Not Quite an Affair by Rosalie
Summary: “You mustn’t tell them, Rose! Harry knows but Lily and the boys… you can’t breathe a word…”

When Rose Weasley went to her favorite aunt for advice on how to handle loving someone her family disapproved of, she never dreamed the older woman would have been able to relate so well. In the comfortable safety of her kitchen, Ginevra Potter told her niece everything and swore her to secrecy. But months later, when Ginevra notices that her daughter, Lily, is spending time with Scorpius Malfoy, Ginny realizes too late that the truth can never really be locked away. Children question their parents and their own identities and everyone must confront the past.
Categories: Works in Progress Characters: Draco Malfoy, Ginny Weasley, Harry Potter, Other Characters
Compliant with: Fully compliant
Era: Next Generation
Genres: Angst, Drama, Humor, Romance
Warnings: None
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 32 Completed: No Word count: 108603 Read: 131424 Published: Apr 11, 2009 Updated: Dec 23, 2011
Story Notes:
Beta-ed by Miss Opal, DGgirl, and Divya.

1. Advice and Answers by Rosalie

2. Confessions by Rosalie

3. A Truth to Tell by Rosalie

4. Broken Promise by Rosalie

5. The Son by Rosalie

6. The Father by Rosalie

7. Properly Feigned Innocence by Rosalie

8. Doubt and Stupidity by Rosalie

9. Apologies, with Tulips by Rosalie

10. The Dangerous Musings of Comparisons by Rosalie

11. Snogging Sessions and Sneers by Rosalie

12. The Fury of Tears by Rosalie

13. Aftermath and Argument by Rosalie

14. Coming Around by Rosalie

15. Close Another Door by Rosalie

16. Yesterday's Robes by Rosalie

17. Feathers, Letters, and Fists by Rosalie

18. Healing Spells by Rosalie

19. What Can't Stay in the Past by Rosalie

20. Detentions Aren't Without Scheming by Rosalie

21. Forwarding Addresses by Rosalie

22. King's Cross by Rosalie

23. Nothing Left To Hold To by Rosalie

24. Owl Correspondence by Rosalie

25. Interference by Rosalie

26. Secretaries and Appointment Books by Rosalie

27. Negotiations by Rosalie

28. Sabotage, Payback, and More by Rosalie

29. Collision by Rosalie

30. Gone by Rosalie

31. Interrogations and Favors by Rosalie

32. Confianza by Rosalie

Advice and Answers by Rosalie
Playlist Ch. 1: 'Molly Brown' by Peech

Chapter One: Advice and Answers

Standing outside of the pretty, little, snow-covered cottage where her aunt and uncle lived, Rose Weasley debated her plan for at least the hundredth time, wondering if it was cowardly to turn back now and pretend she had never sent that owl to her aunt at all. She had only asked to come by for a cuppa and chat about the last semester at Hogwarts, so it wasn’t as if her aunt actually knew what Rose wanted to talk about yet. She could just go home pretending that something else had come up, her lunch, perhaps.

Losing her lunch felt like a very real possibility considering how nervous she was. After all, being brave was Hugo’s thing, not hers. He was the blasted Gryffindor in the family; they were all Gryffindors, really. All her aunts, uncles, and cousins, every last one of them was a Gryffindor. It seemed that the Weasley red hair and reckless bravery went hand and hand. Rose had gotten the hair of course, frizzy and untamed like her mother’s, but in place of bravery, she had received brains and a maddening sense of superiority. She liked to pretend that she hadn’t any need for bravery, as she was too smart to get into trouble in the first place. Obviously though, she could get herself in a mess or she wouldn’t be here seeking her aunt’s advice in the first place.

A cold breeze rushed by and Rose shivered, drawing her coat closer to her body in an effort to shake off the winter chill. Her fingers were shaking, but more from nerves than the December wind and flurries of snow. “Right then, Rose, you’re a bleeding Ravenclaw. You want answers and you can’t find a damn book that has them. Got no choice in this, really,” she muttered to herself, glaring resentfully at the front door as she tried to swallow her pride and grow a spine.

Just then, a shadow moved behind the distorted glass, and Rose caught a glimpse of her aunt, waving towards her before moving to open the door. “So much for running off,” she muttered to herself. Rose began trudging towards the house, smart enough to recognize that her dawdling had taken far too long and she had no choice now but to go inside and try not to spill her guts to her favorite aunt.

The front door swung open to reveal a pretty woman standing in the doorway with a broad grin on her face. “You going to walk any faster, Rose, or are you already frozen?” she called, her warm laughter bubbling up from inside her.

Rose grinned in spite of herself, reminded of exactly why Aunt Ginny was her favorite. Aunt Fleur was undoubtedly much prettier, but the blonde woman simply couldn’t compete with the redhead’s confident assurance of herself. If ever there was a woman Rose looked up to, it was Ginevra Potter. She was a beautiful woman with a quick wit and warm personality. Moreover, she was the only woman Rose could think of who had made the trademark Weasley hair something to be envied. Her aunt’s thick auburn mane still reached more than halfway down her back, catching the weak sunlight and setting her hair aglow. Ginevra had refused to cut her hair shorter despite the advice of women her age, including Rose’s own mother. She preferred to keep it long and tempting, she had once said with a sly wink. Despite being almost forty, Ginevra still appeared to be in her mid-thirties due to a combination of her youthful features and mischievous personality.

However, what Rose loved most about her aunt was that she wasn’t known simply as ‘the wife of Harry Potter’. Rather, she had made a name for herself. During the Second War, it was Ginny Weasley—only a sixteen-year-old girl at the time—who had helped to lead a resistance within the school of Hogwarts. Her spirited nature had been unable to sit by on the sidelines, much as Harry had certainly wanted her to. Instead, she had mobilized her classmates into doing everything in their power to make life hell for the Death Eaters who so foolishly thought they controlled the school. Rose’s aunt had been relentless in her efforts until a foiled kidnapping attempt forced her to go into hiding. However, she had later returned to fight alongside her friends and family in the Battle of Hogwarts. After the war, the Wizarding World finally returned to normal and Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley were soon married, but not even settling down was enough to slow down Ginevra Potter.

