Kelly twirled around in her wedding dress. It looked absolutely stunning on her, Lauren and I swooned in the doorway as we looked at her. Short, petite, dark haired, tiny waisted Kelly looked absolutely beautiful. The dress clung to her little curves and complimented her. Her tan skin glowed against the beautiful ivory gown.
Putting a hand over my heart, I gasped. "Kelly…you look…"
"You aren't even going to make it down the aisle," Lauren cackled boldly. "The minute he sees you he's going to rip that dress of tread-by-tread."
Kelly blushed; her tiny face starred down at us self consciously as she gripped the bottom. "Are you sure it's not…I dunno, too much?"
"Kelly!" I laughed, clapping my hands over my face in excitement. "It's your wedding! I think that dress is pur-fect!"
"You really think so?"
Lauren let out a delighted laugh. "I'm packing you with some contraceptive potions for your wedding night, because you-will-need-them."
Kelly snickered, "Alright, alright! I'll get it!" She carefully moved back into the dressing room.
Lauren sat down in one of the waiting chairs. Crossing her legs she laughed, shaking her head at me. "What?" I asked her.
She said. "I've never seen her so happy."
"Me neither…She's worked so hard." I commented as I sat in the chair next to hers. "If anyone deserves this she does."
Lauren looked at me thoughtfully. "You know I always thought you would be the first."
"First to what?" I questioned.
"To get married." She told me softly as she leaned back in her chair.
The smile drifted off of my face as we looked at one another. "Well." I said sadly, "That time has long passed."
"You don't think you guys will ever get back together?"
Biting my lip, I leaned forward, resting my forearms on my knees as I starred into the empty space in front of me. "I don't think so."
"Why not? You clearly
"Am I that obvious?"
Lauren flicked her long blond hair out of her face. "Yep."
"Ever heard of sensitivity? It's this new fangled thing, you outta give it a try."
She rolled her eyes dryly. "It's like…you were all dead inside." Her tone became serious. "And then the second he returned you came alive again… I actually think he's good for you despite absolutely
I let out a bewildered shaky laugh. "What?"
"He challenges you, you challenge each other and he makes you re-think your life, which I think helps you. You need someone to check you every now and again."
"What do you call what you do?" I countered with a snort.
"Um, excuse me asshole. I would call what I do miracles
considering what I have to work with." Lauren told me snidely.
I laughed and shook my head.
Kelly walked out in her jeans and healer union t-shirt. She was perfectly flushed from the excitement of the day. We had been in this bridal shop for just under an hour and already she found her dress. I rose to my feet and slung my bag over my shoulder. A few girls rushed by me to go try their dresses giggling the whole way. The owner came over to speak to Kelly for a second, and I paused next to Kelly as she finalized the order. We were just about to leave when I felt something. Call it my Auror's six sense or whatever, but I knew something was off. Kelly was signing some documents, and she shifted for us to leave when I looked out the window and saw a man.
He had ordinary brown hair, common light brown eyes and a very common face, but his glance wasn't ordinary at all, it was lethal. His wand raised and his mouth began to form words that I had heard too many times.
"GET DOWN!" I yelled as he pointed his wand at Kelly.
She didn't move fast enough. I snatched her by the waist and chucked her at the ground. Wand raised I sent a curse through the broken window to immobilize him. Springing to my feet, I raced to him and binned him with a spell.
"Is everyone-?" I called through the broken window, but once I saw the look on Kelly's face I knew the answer.
The woman, the short stout grey haired woman who owned the shop, the woman who was seconds ago gushing with Kelly about how beautiful she will look on her wedding day, was on the floor. Kelly was sitting with the woman between her legs, her face full of horror and helplessness. Her hands were frozen on the woman's face, and I knew that if Kelly wasn't doing anything that could only mean that the owner was dead. She was used to seeing patients come to her and die on her operating table, but she wasn't prepared for this. Lauren came over and put a protective arm around Kelly's shaking shoulders.
"I'll be right back." I told them. Then I locked eyes with Lauren and mouthed, 'Watch her,
' Before apprating to the ministry.
"Are you sure they were after your friend and not the owner?" My uncle asked me for what felt like the hundredth time as he paced in his own office.
