Clearly she knew who Rose was, her family was famous after all. And she also knew I was not one of them.

“I’m her… fiancé,” I enunciated the last word. If this woman thought she was going to keep me from getting to Rose, she was in for a rude awakening.

“Sure, sure,” she commented; thumbing through her magazine once more. “Listen honey, I’ve heard it all before,” she said, waving me off with a flick of her bangled wrist full of clangy jewelry. “You saw the daughter of a famous wizarding family come in and now you’re making up stories because you work for Miss Witch U.K. or some other rag and want ‘the first scoop.’” She, ironically, was flipping through the latest copy of one of the aforementioned rags as she rebuffed me.

I was seething. I felt my last shred of tolerance give way and I was about to lose it with this witch, when a commotion began about three quarters down the hallway. A muffled warning alarm was going off from inside one of the rooms and Healers and medi-witches and -wizards appeared out of nowhere and were all running towards it. Some of them were pushing carts that held complicated looking pieces of equipment on them. I knew this wasn’t good. I skirted the receptionist’s desk as my feet tore off down the hallway toward the commotion.

“Sir. Sir! You cannot go down there!” I heard the scrape of her chair against the floor and I knew what was coming next, but my Auror reflexes kicked in and I turned only enough to defect the stunning jinx she sent at me. I could’ve deflected it just into the wall next to her, but instead, I made sure it hit her square in the chest. Perhaps she shouldn’t be so rude to upset fiancés.

By the time I reached it, the door had closed and the hallway was eerily empty. I looked through the window but couldn’t see the patient because there were so many people moving around in front of the hospital bed. A male Healer appeared to be the one in charge, because he was barking orders at everyone.

“What is it now?” he asked above the din of the .

“One-ninety,” answered a medi-wizard next to a bubble that had several numbers displaying on it. The bubble was emitting a pulsing orange light, as a warning.

“And the fetus?” the head Healer shouted.

Another Healer answered this time, “Two-twenty. Aphis, this is a clear sign of distress. We need to act. Now.” I recognized the voice of Healer Chang. However, this time it wasn’t calm and reassuring. It was rushed and serious.

A medi-wizard hurried away from his post at the head of the bed and I could glimpse through the other medical people as they shifted and moved around the room.

It was Rose. Her eyes were closed, and she was lying very still. However, the thing that struck me the most was her face. She was so pale. Her lips were light gray and the rest of her face was ghostly white. My heart jolted. It was pushing out of my chest to try to get to Rose.

“Yes. Give her two vials of the Cor Retardadis potion. Chang – is that the appropriate dose for the fetus?”

“It’s a little high, but it should be alright. We need to get this slowed down before one or both of them are in cardiac arrest.”

Cardiac arrest? Holy shit. My hand was on the knob of the door, pushing it open, when a white-haired witch suddenly bustled out of the room and pushed me back from the doorway. She wasn’t wearing healer robes, but she still looked familiar.

“’Ello?” she began in a cockney accent. She looked surprised to see me there. “Yow need ta be ‘n the waitin’ area. No visitors now.” I shook my head. There was no way I was going anywhere.

“What’s happening?” I was looking past her, trying to catch another sight of Rose. If I could just go and hold her hand…

“Oh, dear,” I heard Hermione’s voice behind me. My head turned to see her and Ron coming down the hallway. Selenia was with them. The first two stepped around the receptionist who was still lying unconscious on the floor. My deflection had knocked her chair over and blasted part of the wall away.

“What’s going on?” Ron’s voice boomed as he stomped down the hallway toward me. Selenia had stopped to check on the unconscious receptionist. She whispered a quick spell and gently sat her up against the wall. She said something else and waved her wand.

“Bloody ‘ell,” the white-haired witch swore and bustled past me, stooping down next to Selenia and the receptionist. In a few moments I saw another set of medi-witches coming down the hallway, answering Selenia’s summons. As soon as she saw the receptionist was in good hands, she sped down the hall to catch up with Rose’s parents.

I leaned my arm against the wall for support. “I don’t know what is going on. They won’t let me see her. James said she fell down… erm - the s-stairs…” my voice broke and I felt tears prick in my eyes. I should’ve been there. Ron and Hermione were staring at me. Even though they wouldn’t say it, I could tell they were thinking the same.

I took a deep breath to steady myself. “I heard them say something about something being too high… one hundred ninety for Rose and two hundred twenty for the baby-” I needed more air. All three were staring so hard at me. “They gave her s-some kind of potion. I think it was ‘kora retardia’ or something-”

“All right,” Selenia broke in, rubbing my arm. She seemed to understand what I was saying and what it meant. However, she didn’t let on how serious the situation really was. “I’ll go in there and see what I can find out. As soon as I know something, I’ll come and tell you.” She spoke to all three of us and I could tell she was trying to keep her voice positive, but it lacked its usual bright timbre. I appreciated that she didn’t tell me to leave like everyone else. She knew that I wasn’t about to be any further away from Rose than was humanly possible. I watched and felt so completely helpless as she pushed through the door to Rose’s room.

As soon as the door clicked shut, Ron turned to peer through the window in the door, intently. I stepped back to give him some room. The blood was still pounding in my ears and I rubbed the back of my neck and was surprised to feel a comforting hand squeeze the one hanging at my side.

“Scorpius,” Hermione’s hand felt surprisingly like Rose’s. “Please don’t blame yourself. It was an accident.” Her words were kind, but I could hear the tension in her voice. I couldn’t fault her for blaming me.

“I wasn’t there.” I couldn’t stop a few tears from brimming. “I should’ve been there.” Hastily, I wiped them away.

Ron turned around and looked from me to Hermione. He opened his mouth to say something as he took a step towards us, but it snapped shut just as quickly. Instead, his left arm rose up and drew back. I stiffened and fingered my wand, trying to think of the best defense that wouldn’t get me completely ostracized from the Weasley family.

My eyes followed his arm as it continued to draw back, as if in slow motion. The weird part was that it began to move forward in slow motion and landed gently around Hermione’s shoulders. He pulled her in close and kissed the top of her head. She was still holding my right hand and her other hand reached up and grasped my upper arm. She pulled me close as she leaned her head sideways against Ron’s chest. I reached my other arm across and placed it on Ron’s shoulder. The three of us stood there in our bizarre huddle for… ever. We stared in through the tiny slit of a window and watched the dichotomy between the frantic pace on the other side of the door and our side where time had all but stopped.

After many, many minutes of my heart pounding nearly out of my chest, the door opened again and Selenia came out. A few of the medi-witches came out as well and they headed off to other patients. The craziness seemed to die down a tad. The three of us looked at her expectantly.

“Stable for now,” Selenia sighed, “but her heart rate is still far too high. The baby as well.”

My throat tightened.

“Did this happen from her falling?” I asked. It seemed weird to have a really high heart rate from a fall. But I wasn’t a Healer, so I didn’t know.

“No. That’s the part that has everyone stumped. When she first arrived she was stable, just unconscious. The heart rate didn’t increase until after she’d been here for a bit.”

“What do we do now?” Ron asked

“All we can do is wait. They’ve given her a potion to slow it down and that’s helped a bit, but they can’t give her any more without harming the baby.” She was very kind, but very professional in her words. I noticed that she was choosing them carefully, and never mentioned that everything would be all right. My breath sucked in and Hermione squeezed my hand tighter.

“Can we see her?” Hermione asked.

“Not just yet. They want to monitor her for a little bit longer. Then it will only be immediate family and one visitor at a time. Why don’t you get something to eat? I know I interrupted your breakfast and I’ll stay here and send out a patronus the moment anything changes.” She nodded to us and went back into the room.

“I dunno,” Ron waivered, looking back through the tiny window in the door.

His wife set her jaw and turned him to face her. “Ron, let’s run to the cafeteria, quickly. You’ll feel better with something on your stomach. That way, we can come back and hopefully get in to see her straight away.”

“All right,” he agreed to his wife’s direction, but still was looking through the window at Rose.

She pulled him gently down the hallway and, after a moment, turned back. “Scorpius, would you like to join us?” she asked with deep concern in her voice.

I only shook my head. “I’ll go update the rest of the family.” I couldn’t possibly eat and I figured that talking to everyone would distract me for long enough until we knew more about Rose and the baby. That way, I wouldn’t have to be too far away.

“Oh, thank you,” Hermione looked relieved. “Can we bring you something back?”

“That’s all right. I’m not very hungry.”

To my surprise, Hermione took a step toward me and leaned in to kiss my cheek before she started down the hall, arm wrapped around the waist of her husband. Ron pulled her close to him. Turning from them, I stared into the room for a few more moments, looking at Rose’s limp figure on the mattress before heading in the opposite direction toward the waiting area.

The receptionist had been relocated – probably to her own hospital room. I felt a pang of guilt. She’d only been doing her job.

The waiting area had been effectively taken over by the Weasleys. As I expected, nearly everyone was there. They were all talking in quiet whispers to each other and didn’t see me at first. I stared at the lot of them for a full minute before taking the few, bold steps needed to face them.

Heads raised up as I approached and the whispers died down. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized I didn’t have any real news to tell them. Nothing good, anyway. They were all looking at me and waiting. They wanted someone to tell them that all was well – and I couldn’t do that. I felt my knees weaken. What if Rose’s heart rate was shooting up as I stood there giving the report to the Weasleys? I needed to be near her. I found the closest chair and leaned slightly against the back for support.

James was sitting down, not looking any better than he’d looked earlier. Al had stood as I walked toward them, eyes searching for an answer. I looked away from him. Dom was propped up against the far wall, but had a steeled look on her face. The rest of the clan was spread around the room, standing or sitting or just leaning on chairs.

I scrubbed my face, pressing hard with my hands and closed my eyes tight, trying to focus on exactly how to tell them just how dire the situation was. I felt someone move to stand next to me. Expecting to see Albus when I opened my eyes, I was startled that it was Harry who had taken the spot next to me, with a solid pat on my back. Even more surprising, Ginny was standing on my other side and had gently wrapped herself around me. She had moved the chair aside and taken its place. She was much shorter than I, and couldn’t reach my shoulders, but was squeezing around my side with both arms. With their touch, the tension inside me eased by the tiniest amount. In an effort to show my appreciation, I put my arm around her as well.

“Er…” I began. “Uhh – it’s not too good.” Oh, Merlin. Don’t start crying in front of all of them. “She fell and hit her head and - is still unconscious.”

This was so much harder than I thought it could ever be.

I tried to continue, “... but the problem they’re dealing with right now is that her heart rate has increased to d-dangerous levels.” They were dead silent, wide eyes boring into me. “It’s a bit better after they gave her some potion… but not back to normal yet. They can’t give her any more because it’s too risky for the ba - er… the baby.” I bit my lip as the word choked out of my lungs. I couldn’t say anything else without completely embarrassing myself.

“What can we do, mate?” Fred asked and many of the red heads began to nod.

I cleared my throat to force out an answer. “Er… all we can d-do now is wait. They won’t even let anyone i-in the room...” My legs began to tremble. I knew that I was becoming unglued right there in front of just about every Weasley family member. I stared at the floor. “At least Selenia can be with her right now.” I said quietly because my voice was getting so shaky. I really needed to pull myself together.

“Scorpius,” Ginny’s voice was always so kind when it needed to be. Her soft hand brushed the hair that had fallen over my face. It briefly reminded my of my own Mum. “I think Fred meant what can we do for you, love?”

I was so startled that I looked up. “Oh.” Why would they want to do anything for me? I was the one who had been completely ignoring Rose for the past few weeks. I hadn’t been there for her. I was the one who flitted off to the Cannon’s pitch this morning to have a fly before training instead of checking in on my fiancée.

And I was the one with the death eater family line that caused this whole situation in the first place. I had no idea how to answer that question.

Before I knew what was happening, Al and Dom walked toward me. He put an arm on my back and she reached up and took my hand that was covering my face with both of her hands, squeezing tightly. Teddy, James and Fred were behind her as they reached around and each patted a shoulder. Bill, Fleur, Victoire, George and Angelina came next and Nana Molly fought through all of them to push her way to the front. She wrapped her arms around me and squeezed so tight I thought I might pass out from lack of oxygen. Only Percy, Audrey and Molly stood awkwardly off to the side. No one said any words; they all just sort of stood there, holding me up. Even Grandad Weasley was there with a supportive arm.

After a few minutes, I said, “I think I should go and check on her again.” Slowly the sea of red hair pulled back and only a few black, messy heads remained. Albus and Harry stayed on either side of me as we went back through the doors to the patient rooms. Ginny fussed a bit over my hair once more, before letting the three of us go.

There was another receptionist sitting behind the desk – a gruff looking wizard with huge arms. He steeled a look at us for a moment until his eyes met with Harry. He did not say anything as the three of us passed by the desk to the corridor beyond. Ron was standing outside of Rose’s room. He turned when he saw us coming. Harry and Al patted him on the back – a wordless show of support.

We all turned toward the window in the door to look in on Hermione standing next to Rose’s bed. There were still a couple of medical people in the room, including Selenia. However this time, no one was running around and shouting directions. Selenia and the others were monitoring the bubbles that had all of the numbers and diagrams on them. I noticed that there were two – one for Rose and one for the baby.

“Any news?” Al asked Ron.

“Her heart rate is down to one-twenty and the baby is at one-sixty. They said that is alright for the baby but for Rose one-twenty is still a bit high. We can go in and see her – but only one at a time.” We all nodded our understanding.

Hermione came out and Ron went in to see Rose. After a few minutes, he came out and Harry and Al offered me the next turn. I just couldn’t do it. I wanted so much to be near her, but I couldn’t help but think that this whole ordeal was my fault.

“Let Al go,” I said. “She’s known him the longest.”

Hermione went to give the latest news to the rest of the family. Shortly after she left, James, Dom, Teddy and Fred came down the hallway. Harry went in next and Ron stayed in the hall with Rose’s cousins and me. One by one, they all took turns sitting with Rose and I just watched from the hallway. The term ‘immediate family’ had been expanded for the Weasleys. No one was going to argue with Harry Potter. After Fred left, Nana Molly and Grandad went in. Next came Ginny and then the rest of the aunts and uncles. Finally Audrey and Molly went in. One by one, they each had a short visit with Rose and went back to the waiting room. I still couldn’t move from my spot in front of the door. Again, I felt a force pulling me to her – it was getting stronger.

“She needs you, ya know,” Ron hadn’t left to be with the rest of his family. He was leaning back against the opposite wall of the corridor, hands stuffed in his pockets and one foot propped up on the wall behind him.

“I know,” it was just more proof of how much I was letting Rose down. Proof of all the reasons for me to stay away. Part of me wanted to get out of there and the rest wanted to burst through the door and grab Rose’s hand. The two opposing powers left me completely immobile. My finger traced the edge of the window.

“Scorpius…” Ron started and then stopped. I figured he was going to tell me that I had to make a decision and not string her along anymore. I braced myself and summoned up the nerve to ask him the one question that had been plaguing me for weeks. The entire reason I was questioning my future with Rose was balancing on the answer Ron would give about my past.

“Ron, I need to know…” still looking away from him, because that was the only way I was getting through this. “…what did my father do… when you were captured and taken to - erm… Malfoy Manor… when Hermione was…”

“Oh,” he said, realizing what I was asking. “Listen, that is… was... way in the past.”

“I need to know,” was my response, a little desperate. “I can’t ask my fa-…” I looked back at Rose and thought of how much she’d gone through and what promises I’d made to her. I blew out a heavy breath.

“Harry… would try to sugar-coat it – but I know you… will tell me truth. I need to know.” I repeated and looked in his eyes so he would know how serious I was about this.

After a long moment, I heard a very quiet, “All right,” although his lips barely moved.

Another pause.

“We were found by snatchers and taken to Malfoy Manor,” he started and then cleared his throat.

“Erm… Hermione had disfigured Harry’s face so he was basically unrecognizable to anyone who didn’t know him – but your dad did. And he didn’t rat us out.” I nodded, but he still hadn’t answered my question. I waited for him to continue. He was staring at the ceiling as he related the story.

“Harry and I were locked in the cellar, but they kept Hermione upstairs. She was tortured by Bellatrix… we could hear h-her… erm - s-screaming,” his voice was barely above a whisper.

Fuck,” I said out loud. I didn’t want him to have to relive this. “And my dad just – stood there and did nothing,” I conceded. I was seething. How could he just sit idly by and let such a horrific thing happen to her?

“Look.” Ron spoke unnaturally loudly. “I’ve not made it a secret that I was never a fan of Draco Malfoy. However, circumstances as they were, he didn’t have a lot of choice. His entire family were death eaters – and he was expected to follow. Voldemort made no qualms of killing his own followers for even minor indiscretions. I’ve never been able to forgive his actions – or lack thereof – but the reality is… he was just a kid – only seventeen years old at the time. And he was very much under the influence of his parents.”

I nodded my understanding. “I’m sorry,” I whispered. “I’m sorry that you – and Hermione – had to go through that. But… thank you for telling me.” I really wasn’t sure what to do with this information. I didn’t know where to go from here.

“Scorpius, we are not our parents. I’ll never forgive your father, but you can’t beat yourself up for something that you had absolutely no control over.” His voice was a bit forced. This wasn’t easy for him.

I could only nod, staring at the window frame. I couldn’t look at either him or Rose - and I wasn’t quite sure that I would be able to forgive my father either.

“Scorpius, it’s not about how you are different,” Ron’s voice broke through my thoughts.

What? What was he on about? How my father and I were different? I turned to look at him, quizzically.

“The prophecy,” he was attempting to explain. “You need to think about what it really means.” What in the world was he talking about? I was really confused.

“What?”

He closed his eyes and leaned his head back. “You and Rose are meant for each other. It’s actually recorded for all time that you will be together. I really, really didn’t want to see it at first, but-” I pulled in a breath and took a step down the hall, retreating quickly.

But,” he continued, putting a firm hand on my arm to stop me. “I’ve seen the way you two are when you’re together. Hell, I knew it the day I caught you in each other’s arms when you were fifteen – at Daphne’s house. And if I can see it, anyone can.”

He paused and emphasized. “It’s not how you are different. It’s how you are the same.”

How Rose and I are the same? We come from completely different backgrounds.

My family tortured her family.

But… maybe… he was talking about the fact that we were both Ravenclaws – the first in either family to be sorted into that house. Maybe it was the fact that we both had to be patient with each other – waiting for the right moment until we could finally be together. She had waited for me and I, in turn, had waited for her. As far as I was concerned, I will never, ever be with anyone else.

“Whatever reasons you’re thinking about,” Ron said. “Whatever it is,” he continued, waving a hand in the air, “and many other reasons. You both are fiercely loyal to your friends and family – and each other. You both have incredibly sharp minds that work at speeds dizzying to the rest of us.” I nodded vaguely, turning finally to look at Rose’s pale frame lying on the hospital bed.

“And…” he seemed to be struggling to get the next part out. I rounded to face him. “… and – you both have been through horrible… events,” he paused to gain control, “and it hasn’t affected your ability to love others. Most people who suffer that deeply – lose something of themselves, but not you and Rose.

“Believe me, Scorpius, if I thought for one bleeding minute that you had anything other than the most noble of intentions with my daughter, you’d not be standing here in front of me right now. I don’t question for a moment that you’ll be anything less than a caring, compassionate and loved husband and father.”

Loved. He said loved.

He was breathing pretty heavily, even though he didn’t say the words with any force. I don’t think Ron Weasley had ever said so much at one time.

I nodded and finally understood. As my mind became clearer, my head moved to look through the window one more time at Rose. We hadn’t needed the prophecy to bring us together, so why should it tear us apart? Rose and the baby needed me… me – and I was going to be there. I looked over to thank Ron, but he was already walking down the hallway toward the waiting room and I realized why he hadn’t gone to be with his family until that moment. Whatever anyone had ever said about Ron Weasley – he understood a lot more than he let on.

At long last, I turned the knob and pushed through the door to see my Rose.



A/N: Hello! So... things are looking a little icky for now, huh? Thanks again to Emily (-BookDinosaur-) for the help with the Chapter title! And a SUPER special thanks to Anja (merlins beard) who recently reviewed EVERY SINGLE CHAPTER in less than a day - whew! I'm still a bit giddy. I'd love to hear from anyone who wants to leave a comment or review - and I will reply to all of them. Thanks again! ♥ Beth



Chapter 34: Bated Breath: Scorpius POV
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The room smelled really clean. The only people left were one medi-witch, a female Healer I didn’t recognize, and Selenia.

“Hi Scorp,” Selenia’s eyes flicked up for a moment, and she immediately returned to the task at hand. She was reading numbers off of each of the bubbles and monitors and recording the information on a floating chart with her wand.

“I don’t know how long you’ll be able to stay. The potion we gave her earlier is wearing off and her heart rate is slowly climbing.” She was the perfect balance of compassion and composure. She sent the chart flying to a hook on the end of Rose’s bed and looked me square in the eye. There was a tinge of sadness in her voice at her friend’s situation, but she maintained her cool head.

“What is it at now?” I asked.

“One thirty-five. It’s been climbing steadily. I thought perhaps having visitors would help her, but the fact that it’s climbing up as the potion wears off tells us it isn’t under control yet. If we could just get her to wake up, maybe she’d remember something that could help us out.”

I blinked, nodding my understanding. It was already too high earlier and had begun to climb. Rose and the baby were in danger.

“Can you give her more potion yet?” I tried keep my voice even, but failed miserably.

“We really shouldn’t – not for another hour or so. But we may have to weigh the risks versus the benefits of administering it early.” She then directed the medi-witch to get Healer Lawrence and Healer Chang for a consult. Her voice was kept calm, but I could tell she was worried.

After the medi-witch left, Selenia spent a few moments explaining to me what all of the machines and bubbles were monitoring. She showed me the numbers that displayed the heart rate and her blood pressure, along with her cardiograph that was moving up and down in a wavy pattern and then all the same information for the baby. At this point, the baby’s heart rate was also increasing slightly.

“Oh, Merlin. Can she hear me if I talk to her?”

“We don’t know that for sure, but it can’t hurt Scorp. I’ll give you two a minute while I assist Healer DeLong with preparing more potion. If Chang and Lawrence decide to give it to her, we want to be ready.” Selenia and the other Healer began working on the counter at other side of the room. I pulled a chair next to Rose’s bed and sat down.

Even though I’d finally concluded that I needed to be with Rose, that didn’t mean I knew what to say to her.

“Hi Ro,” I began thumbing a loose end of the white sheet wrapped around her middle. I thought if I just talked normally maybe she would relax enough to calm her heart.

“So… I’ve been a great prat,” I figured I should stick with the facts at first.

“Probably the biggest prat in history. But… I wanted you to know that… I’ve missed you so much – it hurts.” The bubble monitor next to me read One forty-five. Oh, shit. They were going to kick me out any minute. I found her hand lying limp next to her side and twisted our fingers together.

“Whatever you need, Rose. I’ll give you whatever you need. Please, wake up.” My other hand began rubbing her shoulder and arm. “Rose, I love you. I love you and the baby so much… Please, please wake up and come back to us. You know, your whole family is here and… everyone just loves you so much.”

This time, I leaned down and kissed her gently on the cheek and then again in her hair. It smelled like lavender and I laid my head on the bed next to her, getting as close as I could for now. I just kept talking to her, whispering her name and telling her how much everyone loved her and how excited they all were for the baby.

I glanced at the monitor bubble and her heart rate was back down to one-thirty five. It was dropping!

Presently Healer Chang entered the room with what I could assume was Healer Lawrence. I sat up, but didn’t let go of her hand.

“Look!” I pointed to the bubble. “It’s going down – a little bit…” I was stroking her hair with my other hand.

The three of us watched as Rose’s heart rate fell from 135 to 132… 128…

I began to watch the baby’s monitor. 175 – 168 – 163.

“Well, it looks like she’s turned a corner,” Healer Lawrence looked relieved. “I’ll need you to step outside for a few moments so we can evaluate her and the baby. You may return presently.”

Healer Chang offered me a warm smile that was in stark contrast to Healer Lawrence’s gruff demeanor. She immediately began working, waving her wand around Rose’s belly.

I leaned over and whispered to Rose that I would be right back and took a left out of the room to tell the family the good news. I only got about halfway there, when I heard my name being shouted.

“Malfoy! Malfoy! You’re needed in here immediately!” Healer Lawrence’s enormous head was darting out of the door as he bellowed urgently.

I spun on my heel and ran back to the room in a panic.

“What is it? Is it Rose? The baby?” My eyes flashed to the monitors. Rose’s heart rate read one-forty and the baby was back up to one-seventy five. “Merlin, no…”

“What did you do?” Healer Lawrence demanded. “What did you do to get their heart rates down?!” He was barking at me as a man who was used to having his demands instantly met.

“I… I don’t know – j-just talked to her and held her hand. Nothing special.”

Healer Chang was still working with her wand, hovering it over Rose’s abdomen - where our baby was. She was doing the same movements as before, only a little more frantically. Healer DeLong was standing ready with the potion and Healer Lawrence was fidgeting with a piece of equipment that was attached to Rose’s arm. Selenia quickly walked over to Rose and bent over her friend. She began whispering in her ear and rubbed her hand tenderly. We all watched the monitors intently.

155 – 176 – 198. My fists clenched at my sides. Rose had been getting better just a few moments ago.

“Give her the potion now!” Healer Lawrence shouted. “Before her heart explodes.”

Oh shit. I took a step closer to Rose.

“Wait a minute,” Selenia said firmly, looking up at him.

“We don’t have a minute, missy. This patient is going to go into cardiac arrest and I do not have the time to turn this into a lesson for some trainee who is still wet behind the ears. Give the potion NOW!”

“No! Don’t!” I couldn’t believe Selenia was standing up to this bloke. It was not like her to confront others – and he was obviously a senior Healer.

“Scorpius,” she continued confidently, bracing me with her eyes. As always, there was a kindness in her voice underneath the urgency. “please come over here and hold her hand like you did before. Talk to her. So far, that’s what has worked the best to control the palpitations.”

“Who are you to challenge my orders? Get out of here now! I’ll see that you’re suspended from the program and you’ll never get a Healer license!” He waved his wand and the room shook with the sound of an alarm permeating all of our ears. The sound reverberated down the hallway. Blue lights were flashing everywhere. For a moment all the commotion was distracting everyone from Rose and the baby. I ran over to her side and knelt down next to her. I tried to cast a quick otailffum totalis charm, but it didn’t take. While muffliato is a relatively easy spell to master, its reverse requires intense concentration. It’s much easier to put one on the entire room, rather than just a space around a couple of people– not very many wizards can do it. Putting one hand on the side of her face and the other on her hand, I began to whisper softly in her ear, trying to ignore the blaring alarm and all the yelling medical personnel.

“Honestly Aphis, you called security?” Healer Chang’s voice was raised somewhere behind me. “What are you on about? Cooper is right! That is the only thing that has helped and giving the potion now could make Miss Weasley lose the baby! DO NO HARM! They teach that on the first day of Healer training. On the second day they teach that you should always stick with the simplest explanation!” She waved her wand and the flashing lights stopped as well as the alarm.

“And all this noise is not good for the patient,” she said, her voice was much quieter.

I vaguely heard something about losing the baby. It was a good thing that they weren’t monitoring my heart rate, because it’d jumped to at least triple what could pass for normal. I steeled myself and turned my focus on talking to Rose.

“Hello, love. It’s me again. I told you I’d be right back.” Despite the commotion around us, I was very careful to keep my voice calm and soft, gently stroking her cheek with my thumb and the side of her neck with my fingers. “Rose, do you know how much you’re loved? Well, if we counted all the Weasleys – and the Potters it might take quite a few hundred years. But none of that compares to how much the Malfoys love you. I know there is only one of me right now, but there’s more than enough love for me to share it with you… and the baby.” My thumb found the sapphire ring on Rose’s left hand and rubbed it absentmindedly. “Do you remember the day I proposed? I was so nervous. I wanted it to be a surprise and I thought you might say ‘no.’ I thought you’d say it was too soon, or we were too young or that you couldn’t marry me for… I don’t know… some other reason.” I kept talking to her, reliving stories and special moments.

“Look!” Healer Chang exclaimed and my eyes lifted off of Rose’s face for a brief moment to the monitor above. 172 – 160. “It’s coming down. The baby’s too!” My eyes shifted slightly to look at the smaller bubble. 202 – 187 – 165. Not wanting a repeat of the events from before, I turned back to Rose and continued talking to her. I lifted her arm at the elbow so that I could wrap our forearms together and lace our fingers tightly. Gently, I pulled her hand to my lips and softly kissed each one of her limp fingers.

