Scorpius and Adam raced to the unused office, Oliver and Bill (who were previously waiting at the Auror Office entrance) hot on their heels. Before Scorpius could admonish the two men for following them, Bill opened the door.
The four men gasped; there was no sign of either Rose or Maira.
“Someone was impersonating Maira,” said Scorpius, astonished. “Where did they take Rose?”
“How did they take her?” Adam said.
“Portkey,” said Oliver quickly. “There are anti-Apparating wards here, and there are no fireplaces or windows. That takes flying and Floo out of the equation. It must mean that whoever that person was took Rose by unauthorised Portkey.”
“Nott, you stay here with Mr Wood and Mr Weasley,” Scorpius ordered. “I’ll look for—”
“We’re coming with you,” said Oliver and Bill in unison.
“No,” Scorpius replied. “There’s no reason why you—”
“Whoever that Healer was kidnapped her to keep her quiet, isn’t it? It wasn’t Rose. Someone framed her,” said Bill.
“That’s right, Mr Weasley,” supplied Adam, ignoring Scorpius’ scowl.
“I knew it wasn’t her,” Bill said, more to himself than anyone else.
“This is our chance,” Oliver said. “If we can find him—”
“Her,” Scorpius corrected. “It’s a her. We know that much, at least.”
“Then for the love of Merlin, boy, can we just go?” Bill demanded. His grief, Scorpius could see, had turned into anger, the same furiousness that Scorpius was sure was in his own.
“Fine,” he said at last. “But Adam, stay here in case she comes back. Let everyone know. We’ll take a Portkey.”
Without further ado, Scorpius picked up a used tissue from the table and muttered, “Portus.” The tissue glowed blue and Scorpius held it out for Bill and Oliver.
“On the count of three,” Scorpius said as Oliver and Bill put a finger each on the tissue, before either of them could ask where they were going. “One... two... three!”
The three men were jerked off their feet into oblivion before landing roughly inside an unfamiliar block of flats.
“Gabriella’s flat,” Scorpius panted, answering their unasked question as they got to their feet. Sprinting up the stairs and reaching number seventy-seven, he was about to blast open the door, but Bill beat him to it, and they raced inside to find Gabriella, the last vestiges of Polyjuice Potion having left her, holding her wand to Rose’s throat.
“Drop your wands,” she threatened, “or this bitch dies!”
Rose knew something was amiss as soon as she noticed the strange expression in Maira Parkinson’s eyes. Before Rose could do anything, Maira Confunded Harry and closed the door behind her, flicking her wand to silence Rose before she could protest. Without saying anything to her, “Maira” withdrew Dominique’s ring from her pocket and grabbed Rose’s wrist, forcing her to touch it too, just as it glowed blue. Rose, wandless, was powerless to do anything magically harmful, but she still struggled under the impostor’s grip. She couldn’t even cry for help as they were taken into oblivion by the illegal Portkey.
They arrived at an unfamiliar flat, just as the woman’s skin started darkening a little, until it reached its real coffee colour. Maira Parkinson’s short, spiky brown hair lengthened into dark, messy curls.
“You!” Rose tried to say. Her lips moved soundlessly but she couldn’t speak.
Gabriella Zabini flicked her wand, removing the Silencing Charm and binding Rose with invisible ropes.
“Yeah, me,” she snarled. Gabriella Summoned her cigarettes and a lighter. The sweet smell of the smoke made Rose crave one.
“You killed them?” Rose said, trying to struggle against the binds, partly as a distraction from the tantalising scent of the cigarette.
“The girls Dominique fucked instead of me? Yes, I did.”
“Why? Why? Dominique was — everyone thought she was so... so good. But she wasn’t. She was damaged, and only I seemed to know that. And I'm just as damaged. We’ve both lost our mums, our dads are bastards—”
“Don't call my uncle that,” Rose snarled. “And don't you dare make out that my cousin was some kind of slut—”
“I never said she was, Rose. I could never think that. Dominique was far from that. She was better than me. She was a Healer, and an intelligent, beautiful one at that. All I am is a poxy journalist.”