Rose’s aunt had thrown herself into the world of professional Quidditch, playing for the Holyhead Harpies for nearly ten years before finally retiring from the sport in order to plan her next great adventure, one she assured her niece would be even more thrilling than playing professional Quidditch. She still hadn’t found that adventure, but Rose had no doubts that when she did, her aunt would rise to the occasion and accomplish something magnificent. It still stunned her at times, but Rose knew beyond a doubt that her aunt was a legend.

“Oy, Rosie, it’s bloody freezing out there! Come inside already before I lock you out myself to keep out the chill!” her aunt laughed, her eyes twinkling merrily as she held the door open.

Rose grinned and hurried up the front walk, rushing inside to be greeted with a warm hug and brilliant laugh from the older woman. “Merlin, you’re positively soaking!” Ginevra laughed, helping her niece out of her damp coat. “Did you take the Knight Bus or fly here, because frankly, I can’t tell!”

“You know I took the bus, Aunt Gin, honestly,” Rose chuckled, thinking of the massive banging sound that accompanied the bus’ every stop.

“Then why, may I ask, do you look as though you’ve been standing in the snow all day? Hmm?”

“Erm, I was just thinking,” she replied evasively.

Aunt Ginny rolled her eyes. “Of course you were,” she chuckled, muttering something that sounded suspiciously like ‘just like her mother’ under her breath as she led the way to the kitchen. Rose grinned to herself and followed after her aunt’s retreating back, glancing about the empty house as she did so.

“Where is everyone?” Rose asked curiously.

“Oh, Harry took the boys Christmas shopping. They’re getting me jewelry, I think,” she bragged good-naturedly, her lips curved upwards as she waved her wand to start the kettle that sat on the stove.

Rose smiled back, a bit jealous of her favorite aunt, though she couldn’t fault her happiness. She had heard a dozen times from her father how poor the Weasley family had been growing up. Rose was certainly glad that wasn’t the case now. Contrary to popular belief, Aurors were paid very well and Rose had never had want of anything in her life—another reason she admired her aunt so much. The woman was positively resilient.

“That sounds lovely,” Rose enthused, brightening as she recognized a chance to bait the older woman. “I imagine a gift like that is for a tad more than it just being Christmas?” she teased.

Her aunt threw her a positively wicked look at that, reaching across the counter to set out two teacups. “You’re terrible, Rosie!” she chuckled. “Do you show the same interest in your parents’ relationship?”

“Of course not!” Rose said, screwing up her face at the thought. “Besides, I was only teasing.”

“Mmhmm.”

“So…” Rose prodded, clearly awaiting her aunt’s response. The two women held each other’s gaze in a silent exchange, neither giving an inch, though Ginny’s lips were twitching and Rose guessed that her aunt was only trying to berate her out of some sense of duty to Rose’s mother. “The jewelry?” she asked again, leveling her aunt with a pointed stare.

Giving in, Ginny finally broke the silence with a breathy sigh. “Well, it could be because Harry is simply wonderful, but it is much more likely because James is in more trouble than he can even begin to imagine and he’s trying to butter me up.”

Rose’s eyebrows flew into her hairline as she gasped in surprise. “What did he do?” she squealed.

“He transfigured his brother into a Bludger last week to brush up on his Quidditch skills,” her aunt replied matter-of-factly.

No!

“Oh yes,” her aunt nodded grimly. “He will assure you, of course, that he had first asked Albus to aim a few Bludgers at him so he could practice dodging while seeking, but that when his darling brother refused and called him a selfish pillock, his wand acted of its own accord and taught Albus a lesson in selfless brotherhood.”

“Is Albus okay?” Rose asked concernedly.

“Oh, he’s more than fine, superb, really after he heard me shouting James half-to-death.” Ginny chuckled at that, pouring the now finished tea. “Sugar?”

“Please.” Rose wetted her lips, her attention suddenly focused on any other occupants of the house rather than the light conversation. “Erm, has Lily gone off with them?” Rose asked. She sincerely hoped they were the only two in the house, not that she didn’t love her cousin—they were quite close in fact—but the subject of their discussion was one she didn’t wish to have overheard.

“Ah, no, Lily is in her room, brooding and being undisturbed by her insensitive family members for a few minutes of blessed quiet in this awful house,” her aunt said sagely, making Rose giggle somewhat.

“She is rather dramatic isn’t she?”

“Oh, yes, and she is just such a ray of sunshine to us all.” Her aunt winked at her, setting down the two teacups and taking her seat across the small kitchen table from Rose, her fingers lacing themselves around her warm cup of tea as she did so.

Rose took a cursory sip of the tea, finding it as delicious as her Grandmother Weasley’s recipe, which was only to be expected. “It’s delicious.”

“All your grandmum’s recipes are.”

Rose smiled, taking another sip and staring down at the tabletop. “So…” she exhaled.

Her aunt only smiled at her. “So…?”

Rose sighed, wondering where to begin. She was saved from thinking too much, though, as her aunt took the reigns of the conversation. “What were you thinking about so hard you forgot it was snowing?” she asked lightly.

Rose flushed. How was it possible that her aunt was able to aim straight for the heart of the problem without even knowing what it was? “Erm…well…”

Her aunt took a sip of tea, watching her with a critical eye, one brow slightly raised. “Something to do with Hogwarts?” she asked.

“Sort of…”

“Someone at Hogwarts then.”

“Yes.” Rose briefly closed her eyes before looking back up to meet her aunt’s gaze, feeling obliged to explain herself. “It’s just, well, I can’t tell my mother about it because my mum tells my dad everything, and my dad would surely blow up if he was to find out and I would really rather avoid that whole mess,” she finished, coming up for air and staring at her Aunt Ginny with an imploring look.

The older woman smiled at her niece, her eyes twinkling in understanding. “Yes, well, I can certainly understand that. Don’t forget I was the youngest and only girl with six brothers. I learned to tread quite carefully or risk having a household full of angry men on my hands.”