All at once, the door burst open and several things began to happen. The security wizards came barreling through first and Healer Lawrence directed them to Selenia. The three wizards immediately surrounded her and magically bound her hands behind her. Healer Chang began yelling at Healer Lawrence and the security wizards, but she didn’t move from her position monitoring the baby. Next moment, Al, Harry, Ron and Dom ruptured through, wands drawn. As soon as Al saw Selenia being restrained, he aimed his wand at the security wizard who had his wand pointed at Selenia’s neck. In turn, the two other security officers pointed their wands at Al’s head and chest, in a four-way standoff.

“Release her now!” Al growled. The purple vein in his neck was pulsing angrily.

Harry rushed to Albus’s side to try and settle everyone down. He lowered Al’s wand and said, “All right, all right. Everyone needs to calm down, here. What happened?”

Dom was more of an ‘action’ than ‘words’ type of Auror. She moved next to Al’s other side and disarmed the three security wizards in a matter of seconds. This resulted in more shouting by the security wizards, which was retaliated by both Dom and Al shouting back at them, wands still drawn.

Ron had dashed through the door and stormed toward the foot of Rose’s bed, demanding answers from Healers Chang and Lawrence. It was too much noise and commotion. I let go of Rose’s arm and pulled out my own wand, taking my focus off of Rose only long enough to concentrate on the otailffum totalis spell that I needed to put around us. This time it took. I could see everyone yelling and waving their wands and arms at each other, but Rose and I were in total silence.

As soon as I knew the spell had worked I was back at Rose’s side. She was still unconscious, but I continued to talk to her. “There,” I said. “That is much better. Now I feel we can talk properly.” This time, I put my hand over hers and squeezed. I started stroking her beautiful red curls that spread out on the pillow, lowering myself to her so our heads were level.

I began to whisper, “Rose, do you remember when we first heard the baby? It was right here in St. Mungo’s. Selenia used that special instrument. It sounded so – peaceful – and alive.” I continued to talk to her, keeping an eye on the two monitors. Rose was now at eighty nine and the baby was at one-thirty five. I looked to see if any of the Healers had noticed, but they were all a bit preoccupied.

Harry and Healer Chang were trying to calm everyone down. Healer Lawrence, the security wizards, Dom and Al were still yelling. Healer Lawrence was purple he was so angry. Healer DeLong was cowering in the corner. What a mess.

My eyes tore themselves back to Rose when I noticed a flicker of movement. She was stirring. Her eyes fluttered open.

“Hello, love.” I was trying to keep my voice level, but excitement and elation were pulsing through me. “How’re you feeling?” She looked around the room and her eyes widened. I really couldn’t blame her. The scene she awoke to was pretty peculiar. There were Healers, security wizards, and her family. Everyone was yelling silently, pointing wands and, in the case of Al, physically being restrained by Harry and Dom.

“Er…” I began. “It’s – a long story. Are you all right?”

“I think so,” she said weakly. “I am really tired and my head hurts. W-what is going on?”

I released the otailffum totalis around us and the noise levels suddenly invaded our ears. I felt Rose’s body jump at the sudden change in volume and instantly responded by placing a silencing charm on the entire room. It was quicker. It took about three seconds for them to realize what happened and that yelling wouldn’t do any good. All of them, that is, except Healer Lawrence. He continued to yell and scream at Selenia first and then me.

Harry looked over at us. I waved my wand again and released the charm on the Aurors.

“What the hell, Scorp?” Al’s voice was booming and Rose jolted again. I immediately put the charm back on him and turned to Harry.

“Someone needs to calm him down. He’s frightening Rose.” I kept my voice calm, but they all got the picture.

It took a few more minutes to sort everything out. Healer Lawrence was really, really pissed off at just about everybody. Al was still angry that Selenia had been restrained and held at wandpoint. She’d since been released and the security wizards had left. Healer Chang and she were consulting off to the side. Healer Lawrence had stormed out, commenting that Selenia would be put under investigation for interfering with a medical professional. This brought Al’s temper back to its fury and after Harry and Ron threatened to kick him out, he finally calmed down a bit and realized that Rose was awake.

“Sorry, Rosie!” he whisper-yelled. “Alright there?”

Rose nodded slowly. “What happened?”

“We aren’t exactly sure,” I answered. “You had a fall this morning – down the stairs at Number Twelve. Once you got here there was a problem with your heart – it kept speeding up – and made the baby’s heart speed up in turn.”

“Is the baby-?” Rose sat up immediately and put a protective hand on her belly.

“Everything looks fine,” Healer Chang answered, placing a caring hand on her shoulder. She gently guided her back to a resting position. “We’re going to keep you here for a few days, just to make sure. But you need to rest. Your heart rate was so high for so long, it was the equivalent of running a marathon.”

“Wow,” Rose commented, “that explains why I’m so tired. Thank you,” Rose breathed a sigh of relief. She turned to me, held out her hand and whispered. “And thank you, Scorpius. I could hear you talking to me. You sounded so far away, but I wanted to be near you so I just kept listening… until I woke up.”

I grabbed her hand and squeezed.

“I love you,” I said. I wanted to make sure that she heard me this time. And then I said louder, so everyone could hear, “Actually, Selenia is the real hero here. She fought for them to avoid giving you the potion that could have harmed the baby. And she’s the one who told me to keep talking to you…”

“Oh, Sels…” tears began to form at the edge of Rose’s eyes. “Thank you, thank you, thank you,”

“Goodness, Rose. You would’ve done it for any of us! We’re all just glad you’re back.” Selenia kissed Rose’s forehead.

Now that it appeared Rose was on the mend, Harry, Ron, Al and Dom began to ask question after question about what’d happened. It was Selenia who finally got everyone’s attention.

“All right you lot,” she held up her hand in such a commanding fashion, I could’ve sworn she was channeling Ginny Potter. “This is not the ministry of magic or an Auror debriefing. This is a hospital room and my patient needs her rest,” she said firmly. She wasn’t kidding around. “We can set up a room where you can interrogate anyone you like – but not in here. I’m going to ask all of you to leave now. When Healer Chang and I are done, we’ll contact you and answer all your questions.” She spoke with such authority that no one dared disobey her. The four of them filed out of the room at once. I stayed behind and Selenia didn’t say anything. She knew there was no chance that I’d be leaving.

I sat next to Rose’s bed and held her hand and stroked her hair as she drifted off to sleep. Even though she’d been the one in mortal peril today, somehow it felt like I was the one that’d been saved.


A/N: Hi everyone! First off, I'm really sorry for taking so long to post this chapter. RL has been a bit busy and ya' know - The House Cup started! For ANYONE who's left a review recently, I promise I will reply to them soon - I really appreciate all of them and I promise to get to each one - thank you!

Special thanks to Andrew (oldershouldknowbetter) for our awesome discussions about the HP World - this chapter took a new shape because of his insights.

In addition, I need to thank Malfoy Mannor, TreacleTart and Tonks1247, all of whom recently reviewed most, if not all of the currently posted chapters - gah! thanks so much, guys!

And SUPER l♥ve and thanks to my beta reader, Joey (crestwood), who not only puts up with all my stuff, but ALSO reviewed all my chapters recently. He's an amazing writer, so if you get a chance, check out his author's page.

♥ Beth


Chapter 35: Believing: Scorpius POV
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Rose slept until the next morning – nearly fourteen hours. She finally began to stir around nine am and I was breathing a sigh of relief that her heart rate and the baby’s had stayed within normal limits.

The night before, the crotchety old hospital aide with the tufts of white hair kept trying to shoo me out of the room, but I insisted on taking up post in a chair next to Rose’s bed - I simply needed to be near her through the night. Healer Lawrence finally told her to let it lie. I was a bit shocked - being that he was so anti-Auror and especially after the scene that had taken place with Ron, Harry and Albus, but he seemed to have a soft spot for Rose. I could relate to that. Most people seem to have a soft spot for Rose.

He didn’t even ask me to leave when he came by the next morning to take her vital signs. He ran his wand around her head, then down her torso, around her belly, and finally passed it over each of her limbs. He paused at her shoulder and frowned. She looked away when he firmly slid down her hospital robe to look at her scars.

“Ms. Weasley, I need to see the full extent of this injury,” he commented, staring at her shoulder and arm. I could see Rose tense up, but she nodded and shuffled her arm out of the gown so that her left side was showing. She kept the rest of herself covered and because I was sitting on her other side, I quickly grabbed her free hand. She wouldn’t look at the scars and although I wanted to see exactly what Healer Lawrence was doing, I kept my eyes trained on Rose, mouthing “I love you,” to her and offering comforting squeezes with my two hands clasped tightly around hers.

“This,” Healer Lawrence began, covering Rose back up, “is dark magic.”

“How can you tell?” I blurted out. I hadn’t meant for it to sound like a challenge to his expertise. However, he didn’t flinch.

“Mr. Malfoy, I’m sure your Auror training has taught you that dark magic leaves a trace on any object that it’s cast upon. Human beings are no exception. I was just performing the revealing spell on Rose to confirm my suspicions about her heart condition from yesterday - which coincidentally is also dark magic, when I came across this as well.” He placed a remarkably gentle hand on her shoulder before he continued. “But this is years old, isn’t it?”

Rose nodded, “From my kidnapping,” her voice was surprisingly strong. “Stannous used cruciatus flagrate.”

The Healer’s head popped upright and stared at me as if to confirm her statement. I nodded, but I was still a bit confused.

“Well, obviously it’s dark magic - it’s from L’erge Stannous, but I don’t see what makes that so significant,” I said.

“Rose,” Healer Lawrence turned to his patient and his voice was grave, “Are you entirely certain that’s the curse he used - a variation of cruciatus combined with an amplification spell?”

“Yes, I’m sure,” Rose’s voice was faltering but her eyes were boring holes into him. She was trying her best to keep herself under control. Her breaths were deep and even. “He said it very clearly - several t-times… over the course of the… ssix days.” My hand reached instinctively up to her cheek. She was being so strong.

Healer Lawrence’s lips pursed together. “It’s just… I not sure how…” he took a step back, inhaling deeply to regain his composure. He settled his hands in his pockets and stared intently at Rose’s shoulder that was covered again. “A curse like that should have killed you. I’ve never, ever seen anyone survive a form of cruciatus that’s been altered in that way. Unless… no, it can’t be...” he said the last part to himself. shaking his head.

“What is it?” I said, pressing him.

“Well, I’ve studied dark magic spells extensively - it was my specialty, until I became the Head Healer and leader of St. Mungo’s. I assume it’s not entirely impossible, but the only time I’ve seen someone survive a curse of this magnitude is when they’ve got some sort of magical protection around them, similar to how a child is protected from severe harm when their parent dies for them, or if a prophecy is involved. But both your parents are still alive, Rose.”

Both Rose and I looked at each other. We didn’t even hear his last sentence. The prophecy comment was what shook us.

“Erm… I think we need to get my Uncle Harry in for a consult,” Rose said to him.

His brow furrowed and his demeanor suddenly became very cold. He took a step back. “I see. Well, if you insist that the Auror Department is the utmost authority on matters of healing, then I will not go against your wishes. Clearly my own years of expertise are lost on… ”

“No!” Rose blurted, “I mean, Healer Lawrence, sir... it’s just that… I don’t really know where to start or how to explain this-” Rose was tripping over her words and she sounded exhausted despite the fact that she’d only been awake for about an hour. She needed rest.

My blood was starting to boil. As a Healer, he should know better than to excite a patient in that way. Both Rose and I had been entirely forthcoming as we answered his question. A biting remark was on the tip of my tongue and then I realized he had no idea about Rose and the prophecy and the baby and perhaps it was a good idea for him to be privy to all the details, given that he’d just dropped a huge bomb on us - one that the Auror’s hadn’t even realized.

Rose was still grappling for a way to explain herself when I squeezed her hand and began speaking.

“Healer Lawrence,” I said calmly but loudly. “I think what Rose is trying to say is that the Auror department has some information that might help you to make a more informed decision regarding your diagnoses and you also have some very important facts that could help us solve a case that we’re working on currently. Perhaps if we combined our efforts, we could come to a conclusion faster?”

The Healer paused for a moment, his black eyes piercing into mine, the scowl etched upon his face. “Very well,” he acquiesced. “In the best interest of my patient, I’ll hear what Auror Potter has to say.”

It only took a few minutes for me to summon Harry. Ron was right on his heels, along with Al. I was more than a little worried that this would look like a one-sided wand fight, especially given Healer Lawrence’s short temper. Harry was along the same line of thinking and was able to talk Albus into checking on Selenia - who’d also refused to go home at all during the night, insisting that she stay to check on Rose regularly. It was a brilliant move on Harry’s part, as the mention of Selenia was the one thing that could distract Albus from anything else. He plodded off down the hallway, looking for her.

But there was no convincing Ron. He was bound and determined to give Healer Lawrence a piece of his mind, now that Rose was on the mend.

“Look,” Harry placed a firm hand on his best friend’s shoulder. The three of us had paused outside of Rose’s room to discuss our tactics. “We are at a complete disadvantage. Fact is, we don’t know what happened here yesterday any more than Lawrence does, but we need him to be forthcoming with us. If there’s a flaw in his security system here, he’s sure as hell not going to admit it if he feels like he’s going to be attacked for it. So Ron, I implore you. Let me take the lead on this one.”

“If you think I’m gonna let that crackpot spend one more minute deciding what happens to my daughter and grandchild - He almost killed them yesterday, Harry! Do you even understand that?!”

“I agree with Harry,” I piped in. Ron shot me a venomous look. I didn’t want to cause more problems, especially given the conversation that Ron and I had yesterday, but Ron and Harry would’ve easily stood out in the hallway all afternoon arguing over semantics - they needed a tiebreaker.

“Look,” I continued to make my case to Ron, “the bloke’s a specialist in Dark Magic Healing. He even admitted that he made a mistake yesterday, but he’s got some important information about Rose’s scars that’s a new lead in the case - no matter how small. We might be able to track down Stannous or find out… I don’t know - something that can help us. I feel like we’ve been at a standstill in our investigation for months. Waiting for Stannous to attack is not a very good strategy from where I’m standing. And it’s wearing on every single one of us - Rose especially. She deserves to live a life where she doesn’t have to look over her shoulder every second thinking he’s one step behind her.”

That did it. At the sound of his daughter’s name, Ron’s face fell. He nodded and the three of us went in to see Healer Lawrence and Rose.

Healer Chang and the white-haired aide were there as well. It seems that Harry wasn’t the only one bringing in backup.

It was slow going at first. Ron stood a step behind Harry and I, with his arms crossed and giving the evil eye to Rose’s Healers. I opened up the conversation by retelling all parties what Healer Lawrence had revealed about the crucio flagrate curse.

“And you’re completely certain this is a fatal curse, Aphis?” Harry asked.

“Yes, I am. My specialty is healing Dark Arts Magic. I’ve got an advanced degree and have studied all over Eastern Europe. At one point, I served as advisor to the Ministry in difficult cases that involved Dark Magic and its effect on the human body. However, your predecessor didn’t seem to feel that Healer consultants were necessary, anymore. I was told that my services were no longer required and have not been asked to the Ministry since.”

“There were a lot of things my predecessor did that I didn’t agree with, Aphis. In fact, I never even knew that you once worked with our department. It’s really too bad that things happened as they did. I’m sorry it ended poorly, because I think I could’ve used your expertise on more than one occasion in the past. It would’ve saved me a hell of a lot of time.”

Ron snorted from his defensive position behind Harry. If Healer Lawrence heard it, he didn’t comment.

The older man didn’t smile, but he at least nodded to Harry. “Very well, Head Auror Potter, let’s move on.” The two men shook hands and began discussing the case in earnest. The rest of us stayed silent, for the most part - until the idea of the prophecy came up.

“Erm, this is a matter of the utmost security, Aphis. A matter that I think all of Rose’s Healers need to be made aware,” he paused and tipped his head to the side, indicating both Healers Lawrence and Chang.

Healer Lawrence didn’t miss a beat and cleared his throat, “Astatine, I think we are quite set for now,” he held the door open in invitation for the aide to leave the room.

As soon as the door closed, Harry cast a muffliato and began to give the details of the prophecy to the Healers. Throughout the entire exchange, Ron stayed silent. Every now and then, he would shift his weight with impatience. When Harry was explaining the prophecy to Healers Chang and Lawrence, he paced around to the other side of Rose’s bed and sat down in the chair I’d slept in the night before. She was keeping up a brave front, given how difficult it was for her to listen to us discussing her past.

When Harry was done, Healer Lawrence nodded slowly and then began to explain his findings regarding Rose’s scars and the dark magic behind them.

“So the fact that she’s got a prophecy attached to her is the reason why she survived this curse?” Ron shook his head in awe.

“Actually, it’s the other way around,” the elder Healer explained. “A prophecy can’t make you survive a curse or live through death - the prophecy just predicted that she was the mother of the child - Rose is the strong one, surviving of her own accord.”

“But I’m not -”

“You can’t deny it any longer Rose - you’re tough. As tough as they come, actually,” Healer Chang conjured another chair and sat herself down next to Ron, so she could address Rose directly. I really appreciated it, because it made it seem like Rose was part of the conversation, instead of us talking over her lying in the hospital bed.

“Hold on,” Healer Lawrence put his hands up. “Do you have reason to believe that Stannous knew about this prophecy? I mean, before you or any of the Ministry realized it could have been about Rose?”

“Actually, yes. We’ve reason to believe that it was circulating underground for many years. It was even recorded in The Department of Mysteries, but it was during the time when making prophecies about the war heroes were rampant - and it was unfortunately disregarded. But someone obviously took notice.”

“So it doesn’t actually say Rose’s name, it just mentions a red-headed witch born from the golden trio?” The Healer pressed on.

Harry cleared his throat. He never did like that title. “Yes,” he said plainly.

“Then my bet is L’erge Stannous had to prove that Rose was ‘the one.’ Obviously he’s amassed a following - if the events of The Quaffle are any indication. But I imagine he had to provide some sort of proof to the others that he knew what he was doing.”

“Rose,” I looked at her from my seat next to Ron. “That’s why he let you go. In Hogsmeade, I mean. He simply needed to show the others that you were the one from the prophecy. You survived that horrid curse and he knew that you were strong. Strong enough to be the mother of the next most powerful wizard.” She nodded and I pressed a kiss into her hair. A wordless reinforcement of the promise I’d made. He will not get to you again.

“This explains a lot,” Harry commented quietly. “Aphis, what can you tell us about Rose’s fall and her heart condition from yesterday?”

“Well, the fall didn’t seem to be anything out of the ordinary and Rose doesn’t have any recollection of how she slipped or what happened. It’s fairly common in pregnancy to lose your balance as your center of gravity is shifted. But,” he cleared his throat and looked down before continuing, “Your heart palpitations were also caused by dark magic. A curse called dekompensirana sŭrdechna na skorostta. It’s a curse nestled in Bulgarian roots. I’ve only seen it a handful of times in my career. Until now, no patient has survived. As I’ve said, I have an extensive background in Healing Dark Magic.”

“It would appear, Healer Lawrence that someone else in this hospital is rather well versed in Dark Magic Spells as well.” Ron cut in, his voice cold and his eyes hard, piercing into the older man’s countenance and challenging his ability to keep order within his own jurisdiction.

“Yes, Senior Auror Weasley, you are correct,” Healer Lawrence grumbled. “No one but medical personnel had access to Rose’s room once she was admitted, so either it was one of the staff - or someone posing as one. It would also appear that the proper cure for this curse isn’t rooted in spells or potions. Healer Cooper was the one who discovered the actual cure. I need to apologize to you, Rose,” he looked directly at her for the first time since our conversation began. He struggled to form his next sentence and fumbled with the hem of the pocket on his Healer robes.

“Ahem… Y-yesterday, I wasn’t the best Healer in the room. You have my word that there will be no administrative action taken against Healer Cooper. In fact, if she hadn’t already chosen obstetrics as her specialty, I’d be encouraging her to pursue a career in Dark Magic healing. But rest assured, I’ve got plenty of backup...”

That was good news about Selenia, but Ron didn’t seem to be won over so easily. “This isn’t over yet,” he rose from his chair and let his hands tuck into his robes. “I’m not convinced that she’s safe here.”

I had to agree with him on this point. And while I had no intention of going anywhere while Rose was still in hospital, I wasn’t exactly sure what the solution would be.

“What if we worked together on this?” Harry suggested flatly, his lips curled downward. He too, was reigning in his impatience with the head Healer’s giant ego. “At minimum, we can provide some additional security to your staff. We’ll put an Auror guard outside Rose’s door and another plain clothes auror in the waiting room - at the end of the hall. I’m sure your hospital security have many important posts to cover that require some specialization. I wouldn’t want to put a strain on your system.”

Ron opened his mouth to protest and I could see where he was coming from. Two additional Aurors didn’t seem like much. But Harry had a tactic going here. If he made it seem like he was asking Healer Lawrence for permission, it might go a bit smoother. The end goal was to keep Rose safe and Harry was willing to take the high road instead of flexing his Ministry muscles and doing more damage to the already tenuous relationship.

“That sounds reasonable,” Healer Lawrence agreed. “I’ve got to keep my security personnel assigned to their original stations. If you need to add more Aurors, that shouldn’t be a problem.”

“Thank you, Aphis. And I won’t be putting any staff here without letting you and your security team know first.”

Wow. It worked. Harry now had free reign to assign Aurors to duty in St.Mungo’s with no interference. That was impressive leadership.

By the time Al had come around with Selenia, our little meeting was over and Healers Lawrence and Chang had set off to see other patients.

It took a few minutes to convince Albus that Healer Lawrence really did know what he was doing - despite his poor bedside manner. Al was still upset over Selenia’s treatment the day before. However, in the end, Selenia convinced him that this was the best thing for Rose and there was no harm done since the investigation against her would not ensue.

Once that was all settled, Harry and the Auror department kicked into high gear trying to figure out how Rose could have been hexed in broad daylight at St. Mungo’s. She’d been unconscious when James brought her in, so she couldn’t remember what happened. In fact, she couldn’t remember anything since the afternoon of the day before.

After interviewing all of the relevant hospital staff, we still couldn’t conclude anything. It was very frustrating. Harry placed an Auror on guard duty outside her door, two plain clothes Aurors in the waiting area and another three to sit duty at each of the hospital entrances.

“Scorpius, you need to go home and rest – at least for a little while,” by early afternoon Selenia was trying to convince me to leave and catch up on some sleep.

“So do you ‘Lenia,” Al said, rubbing her back. He’d been doing the same to her. “I swear to Merlin, the two of you are the most stubborn set of magical people I’ve ever come across.” Al was shaking his head at both of us. Selenia and I exchanged a glance, both of us smiling at his hypocrisy.

It wasn’t until Ginny and Hermione showed up with treacle tart for Rose that we finally agreed to go home for a short while. Ginny said that she and Hermione would stay with Rose and Teddy was the Auror on duty so there were plenty of people around to keep watch. Al had to go to training. I was excused for one more day, but would have return the next day – I couldn’t let myself worry about that, we only had about a week and a half until our S.N.A.K.E.s. Once those were through Auror-trainee pairs were to be handed out shortly afterward.

Arriving at Number Twelve, I apparated up to my room on the top floor. I wanted to change my clothes and grab some extras in case I needed to stay longer. I wouldn’t be sleeping in Regulus’s room anymore – I always slept better in Rose’s - erm our room. As I flicked on the light, something glinted and caught my eye on the bed. It was a picture frame. Rose had framed the parchment of the baby’s first picture and attached the ribbon so it hung down the side. It felt like it’d been years since I looked at it and I couldn’t tear my eyes away just like the first time I had seen it. My head felt heavy as the reality of the situation settled over me. I’d almost lost one or both of them - the two most important people in the world to me. Fatigue took over and I just barely made it to Rose’s room before I completely collapsed on the bed. Her pillow smelled like lavender shampoo. I breathed in deeply and fell asleep with the picture in my hand.

*

I only slept for a few hours – just long enough to not be completely exhausted. I knew that I wouldn’t get any real sleep until Rose was back home anyway, so I got up. I quickly showered and dressed and then grabbed a pair of Rose’s favorite pyjamas. My last stop was the kitchen. After I completed a few necessary tasks, I headed back to the hospital. As excited as I was to see Rose, I couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling. Now that she was out of the woods, I needed to throw myself on my knees and beg forgiveness for my horrid treatment of her over the past few weeks.

I nodded to Stephens, the Auror on duty outside the room. Rose was sitting up and chatting with someone. As I entered, I realized that Hermione, Ron, Harry and Ginny were all there as well. I guess I didn’t have to worry about her safety. You really couldn’t get better protection than that.

Rose looked so much better. She was rested and smiling and… actually glowing. I leaned in to give her a quick kiss and she smiled at me and pulled at my hand. She didn’t let go so I waved to her family from across the room. I couldn’t believe how easily she’d forgiven me. Maybe this was an act – she’d been really angry with me on the night of our engagement party. Maybe she couldn’t remember the past three weeks because of her head injury. Either way, I knew we would be discussing it later.

I had prepared Rose’s favorite meal – fettuccini alfredo with tossed salad. Her Mum and Ginny and Harry excused themselves, but made enough for everyone and conjured a table with six chairs. Ron didn’t need asking twice. He was already sitting at the table and helping himself to a heaping pile of pasta. We had a nice, family meal and it reminded me of eating at home with my parents.

After dinner – the four of them finally excused themselves after we all enjoyed what was left of Ginny’s treacle tart. I was pleased to see that Rose ate a good meal and had dessert as well.

“Thanks, Scorpius,” Ron patted my shoulder. “That pasta was so filling, I know I’ll sleep well tonight,” he smiled. Ron Weasley actually smiled at me.

“Ron, when have you ever not slept well?” Hermione countered. “I swear, they could be blasting through rock and you would sleep through it!” She turned to Rose, “Good night, love. Rest well,” she said as she planted a kiss on Rose’s head. Why were they all acting normal? I’d been a complete tosser the past few weeks. I was sure they all knew it. I walked the four of them out of the room and turned to watch Rose vanishing the rest of the dinner dishes. It was just me and her in the room… alone.

“You look really well,” I commented to Rose, painfully aware that we were alone and both conscious for the first time since… the morning of her Healer appointment. Had it really been that long?

“Ro,” I blurted, “I’m so sorry. I know I’ve been a complete arse. A total twat.”

“Scorpius,” she interrupted, as she vanished the table and five of the chairs. “You’ve already apologized. We’re not going to discuss this anymore. You needed some time and we just need to move on. I’m not angry, just glad that you’re here with me.” She crossed the room to me and pulled at my hand like she’d done earlier, squeezing my fingers. Her blue eyes shining brighter than I could even remember.

“But-” I protested.

She shut me up by grabbing my shirt and pulling me to her. Our lips crashed together and it took me a moment to fall into the kiss. Merlin, I missed her. I missed us. My one arm encircled her waist and the other hand caught her curls, pressing her closer. A moan escaped from my lips as I got caught up in the sensation of our lips touching after so much lost time.

“Well… it seems some parts of you have recovered faster than others,” I said hoarsely, once I could breathe again.

She smiled and gracefully lowered herself onto the bed. She looked so content. She scooted over so I could sit next to her and we just talked. We caught up on what was going on in our training. She still didn’t know what specialty she wanted and was going to ask for an extension. I got the impression she didn’t want to put the decision on hold indefinitely. Her goal was to get started before the baby was born. I told her that I wasn’t too picky about which Auror I was paired with for my apprenticeship. I was definitely more worried about my S.N.A.K.E.s, as they were coming up shortly, but I had been doing a lot of studying, so I felt ready for the written part. The practical wasn’t really something you could study for, so that made me more nervous. They just shot spell after spell at you to see what you could handle in a defense situation.

We talked for hours and Rose started to get sleepy. I settled into the chair next to her and she snuggled into bed. I couldn’t wait until we were back at home – together. It would feel like we were more of a family. The stress of the past few weeks finally began to lift and, at long last, I started to relax slightly and drifted off myself.

It wasn’t easy to sleep in a hospital chair, especially since the window on the door let in so much light from the hallway. I drifted in and out of rest, having the oddest dreams. I vaguely remember seeing the Auror on duty change shifts at midnight. A set of medi-wizards came in to check on Rose a few hours after that. She didn’t have the monitor bubble hooked up to her anymore, so they had to use their wands to determine hers and the baby’s heart rates, as well as other vital signs.

From my half-conscious state, I could hear them whisper as they entered the room. “You take the boyfriend, I’ve got Weasley.”

You take the boyfriend?! My head was lying sideways against the top of the chair. I didn’t move it but opened my eyes a crack. They weren’t medi-wizards – they had on dark robes – and masks. They were moving quickly around the room – one of them headed for me, the other one leaning over Rose.

Diffindo!” I stood and shouted at the one hovering over my fiancee. He blew back away from the bed and slammed into the wall next to the door. While his comrade was staring at the fallen wizard, I instantly turned and shouted “Expelliarmus!” at the one headed toward me. Catching his wand with my free hand, I added “Stupefy!” to be sure he was incapacitated. I twisted back toward the first bloke to confirm I’d got him good. He was slumped sideways between the wall and the floor. The door flew open and the light flashed on. My eyes blinked to adjust to the brightness. My heart plummeted into the pit of my gut. With every blink I saw more dark cloaks and masks pouring into the room.

Death Eater after Death Eater after Death Eater.


A/N: First off - my PROFUSE apologies for the lateness of this update. I'm so irked with myself about it. But I really wanted to get this chapter just right as there are some epiphanies happening.

Secondly... whaddya think?

dekompensirana sŭrdechna na skorostta is Bulgarian for "uncontrolled beating heart."

♥ Beth


Chapter 36: Blitz and Building: Rose and Scorpius POV
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The bright light forced my eyes to rapidly blink and it was a good ten seconds before I could register how many Death Eaters were coming at us. Luckily, the first few were thrown off by the fact that they hadn’t expected to see their partners lying unconscious on the floor. It was only a few moments, but I needed every extra second I could get to adjust my strategy. They recovered from their shock quickly and the curses began to fly.

Shit! I was on the other side of the bed and Rose was between me and the attackers! She began to stir and sat up.

Aurelius adveho!” I sent the alarm up to the ceiling, hoping it would work. The rooms at Mungo’s had enchantments on them for security purposes, but it was the only way I could call for help, short of sending a patronus and I did not have time for that.

“Rose, stay down!” I shouted.

The quickest way around the bed was over, so I vaulted over top of it. As I was coming down, the first attacker through the door shot a verbero scalpere curse at Rose. I deflected it into the wall over her head as she curled down into the bed as low as she could get, letting out a bloodcurdling scream.

There were so many of them. How did they get in? Where was the Auror on duty? I couldn’t remember who it was supposed to be. Jinxes and hexes flew around the room. I turned for an instant and shouted “Protego!” and a bubble formed around Rose. I just hoped it would hold.

“Aaaarrgggh!” A hex hit me in the back, just to the left of my shoulder blade. Pain shot down my entire left side. At the same moment, I felt my wand sliding out of my hand. Reflexively, I clamped my hand shut. It was a poorly cast expeliarmus. My wand slipped to the tips of my fingers, but thankfully I didn’t lose it.

It took a moment to re-grip my wand properly, and in that time, another verbero scalpere curse grazed my left arm. I winced, but then regained my focus. I sent three deflections and then two impedimenta jinxes and after that I stopped thinking about what I was doing.

Protect Rose, protect Rose, keep them back, keep them away.

Those words repeated over and over and over again in my head. I sent curses, deflected them, and watched for any movement out of the corner of my eye. I couldn’t even tell how many I was fighting or for how long. As soon as one Death Eater crumpled, I’d hit him with either a body bind or a powerful stupey curse to incapacitate him and then I’d deflect a curse from one of the Death Eaters in such a way to have it hit another one - it was a tactic we’d been studying for our S.N.A.K.E. exams. When there was a brief lull in the action, I shot two quick curses at anyone who was still daring to move.

There were bodies lying on the floor and a few more masked figures poured through the door. I could hear a scuffle in the hallway, but I didn’t have time to think about how many others there might be and I was getting worried that I wouldn’t be able to hold them off for much longer.

Suddenly, the floor dropped beneath my feet and began to shake. A deafening sound invaded my eardrums. It was so loud it hurt. I grabbed onto the bed behind me to steady myself. The ground was shaking so much that the bed, Rose, and I slid across the floor toward the far wall. Many of the death eaters lost their footing and stumbled. Hoisting myself up, I took advantage of their momentary unsteadiness and put a body bind curse on as many as I could. I think I got about five of them when anotherverbero scalpere was thrown at me, landing squarely on my shoulder.

“Fuck!” the pain seared down my left arm, essentially making it numb and completely useless. Turning sideways, I could see through the remaining death eaters to the hallway beyond. The Aurors had finally arrived. Two cracks sounded in front of me and Harry and Ron were there, instantly fighting, thank Merlin. They made quick work of the few remaining Death Eaters. When all the attackers in the room were immobilized, Harry sealed the door. The fight in the hallway was still going on and Ron immediately apparated out of the room to help in the battle.

“What the hell was that sonic boom five minutes ago?” I asked Harry the first question on my mind as soon as there was a moment to think about anything other than incapacitating Death Eaters.

Harry didn’t answer, as he was intent on securing the room. He started on one side, summoning the wand of each criminal and magically binding them in turn. They were mostly unconscious or body-bound and were of little threat. I jumped into action and repeated his actions on the other side, after ensuring the protego bubble was still hovering over Rose. There were still sounds of a scuffle in the hallway.

“Some genius decided it was a brilliant idea to use bombarda maxima to blast through one of the doorways. The idiot didn’t realize it was a potions storeroom. I don’t think Stannous is too picky about his followers. It’s easy to find mindless morons who’ll throw themselves on the front lines if they think it’ll win them favor with their master. The problem comes when you want them to think for themselves.”

“Well, that stunt actually saved our lives. It was enough of a diversion to knock them off their feet and luckily I managed to recover first.”

“From the looks of it, you managed to do a fair bit more than that,” Harry commented, eyeing the eight Death Eaters who were now all bound and unarmed. He whispered the security spell that vanished the first suspect to the dungeons at the Ministry. Only the senior Aurors had access to that spell.

“How did the two of you apparate in here?” I asked as I ran to check that Rose was all right. One of the enchantments on the rooms was an anti-apparition, for obvious reasons. “I figured that I’d have to fight through all the attackers until the Aurors could get into the room from the hallway.”

Rose sat up and was positively shaking from the shock, but otherwise seemed all right. At least she hadn’t been hit by a curse.

“All right there, Rose?” Harry asked, as he made his way around the room, vanishing them one by one.

Her breathing was ragged, but she nodded. He looked over at me and I indicated that I could take it from here with Rose.

Harry acknowledged me with a curt nod and went back to dealing with the Death Eaters. As per protocol, they’d be held in the dungeons at the Ministry until the Aurors could file a report. With all of the threats now out of the room, Harry glanced at me and raised his eyebrows. I nodded that I was alright with Rose. I would not be fighting anymore. He apparated out into the hallway, where it seemed the noise had died down considerably.

Several minutes later, Harry unsealed the door and he, Ron and the remaining Aurors entered. Rose had calmed down and was no longer quivering. She had even set to healing my wounds from the battle. My left arm was useful again and she fixed all the major injuries. Al, Dom and Teddy, who’d also responded to the call, walked over to her and she began healing them as well. Colleen, Caesar and Kali were there as well, and I looked questioningly at Al, because first years weren’t allowed to be connected to the wand response network. He shook his head - clearly he’d alerted the group because they were so involved in Rose’s case and wanted to help out. Rose continued to heal the victims and noted that many of the Aurors were hit with the verbero scalpere curse. It was apparently the calling card of this group of Death Eaters, much the same as crucio flagrate was with Stannous himself.

Ron and other senior Aurors began hammering questions at Rose and I. More than willing to help, but torn because I knew Rose was getting tired, I pleaded with my eyes to Harry, who got my meaning and took control.

“Listen up, all,” he began. “Great response. However, we need to remind ourselves that Rose – er… Miss Weasley is the victim and this is her hospital room. With that in mind, I’d like to reconvene our debriefing at 10:00 am tomorrow morning in my office. Anyone else who needs medical attention will need to seek it down the hallway – in the emergency care unit.”

Although everyone respected him – and at least stopped the barrage of questions, several Aurors still continued to line up in front of Rose for treatment. They had come to trust her over the past year. Rose being the Healer that she was, would not deny anyone and would not admit how tired she was until they’d all been seen and treated to her satisfaction. I stayed by her side the entire time, but kept out of the way of her work.

“Brilliant,” Harry smiled at her. “Absolutely brilliant, Rose.” She’d finished with everyone else and, although he said that he was fine, she would never allow her Uncle to be in pain if she could help it. “Aaahh,” he sighed as she mended his shoulder. “That verbero scalpere curse is nasty! Thanks, Rose.”

“You’re going to put us out of business, Miss Weasley!” a voice boomed from the door. Healer Lawrence had arrived to clear everyone out. I was grateful, because I thought that perhaps Rose would finally listen to him over everyone else. “I need to evaluate you – and you need your rest. Sorry, Mr. Potter, but I need you and Mr. Malfoy to clear out as well. If Mr. Malfoy would like to stay the night, he’s the only one I’ll allow in the room until visiting hours resume tomorrow morning. But for right now, I’d like a moment with my patient to evaluate her condition.” Harry and I went into the hallway while Healer Lawrence checked Rose over. Luckily, she hadn’t been hit with any hexes, but he wanted to check on hers and the baby’s heart rates, given her history.

“What the hell happened?” I asked Harry once we were down the hallway and out of earshot. “I saw Stephens leave at midnight, but who was on duty?”

“Chance,” Harry answered. “She took a direct hit with verbero scalpere and it immediately incapacitated her. She’s being treated down the hall and hopefully will make a full recovery, but right now, she’s in serious condition.”

“Everyone else all right?”

“Pretty much. What’d you see?”

“Two death eaters entered at around 2:00, wands drawn. I thought they were medi-wizards until I heard them talking. After that, loads of them stormed through the door. How many did we get?”

“Most of the ones from the hall disapparated away when we arrived. You can apparate in the hallways, but not the rooms. That’s why it took so long for Ron and I to get in to you, we had to get the security to lift the wards on the room. By the way, that body bind curse was genius. We’ll be able to interrogate and prosecute the eight you caught. Perhaps they can lead us to Stannous.”

“I’m not gonna hold my breath. My guess is he sent in the low level minions for this job - it’s too risky in such a public building. I bet they don’t even know enough to give us any information. He figured he’d win by outnumbering us.”

At that point, Healer Lawrence emerged from Rose’s room and joined in the conversation. “She’s doing fine, considering. But really needs some rest. She’s asking for you, Malfoy.” I nodded. My feet wanted to move immediately to get back to Rose, but I felt I should stay for the rest of this conversation.

“The only explanation is that there’s a leak in the hospital,” Harry growled. “Two attacks within twenty-four hours… We’re going to have to come up with more security.” He was past the point of giving Healer Lawrence suggestions. It was time to give some orders. He turned to me. “I know you’ll stay in the room with her, but I think we need to have her moved. Is it possible to make it look like she’s been released according to her medical records? And – how much longer will she be a patient?”

“Probably another day or so – right now she’s the picture of health, but because she’s pregnant, and we’re still a bit unsure of the long term effects of the dark magic curse, we really need to keep her for just a bit. Most likely another few days.” Healer Lawrence was scribbling on a bit of parchment as Harry and I exchanged glances. We didn’t want to compromise her health, but the sooner Rose was out of this hospital, the sooner she was no longer a sitting duck.

“There!” he exclaimed, tapping it with his wand, “I just put in her file that she’s been released to you, Mr. Malfoy. Now, anyone who is searching the hospital records will think that she’s no longer a patient.” Harry thanked him, but before we could ask what came next, Healer Lawrence continued, “We’ll move her to one of the rooms we use for training. She’s familiar with that part of the hospital and since we don’t have other patients in that wing, we’ll be able to control which medical personnel have access. We aren’t using the classrooms, anyway, because we’re in a practical session right now and it’s end of term. We don’t need them.” Healer Lawrence was wise to take the initiative with Harry. An angry Harry Potter wasn’t something anyone wanted to mess with.

“Brilliant.” Harry was satisfied, although he was still glaring at the head of Hospital. “I’m going to put two guards outside her door and a team of plainclothes Aurors at the end of that hallway."

We quickly made the move and before long, Rose was resting in the same room where we’d first heard the baby’s heartbeat. Healer Lawrence, in a final attempt to get off Harry’s bad side, added a bed for me as well and I scooted it next to Rose’s.

She was so tired, it didn’t take long for her breathing to even out to a slow, rhythmic pattern as she grasped onto my hand. After I knew she was completely asleep, I slipped out of the door and into the hallway. My eyes blinked at the sight of Albus, Dom, Teddy, Ron, Colleen, Caesar, Kali and Harry all standing guard outside the door.

“Isn’t this a bit of… overkill?” I joked.

“No one wants to leave,” Ron commented. “Bunch of tossers, you lot. You’ve got your S.N.A.K.E.s in a week,” he nodded to Dom and Al, “and you three have got first year exams. You need to be studying.”

“Not me,” protested Teddy. While I felt a surge of affection well up inside me at the gesture, Ron was right. We all did need to be studying. I think Harry agreed, because he pulled rank on everyone.

“All right. Here’s the plan. You three,” he nodded to the first years, “I appreciated your support tonight, but you’re quite lucky that you’re about to become second years or I’d be taking administrative action against each of you and whoever it was that summoned you,” his eyes flicked to Albus, who did not meet his father’s eyes, but instead seemed to be intently analyzing the ceiling.

Harry didn’t say anymore on that point. It was useless to admonish Al and he’d made his thoughts known with the first years, so he continued on, “Al and Dom, you go back to Number Twelve and get some rest. I’ll put you two on duty at the same time that Selenia is working tomorrow. She’s the only hospital staff allowed to see Rose except Healers Chang and Lawrence. That way, you three will still have time to study for your exams and your shift here can count as your training sessions until Rose is released. Teddy, you and I will stay on for now and Ron will take the evening shift with Robards.”

Everyone nodded and as we were saying our goodbyes, Al said, “Hey Scorp, that was some right genius fighting you did earlier. We’re all seriously impressed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one wizard successfully fight so many at once!” Harry nodded and Ron slapped me on the back. “Even the senior Aurors are impressed. That was bloody brilliant.”

I smiled. I hadn’t really thought about it at the time. I was just trying to do anything possible to keep Rose and the baby safe. I started to say as much, but as soon as I opened my mouth, the words wouldn’t come out.

“We know,” Ron patted me on the shoulder and looked knowingly at Harry. Dom and Al exchanged confused looks. “Get some rest, Scorpius,” he shook my hand, turned, and headed to the apparition point to head home.

“That’s good advice for all you lot. I’ll see you tomorrow at 10:00 am.” Harry said just as he was settling himself into a chair outside the door.

I barely mumbled ‘goodbye’ and ‘thanks’ to all of them as my heavy feet stumbled back into the room and back to Rose.

*

Although in hospital, I slept better than I had in weeks, with Scorpius at my side. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t cry myself to sleep and didn’t worry about my training, the prophecy, or the baby. I just slept.

I slept so long, that light was pouring through the windows of the training classroom. When I finally raised my head off the comfy bed and looked around. Scorpius was sitting in one of the chairs, with a textbook in his hand, reading intently, his brow furrowed the way it always looked when he was studying.

The morning was pretty boring after that. Scorpius had his Auror debriefing and had to catch up with the training that he missed the past few days so he was gone for the better part of the day. Al and Dom were on duty outside my room, but I told them to use this time to study, so I didn’t want to bother them with my mindless chit-chat.

Shortly before lunch time, I saw Healer Chang and Selenia. She’d been officially accepted in her apprenticeship and I could tell she was over-the-moon. She had finished her case studies with the medical records and was allowed to take some time off, but she wanted to get started. She beamed as we listened to the baby’s heartbeat again and then she took all my vital signs. I don’t think I could ever get tired of that sound and I don’t think Selenia could’ve been any happier.

The medical records reminded me that I still hadn’t finished my final case. I remembered that the final case had really stumped me, but I couldn’t remember anything beyond that. When I asked Selenia if she could bring me the files, she refused. “Until you’re released, you are under direct orders to rest – no cases for you.” I pouted, but to no avail. She would not budge. I had to settle with the notion that waiting one more day wouldn’t make too much of a difference for a case that was years old, anyway.

“Everything sounds great!” Healer Chang interrupted our squabbling (or rather – my mini temper tantrum). “You’ve gained just under three kilos in four weeks. That’s magnificent. I still want you to continue to gain weight, maybe three to four kilos more before your next visit in a month.” Scorpius would be happy about my weight gain.

“You have some visitors,” Healer Chang continued, “if you’re up for it.” I nodded eagerly. I was starting to get stir crazy and I said as much (loudly) as Healer Chang and Selenia exited the room. They exchanged smirks with each other. I could tell they were becoming fast friends as well as colleagues.

I was a little bit surprised that my visitors were Healer Lawrence and Uncle Harry. I was expecting it to be just Al and Dom, coming to have lunch with me. The unlikely pair entered the room chatting in serious undertones. I eyed them warily.

“Morning Rose, I trust you are feeling well today?” Healer Lawrence asked.

In the back of my head I felt a vague sensation – like there was something I needed to talk to him about. I pushed it aside and answered “I feel great! Actually, I feel great enough to go home today?” I put a hopeful tone on the question.

He snorted and shook his head. “Sorry Rose, but Healers Chang and Cooper are in charge of that decision.” My face fell, but I figured it was worth a shot. “Actually Rose, Harry and I are here for a different reason. Have you given any thought to which specialty you’d like to choose?”

My heart sank. “Er… well, Healer Lawrence, I was going to ask you if I could have an extension on my decision. I haven’t found any one specialty that I want to focus on. They’re all so interesting to me.” I really didn’t want to have this conversation with Uncle Harry in the room. I didn’t want the head of the Healer trainee program to think that I was asking a favor because my Uncle was Harry Potter.

“Rose, considering the extenuating circumstances you’ve been under, I think an extension could be granted. You’re not the first witch in the Healer program to put her career on hold to have children. You have more than proved your abilities and will be welcomed back at any time.”

I was about to protest and explain that I wasn’t looking to put everything on hold indefinitely, I just wanted a few more weeks to decide. But before I could say anything, he continued. “However, I think you ought to listen to your uncle here, as he may have come up with a solution that suits all of us – especially you.”

It became clearer as to why Uncle Harry and Healer Lawrence were visiting me together. I felt extremely suspicious that I was being coerced (or at least double-teamed) by two people that I usually would never say ‘no’ to. I must’ve looked uneasy at Uncle Harry because he lightly chuckled.

“Don’t worry Rose. We aren’t going to make you do anything that you don’t agree to, alright? I just came up with an idea that I thought would solve your problem of not being able to decide what specialty you’d like to pursue and my problem with security for our top priority case at the moment. – Yes, that is you.”

I raised my eyebrows and folded my arms across my chest. It sounded exactly like I was about to be coerced into a ‘plan’ that I didn’t like. Uncle Harry pulled up a chair next to mine and said to Healer Lawrence, “Can you give us a minute, Aphis?” Ugh. My stomach began to flutter in anticipation.

After Healer Lawrence left, Uncle Harry turned to me and smiled, but his voice took on a serious tone and he dove right in, “Look Rose, there are some facts that we can’t deny right now and we have to be realistic about the gravity of this situation. However, I meant what I said; I won’t make you do anything you don’t agree to.”

I had no choice but to nod. Uncle Harry had never steered me wrong before. And as much as I didn’t want to admit it, there were certain things that I was going to have to come to terms with in the very near future.

He continued, with his voice very measured and slow, to maintain his control. “The main problem we have right now is that it’s clear that Stannous is still pursuing you. While news of your pregnancy and engagement are public knowledge, he’s still determined to find you and… do Merlin knows what. We can’t be sure if he’s after you - or the baby at this point.” His voice got very quiet at the end. It took him a moment to continue and he had to take a deep breath and clear his throat.

“The other problem is that St. Mungo’s is not a secure facility. And while we can put up certain protections while you’re a patient, it’s not fair to you or the hospital for us to bring down the big guns of ministry protection on a daily basis. They won’t be able to give the patients the proper treatment they need or proceed with the speed that they must work.”

I could see where he was going with this. I wouldn’t be allowed to finish my training or become a full blown Healer. He was right and I could protest all I wanted but the facts stood as they were. I wasn’t safe here and, by extension, I was putting my colleagues and any patients at risk just by working here. My heart felt so heavy. Being a healer was all I’d wanted since my fourth year.

Until Stannous was found and captured – Merlin only knows when that will happen – I was going to have to put everything on hold. Visions of me being cooped up in my grey, dingy room at Number Twelve for the rest of my days clouded my mind. I hadn’t had a panic attack in a very long time, but I found myself trying not to fall into the tunnel vision and cold shudders. I closed my eyes and took a few steadying breaths.

“You’re right,” I said quietly. Uncle Harry knew I would never put anyone, especially not anyone innocent, in harm’s way.

“I’m not done yet, Rose,” Uncle Harry said. Great. There was worse news to come. I nodded and it took all my strength to look him in the eye.

“Everyone knows the safest place in the world is Hogwarts,” he continued, very seriously as my heart and thoughts were sinking. “Perhaps Gringotts could rival them in security… but neither one of those buildings has an immediate need for a healer, so… I started to think…” I’d absolutely no idea what he was on about. Hogwarts and Gringotts and Healers - he was talking rubbish.

“The Ministry is probably the next most secure place that we have. There are hundreds of security workers, not to mention the entire Auror department.”

First Hogwarts and Gringotts and then The Ministry? Did he want me to become an Auror? I was a Healer. I couldn’t even fight very well.

“Uncle Harry, I don’t think that is a very good idea. Being an Auror isn’t for me. I’m really bad in a fight – I always freeze up.” I’d been trying to avoid thinking about how useless I’d been the night before with all the Death Eaters. Scorpius had to do all the work.

“Yes, Rose,” Uncle Harry began what sounded like a giggle and ended as several rough coughs. He turned his head away from me for a moment and cleared his throat a bit more before he continued, “I know you get nervous in a wandpoint situation. However, you’re absolutely fantastic after a fight.” At that point, he looked very serious and bore his eyes into mine.

“After a fight? But there isn’t any fighting to be done after a fight…” I countered.

“Nooo…” he said slowly, as if he expected me to catch on to his meaning. I cocked my head towards him, to let him know I was at least trying to follow his line of thought. He added, “… but there is plenty of healing that needs to be done after a fight.”

Healing? Oh. Oh! “OH!” I yelped. “You want me to help heal the Aurors at the Ministry?”

“I want you to do more than that. I want you to set up a department specifically for healing the Aurors. You said it yourself – we can be a bunch of stubborn morons when it comes to getting treatment. But at the same time, all the Aurors trust you. You are quick on your feet and you know how to triage and you have extensive knowledge of the best and latest countercurses.”

He went on, “I also would like you to maintain medical records and conduct regular checkups with each Auror in the department. Auror work can be very stressful and I think that if we have one healer who works for the entire department and knows the medical history of each individual, we’ll be giving the department members the best treatment available. You can make recommendations if anyone needs to be referred to a specialist. Take some time to think about it. And I want you to know that I’m not offering you this position as my niece, but rather as someone who has proved themselves as a remarkable Healer to the department by gaining the trust and appreciation from your abilities.”

My mind was swirling. If I took this position, no doubt, the Prophet would sway it as a ‘gift to Harry Potter’s godchild,’ but I couldn’t think of it that way. I’d be able to see Al, Dom, Teddy and Scorpius on a regular basis. I’d be able to do daily Healer activities. And work on emergency care, poisonous cases and the countercurse department. This was really a job that had all of my passions, rolled into one.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea, Uncle Harry!” I smiled for the first time in forever. “I don’t need any time to think about it. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I can do Healer work with all of my favorite specialties - which is really all of them.”

“You are your mother’s daughter,” he beamed back at me. “Did I ever tell you that in our third year, she couldn’t decide what classes to pick at Hogwarts so she just signed up for all of them? You’re the same way – you couldn’t find one specialty, so now you can practice them all! From regular check-ups to battle wounds to trick knees – the whole lot!”

The more I thought about this, the better it sounded.

“It’s settled, then,” Uncle Harry concluded, a great big smile on his face. “You will officially report to Healer Lawrence for confidentiality purposes. But for now, can you please give me your wand?”

I handed it to him. He placed it on the counter and began an incantation with his own wand twirling up and down it. It glowed bright white and then red and finally blue sparks shot out the end of it.

“There,” he said, handing it back to me. “You’re now connected to the Auror chain. If an Auror sends out a summons with aurelius adveho, your wand will receive the call. You are NOT to respond,” he stared down at me through his glasses from his position standing above me. His eyes seemed to pierce me with his seriousness. “I only connected you so that you will know that Aurors are fighting and you can get ready.” I nodded.

“The second command is an ‘all clear.’ You’ll see blue sparks come out of the tip of your wand. That means that it’s safe for you to apparate to us and we’re in need your assistance for any injuries. We’ll do this on a trial basis for now – until you can no longer apparate during your pregnancy.” I continued to nod my understanding to him. He was very serious and official. However, I appreciated that he viewed me as a professional and it made the job offer seem even more formal. Although apparating wasn’t my favorite method of transportation, the opportunity to act as Healer to the Auror Department made it all worth it.

“There’d have to be some stipulations set before I would start,” I stated to Uncle Harry.

“I would expect nothing less of you, Rose,” he replied, a smile pulling at the corners of his mouth.

“First off,” I countered, “I need your complete support. If I decide based on my professional judgement, that an Auror has a condition or an injury that requires more care than I can provide, they’d have to be seen at hospital – NO questions asked.”

“Rose, I think that you’ve proved yourself well enough to the department. However, if it came down to it, I’m willing to back you in your professional judgment. I really want this program to work,” he commented.

“That goes for you too, Uncle Harry,” I tried my best to give him the same piercing stare that he’d used on me just moments before. “If your department sees that you’re willing to respect my judgment, then they’ll follow suit. Besides I’ve seen some of the injuries you and dad have come back with -”

He opened his mouth to comment, but I cut him off. “Look, I know that you lot are tougher than most. And I’m not set to use the same criteria on the Auror Department that I would on a civilian for hospitalization, but at the same time, I’m not about to put lives in danger, yeah?”

We settled on an agreement that if he wanted to question my judgement, he’d do it in private and we would make a decision together. Dealing with an Auror department that was primarily made up of impulsive Gryffindors, I had to play my cards just right.

Uncle Harry stayed for lunch – and a little bit after as well. We talked about some of the specifics of the program. He’d already cleared it with Healer Lawrence that I could start as soon as I was deemed healthy enough by my healers. I was permitted to finish my last case for the Medical Records Seminar on my own. We talked and discussed the details until Scorpius showed up and Uncle Harry excused himself. On the way out, they shook hands and Uncle Harry congratulated him – I thought that was a little odd, but I was so excited to tell Scorpius about my new job that I pushed it aside.

He nodded as I excitedly told him about the new department that I was heading up, a smile spreading across his lips. Finally, I noticed that he was beaming with a silly grin on his face. He was on the edge of his seat and it took me a few moments to realize that he had his own news to tell me.

“What is it?” I asked, apologizing for monopolizing the conversation.

“The senior Aurors decided that the fighting I did last night can count for my S.N.A.K.E.s practical!” he gushed. “They said it was more than they would’ve even come up with for the test, so I don’t have to take it! I only need to pass the written part now!”

“Scorp, that’s fantastic!” I threw my arms around him. “We need to celebrate.”

“Not yet,” his tone was serious. “I want to wait until we’re both done and starting our apprenticeships. We can celebrate when Auror assignments are handed out and after I’ve finished my written exam.”

Al and Dom must’ve heard my squeals because they came in to see what was going on. We told both of them our great news.

“Merlin, I’m jealous,” Al said. “I’d really like to have my S.N.A.K.E. practical out of the way.”

“Rosie, I’m so glad you’ll be our Healer!” Dom said, giving me a hug. “Actually, you’ve pretty much been our Healer all year – and for me and Al, basically since we were fifteen!”

She was right. Given the sheer number of scrapes the Weasley-Potter clan managed to get themselves into on a daily basis, someone had to act as Healer for the group. For our Hogwarts years, as soon and I got the hang of basic spells, I was their primary source for fixing broken bones, misplaced spells and other magical mishaps. It saved Madame Pomfrey quite a bit of time and energy.

We all sat and discussed the future – when they’d be full-blown Aurors and I’d be running the Ministry Department of Healing for the Aurors. For the first time in many months, I was excited about my future. Everything seemed to be lining up nicely. It was a remarkable day.


A/N: Whew! Everything turned out alright... for now. As always, thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed. Special thanks to Tonks1247 or Nyphie Tonks who has read and reviewed every chapter in the last few weeks. Gah! I'm so touched by all of you who are so kind as to leave me a review. Thanks, guys!

♥ Beth


Chapter 37: Bumps: Scorpius AND Rose POV
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Rose was released the next day. Everyone was excited for her to come home so I had no problem rallying the troops to carry out my newest plan. Actually, it was mostly Dom’s and Selenia’s plan, but we worked out the specifics together. Rose was so eager to get home; I thought the she might ruin her own surprise.

“Don’t you want to take a shower, Ro?” I asked, standing between her and the closed door to our bedroom. I was hoping I could deter her a few moments more while the gang put the finishing touches on the surprise.

“Actually… yeah, I do. While I love being a Healer, being a patient was rather horrid.” She reached around me for the doorknob. “I’ll just grab a change of clothes-” She stopped short as a bang sounded from behind the door of our room.

I coughed loudly and stomped my foot to try and cover the sound.

“No! Er… I mean, let me get them. You head on in to the bathroom.” I added in a few more coughs to sell it, turning her around so her back was to the door, hoping my voice didn’t give away my eagerness.

“All right…” she eyed me warily.

I tried to hide my enthusiasm by shooting her an innocent grin. But my eyes bugged out as I saw purple sparks shoot out from underneath the door. Rose narrowed her eyes at me. Before she could turn her head and see anything, I distracted her with a deep kiss and an “I’m so happy you’re back.” It worked and I felt her fall into my arms. I pulled her in closer as we continued to kiss and our bodies melted together. Merlin, I missed her. She let out a small sort of whimper that was pleasure laced with desperation and I knew we had to stop before either of us got too carried away.

“You head on in to the bath. I’ll be right back,” I whispered into her soft hair and before I could be sidetracked by her soft skin and lavender scent, I brushed the side of her face with my fingertips and turned toward her room as she headed for the bathroom.

I found Dom, Selenia, Albus, and James hard at work. Dom was giving orders to the blokes, who were trying their best to keep up with her demands and Selenia was putting her own finishing touches on things.

“You lot nearly blew the surprise,” I said as I rummaged through Rose’s clothes to find a comfortable looking outfit that wasn’t pyjamas. I told them they had a few minutes more as I’d convinced Rose to take a shower. Dom starting shouting louder, as if that would make Al and James move faster. I escaped just barely before she could give me a list of things to do, shaking the fistful of clothes at her to indicate that I was already set on a task.

I entered the bathroom to hear the steady stream of the water at full blast, but Rose was not standing underneath it. Instead, she was poised with her back to me, eyeing herself sideways in the mirror. I eased the door shut with my fingertips and walked up behind her to look with her. I smiled as my reflection appeared over her shoulder in the long mirror, steam from the hot water billowing up around our heads. Her eyes met mine and twinkled back at me in the mirror. My eyes followed hers as they travelled downward toward her belly. She had slid her skirt down a bit and lifted up her shirt to reveal the small bump.

My breath caught. She hadn’t had a bump at all a few weeks before…

I felt my heart plummet into my stomach. I’d missed it. I was so wrapped up in my own pathetic mess that I’d missed out on watching our baby grow. I swiveled around to her front and kneeled down on my knees in front of Rose, my head was level with her swelling abdomen. Carefully, I put my hands on either side, to feel the new growth.

“Wow,” I whispered as I looked up and found her eyes, adoring me. “Can the baby hear me yet?” I asked.

She nodded, “Any day now, but that never stopped you before.” Her face was holding in a laugh and she placed her hands on top of mine, her look softening. “It’s kind of amazing, huh?”

“It’s absolutely brilliant.” I couldn’t move my gaze from the little bump. “Hi, baby. It’s your Dad here. I’ve missed you and your Mum terribly and I’m very sorry for being a complete arse-”

“Scorpius! You will NOT use that language in front of our child!” Rose admonished, horrified.

“Sorry, love.” But I couldn’t stop smiling.

“And-” she continued, “you are not to apologize anymore. I know you had a lot to work out. Plus, you saved my life – both our lives,” she patted the bump, “ - twice. If you insist on keeping track of these things, we’ll just call it even.”

I nodded and kissed her belly softly. “I love you,” I whispered to my unborn child. I wanted him to hear those words from me as much as possible.

I hoisted myself to a standing position and helped Rose undress the rest of the way. She looked so graceful and beautiful, stepping into the shower. As I turned to head out of the bathroom, she stuck her head out and said sharply, “Aren’t you joining me, Malfoy? We have some lost time to make up!”

My heart leapt. “All right, but just a quick shower. We all have a surprise for you when you’re done.”

“What?” she was genuinely shocked, as I knew she would be. Rose never expected anything from anyone and was always so appreciative. We shared a few gentle kisses and I couldn’t get enough of rubbing her tiny belly, enjoying our first few moments of peace in a long, long while.

*

After I was able to scrub the hospital grime off of me, Scorpius and I dressed and I told him that I wanted to run to our room and make sure that my clothes were in order. Scorpius followed behind me.

My body tensed as I heard whispers in the room and I reached for my wand and braced Scorpius’s hand. He pushed the door open the rest of the way and I reflexively poised for attack.

“Whoa! The fuck you say, Rosie!” James was standing next to Al and he held his arms up in a surrender stance.

“Rose, it’s all right,” Scorpius stepped through the door and caught my eyes with a gentle hand on the side of my face, nervous that I might attack. I can’t say that it wasn’t completely out of the realm of possibility, given the events of the past few days, but I didn’t even see him. My eyes were pulled away by the surroundings. I was most definitely not standing in our old, worn-out room.

“What the…” I began. “Where’s our room?”

“Surprise!” Dom and Selenia stepped out of a door at the far end of the room that hadn’t been there before. I cocked my head in confusion, but was so taken aback by the new look of the space that I didn’t have a moment to consider it. Everything looked completely different. The dirty, dingy, gray walls and floorboards were gone and replaced by a deep, rich, hardwood floor and beautiful cream colored walls. The trim was painted a bright white. Our bed was on the far right side of the room, tucked into a cozy corner and had two whitewashed night tables on either side. It was now a beautiful wrought iron head and footboard and the bedding was a white cotton coverlet with a bright green throw.

What struck me the most was how much bigger the room was. There was a desk that matched the night tables on the front wall, just underneath one of the sunny windows that looked onto Grimmauld Place proper. It had several drawers and was neither too small nor too big. My laptop sat atop of it, ready to use.

On the opposite wall, there were two wardrobes that matched each other in style, but one was whitewashed in the same color as the nightstand and the other was a much darker shade of mahogany.

Before I was finally able to take all of this in, I was drawn to the other side of the large room. There was another desk that was bigger than the first, made out of dark mahogany to match the wardrobe. It sat on the far side of what could be considered a sitting area, complete with a loveseat, two comfy, overstuffed chairs and an ornate Persian rug. The desk sat in a darker corner of the room, but it had its own lamp for light.

“Wow! You guys did an amazing job! I couldn’t have even imagined anything this bloody fantastic!” Scorpius was stunned. He turned to me. “We all wanted to surprise you. Because of the attacks, we’re not going to be able to get our own place. At least, not until Stannous is captured. I knew you wanted to get a flat or house of our own, so we started to brainstorm as to how we could make our room more homey.”

“You can change anything you want, Rose,” Selenia piped up from the other side of the room. She was leaning against the door frame of the new door at the far end.

I nodded but didn’t say anything. I was embarrassed that a few tears were starting to form. I had the best friends and family, ever. Scorpius was walked next to me, as I entered the sitting area and gazed at the warm, welcoming furnishings. I reached up to hug him. “This was your idea, wasn’t it?” I whispered shakily into his ear.

“The concept was mine,” he admitted. “But most of the design was the girls,” he nodded to Dom and Selenia. “and the bulk of the magic were James and Al.”

“I love it! Thank you so much, all of you. But… how did you make it look so much bigger? Is it an extension charm?”

“Nope,” Scorpius smirked. “Dom moved upstairs – to my old room. We just moved that wall back to accommodate the sitting area and the wardrobes. And I moved all my things down here... where I belong,” he said quietly, pointing to the mahogany wardrobe. The lighter one was obviously mine.

“And…” Selenia paused, gesturing grandly through the doorway that she was still standing by. I took her cue and walked across our new, enormous room, the others following me. I figured that the doorway led to a closet or dressing room of some sort, but I was wrong.

The tiny room was perfect. It had bright, white wainscoting that ran about three quarters-way up the walls. Above that, the walls were painted a bright, spring green color. There was a beautiful mahogany rocker in the corner, just next to a window, but that was the only furniture in the room. The wood floor had a multi-colored braided rug.

“We didn’t put up a cot or a chest of drawers for the baby because we thought you’d like to pick them out yourself.” Dom explained.

I was speechless. It was a perfect sized room for the baby. I loved that he would have his own room, but still could be close to Scorp and me. There was another door that led to the hallway, so visitors wouldn’t have to go through our room to see the baby.

“We didn’t want to do everything. You can change the color – or anything else if you don’t like it.” I thought I’d heard Selenia say.

I couldn’t take my eyes off the rocker. I could just imagine myself, sitting in that chair, in this cozy little room, rocking my baby to sleep. For the first time, it felt like this baby was real. It was really going to arrive, after a few short months. And live in this room. With me for a Mum and Scorpius for a Dad.

I slowly turned and took in the remainder of the room. There was one framed photo on the wall just above the rocker and, as I looked more closely at it, I realized it was the baby’s first scan parchment.

“Er… we know that you probably wanted to do some of this stuff yourself…” James trailed off.

I looked out the window. It had a wonderful view of the garden, unlike the other room that looked out onto the street. I thought of planting a few flowers in the garden, so the baby would have something colorful to see.

I turned to look at the lot of them. Tears were now streaming down my face. I was shocked to see panic and confusion on their faces – all but Scorpius – he was positively beaming. Realizing that I hadn’t said a word in several minutes, and that they probably thought I was either really upset or completely mental, I opened my mouth, “It’s wholly, completely the most wonderful thing that anyone has ever done for me. I can’t begin to…” I was sobbing now, so I just flung my arms around the closest person, which was Al.

I hugged everyone in turn and thanked them all from the bottom of my heart. I think they were all completely relieved that I wasn’t angry. Selenia even started crying and whispered in my ear, “You have no idea how excited Al and I are for this little one.”

I grabbed both her hands, but could only smile at her. Our baby was already so loved by everyone; I could not imagine it coming home to a more perfect home… or family.

“Thanks, everyone,” Scorpius said. “It’s absolutely brilliant.”

“Let’s give the happy couple a few moments to get reacquainted, yeah?” James raised his eyebrows a few times. I couldn’t help but roll my own and land a playful swat on his shoulder.

As they all filed out of the baby’s room through the door that led to the hallway, I grabbed a few tissues to wipe my wet face. Scorpius and I both thanked each of them profusely and then he closed the door behind him.

Suddenly we were alone in our new home. I was trying to compose myself from all the emotion. I never, ever expected anything like this.

“I’m glad you like it,” Scorpius said, turning towards me and smoothing the side of my face. His fingers traced my jawline and tickled down my neck to my collarbone, sending jolts down to my core.

“I love it,” I hoisted up to my tiptoes. My mouth moved against his lips that were just barely touching mine. The gentle contact was driving me crazy. I’d forgotten how soft his lips were. “It feels like a home should. Beautiful and warm and safe.”

“Mm-hmm,” he agreed with another kiss, this one much firmer.

“Mmmm,” I said back, finally feeling him press against me after so long. My body was aching for his touch.

As if he knew what I was thinking, his arms reached around me and lifted me up, off the ground. My hands snaked around his neck and pulled our mouths together. Even a few seconds apart seemed unbearable after so much time apart.

“Mmm,” I moaned again, as he carried me out of the baby’s room and into our sitting area. We crossed to our new bed, where he laid me down and continued our kiss. One of his hands was caressing my neck and the other one brushing my hip. He lowered himself next to me.

I let out another whimper as one of my hands trailed down his chest until it reached his trousers. I pulled at his shirt until it came loose and I could grope his muscled chest under the fabric. Our swollen lips finally broke and I sucked in some much needed oxygen.

“Scorpius…” I began, but lost all thought as he unbuttoned and removed his shirt. “Oh…” was all I could manage as his lips pressed against mine again, my hands exploring his arms and chest. Our actions were slow, deliberate. We both wanted to remember everything we had missed about each other. Breaths came in slowly and deeply as we savored every part of each other.

He pulled away for a moment and looked down at me, smiling.

Next moment, he sat bolt upright on his knees and covered his head with this hands. “Merlin, Rose!” he exclaimed. “You just got out of hospital. We can’t be doing this! I am a complete prat.”

“Oh, no you don’t. No way.” I raised myself up on my knees to be level with him. “I have been cleared by my healers for ‘all activities’ – apart from skydiving and fighting dark wizards – and I fully plan to partake in such activities,” I said coyly as I pressed my lips firmly to his jaw and moaned into him again. All of the nerves in my body were shooting off at once. My hands braced his shoulders so he couldn’t pull away.

“Scorpius, it has been almost a month, do you realize that?” I said right before I traced his collarbone with my finger. My mouth found its way up to his neck and my lips spent a little bit of time pulling at his soft skin, savoring the sweet taste and making sounds of pleasure that were being pulled out of me.

I paused for a moment to trace my finger down the healing scar of his left arm, remembering how he threw himself in between me and the death eaters and threw spell after spell at them mixed with deflections and the protective bubble he put around me.

“You saved me,” I said to him for the second time that day.

“I don’t really see it that way, love,” he replied. “From where I sit, you saved me. But maybe we can both be content with the fact that we needed each other to be saved.”

I could only nod, as I gripped his strong arms lost myself within them.

*

I spent the next two weeks setting up my practice at the Ministry. Uncle Harry was amazingly supportive. My office adjoined to a proper examination room, equipped with all the basics I’d need to heal my patients. It was situated on the third floor, right next to the Auror training center. Uncle Harry and I’d chosen that location so the trainees could stop by quickly at the end of each day.

Establishing a relationship with the junior and senior Aurors had been a bit more difficult. I’d attended several meetings and Uncle Harry introduced me and explained the new position. He’d even made a point of setting up his own check up and announcing it to everyone. So did Dad and Teddy, although we’d come to an agreement that if they felt uncomfortable with anything, I’d refer them to a general Healer at St. Mungo’s. The weirdest patient, by far, was Dad. I think he still sees me as a little kid. I knew he loved me and all that, but we never were really on the same page about most stuff.

By the end of my second week, I still hadn’t been summoned to respond to any emergency situations. All the Aurors knew that my wand was connected to their communication network, and Dad was the only one who vocalized an objection to it. Uncle Harry explained that I was only to come when the ‘all clear’ blue sparks had been set off, but the red summoning sparks were to let me know that they were responding and I should get ready. Once the situation was secure, Uncle Harry said it would be more than safe for me to apparate to wherever they were and start my triage. I always had the invisibility cloak with me, so that was an added safety measure.

All the same, everything was still on a trial basis and I knew it was up to me to make this new position work. It fell on my shoulders to prove to the entire Auror department, the Ministry at large and St. Mungo’s that my position was worthwhile.

I took the afternoon off one rainy day in mid June to get a few things done. I needed to clean out my locker at St. Mungo’s and, more important, I needed to finally get to work on my last medical records case. Because I’d been so busy working on setting up the Healer practice, I’d not even looked at it. Healer Lawrence had given me until the end of the summer to complete it.

It was moving up day at the Auror department and my healing services were not likely to be needed. Each year-group would be officially moved to the next year. For Scorpius, Al and Dom, it meant that S.N.A.K.E. scores would be handed out and they would be made full-fledged Aurors. First years would move to second and so on. Next week, the new crop of first years would start and the cycle would repeat.

The same thing was going on at St. Mungo’s, but there was much less fanfare about us being made full Healers. Most of the third years had already started their apprenticeships, so there wasn’t a huge announcement or anything.

*

“Rose! Hi!” Selenia gave me a quick hug. “What’re you doing here? I thought you’d be all set up and ready to go at the Ministry!” Selenia had a bright smile on her face, as usual.

“I need to clean out my locker in the staff room,” I explained. “I’m sure some poor, unfortunate first year’ll be needing it.” I grinned, thankful that my three years of studying were done and feeling light at the idea that I was now able to put to practice all the things I’d learned.


“Oh, yeah,” she said, “I’ll come with and clear out mine as well. I’m just about to head over to Diagon Alley. I want to pick some new Auror Robes for Al. I thought it would be a good ‘congratulations for making junior auror’ gift. He’s so excited to find out whom he’ll be paired with.”

We entered the staff room and began accio’ing out three years worth of papers, wrappers and clothing. After a few thorough scourgify’s the bulk of the work was done. Selenia peered out the thin window on the opposite wall. “Damn! It’s still raining out. Oh well, a little rainwater never hurt anyone.”

“Here!” I said, as I tossed her my blue traveling cloak that I’d just removed from my locker. “Take this. It’s got an impervious charm on it that works great!”

“I couldn’t take that!” Selenia held up her hand in refusal, “I don’t need my godson getting sick before he’s even born. I don’t need to take your coat!”

I giggled and rubbed my ever-growing belly. It had long been decided that Al and Selenia would be godparents to the little wizard.

“No worries!” I smiled, patting my middle. “We’re alright with it, baby Albus and I that is…”

“You are not seriously going to name the baby Albus?” she looked shocked. I tossed my head back and giggled at the memory of Selenia and I staying up late in our Ravenclaw dorm commenting on the more bizarre names of the wizarding world. I’d often wondered how I got off so easy. We’d both decided that we would be giving our children more modern sounding names. So I braced myself for what I was about to tell her.

I laughed “Ha! No, we’re not naming him Albus. But I don’t know if I’ll be able to completely escape a constellation name for this little one. Scorp is sort of insisting on it. It’s a really significant part of his family history.”

She nodded, understanding how important it was to Scorpius to feel a connection with his family when he couldn’t share any of the excitement with them, “What are the names you’re considering?”

“Well,” I began slowly, wincing at what she might think of our choices. “We’re still adding to the list, but right now we’ve got Octans, Phoenix, and Grus.”

“Grus is on the table? Seriously?”

I cleared my throat. “Yeah… It’s not really on my table - but I’ve got to let him at least put a few names on the list so that I can get some of my names on there too.”

“I kinda like Phoenix,” she commented. “It sounds - daring.”

“Yeah, if we’ve got to use a constellation name, Phoenix would be pretty cool. But seriously. Little Phoenix or Octans or Corvus…” she raised her eyebrows, “or Lynx,” I got an approving nod at that one as I continued, “Both of us want you to have the cloak. I’m apparating directly back to Number Twelve. And it’s raining buckets outside. Meet you two later on?”

“Sounds fabulous,” she smiled. “And thank you from the bottom of my heart for this cloak. It’s a lifesaver.”

Left with very little to do, I apparated again to Number Twelve, taking a moment to recover from the dizziness. Our fireplace was connected to a very restricted floo network that included my parents house, Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny’s, and Uncle Harry’s office at the Ministry. So, if I wanted to use the floo to get home from St. Mungo’s I would have to first floo to the ministry atrium then take the lift up three flights to the auror department and use Uncle Harry’s office to get to Number Twelve. It was much easier to just apparate home. But I knew in another seven weeks, I’d be in my third trimester and my only choice would be floo or muggle transportation - with an Auror guard, of course.

The frenzied activity of the past two weeks finally catching up with me, I flopped down on the bed for a much needed rest. I fell asleep quickly, knowing that there would be much celebration that night with three newly appointed Aurors in the house.

I was awoken by a strange wooshing sound coming from my nightstand. I groggily looked around and realised instantly that it was my wand, vibrating and ejecting red sparks from the tip. I grabbed it with trembling hands at the realization of what this meant.

My first response.

For a few moments, I waited with bated breath, trying to wake up and process the situation at the same time. It could’ve been just a trial run - if Uncle Harry’d been demonstrating the spell for the newly adopted second years, that would’ve made sense. They didn’t let first year Auror trainees respond to cases and it was sort of a badge of honor to be able to have your wand connected, so I told myself it was probably just that - newbies trying out their new power. But after a few moments the green sparks that indicated a training spell instead of an actual call to arms didn’t come and I gripped my wand tighter and tighter.

No green sparks. I had to get ready.

I immediately flew into preparation mode. Using Mum’s beaded bag as an outer vessel, I loaded up the brand new Healer bag that I’d prepared specifically for this job. It contained several potions and salves that were typically required for healing spells caused by wand injury, and some more complicated potions that were antidotes to dark magic. I’d packed several of my books, but also, I’d made my own cheat sheet for quick reference to common spells that were seen in a battle or scuffle. I didn’t want to have to rifle through a clunky textbook to find anything that I’d need in a hurry. Double and triple checking that I had everything, including the invisibility cloak, all I had left to do was sit and wait.

The minutes ticked by so slowly. Every creak from the old house made me jump because I thought my wand was going off. I set to giving myself simple tasks to just keep busy. I re-made the bed, organized my desk, watered the flowers, fluffed the pillows. It was nerve wracking and even though I knew it didn’t matter, I wouldn’t allow myself to use my wand for any of it in case I missed the call.

When the blue “all-clear” sparks streamed out of my wand tip, my fist clenched around it and I stood straight up from the pillow I was fluffing and it plopped to the floor. It was time. I held my wand firmly in my hand and focused on feeling the vibrations in the piece of wood, like Uncle Harry taught me. It required a different type of concentration than regular apparation, as you had to focus on the wand and where it wanted to take you. I concentrated and turned on the spot.

*

My feet pressed firmly onto hard, solid ground. Pavement, not soil. A jolt zinged up from my ankles to my knees as my legs absorbed the shock from landing a little too firmly. The shiny blackness of the wet ground told me that I was likely still in London, although the rain had abated somewhat from the incessant pounding from earlier in the day. I squeezed my eyes shut, as I held my head and leaned over a little bit - as much as my burgeoning belly would allow, to recover from the disorienting feeling that always left me a bit nauseous. The smell of damp earth and pavement was settling. After a few deep breaths, I was able to stand up slowly and survey my surroundings.

Instantly, I began cataloging the scene. My brain worked without direction, trying to ascertain what exactly was going on and what I needed to do first.

It was utter chaos. Several Aurors were about twenty yards in front of me, facing away. They were spaced out at regular intervals, keeping the large crowd of civilians apart from whatever was happening. Just over the heads of the crowd, I saw a shop sign. Madam Malkins. Alright, my body settled more as I was getting my bearings. I was in Diagon Alley. There were multiple shouts coming from every direction. Some were orders, some were cries for help. Beneath all of the ruckus, I heard distinct whimpering noises coming from somewhere to my right.

I slowly rotated my head across the field of chaos, but my eyes flicked wildly from spot to spot. There was a man lying supine at one o’clock in my field of vision. Several Aurors were hovered over him and his legs were curling up as he writhed in pain. My first instinct was to run to him and begin assessing the patient, but a second victim caught my eye, this one was closer to me. It was an older woman in lavender colored robes and she too, had several Aurors huddled around her. My eyes flicked around to take in the entire scene.

There were several bodies lying in various positions, not moving. I quickly tried to count them in my head - four… maybe five.

Two more people were sat up and leaning on each other. They looked to be two wizards, perhaps a bit younger than I was, not more than eighteen years old. Only one Auror was attending to them, so I deduced that those two were in pretty decent shape and I continued looking around.

My eyes landed on the source of the whimpering sounds, now growing into outright wails. I couldn’t exactly figure out what was going on. Uncle Harry, unmistakable in his gold trimmed Head Auror robes, was struggling almost violently with someone in trainee robes. The trainee tried to shrug Harry off, finally succeeded and threw themselves down onto the ground, grasping for something.

Three or four other Aurors stood around them, watching with an eerie stillness and pained looks on their faces. It didn’t make sense. I took a few steps toward them and saw Uncle Harry kneel down next to the trainee with messy black hair who’d thrown himself down. It was Albus, half kneeling, half lying sprawled out on the ground.

Not sprawled out on the ground. Sprawled out across a body.

A body wearing a periwinkle traveling cloak.



A/N: Ummm... I'm sorry? Don't hate me. I feel really, really bad about this. I'm really, really excited for this next part of the story and I'd love to know what you think about it so far. Thank so to everyone who's left a review and I've even gotten a couple of Dobby nominations for this Eeep! Thanks so much! ♥ Beth

Chapter 38: Brutal Agony: Rose POV
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“Rose!”


My eyes and body were frozen, I wasn’t even breathing.


“Rose!”


My vision tunneled to the two bodies on the ground, Albus covered over Selenia.


“ROSE!” A gruff, panicked voice was coming nearer, but I couldn’t see anything but my two friends about fifteen meters in front of me. Al let out a tortured wail that sounded half human, his head buried into her shoulder. My legs worked to take a few steps forward. Slowly at first, and then my pace quickened. I had to get to them. There was no way what I was seeing was real. No. Way.


ROSE!” the voice growled and I was violently grabbed around my upper arms. I pushed forward, needing to get to Albus and Selenia, but the hands were stronger and I was shoved backwards. My feet nearly tripped over themselves as I stumbled, being moved by this incredible force.


Away.


Away from where I needed to go. I struggled through the powerful grip. It was imperative I get to them. I had to check on Selenia. But I was still being pushed backwards.


My entire body collided with solid wall behind me. It pressed into my back, but I continued to thrust forward, even as I felt the jolt shudder through my body. Al was sobbing uncontrollably. My limbs were compelled to drive through the force. I had to start healing her. I began to fight back with my arms, flailing and twisting to break free from the vice grip. A familiar flash of orange made me pause, for only a moment, and I started pushing even harder.


“Rosie. ROS-IE.” My father’s face appeared right in front of mine. My eyes raised upwards to meet his long nose and fierce blue eyes.


“D-Dad?” My arms and legs stopped pushing, but every muscle in my body was tensed, ready to spring. I gripped onto the beaded bag with my Healer supplies in it for dear life.


In the brief moment that I stopped fighting back, Dad relaxed his grip on my arms, but he still held me firmly in place. He turned his head around and bellowed, “WHO GAVE THE ALL CLEAR?! I WANT TO KNOW WHO EFFING SENT THE ALL CLEAR?!”


A few of the nearby Aurors glanced around toward us, but no one answered. I peered around his head, still confused by the scene and tried to keep my focus on cataloging the onslaught of information and emotions my brain was receiving. Uncle Harry hadn’t moved from kneeling next to Albus, who was cradling Selenia’s limp body in his arms. Her torso raised up in his grasp, but her arms hung awkwardly, limply on the ground.


“No.” I said. “No, no, no. NO!” My eyes were frozen on the pair of them. I had to get there. I flung myself forward.


Dad turned back around and firmed up his grasp on my upper arms.


“Let me go! I have to go help! LET ME GO!”


“Rose, you can’t be here,” Dad growled, shaking me a bit as if I needed to see reason.


“No. I’m the Healer. I respond to cases. I’m the one who’s supposed to be triaging this… case… ” My voice sounded like someone else was talking. I had to get to Selenia.


“Rose,” a shadowy figure appeared by my side and spoke in a very soft voice. “Ro.” I felt a firm, smooth hand clutch my cheek. My head turned immediately at his warmth, and I was staring at Scorpius, heart pounding nearly out of my chest. Scorpius. Everything would be all right. But there was something wrong with his eyes. They were bright and wild.


“She needs to get the hell out of here!” Dad growled, looking around and analyzing the scene.


“She can’t,” Scorpius spoke to Dad, but didn’t take his eyes off me. “The anti-apparition’s already in place. It’s protocol.” I wanted to talk, but I couldn’t make any words come out.


“Rose,” Scorpius breathed, barely making a sound, but there was a touch of urgency in his voice, “do you have the cloak?” His thumb smoothed across my cheek and I felt his fingers gently grazing the side of my neck.


The cloak? I’d given the periwinkle cloak to Selenia.


“The invisibility cloak,” he answered my question before I could form the words. “You have to put the cloak on. Now.” His hand reached down and pulled the beaded bag from my grasp.


“Yeah, Rosie,” Dad echoed, voice still a thick growl. “Gotta put the cloak on.”


Scorpius leaned into the bag up to his armpit, felt around for a bit and drew out the shimmery fabric. Dad finally released my shoulders and the two of them draped the cloak around me. Just as Dad was about to lift the hood over my head, I reached up and stopped him, gripping the hem with tight fingers and turning to Scorpius.


“Scorp-?” I glanced over at Albus and Selenia. I was asking and not asking at the same time.


He brushed his fingers gently down my hairline, traced behind my ear and across my chin, shaking his head from side to side. A tear escaped from each of his silver eyes and splayed down his cheeks. “Stay under the cloak.” He sniffed and looked away as he stretched the fabric over my head.


Oh no no no no no.


“No. I need to check. I can heal her,” I pleaded.


Scorpius grabbed my hand under the cloak, but still looked away.


“Rosie, you have to say right here.” Dad wasn’t holding me back any more, but he stood right in front of me and crossed his arms, staring through me at the brick wall behind my back.


“Please, please. I need to. I need to see. I’m a Healer.” I was sobbing, but trying to keep my voice under control.


“Okay Rose,” Scorp answered. When Dad gave him a venomous look, he said to him. “You and I will stay just on either side of her, the whole time. Ya got that, Ro?” he looked right at me and I thought for a second that he might be able to see through the cloak. I nodded at first and then realized that I needed to give them a verbal answer.


“Uh-huh. I’ll stay with you.”


They separated and left a space for me to just barely squeeze between their shoulders. After a few feet, I found myself leaning into Scorp. With every step I was falling more and more into him. His arm lifted behind me, to place across my shoulders, but then he thought better of it. It would look as if his hand was resting on thin air. My eyes were trained on the couple on the ground. She wasn’t moving. Merlin, she wasn’t moving and Al was still clenched around her body.


As we approached, I recognized the two Aurors standing around the broken couple. Dom and Teddy. She was holding onto him as if she’d seen death.


She had.


Uncle Harry looked up at the two of them from his kneeling position and muttered some sort of order to both. Dom’s head jerked up. Color started flooding to her face and she nodded, pulling in a deep breath through her nose. She blinked a few times, turned away from Teddy and started off to check on another victim. Teddy turned in another direction and walked only a few steps away. He didn’t want to be too far from Al.


Uncle Harry continued patting Al’s back when we approached.


Dad knelt down next to Harry and whispered to him. I saw Uncle Harry nod when Dad asked about sending out an all clear signal. He lifted his head and scanned the scene, eyeing the Aurors who were maintaining the perimeter. “It’s secure, Ron. Rose can stay. This is the job we set for her to do.”


I moved to the other side of Al, so I could get closer. Scorpius stayed standing, wand tightly clasped in his hand and slightly raised. His eyes swept the area back and forth again and again.


Al was gripping Selenia so tightly, his hands were white. I pressed my fingers over his hands and squeezed with all the feeling and heartbreak and love that I had. At the same time, I leaned across and spoke into his ear.


“Albus, it’s Rosie,” my voice was weak. I cleared my throat. Stay strong, I repeated to myself. Stay strong for Albus. I pushed harder with my voice so the words sounded firmer.


“Love, just let me. C-can… can you l-let me see her?” Despite my attempts to keep my voice even, it broke a little at the end.


Al jerked his head up and twirled around, confused. “Rose?” he croaked.


“Under the invisibility cloak,” I explained. I gently pulled back on his shoulder until he’d released his vice-like grip on her and rocked onto his heels. Scorpius then lowered down next to Al and smoothed his shoulders. As if on cue, Dad stood and took on the role of sentry. These Aurors had their coverage down pat. Al’s face was swollen and tear stained and I took a moment before I dragged my eyes down to see my best friend.


Her eyes were open, unstaring and unthinking. My heart splintered. Selenia’d always had such bright, caring eyes.


Her sharp mind and bright eyes were both torn away from the being I was gazing upon. I fell completely apart and threw myself down onto her, taking the place Al had just vacated. Her unmoving body pressed up into mine. I held in my sobs the best I could, knowing that the four of them couldn’t see exactly what I was doing, but could still hear me.


I only let myself lose it for a few moments before using every bit of grit and strength I had to force myself to sit up and begin searching for her injuries.


Her face was unscathed and I couldn’t see any other damage at first. I couldn’t let myself look at her as her best friend. I had to keep my mind in Healer mode - a task that was proving nearly impossible. My eyes fell quickly to the rest of her, before I nearly lost it again. I searched the rumpled blue cloak and then I saw it. A single black mark torn through the traveling cloak. It was sharply defined and could’ve been mistaken for a black strip of trim, if it wasn’t stretched across the blue fabric at an odd angle. I carefully began to unbutton the cloak and paused briefly to glance around and make sure no one was looking this way. Uncle Harry was now standing on the other side of me and he and Dad both had their backs to us, providing a bit of cover. Albus was sobbing into Scorpius’s shoulder, who was cradling his best friend as he tried to hold back his own emotions. I forgot again that they couldn’t see me as I sent a sympathetic look at Scorp, who was staring over Al’s shoulder at Selenia’s lifeless body.


I turned back to my task and tried to keep my mind in Healer mode, not best-friend mode. I worked at unbuttoning the cloak first and then the blouse. The spell damage went right through the thin fabric of her shirt and I quickly peeked through to her chest, seeing the unmistakable mark of crucio flagrate. It was the same mark - almost exactly the same - that had been fresh on my skin nearly three years earlier, at the cabin with Stannous. I sat back in shock and horror, first staring at the wound digging through her tender flesh and slightly smoldering I turned to see if Scorpius saw the same thing I did.


He was still holding tight to Al, gripping the back of my cousin’s head, but his eyes were roving the wound in horror. It was nearly identical to mine, with one significant difference - I had survived. However, I didn’t have time to ponder that thought. I worked quickly then, covering her back up before anyone else could see her exposed. I tipped my head up and searched the row of buildings in front of me until I found the white tower poking above all the others. I squinted to read the crooked hands.


“Time of death: six thirty-three pm,” I said in a voice as loud and I could muster, noting the time on Gringotts enormous clock.


“What?” Al turned his head for a moment and looked around. “No! No, Rosie No!” Scorpius grabbed the back of his head and pressed it against his shoulder as Al deflated in agony.


“I’m so sorry Albus. So, so, so, so sorry,” I was choking out the words and trying to breathe at the same time. I turned my body and fell into him, pressing into his back and resting my cheek on his shoulder. My arms squeezed all the way around him and held onto Scorpius on his other side. Scorp and I were wrapping him in our love and comfort and our own hurt. We held each other and Al as if we were holding on to our last bit of sanity, to express our own grief and to just grasp onto anything solid. For several long minutes, the anguish and emptiness flowed through the three of us.


The only thing that existed was each other.


“Ahem, Rose…” Uncle Harry began searching around and I realized that he had no idea where I was when I wasn’t at least talking every few minutes.


“Yes.. erm…” I leaned back and wiped my eyes to ground myself. I had a job to do. I stood up shakily, patting Uncle Harry’s arm. “She need to be van- er.. m-mmoved to St. Mungo’s.” My voice cracked. “Can someone p-please… take care of that?”


“Alright then. Yes Rose.” Uncle Harry answered, nodding and grasping onto my arm that had reached out to him.


I felt my mind clearing a little bit as soon as I wasn’t looking at her anymore. I couldn’t let myself look. I was there to do a job.


“Can you take me to the next v-victim?” I asked Uncle Harry quietly. More pain pulsed through my damaged heart as I realized that I’d just referred to Selenia as a victim.


Uncle Harry put out his arm and directed Teddy to walk on my other side with me to the man who’d been writhing around that I’d seen earlier. We passed by three other people who were being guarded by Aurors. I was about to question why we were passing by so many others when I realized it was too late for any of them. They were taking me to the place where I could do the most good.


One sob passed through my lips and I cupped my mouth to hold in the rest. I’d signed up for this; good and bad, joy and horror. I was the only Healer here on duty. It was my job to heal, or determine who needed more care at St. Mungo’s.


Or call time of death.


The man was still writhing and clearly in a lot of pain. I accio’d some pain potion from the beaded bag and spoke gently to him, helping it down his throat. Within a few moments, he was clearly more comfortable and I found the source of his pain - a violenti totalis curse. Luckily for this man, it had landed across his thigh, so as not to hit any major organs. I was able to heal a small bit of the damage to muscles and repair the artery that supplied blood to the rest of his leg. I had some of the ointment that I’d created the night of The Quaffle attack and I rubbed that deep into his wound so that would stop the dark spell from doing further damage. Once he was stable, I directed two junior Aurors to accompany him to St. Mungo’s via floo. He wasn’t stable enough, even for side-along apparation.


The woman in the violet robes had been hit with impedimenta and while the spell damage wasn’t very severe, she’d landed rather roughly on the pavement and had hit her head pretty hard. She was stable, and I expected her to make a full recovery after given some time to rest. Another set of Aurors took her to the hospital as well. The two wizards were in much better shape. One of them had been hit with verbero scalpere, the curse that Al had received at The Quaffle. I knew I’d also seen it somewhere else, but Selenia had researched the name of it. I felt a lurch in my chest as I treated him with dittany.


The other wizard seemed to be recovering from stupefy. Since they were essentially alright, I allowed them to submit to questioning by the Aurors. They would probably end up being the best witnesses.


Then it came time to call time of death for all of the remaining victims. Five more witches and wizards had been killed - all of them with the same violenti totalis curse straight to the heart. I could tell that they were not all produced from the same witch or wizard. Just like a handwritten signature, curses usually leave the same distinctive marks on their victims. As far as I could tell there were three different attackers using this curse.


After the last victim had been tended to, Teddy, Uncle Harry and I made our way back to Albus and Scorpius. Dominique was back with our cousin and Al was now crumpled into a ball, kneeling on the ground, reduced to little cries that escaped from time to time. Dom and Scorpius flanked either side of him as Scorpius rubbed his back and Dom smoothed his messy black hair. Selenia’s body had been moved. The space where she’d been laying looked so empty. I felt the same hole tunneling through me as I’d felt when I lost my first patient, only this wasn’t a hole. It was a cavern.


I knelt down in front of the group of them, quietly announcing that I was there, but under the invisibility cloak. Al, understandably, was inconsolable. I accio’d a vial of calming draught from my beaded bag, trying to get him to lift his head enough to drink it. He turned slightly when I gently touched his cheek.


“Albus love, here. Take this. It’ll feel better.” I whispered into his ear.


Al lifted his head toward my voice and looked past my shoulder. His shaking fingers clasped around the small vial that was visible in my hand as it peeked out from under the cloak. He tossed the liquid back into his mouth and let out a shudder. I watched the potion take effect as his head lolled to the side. His green eyes that were dulling with every passing moment slowly closed and his puffy lips moved to mumble the last words before he completely succumbed.


“She’s gone Rosie. It’ll never feel better.”


A/N: So sorry for such an emotional chapter. :( Poor Rose and Scorpius and Albus.

On another note, I'm trying out a new format with an extra space between paragraphs and I'd love to know what you think. I got the idea from reading several of CambAngst's stories and I'm basically copying him (thanks, Dan!).

Thanks SO much to MrsJaydeMalfoy for recently reviewing EVERY chapter! And thanks to everyone who read this for the Dobbys.



Chapter 39: Bereaving: Scorpius and Rose POV
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The days following seemed to all meld together with a hazy sort of frenzied emotion punctuated by long periods of numbness. Selenia’s funeral was a Muggle one. Her family wished that she be buried in the churchyard of her hometown in Haslemere, Surrey. The entire Weasley and Potter families came, along with almost all of the Aurors and all of the trainees from both the Auror and Healer programs. Many of the Hogwarts professors were also in attendance and several of the Healers came as well. Selenia had a small family and the magical people outnumbered the Muggles five to one. As such, Rose’s mum took the lead with directing the witches and wizards that didn’t have much contact with the Muggle world. She helped transfigure their robes to appropriate muggle funeral attire and made sure they stowed their wands away during the service and reception that followed.


I sat in the front row between Rose and Albus. I wasn’t sure which one would need more support during the service. It soon became clear that Albus was a right mess. He was barely able to stand most of the time. Tears flowed freely down his face and his normally messy, black hair hung limp into his eyes.


Rose did remarkably well, considering everything that was weighing down on her. A few times, she found my hand and squeezed, but I got the feeling that she was checking on me as well. Selenia’s mum sat on her other side and Rose acted as her pillar of strength. I knew Rose was still carrying around a fair bit of guilt over the fact that Selenia had been wearing her cloak when she’d been murdered by Stannous or his Death Eaters, but the fact that she’d been so busy helping Albus get through each day was a considerable distraction and left her very little time to think about her own grief. I was a bit concerned about Rose holding everything in, but she and I did a lot of talking when we could spare a few moments alone. The lot of us were simply shocked from everything. The entire week leading up to the funeral seemed so surreal.


But Rose being Rose, her focus was always on others. She was very worried about Selenia’s parents. Being Muggles, they didn’t understand too much about the wizarding world and while Harry had answered all of their questions about their daughter’s death, Rose was quite concerned that they would end up blaming the wizarding world and hating magic. I understood her unease and also could never fault them for that. Magic had, after all, murdered their daughter.


Our concerns were proven to be unfounded as we discovered during the reception that followed at Mr. and Mrs. Cooper’s cottage. Selenia’s mum sought Rose out to thank her for being such a wonderful friend to her daughter. Rose’s eyes were bright with tears of sadness and relief.


“I feel like I’m the lucky one, Mrs. Cooper. She is… was an amazing friend and person. She had so much passion and kindness.” It was still hard to refer to Selenia in the past tense and it tugged at my gut every time one of us stumbled over the words.


Rose continued, “I… I just want you to know that, erm… not all magic is bad and while there are definitely some seriously dark wizards out there…” I moved to put an arm around Rose and pull her close to me.


“Rose,” Mrs. Cooper stepped in and touched Rose’s cheek. Her face was so incredibly kind. She had the same eyes as her daughter and I felt like I was looking at an older version of Selenia. Their voices even were similar. She looked at both of us when she spoke. “I know that our family never quite understood the magical world, but in truth, we’d never seen Selenia happier than when she would talk about you and Albus and all of her magical friends.” Mrs. Cooper nodded at me and took a moment to steel herself. “She belonged with you. And while we will miss her so very much, we can’t place blame on an entire community. Goodness knows, us non-magic folk - Muddles do you call us? - we’ve managed to find some right horrible ways of doing each other in, even without magic.” She trailed off, a bit overcome, and Rose gripped both of the older woman’s hands. It was abundantly clear where Selenia got her gracious nature from.


She continued: “My husband’s and my greatest consolation is to know that she was loved.” Mrs. Cooper squeezed Rose’s tiny hands lovingly. “And that is more than apparent by the sheer number of people here to celebrate her life. Thank you for being such a good friend to her. She wrote to me about you all the time and I know she was most excited for your new baby,” she rested a hand on Rose’s belly and Rose nodded back to her, eyes wide and trying to maintain control of her emotions.


Another relative approached Mrs. Cooper and I took the opportunity to steer Rose to a quiet, unoccupied hallway so we could have a few moments. Talking to Selenia’s mum reminded me so much of how remarkably sweet and open minded Selenia had been. Sadness began to seep in as it hit me that we would never again get to talk to our dear friend.

I turned Rose around in my arms and rested my head against the top of hers. She wept quietly into my chest and I cried into her soft, red hair. We both needed the time to be sad together. It reminded me of the time Rose had come to see me after my parents’ deaths.


How I got through the rest of that day, or week rather, I’ll never know. Rose and I cried and held onto each other, often in the privacy of our room as we were trying to keep up a brave front for the rest of our housemates. Hermione and Ginny alternated days, coming round to bring food, make tea, or clean the already spotless house. I’d also been cooking up a storm as it was a task that kept me busy and made me feel like I was accomplishing something at the same time. Everyone needed to eat. The meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green bean dinner was James’s and Al’s favorite and I also made my fettuccine alfredo for Rose.


James took a week off from Quidditch to be around for Albus. Jax offered to do the same for Dominique, but the Cannons couldn’t really afford to lose two players and she assured all of us that she was doing alright. James promised Jax that he and I would keep an eye on Dom. She always dealt with things by keeping busy. And for the time being, keeping busy meant diving into work. She returned to the Auror office two days after Selenia’s funeral. No one blamed her. She just felt like she had to be doing something toward catching Stannous. Rose checked in with her nightly. In reality, we all checked in on each other. The house felt so barren and empty without Selenia. It was as if we were walking around in a haze, and the effort it took to keep our minds off of the enormous empty space in our home and in our hearts was exhausting.


Although he wouldn’t have it any other way, James really didn’t need to be there for Albus. Rose and Ginny were the only ones he let into his room, other than to drop off a plate of food that he wouldn’t eat. Occasionally, Harry or I would venture in to try and get him to at least talk for a bit. Ginny would fuss over his bed linens, draw the drapes and lay out a clean set of clothes for him. Rose would sit next to him on his bed for hours, ready to comfort him when he broke down. All the same, James was determined to stick around for his brother.


“I keep expecting her to walk through the front door - after apparating home from St. Mungo’s,” James admitted to me one afternoon, scrubbing a hand through his already mussed hair. I knew exactly how he felt. It hit us all really hard the day that Molly came over with Selenia’s stuff from her locker at St. Mungo’s. She and Wolfie had cleaned it out. James took the box of personal belongings and I grabbed all her textbooks. Rose peeked into the box and lifted out a photo of the four of us. Selenia must’ve kept it in her locker. It was taken at Rose’s twenty-first birthday party at Ron and Hermione’s house.


“Should I bring these up to Al’s room?” James asked warily.


“N-no,” Rose’s voice was shaking as she succumbed to the sadness again. “I’ll sort them into the boxes I’ve got going in h-her room for now. Al’s in no sstate to deal with this.” she cleared her throat and pulled in a lungful of air, in an effort to calm herself down.


James smiled weakly and rubbed her arm. “We’ll come up with you, Rosie.”


I had to look away for a moment to collect myself. The picture made me think of how happy we all were for those brief months. Rose and I were together, it was before I’d proposed and we found out about the baby, and everything just seemed like it was simpler.


Molly, James, Rose and I trudged up to Selenia’s room. I was grateful Molly was there - for Rose’s sake. After we sorted her stuff from the hospital, Rose and Molly headed to our room for some cousin time while James and I went down to the kitchen for a cuppa.


“Was he any different when you brought up his lunch?” James asked, a hitch in his voice. He was gripping his tea in one hand and tousled his hair with the other. It seemed like he’d been doing more and more of that lately.


“Nah,” I inhaled as I shook my head. "He won’t come out. Still barely eating.”


“How’s Rose doing?” his brown eyes bored into mine, and I never really noticed how much he and Albus resembled each other. Probably because James usually wore an amused smirk on his face while Albus had this intensity about him, even when he was relaxing or joking or… with his arm around Selenia.


“Rose is actually doing remarkably well,” I shook my head to clear it. “She’s taken on the role of Al’s nursemaid. I thought she might just be doing it to avoid her own feelings, but she’s had her share of good cries over the past week. She’s got a check up with Healer Chang in a couple of days. It’s sort of nice to have the baby to focus on.”


“And you, mate? How’re you holding up?”


“I’m… doing…” I was going to say ‘fine,’ but James had known me for far too long to be fooled by that. “... as best as can be expected. We all miss her. I just never, ever, thought… Let’s put it this way. I’m glad to be going back to work tomorrow. I feel like Rose has things covered here and I can do more good helping Harry and the lot at the Ministry.”


“I hear you,” James ran his hand again through his hair and the angles of black tufts changed position atop his head. “I don’t know how… to be a good enough brother to him right now,” he suddenly took a serious interest in the kitchen pots hanging from the ceiling. “I mean, I never really had to think about it before. But I - I’ve never seen him like this.” There was a long pause.


“James, none of us can really do anything better than we’re already doing. We’re here and he knows that and he appreciates it even if he can’t show it just yet.”


“Yeah,” James began tracing the wood grain on the kitchen table with his thumb.


“Listen,” I started again, “I’d be lying if I said that I know for certain Al’s gonna get through this.” James’s head jerked up, but I pressed on. “However I know the only way he’s gonna get through this is with all of us being here for him as much as possible. And if I know Rose, she’s not going to give up on him, ever. She’s already set up camp in his room. She’ll be there ‘till Christmas if she has to.”


“Yeah,” he repeated. “She’s really amazing with him. Sorta makes me feel useless.”


“Nah, there are certain things you need a brother for,” I smiled at him and he knew what I meant. Al and he were considered my brothers. “Let’s get dinner started. If Rose won’t come down out of Al’s room to eat, we’ll have to bring something up for both of them - again.”


He stood up and crossed the room to me, standing and catching my eyes. His mouth tried to form words as he stood there, staring at me. James wasn’t ever really big with the emotions, and that was the first time I’d ever had a conversation like that with him.


“I know, mate.” I patted him on the shoulder.


*


To say that Scorpius, Dom, James and I were lost was an understatement. Dom went back to work a couple of days later and Scorpius and James hung around for about a week, until James couldn’t miss any more of his Quidditch season. Scorpius asked me if I needed him to stay around a bit longer, but I told him no. In truth, I was still grieving for my best friend, but I knew I could count on all my friends and family - and I did, quite a bit. It wasn’t the same as when I was keeping my pain and suffering a secret. The sadness was overwhelming at times, but I truly felt like they were all there to keep me from falling into myself.


Another week went by with Albus refusing to do anything but lie in his bed. I could usually get him to eat a little bit once per day and I counted it as a personal victory when he would munch on something for both lunch and dinner.


A third week passed with little change.


It was a welcome relief that I had the baby to think about. Healer Chang had required me to have checkups every other week, just to be sure there were no residual effects after the attack. Everything had been going really well.


Samara had been unexpectedly called away for some sort of international situation that needed to be taken care of. She sent her condolences to the rest of us. I think James was a bit torn that everyone else seemed to be pulling together and she was off in another country. But I didn’t feel any love lost. Since Samara’s little tirade at Uncle Harry’s house about Avada kedavra, I’d been a lot less tolerant of her and her comments. The blokes thought I was being unfair and the lot of them chalked it up to my hormones. But pregnant or not, I simply didn’t care for her. Even after I pointed out to James and Scorpius that she’d been rather close to Selenia and it seemed odd that she scooted out right after her funeral and left the rest of us to pick up the pieces, they didn’t cave.


“Everyone grieves differently, Rose,” James said, not unkindly. “Sam’s just the type that holds a lot in, ya know? Most of the time I don’t even see a lot of her emotions. It’s what makes her great at her job. She has the ability to keep her feelings in check and keep a focus on her duties.”


I was about to ask if he thought any of her duties included consoling her boyfriend and his roommates during one of the absolute worst times of their lives, but Scorpius quickly distracted me by pressing against my belly and whispering in my ear, “Anything yet?”


“Nope,” I shook my head, but the corners of my mouth tipped up at the way he was staring at my middle. At my maternity check up a few days earlier Healer Chang mentioned that I should’ve been feeling the baby move any day. That news was the one good piece of information Scorpius and I’d been holding onto since we’d heard it. He’d made me promise to tell him the minute I felt anything, regardless of where he was or what either of us were doing. It kept me grounded to know that there was something to look forward to in the middle of all the sadness.


To say that Albus was a wreck would be the understatement of the millenia. By the end of the third week, I was really starting to worry. I was torn between wanting to give him as much time as he needed and worried that he might never come back from his despair. I kept thinking of how Ruth, as my therapist ,would give me such sound advice. I found myself asking, ‘What would Ruth do?’ The answer was always the same: Keep him safe and as long as he’s not harming himself, let him know you’re there when he’s ready to talk.


As his Healer, I kept a supply of potions close at hand. He wouldn’t take the calming draught and only would drink the draught of dreamless sleep after much convincing on particularly bad nights.


The whole family also came by regularly to check on him, but there was little anyone could do for him. Scorpius graciously took on the role as house-chef so I could be with Albus.


Uncle Harry reluctantly returned to work, as he had a department to run and a dark wizard to catch. I didn’t think Uncle Harry did very well in the ‘sitting around’ department, so it worked out, especially considering he was short by one newly promoted Junior Auror. Dominique returned shortly after the funeral and, after about a week or so, Scorpius went back to work as well. They both felt that they could contribute more by helping to catch Stannous and his Death Eaters. After a few weeks, Aunt Ginny even started coming around less and less - although she made sure to send over ridiculous amounts of food for us.


One afternoon, I was tidying up our bedroom for the millionth time and I happened upon the case file that I still owed as my final assignment. I hadn’t really forgotten about it - but it simply wasn’t in the forefront of my mind since Selenia’s death. I stared at the open desk drawer for a full two minutes before reaching in to retrieve the thick folder. The last time I’d looked at those documents had been with my best friend. I couldn’t remember the specifics of the conversations, but I knew we’d sorted out some important details. I was about to set the portfolio on my desk when I spotted a package that’d been hiding underneath the file. It was wrapped in light green paper and I didn’t remember ever seeing it before.


For a moment I was worried that it was a trap, but then I remembered that all of our desks had special locking and concealment charms on them - so that only the owner of the desk can see and retrieve its contents. It was necessary in a house where everyone did highly specialized and sensitive work. We’d all grown up in homes where our parents had the same charms on their own home-office desks, so no one thought anything of it.


Carefully, I unwrapped the rectangular package. It was a clothing box, but rather smallish. Inside there were two sets of baby pyjamas, one pair in the same pale green as the wrapping paper and the other in a lovely cream color. They were so soft and so very tiny. A card was buried deep within the tissue paper.



My Dearest Rose and Scorpius,

I wanted to be the first person to give you a baby gift, so I ran out and bought this on my way home from St. Mungo’s today. I can’t think of two people more fit to be parents than the both of you. Your baby will know only love, kindness, and of course, a fair bit of mischief (especially with Albus and James as uncles)! I know you’ve just found out about the pregnancy, but in time, you’re going to be so excited. I can’t wait to meet your little one and shower them with loads of Auntie Selenia kisses!

Much love,

Selenia




My heart, already stretched to its limit, completely fell apart as I breathed deeply to calm myself and caught the faint scent of her perfume wafting from the baby’s clothes. She must’ve hugged each outfit, pulling it in close to test the softness of the fabric, making sure it was perfect. It was that image that completely undid me.


*


Another week passed by and I slowly began to feel like myself again. Bouts of sadness still overtook me from time to time, but finding the baby gift had been the low point. Albus still wasn’t improving however, and I was at a loss for how to help him.


Because this attack was in broad daylight, in the most public street in wizarding Britain, it was obvious that Stannous was getting more desperate in his attempts to find me. Uncle Harry and the Auror department had to reinstate the original restrictions of no public places. So I wasn’t permitted to respond to Auror calls. I actually wasn’t very upset about it, as I was still recovering from dealing with Selenia’s death. It was early August, and I would only be able to apparate until the end of the month before hitting my third trimester. The only other place I was permitted to go was to my appointments with Healer Chang, escorted by Scorpius and a barrage of other Aurors, of course.


Uncle Harry said I could still work at the clinic I’d set up at the Ministry . If I wasn’t safe three doors down from the Department designed specifically to hunt and capture dark wizards, then I wasn’t safe anywhere. But I was waiting for Albus to be a bit better before I left him in an empty, old house every day.


It broke my heart to see him torn apart and I’d attempted everything to get him to simply go downstairs and have a meal. I tried daily to get him to leave his room, eat, drink or even carry on a conversation. And I wasn’t going to give up, even if it took months.


The emotions themselves were draining enough for me, but I was also getting very tired physically. My belly was growing bigger every day. One afternoon I’d been up and down the stairs several times, doing laundry, sorting through Selenia’s things in her room that her Mum had asked me to find for her, and bringing Albus and I some lunch. He ate about half of his sandwich, which was a good sign because he was finally eating a somewhat respectable amount, although he still spoke very little.


“Budge up,” I said to him as I flopped down on his bed next to him. He sat up and scowled. His eyes were bloodshot and there were heavy bags under them. His face, almost always clean shaven, was sporting a black shadow across his jaw and upper lip. The normally messy hair was even more disheveled, resembling a tangled, black mop. If I’d come across him in a dark alley, I’d have been performing petrificus totalus on him.


“I’m tired Al,” I explained. “Too tired to tromp down to my room and take a nap. You’ll just have to make do with me sharing the bed with you.” I was completely unapologetic. Perhaps whining and getting into his personal space would bring him around, if only a little bit. I settled myself down into his rumpled covers, not even caring if it bothered him or not.


He looked a bit of a loss for words and finally collapsed down next to me, but turned himself towards the wall. I fell into a light sleep almost instantly. I hadn’t been sleeping too well either, but I wouldn’t take any potions, because of the baby. While Healer Chang said that I could take a half dose of draught of dreamless sleep, I really didn’t want to. So, to make up for restless nights, I’d taken to frequent naps during the day.


As usual, my rest was punctuated by brief moments of rousing, which wasn’t helped by the fact that Albus was very tossy-turny in bed. Even after he stopped rolling around, his hand kept bumping into my belly. I knew it was getting bigger and he couldn’t help it, but I wasn’t able to sleep with the light fluttering on the outside of my belly.


Not outside. Inside.


I sat bolt upright and let out a squawk of surprise.


“Whazzamatter?!” Al was immediately sitting up next to me. I was hyperventilating and squealing while I pressed my hand to my abdomen and felt the baby move from the outside and the inside simultaneously. It was amazing and wonderful and weird and...


“Rose! What is it? Is it the baby? You alright? Do I need to call Scorpius? A Healer? Rosie!


He was in full blown crazy-Albus-mode, but I was too excited to say anything. He rolled onto his knees and grasped around for his wand. I came out of my reverie just in time to grab his hand and press it to my bump before he had a chance to jump out of bed and send a patronus. I just hoped he could feel it too. He was still barking questions at me.



“Rose! Do you need help? Who do I call, Rosie?”


“Shut up!” I finally managed to get words out, hoisting my awkward body up to my knees to be at his level. “Just shut up and feel.” I pushed his hand harder against my belly. The fluttering continued. But at least Al was quiet for a moment.


“Was that?! Rosie! Was that th-the baby?! Merlin.” he breathed out. “There it goes again! Rosie! CAN YOU FEEL THAT?!”


I nodded, smiling and giggling. I couldn’t believe it. Finally.


“That’s unbelievable!” Al’s eyes were wide and he put his other hand on my belly to feel from all angles. We sat like that for several minutes and little Weasley-Malfoy did his butterfly dance the whole time. We took turns staring at each other and my bump, as if we could see through my middle and stare at the baby. Al’s eyes finally, finally got a tiny bit of their spark back.


“Oh no!” I squeaked. “No, no, no!” I jumped slightly and Al looked at me again with a worried frown.


I stretched a smile over my lips and spoke quietly, “Scorp is going to be so upset that he wasn’t here to feel the baby move first.” I looked at Albus sheepishly, ashamed of my quick outburst. I realized I’d given him enough of a scare for one day.


He cast his glance down at the tangled blankets on his bed. “Selenia would’ve loved to be here for this.” His hands slid off of me and he began to twist away.


“I know,” I said, grabbing his chin with my fingers before he could hide his visage. I gently forced his face toward mine, not wanting to lose him again. It was the first time he’d said her name or even mentioned her at all. I took it as a good sign, despite the anguish on his face.


“I miss her so much Rosie.” A few tears escaped out of his bright green eyes as he tried to pull back. My hands immediately grasped onto both sides of his face, letting him know that I wasn’t going to let him slip away again.


“Me too, love. So much it hurts.” My thumbs smoothed circles on his rough stubble that hadn’t been shaved in weeks.


“When does it stop hurting, Rosie?” His hands reached up and softly rested on my wrists, as if grasping on to me would help the answer along.


I simply shook my head and pursed my lips together, “Most days, I don’t think it will ever stop.” As soon as I saw the look on his face, I wished I hadn’t said it. He was falling back into himself.


But,” I quickly continued, “every now and again something happens that reminds me of her - in a good way. An amazing, fabulous, brilliant, Selenia-sort-of-way. And I know… I just know that she wouldn’t want… this.” I looked around the dimly lit bedroom. “She’d be really sod off if she knew that you and I’d been holed up and wallowing in our own misery here in this place for the past four-and-a-half weeks.” I gestured around his dark room that had taken on the aroma of someone who hadn’t bathed in quite a while.


“I - ” he began, fresh tears brightening his eyes once again. “I don’t know if I can…” he trailed off.


“You can, Al. It’s gonna take a long time and it won’t happen all at once. But today, you can do this. Let’s start small. You can meet me downstairs in the parlor - we’re gonna have a cup of tea and a much needed chat - after you take a shower, of course.” I tried not to wrinkle my nose and I grabbed his weary eyes with my own.


“Okay Rosie,” he lowered his head and turned to get off the bed - finally. He grabbed his dressing gown and paused at the door, a curious look across his brow. “What exactly are we having a chat about?”


“We have got to come up with a plan to explain to Scorpius how you felt the baby move before he did,” I put my hands on my hips and tried to give my sternest, most serious look. I even managed to get a small smile out of him.



A/N: Hello! I'm so, SO sorry that I've taken a ridiculously long time to update this. Idk if this chapter makes anyone feel better or not. I'm not even sure if anyone remembers the green package that Selenia gave to Scorpius the day that they discovered Rose was pregnant or not, but I've been planning on bringing that back. The good news: I've outlined the story to the end - and I always have known how it was going to go, but now I've got is all down official-like and typed up by chapter, so yay!

I want to thank EVERYONE from the bottom of my heart who nominated and voted for this story for the Dobby awards. I'm still in disbelief. Gah! This site is so wonderful and welcoming and I'm still reeling from it!

As always, I'd love to know what you think - thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read or leave a review. ♥ Beth



Chapter 40: Buildup: Scorpius POV
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“Let’s get you caught up on the facts,” Harry said between clenched teeth. Tensions had been running high for weeks, mainly because we’d gotten absolutely nowhere in figuring out where Stannous was hiding out, how many Death Eaters he had employed, and what his plan was with Rose. As an act of goodwill, Harry called upon Healer Lawrence to join the team as a medical consultant so we could at least begin to identify the origin of some of the curses Stannous and his lot were using. I wished I could’ve been more hopeful that the Healer would find something that we’d missed, but my frustration was running high.


And while Rose was finally back to work, and could’ve served this purpose in just about any other case, it wasn’t prudent. Although I could say with certainty, that the Auror department would’ve gladly chosen her over Healer Lawrence any day.


He was indeed an expert on dark magic curses, a fact he made certain to mention every chance he got. Truth be told, he was pretty much the only person who wasn’t emotionally attached to the case, and although that seemed like it’d be a good thing, his off-putting nature and over-the-top arrogance made most of the Aurors want to send a cleverly aimed stinging hex at him underneath the table.


“I think I’ve sorted most of it out for myself,” Healer Lawrence interjected. Harry pulled in a breath and held it, staring hard at a spot on the wall to avoid looking directly at him. Lawrence’s giant ego wasn’t helping matters.


“If it’s all the same to you, Aphis, we prefer to go over the details on a weekly basis as a team, to stay fresh with the case.”


“As you were, sir.” Lawrence made a show of getting himself settled into his seat as Harry stood from his to address the room. We were still a small group considering the magnitude of everything. We had Harry, Ron and Teddy as the senior Aurors, plus Dom and me as junior Aurors; and Harry allowed the three mentees to continue on with us. They’d all proven themselves with top marks in their first year of the program and were now full-fledged second years.


Albus was still not back to work. No one could possibly blame him for that. Even if he had come back, I’m not sure he would’ve been much help to us. We were getting nowhere; and everyday Rose was getting closer to having the baby and we were getting further from finding any real information. This was all compounded by the fact that the house felt utterly barren without Selenia. She really had been the glue that kept us all together.


Keeping the team small had its pros and cons. On one hand, it freed up the rest of the department to handle all the other cases that still needed tending to. Plus, the fact that the case involved a prophecy called for its own level of secrecy. The Department of Mysteries had a tight fist around who was and was not allowed access to the pertinent information. Ron was intensely insistent about the prophecy being kept as secret as possible, and Harry as well. It was for the best, though, because the less people involved, the less chance there was for a leak to The Prophet, which was, coincidentally, having a field day with our lack of progress.


“Right then,” Harry flicked his wand and glowing purple lines appeared on the wall. They twisted and formed themselves into words and dates. “Let’s start with the facts of the morning of June the twentieth.” I couldn’t stop a stab of pain that pulsed through my heart every time I heard that date. To me, it was the same searing agony that I felt when someone mentioned the eleventh of July - the day my parents had their kitchen accident. Several bulleted points appeared on the wall to mark the timeline of events, along with the death and injury toll.


Harry turned to another wall and made some rather intricate movements with his wand, ending in a pointed jab at the painted brick and an aerial photo of Diagon Alley appeared. The photograph more closely resembled a muggle one than a wizarding one, in that nothing was moving in it. Granted, it was only a still of the shops and the street, with no people in it, but that was about to change.


“We know that Selenia entered the Alley from this point.” Harry tapped the edge of the street and a blue dot appeared. It was wise for him to have the people, especially the victims, represented by something less life-like than human-shaped figures.


Harry added, “We’ve also been able to confirm that there were bystanders at each of these locations.” His wand fluttered so quickly in his hand, it was almost as if it were vibrating on its own, but I knew that wasn’t the case. Harry was just that good. Several other spots appeared at various locations on the map, represented by yellow, green, and blue dots. I wasn’t sure why there were different colors until I realized: he had categorized the civilians into three groups: witnesses in green, injured in yellow and blue for those who didn’t survive the attack. It was a clever technique, because it enabled us to see which locations were targeted by Stannous’s lot.


“The Death Eaters came from somewhere over here,” Harry showed several red dots moving swiftly down the street. “Our best guess is that they apparated directly into the passageway that joins Diagon Alley with Knockturn Alley.”


“Makes sense,” Dom quipped. “That’s the only location that’s large enough for the eight of them to apparate at virtually the same time and still provide enough cover so they’d go unnoticed until the last possible second.” I was amazed at her ability to stay entirely focused on the case. She was a machine, often staying until the wee hours of the morning, poring through the tiniest details. She was really stepping into the role of junior Auror and had been working late with Teddy, Ron and Harry to put together this presentation. I was really proud of her, but I sort of felt like I was dropping the ball a bit.


My thoughts were invaded by Harry’s voice. “At approximately fourteen hundred hours eleven minutes, Ms. Cooper left Madam Malkin’s here,” Harry said as the blue dot emerged from a dark, boxy-shaped building that lined one of the streets. “She headed east toward The Quaffle. At that time, the eight Death Eaters were already positioned at various locations up and down the Alley.” He tapped eight times to indicate where the Death Eaters were poised. Selenia hadn’t had a chance. If one of them hadn’t seen her walking toward the pub, at least three others would’ve spotted her within mere seconds of each other. I swallowed hard and tried to suppress the guilt and pain that stirred inside me when I thought of who their actual target was. My hand instinctively reached to the back of my neck and massaged the tensing muscle that spread its length.


Selenia was dead but Rose was alive. Nearly three months had passed and I still didn’t know how exactly to feel about that. Most of that time had been taken up by taking care that Rose and Albus were doing alright. Anything left over was devoted to solving the case. My brain simply didn’t have time for me to process much more than that.


Dom and I’d talked a few times, and I was amazed at her ability to compartmentalize. She was able to focus almost solely on the case. At home, she did take time to check up on Rose and Al, but I think she felt she could do the most good by helping to catch Stannous. She had a focus like none other and I could easily see her being head of the department one day.


Harry continued, “Based on our reconstruction, it seems that the Death Eaters coordinated their attack to a certain extent, but not enough to single out their target entirely.”


“What do you mean?” Healer Lawrence asked. His eyes were wide and for once, he seemed to shut up a bit and recognize the fact that perhaps someone knew more than he did about something.


“He means,” Ron cut in bitterly, “that strategically, in an organized attack like this one, the goal is typically to ambush only one, single target-” he cleared his throat as it caught on the last word. Clearly, I wasn’t the only one having a hard time grappling with the scene in front of us. The expression on his face was severe, but his reddening skin gave away the turmoil he was trying to tamp down.


“This lot obviously knew what they were after, but instead of waiting a few extra seconds so that they could convene on a… erm… s-specific mark, th-they jumped the gun and just started an all out blitz on anyone who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Ron jabbed his wand at the image on the wall a little too roughly, and white sparks streamed from the tip and landed on the map, freezing all the dots in time. Ron swore loudly as he lowered his wand and stared at it, clearly frustrated with himself.


“Like this,” Harry said softly, with a lot more strength to his voice that I could’ve mustered. His wand fluttered in the air, showing amazing control and accuracy, while the dots on the map glided around the streets of Diagon Alley. Four of the eight red dots were headed for Selenia. The others seemed to take their cue from the lead group and simply began attacking anyone and everyone who happened to be standing, walking, eating or breathing in the area.


Selenia’s blue dot flickered and turned to black, followed quickly by a few others. But the attackers didn’t stop there. The red villains spread out, rushing the street in an onslaught of terror and death. Many of the green dots retreated into the stores or behind lampposts or bins on the street. It was eerie to see the yellow dots lie still, after they’d been hit and even more surreal to see each blue dot turn to black. My heart ached staring at how still her dot was, while the attackers simply turned their wands on the other bystanders. The incursion continued until a handful of white dots appeared at the far end of the street and, one by one, each of the red dots apparated away.


Harry froze the scene, “And that marks fourteen hundred hours forty seven minutes, when the first team of Aurors arrived on sight.” He cleared his throat and all the rest of the team turned to look at him, still standing at the head of the long table. But not me. I still couldn’t tear my eyes from the wall. It could’ve been Rose.


“So this is where you come in, Healer Lawrence.” Harry said loudly, not completely hiding the tension in his voice. “We need to learn a bit more about these curses that were used on the victims.


The magnanimous arse stood up, cleared his throat, and basically stood in front of Harry, causing my boss to take a step back. As always, Harry was gracious in the face of being in front of all his charges and gestured to Healer Lawrence, that he had the floor.


“Well it seems that you lot have finally come to your senses and realized the benefit of using experts in your investigations, instead of random guesswork.”


I chanced a peek around the room. Teddy rolled his eyes, as did Kali. Colleen and Dom exchanged a glance, but Harry stood attentive to the speaker. Only Ron let out a disgusted grunt, which went ignored by the Healer, as he continued to speak.


“The three main curses used by this particular faction are verbero scalpere, violenti totalis, and of course, cruciatus flagrate. While all of these curses are latin-based in their names, they also closely resemble Bulgarian dark curses that date back as old as magic itself. Let’s break them down one by one, shall we?”


And he was off explaining the origin of the worst dark magic imaginable. He truly looked like he was enjoying every bit of this. From the glint in his eye, it almost seemed like he got a sick sense of pleasure from simply talking about these horrible magical creations. What I gathered from his ambling was that these were modern day ‘improvements’ on regular, run-of-the-mill dark curses, just to add a bit of an edge to them.


“While the other two curses had been recorded as being used in a few places in Eastern Europe over the past one hundred years or so, cruciatus flagrate is an entirely new and rather intense version of the unforgivable cruciatus, so to speak,” he chuckled mildly and I felt my insides boil at his impertinent tone. That curse nearly did Rose in, both physically and emotionally. It gave her those nasty scars and made her doubt her own abilities.


It was also the curse that had murdered Selenia.


Before I could stop myself, I was rising out of my chair, poised to charge at the insensitive bastard, but Harry beat me to it.


“Aphis,” he said sharply. I could tell he was just this side of brandishing his wand. He carefully maneuvered himself in between me and the Healer. Something else made me stop my advance and it was a moment before I realized that Dom had placed a comforting hand on my arm.


Harry continued loudly, “It would do well for you to remember that this case is still active and happens to involve loved ones of many of the Aurors in this room. We’re all under a great deal of stress, and it’s taking every bit of resolve for us to act as professionals. I implore you not to speak in such a flippant manner about this grave matter. I’ll not ask you again and you’d do well to remember that you serve here at the pleasure of this department. While we value your judgement and expertise, I’ll not compromise unity for egotism.” Harry sniffed as he said his last phrase, clearly holding back what he truly wanted to say.


“Very well,” Lawrence shuffled uncomfortably at Harry’s stare. But he only looked agitated and annoyed, rather than ashamed. “From what I’ve ascertained, the curse uses the victim’s own pain and suffering against them. For example, if the victim were to yell or cry out in pain, it would amplify the intensity of the agony experienced. And unlike the cruciatus, this curse leaves scars that penetrate from the inside out. It takes much concentration to maintain the focus long enough to have a scar appear on the surface of the skin, so Miss Weasley’s scars must have been a result of several sessions of torture that lasted for quite a while, as she confirmed to us regarding her six-day kidnapping three years ago.” He looked around the room and paused when he met the eyes of each Auror. I was getting more and more trapped within my thoughts. I scratched vigorously at my head to try and clear it.


“So, can you tell us anything else?” Caesar chimed in. “I mean, we pretty much knew most of this stuff anyway.” I should’ve thought of that question. How was everyone else able to keep their emotions in check? I was finding it hard to breathe.


Lawrence nodded to him, but didn’t look up. “Based on the wounds of the victims, I can easily map out that five different Death Eaters were using verbero scalpere and three, including L’erge Stannous, were using violenti totalis - all combined with other, standard offensive spells, of course. But I’ll wager the violenti totalis users were more senior in the organization, as that curse is much more difficult to master and is nearly always deadly as well - if placed directly over the heart or aimed at the head.”


“Makes sense,” Dom piped in, calmly. She was the real rock in the room, whereas I felt like I was about to go to pieces. “Every witch and wizard has their favorite curses - and we all have jinxes, hexes and blocks that work better for us and we’ve perfected over the years. So it stands to reason that the Death Eaters all have certain curses they use more often than others.”


Somewhere in the back of my mind, it registered that I’d taken a direct hit to the heart with violenti totalis and survived, but another, much, much more pressing question rose in my throat.


“Healer Lawrence,” I knew my voice sounded weak, but it was so much mental effort to get the words out, I couldn’t be bothered by it. “That sort of curse, cruciatus flagrate, erm… wh-what could it have done to the baby? I mean, if Rose had been hit?” Another wave of guilt washed over me simply asking the question, but I couldn’t stop myself. I needed to know the answer. I was already spending nights awake worried that there’d be residual effects on Rose or the baby from the dark curse she’d been hit with that caused her heart problems.


The Healer paused and gave me a solid stare. I don’t think he was trying to be rude or offended. I think it was just his way of sizing up the situation. But my head was swimming so much in emotion, it was taking all my energy to focus and hear his reply. His voice had the tiniest bit of raspiness when he spoke directly to me, “I can’t say for certain, Scorpius. But I do know this: that baby - and Rose too - are both incredibly strong. I’ll admit, I didn’t give either one of them much of a fighting chance after she’d been hit with dekompensirana sŭrdechna na skorostta, but they both fought their way through that.”


The long and short of it was, that the Healer didn’t know. There was no way to determine how much damage Rose or the baby could’ve suffered in her condition. I felt my shoulders deflate as I settled in my seat. Dom was sitting on one side of me and Caesar on the other. He patted me on the back gently and whispered, “S’all right, mate. Let’s concentrate on what we’re gonna do about this.”


As if he’d heard him, Ron spoke up, “What we need to focus on now, is what his next move will be. Enough of the past. This arsehole has out maneuvered us every step of the way. The Prophet isn’t far off, calling us a ‘slow to react.’ It’s been three months and we don’t have any major leads - except Bulgaria… and-” he was off and running, listing off the options for our next move. My head dropped into my folded arms on the table as his voice was drowned out by the panic bubbling inside me.


Caesar tapped me on the shoulder and I shook my head, trying to make sense of it all. I wanted to come up with some sort of brilliant plan to find him, but my mind wouldn’t settle. My breaths were coming a bit shorter and I was very warm all of a sudden.


“Harry,” I lifted my head enough to murmur my request. The entire room turned their eyes on me. Everything was just too much right at that moment and I needed some air - or some water - or just something to get my head back together.


I didn’t want anyone - especially Harry or Ron - to think I couldn’t handle the situation. But right at that moment, I knew that I needed to get the hell out of there. “I - I’ve gotta g-go check on something. I’ll be back in a few?” my eyes flicked to the head Auror, hoping that I’d struck the right balance between sounding nonchalant enough so they didn’t realize I was about to lose it, but serious enough to let me out of the crucial meeting.


For a moment, I thought all was lost. Ron’s icy stare said it all. He could see through my lie easily and must’ve figured I was dodging my Auror responsibilities. He opened his mouth to speak, but Harry got there first.


“Why don’t we all take a break for a mo’,” he said, and the other Aurors slowly stood up to stretch. Ron started to argue, but his boss shook his head. I made a beeline for the door and Harry followed me out, down the corridor and around the corner before he put a gentle hand on my arm to slow me down, despite the fact that I was nearly racing at top speed to get my head together.


“Scorpius.”


I stopped but didn’t turn to face him. My jaw was clenched and the muscles in the back of my neck were knotting up to immense proportions.


Scorpius.” Harry raised his voice just enough to get through my ringing ears and simultaneously pulled back on my elbow in a soothing motion. He didn’t wait for me to turn around to face him, because my whole body began to deflate right there against the stone wall of the Ministry corridor.


“You don’t have to say anything. Just listen. I’m not going to ask if you want to be removed from this case because I know that’s not an option. But you don’t have to bear this burden alone. I know the brunt of this has fallen on you. Rose and Albus are leaning on you for emotional support, but don’t forget that you’ve lost a good friend too. We all feel the same way. So, so sad for Selenia, but so worried for Rose.”


I gulped against tears that were pushing themselves up from somewhere deep inside.


“You’ve been a rock. For Rose and Albus and all the other Aurors here. But no one is able to keep that up indefinitely. I speak from experience when I say you need to find your own way to let it all out. And I think you know who will do that for you. Someone who is much, much stronger than she gives herself credit for.”


I nodded, still not looking at him. He offered a few reassuring pats to my shoulder, turned and said, “take the rest of the day. I think you’ll find that you might get much more out of it that you ever thought possible.”


I nodded again, internally chiding myself for not being able to come up with words. I felt my feet drag my weary body down the hall to the official ‘Auror Department Healer Office.’




A/N: Hi there! First off, I'm so so sorry for the long wait in between chapters. About three months have gone by in the story, and I think it took me nearly that long to post this chapter. :( Secondly, I wanted to mention that there's a fundraiser going on right now to keep HPFF online. I know I'd be crushed if the site had to be taken down. Even if you can only spare a few dollars or pounds - every little bit helps! Please consider donating. ♥ Beth


Chapter 41: Brewing: Rose POV
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“Awright, I think finally, I got the records set up in a satis’factry way,” Astatine smiled at me and gestured to the large file cabinet in the corner of my office. I grinned back at her. The once-empty storage room was starting to look like a proper Healer’s office.


I had a lovely space set up with an examination table and a curtain that separated it from the small laboratory in the back corner. It was complete with a full set of basic potion ingredients and all the supplies needed to brew and store the medicinal potions I’d need for healing the Aurors.


I’d placed my desk next to the lone window in the room, and positioned it so I could look out to the side, but still face my patients entering the room. A graduation gift from my parents, it was made of beautiful teakwood and came with a matching file storage cabinet.


As an added bonus, Uncle Harry and Healer Lawrence agreed that Astatine could work with me part time. It was win-win because while she wasn’t a full fledged medi-witch, she had enough medical training to heal minor cuts and injuries, and a vast knowledge of how to organize medical records, so she was the ideal person to help me set up and keep track of everything. She was going to hold down the fort while I was on leave with the baby — at least for the lesser stuff. If there were any major attacks or serious injuries, the Aurors would revert to their old policy of using St. Mungo’s.


“It looks fabulous, Astatine,” I shuffled over to her after I’d finished putting away the lacewing flies and snake fangs in the apothecary drawers. It was nice to have something to focus on, even if it was just for short periods of time. “I think we’ve just about everything set for now. I’ve got some paperwork to finish up just, but I’ll catch you tomorrow and we can do a once over to see if we’ve missed anything, yeah?”


“Sounds fine, love,” she replied. “Got a few things to work out at Mungo’s this affernoon. Bye, Rose!” she waved merrily on her way out the door. I smiled as I watched her frosty wisps of hair fly about as she walked away. There was something comforting about having Astatine around.


“Whatcha working on?” Albus poked his head in a few minutes after she’d left.


“Hi there!” I beamed at him from my seat behind my newly placed desk. He’d taken to visiting me occasionally at my new office. I figured it was his way of easing himself back into the idea of working as an Auror again. It was a good step for him, because we could talk about some cases and other Auror department stuff, but he didn’t feel pressured to jump back into the department and didn’t have to see people and casework that reminded him of Selenia before he was ready. I shifted in my seat. I had about six weeks to go before the baby came and I was absolutely enormous. The little guy kicked me every few minutes and I simply couldn’t stay in the same position for longer than thirty seconds.


Including sleeping. Or rather, attempting sleep.


All the same, I was bound and determined to prove that I could do the job, seven and a half months pregnant or not. Albus was still looking at me, waiting for an answer to his question.


“I’m - urgh,” the baby kicked again and I redistributed my weight to relieve the pressure on my back. I patted the open file on the desk in front of me. One more kick for good measure and I let out a small gasp. “... I’m,” I started again, actually ashamed to admit how long I’d put off my responsibilities. “Erm… still working on my final assignment for my medical records class. Healer Lawrence said I could get to it whenever I was ready, but I think I’ve gone beyond testing his generous nature.” I let out a snicker at that one. If there’s one thing Healer Lawrence didn’t have - it was a generous nature.


Albus chuckled along with me at my comment. He’d been laughing a little more frequently and the bright, cheerful sound warmed my heart. “So what’ve you got? Let’s take a look at it,” he said with a hopeful grin across his face.


I grimaced and tried not to meet his eyes. The photos weren’t the most uplifting of pictures, as the couple in them were clearly deceased. Not to mention the fact that the automobile accident they’d been in had left them in a right state. The photo of the male victim only revealed the top left corner of his head, it was zoomed in to show one grayish eye and a patch of hair. Scratches and cuts were apparent on his high forehead. I had to make the assumption that the rest of his face and head were left unscathed, otherwise I’d been given more pictures to examine. So I’d concluded that he’d seen the crash coming and had turned his head at the last minute by instinct.


The female victim was even worse. The photo obscured her head, but the damage to her torso was the sort of thing that would make the most seasoned Healer retch. Her midsection had been damaged beyond anything I’d ever seen and she must’ve died instantly.


“I dunno, Albus. I don’t recall too much about this case. I’ve been wracking my brain, but all I remember is that S-Selenia—” I glanced nervously at him, but he was eyeing the papers under my hand, a hungry look in his eye. I let out a quick breath of relief and continued, “Selenia found something off about the pictures. It was bizarre enough to make me want to visit Healer Lawrence immediately the following morning - but then I fell down the stairs… Anyway — I erm… I can’t remember what we’d found and I don’t see anything unusual about them. It’s just a couple that were killed in an automobile accident.”


“Please Rose?” he pleaded, and I felt all my resolve wearing away. I simply couldn’t say ‘no’ to him. He was an Auror, after all, and was showing genuine interest in a case for the first time since we’d lost Selenia.


“Alright, have at it.” I plopped the file on the desk and he eagerly slid it towards himself. He flipped quickly through the lab reports, scanning the info. Then he stopped on the photos and stared hard at the one of the man’s eye and forehead, bringing the image right under his nose.


“Where’s the glass?” he asked after a few moments of intense scrutiny.


“Glass?”


“You said the couple died in an auto accident. The scratches and marks on this guy’s face sort of look like he was scraped up from something. Since they were killed in the car, it seems likely his face would’ve hit the windscreen, but I don’t see any shards of glass in his hair. If the windscreen hadn’t shattered, he’d only have one large bruise instead of all the scrapes. It doesn’t make sense.”


“Hmmm…” He had a point. But there was more to it than that. “You’re definitely on to something — hold on!” I pulled the photo out of his hands, needing to give it a closer inspection. “These ‘scrapes.’ Don’t they look a little familiar?” I asked him. When he sent me a quizzical look, I grabbed his arm and shoved up the sleeve of his robes revealing the white lines that were fading scars from his verbero scalpere curse.


He looked down at his arm. “Yeah, you’re right. It does look really similar.”


I shook my head and closed my eyes tight, trying to remember the conversation with Selenia. There was something else we’d found. I could feel the same sensation at the realization that this wasn’t simply a car crash. My eyes poured over the picture, examining every tiny scratch and blemish, but nothing else seemed apparent — except a vague resemblance to the marks sustained from verbero scalpere. It wasn’t enough to go on, though, and it seemed odd that’d be something that would make me feel the need to talk to the Head Healer about it.


My fingers scrambled through the paperwork and finally clutched the other photograph - the one of the woman. Her torso showed severe damage, but again, like Albus had pointed out, no glass shards. It was a pretty gruesome sight and after scrutinizing it for several minutes, I couldn’t make out anything significant enough to raise the alarm. I was getting frustrated and shifted my weight again to get comfortable.


“Rose,” Albus started thoughtfully, “If this weren’t a car crash and instead — perhaps — looked like some sort of a mistake, that may be why you and S-Selenia wanted to talk to Lawrence.”


“Yeah,” I said, finally standing up to relieve the pressure on my back. My ankles immediately felt the heavy weight of fluid pooling and swelling, but it was basically just a game of moving myself around so that one body part didn’t get too uncomfortable. I shoved my discomfort aside and continued, “but nothing here is really that big of a deal. I don’t see anything obvious enough to be evidence of a curse. Even interpreting those scars as verbero scalpere is kinda stretching it.”


“Hmmm…” his thumb rubbed at his jawline, deep in thought and I couldn’t help but smile at him. He was finally getting back to a close representation of his old self. And while none of us could ever go back to the way we were before, it was really comforting to see Albus deep in thought, working a case and not thinking about how much he missed Selenia. “But you two had found something. Even if we don’t see it here, it’s worth a mention to Healer Lawrence, isn’t it? Maybe it’s something really small and we’re just missing it.”


I didn’t want to dissuade him by being negative, but in truth, I was fairly certain that Healer Lawrence would probably publicly humiliate me for bringing up such a nuance to him.


I needed to remind myself that this was nothing more than a medical records case and the simplest answer was most likely the correct one. But for Albus’s sake, I nodded in agreement. “We can see him tomorrow morning. We’ll ask your dad if it’s alright if we talk to both of them before they start with their daily meetings.”


Albus’s bright green eyes were eager with anticipation and he couldn’t pry them away from the paperwork in front of him. My heart began to flutter at seeing him get so caught up in the moment. The baby did a little joyful wiggle in my belly and I couldn’t stifle a giggle, but Al didn’t even hear me. He began sifting through the lab reports and asked me for some parchment and a quill so he could take down some details. I happily complied and watched him as he scribbled furiously.


He worked for nearly a half hour, barely looking up to even notice that I was shifting myself between sitting uncomfortably and waddling around the room to put the finishing touches on my space. Despite the fact that I was struggling to find a position I could stay in for longer than a few minutes, I was really excited to see him so enamored with his work.


We were interrupted by a gentle knock at the door. I smiled when Al didn’t even look up, he was so entrenched in taking notes. I crept over and opened the door a small crack, so as not to disturb him. If it wasn’t a medical emergency, I’d ask the patient to come back later. I was surprised to see Scorpius’s red, swollen eyes and his face twisted in agony. Quietly, I slipped out the door and maneuvered him to a secluded corner at the end of the corridor, away from the everyday foot traffic of the busy ministry hallways.


“Albus is in there, helping me out with my last medical records case that I need to get done,” I explained.


He folded himself onto me in a giant hug. I recognized all the signs and symptoms of grief.


“I know, love,” I said. “We all miss her so much.”


He nodded into my shoulder.


“I also know you’ve been trying to hold it together for my sake — and Al’s. But it’s alright to let go. She was an amazing person.” I traced the edge of his face and ran my finger down his jawline.


“I just…” he started. “It’s more than that. I-I can’t lose you. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to live if something happened to you or the baby. And this damned prophecy and Stannous and it’s just s-so… ”


He placed a hand on my enormous belly and, as if on cue, the baby started kicking against him.


“Someone’s saying ‘hi’ to his daddy,” I smiled up at him and he pressed his lips together in an attempt to hold back a grin. He nudged a bit harder on my stomach to feel. My hand smoothed his cheek to let him know I was there for as long as he needed. I wanted to show him that even in the midst of all this uncertainty and stress, we could still have these moments. “I don’t know what other magical powers this little guy’s gonna have, but right now, he does a pretty fabulous job of cheering me up on a regular basis and I think that’s downright miraculous.”


He blew out a long breath and finally smiled a tiny bit. The baby always brought around his smile. At the same moment, my stomach growled. It seemed I was hungry almost all the time — and because I was getting so big, I couldn’t eat large amounts in one sitting, so I required a lot of sittings. Scorpius heard the rumble and smirked, “Why don’t we go grab a bite at the cafe on the second floor?”


The baby gave a giant kick and we both laughed out loud when we felt it together. “He thinks that’s an excellent idea,” I giggled.


I tried to keep the conversation light at lunch. I’d stopped asking him if there were any new leads on the case months ago, so I told him about Albus and how he’d stopped by and really got into the medical case file. I hoped to be done in the next few days and then I’d be officially completed with my courses. After a year of practical work, I could get my proper Healer’s license. Scorpius beamed.


“I’m really proud of you, Ro. You’ve had so many things to deal with this past year, and you’ve still plowed through and managed to get all your coursework done. No one would’ve blamed you if you’d decided to take a break or put your studies on hold, but you haven’t let any of the Stannous stuff or the pregnancy slow you down.”


I hadn’t thought of it like that. Being a Healer was pretty much all I’d ever wanted, so that goal was always in the forefront of my mind. We hadn’t officially talked about what our plans would be for when little Weasley-Malfoy made his appearance, but I was sure we’d work something out.


After lunch, we both agreed it was time to check on Albus. We didn’t want him falling too deeply into the depths of research on his first go. Plus, I was interested to know what he’d found.


“Rose!” he blurted out as soon as we opened the door to my office. He’d used every square inch of the desk surface and examination table to lay out the different documents. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it wasn’t very sanitary to have the documents and papers that had been touched by Merlin knows who all over the space where I’d be presumably healing some open wounds, so I held my tongue. Small squares of parchment with notes on them were attached to all the different papers with a temporary sticking charm. He barely glanced at the two of us before he started talking at a high rate of speed.


“Oh, hey Scorp — didn’t know you were around — anyway there’s something off about all of this. It’s not just the fact that there was no glass from the windscreen.”


I stared, caught between amusement and intrigue. I was waiting for him to take a breath, but that was apparently, not about to happen. He was talking a mile a minute and stood up, rifling through all the papers. He ran around the far side of the desk and picked up one of the lab report scrolls. “Check this out, here!” I joined him, although it took me a few extra seconds to waddle around to the other side of the desk. Scorp stayed behind, gaping at the array of documents and papers everywhere.


“Look at this —” Al exclaimed. I was trying to scan through the roll of parchment in my hand to see what he was so excited about, but his pointy fingers were poking repeatedly at some writing on the page.


See?!” he was nearly shouting. “This lab report came back with results about the victim’s injuries.”


He finally moved his hand out of the way so I could see the results.


“This looks pretty standard for tests that would be performed on an injured victim,” I commented, not wanted to dissuade him. “X-ray scans, sample bloodwork, and a few other tests that would be used to determine course of treatment. Nothing unusual.”


“Yes!” Al jumped in the air and clapped his hands together in a celebratory sort of dance. I couldn’t help but feel my own excitement lift with his, even if I still couldn’t figure out what he was so thrilled about.


“That’s exactly what I’d hoped,” he continued pacing back and forth in front of the desk. “But I wasn’t sure if these were all basic tests done when a victim first comes in or not.”


“Yes,” I confirmed, “so that’s why I don’t see what you’re on about,” I said timidly, not wanting to burst his bubble. “There’s nothing unusual here. All the reports of broken bones and head trauma are consistent with an automobile accident.” I looked at him and shook my head and turned to Scorp to see if he could possibly know what was causing Al’s frenzy. But Scorpius wasn’t looking at me. He had an odd look on his face and was staring at something on the desk. Before I could ask him anything, Al cut in again.


“The dates! Look at the dates on the orders. Here.” He tapped the top of the parchment with the medical orders on it and I saw the typical format with the date stamped on it. 13 July, 2022


“Okaaay…” I said, still not cottoning on to his meaning.


“But! Then there’s this…” he ran to the back of the desk and rummaged through the paperwork, shoving papers aside in a flurry to locate the one he was looking for. Documents and photographs fluttered to the floor and Scorpius bent down to pick them up. Al found what he was searching for and scampered back over to me. “Here,” he pushed the paper at me as he spoke excitedly. It was the couple’s set of death certificates. He was bouncing up and down, waiting for me to see whatever it was that had caused him such excitement.


But Albus was growing impatient. “Look at the date on the Death Certificate!”


I skimmed the parchment quickly to find the date listed in its usual place at the bottom.


11 July, 2022


Something flashed in the back of my head about that date, but I wasn’t connecting it. I looked up at Albus and he was staring at me with his eyes nearly popping out of his head.


Rose,” he pushed the paper toward my nose. “How could they still be running tests on these victims two days after they died?!”


I froze.


“How could I have missed that?” I asked aloud. “I mean, it’s so glaringly obvious, but I didn’t even look at the dates. Neither did Selenia, when she took a look at this with me. I know we both saw something off, but I distinctly remember it was something to do with the photographs.” I glanced up at Albus, but he didn’t flinch at the sound of her name, for once.


“Most likely, you didn’t even think about it, Rose,” Al said. “I mean, you probably look at one hundred of those reports a day. You just naturally skim past the date and other standard stuff at the top of the page. But wait!” he began bouncing again, “There’s more! Where are the photographs?”


Al turned back to the desk and threw all caution to the wind, swiping papers everywhere and littering a trail of parchment around my newly organized office.


“Albus!” I admonished. “I’m trying to maintain an air of professionalism here, can we please be a little more respectful of my case file?”


“Sorry Rose,” Albus said hurriedly, without looking up, still shuffling through all the documents. “I’m really, really sorry, but I wanted to show you what I found.” He was scanning the floor frantically, looking for whatever document he’d clearly shuffled off the desk.


“Where did the pictures go? I wanted to show you that the victims in the photos—”


Scorpius let out a loud sound that was half sob and half squawk and Al and I stopped to look at him. He was standing stock still, white as a ghost and holding both of the pictures with a look of utter shock upon his face. His voice was raspy and barely above a whisper.


“These… are my parents.”


A/N: Gah! So sorry for the wait! I've been in a bit of a slump, writing-wise, but I'll do the best I can to get this story posted. The good news: I have an AMAZING new beta for this story. Thanks so much to Anja (merlins beard) for all your help! If you have a chance, hop on over to her page and read some of her brilliant work! Thanks to everyone who's been so patient with this and especially to those of you who've taken the time to leave a review. I'd love to know what you think of this latest chapter. ♥ Beth


“It’s murder, plain and simple.” Dom smacked her hand on the table in frustration at the entirety of the situation.


“There’s nothing simple about murder,” Uncle Harry muttered. They were the first words he’d spoken since we’d all gathered in his office with the medical file and the new found discoveries. He wasn’t scolding Dom; he was too deep in thought to comment any further. He held an intense scowl as his one hand covered the bottom half of his face, resting his chin on his thumb. The other hand tapped an erratic rhythm on the table with the tips of his fingers.


Draco and Astoria Malfoy — Scorpius’ mum and dad… murdered. It was absurd and maddening and completely overwhelming all at once. I was finding it difficult to grasp the magnitude of it all, and the emotions were putting Scorpius through the ringer.


He’d refused to sit down ever since we’d got to Uncle Harry’s office. Actually, I don’t think he would’ve even considered going to Harry except for the fact that Al had grabbed all the photos and documents and stormed through the ministry in a whirlwind of fervor. Al’s intention wasn't to be insensitive to his best friend, and he wasn't wrong, either. His discovery was huge.


We were all crowded around a small, square table Al had conjured to spread out the paperwork. I was in a chair on one side; Dad was on my left and Teddy sat to my right. Uncle Harry was opposite me, with Dom and Colleen flanking him. Kali and Caesar sat on the right side, examining the paperwork with great intensity. Healer Lawrence took up one entire side, not because he was a large man, but because no one wanted to be next to him. Al was wildly pacing around, shoving himself between people to point at documents and photos as he explained all his findings.


“D’ya see how the dates don’t line up?” Al explained. “And the missing windscreen glass? That’s when I first realized something was off. Then Rose noticed that the wounds here,” he pointed to the male victim’s picture — or rather, Draco, “see here? They look like verbero scalpere. Sort of. Dom’s right. It’s quite possibly murder.”


“I think I should take a look at these photos to determine if the injuries were caused by dark magic.” Healer Lawrence reached for the pictures and Teddy leaned in close to him as the head Healer was scrutinizing the photo. His face was screwed in concentration. I was caught between straining to pay attention to the conversation and keeping one eye on Scorpius, standing across the room. If I hadn’t been looking up at that exact moment, I wouldn’t missed the subtle flick of Teddy’s eyes at Dad and Uncle Harry. After the quick gesture, he was back to examining the photos with the Healer, but none of them acknowledged the exchange.


“Well the photo quality isn’t very good,” Healer Lawrence commented. “It’s difficult to see the details of the injury, but I concur with Junior Auror Potter’s conclusion. This is not likely the result of an automobile accident.” He stood up and shuffled through the other papers, “Let me take a look at the reports with the dates that are off—”


“Yeah, it looks exactly as Albus said,” Dad had the papers in his hand, examining the notes Albus had attached with the temporary sticking charm. “The dates are off.” He ignored Healer Lawrence’s outstretched hand, rolled up both scrolls of parchment and tucked them into his robes with one smooth motion. Without looking up, he grabbed several other papers and began skimming through them, as was evident by his finger tracing out the important information.


Healer Lawrence was obviously caught off guard, but, as no one was acting out of the ordinary, he switched his focus back to the photos.


I cocked my head to the side, trying to catch someone’s eye, but no one seemed to notice me craning my head around.


“And I also found this,” Albus pointed to another document and tapped at the scrap of parchment he’d stuck to it. “See here? Two different medi-witches signed each of these reports and here,” he tapped the bottom of a scrap of parchment in Colleen’s hand, “and here,” he stretched over Caesar and touched a document in the middle of the table, “are signed by two different Healers, but they all look like—”


“Lemme see!” Teddy stood up so abruptly that it startled me and a few papers fluttered to the floor. However, no one heard the gasp that I made because just as quickly, he launched himself across the table, diving for the medical form that Albus was extending to reach. Healer Lawrence stood up too, and I’m not exactly certain what happened next, but very suddenly, there were more papers flying everywhere and chairs knocked backwards as nearly all the Aurors stood up at once.


There was only one beat of awkwardness and, as suddenly as it had happened, each of the Aurors fell into lockstep.


“Healer Lawrence, are you alright?” Dom asked in a deeply concerned voice. She put her hand on his shoulder and drew him in with her concerned face. My jaw dropped open. Dom had never used that tone before — at least not that I’d ever heard. My confusion was compounded by the fact that Healer Lawrence had made no indication that he wasn’t alright. He’d simply been sitting there, just like me.


“Here, sir, let me help you,” Kali was standing on his other side, guiding him back to his seat. “Did you drop your wand, sir?” She bent down behind his chair to pick up something from the floor. The Healer’s eyes followed her movements. I was so puzzled by their actions that I couldn’t even find the words to say so.


While they tended to the head Healer, the rest of the Aurors were reaching to pick up all the scattered photos and documents off the floor. Somehow, the entire file ended up in Uncle Harry’s hands.


“Dad… I—” Albus looked up from the floor, clearly taken aback, but he recovered quickly and snapped his mouth shut. I had no idea what was going on, but I knew enough to keep quiet. I chanced a glance at Scorpius, who was still propped up against the far wall, his head in his hands. My heart wrenched and I was struggling to get out of my seat when Uncle Harry cut in.


“I think it’s time we all took a break,” he said with a light, but tired inflection in his words. “We’ve all been working very hard,” he nodded to Healer Lawrence, who opened his mouth to speak.


“Excellent idea, Harry,” Dad piped in, before anyone else could say anything. “I’ve got some tea and biscuits in my office. The promise of food and drink, coupled with the fact that Dom and Kali were leading Healer Lawrence out of the office, was enough to move the entire group down the hall to Dad’s space.


Everyone… but Scorpius — who didn’t move a muscle from his solid stance. A swell of guilt overtook me once more. I’d let myself get distracted by the dramatics of the afternoon. Once everyone was gone, I went to him and smoothed his hands and softly tugged them away from his face. For the second time that day, I was met with his red, swollen eyes. Swallowing to hold back my own tears, I guided him away from the wall and toward a small loveseat in the corner of Uncle Harry’s office.


I tried to broach the subject of his parents’ murder gently, but he simply shook his head. It was too much for him to process all at once. I didn’t press him; instead, I snuggled into him and placed both our hands on my belly, in the hopes that he could see how our future connected to the past. I knew from my own experience that some wounds couldn’t be healed by magic.


It wasn’t nearly long enough before the Aurors started pouring back into the room. Sitting up, I scooted to the edge of the loveseat, trying to stand quickly and let them know that Scorp and I were done for the day; we’d both had some serious information to digest.


They entered the room with a ruckus, the three second years snickering and patting each other on the back.


“Tosser never saw it coming,” Caesar snickered. “Totally deserved it, I’d say.”


“The look on his face was priceless, I swear,” Kali added. Albus came through the door after them, and he was grinning as well.


Healer Lawrence was not among the group and everyone seemed to have a slight eagerness to their step.


“Where’s the Healer?” I asked warily.


“Oh,” Colleen couldn’t hide the mirth in her voice, “he very suddenly remembered how much work he had to do at St. Mungo’s, didn’t he?” Caesar, Kali and Albus exchanged smirks with her.


“Did you obliviate him?” I asked.


“No… I wouldn’t say that…” there was a teasing tone in Colleen’s voice. “... but he might be a little confunded.” The three of younger auror-trainees broke out into fits of giggles.


“Using magic on a colleague is never something to take lightly,” Uncle Harry spat, not loudly… all the same, the room fell into instant silence. “I couldn’t take a chance using obliviate, because we may need his expertise at some point. However, at this very moment, I’m not one hundred percent certain where his… erm… loyalties lie and we’re on the cusp of discovering something that may involve St. Mungo’s and its employees.”


The air hung heavy around his serious tone. It was obvious that the younger crew thought he’d only disposed of the Healer because he was annoying and overbearing. But even I wasn’t sure what he meant about his ‘loyalties.’


Uncle Harry gathered the group around the small table one more time, and his tone was the most serious I’d ever heard it.


“All right, you lot. What do we know?” he tossed the file on the table, and it slid impressively across the polished wood, documents and photos skidding, slipping out and sprawling to look up at us.


I cocked my head in confusion. What was he bloody talking about? We knew next to nothing. Things were more messed up than ever.


“It’s murder,” Teddy said matter-of factly. “Murder and a cover up,” he added, holding the photo of Draco close to his face to stare at the image.


A cover up? How did they ever come to that conclusion?


“That part’s obvious,” Dad muttered. Apparently I was the only one that was surprised by the ‘cover up.’ “But you sound like you know more than the rest of us, Ted?” Dad asked him, trying to peer over his shoulder.


“I can’t be sure just yet, but…” Teddy took the photo and brought it over to Uncle Harry’s desk, examined it closely for a few moments and then drew his wand before continuing. “I was immediately suspicious when Healer Lawrence made the comment that the photo quality was bad. And then Al mentioned that Rose had seen something on the photos, but couldn’t remember what she’d seen. It made me think...”


His voice trailed off as he scanned his wand slowly over the photos and muttered an incantation I couldn’t hear. Then he shook his head, “No good. I need some more specifics. Rose! Can you come here and look at these?”


“Me?” I asked. I’d no idea what he was getting at. “Teddy, I’ve looked at those photos so many times—”


“That’s what I’m getting at. You know these better than anyone else in the room.”


I wiggled to the end of the loveseat and hoisted myself up. I managed to squeeze myself into the seat next to him and he leaned over, holding the photo of Draco.


“Can you just look at it one more time, and see if you can remember anything?


“Just try, Rosie,” Dad said, gently massaging my shoulders.


I took the photo and tried to clear my head of the emotions that passed through, knowing I was looking at my unborn child’s grandfather. The picture looked much the same that I remembered from staring at it time and again… in my office at the ministry… at home sitting at my desk… sitting on my bed with Selenia all those months ago. She’d come to my room to comfort me and we started looking at the file. At the photos in the file. I saw the scratches on Draco’s head. And I looked closer. There was something more. But when I looked at the photo in my hand, I couldn’t see anything more than a few blurry scratches, and one deeper cut on his scalp line. I leaned in closer and squinted.


“There!” I pointed to the dark wound. “That is definitely different. The cut right here on the hairline was… something that caught my eye. I don’t remember anything other than that.” I was stuttering out the words, as my thoughts raced around my head, squeezing my brain to remember the details. I sighed and looked up at Teddy, feeling deflated. I realized I wasn’t being much help to the case.


But his answer caught me by complete surprise. “Yes!” he exclaimed, looking eagerly from Uncle Harry to Dad and squeezing my shoulders in his excitement.


“It’s just as I suspected — the photo’s been altered. I thought I saw traces of a curse on here, but the standard revealing charms didn’t work. Now that we’ve narrowed it down to a specific area… whoa —” he paused his speech while making intricate movements with his wand. He stopped talking for only a moment and pointed his wand at the part of the photo with the scratch. He must’ve recited a nonverbal spell. It was like an invisible screen had lifted off the paper and revealed the image of a tiny, bright red, but unmistakable lightning bolt-shaped wound.


“What is it?” Dom asked. She was the first to find her voice. Dad was leaning over my shoulder to see, and Uncle Harry was quick to squeeze in on my other side, not grabbing at the photo, but leaning over to look at it with the rest of us.


“It’s avada kedavra,” I breathed, as nearly everything from that night came crashing back to me. We’d found evidence of the killing curse.


Scorpius let out a small groan as Teddy began working on the other picture — the photo of the woman, or rather, Astoria Greengrass Malfoy.


“Same curse here,” he said matter-of-factly and then he caught the look on Scorpius’s face and faltered. “Erm… Sorry, Scorpius. I really am.”


Albus reached past me and the sleeve of his robes slid up his arm. I remembered the verbero scalpere comparisons and my eye shot back to Draco’s photo. They were nearly identical, now that they could be seen clearly.


Scorpius was deflating in his seat and I attempted to raise myself from my spot at the table, but Teddy, Dad and Uncle Harry were crowding around me and I couldn’t maneuver around them. Caesar and Dom jumped up from the crowd of onlookers to support their friend and fellow Auror, each sitting down on one side of him, squeezing three into a loveseat that was clearly built for two.


“Rose, did you notice these markings before?” Uncle Harry asked me, distracting me from Scorpius.


“Yeah, I think so,” I said, shaking my head to clear it and settling back in my seat. At first, I was having a difficult time trying to remember, but as soon as I laid eyes on the photo, it all came crashing back.


“Yes,” I said definitely. “This is exactly what I saw with Selenia. There was evidence of avada kedavra on both victims! … Oh Merlin Scorp — I’m so sorry—” For my second attempt, I managed to heave my enormous belly out of the chair and make my way over to him. Dom and Caesar sidled away and headed to the table, examining the photos with Teddy and the rest.


I put my hands on either side of Scorpius’s face to block out the rest of the room. My mind flashed back to when he’d done the same for me the night at the Quaffle and my words were nearly the same as his had been. I waited until his eyes met mine and I faltered when I saw how deep his emotions were running. But I managed to keep my voice steady, “We don’t have to do this now, Love. We can just go home and give it some time. It’s up to you.” I slid my hands to his shoulders and wrapped my arms around him — as best I could with my huge belly.


He shook his head and said, “No, it’s alright… I’m alright.” I cocked my head to ask him if he was certain, and his response was a firm nod. “Rose, it’s okay. It’s not gonna be easy, but I need to know the truth about… this.” His face hardened with determination.


I nodded and rested against him. Overall, it was an exhausting day, but I wasn’t going anywhere. Scorpius seemed to be most comfortable sitting on the loveseat instead of in the middle of the action and I was most comfortable being as close as possible to him. Our hands found each other and we held on like it was the only thing keeping us from losing our sanity.


The rest of the group was sorting everything out, trying to determine exactly how and why everything happened, reconstructing the order of events. The buzz of chatter was in the back of my head as I was focused solely on how Scorpius was handling the news.


“Hold it,” Dom was urgently trying to get everyone’s attention. “Wait one moment. Everyone. Listen! If Rose and Selenia noticed avada kedavra on the victims, then that means these photos were altered after Rose saw them. They were messed with at some point from when she saw them with Selenia and… today.”


“Where were you and Selenia looking at the photos? Were you at St. Mungo’s?” Teddy queried.


“No,” I said, recalling the night before I’d fallen down the stairs. “I was in my room at Number Twelve. Selenia was helping me by taking a look at the pictures and we noticed the avada kedavra scar.” I was talking slowly as my hazy memory was coming back, but also trying to keep one eye on Scorpius and make sure he was doing alright. “I’d decided to bring the file to Healer Lawrence the next morning… but then I fell down the stairs.”


“Had anyone else gotten a chance to look at them? Or mess with them?” Kali cut in.


I thought hard for a moment. Things were still a bit hazy the morning of my fall. “I’m pretty sure I dropped them when I fell and then I found them in my desk drawer with an undetectable charm on it when I returned from the hospital. So that was several days that they were unaccounted for.”


“Not necessarily,” Dom added. “I ran home from the hospital that evening. I grabbed them from the floor and put them in your desk with the charm. I didn’t get a good look at them…”


“What about before?” Kali was really quick with the questions. Her mind seemed to work almost as fast as Albus’s; making connections and demanding answers.


“Before what?” Caesar countered.


“Don’t you think it’s odd that Rose ‘falls’ down the stairs and then all of a sudden a case that she’s been working on — which coincidentally happens to be Scorpius’s parents — ends up being altered? Too many coincidences.”


“Yeah,” Albus began nodding furiously. “Damn — how did we all miss that?”


“We were distracted,” Dad growled. “As soon as Rose got to hospital, she was cursed — and then there was the Death Eater attack on her and Scorpius in the middle of the night. We were too focused on keeping her safe and —”


“— and we lost our perspective because the case was close to home,” Uncle Harry finished for him. The two senior members exchanged a serious look. I knew they were blaming themselves, but when I opened my mouth to talk, the words were already coming from someone standing behind Uncle Harry and Dad.


“Let’s not waste our energies by beating ourselves up. We’ve got to keep working on this and look for any clues that can lead us to what’s really going on.” Albus said. I felt the tiniest bit of relief. The fiery look in his emerald eyes and the grim yet determined expression on his face meant only one thing: he was back. “Rose,” he stepped out from behind Dad and Uncle Harry and walked toward me, “you’re remembering more about that day, aren’t you? Think really hard, Rosie. Take your time and tell us anything that comes to mind.”


I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. Despite his current state, Scorpius squeezed my hand and I felt the warmth spread up my arm and into my heart. Slowly, I started talking, “I remember tripping and almost catching myself, but then I just couldn’t. It was weird. Not like I was being pushed, but that my feet wouldn’t land properly.”


“Pushed by magic...” suggested Colleen. The room fell into silence. All the Aurors’ eyes were on me. Not even a single paper was being shuffled around to have a look.


“Okay — so let’s say this did happen — and someone made Rose trip and fall, why didn’t they just destroy the papers and photos?” Albus blurted out to the room.


“If they’re anything like Ministry records, it’s not easy to destroy official documents — they have an indestructible charm on them. It can be done, but it takes some serious magic and quite a bit of time.” Harry added.


“Wait!” Albus realized, “Whoever it was, must’ve heard James coming! He said he found Rose just a minute or so after she fell. Remember he said that it was so lucky he didn’t apparate upstairs?!”


“Yeah,” Scorpius cleared his throat next to me. “I remember that.” I squeezed his hand. My emotions were hanging somewhere between intense anxiety over having to relive the horrid moments of my fall and the utter shock of everything that’d been discovered over the previous few minutes.


“So— Rose was magically pushed down the stairs and when the documents couldn’t be destroyed, they were quickly altered.” Dom summarized.


“But who?” Kali asked. “The house is under the fidelius charm. Only people with the secret can get into Number Twelve.”


I felt the blood drain from my face at her words and Scorpius tensed next to me. Someone had gotten into Grimmauld Place.


“Maybe Rose really did trip and stumble,” Colleen offered feebly.


“Not bloody likely,” Dad’s voice was measured, but deeper than usual. “This was Stannous.”


“Could it have been an animagus? Or perhaps a goblin— or even a house elf! Wizarding magic doesn’t always apply in the same manner to different magical creatures.” Albus was shooting ideas around the room.


“I think I’m fairly confident in my abilities to set up a fidelius charm, thank you very much,” Uncle Harry growled. His face was as white as I felt, but his eyes flared dark like the sea. It was that emotion, filled with desperation and turmoil and fierce determination, that pulsed through my heart. When Uncle Harry was at a loss, there was little else I could do. I leaned my head onto Scorpius’s shoulder. He didn’t move.


“I think I need to go home,” I mumbled weakly. If I thought I was tired before, it was nothing compared to the wave of exhaustion that crashed over me at that moment.


“Rose, are you not paying attention?” Dom’s hissed. “You’re not safe at Grimmauld Place!


“Alright, let’s just take a moment to reassess the situation.” Uncle Harry’s voice was terse, and his words came in sharp contrast to his usual gentle tone. “Rose, for the time being, you’ll be staying with your parents — or my house.”


I raised my eyebrows at the order he was giving.


I felt my body go rigid at the command, all the way to my belly. I knew Uncle Harry was only speaking in my best interest, but it felt like I was being imprisoned — like the last time all the restrictions were put in place. It was the same as it had been for the past year. Rose has to be protected. Rose can’t take care of herself. And I knew it was true, but I couldn’t stop the rush of anger and guilt and overwhelming sense of dread.


I knew, at the end of all this, Stannous was going to win, one way or another.


Scorpius had not moved or given any indication at all that he was even listening to the conversation. I turned to look up at him, to make sure he was at least still breathing. His eyes were trained on the photos and documents on the table and I realized that our discussion had turned from what had happened to his parents that awful day to my own personal safety. For the first time since we’d gotten together, I had no idea at all what to say or even what to think. I was so tired, and I felt the pressure of the situation tightening my muscles, all the way down my back.


“Alright,” I conceded, trying to hide the lump in my throat. “Sure.” It was all too much and I couldn’t even bring myself to form any other words. I caught Al’s eye when he looked up from analyzing the documents and he saw Scorp and I slumped against each other and stilled. I didn’t think the humanity aspect of the situation was hitting home with any of the other Aurors. Al dropped the papers that he was holding and came over to the two of us. He kneeled down in front of us and rested his hands on my knees.


“Dad… erm…” Albus cleared his throat, but didn’t take his eyes off of me. The whole room turned to face us. Instead of Uncle Harry, my own Dad took a few steps forward, but then stopped and gripped the back of an empty chair.


“Dad,” Albus began again. “D’you think we could reconsider?” Uncle Harry set his chin and opened his mouth, but before he could speak, Al cut in, “I agree, something fishy happened when Rose fell down the stairs, and we need to analyze it. But that was three months ago. And if he’d wanted to or been able to get into Number Twelve, he would’ve done it by now. Either Stannous can’t get to her at Grimmauld Place, or he won’t.”


My heart skipped a beat. Not that Grimmauld Place was my ideal choice for a home, but we’d gotten settled over the past few months and we had the baby’s room all set up. Perhaps I was being a little foolish about all of it, but I’d already imagined snuggling with my little one in the rocker that overlooked the back garden, and giving the baby a bath in the ancient clawfoot tub. The idea of packing up everything and trying to get used to being a mum while being a guest in my parents’ house made me feel like a completely useless human being. I held my breath, waiting for the rebuttal from Dad and Uncle Harry.


“That’s quite a gamble to take, Albus.” I noticed that Uncle Harry didn’t flat out turn him down, so there was at least a tiny bit of hope. “But, let’s hear your plan.”


Albus opened his mouth and faltered for a bit. I didn’t think he was expecting his dad to budge an inch. “W-well…”


“We could remove the fidelius and put up another one,” Kali jumped in. “There are actually quite a few people who have the secret. Originally it was the Weasleys and a few close friends, but you added in some people over the past year — like the three of us,” she pointed to herself and motioned to Caesar and Colleen.


“And a few of your colleagues from Mungo’s,” Albus added. I wavered my head slightly in assent. I’d asked for a few study buddies to be able to come over a few times, and Uncle Harry didn’t say no.


“Hmmm… St. Mungo’s…” Dom muttered across the room. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Albus give her a questioning look, but she shook her head to quiet him.


“So, we can put up another fidelius charm,” Kali restarted the conversation. “And only the bare minimum get the secret. I’m thinking Rose’s parents, Harry, and the four of you,” she pointed to Dom and the three of us against the wall.


“Not James?” I asked.


“No need,” she stated matter-of-factly. “He’s not home that much anyway, and he’s not an auror. No offense to James, but he can really have a flat anywhere, and if something were to happen, there should really be one of the Aurors who are trained to deal with sticky situations around. James can’t even summon help like we can with our wand connections.”


“If that’s the case,” Caesar thought aloud, “Hermione’s not an Auror, either.”


“Yeah, right,” Dad muttered. “You tell Hermione Weasley that she can’t visit her daughter or grandchild at their house, because I’m bloody well not about to deliver that news.”


I felt the tension in the room lift a bit as the rest of the team chuckled. Uncle Harry even cracked a smile, at least for a moment. He cleared his throat, “Yes, well, no one wants to be on Hermione’s bad side, and I’ve got a fair bit of confidence in her ability to fight her way out of a situation — or summon help. Or hex anyone who gets in the way of her family...”


“Maybe we should switch to a different secret keeper?” Colleen suggested. “You know, someone that wouldn’t be so obvious?”


No.


Harry and Dad spoke in unison. I felt like a conversation had happened at some point before, they were both so adamant.


“No switching,” Uncle Harry repeated flatly.


Colleen recoiled and looked as if she’d been scolded for eating biscuits before dinner. It lasted only for a moment, and then the conversation turned back to the business at hand.


“Alright,” Albus spoke up and he sounded confident and in charge. “Grimmauld Place is a good choice, because it’s unplottable and putting up another fidelius charm should clear up the issue with so many people having the secret. Plus, it really has become a home for us. And I know how important it is for Rose and Scorpius to feel like they’ve got some sort of a normal life, so it makes sense. For the most part, one of us Aurors will be around. If not, Rose is already connected to our wand network, and she can summon us.”


Everyone in the room nodded and Uncle Harry took a step back and let Albus continue.


“Alright. We’ve concluded that the photos were tampered with at some point after Rose’s fall. Most likely someone — we don’t know who — got in and caused Rose to trip down the stairs, wanted to destroy the photos, but didn’t have time, so they could only alter them.”


“And then Rose was cursed in the hospital,” added Caesar. “Healer Lawrence said it was a dark magic curse that caused her heart condition.”


“So someone got into the house, caused the fall, and then when we brought Rose to the hospital, snuck into her room to finish the job?” posited Kali. “That makes sense.”


“And when that didn’t work, Stannous launched an all-out assault in the middle of the night. It’s just so frustrating we couldn’t get any useful info from the lot of Death Eaters that Scorpius captured. Those tossers didn’t know their wands from fire kindling. And it didn’t even help that we had a Bulgarian translator. They knew next to nothing.”


Scorpius shuddered beside me. It was too much for both of us. I wasn’t cut out for all the Auror business, and I didn’t want to sit there and relive all of the worst moments of my life. And poor Scorp, we hadn’t even touched on the fact that his parents were murdered. I wrapped one arm around Scorpius and reached out to grasp Al’s hand with my other. He was in mid-sentence, but he turned to see me.


“I can’t do this right now,” I said quietly. “We can’t do this right now.” I cocked my head at my fiance.


“Rosie —” Al halted when he saw I was on the verge of tears. “Yes, of course. Of course… Dad?”


“Rose, it’s going to take me a day or so to set up the new fidelius. Plus, I want to add a few of my own touches to the protections. I know you just want to go home right now, but would you mind staying at our house for a night or two? I promise to have you back in your own bed as soon as I can.”


There was no fighting it. And I did appreciate Uncle Harry’s offer. I wasn’t sure I could deal with my Mum fussing over me at her house for two days, so I agreed and Scorpius stood with me. We used the floo right in Uncle Harry’s office. Within the hour, we were both fast asleep in his guest bedroom.



A/N: Hiya everyone! I know it's been ages since I've updated. I'm really so sorry. I hope you like this latest chapter and, as always, I'd love to know what you think! ♥ Beth.

Edit 3rd December, 2016. I owe a HUGE apology to my beta, merlinsbeard. She's a fabulous beta and a wonderful person. If you get a chance, stop by her page and take a gander. She has some amazing stories! Thanks Anja! ♥ you!


Chapter 43: Bemoaning and Bearing: Rose and Scorpius POV
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“Scorp?”


Nothing.


“Scorpius? I know you’re awake. I can tell by your breathing,” I tried to leave the hurt out of my voice, but it kept creeping back in.


The only indication that he’d heard me was a long sigh escaping through his nose and his weight shifting as he rolled toward the wall. It’d been over a month and we’d danced around each other, going through the motions of work and home, but he didn’t speak to anyone — not even Albus. He went to all the meetings required by the Auror department and filled out his paperwork for the cases, but beyond that, he walked around in a haze and… I followed. It was almost worse than when he’d holed himself up in Regulus’s room, because he was physically present, but emotionally completely absent from all our lives.


At first, I’d tried to just let him be. While we were staying at Uncle Harry’s house for a couple of days, I tried to get him to talk about their deaths, or their lives, anything, but he would change the subject or grunt an offhand comment about being tired. When we moved back to Grimmauld Place, I figured he’d come around once we were again at home in our own place. But he’d pulled away even more. He didn’t even eat dinner most nights, heading up for a shower and bed after working late at the Ministry. If he wasn’t already in bed when I got up to our room, he usually turned out the light as soon as I came in.


I’d even tried to talk to him about the baby. As my due date drew closer, I was getting more and more nervous. Because of the restrictions, and what’d happened at Mungo’s the last time I was admitted, the Aurors had decided it wasn’t entirely safe to have the baby at the hospital.


After much deliberation, we came to the conclusion that my parents’ house would be the best place. It was more sanitary than dingy Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, according to my mother. Plus, it had the added bonus of being accessible to my Healer and other medical personnel.


Not to mention that Nana Molly had made it abundantly clear to my father and Uncle Harry that absolutely nothing was going to stop her from seeing her very first great-grandchild; not the entire Auror Department, nor the Ministry itself, and certainly not a silly little fidelius charm. It only took one stern look from her before my father and Uncle Harry caved.


Even so, I was still going to my appointments with Healer Chang at St. Mungo’s. Of course, I was always accompanied by a team of Aurors. At minimum, it was a very silent Scorpius, Dominique and either Dad or Uncle Harry. In addition, there were always at least two plain clothes Aurors in the lobby when we arrived, Teddy or Al would hang around as well, although I got the feeling neither of the two were officially assigned to the case, but no one was about to stop them from being there.


Dad said going to St. Mungo’s for my checkups would give the impression that I had every intention of having the baby there, so if Stannous was planning something, he wouldn’t suspect we had an alternate location. The only people who knew about Mum and Dad’s house were Healer Chang, Healer Lawrence and a handful of Aurors. Healer Chang also explained that everything looked really good with the baby and I was right on schedule, but if for some reason there was an emergency and she needed to summon an additional Healer to assist at my parents’ house, it was good that the other staff members were familiar with my medical history.


Everything looked fine. I should’ve been happy — elated, actually. But I couldn’t bring myself to want to be happy when Scorp was so miserable. As if I wasn’t already worried enough about being a good mum, I had the added stress of having to give birth at secret location, with a partner who was otherwise going through one of the most trying times of his life.


He blew out another long, tiresome breath. He was lying next to me but felt miles and miles away. I reached over to him and smoothed my hand up and down his back, my fingers landing on his neck and massaging across his shoulders. As expected, I got no response from him. The worst part was that I didn’t even know what he was thinking. I could guess, as he was just in whirlwind of emotions about his parents’ murders and becoming a father, but I really wished he’d talk to me about it. The whole thing was scary, but it would’ve been nice just to be scared together.


The baby and Scorpius and Stannous and my Healing practice and everything kept bouncing around inside my head all day and night. I could feel my body tense up and the baby wiggle around in protest as I lay there next to my mute fiance. He hadn’t even been trying to feel the baby move in the weeks prior. I missed the days when he’d lean up against the headboard and I would settle in between his legs. His arms would wrap around me and we’d both put our hands on my belly, gasping and giggling at every twitch.


I waited a few moments for the tension to pass, dropped my hand my side to hoist up, and shuffled myself off the bed, waddling across the sitting area of the room. I frowned at my slightly puffy fingers as they turned the knob of the door to the baby’s room. Everything was swelling up. The worst was when the bottoms of my feet got swollen and I felt like I was walking on pillows. I conjured a glass of water and checked the time. Two-eleven am. Shaking my head, I downed it in one gulp. The water always seemed to help the swelling a little bit, but the catch was that I’d need to visit the bathroom at some point — most likely right after I’d gotten myself into a comfortable position.


Mum had been over to help me clean up the baby’s room a few times in the last week, but I couldn’t stop myself from casting a few more scourgify charms on it, just for good measure. I’d received a few more baby gifts of clothes and blankets from friends at the ministry, so I set to cleaning those and putting them away in the small chest of mahogany drawers. Months back, Scorpius had been given his old set from when he was a baby by his Aunt Daphne. She’d been holding onto it for him and when she found out about our little one, passed it along to Scorpius. He’d always put on a warm smile when he walked in the room and saw his old bureau and cot in our baby’s room. But even that couldn’t shake him out of his recent funk.


My cleaning and rearranging had been quite rigorous, because I felt the tension building up in my gut again and I let out a long sigh to try to relax. When that didn’t work, I lowered my body into the rocker next to the window that overlooked the back garden, hoping that I’d be able to heave myself out at some point. I conjured another glass of water and rocked back and forth, taking small sips and trying not to let everything stress me out.


Stannous. The baby. Scorpius. The prophecy. My Healing practice. Scorpius. Selenia’s murder. Draco and Astoria’s deaths. Scorpius. Being a new mum and feeding the baby and holding the baby and dressing and undressing and changing nappies. And Scorpius, Scorpius, Scorpius.


My hands rested on my belly without even thinking about it, in an effort to smooth the tightness that seemed to be coming in more frequent bouts. I knew my bladder would be telling me it was time to go within minutes, so I rocked myself forward, put one hand on the top of the bureau and the other on the changing table. With one final rock, I pushed down and raised myself out of the wobbly chair. I headed out the door that led to the hallway and crossed to the bathroom.


Once there, it dawned on me that I’d also have to clean it as well. The weekly scrub down I usually gave wasn’t going to cut it in the place where the baby would be taking his bath. So I started with the tub, making sure to hit every spot with my extra strength scourgify spells. I cleaned every inch of the liner and curtain, then moved on to the floor, chasing myself around the room to reach every corner. I had to take a break before I started the sink; I was out of breath and the baby was kicking furiously as my stomach flexed and tightened from all the activity.


After a couple of minutes, it passed and I started on the sink, mirror and vanity cabinet. Next was the small linen closet. I took out each towel, cleaned it, cleaned the shelf and the doors and the handles.


By that time, I really had to use the loo, so it made sense to do that before I cleaned the toilet. The second round of cleaning seemed to take more out of me than the first and I found myself gripping onto the sides of the walls to wait for the intensity of the pressure on my back and abdomen to pass. I’d been warned by Healer Chang not to overdo it. And Mum and Dad and Nana Molly, Aunt Ginny, Dom, Albus, the whole lot of them. I wasn’t tired, but I figured I’d go back to bed and finish my cleaning in the morning.


I didn’t get two steps before I felt a weird twinge in my belly. It was different than when the baby would kick. Before I could categorize it, everything on my lower half was wet.


Well, then.


I wondered if Scorpius would finally have something to say.


*


When Rose told me it was ‘time,’ something clicked inside of me. It’s the very same as whenever I’m under a pressure situation: there’s a task to be done and I set my brain to work mode and that’s that.


I pushed everything aside, got out of bed, had her sit as comfortably as she could get, got the beaded bag she’d borrowed from her mum ready to go, and patronused all the people who were on the notify list: Healer Chang, her parents, Albus, Dominique (although they were right upstairs), and Harry. In no time at all, we were settled at her parents’ house, with nearly the entire Weasley and Potter family gathered downstairs, while we had Healer Chang in the upstairs room with us.


Rose was white. She’d been in labor for hours and hours. At her own request, she only wanted me and necessary medical personnel in the room with her — which was only her Healer. I’d made the mistake of letting her Mum and Dad come in when Healer Chang was helping her to the bathroom. When she’d finished, she stood at the door and whispered me over.


“What are they doing in here?” she demanded.


I wasn’t sure how to respond. It was their house, after all, so it seemed a kind of moot point to argue, but apparently Rose wasn’t looking for a conversation because she didn’t wait for me to answer.


“Tell them to get out.”


“Erm…” I stammered, thinking of how to tell my boss and his boss to leave a room that they owned. Before I could ask Rose for suggestions, she slammed the door to the bathroom in my face and I was left standing there.


I turned around and paced across the room, scratching the back of my neck. I wasn’t sure if they’d heard Rose, so I was searching for the right words. I didn’t want to come off as a total prat, being that I’d been sort of in my own head for the past few weeks over the shocking news of my parents’ deaths. I couldn’t bring myself to look them in the eye, so I kept my sight trained on the carpet.


“So… erm — Rose was wondering…” I started.


“Are they still HERE!?” I heard her bellow through the door.


“Would you two mind terribly… if… erm if…” I raised my head slowly to see two very amused faces.


“Scorpius, it’s alright,” Hermione couldn’t contain her smile. “We’ll wait downstairs with the others. This is yours and Rose’s time.”


“Yeah,” Ron added. “And what a splendid time you’ll be having— OOOF! Hermione! Ron hopped on one leg and tried to turn around gracefully as Hermione flicked her wand effortlessly and the door snapped shut behind them.


I hurried across the room to tell Rose and Healer Chang that they’d left and it was safe to come out. Rose was in the middle of a contraction and was bent over the sink, taking deep breaths and blowing them out slowly, as Healer Chang coached her through it, rubbing her back.


When it had passed, we helped her to the bed and I conjured some more water for Rose. She wasn’t permitted to eat while in labor and I couldn’t completely determine if her crankiness was due to the actual pain of labor (which certainly did not seem to be a flight on a broomstick) or from hunger. Generally Rose (as did most of the Weasleys), ate about six times a day. She hadn’t had any food since her evening snack the night before. The clock on the wall said it was close to six pm. Nearly twenty hours without food would be enough to make anyone irate, but you have to amplify that number by about a hundred when you’re considering the Weasley appetite.


After checking, Healer Chang announced that Rose was really close and that it was nearly time to start pushing. I felt relieved because just by looking at Rose, it seemed that she was nearing the end of what she could take. Her face was flushed and her lips pink from biting on them. A few stray strands of red hair that had escaped her hurried, short ponytail were sticking to the side of her face. Her freckles seemed to stand out more than usual. She’d never looked more rumpled or more determined or more perfect.


After another forty minutes or so, the intensity was beginning to wear on Rose. She was whimpering and losing her breath quite a bit. Healer Chang was giving her directions to slow down and focus, but it was almost as if Rose couldn’t hear her.


Rose was softly moaning, but she gritted determinedly. And although she wouldn’t admit to it, I knew her stamina was starting to fade.


Kneeling by her side and holding her hand didn’t seem to be adequate. I was tired of being on the outside, looking in at my life and letting my emotions get the best of me. Rose and the baby needed me and I wanted to be there for them.


I stood up, kicked off my shoes and gently shifted Rose forward on the bed with both hands, between contractions, that were coming fiercely and quickly. Healer Chang sent me a questioning look as I slid myself between Rose and the headboard, with one leg on each side of her. She pressed her back against my front and gripped my knees for support, just in time to bear down as another contraction slammed into her. My fingers rested on top of hers and I dipped down to whisper in her ear, “I’m here, Ro. Let’s do this. You can do this.”


Healer Chang was counting and Rose was breathing and I was giving all the encouragement I could with my words and my touches. I couldn’t ever figure out how much time had gone by, but I’d never forget the tiny squeak that turned into our baby’s first cry. It wasn’t a wail — not like the sobbing of babies I’d heard in the store crying, it was more like a high pitched, tiny, cat-like screech.


And when the sound stopped, so did my heart — until I realized the baby was just taking in a lungful of air to let out another timid but heartfelt cry announcing its arrival.


“It’s a girl!” Healer Chang nearly sang out.


“What?!” Rose yelped with energy she couldn’t possibly have. “That’s not possible, the prophecy...”


I was surprised at the announcement as well, because we’d been constantly referring to the baby as a him by default. We’d only discussed boy’s names and sort of just assumed we were having a little wizard. My brain acted fast to remember the words of the prophecy.


A child is born from a family of blood traitors
A child is born from a family of death eaters



“The prophecy didn’t say if the baby was a witch or a wizard,” I whispered to her. “And this makes so much more sense to me,” I realized that I was grinning and couldn’t stop. My fingers entwined with hers and I wrapped our arms together in a warm hug. “Considering who her mother is, she’s gonna make a downright scary-good witch.”


Rose let out a tired chuckle and leaned her head back against me; exhaustion was creeping in.


“Scorpius, do you want to perform the severing charm to cut the cord?” Healer Chang asked from the end of the bed. She was moving about and her wand flicked here and there, muttering spell after spell.


That time, my heart really did stop.


“Erm… d-don’t you think that requires a b-bit more qualifications than I have? I mmmean, I’m not a Healer and they didn’t exactly cover this in my Auror training.”


“Not at all,” the Healer said with a wink. “You’ll do fine.” She had such confidence in her voice that I didn’t want to let her down, so I carefully untangled myself from Rose and got off the bed. I conjured a few extra pillows to make sure she was comfortable, steadied my wand and performed the spell right where Healer Chang said to point. It felt so weird and I looked up at Rose to see her give a tired smile at me.


Before I had a chance to think or gloat about my fabulous and spot-on severing abilities, Healer Chang was handing me a wad of blankets. When I reached out to grab them, thinking they were for covering Rose, I heard them give a small creak.


“Here’s your daughter Scorpius, a perfectly healthy little girl,” Healer Chang pronounced.


“Oh.”


My arms felt light and shaky, and for a moment I was certain that I’d mess up holding the baby. I wasn’t sure if I should grab her with my hands or wait for the Healer to put her in my arms, but we managed to shift the small bundle from her to me, mostly with her guidance. I was afraid to move for fear of jerking too quickly and startling the baby, or worse, dropping her.


She was much, much lighter than I expected, which only added to the fear that I was about to drop her. I stared down into her tiny pink face and marvelled at how little she was. Her skin was surreal — it didn’t look like regular skin, it was as if I could see through it. It was a bit puffy and very red in some spots. Her eyes were squeezed shut, but she didn’t look distressed. In fact, she seemed rather content wrapped in the snuggly warm blankets. She fit perfectly within my arms.


All my faults and transgressions and all the horrible things of my family’s past seemed to lift away. Everything else seemed so trifle and silly. I was going to be better. Better for her and better for Rose and better for this little family that we’d become. I hadn’t felt so complete or whole since… well, since Mum and Father had died. The news that their deaths were really a murder had weighed so heavily on me and I hadn’t realized that I’d been missing out on the living part of life.


The baby wiggled a bit in my arms and opened her sleepy eyes for a moment before they lazily closed again. Crystal blue. Just like Rose. Waves of emotion crashed down upon me. I couldn’t wait to learn more about this little being that was part of me. Would she have Rose’s freckles too? The bit of hair that I could see peeking out from the hat Healer Chang had put on her was white-blonde.


She was my saviour. I pulled in a ragged breath and bit my lip to hold in the torrent of feelings that were coming on all at once. It a cross between welcome relief to the numbness of the past few weeks and overwhelming excitement at welcoming a whole new person to the world. It was too much to process.


“Scorpius?” Rose asked, craning her neck from the bed and bringing me back to Earth.


“Oh. Yes. Here she is, Ro. She’s absolutely… ” I struggled for the right word. “...everything.”


I turned very slowly, not wanting to jostle too much and finally made it to the head of the bed, lowering myself at a snail’s pace. Rose was so eager to finally meet her, she reached up and with much surer hands than mine, brought the baby down to her chest.


As soon as she was no longer in my arms, I felt empty and I wasn’t sure what to do. At first, I hunched over the bed and tried to lean as far as possible to be closer to the two of them. But it was not nearly close enough and I got up, removed the pillows from behind Rose and took their place, settling once more behind her. I could hold all of my entire life at once and — I was home. My heart rate steadied as Rose and I gazed upon our baby.


As if she could sense it, the baby’s eyes blinked open again, puffy and a little pink — just like the rest of her. Rose let out a tiny gasp at how beautiful she was. My arms were wrapped around hers as we held the being we’d made together.


*


Nearly an hour later, Rose’s entire family was gathered in the room around us. As was tradition, Nana Molly was offered to be the first to hold the baby, but she declined.


“I’m not the grandmother this time,” she smiled warmly. “That privilege goes to Hermione.”


Hermione let out a small squeak as Rose gave her the baby. She was overcome and couldn’t speak. The little bundle was then passed around the room, each Weasley and Potter getting a turn to hold her. All Rose’s aunts, uncles and cousins were there, as well as Samara and Jax. My Aunt Daphne came too, although Uncle Phil chose to stay at home. I’m not sure he ever got over the events from when I was fifteen and Harry and Ron had showed up at his house, wands drawn and looking for their children.


Even Lily and Hugo had flooed from Hogwarts for the evening just to meet their new relative. As soon as we went back to Number Twelve, visitations would be extremely limited.


“Does she have a name yet?” Dom asked, waiting patiently to be the last to hold her.


Rose looked up at me and smiled. We’d focused mostly on boys names, and had spent months arguing all the different constellations and other names for what we thought was going to be a boy. But this time, we’d come to an easy agreement for our little girl shortly before all the family had arrived.


Rose smiled and looked up at me. I nodded for her to make the announcement.


“Her name is: Carina Violet Selenia Jean Astoria Weasley-Malfoy.”


“You can’t be serious,” James blurted out.


All heads turned to him. “The fuck you say,” he continued. “Ya know, I’ve heard rumors that couples are indeed allowed to have more than one child. You don’t need to use up all your names on this one.”


“James,” Dom said, although she didn’t move her gaze from the baby. “If I wasn’t holding this little darling right now, I’d send a hex at you that’d make your precious hair go straight and greasy for a month. Again.” She said it in a cooing voice as if she were telling the baby a cute story. “Yes I would, little Carina, wouldn’t I? I’m going to teach you how to hex mean, old Uncle James,” Dom let out a small giggle.


James flinched at her threat and didn’t utter another sound.


“I think it’s a brilliant name,” Albus sniffed and wiped his eyes. He gave me an assuring nod, sending his blessing for our honor to Selenia.


“Yes, it’s perfectly lovely Scorpius,” Aunt Daphne said when I caught her eye.


“Not to put you two on the spot,” Rose looked up at Dom; I put my hand on her shoulder, agreeing that this was the right time. “But we’d like to ask Albus and Dominique if they’d be godparents?” she asked.


Albus nodded again in his serious way and swiped at the corner of his eye once more. Dom’s eyes jerked up at Rose and me in surprise, taken aback at our request.


“Me?”


“Yes you, silly!” Rose answered. “This little one needs strong female role models in her life, and you’re about as badass as they come.” Rose was smiling from ear to ear. “Now give me back my baby.”


The whole room let out a light-hearted chuckle.


“This family is definitely not lacking in strong female role models,” Harry said, glancing around the room. “I’d say little Carina is in good hands, across the board. Plus, she’s got some first-rate parents,” he gave me a wink and my breath caught. Not only because it hit me that I was a indeed a parent, but that he had confidence in me to do a proper job.


After a few minutes more of cooing at the baby and telling us how beautiful she was, everyone began to file out. Healer Chang gave Rose and Carina another once over, ordered sleep for the three of us, and promised to come back in the early morning for another check. She left instructions with Ron and Hermione that she was only a patronus away if we needed anything at all.


As soon as she left, Rose began demanding food. Nana Molly must’ve had an entire feast sorted out in the kitchen because platters and platters of her delicious cooking hovered in front of us with a flick of her wand. I was hungry for the first time in ages and ate my fill. Ron, Hermione, Dom and Al came back to eat with us.


Once everyone’s bellies were full, the room began emptying out. Dom and Al snuggled their godchild one more time and said their goodbyes. Hermione and Ron were the last to leave and although Rose was beyond exhausted, she didn’t make me kick them out this time. It was Ron who nudged his wife towards the door.


“C’mon ‘Mione. They’ll still be here in the morning.” Hermione reluctantly gave her new grandbaby back to me. I was getting better at the process of picking the baby up from someone else and the transfer was much less awkward.


After everyone was gone, Rose fed Carina the way Healer Chang had shown her. It took a few moments to get both mother and baby comfortable, but from the sound of it, little Carina had inherited the Weasley appetite too. I smiled and awed at Rose’s determination to get it just right. I wondered what else our baby had inherited — from both sides.


After the feeding, I settled myself behind Rose on the bed again and rocked my family to sleep. I couldn’t let go of a twinge of sadness that crept over me. Mum and Dad would’ve loved to have been here for this. But it wasn’t the same despair that I’d been feeling the past few weeks. A new Malfoy was here and Rose and I and Carina were our own family. And the amazing woman that Rose was, she’d forgiven me for my behavior as of late.


When both my girls were fast asleep, I moved the baby to the cot next to the bed, quickly washed up and changed into sleeping clothes and settled down next to Rose, draping an arm over her. Nothing could separate us now.



A/N: Hi everyone! A new chapter installment for a new year! I hope this is the one you've been waiting for. Special thanks to -BookDinosaur- for help with the chapter name. Also, I want to give a HUGE shout out to my amazing beta reader, merlinsbeard. Anja! Thanks so much for all your help! ♥ Beth


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