“It was you. You wrote those articles in the Prophet!”
“I had to throw everyone off the scent. But those girls couldn’t have her. No one had a right to her.”
“And what about Matthew Wood?”
“Wood had no right to Dominique either. He was a pretentious bastard and he deserved to be murdered ten times over,” Gabriella told her furiously, the ash from the cigarette falling on the floor. “And I know that deep down you're relieved he's dead, because you hate him as much as I do. That just made you look better for his murder.”
“Why me?” Rose demanded. “Why frame me? What have I done to you?”
Gabriella shook her head. “Things were starting to look suspicious. I needed to pin it on someone. You could have stopped this, you know. If you’d just talked to Dominique like I asked, tried to make her see sense, tried to tell her that she was better off without him, this might have never happened. Matthew had to die — and you had to have killed him.”
“So you took my wand—”
“Yes, and then I had the pleasure of seeing the man I hate the most die right before my eyes. You don't know how satisfying it was, Rose. It was far more satisfying than killing those whores. And then all I had to do was wipe your memory and that was it.”
“So you killed Matthew?” she repeated, attempting to free her arms. If she managed to get out of there alive, she could at least get a confession out of Gabriella. With luck, the memory of the confession could be used in court, but it was tricky.
Alternatively, of course, Rose could try and persuade Gabriella to turn herself in. However, the more Rose struggled, the more unseen binds her captor simply added, wrapping around her tighter.
“Yes, I did,” she replied, unperturbed by Rose’s gasps of pain as the ropes cut into her skin. “Dominique is mine; do you hear? Mine, and mine alone. She’s not Ophélie’s or Wood’s or Scorpius’ or anyone else’s.”
“Dominique’s dead,” Rose told her, still struggling. “She’s — no one’s. Least of all — yours.”
“And you're a fucking murderer!” Rose yelled. “Yes, Matt didn’t like the fact that you were fucking Dominique. And I can kind of see why you didn’t like him. But—
“Were you at Dominique’s award ceremony yesterday?” Gabriella interrupted.
“Yes, I was, but how is that—”
“In her acceptance speech,” Gabriella said loudly, “did you hear who she thanked first?” She let out a cold, mirthless laugh. “She said ‘I want to thank my wife.’ And then she quickly corrected herself and said “My husband”. Everyone found it so funny because she’s never been the best speaker in the world. But no one considered how — how true her words might’ve been, if things were different. And it was a lie. She couldn’t have wanted to thank her husband. She meant me. I know she did.”
“So why kill Dominique? Didn’t you love her?”
Gabriella’s face crumpled as she said, in a hushed voice very unlike her previously bitter tone, “She said — she said we were over. It... it was after it slipped out. I was trying to tell her how much I loved her, how I would kill for her, how I had killed for her. And then she knew. She knew in an instant what I’d done. She said we couldn’t be together anymore, that we were only ever fuck buddies to begin with, nothing else, not even lovers, for crying out loud, when she’s the best thing that ever happened to me! And she told me we had to stop, because she didn't want me anymore. She said she could never want a murderer.”
“You didn’t answer my question,” Rose shot back. “You loved her. Didn’t you?”
“Yeah, I did.”
“Then what the fuck possessed you to murder her? And how could you be so heartless — murdering a three-year-old, who was the best thing that ever happened to Dominique?”
“She grassed me up,” Gabriella snapped, stubbing out her cigarette and stamping on it. “Ophélie, the little brat, she had to go and open her big mouth and tell her bloody stepdad. And then he was going to turn me in. He bloody well said he was going to go to the Ministry and tell on me, and I couldn’t just let that slide. Especially since Dominique was siding with him. If I hadn’t killed Matthew, he would’ve grassed me up, just like Ophélie did about me and Dominique being together.
“I had to silence Matthew. I never meant to hurt Ophélie or Dominique. But when Dominique started at me, saying how she was going to... I didn't know what to do. I had to kill her. I didn't have a choice. I didn't have a choice,” Gabriella repeated.
