It took twenty minutes to find what resembled a well-used road, and another twenty to catch a lift. Rose stood on the side of the road with her thumb out and watched, irritated, as five cars sped by. One eventually stopped. The driver was an elderly man, who smiled, gave Rose a lift to the nearest town, and talked her ear off along the way, moaning about the state of the world and why can’t everyone just let each other be.
On the outskirts of the city, she flexed her Ministry muscles on a muggle cab driver, reminding him that his government wanted the muggle population to co-operate, and the man drove her into the centre of London, handing her a slip of paper that Rose realised was a bill. She promised to see he was paid for his services, and he sped away with a grunt.
The Ministry was its usual busy self, and Rose made her way quickly to her office. She pushed open the door and was immediately confronted by the rush of her parents’ voices.
“Where have you been?”
“Are you trying to give us heart attacks?”
She sighed, knowing Scorpius had given her up, but not blaming him. She shook her head hastily, waving away their panic. “I saw Hugo. He’s okay.”
“Who’s got him?” Ron growled. Rose swallowed, jumping as something moved across the room. Scorpius was standing with his arms folded, his expression dark and she wanted to fly across the desk between them and fling her arms around his neck. She wanted to tell him she was sorry, that she knew he cared and was just looking out for her. She took a small step forward, needing him, and suddenly he was there.
“What?” Scorpius whispered.
“She wants her father,” Rose said loudly. “She wants Joe. We should have tried harder to let him see her, dad. This would never have happened otherwise!”
Ron’s expression became stony. “Are you saying this is my fault?”
“Of course not,” Hermione said quickly, giving Rose a stern glance. “She’s upset; we’re all upset. Rose, what, besides Joe, does she want?”
“Just Joe,” she answered, standing up. Her head spun suddenly, her stomach lurched and the world darkened around the edges. “I already told her...” She paused, taking a deep breath and wondering how long it had been since she had eaten. Scorpius put his hand on her back, his eyes plastered to her face as she gripped the edge of the table for support. “I just...she has Areli with her. They were waiting for me...”
“Did he hurt you?” Scorpius’ voice was fierce and she shook her head, the motion too fast, too sudden. She reached out a hand in entreaty, grasping at the air, and a shadow closed over her head and she was falling.
When she opened her eyes, she was on her back on the floor. Scorpius was shaking her gently, his hands on her shoulders, and her mother was hovering, looking torn between shoving Scorpius out of the way and not making a fuss.
“What happened?” Rose whispered, blinking and attempting to sit up. Scorpius shook his head, his hands firm on her shoulders and she gave up, not having the strength or the inclination to fight him.
“You fainted, Weasley.”
“I fainted?” she scoffed. “Seriously?”
“You didn’t eat much breakfast,” he said in a low voice, his expression concerned. “Or get much sleep – you tossed and turned half the night. Do you need a Healer?”
Rose frowned. “Why on earth would I need a Healer?”
Before she could stop him, his hand moved to her belly, and a tender expression flitted across his face. “Because all this excitement can’t be good for the ba -”
Hermione gasped in the background, and Rose pushed Scorpius away hastily; his features froze as he realised what he had done. Slowly, she sat up, keeping her eyes on the ground. Scorpius muttered an apology but she only shook her head. Cautiously, she peeked up at her parents: her mother was kneeling on the ground, her eyes wide with shock, and her father was standing with his arms folded, his expression unreadable, but he was slowly turning red.
“Rose,” her mum breathed, “are you...pregnant?”
Rose swallowed, her voice nothing but a scratch when it clawed its way from her throat. “Yes.” Her mother’s eyes flickered from her face to Scorpius’.
“It’s my baby,” he said, perhaps unnecessarily, because Ron was glowering at him.
“I ought to tear your throat out, Malfoy!”
“Dad, please,” Rose sighed, climbing swiftly to her feet, ignoring Scorpius’ outstretched hand. Her father didn’t know who to direct his anger at – Rose or Scorpius. “He didn’t do this on his own, or on purpose. We made a mistake and anyway, this isn’t the time. We need to be concentrating on Hugo.”
Hermione made a little noise that sounded like a strangled sob. “Oh Rose.”
“You can lecture me later, okay?” Rose muttered.
“This changes everything,” Ron interupted, looking at his daughter, who shook her head.
“I have to go – if I don’t show up with Joe, they will kill him, dad,” she said firmly, “and Areli likes to play games with his prey.”