Rose nodded at that as though she understood all too well, even though she only had one brother and a younger one at that. Ginevra observed the younger girl fondly, seeing that they had shared much of the same feelings growing up. Ron Weasley had always been Ginny’s most overprotective brother and Ginny could only imagine what it must be like having him for a father. She made a face at the thought, shaking her head slightly and turning her attention away from that particularly strange thinking.

“Right then, what’s on your mind, Rose?”

“A boy.”

“Ah, yes, your dad certainly would have blown up if he’d known you were thinking of a boy,” her Aunt Ginny laughed, taking a sip of her tea. “Is he handsome?”

Rose blushed in spite of herself, her cheeks as red as her curly Weasley hair. “Yes.”

“Mmhmm. And is he charming?”

Rose scowled at that. “No, unfortunately he’s an absolutely insufferable git most of the time, but we are friends.”

Her aunt bit her lip at that, struggling not to laugh aloud. “I see,” she grinned. “You know, your mum once thought your dad was rather thick-headed too. Everyone knew they were mad about each other except for him, it seemed.”

“No, he knows I like him, either that or he’s so arrogant that he assumes I do, which means he knows anyway…” Rose trailed off, looking irritated with herself. She stared off across the kitchen for a few minutes, finally opening her mouth to voice what her aunt was sure must have been bothering her all along. “Aunt Ginny? D-Did you ever love anyone your parents didn’t approve of?”

Her aunt frowned slightly at Rose’s question, her warm brown eyes becoming distant.

“Never mind,” Rose laughed humorlessly, “you’ve only ever loved Uncle Harry, I’m just being stupid.”

Her aunt looked distinctly uncomfortable, something Rose had never seen in the older woman but she brushed it off as nothing in particular. “I have… dated other men before Harry,” her aunt said slowly, almost defensively, it seemed.

Rose laughed slightly. “Yeah, but that was nothing. You only had a couple boyfriends before him and they weren’t anyone your parents wouldn’t approve of. Besides, weren’t you still crazy for Harry the whole time? That hardly counts as a forbidden love interest.”

“No, Michael and Dean were perfectly fine young men. Ron may not have liked my dating them, but that’s just Ron,” Ginny mused.

“So, no such luck on advice from personal experience, then?” Rose asked with a light chuckle.

“Guess not,” her aunt murmured; her lips twitched, but her eyes were still distant.

“It’s just… this boy… I’ve been getting to know him a lot better…” Rose continued on, oblivious to her aunt’s unusual silence. “He is a git, but no more than any other boy and… well, I really like him… I think he likes me, I’m not sure… but it’s just Dad would kill me if we were ever to... you know.”

Her aunt nodded, though she said nothing else, lost in thought, it seemed.

“Sorry, I just… I hate liking someone I shouldn’t. I don’t know what to do.”

Her aunt spoke then, unexpectedly, her eyes still distant. “Once,” she murmured, still staring off into space.

“What?” Rose asked, not understanding what her aunt was referring to.

“Once. I once loved a man I shouldn’t, who my family disapproved of, just once.”

Rose sucked in a breath, staring at her aunt in shock. “Who?”

“Never mind that, but I do know,” she looked up, her eyes locked upon her niece’s, “what you’re going through, the doubts… I know.”

Rose’s mind was whirling, running at a hundred miles an hour as she ran through a mental list of the men her aunt had dated before Harry. Even Ginny had said her family didn’t disapprove of Michael or Dean and that could only mean… Her hand flew to her mouth in horror, staring at her aunt with disbelieving eyes. “Oh, Aunt Ginny, you didn’t cheat on Harry, did you?”

End Notes:
The thing to remember about this story is that there are six main characters and a plethora of love-triangles. A plethora. Thanks so much to Miss Opal, DGgirl, and Divya for the fantastic Beta! Reviews appreciated!
Confessions by Rosalie

Chapter Two: Confessions

“Merlin, no!” Ginevra exclaimed, bringing down her niece’s hand and staring at her with equally wide eyes. “I would never…!” Her aunt broke off, withdrawing from Rose and placing her hand on her heart, her eyes filling up with tears. “I would never do that to Harry. Never.”

“Then who? When?” Rose asked, trying to believe her aunt but unable to figure in the timeline.

“Never mind who, Rose! It was just after the war, long before Harry and I were married…” Ginevra whispered and to Rose, it seemed like she was looking not at her strong-willed Aunt Ginny, but at a much younger girl, a girl her own age or maybe a little older, a girl who had made a mistake and didn’t dare admit it in too loud a voice.

“But, but you and Uncle Harry… you were together during the war… you can’t have been with someone else after the war and not have cheated on him,” Rose argued in a small voice.

Her aunt closed her eyes, struggling to keep her breathing even. “After the war,” she began, “Harry asked me to marry him. I was only sixteen and I… I was terrified. I loved him, I honestly did, but I couldn’t possibly consider marrying anyone before I’d even graduated Hogwarts. The only problem was there wasn’t a Hogwarts to go back to. Harry didn’t seem to understand that I wasn’t ready, and I ran off.”

“Where?” Rose breathed, shocked to be hearing anything of the sort from her favorite aunt. Why had she never heard any of this before?

“Diagon Alley initially. I didn’t really know where to go, you see. The war had only just ended and it was still incredibly dangerous on the streets. I was actually considering going right back home when I ran into… a former classmate. We had never been friends, but after our final year, we weren’t exactly enemies anymore, either. We got to talking. He was looking for a flatmate to split the cost with and I was looking for a place to stay, somewhere Harry and my family wouldn’t find me, somewhere I could take a step back and just think.”

“So just like that? You just moved in with him?”

“Yes. Oh, don’t look at me like that, Rose, it wasn’t like that. We had separate rooms, for God’s sake! It was impulsive, I know that, but I didn’t feel as though I had any other options,” Ginny explained, rising from her chair and moving towards the sink, wringing her hands nervously. Once again, Rose was struck that her aunt was behaving more like a teenage girl who’d made a mistake and trying to make excuses than an adult woman. “I- we- we were flatmates for almost a year before I finally went back to Harry.”

“What made you go back?”

Her aunt smiled at that, her lips twitching upwards but tears were streaking down her cheeks. “Because it was Harry,” she murmured in explanation.

“This flatmate of yours, did - did you love him?”