Before Rose had time to digest Gabriella’s words, there was a bang and the door was blasted open. Gabriella jumped forwards, wand outstretched, and for the first time, Rose noticed Dominique’s ring on her finger. By the time Bill, Oliver and Scorpius had entered, however, Gabriella’s wand was at Rose’s throat.
“Drop your wands,” she threatened, “or this bitch dies!”
Rose was struck dumb by sheer fear; the mad anger in Gabriella’s eyes was enough to make Rose realise that she was deadly serious. It was then that Rose finally understood: there was no chance of trying to persuade Gabriella to turn herself in. She was fighting a losing battle. She tried to cry out, but couldn’t, and the binds just seemed to get tighter and tighter by the second. Pretty soon, Rose was sure she would suffocate.
Bill and Oliver were slowly lowering their wands, but Scorpius, seemingly forgetting about non-verbal spells, yelled, “Diffindo!”
Rose and Gabriella flew apart from the force of the spell. Scorpius, Bill and Oliver, pointing their wands at Gabriella, simultaneously screamed, “Avada Kedavra!”
They were avenging their respective children; as the jets of green light flew around the room, Scorpius and Oliver ducked while Rose lay, helpless but safe, in the corner of the room. Gabriella just missed a Killing Curse by an inch as she spun on the spot and Disapparated, but Bill was hit squarely in the chest as the curse reached a wall and bounded back at him. He fell to the ground, almost in slow motion, as what was left of his life was sapped out of him, possibly by his own curse.
“Oh my God,” Rose breathed, wondering when her voice had came back. “No! No!”
Scorpius turned towards Bill, but something was hanging in mid-air that caught his attention instead. He stared at what Gabriella had accidentally left behind in her haste to Apparate: a finger. Maybe it was Scorpius’ doing, with the Severing Charm, and not Splinching.
There was a white-gold ring on the disembodied finger. “She Splinched herself,” he murmured. “Or I accidentally chopped it off. But she was wearing Dominique’s wedding ring.”
“Shit,” said Oliver softly.
“Shit,” Scorpius agreed. With a sigh, he walked over to Rose and tried his best to ignore the tears falling down her cheeks as he undid the invisible ropes.
Harry, Macmillan, Nott and Longbottom were on their way to Gabriella’s flat as soon as Nott informed Harry. By this time, the Confundus Charm had worn off too. He was outraged that someone, a Healer under Polyjuice Potion no less, had managed to Confund him, but his anger was replaced almost immediately by shock and grief the moment he caught sight of his brother-in-law’s dead body.
In monotonous voices, Rose and Scorpius carefully explained to Harry that Gabriella Zabini, Dominique’s ex-lover, had taken Rose by Portkey to her flat while disguised as Maira Parkinson. Then she had confessed all to Rose, and Rose told Harry that she was prepared to use her memory of Gabriella’s confession in court. In addition to that, they had the physical evidence of Gabriella’s Splinched or Severed finger, wearing Dominique’s ring.
They told Harry that Gabriella killed Bill. It was Rose and Scorpius’ duties as a Law Enforcement Officer and an Auror to report any violations of magical and Muggle laws, but Rose owed Scorpius her life and neither wanted to contemplate the possibility that Scorpius or Oliver might have caused Bill’s death. And the possibility that Bill might have taken his own life by accident, mere hours after his daughter and granddaughter had been discovered dead, was far too terrible to even consider.
Harry accepted their story without comment, too focused on his slip-up — which Rose kept telling him was only because he was tired and hadn’t slept — and the fact that there was now a serial killer on the loose, one that had murdered a total of three family members. It didn't help that Victoire and Louis were now orphaned. It was not easy for them, and Rose could tell that it would take a long time for them to adjust to the profound absence of their father, sister and niece.