“Polyjuice,” Scorpius cut in. “We can’t release Joe, but Joe still needs to make an appearance.”
“And I suppose you’re volunteering?” Ron growled; Scorpius ignored his black looks.
“I know him. I can be him long enough to get Hugo out of there,” Scorpius answered. “And this way, I can look after Rose.”
“Oh come on,” Rose sighed. “I’m not completely useless, regardless of what you might think, Malfoy.”
Scorpius blinked. “I never thought-”
“I don’t need protecting; it’s no wonder pregnant women suffer from mood swings, with all these men constantly telling them what to do,” Rose grumbled.
“You...I...just...god, you just fainted, Rose. You need to rest, not go running around the countryside,” Scorpius muttered, narrowing his eyes at her. “You’re going to drive me insane, you know that, don’t you?”
“Get used to it,” Ron said darkly from across the table. “This is only the beginning. Wait until she’s shaking you awake at three in the morning wanting pickles and strawberries on toast or something as equally mental.”
“Oh for heavens sake, Ronald,” Hermione scolded, shaking her head. “Rose, I think Scorpius is right. You need to rest for a bit – lie down, eat something.”
“Rose Weasley, you will do what you are told,” her mother bit back, eyes flashing. “You will lie down and you will eat. You will not do anything else for at least a few hours, do you understand?”
She sighed and nodded; Scorpius looked smug.
“How long have we got to do this deal?” Ron asked.
“Until noon tomorrow; I managed to convince them I needed time,” Rose said. “I need to talk to Joe,” she added, and her father sighed and nodded, before saying he wanted to run the plan by Harry. Rose watched sadly as her parents left the room, her mother lingering in the door for a brief moment, before she lowered her eyes and followed her husband. Scorpius turned to her, pointing his wand at the lounge and Rose watched, feeling strangely disjointed, as it stretched and widened.
“Rest,” he ordered. Without complaint, she lay down, linking her arms behind her head and staring at the ceiling. He sighed. “I am such an idiot.”
“One of your more endearing qualitites,” she said simply. “Don’t worry about it. They had to know sooner or later. I should have told them when we got home.”
“I’ve never thought you couldn’t do this job, Rose,” he said quietly.
“I was doing my job,” Scorpius interrupted. “I apologise if I was short with you, both while we were away and before we left.”
Rose narrowed her eyes. “Are you just saying this because we’re sleeping together?”
He gave a sharp back of laughter. “I would never presume to seduce you with praise.”
She smiled and patted the space of lounge next to her hip. “Oh, shouldn’t you go and speak to Harry?” she asked and he told her no, he was staying where he was and she’d better not complain about it. He sat where she had indicated, his hand slipping beneath her shirt to caress her belly.
“I’m sorry I keep doing this,” he said softly, thumb running across her naval. “I’m just still so amazed by the whole thing. You have another human being growing inside you, Rose. That’s pretty darn incredible – pretty special, actually. I’ve never really thought about it before – pregnancy that is – but I guess I had no reason to.”
She smiled, looking up at him, her eyes taking in the smooth sweep of his forehead and the strong line of his profile. She captured his hand, holding it steady and squeezed, unable to speak that which was foremost in her brain – she was feeling completely overwhelmed with everything: Hugo’s kidnapping, Lily’s injuries, her parents finding out about the baby, and the prospect of being a parent and having her life turned upside down and inside out. She wondered how he felt about that, but she didn’t ask.
Scorpius dropped to his knees and lifted her shirt higher up her body, exposing her tummy to his eyes. He gave her a swift kiss near her belly button, making her giggle, so he did it again, his lips moving feather-light over her skin, until she fisted both her hands in his hair and pulled his head away from her body.
Their eyes locked and Rose felt her muscles tighten as he moved closer to her face, all playfulness vanished from his expression. Slowly, he kissed her; it was tender and tempered and far more intimate than any kiss they had shared so far and she gave herself over to it completely, letting him steal her breath.
“So,” he said, his lips brushing against hers as he talked.
“So,” she repeated, not knowing what else to say and not fully understanding what he meant by the word. The door clicked open and Rose twisted her head, finding herself looking at her mother. Hermione had a small nervous smile on her face as she watched them, and Rose saw she had a plate held between her hands.
“Lunch,” she said gently, coming around and laying the plate on the table near the lounge. “I didn’t get you anything, Scorpius, sorry, but I can go and-”
He shook his head, climbing to his feet, a slight stain kissing his cheeks. “Its fine, Mrs Weasley, I’m not hungry.”