“Yes,” Ginevra whispered, staring out the window at the kitchen sink. “Yes, I loved him, but I had loved Harry practically my whole life. He was so good and so utterly more than I deserved, and he knew and he still wanted me.” Her aunt’s voice broke as she bent over the sink, bringing a trembling hand to her lips and, whispering so softly Rose was sure she wasn’t meant to hear, “How could I say no?”

Rose swallowed, watching as her aunt crumpled inside, shedding tears over a boy she’d known for less than a year, who she had loved and still seemed to miss so much. “Do you regret it?” she asked a little breathlessly.

“Regret what?”

“Marrying Harry instead.”

“No.” Her voice was steady, full of such conviction that Rose couldn’t help but believe her. “No, I have never regretted loving Harry. I have always loved him and I know I always will. I just wish I didn’t love someone else at the same time. It’s unfair to them both.”

“You said he knew. How did Harry find out?”

Rose cringed as her aunt laughed humorlessly. She bit her lower lip, staring out the window as she rocked back on the balls of her feet before turning and facing her niece who still sat at the kitchen table, hardly daring to breath. “He found me. He was worried; I’d left so suddenly and without a word that he couldn’t help himself. We were in the living room, watching the Muggle telly when Harry Apparated in. He was floored, I’ll tell you that.” Ginny chuckled bitterly.

“Was he very angry?”

“No, a little heart-broken certainly, but no, he wasn’t angry. We went out on the front stoop and talked. He apologized for pressing me so much and I cried my eyes out. I didn’t want his apologies. I wanted to be brave enough to marry him, to make us both happy, but I still wasn’t ready. I was still so scared. Harry kissed my forehead, told me to be careful and take as much time as I needed. He promised not to tell Ron or anyone else where I was staying and then he made it very clear that were anything to happen to me, he’d be the first one breaking down the door.” Ginny’s lips twitched upwards at that, smiling sadly. “He still loved me and I was so grateful for his patience with me. He came by to see me every few days, and it wasn’t long before he realized that my feelings were becoming less and less indifferent towards my flatmate. I was breaking his heart and still, he never blamed me, never so much as pointed a finger at me. That, more than anything else, is why I went back.”

“Because no matter what, he still loved you,” Rose breathed.

“Yes, and it was much more than I deserved.”

“This other boy, do you still love him?” Rose asked, hardly daring to breathe, afraid she’d asked too much.

“Yes,” her aunt whispered in a soft voice.

“What was his name?”

Ginny swallowed, her throat suddenly bone-dry as she raised her head to meet her niece’s questioning eyes. “Draco Malfoy.”

Rose sucked in a breath, images of the school bully her father always told them about running circles around her mind, a blush coming unbidden to her cheeks as she thought of the son, the son she’d originally come here seeking advice about. “D-Draco Malfoy? As in Scorpius’ dad?”

Ginny nodded once, a shadow of a smile flickering over her face at her niece’s open-mouthed shock.

“But dad hates him,” Rose exclaimed.

Ginny chuckled then. “Yes, I’m well aware,” she answered dryly.

“You just moved in with a boy your family hated?”

“Well, they certainly would never think to look for me with him, would they? Well, except Harry, of course, but he always was able to figure the strangest things out.”

“Why? How could you just trust him like that? After what he did in the war? His… his family?” Rose demanded, her questions coming out more insistent and harsh than she intended, but they were the very doubts that had been plaguing her concerning her budding friendship with Scorpius. Their two families were just too far apart. Surely it was impossible. To think that her aunt had actually befriended a Malfoy, had trusted him and even fallen in love… it was all too much to make sense of, Ravenclaw or no.

“Maybe I shouldn’t have trusted him so readily; I wouldn’t have initially, but before I ever went back to school for my sixth year, Harry had told me everything about how Draco had only been trying to protect his family. Voldemort had threatened to kill them and that’s why he did the things he did. For that entire school year, I never looked at him quite the same; I couldn’t. The day I ran into him in Diagon Alley, he was just trying to get out on his own. He loved his parents and was grateful they were safe, but he was trying to get away from the stain of his family name, of his father’s and his crimes. He was running away from his identity and I was trying to outrun my future. It wasn’t a difficult decision to make.”

“Do you still think about him?”

“Almost every day. He had become my best friend at a time in which I was terribly confused. I didn’t dare name one of the children after him, though.” She laughed then, her expression suddenly sobering as she spun to face her niece. “You mustn’t tell them, Rose! Harry knows but Lily and the boys… you can’t breathe a word…”

“Never. I’d never tell a soul,” Rose assured, straightening in her chair and meeting her aunt’s puffy-eyed gaze.

“You promise?”

“I promise.”

Her aunt’s face broke out into a genuine smile and she swept Rose into a swift hug, kissing her cheek and thanking her even as two tear drops stuck to her niece’s face. “Thank you, Rose. Thank you,” she breathed, squeezing her tightly.

Rose sucked in a breath, awkwardly patting the older woman on the back. “It’s alright, Aunt Gin, don’t cry.” Her aunt’s shoulders shook but she quickly pulled back, swiping at her eyes as she smiled down at Rose.

Just then, the front door opened and Rose’s neck whipped back to see her uncle and two cousins walking in the front entrance, carrying an armful of wrapped packages. “Hey, Rosie,” Harry called, grinning at her like a schoolboy as he kicked the snow off his boots.

“Hey, Uncle Harry,” Rose called back, trying to calm her breathing back down to normal so as to not give anything away. She watched as her uncle clapped an arm on James’ shoulder, whispering something in his ear, and soon both boys snuck off down the hallway, to hide their mother’s Christmas presents no doubt. Harry turned back to the kitchen, his eyebrows knitting together in concern as he caught sight of his wife’s blotchy eyes. He strode towards her and easily wrapped her in a hug, forgetting his niece’s presence as he bent his head to rest his forehead against his wife’s. “Are you alright?” he breathed, green eyes bright with concern.