"Yes." I answered. "He was pointing his wand at her. I just moved her out of the way and the owner was a casualty."
My uncle ran a hand through his hair, which seemed to have gotten a lot grayer in the past month. "Fill out the report and return to your desk."
I fought the urge to tell him how ridiculous it was that he was keeping me in the dark about why they were there and who they were. But I didn't because I needed to be in the dark.
Already on edge, I actually was looking forward to sitting around the office all day going through cold cases. Sure I had to put up with the raging tension between Scorpius and I, but at this point that was becoming second nature. We'd been stuck together for three days so far and so far we've managed to keep our tempers in check. It wasn't remotely easy, but then again I keep forgetting that we used to hate each other for several years and yet we worked together as prefects and Headboy and Headgirl. Sometimes, when I pictured stabbing him in the eye with my quill, I tried to remember that.
Lily wandered into my office and sat down in the guest chair across from me as Scorpius and I silently worked through our paperwork.
Without looking up I said. "Yes Lil?"
"Um…" She gave Scorpius a bewildered look and it suddenly occurred to me that I never told her (1) that Scorpius was back in town, (2) that he worked in the same department as me and (3) that he was my temporary partner.
"It's temporary Lil. What's up?"
She adjusted her designer dress. "I was wondering if you're free for lunch today."
"Can't," I frowned. "We'll probably be here all night with this case. What's up?"
Sighing, she fiddled with the bangles on her wrist. "I like someone."
An amused laugh escaped my lips. "I have yet to see a problem."
"I don't think he looks at me that
I looked up from my work. "Lily, every boy looks at you in that way."
"Not this one."
"Who is it?"
A deep and unforgiving blush arrived on her cheeks. "Oh…um you don't know him."
"Then what's the harm in telling me his name?" I snickered. "It's because I know him isn't it?"
"Let me guess…" I grimaced in disappointment. "Is it Aiden?"
"Ew! Your ex boyfriend? Gross!" She flinched.
"Then why wouldn't you tell me?" I insisted.
She groaned, "Fine! …It's Frank Longbottom."
"Don't tell your mother. She will have a FIELD-DAY with that information."
"Well it's a little hard to let her plan our perfect wedding when he looks at me like I'm a child." She pouted.
I shrugged. "Well he is 26 and you're only 22."
"Um remember when you dated someone that was 10 years older than you." She shot at me suddenly
I frowned. "No."
"Damn…I was really hoping James wasn't lying about that…Anyway, I just wanted some advice."
"From me?" I snorted. "I have no idea how to make Frank see you differently."
"Make him jealous." Scorpius interjected from behind his box of files.
I glared at him, my judgment perfectly clear. "That's how she's going to make him see that she is a mature adult? She's going to make him jealous?"
He moved the box aside so he could see us both clearly. "Look, the best way to get a man to notice you and see you as dateable is to show that another man sees you that way. It helps if it's a guy his own age that he has respect for. And if all else fails and he has no reaction then you will no for sure that nothing you can do can change his mind."
I hated that he had actual logic behind what he was saying, and that he was right. Lily's brown eyes, much like her older brother's, closed in on Scorpius. Her black mascara and light pink eye shadow made her eyes a sight to behold and often made men twice her age stop and stare, but Scorpius didn't look fazed.
"Are you saying that if you were interested in a girl the only way to make you know that would be to make you jealous?"
Scorpius, light eyebrows raised as he scratched his recently shaved jaw. "I'm saying even if a guy isn't the most jealous guy, he will notice if it bothers him if you are all over somebody else. If that doesn't bother him, then he doesn't care about you."
Lily leaned forward giving him a smirk. "Are you a jealous guy?"
"Alright alright Lil," I interrupted her. "We have to work. I'll see you at dinner tomorrow."
"I'd like hear the answer to my question." She smiled at Scorpius coyly.
I physically got up and pulled her out of her chair while rolling my eyes. "I'm sure you would."
"Because isn't that Aiden now?"
Annoyed, I looked across the room, my hand still hooked under Lily's bird arm, and I saw Aiden was indeed smirking at me from across the room. I let out a noise of irritation, and dragged Lily with me.
"If you want to talk more, just owl me. In the meantime go get back to work."
She snickered, "What are you going to do about Aiden?"
I sighed, "Find out what he wants and get back to work."
Lily winked at Aiden and went to the elevator. I placed my hands on my hips and gave Aiden a dirty look, but I faltered. "What are you doing here? I thought we covered everything earlier this week!"
"We did. I just missed you." He grinned.
I rolled my eyes. "That's great. I love you and all, but is there a specific reason you're visiting?"
He pulled me into a hug, and whispered into my hair that no one but me could have heard.
I froze in his arms. "Okay."
Then instead of letting me go and going about his business, his grip on my deepened and I could feel the fear in the tightness of his grip. But I just hugged him back reassuringly. This was risky, but it had to be done, and sacrifices had to be made. I forced him to release me and grabbed his shoulders. Reassuringly I squeezed as I looked up at him.
"I know, I know." He whispered his eyes oddly wet. Then the seriousness disappeared and he couldn't help but grin again. "Malfoy's watching us you know."
I shrugged pretending to be unconcerned. "So?"
"Well…I say we make him sweat for a minute."
"What are you-?"
Aiden, leaned down, his overly long arms scooping me up into a lingering somehow overly intimate hug. I hugged him back, but I wasn't sure what he was trying to do. The whole point of this was that he was supposed to have limited contact with me so he could pass messages, but not be in the line of fire. So why was he being overly friendly?
When we pulled away he gave me a wink and said, "Remember what I said."
Giving him a dirty look I snorted. "I will, thanks."
I didn't know what game he was playing, but I was sure that whatever it was it was too dangerous to play. Once I got back to my desk and began working again, I heard Scorpius gnawing on his gum and everything clicked. Aiden did that to get Scorpius going. My mouth opened to explain to him that I wasn't back with Aiden. That Aiden and I were nothing more than old friends, but I didn't say it. What was the point? Everything I did pissed him off these days anyway and there was no reason for me to explain myself.
Scorpius didn't say a single word to me, but I knew that he was bothered because his lips were much thinner than before. For a few brief seconds I felt a sliver of guilt, but I pushed it away. We would be leaving soon, our shift would be over and he would have the rest of the night to get over my newest disappointing act.
"Rose?" A voice sounded above me drawing my attention to my uncle. "We have another attack."
My throat ceased in my throat as the list of possibilities filled in my head. My eyes filled with fear. "Who?"
"It's Uncle Neville…. He's alright, but you two have to go interview him on the attack." Grimly, he handed me the folder, his face stern, but flickering with sadness. "I want you to report to me as soon as you two return."
I nodded. "It shouldn't take too long."
My uncle frowned. "I don't know about that. You're going to Hogwarts."
All the muscles in my stomach tightened forming this big massive locked knot of anxiety. Scorpius's and I glanced each other, both of our faces filled with apprehension.
Erasing yourself from somebody's life is never as simple as just walking out the front door. Scorpius and I both did a horrible job. We left millions of loose ends and more recently we'd basically come to a silent agreement to accept that. Sure we were both pissed at each other, but we had to work together, so we were almost civil towards each other for the sake of our mutual sanity. This was different.
As soon as we apparated next to the borderline for Hogwarts everything changed. My shoes sunk into the sprightly lime grass, and I staggered for a minute. His arm shot out to steady me.
He asked. "You alright?"
I frowned as I looked across the hauntingly familiar grounds. "Yeah, thanks."
Every memory from my youth came rushing back vividly into my mind as we pushed through the edge of the Forbidden Forrest to the castle. It was like walking on shards of glass barefoot. You knew no matter what you did would hurt, so you tread carefully, but that just made the pieces stick into you deeper. At the office we just stood in the glass, embracing the pain and learning to numb against it. At least that way we could learn to deal with the pain. This wasn't something I could ignore. This was like someone was poking me in the back, forcing me to walk through the plain of glass and endure all of pain that shot through me because of it.
Every time I looked at Scorpius that jagged edge of glass dug deeper and deeper into my foot, jolting shocks of piercing pain up my body. I didn't realize how bad it was until I was faced with the echoes of our past. But Merlin, I missed him. I missed his laugh. I missed his smile. I missed the way he smelt when he just came back from Quidditch practice. I missed the way he looked when he first woke up in the morning. I missed the smell of his coffee stained breath. I missed his ridiculous temper. I even missed obsessive need to have everything in order. Is it even possible to miss someone that's five feet away from you?
I hoped with every single fraction of my soul that this would get easier, but instead it just got worse and worse. Every single place on the grounds had a sacred memory that we shared together.
We used to stay up late talking for hours. Sometimes we'd fight, sometimes we'd snog, but mostly we were just together happy no matter, look what happened to that.
Everything was different, and yet it wasn't. The building hadn't changed at all. The castle was still majestic and wonderful, but darker somehow. Maybe because now I've seen more and know more, but also maybe because I was a much lighter person back then. Looking across the plane of warm grass, I was hit with flashes of memories. It started off with memories just involving Kelly and Lauren, but then it grew. Suddenly I saw my thirteen-year-old self playing with scrawny eleven year old Lily near the Black Lake. I saw James and Hugo chasing Albus and I around the grounds. I saw Aiden kiss me for the first time by the old oak tree right before the forbidden forest. I saw Albus and I helping Hagrid with his newest animal fascination. The last two memories were of Scorpius and me. The first was in our fourth year.
I was laying in the middle of the grass with Albus, Kelly and a bunch of our Quidditch team mates. The sun was high and we all were about to give up the pretense of studying when Scorpius strutted over to me. He always picked on me, but this day was different, because this time he was specifically seeking me out. I remembered being furious. I didn't understand why he was bothering to talk to me in the first place. By the end of our verbal spat I had slapped him and stormed off.
The second memory was drastically different. We had just had a ridiculous fight and I went to go make up with him. He threw me in the lake and then we wrestled in there for a bit, laughing hysterically the whole time. Whatever it was that we fought about I couldn't remember. It was then I realized that any fight could seem stupid six years later. None of it really matters, because no matter what we fought about we always were back together at the end of the day.
Lost in the past, my eyes glistened with tears. How much I would give to go back, to be that person again and have all those experiences again. I would change a lot, but at the same time I wouldn't. I would spend more time with my father, and made sure he knew I loved him. But I wouldn't have changed one second of the time I had with Scorpius.
Then I felt a tug in my stomach, and heard my name called and I was pulled back to the bitterness of reality.
"Come on." He told me coldly.
Nostalgia's such a bitch. Every corridor we passed made my heart grow heavier and heavier until we reached the headmasters office. After a certain point, I wanted to just close my eyes and shut it all out, but for once it didn't work. Usually it was fine. Usually I was fine. I could just walk away from it, walk away from it all, but not here. I couldn't lie to Hogwarts.
I nodded at the Headmaster. Though I did not know him, it was clear by his overjoyed expression that he knew me. Waddling forward, he thrusted his chubby hand into my palm with an overeager expression.
"Rose Weasley I presume?"
I shook his hand and gestured to Scorpius. My voice cooled into its professional tone. "And this is Scorpius Malfoy, we are here with the Auror's office about the attack on Professor Longbottom."
"I'll have a house elf retrieve him from the Hospital wing! You two just sit tight!" He insisted leaving the room.
I frowned. "Where's all the students?"
Scorpius checked his watch. "It's only Five. They probably are still in their lessons."
"Did he seem off to you?" I questioned not sitting though I was instructed to.
"The Headmaster?" Scorpius asked, and shrugged. "I don't think any of them have ever been normal."
Shaking my head, I let out a long breath and finally sunk into one of the chairs in front of the headmasters desk. The Headmaster himself rushed back into the room and sunk his rather large behind in the desk chair behind him. He was …weird, not like any Headmaster I was used to having, seen or even hearing about. But I said nothing. I was here in professional capacity.
"So what is it like to be back?" He asked us.
. "Fine," I answered coolly.
"Please sit Mr. Malfoy!" He insisted.
Scorpius didn't sit, I could see he was simply too uncomfortable. "How long have you been Headmaster?"
"Two years." He answered cheerfully, his smoky mustache twitching. "I took over after your Headmaster, my predecessor. I have to tell you both it is a treat to have you both back even in this situation."
Scorpius didn't seem to like him. Bluntly he said, "And why is that?"
"Well you both were prefects, top of your class and of course Headboy and Headgirl! Hogwarts loves welcoming home its successful students!"
For a blinding second, Scorpius and I shared a look of contempt towards this man. Its actually quite shocking how much you can convey with a look. But before we became to comfortable we slid back into our vicious hatred of one another and tried to pretend the man didn't bother us.
"Yes, well." I replied shortly.
"I was very troubled to hear about your father Ms. Weasley." He shook his head in dismay, "He was very good man."
My chest dropped and my wand had twitched. "Yes he was."
"Did they have catch the men responsible?" He wanted to know.
I could see Scorpius eye me from where he stood across the room, but I paid him no mind. The room grew still and quiet as we waited for my Uncle Neville to arrive. Though he wasn't genetically my Uncle I couldn't remember a time I didn't call him that. He was an extremely close family friend and godfather to Lily. He was a sweet older man with three kids of his own. One of which Lily had revealed only a few hours earlier that she had a mad crush on.
When he walked in, I rose and enveloped me in a hug. Of course if he hadn't I would have felt guilty for not doing so, but I was supposed to be professional. Thankfully he pushed that out of the way for me, saving me from making that awkward choice. Conjuring up a chair for him I listened to his explanation. Under his light eyes I saw a bruise growing and just above his floppy hairline I saw a rather large gash, but overall he looked fine.
"Have you received any threats from anyone? Students? Staff?" Scorpius interrogated him directly.
Uncle Neville shook his head. "Not a peep. At first I reckoned it was just a mugging gone wrong, but then I realized they never tried to take my money. They were just trying to attack me."
"Where did this happen again?" I muttered as I wrote in the file.
"Hogsmede, in broad daylight." He said. "I don't think they thought I knew how to fight, because they seemed to think that I would go down easily."
Scorpius scowled. "And when the fight ended they scattered?"
"Yep and they were wearing masks so I never saw what any of them looked like." He paused giving me a look. "The masks were the part that threw me off."
Before I knew it I knew exactly what he was going to tell me. Scorpius seemed to tense up too. "What were they?"
"Twisted versions of Death Eater masks…They definitely used the original material and just altered it slightly so it was less …shiny."
"Anything else?" Scorpius asked as he stood perfectly straight.
"Before I tossed them off," He pulled down the collar of shirt to show the space over his heart. "They burned me with this."
I saw the jagged scarlet lightning bolt scar, and instantly I lost all color in my face. Quickly I tried to regroup, but unfortunately Scorpius had been watching my reaction. I let out a breath.
"Well thank you. We will send this information back to the Ministry immediately." My face turned kind. "But next time why don't you wait on honeydukes till the rest of the staff goes?"
He smiled earnestly. "I will Rose. Say hi to your mother for me."
I smiled back, though it took everything in my power to do so. "I will."
"We will let you know if anything comes to light during our investigation." Scorpius told him smoothly, shaking his hand as we headed out the door.
Though my face was impassive, I was shaking under my black Auror Robes. We walked down a flight of stairs past a slew of on coming students. At first I thought Scorpius might not say anything. I thought he might not mention my reaction and just for once let me off the hook. I was wrong.
His arm gripped mine out of nowhere and without a word he pulled me down a familiar path. "Scorpius! What the hell are you-?"
"We need to talk." He told me simply.
I let him force me up the Astronomy tower to the secluded rooftop. Once we were there I pulled myself free and gave him a reproachful look. "What is so urgent you couldn't have said it down there? And why did you have to take me?"
"Because if I would have told you what I wanted to talk to you about you wouldn't have come with me."
Already I didn't like the sound of this. I leaned back on the brick railing as the sun began to set behind me. "Well?"
don't you?" He said accusingly.
His eyes narrowed. "You know that whoever took you is behind these attacks."
"I-" My mouth formed the lie.
"ROSE." He snapped harshly, his face flushing with anger. "Just answer
"Yes," I said snappishly. "I know."
Concern took shape in his eyes, but it was quickly overshadowed by anger. "So what are you planning?"
"Nothing." I lied.
"Because if I know you," He examined me closely. "And I do. You have something up your sleeve. Some kind of trick plan or something."
"Scorpius," I said between clenched teeth. "Just stay out of it."