“Don’t you think you’d better start calling me Hermione?”
“If that’s what you wish,” Scorpius replied, running a hand over his hair as an awkward silence crept into the room on heavy feet. “I should go and...umm...”
Rose nodded and he gave her a quick kiss on the cheek, and she watched him leave the room. Hermione pressed the sandwich into her hands. “Thank you,” Rose mumbled. Her mother didn’t speak again until Rose had wiped her fingers free of crumbs.
“Can I ask how you two ended up in this situation?”
Rose raised an eyebrow. “I thought you knew where babies come from, mum.”
“I’m not asking for details of your sex life, Rose; there are some things even I do not wish to know,” her mother replied, slightly exasperated.
Rose set the plate aside, figuring that blunt honesty would be the best policy. “We were drunk.”
“So you’re telling me my first grandchild was conceived as a result of a random shag?” Hermione said sharply, and Rose flinched.
“I guess so,” she muttered.
Hermione sighed. “Oh Rose; I suppose what’s done is done, then. How far along are you?”
“Not very; two months perhaps, I don’t exactly know.”
The questions began then: how was she feeling? Did she have morning sickness? How had the Malfoy’s taken the news? What were she and Scorpius planning to do once the baby arrived? Had she seen a Healer? Did she intend to keep working? Did she need anything? Books?
Rose said softly, “Scorpius and I are in negotiation at present.”
“Please don’t tell me we’re heading for a custody battle with the sodding Malfoy’s,” Hermione groaned. “Because I don’t think your father and I can afford that. Maybe if we sold the house or that ghastly Goblin jewellery that your father inherited from Aunt Muriel...”
“It’s nothing like that, mum. They’ve been very supportive; well, Astoria has. I’ve not spoken to Mr Malfoy,” she said calmly, watching as her mother’s eyes widened speculatively. “Scorpius says I should move into his place.”
Hermione threw her a sharp look. “Don’t feel obligated. You might be pregnant but that doesn’t mean-”
Rose smiled. “I know, mum.”
Her mother suddenly reached out and smoothed the hair back from her daughter’s face, like she used to do when Rose was a child. Her voice when she spoke next was rough. “Why didn’t you say something?”
“I was afraid,” Rose answered honestly. “I thought you’d be disappointed in me; in us. The whole world has gone to shit and I go and get pregnant in the middle of it.”
“I must admit the timing isn’t brilliant, but I could never be disappointed in you, darling.”
Rose sat very still as Hermione reached out and placed a hand over her belly, much as Scorpius had done when she had told him the news. Rose waited, her anxiety turning to relief as her mother’s eyes slowly filled with tears. “Oh darling,” Hermione whispered. “You’re going to be a mother, Rose. Oh god, I’m going to be a grandmother.”
“Sorry,” Rose grinned, unable to help it. She glanced up at the inner-window of her office; Scorpius was standing in the hall outside, talking with her father and Uncle Harry, and a worried looking Neville Longbottom. Her stomach flopped as she watched the father of her unborn child, making her head spin again. She sensed her mother watching her.
“Scorpius is in love with you,” Hermione said simply; Rose blinked and shook her head. Her mother laughed. “Rose, a blind man could see it. I thought he would wear out the floor boards waiting for you to show up this morning, although he wasn’t the only one pacing around like a caged animal. The only question is how do you feel about him?”
Her mother patted her hand. “You’ll work it out,” she whispered, as the door opened. For the rest of the afternoon, Rose’s office was a hive of activity. She couldn’t work out why they had chosen her office to conduct business, and when she said something to her father he simply shrugged and demanded she lie down. Grumbling, she did as she was told, and after a while, she relaxed, enjoying reclining on her lounge like Cleopatra before the Roman’s.
“Are you ready to speak to Joe?” Harry asked her suddenly, and Rose nodded, sitting up and shaking her hair back from her face. “It would be better if he agreed to this voluntarily, but don’t hesitate to remind him we can make him co operate.”
Down in the cells, Joe was waiting for her. “I heard about the bombing,” he said quietly. “The guards were talking about it.”
“Tell me you had nothing to do with it,” Rose said simply.
He blinked. “How could I?”
“Your message to Sophie,” she answered neutrally. Her heart was pounding and she almost feared his response. Joe considered her for a moment, and then shook his shaggy head.