Ginny gulped, nodding her head up and down and turning her face into the crook of her husband’s neck. Rose could only watch the scene unfolding before her, unable to help noticing how tender their embrace was and the way Harry’s arms tightened protectively around his wife before kissing her cheek and whispering soothingly in her ear. He didn’t even know what was upsetting her but he comforted her all the same. They were perfect for each other, Rose thought, but even as she watched them, she couldn’t help but think of the other man her aunt had loved and wonder if it were possible that they’d been perfect for each other also.

End Notes:
Reviews appreciated! Thanks again to Miss Opal for the great beta!
A Truth to Tell by Rosalie

Chapter Three: A Truth to Tell

Rose never told a soul what her aunt had told her over Christmas break. She even tried not to think about it but dwell on it, she did. It simply couldn’t be helped. Before, whenever Rose had thought about her Aunt Ginny, it was with the air of a girl looking up to her heroine, a woman she respected, admired, and wanted so badly to measure up with. Now, strangely enough, she looked up to the woman even more. Knowing what her aunt had been through, and knowing that choosing to marry The Man Who Conquered the Dark Lord hadn’t been the easy decision she’d always thought it was made her aunt all the more admirable in her opinion.

Whenever she thought about her aunt’s short-lived romance with Draco Malfoy, Rose’s thoughts inevitably wandered to the son: Scorpius Malfoy, the smart and clever Slytherin with the silver eyes and white blonde hair who had caught her eye ages ago, though Rose had never told anyone this. Rose imagined that Scorpius looked much like his father once had and tried to imagine her aunt ever loving such a man. The idea that her aunt still did care about and even love him made it all the more mind-boggling to consider. Rose wondered if, maybe, it were possible that a Weasley and a Malfoy could be anything more than enemies. Her aunt and Draco may not have ended happily married, but it didn’t mean that they hadn’t succeeded even for a little while. Of course, her aunt’s family never knew what was going on between the young couple, never knew they were even seeing each other, much less sharing rent on a flat for nearly a year.

Rose blinked, trying to shake the memory of her aunt’s revelation from her thoughts. She was in the unused Divination classroom at the top of the North Tower, surrounded by a group of her best girl friends, including her cousin Lily, playing a game that was more than a little risky for someone to be keeping secrets. It was like the Muggle Truth-or-Dare and they had been playing for weeks, ever since spring semester had started up. Every Thursday night, the six girls met in the old Divination classroom, unused since the school re-opened at the end of the Second War. It had been a silly game at first, meant to pass the time before curfew, an early start to the weekend’s freedom to help the girls make it to Friday and the end of classes. It had been Molly, one of Rose’s roommates, to suggest incorporating a watered-down version of Veritaserum, to make the game more interesting she’d said. Personally, Rose was beginning to think it was a little too interesting for her tastes. She’d never admit it though, well, unless they asked her specifically, that is.

“Calyssa,” Molly began, her eyes flashing with barely concealed excitement, “what’s the most advanced thing you’ve ever done with a boy?”

The brunette Hufflepuff flushed under the eager faces of her classmates, her cheeks turning beet red. “Erm, well…” Molly and the others giggled madly; Rose bit her lip and felt sorry for the poor girl.

“Come on now, Calyssa, we all know you Hufflepuffs only act prudish with the boys,” Molly teased, her eyes lighting up, waiting for juicy gossip to feast on.

“Ooh, I bet it was really bad!” another girl laughed, grinning from ear to ear.

Calyssa fidgeted under their gaze, wringing her hands together. “I, well, I’ve snuck into the Gryffindor common room once or twice.”

There was a series of gasps and Rose’s younger cousin by two years, Lily, leaned forward in breathless shock. “You didn’t!”

Calyssa nodded, her lips twitching upwards.

“How on earth did you get the password?” Lily asked.

“Never mind that!” Meagan squealed, waving her friend’s question off and turning eager eyes back on Calyssa. “Who was it?”

“Derrick Wood,” Calyssa whispered, her entire face now crimson.

The girls erupted into giggles and Calyssa sighed in relief, glancing around herself and smiling slightly. Lily crossed her arms over her chest irritably, the only one besides Rose who wasn’t laughing. “I still want to know how you got the password,” she grumbled, though her eyes were twinkling; it was well-known that Lily took after her eldest brother James, a notorious prankster who had graduated years ago and was now working part-time at their uncle’s joke shop.

“From Derrick obviously,” Molly rolled her eyes, still giggling at Calyssa’s admission. Lily flushed, recognizing her lapse in thought and dissolved into giggles with the other girls while Rose rolled her eyes. Honestly, it was no wonder she was the only Weasley to end up in Ravenclaw.

“Alright, Calyssa, your turn,” Meagan prodded.

“Erm, Lily!” The Hufflepuff’s eyes fell on the still giggling Gryffindor, but Lily Potter immediately sobered, sitting up straight and staring the girl straight in the eye. Calyssa shrank back for an instant, flushing once more. Lily was the worst girl to ask the truth from; she was a master at twisting and manipulating words to tell the truth but never give a thing away if she didn’t want to. It was an impressive talent, one she had undoubtedly learned from having James Potter for an older brother.

“Erm…” Calyssa began, wondering if she had chosen wrong, but it was too late to back out now.

“Go on, Calyssa; make it a good one!” Emily urged.

Rose watched the silent stare between the two girls, her lips twitching at the sight of her unfazed cousin, staring down the other girl with a faint smirk. Grinning broadly as she remembered a certain incident at a family gathering, Rose leaned in towards Calyssa, her eyes on Lily as she muttered just loud enough for her cousin to hear. “Ask her who the first boy she ever kissed was.”

Lily glared daggers at her cousin and Rose bit her lip, trying not to laugh as she sat back on the overstuffed pillow she had been sitting on. “Rose,” Lily growled from between her teeth.

“Ask her, Calyssa!” Meagan squealed.

Calyssa glanced back at Rose, flashing her a grin before facing Lily and asking her, “Go on Lily, who was the first boy you ever kissed?”

Lily bit on her lip, arms folded defiantly across her chest. “My brother,” she finally bit out.

The girls all sucked in a simultaneous breath, one covering her mouth with her hand and laughing merrily. “Ooh, James? Ah, it’s not so bad, he’s so cute! I’d kiss him even if he was my brother!”

Rose smirked, quite enjoying this game now that she had an actual hand to play. “Ask her which brother,” she instructed, grinning at her cousin.

There was a collective gasp and Molly craned her neck so quickly it nearly snapped. “Who was it, Lily?”

“No, no, Calyssa has to ask,” Rose cut in, now grinning from ear to ear.

“Ask her, Calyssa! Ask her!” Emily shrieked.

“No, no,” the Hufflepuff cackled, covering her mouth with her hand. “I think we can figure the rest out,” she chuckled. “So is Albus a good kisser, Lily?”

Lily was not amused. “Very funny, but it wasn’t my fault. Why Grandmum Weasley puts up mistletoe at Christmas dinners where everyone’s related, I’ll never know, and it was disgusting as well.”

Rose laughed. “She probably didn’t even think of all the grandkids; she just meant it so she could catch our parents under it.”

“Oh yes,” Lily sarcastically cut in, rolling her eyes in disdain, “I’m sure that’s exactly what she wanted, my dad and yours engaging in a very merry Christmas with each other.”

“Lily!” Rose gasped; horrified at the mental image even while her sharp-tongued cousin smirked at her. “Eww!”

“Sweet dreams,” Lily sang. “Ooh, and before I forget, it’s my turn, and I pick Rose.”

Rose gasped in horror. “You wouldn’t!”

“What can I say, dear cousin, payback’s a witch.”

The rest of the room dissolved into laughter, but Lily waited until she had everyone’s full attention before asking the single question that Rose would dread more than any other, though there was no way Lily could have even known what it was she was asking.

“Rose, what’s the biggest secret you’ve ever promised to keep?”

End Notes:
Thanks for reading and please drop a review! Thanks again to Miss Opal for an awesome beta!
Broken Promise by Rosalie

Chapter Four: Broken Promise

Rose gasped, clamping her hand over her mouth as her eyes bugged out in horror. She couldn’t tell, she couldn’t tell, she couldn’t tell!

Lily’s green eyes danced mischievously and she grinned up at her older cousin. “Come on, Rosie, answer the question.”

“I can’t!” she squeaked from behind her hand, clamping her mouth shut once more and biting her tongue to keep from giving into the Veritaserum’s magic.

Molly laughed loudly. “Good one, Lily, I would’ve never thought of anything like that!”

“Ooh, Rosie’s squirming!” Emily giggled.

Lily grinned, drinking in the praise as she waited for her cousin to succumb to the magic of the game.

Rose felt all the blood drain out of her face, keeping up an inner chant to strengthen her resolve. I promised Aunt Ginny! I promised her! I promised, I promised!

Lily laughed. “Come on, Rosie!”

Hand still firmly clamped over her mouth, Rose hastily began writing in the dust covering the floorboards, spelling out two words. I forfeit.

“Uh-uh, Rosie, no ifs, ands, or buts, answer the question!” Lily sang.

Rose furiously shook her head back and forth, feeling as though she were about to cry even as the Veritaserum forced her jaw to open and the words to come spilling from her mouth just as Lily reached over and snatched her hand away from her face.

“That your mum’s in love with Scorpius’ dad!” Rose cried out, immediately covering her mouth with her hands once more as everyone in the room went suddenly deathly quiet. “Lily, I’m so sorry,” Rose whispered, her eyes watering.

Lily stared at her older cousin in shock, blinking suddenly as she shrank back onto her pillow, her fingers trembling as she reached up to cover her mouth. “You’re lying.”

“Lily, I’m so sorry!” Rose urged, reaching across the circle of girls and grasping her cousin’s hand. “It’s not what it sounds like; I can explain.”

Lily shook her head suddenly, pulling her hand back as if she had been burned. “You’re lying. You’re lying!” she shouted.

“No, she’s not,” Calyssa whispered breathlessly, her face pale. “She’s under Veritaserum.”

“Watered-down Veritaserum!” Lily snapped, her eyes suspiciously bright and never leaving her cousin’s apologetic face.

“Lily-”

“Who told you?” Lily demanded, her shoulders shaking in cold fury.

“Your mum, at Christmas time,” Rose answered automatically, once again cursing the truth-telling serum; it was making calming her cousin down and explaining everything utterly impossible. “Lily, just listen to me for two seconds!” Rose pleaded, but Lily had stiffened, her eyes narrowed coldly at her older cousin.

“Go to hell, Rose!”

Before Rose could respond, Lily had leapt to her feet and raced to the trap door and down the rickety staircase, running down the halls the instant her feet reached the floor. Rose raced after her, slipping on the stairs and struggling to keep her footing until she reached the floor below and raced off after Lily’s retreating back.

Lily tore off down the deserted halls, running faster than she’d ever ran in her life, struggling to keep from crying as she tried to escape Rose shouting her name behind her. Her feet pounded over the cobblestone floors as she fled, her heart hammering wildly in her chest, though she could have sworn it had stopped beating all together. She gasped for air as she ran, tears now streaming down her cheeks, an unwanted cry tearing itself from her throat.

A body rounded the corner in front of her and she ran straight into him, hands darting out to catch her before they both could fall. Before Lily could untangle herself, she recognized the sharp voice and her tear-filled eyes flitted upwards in horror.

“Shit, Potter, what the hell is your problem?” The Slytherin’s silver eyes widened in surprise as he saw her tears and he immediately changed tracks. “Are you alright?”

Lily’s body went rigid, suddenly tensing up and struggling to get away from him, from Scorpius Malfoy. His hands tightened around her small shoulders and he shook her enough to make her look up at him, still crying uncontrollably as she did so.

“What-?” he asked, breaking off as another voice drowned him out.

“Lily!”

Lily tensed at the sound of her cousin’s voice, her head whipping back to see her running down the hall. Like a frightened animal, she tore herself away from Scorpius and fled down the hallway, leaving the Slytherin to turn and see Rose stop running as she sank to the floor, bursting into tears.

Scorpius’ eyebrows rose, his mouth hanging open in shock. Shaking himself, he hurried over to the Ravenclaw girl, kneeling beside her and squeezing her shoulder. “Rose, what happened?” he asked. The girl only cried harder, burying her face in her hands as her shoulders shook. “Rose, Rose, look at me,” Scorpius directed, reaching to lift her face to see his. Her eyes were shining with tears and she looked even more wretched than her younger cousin. “What happened?” he asked again, eyebrows knit together in concern.