The funeral itself, held a week later, was a tear-filled yet deadly quiet affair, packed with people of all sorts. Ophélie was buried in the Weasley cemetery, at Molly’s request, along with Dominique and Bill, next to Fleur. Matthew was laid to rest in his family’s graveyard, but he was mentioned in Bill, Dominique and Ophélie’s funeral as a valued son-in-law, devoted husband and loving stepfather of the deceased.
Rose was given time off for bereavement and injuries, but she found it impossible to accept the time off. Instead, she returned to work, even though it was a Saturday. Harry, who disapproved of her working but was unable to do anything about it, checked on her regularly.
“I’m fine, Uncle Harry,” she told him for the twentieth time. “Don't worry about me, OK?”
“I have to, Rosie,” he replied. “I don't want anything like that to—”
“Can we not talk about it, please?” Rose interrupted. For want of something else to do, she pulled out her wand and started rearranging the files in a drawer so that they were in alphabetical order.
Harry watched her efficiently ordering the files, so much like her mother and yet so different, too. Her attitude was far too much like Ron’s, but her skills were definitely inherited from Hermione.
“How did Malfoy know about your wand?”
Rose frowned. “He... er... he took it from me once and said he just wanted to look at it. I guess he must have remembered from then.”
“Really?” he asked, a tiny trace of scepticism in his tone.
“Yep,” she replied, just as an idea popped into her head. “In fact... I almost forgot, Uncle Harry. There’s something I have to do. I’ll... I’ll see you later.”
Replacing her wand into its holster and leaving the drawer open, the files half-in, half-out, Rose left the room. Soon, she exited the Ministry, finding her favourite Muggle bakery and purchasing sugary jam doughnuts. Not even bothering to laugh at one of the baker’s stupid jokes, she left the shop as quickly as she could, hoping that Scorpius was in his office.
She wasn’t entirely sure why she was going to him, only that she knew she owed him enormously. If he hadn’t intervened, Gabriella would have killed her. Rose shuddered upon as she remembered the mad expression in Gabriella’s eyes.
Knocking on the door, Rose waited for an answer, and was relieved to hear Scorpius’ voice. “Come in.” She opened the door and came inside.
“Why are you here?” he asked. He was sitting at his desk, a report with two lines on it in front of him. Frowning, Scorpius pushed the parchment and quill away.
“Hello to you too,” Rose said wryly, with no real humour in her voice as she took the seat opposite him, with his desk between them.
“No, I mean, why are you at work? You're injured and gr—”
“I'm not injured,” Rose interrupted. “And I am grieving. But I could ask you the exact same thing.”
Scorpius was stumped there. “I — there's nothing for me to do at home.”
Rose nodded, taking the doughnut box out of the bag to show him. “I brought doughnuts,” she said unnecessarily.
“Why?” he asked curiously.
She shrugged. “Peace offering,” she said, with a tiny smile as she tried to open it. “To say sorry.”
“Sorry? For what? And why with doughnuts?”
“Doughnuts are the international law enforcement symbol of friendship,” she informed him. She really was having trouble taking the wrapping off the doughnuts. “And I'm sorry for kicking up a fuss when you came to my door that day. It wasn’t fair and you were only doing your job.”
“I was doing it badly. I regret yelling at you. Because you didn't do it. You didn't murder Ophélie.”
Rose sighed, withdrew her wand from her holster and slit the doughnut wrapper magically. With her other hand, she took a doughnut, dropped the box onto the table and pushed it towards him.
“No, thanks,” said Scorpius.
“Have a doughnut, Scorpius,” Rose said through a mouthful of jam.
For the first time in a while, Scorpius smiled. It was very fleeting, but there was something distinctly unladylike about Rose that he liked.
“Do you regret it?” Scorpius asked abruptly, finally taking a doughnut.
“Telling me that we can’t be together. Back in sixth year. Do you regret it?”
Rose stared at him, unconsciously touching the medallion she’d always worn, especially since the untimely death of her maternal grandmother just a year ago. He still remembered that?
“Why are you so miserable?” George Greengrass demanded. “Lighten up, Malfoy!”
Scorpius Malfoy rolled his eyes at his cousin and continued brooding, occasionally adding an extra detail to his completed Potions essay while George struggled with his, which he had started merely five minutes ago. Shaking his quill in frustration, George managed to upturn his inkpot just before he stabbed his parchment menacingly with his quill, leaving a tear in the ink-blotted paper.
“So... what’s the problem? Love life?” he asked, pulling out his wand and attempting to mend his essay and clean up the mess.
“Nonexistent,” Scorpius replied shortly. “Yours?” he enquired, trying to change the subject.
“Maira Parkinson said she’d go to Hogsmeade with me,” said George, shrugging. “That’s good enough... But seriously, Scorpius, what’s wrong? Who died?”
“Gabriella,” his cousin said finally.
“No, you eejit, I got dumped, OK?” Scorpius snapped. “For someone in seventh year, she said. She was seeing him behind my back.”
“Oh. Don’t worry, man,” George reassured, silently breathing a sigh of relief that it wasn’t anything more serious. “Plenty more fish in the sea and all that shit.”
When Scorpius merely rolled his eyes again moodily, slumped on the table in defeat, George added, “Did you hear about the Christmas party in the Gryffindor common room tonight?”
“What about it?” he asked suspiciously.
“Why don't we go along to it? Adam said he’d come too.”
“Why does he want to go?”
“Anna Robins is going to be there,” said George, and Scorpius nodded knowingly. Anna was in Ravenclaw, but it was the same every year: somehow, owing to the large number of Potters and Weasleys in Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, the Fat Lady always turned a blind (or was it drunk?) eye when the Potters and Weasleys wanted to hold a party and invite people from every other house except Slytherin. The annual Christmas party was probably the most anticipated party of the year, and it was one of many. Even though James Potter was going to leave Hogwarts that year, the gatherings of the family would not.
Therefore, when the three Slytherin sixth-years crept into the Gryffindor common room, the Fat Lady guarding the entrance did not seem to know nor care that Slytherins were gatecrashing the party, which was in full swing.
The various members of the Weasley-Potter family, plus their large circles of friends, were chatting; there was plenty of food, nicked from the kitchens, no doubt; there was music playing and a few were dancing lazily. Rose was busy snogging her boyfriend, Matthew Wood. They were sharing an armchair.
Scorpius picked up a Butterbeer and took in his bearings, scowling as he watched Adam Nott approach Anna Robins and start to chat her up. But then a scuffle caught his eye and his annoyance was momentarily forgotten.
“Who the fuck do you think you are, you bastard?” Rose Weasley exclaimed loudly. “Get your hands off me or I’ll hex them off, d’you hear me? That’s it. We’re through, Wood!”
Everyone’s heads swivelled around to see the drama, but Rose had already stormed up the stairs towards the nearest tower, her brown hair dancing in the light, looking more golden than brown as it swung behind her in her haste to get up the stairs.
Matt seemed to be heading that way too, but Albus picked that moment to notice that Nott was at the party, and the two of them got into a loud argument, prompting both Matt and James to break up the punch-drunken fight between the two boys.
In order to avoid getting involved in their dispute, Scorpius made a beeline towards the tower that Rose had disappeared into, hurrying up the stairs, just catching sight of Rose’s back again and turning the corner of the landing she had just turned to find —
— Dominique Weasley and Gabriella Zabini, in a tight embrace, kissing heatedly until Rose’s gasp made them pull apart.
“You — and her?” Scorpius said in shock, looking from Dominique to Gabriella and back again. Rose wheeled around at the sound of Scorpius’ voice before turning back to the matter at hand, deciding to ignore him. The two girls’ appearances looked rather dishevelled and both narrowed their eyes at their unwanted audience.
“Yes, and if you tell a soul, I swear I will hex your balls together, Malfoy,” Gabriella said loftily. “Anyway, it’s not as if I lied. Dominique is in seventh year.”
Just not a bloke, Scorpius thought.
“Rose, please don't tell anyone,” Dominique said, looking at her cousin pleadingly. Rose rolled her eyes, her hands on her hips as though still taking in the scene before nodding reluctantly.
They simply stood there, in a very awkward silence.
“Well? Why are you two still here?” Rose demanded a few seconds later. “Get going!”
For once, Dominique heeded her cousin’s words, dragging Gabriella with her down the stairs. Once they were out of earshot and sight, Rose couldn’t stop herself from turning to Scorpius and grinning, momentarily forgetting just who he was.
She was more than surprised to see him smile back sheepishly. Rose couldn’t help but notice what a gorgeous smile Scorpius had; it lit up his entire face, especially his grey eyes and even his blond hair, which had become a little curly in recent days, she saw.
“Well...that was a bit of a surprise, wasn’t it?” Scorpius said wryly.
“Too right,” Rose agreed. “But I think they suit each other, even though it’s kind of weird seeing my cousin with Gabriella Zabini.”
“Yeah, it is really weird, seeing my own ex-girlfriend with Dominique Weasley, of all people,” he said quietly.
“Oh! I'm sorry, Scorpius,” she said, seemingly forgetting their usual, curt, no-first-names etiquette.
“It’s OK,” he dismissed, shrugging. “Your love life isn’t exactly peachy either, is it, Rose?”
“Excuse me? What do you know about my love life, Malfoy?” Rose’s previous attitude towards Scorpius was already returning. And she was right in saying that. Scorpius was, admittedly, in most of her lessons this year, but before then, they were only in the occasional class together, and had definitely never really had a proper conversation.
“Well,” Scorpius began dryly, “you kind of baited it out for all the people who came to this party to hear. I mean, it was pretty obvious that Matthew Wood is the one who owns the hands you threatened to hex off, right?”
Rose didn't bother to reply. Now he was just being downright nosy. Even if he was as handsome as she thought he was.
“So why did you threaten Wood, anyway?”
OK. It was clear that Scorpius wasn’t going to stop interrogating her. She withdrew her wand from her robes and pointed it at him.
“Keep asking me questions and your hands will be hexed off,” she threatened.
“Would you really?” he asked. Rose nodded. “Go on then,” Scorpius challenged her. “I dare you.”
Rose did nothing.
“Told you that you couldn’t do it,” he said gleefully.
She kept her wand trained on him but decided to answer his question, although why he was so interested was beyond her.
“He tried it on me,” Rose said finally. “He put his hands where he shouldn’t have — and of course, I didn't like it, so you can’t really blame me for threatening him—”
“—and swearing at him,” Scorpius added. “So very ladylike.”
“D’you speak any other languages apart from sarcasm?”
“French, Italian, Spanish, German, a bit of Russian and I’m currently learning Arabic.”
Rose rolled her eyes, attempting to look unimpressed, and in that moment, before she could stop him, her wand flew out of her hand and Scorpius caught it. Rose was caught unawares; she hadn’t even seen him take out his wand.
“Oi!” she said loudly. “What d’you think you’re doing?”
He was examining her wand with interest. “Hmm...interesting. Rosewood and unicorn tail, fourteen inches, adept at producing hexes and curses.”
“How did you—?” Rose seemed amazed.
“My dad recently bought Ollivander’s, just after Ollivander died. So I know things.”
“Is that so?” Again, she tried her hardest not to look stunned by his intelligence, but it clearly wasn’t working.
Scorpius handed her wand back to her before looking up at what was directly above them. After stowing her wand away, Rose looked up as well, wondering what was so interesting up there.
“Mistletoe,” she whispered, and she realised how close together their faces suddenly were. “You know what that is for?”
Without thinking, she answered her own question by stretching her hand to the back of his neck, tangling her fingers into his blond hair and bringing his lips onto hers. She didn't know whether it was the Dutch courage from the Firewhiskey she had just drunk; all she knew was that it was Christmas, she was under mistletoe with Scorpius Malfoy, and damn it, she had to know if all boys were like Matthew.
It was only meant to last a second, but their brief kiss turned into a more heated one as an almost inaudible sigh escaped Rose’s lips. He must’ve had lessons on kissing, Rose mused, because he certainly knew what he was doing.
Rose seemed to have forgotten all sense, but it came rushing back to her, and with all the willpower she could muster, Rose pulled away before he could coax her mouth open, realising what a big mistake the kiss was. She saw that his eyes seemed to be on fire and felt her own cheeks flush at the intensity of his gaze.
Without warning, she spun unsteadily on her heel and was about to take off in the other direction until she felt a hand on her arm, gently turning her around.
“Don’t go.” Those two softly spoken words alone managed to root her on the spot, and Rose looked at him questioningly, albeit slightly tipsily. In response, Scorpius placed his fingers on her eyelids, putting the lightest of pressures on them so that they were closed — so that they could not see his own charcoal-grey eyes darkening to the point that they were nearly black.
She shivered at his touch but obeyed it, keeping her eyes shut, the Firewhiskey dulling her sense again.
Tortuously slowly, Scorpius’ fingers moved from her elbows downwards, until they were laced into Rose’s. Their noses were touching and their lips were a hair’s breadth apart, and when they finally met, Rose could feel her lips almost burn from his. Her tongue seemed to have a mind of its own, entwining with his.
At last, when they heard footsteps and the voices of Adam and George, they quickly pulled apart. Without a chance to say a word to each other, they went their separate ways: Scorpius towards his friends and Rose to the girls’ dormitory.
The next day, Rose was in the library, looking for a book to take out over the holidays. She jumped violently at the sound of Scorpius’ voice behind her.
She realised that this was her chance. “Malfoy?” Rose said rather brusquely, appearing from nowhere. He was with Nott, Greengrass and Goyle, three Slytherins that she hated.
“Yes, Weasley?” Scorpius replied, with equal briskness.
“A word, please.”
“Make it a quick one, then,” he said. Following her behind the shelf, he waved his wand and muttered, “Muffliato.”
“What’s that?” Scorpius interrupted, eyeing the chain on Rose’s neck interestedly.
“It’s a medallion,” she said quickly. “But I—”
“Really? Who’s the saint?” he asked, reaching out and fingering the medallion, making Rose momentarily speechless at his touch.
“Saint Rose of Lima,” she said at last. “Grandparents are Catholic. But forget my medallion, Malfoy. I wanted to tell you that... what happened in Gryffindor Tower... it didn't happen.”
“You heard. It never happened.”
And with that, Rose walked away, all thoughts of her book forgotten; for it was only then that Rose realised that she could never talk of this again; her father’s final words to her before she boarded the Hogwarts Express more than five years ago were ringing in her ears: ”Don’t get too friendly with him, Rosie. Granddad Weasley would never forgive you if you married a pure-blood...*”
Don’t get too friendly... Rose had got more than friendly with him. But no one needed to know that.
“So do you regret it?” Scorpius’ voice jolted them both back to the present.
“I don't know,” she replied. “I should be saying yes, but I don't know.”
They stood in silence until Rose broke it. “Do you regret it?”
He shook his head. “We could have had something. I wish you hadn’t told me we couldn’t... you know. And sometimes, I wish I hadn’t had a one-night stand with Dominique. But if I hadn't, Ophélie wouldn’t have been born and I wouldn’t have loved anyone. I mean, she’s dead — they're both dead. But really? I wouldn’t change a thing. Everything was meant to happen. It was written in Ophélie’s fate that she was going to die. And it was in my fate that I had to suffer, that I was this close,” he held up a sugary forefinger and thumb, and the space between them was negligible, “to killing the bitch who murdered my little girl, and that I can't even cry for her because I've had to bottle that grief up and now I can’t open it again.
“I can’t cry, Rose. I can't even mourn for her. She was my daughter and I don't think I've ever loved anyone more. And someone snatched her from me. So what the fuck do I do?”
“You don't do anything,” said Rose slowly. “You just wait ‘til you're ready to let your grief out.”
“When I was little,” he said, “I’d cry over everything. I’d cry when I got a paper cut, when someone hit me at school, anything. And now... now I can’t cry about anything, and it actually matters.”
“We all did that. I always cried over things that didn't matter — like the time Hugo stole one of my toys. We were kids — we didn't know any better.”
“But I do now! I'm an adult, and I don't feel like one at all. I should’ve known better. I could’ve protected her. If I’d collected her from nursery, if she’d been at mine that day... none of it would’ve happened.”
“That’s not true,” she said fiercely. “She still would’ve... If I had struggled, tried to fight Gabriella, Dominique, Ophélie and Matt might have lived.”
“But—” Scorpius began, wanting to protest.
“Look at me, Scorpius,” she said, standing up, rummaging in her pocket and finding her wallet, where she took out Ophélie’s photo. Ophélie always had been her favourite cousin, and Dominique had given Rose the photo just days before her death. Scorpius, sensing what she was going to show him, looked away. “Stop it,” she said, grabbing his hand and placing the picture there before he could stop her. “Look at it. Just look.”
“I can’t,” he replied, squeezing his eyes shut and letting go of her wallet.
“Yes, you can. You can and you will.” When he refused to open his eyes, she didn't know what else to do. Before she could think about what she was going to do, Rose leaned forwards, her hands already covering his, and kissed him full on the mouth.
It was the most fleeting kiss she had ever given anyone. Rose only realised how inappropriate her actions were a second after she pulled away. Scorpius’ eyes were impassive, impossible to read, as he stared at her.
“I’m sorry,” she said, a desperate expression crossing her face as Scorpius’ gaze dropped. “I wasn’t thinking, I—” Rose stopped abruptly as she realised that he was finally doing what she had asked.
His eyes met his daughter’s tiny ones. She waved at him as if to say, “Hello, Daddy”, with a radiant smile on her beautiful face. Finally, it seemed that the dam inside Scorpius had broken: tears fell, slowly at first, but more quickly as his body shook with grief. Before he knew it, he was on his feet as he fell to his knees from his chair, completely forgetting about Rose watching him.
Because he couldn’t accept that picture. His daughter was waving at him — but she wasn’t greeting him.
He could hear her as she said, “Goodbye, Daddy.”
Chapter End Notes:
* Excerpt taken from the epilogue — Nineteen Years Later — of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I don't own it — JK Rowling does.
So that’s it! The inspiration for this story came from an episode in the Mentalist, season 2 episode 3, Red Badge, when Teresa Lisbon was falsely accused of murdering a rapist, but she couldn’t remember anything during the time of the murder, and she discovered that her psychiatrist was drugging her and making her have blackouts. And the same goes for the doughnuts idea — from the Mentalist, episode 2 of season 2 — The Scarlet Letter. Patrick Jane is just... *swoon*
As well as that, the inspiration for Gabriella’s signature was from the Mentalist too — Red John’s chilling MO, a smiley face in blood on the wall — as was the title of the story, “Blood and Roses”. All of the Mentalist episodes’ titles have something to do with blood or something red. If you haven’t watched the Mentalist, go and watch it. (That should tell you that I do not in any way, shape or form, own the Mentalist or claim to own the Mentalist. I am only married to Patrick Jane and I am NOT sharing :P) Saint Rose of Lima is apparently the saint Catholics (correct me if I’m wrong here) pray to for the resolution of family quarrels. Hermione’s always been Catholic in my fanon, as is Lily Evans. Well, their parents are, anyway. Finally, I don't think anyone has noticed that the plot is very, very loosely following Romeo and Juliet. Sort of. With many, many not-so-subtle differences, hehe.
Anyway, I would honestly love it if you reviewed. I plan on writing at least three follow-up oneshots. One’s already written, and it’s a femmeslash — Dominique/Gabriella. I’d love it if you could review it once it’s up. The others are probably going to be Teddy/Victoire and Bill/Fleur, but they haven't been written. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed the story and I really, really hope you review, because it would make my day. (And the reviewing bit is still applicable if you didn't enjoy it!)