His eyes widened. "Rose…You aren't going to-"
"I'm not doing anything!" I protested, "Now come on, we have to get back to the office.
"You are literally going to sacrifice yourself and you want me to stay out of it?" He yelled incredulously.
I sighed. "Scorpius just… don't."
"What?" He began sharply, "I should just start acting like nothing happened between us huh? Should I pretend that I don't give a shit what happens to you? It seems to be working just fine for you!"
Finally, that control I had over my life, my temper, that little rubber band that was holding it all together snapped and the old Rose was back. The Rose that would have slapped the shit out of anyone who got in her face and made sure they would never do it again. The Rose that quite frankly had been waiting for this moment to arrive so she could, was out with a vengeance. If he wanted a fight he was going to get a fucking fight.
"You want to go there
?" I spat furiously. "You do? Fine!" I faced him fearlessly. "I was tortured for twenty days and twenty nights. And instead
of looking for me or even considering
that something might have happened you jump into the nearest slut's arms!"
It took him a second to hold onto his rage. He was jarred by my reaction, but he had too much adrenaline to not let it out. "You told me you had enough! I thought you were leaving me!"
"Well then why didn't you wait?" I screamed finally. "A month was all it took and you couldn't keep it in your pants on that long could you?" I pushed him hard in the chest, using my full weight to force him into the brick wall behind him. "COULD YOU?"
"No! I was destroyed so I tried to find someone to fix it!" The words spilled out of his mouth and he instantly looked like regretted it. But it was too late, it was all too late.
I scoffed hatefully, "That's sad. And even worse is that's pathetic…Because you know what? I would have come after you. I would have made sure." My teeth grinded together as I breathed in his face. "I would have waited
My eyes blazed with emotions as tears streamed onto my cheeks. "You didn't look for me or wait for me. You just moved on." My eyes locked on his. "I would have never
to you. I would have always come after you." I gulped back the tears as I shook my head at him disgustedly. "And I meant so little to you…I was so replaceable that any girl would have done the trick huh?"
"You don't understand-" He began, his voice much softer than it had been in awhile, but I was done.
"NO!" I shouted, "What would I know about being abandoned? I may have walked out the door. But what you did to me was far worse! And you have the nerve to spend every single minute of every single day hating me? Fuck you! I'm done waiting for you to grow up! I'm done putting up with your shit! I'M DONE! DO YOU HEAR ME? WE ARE DONE! WHATEVER WE HAD! WHATEVER WE MEAN TO EACH OTHER! I'M OUT OF IT! YOU ARE FREE TO BANG WHOMEVER YOU LIKE! I REFUSE TO CARE ANYMORE!"
Heatedly, I took a heated breath, as my chest dropped and rose far too quickly for my liking. I saw his destroyed face and knew my words had found their mark. As I released my hold on the top of his robes, I wiped my cheeks to rid them of tears and I let out a choked sob.
"Isn't that what you wanted?" I asked in the smallest most hurt voice imaginable. "You wanted me to fight back. You wanted me to yell at you." Taking a step back I shook my head. "I don't know why you wanted that. I don't know why you needed me to tell you those things. I don't know why you couldn't just be civil with me and just leave everything else where it was."
Tears of his own shined in his eyes. "Because …I can't."
"Why?" I cried. "Why couldn't you let it go? Why?"
"Because I love you."
It was so blunt, and so…honest. I wasn't prepared for that. I thought he'd say because I deserved it. Anything but that
. His right hair was disheveled from where I pushed him and I could see dark circles under his intense steel eyes, but the thing that killed me was the emotion that was there. He meant it; with every fiber of his soul he did truly love me. But that made it all worse.
My heart sank, and I bit my lip. "Well, I wish you didn't."
Then before I could start blubbering, I rushed down the Astronomy steps and away from him.
Years had passed, but nothing had changed. We had the exact same problem as before. Everything told us we shouldn't be together. Everything was telling us that we were better off apart. Everything was screaming for us just get a clue and see that we tore each other to shreds and if we came together again we'd be asking for complete destruction. The problem was the facts changed nothing. Because no matter what we did we couldn't stop loving each other, and that was our biggest problem.
Song in the summary Is Down By: Jason Walker
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