“She- I- I didn’t mean to! I didn’t want to tell! I p-promised n-not to ever tell h-her!”

“Potter?”

“Y-y-yes!” Rose cried, nodding her head and sobbing miserably.

“Tell her what, Rose?” Rose shook her head, shaking with tears and unable to speak. Scorpius wetted his lips, willing to do anything to make the girl stop crying. “Listen, I’ll go find her, alright? I’ll make sure she’s alright!” Rose nodded her head, sobbing uncontrollably.

Scorpius quickly got to his feet and hurried down the hall the younger girl had ran down, sighing in relief just to get away from Rose’s sobbing form even as his conscience nagged at him. What was he supposed to have done, though? He didn’t know how to handle crying girls! Trying to shake off his guilt at leaving Rose in the empty hallway, Scorpius quickened his pace and soon he was jogging after the other crying girl, having no idea where she’d ran off to or why either of them were in tears.

When he finally found her, Lily Potter was curled in a ball in one of the deserted hallways, crying so weakly Scorpius didn’t hear her at first. He swallowed as he approached her, hating the sound of crying. “Hey,” he prodded her shoulder and the younger girl flinched, her wide green eyes staring up at him in fear. “You okay?” Scorpius asked gruffly, knowing perfectly well that the Gryffindor girl looked anything other than okay.

She glared at him disdainfully and Scorpius had the good grace to look ashamed. “Yeah, I know, stupid question,” he muttered. He gestured to the spot of floor beside her, asking, “Can I sit down?”

She sniffed but nodded once, and he sat down beside her, his eyes falling shut as he breathed out a weary sigh. “You’re a hard girl to find,” he remarked.

“Maybe some people should take that to mean I didn’t want to be found,” she retorted angrily.

“Ouch, Potter. Vicious, aren’t you?”

“No. Just completely shattered, that’s all.”

“Ah, I see.”

“No, you bloody don’t, you arrogant rodent,” she snapped out, clenching her jaw.

“Why the bloody hell do you and your brother keep calling me that?” Scorpius demanded suddenly, more irritated than he cared to admit. “I’m a Slytherin; our mascot’s a bloody snake! What’s with all the rat references?”

Lily’s lips twitched in spite of herself as she answered his question. “Little joke my dad told us when we were growing up.”

“And what’s that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing to you, Malfoy.” Her expression darkened as she said his last name and Lily bit her lip once more, a single tear sliding down her cheek.

“Alright then,” Scorpius began, trying to keep his voice even. “Care to tell me why you ran into me and took off all of a sudden, crying like someone went and murdered your pet owl?”

“No.”

Scorpius sighed, tiredly rubbing his eyelids with the bases of his fingertips. “Fine, then. Have a good cry, Potter. Maybe you can form a club with that pathetic ghost on the second floor,” he said, rising to his feet and preparing to leave her.

“Has your father ever said anything about Ginny Weasley?” Lily asked suddenly, still looking down at her hands.

Scorpius raised one eyebrow. “No, who is she, another one of your endless cousins?”

“No,” Lily answered softly, her throat dry and words scratchy, “she’s my mother.”

Scorpius’ eyes narrowed, his confusion evident though his interest was piqued. What did his father have to know about Potter’s mum that was enough to have two girls crying uncontrollably? “Why do you ask?”

Lily shrugged indifferently, her eyes suddenly distant. “No reason.”

Scorpius didn’t believe her for one second. The girl was a gifted liar but right now, he could read her like an open book. He may not know what was bothering her, but he sure as hell knew the question about his father wasn’t ‘nothing’. Wanting to finish up with whatever obligation he had to see that Rose’s cousin was alright, he asked, “You need to go to see the nurse or anything?”

The Gryffindor snorted derisively at that, “Please, I was crying; I’m not dying, Scorpius.”

“No?” he asked, his lips twitching in amusement.

“No. Now go on and slink back to your rat hole.”

Scorpius waved her off half-heartedly, rolling his eyes. “I told you, our mascot’s a snake.”

“I said slink,” she defended.

“Right.” He rolled his eyes once more, turning to go. “Take care, Lils.”

Lily started at the nickname her father always called her by, staring after the Slytherin’s retreating back. “Hey, Scorpius,” she called. He glanced back over his shoulder, one eyebrow raised in question. “Thanks for…” she gestured wordlessly and he smirked, nodding once in acknowledgement.

“Just watch who you’re running into next time. Should you nearly knock me to the ground again, I’ll expect a full apology.”

“Then I guess I won’t run into you again; Gryffindors don’t apologize to Slytherins, it’s a House rule.”

Scorpius smirked, “Let’s keep it that way, shall we?”

Lily only smiled, a faint twitch of her lips that left Scorpius free to sign-off on his responsibility to look after the upset girl. She was cracking jokes and hurling insults like always. Whatever her problem had been, she’d live.

End Notes:
Once again, endless thanks to Miss Opal for her fantastic beta job. I live for reviews, so please fill that little comment box out and make my day! Also, Draco will be making an appearance in the next chapter! ;)
The Son by Rosalie

Chapter Five: The Son

After that day, Lily found it impossible not to think about Scorpius Malfoy. She couldn’t not think about him knowing what she knew, or at least what she thought she knew. If her mother had really had an affair with Scorpius’ dad, she wanted to know. Rose had assured her it had been no such thing. In fact, when her older cousin had finally found Lily, almost three days later due to Lily’s avoiding her, Rose immediately explained the circumstances concerning her mother’s former relationship with Draco Malfoy. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for Lily that Rose assured her everything happened long before her parents were married, that it hadn’t been an affair nor had Ginevra Potter ever cheated on her husband. A certain thing called the present tense was what was bothering Lily, and when Rose had revealed the secret of her mother’s feelings for Draco Malfoy, she had used the words in love, not loved.

That one detail was what left Lily so suspicious of her parents’ marriage. After all, Rose had been under Veritaserum when she had let the whole thing slip, and a magic like that would hardly have allowed her to make that mistake. Unable to help herself or satisfy her morbid curiosity, Lily took to watching the older Slytherin over meal times and during passing periods. Oftentimes, she would find her cousin speaking to him and would join them, never quite noticing the shadow to cross Rose’s face as she traded barbed comments with Scorpius, making his lips twitch in thinly veiled amusement.

She was younger than him, two years his junior; she knew that, but it hardly concerned her. Lily wasn’t interested in Scorpius that way. She could be force-fed Veritaserum and be just as sure as before that she had no romantic feelings towards him whatsoever, but to Rose, her intentions were hardly innocent-looking. The older girl often found herself unable to sleep at night, plagued by recent memories of her cousin making Scorpius laugh, behaving more and more flirtatiously around him. For Rose, who had been unable to admit her own feelings to Scorpius for fear of what her family would say, her cousin’s attentions towards him were unbearable and most times, she simply wanted to scream with frustration and feelings of betrayal.

Soon, the Easter holidays came and students returned home to spend the week with their families. Rose had been looking forward to the week off from school for ages it seemed, for once wanting to be very far away from both Scorpius and her cousin Lily. She was very flustered, then, when Scorpius found her and Lily’s compartment on the train back and invited them both to come to his house for the first full day of the holidays. Unable to form an excuse and not wanting to leave Scorpius and Lily alone together, Rose had simply nodded while Lily had made some scathing comment that was to be taken as a yes and left Scorpius biting his lip to keep from laughing aloud.

More convinced than ever that her presence was absolutely necessary, Rose had immediately concocted a story to tell her parents, planning to tell them that she would be spending the day in Diagon Alley with Lily when in reality she would be at the home of Draco Malfoy. Rose was so consumed with worrying about whether Scorpius liked Lily that she barely noticed this was the first time Scorpius had ever invited her to spend the day with him outside of Hogwarts.

Rose shook herself out of her depressing thoughts as she realized there was movement beside her. Standing on the front steps of the ancestral Manor House, she noticed as her cousin’s hand reached past her, lifting and bringing down the ancient door knocker with a sharp knock. “Excited, Rose?” Lily asked, the older girl grunting non-commitedly in response. Rose felt her heart sink as she surveyed her cousin’s excitement, not knowing that it wasn’t the younger Malfoy Lily was looking forward to seeing, but his father. So caught up in her own doubts and mixed feelings, Rose never stopped to realize that they were about to step foot in the house of the man Lily’s mother had once shared a flat with and fallen in love with. Rose couldn’t even begin to imagine the thoughts racing through Lily’s head as she prepared to meet the man whose existence had shattered her innocent understanding of her parent’s marriage, the man her mother was allegedly still in love with.

The heavy door swung back without a sound and a small creature in a tunic-like uniform shuffled in front of them, bowing until its long skinny nose touched the immaculate marble floor. “Welcome to the Most Noble and Ancient House of Malfoy,” the creature said, bowing once more. “What can Bernard do for misses?”

Rose nearly gasped in surprise at the sight of the house-elf, her mother’s ceaseless efforts to have the creatures freed and paid decent wages repeating their efforts in her thoughts. She closed her eyes for a moment and sucked in a breath, determinedly putting the lists of statistics she’d come to memorize over the years far from her mind. Finally glancing at her cousin, Rose saw that Lily was pursing her lips together, struggling not to laugh. “Boy, am I glad your mum’s not with us,” she giggled into the palm of her hand.

Rose’s expression darkened as she muttered back, “We wouldn’t be here if she had been in the first place. If anyone asks, we were at Diagon Alley, looking through dress robes and books,” she sternly reminded while Lily brushed her off airily.

“Yes, yes, I know, and I’ll be flayed alive if your parents find out that’s not the case.”

Unnoticed by either girl, the house-elf had opened and closed his mouth several times, deflating in disappointment as each unknowingly cut him off in turn, the poor thing looking absolutely suicidal as their giggles continued to drown him out.

Footsteps sounded from down the marble corridor and both girls looked up to catch sight of Scorpius Malfoy, walking towards them with one eyebrow raised as though he were puzzled. Seeing his last opportunity, Bernard filled his lungs with air and opened his mouth.

“Hey, Scorpius!” Lily called, the house-elf giving up speech once again, his resentful glare unnoticed by the two girls.

Scorpius dipped his head in greeting as he approached them, finally opening the door a crack wider and glancing down to the house-elf and then back up to the two girls standing on his front porch. “Bernard,” he sighed, glancing back down at the house-elf, “are you mute? What’s the point of a servant to greet guests if he’s not going to actually say anything to greet them?”

Looking positively mutinous, Bernard sucked in a deep breath and spoke with his words coming out so close together that it would have been impossible to drown him out, “Young Master, Bernard tried! Bernard tried, tried, tried!” he cried, stamping his bare foot. “It’s these misses' faults, Young Master!” he accused, pointing at the two redheads still standing in the doorway, Rose appearing quite sorry while Lily crossed her arms looking highly affronted. “Every time Bernard opened his mouth to speak, that one,” he pointed at Rose, “would say something to that one, as if she was speaking to a dim child, and that one,” he pointed to Lily, “would giggle. She giggled,” he emphasized again, his already huge eyes wide in shock.

Lily scowled, looking as though she very much wanted to kick the creature, but Scorpius, who was grinning from ear to ear at this point, quickly covered her hand with his, tugging her into the house so that the house-elf was safely out of reach. Rose slipped in after them, her lips pursed and her eyes fixated on Scorpius and Lily’s holding hands, trying not to make too much out of it. Struggling to conceal his amusement, Scorpius thanked Bernard for his long-suffering patience and instructed him to take a break from guests and have a nice foot bath. Bernard bowed obediently, his long nose hitting the floor before he shot a final glare at the two cousins and stalked off into the rest of the Manor House.

Scorpius shook his head from side to side in laughter, while at the same time Lily snatched her hand back and playfully slapped his shoulder. “I wasn’t going to hit the grubby little monster, honestly! You nearly bruised my fingers!” she chided, holding her hand in front of his face as evidence.

“My mistake,” