I rolled over and pulled my pillow over my head. I got a jab in the back for my troubles.
"Wake up, dad!"
Now my bed was shaking. What in the name of Merlin? I rolled over and cracked my eyes open. Lorcan was jumping on my bed, his eyes far, far, too bright for this hour of the morning.
What exactly was this hour of the morning?
"Go bother your mother," I groaned, pulling the covers over the pillow.
"I did," he said, pulling off both the covers and the pillow and grabbing my face, "She said to wake you."
"What time is it?" I asked, and he turned my face over to see the clock.
It was 4:08. In the morning. On Christmas.
"Lorcan," I said, "Go back to sleep."
"I'm telling mum!" he cried, leaping off my bed and running out of the room.
Rather than face the wrath of Rose, I rolled out of bed and pulled on a shirt. I was by no means a morning person, but anything was better than having her mad at me. Especially after last night's debacle.
Hmm. Debacle. That's a good word.
…and so starts the early-morning delirium.
Rose was in the kitchen pouring herself a cup of coffee. She was in pajamas and her hair was thrown on top of her head. She had been wrenched from a peaceful sleep as well, it seemed, though she was handling it far more gracefully.
"Morning," I said gruffly, losing my balance and almost toppling to the floor. Using my seeker reflexes, I managed to steady myself on a counter.
"Smooth," Rose said, adding more sugar to her mug than was entirely healthy, "Coffee?"
"Please," I said, grabbing the pot. Before I could pour, I felt her arms around me.
"Happy Christmas," she whispered, her face pressed against my back.
"Happy Christmas," I returned, turning her around and kissing her softly.
When we finally made it to the den, Lorcan was pouring over the presents that Father Christmas had laid out for him. They included a shiny new toy broom (it had taken a lot of convincing on my part), a My First Wizard Chess Set, and a stuffed dragon that flew around the room and breathed multi-colored smoke instead of fire.
"Mum, mum, look!" Lorcan cried, pulling Rose over to his pile.
"Wow! You must have been a very good boy this year," she said, throwing me a wink when he wasn't looking. We had set all this out when we had come back up from the kitchens around midnight. Hence the lack of sleep.
I leaned back against the couch and rubbed the sleep from my eyes, thinking back to Christmases at home. They had been nice, of course. Mum was a Christmas nut, and I was sure the house was fully decorated this year just as it had been before even though she wouldn't be spending Christmas there. Father Christmas had spoiled me when I was Lorcan's age, and my parents continued to spoil me long after I learned his true nature. But our house was so big and so few people in it that Christmas always seemed a bit hollow. Mum and dad had never seen fit to grace me with any brothers or sisters. I didn't mind so much, though. There was plenty of love to go around.
I wondered if I would experience the Weasley Christmas this time next year. I hoped so, since I had a feeling a full-out Weasley Christmas was a whole different animal.
It was a full two hours before anyone else in the house began to wake. Our parents had that knowing look in their eyes.
And by that I meant: Finally, payback.
"What time did he come knocking?" my mum asked, taking a seat beside me on the floor with coffee cup in hand.
"Around four," I said with a grimace. She laughed.
Rose's mum followed soon after mine, then our dads a little while later. Lorcan was extremely anxious to give out his presents and, of course, to open his own.
"Go on, then," Rose said with a yawn, "Hand them out."
And he did, faster than I would have credited his little legs for. Within the space of a few moments everyone had a small pile of gifts in front of them. Lorcan was already digging in.
"Thanks, Rose," I said, trying on my new quidditch gloves, "I really needed these."
"I know," she said with a smile, pulling on the sweater that, according to her, her grandmother made for every child and grandchild every year. They were obligated to wear them, at least for the day.
"Oh, Rosie, it's simply perfect," her mum exclaimed, unwrapping the journal. Rose smiled and looked as if she were about to say something, then stopped short. She looked from the journal to her mother, then to me.
"And Scorpius, this quill is lovely," her mum continued, oblivious to Rose's confusion.
I'm going to get you, Rose mouthed, but then smiled, But thanks.
I winked in response. It had been a simple matter to switch out the tags on the journal, which I had picked up one day while Rose was at quidditch practice, and the quill that she had bought her mum. I couldn't bear the disappointed look she had when she had to put it back on the shelf that day.
"Open these!" Lorcan cried, handing mine and Rose's mums identical packages. They did, exclaiming about how lovely the necklaces were and how they would wear them always. He watched pointedly until both of them had put them on, then he went back to his gifts.
I turned to find Rose beside me, holding the box that contained the hair pins set with pearls.
"I knew you'd like them," I said, and then she slapped me on the arm, "What was that for?!"
"For the journal," she said, "And for buying me something that I know was far too expensive."
"That's for me to know and you to not worry about," I said, and she smiled. Her eyes lit up, and I wanted to kiss her. Her eyes flicked to her dad.
She had been waiting all morning for the other shoe to drop. Surely we couldn't have a good day, not after the crap that our fathers had put us through. She couldn't enjoy Christmas for fear that she'd have to do battle again.
She shouldn't have to live like that.
So I made a split second decision.
"What are you doing?" she asked as I grabbed her hand and pulled her to her feet. The room's attention was on the two of us.
I looked my father in the eyes, then hers. Then I looked at her. Rose with the red hair and brown eyes and temper and love of chocolate and fear of heights which was weird because she was a quidditch player.
And I kissed her. Full in the mouth, in front of our parents and child.
Lorcan cheered. When I pulled away, both of our mothers were smiling. I looked to our fathers.
"I'm tired of hiding," I said to their utterly bemused expressions, "I'm tired of the secrets. Rose and I have been together the entire time you've been here. And we're not planning on changing that anytime soon."
Rose grabbed my hand. I looked over at her and she smiled timidly and nodded.
"Wha…?" Rose's dad said.
"But…." mine sputtered.
"Did you know about this?" they demanded, turning to their respective wives, who nodded.
And then they both got up and stalked out of the room. There was a moment of silence, and then two doors slamming closed.
"Well," Rose said, taking a deep breath, "That went well."
"And now…" I said.
"Damage repair," she finished, squeezing my hand and setting off for her father's room. I took a moment to steel myself, and then set off down the hall.
I knew he heard me come in because he flipped a page of the book he was pretending to read with much more force than necessary. I sighed and crossed the room, glancing down at it.
"A History of Magic?" I asked, crossing my arms and smiling, "Did you even read this when you were supposed to?"
"Your mother has been asked to write a revised addition," he said gruffly, closing it with a sharp snap. He got up and crossed the room, throwing it down on the bed and looking out the window.
I sighed. I got my stubbornness from both sides.
"Dad…" I started, putting my hand on his shoulder.
"What I don't understand," he said, "Is why you didn't tell me."
"Are you kidding?" I started, but then caught myself and changed my tone, "Dad, you didn't even want me to be paired in this project with him."
"I know, but…" he started, "He's a Malfoy, Rosie. What was I supposed to think?"
He was the only person on this earth allowed to call me Rosie. James had tried it once and ended up hanging by his ankles from one of the quidditch stands. He didn't try again.
"For the project?" I asked, "That I could handle myself. For choosing him as a boyfriend?" he winced, "That you and mom had brought me up well enough to make a good decision."
"But honey, he's a Malfoy…"
I rolled my eyes and forced a polite tone.
"I know that, dad. And you're probably never going to let me forget it. But he's also Scorpius. He's a good guy, dad. Give him a chance to show you."
Dad was quiet for a very long time. I would have given my broom to know what was going on in his head.
"I will," he said, slowly turning to face me, "But if he harms one hair on your head, I'll make him into a ferret just like his father. And there's no Mad-Eye to save him this time."
"What?" I asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Nevermind," he said, "Just know that I give you my blessing. For now. And only because your mother would kill me if I didn't."
"Thanks dad," I said, hugging him.
"You're welcome, Rosie," he said, "Now let's get our stories straight."
And after discussing the "stern talking-to that he should have given me" that apparently included tears and a heartfelt agreement that he was right and had seen this coming all along, but was just hurt by my betrayal, he allowed me to leave.
It felt nice to be able to hold Scorpius' hand without fear of being found out. For the first time since this whole mess started I was completely happy. Lorcan held my other hand as we went to meet Al and Gem for our own little Christmas celebration at the Three Broomsticks.
"Have something you want to tell us?" I asked as we sat down at the table to find Al and Gem holding hands.
"We thought you could figure it out for yourself," he said, putting his arm around her shoulders. Gemma smiled and her cheeks reddened.
Lorcan and Leah sat in a corner and compared Christmas gifts as Al, Gem, Scorpius, and I gave our various news. Turns out that a simple moment under the mistletoe was what brought Al and Gem together.
"If only we were so lucky," I said, shaking my head.
Who needed simplicity?
"Well I for one wouldn't have had it any other way," Scorpius declared, raising his butterbeer glass, "To Christmas miracles!"
I raised my eyebrows at him as Al and Gem laughed. He sighed and took a sip from his glass, muttering something about Scrooges.
I wasn't even going to ask.
Our conversation was interrupted by a tap on my shoulder.
"McGonagall wanted me to give you these," the boy said, handing a scroll to me and another to Gem.
"Thanks," I said with a nod, "Happy Christmas."
"Happy Christmas," he returned.
Poor kid. Did he really have nothing better to do on Christmas than be McGonagall's errand boy? I would probably never know.
I regret to inform you that your time with your children is almost at an end. They will be restored to their normal ages in the morning so that they may spend half of the break with their own families. You will be reimbursed for any Christmas gifts that your child will no longer use. You may return to your respective common rooms tomorrow or go home with your families if you wish.
It took a moment for the others to finish the note, but by the end they all had the same wide-eyed expression I did.
This was over. Just like that. I'd go back to the Gryffindor common room. No more Scorpius. No more Lorcan. I couldn't comprehend it.
"I wish they would have warned us," Gem whispered, glancing back to the corner where Leah and Lorcan were discussing the merits of various toy brooms.
"It wouldn't have done much good," Scorpius said.
He was right. No amount of time would have gotten me ready to leave them. Sure, I'd see them around, but it wouldn't be the same.
The conversation seemed to die then, as did the energy of the kids. We told Al and Gem goodbye and made our way back to the castle, Lorcan sleeping on Scorpius' shoulder.
We put him to bed that night for the last time. I pulled the covers over him and kissed his forehead. He rolled over and squinted up at me.
"I love you mum," he mumbled thickly.
"I love you too bud," I said, moving over so that Scorpius could see him.
"I love you dad," Lorcan said.
"I love you too," Scorpius said, kissing him on the forehead. Lorcan rolled over and went back to sleep.
I’m not sure how long we sat there watching him sleep, my head on Scorpius' shoulder and his arms around me. It seemed silly to get this emotional over a school project. But this was my family now, just as much as Hugo, James, Lily, and Al were. I wasn't ready to give it up.
"It's not silly," Scorpius said, wiping a tear from my cheek when I told him my thoughts, "If I weren't a man, I'd be crying too."
I laughed as he helped me up and led me from the room, hand-in-hand.
A/N: So I promised a quick update, and there you go. As sad as it is, there's only one chapter left. But good news! After a few requests, I've decided to write a sequel. More about that after the next chapter.
I forgot to ask you guys! Did any of you go to the midnight premiere of HP7? I did. Dressed as Luna. It was magnificent.