“It wasn’t a code to attack, Rose. It was simply a message; we have a stack of them prepared in case something like this ever happened. It was the first one that came into my head. I used to duck hunt with my grandfather, when I was a boy.”
“If you are lying to me, I will find out,” Rose said calmly, producing a vial of Veritaserum. Joe eyed it warily.
“I’m not completely stupid and anyway, what makes you think Sophie had anything to do with it?”
“She’s here, in London.”
“Can I see her?” he asked almost desperately.
“Not at the moment. That’s why I’m here, actually. I need your assistance,” Rose said quietly. “If you don’t help me, things could end very badly for her.”
His eyebrows lifted. “Is that a threat?”
“No. She’s kidnapped the son of two high-ranking members of our government. If anything happens to my brother...”
He sighed, a sad expression creeping across his face.
“What she is doing doesn’t help the cause, Joe,” Rose argued, leaning forward in her seat.
His mouth twisted. “And which cause is that? Yours or mine?”
“Do you honestly still believe killing us is the answer?” she asked incredulously. “Haven’t you been treated humanely?”
“You’ve not been tortured, starved, locked in the dark for days, threatened with death, beaten, raped, experimented on or forced to give information relating to things you know nothing about,” Rose said in a low voice. Still he did not speak and she stood up, deeply angry with him. “And you call us non-human.”
As she reached the door, his voice rose from behind her, small and timid.
“What do you need me to do?”
The following moring, at ten, Rose watched as Scorpius swallowed a vial of Polyjuice potion. They were in the back of a van in the industrial estate where Hugo was being held. She bit her lip as Scorpius doubled over, groaning and rubbing furiously at his face. He put his face between his knees, dry-retching and moments later, when he lifted his head, Joe stared back at her. Rose blinked; she never got over how incredible Polyjuice potion was. Scorpius closed his eyes a moment, sitting up straight, before he gave himself a shake and reclined casually against the wall of the van, spreading his knees apart and letting his hand rest on his thigh, just as Joe would.
“Drive,” he ordered in Joe’s deep voice, and the vehicle pulled away, drawing them closer to Hugo. Joe had offered his help without resistance, reaching up and pulling hair from his head and handing it to Rose calmly. He did not ask questions, just made her promise that Sophie would not get hurt. Areli, he said, could lie dying in the street for getting his daughter involved in something so stupid.
Rose had made one more request of Joe and he had surprised her by agreeing. After the mission was complete, she would take him to Cass. Rose had not mentioned her new plan to anyone; she had been given authority over her education program and she could take whatever steps were necessary as long as security was maintained and she got results.
The van slowed and pulled to a stop. Rose climbed to her feet, taking out her wand as Scorpius turned and offered her his hands. She bound his wrists tightly, apologising as she did so.
“Areli will check, no doubt,” she whispered. “Are you sure you want to do this?”
“Yes. Let’s get a move on; we’re on the clock,” he said simply. Rose lifted the leg of his pants and slipped a wand into his sock and a handgun into the waistband, before pointing her wand at his body. When she patted him down, the gun and wand could not be felt and she smiled, repeating the process with the gun for herself. She climbed out of the van, Scorpius following, her wand trained on him. Rose knew Areli would be watching from somewhere nearby, and she walked Scorpius at wand-point to the door of the small warehouse.
It was a fifteen minute walk – Areli had insisted no vehicles approach, and Rose was conscious of the time they were losing. There were Disillusioned Aurors stationed around the industrial area, but they were not to approach until Scorpius’ polyjuiced time was up, regardless of what they heard, or until Rose signalled them.
Areli swung open the door at her knock and they were ushered inside at gun-point. Sophie stood in the background, waiting as he patted them both down. Rose held her breath as his hands moved over her body. He nodded, telling her she may keep her wand but if she tried anything, he would shoot Hugo. He was so calm it sent shivers up her spine, although she expected nothing less of him.
Sophie dashed across the room and threw herself into Scorpius’ arms. She turned to look at Rose. “Thank you,” she whispered, before leading Scorpius to sit. Offers of a drink were made, and he accepted a beer, cracking open the top and drinking with relish. Rose had to hand it to him – if she hadn’t have known any better, she would think he was Joe.
“I’m fine,” he said to Sophie’s questions. “Really.”
“How is Cass?”
“I don’t know – they haven’t let me see her.”
“Bastards,” Sophie spat and Scorpius shook his head, setting his beer aside and reaching for her hands.
“Listen, you need to get out of here, out of the UK. Let the boy go and leave.”
She shook her head. “Not without you.”
He sighed, pulling at his hair. “Okay, okay; Sophie, you’ve done a really brave but really stupid thing. What were you thinking? Didn’t I teach you better than this? You needed to wait.”
Areli was watching the interchange suspiciously and Rose felt her heart leap into her throat. “I want to see my brother,” she announced. “I’ve held up my end. Now it’s your turn.”
Sophie nodded. “Yes, yes, he can go.”
“Sophie -” Areli began, but she glared at him.
“What? Rose did what we asked. Let him go. Dad’s right – this was stupid, Areli.”
Scorpius climbed to his feet; he met Rose’s eye and she nodded slightly. This was the part of the plan she did not like. She was to see Hugo released, get him to safety, and leave Scorpius in the building. The Aurors were to wait for her signal, and then storm the container, capturing ‘Joe’, his daughter and her accomplice.
Slowly, she followed Areli through the musky light, Scorpius and Sophie bringing up the rear. She could see Hugo, still tied to the chair, and her heart tightened. He was sleeping, and she nodded, satisfied that he was alright, and turned back to the others. Scorpius cleared his throat, his face suddenly uncomfortable and Rose’s eyes widened as he groaned.
She watched, horrified, as his hair slowly began to lighten and his build began to thin. He drew a sharp breath as his eyes changed colour and Rose felt the beginning of desperate failure sink into her stomach.
“Dad?” Sophie whispered.
“I’m not your father,” Scorpius said quickly, doubling over as the transformation sped up. It happened swiftly and as he turned and faced them, Sophie drew her weapon.
“What have you done with him?” she shouted.
“Relax,” Rose told her. “He’s safe and right where we left him this morning. Yes, we tricked you but I told you we couldn’t release him. He has a message for you,” she hurried, taking advantage of Sophie’s confusion. “He wants you to stop this. You really does want you to get out of the UK, to be safe. He’s not going to be hurt, Sophie. He’s co-operated and been incredibly helpful. I promise you he will be fine.”
“Enough,” Areli snapped. “Lies. All lies. I’m sorry, but your brother will die.” He lifted his weapon, pointing it towards Hugo.
Scorpius reached down and drew his gun. Areli dropped and rolled to safety. Scorpius used the battered lounge as cover as a storm of bullets suddenly ripped through the air. Sophie was shouting at them to stop, and while chaos reigned for just a moment, Rose spotted a coffee mug sitting on the egde of the wooden table, which she quickly turned into a portkey.
“Stop her!” Areli shouted, and Sophie lunged for Rose, flinging herself quickly across the room. Rose ducked the blow intended for her face and threw herself off balance, staggering back. Sophie came at her again and Rose backed up, giving herself space and before the girl could do anything more, she apparated across the room, landing before her brother, who was looking around desperately.
Hugo struggled with his bonds. “Get me out of here. I can help.”
Rose released him and summoned the cup, jumping out of the way. It landed in Hugo’s lap and he automatically scooped it up. He looked at her, dismayed, before he vanished with a loud snap of the air. Sophie screamed and Rose turned to find herself staring down the barrel of a gun. She swallowed, a strange calm settling over her.
“Why could you just not give me what I wanted?” Sophie whispered.
“I’m sorry,” Rose replied gently. Sophie closed her eyes and crumpled to the ground, and Rose looked up to see Scorpius lower his wand at the same time as Areli raised his weapon; in saving her life he had ended his own. “No!” she shouted, taking a step forward, panic flooding her stomach. She lifted her wand and trained it on the Israeli. Areli’s gun was so close to Scorpius it was almost touching the tip of his nose.
Areli smiled. “So, here we are. I wonder who has the faster trigger.”
“Why are you doing this? What have we ever done to your country, to your people?” Rose asked quietly. “You’re Mossad. What threat could we possibly pose to the national security of Israel?”
“You exist against the wishes of god; therefore, you cannot be allowed to remain -”
Scorpius sighed. “Enough with the religion; admit it – you like killing people. You like fear, and destruction. You thrive on it, Areli. People like you never feel complete unless someone is suffering.”
The Israeli nodded. “Perhaps that is also correct.” He turned to Rose. “Your wand, my sweet.”
“What about it?”
“What?” Rose stammered, gripping her wand tighter.
“I don’t want any sneaky disappearing acts from you; destroy it, or I will shoot him, and then you.”
“You would shoot a pregnant woman?” Rose asked.
“If I must; but how do I know you are not lying to me again.”
“She’s not,” Scorpius growled.
Trembling, Rose closed her eyes. “Alright.” She lowered her wand. She knew she had no choice but to obey.
“Rose, don’t,” Scorpius said fiercely. “Get out of here.”
“No,” she whispered, opening her eyes. She swallowed, turned and brought her wand down heavily on the edge of the wooden table. She felt like crying as it snapped in half and fell to the floor. She wanted to collect the pieces and cradle them in her arms like a lost child but she remained standing.
She felt the burning, tearing hatred inside her coil and flip in her stomach like a living entity, her eyes flickering between Areli and Scorpius. Areli said something too low for her to hear and slowly, while his attention was focused on Scorpius, Rose moved towards Sophie’s body. The girl was breathing but unconscious, and a small cut was present on her forehead. Her gun was lying inches from her body and Rose crouched down, freezing as she heard Areli’s voice echo through the deep silence.
“What are you doing?”
“Checking she’s alive.”
“And is she?”
“Get over here,” he ordered. “I want to see your face when I kill him.”
Rose glanced at him; he was watching her so she nodded, standing up. When his eyes swung back to Scorpius she nudged Sophie’s gun away quickly with her foot, watching the weapon slide out of the girls reach. Rose twisted her hand behind herself and touched her gun, her heartbeat threatening to drown her; it thundered through her ears, raced through her blood and adrenalin was a drug she swallowed whole. She could feel the weapon resting in the waistband of her pants, against the small of her back, and it pulsed with a life of its own.
Moving quickly, muscles straining, Rose came back to her position by the table. She swallowed, throat dry as Areli adjusted his grip on his weapon and she knew she had seconds. She took a step forward, pushing her weight onto her right leg, her eyes never leaving Scorpius’ face. He was so steady, so calm, and she wondered how he could remain composed moments before he died.
“And now,” Areli whispered gently, “you die. I hope you have made peace with whatever god you serve, my friend.”
“Go to hell,” Scorpius whispered back, as Rose took the opportunity to spread her feet and correct her balance. Her right hand reached for the gun and she drew it out. Her fingers flowed over the weapon like water as she released the safety, locked her wrists and took aim.
There was a moment where she thought he knew what was about to happen; a moment where his eyes found hers and then, the dreadful sound of a bullet screaming from a barrel reverberated through the room and she didn’t know for certain who had fired.
In slow motion, she watched him topple to the floor, the shock of his death sudden and real on his face. Her arm wavered and fell and she tossed the gun away from her, dropping to her knees and dry-heaving, bracing herself on her hands.
If it came down to it, you would not hesitate to pull the trigger to protect the one you love.
Scorpius’ arms were around her and he was holding her close, rocking her against his chest. She sobbed, unable to control it, and against her will, her eyes moved beyond him to the dead body of the Mossad agent. She pushed Scorpius away, turning and emptying what little food was in her stomach onto the floor. At that moment, the Aurors burst their way inside; her father was at the head, his face set and hard and his expression faltered as he took in the bodies strewn across the floor.
“Dad,” Rose called weakly and in an instant, he was there. He Vanished the mess on the concrete and conjured blankets and water, which Rose gulped down greedily. She was aware of Scorpius’ hand on her back, moving in slow circular motions. Slowly, shock took hold and soon she was shaking and wrapped in a blanket, cradled in Scorpius’ arms, vaguely aware he was telling her father what had happened: that the Polyjuice had worn off sooner than expected, that Hugo was safe and that Areli was dead at Rose’s hand.
“Rose,” Ron said gently, sliding his finger under her chin. She thought she saw tears in his eyes, but he blinked, and they were gone.
“I’m okay,” she whispered, shivering. “I’m okay.”
He stroked her hair back from her forehead. “Where is your brother?”
“Oh,” she gasped, “He should be at Nana Granger’s, in the cellar if all went to plan.”
Her father started to smile. “You Portkeyed your brother half-way across the country and dumped him in a cellar?”
“Sounds like something your mother would do,” Ron laughed and hugged her, and Rose was sandwiched between the two men she loved more than anything in the world. Her throat suddenly felt tight, her chest constricted as she swallowed, the truth of her feelings hitting her with all the force of a blow.
It was nothing to do with the baby and it was not pretend, not this time.
Her eyes sought Scorpius’ and she stared at him blankly, shock of a different kind slipping its control over her body.
She loved him, completely and honestly, and she could not deny it.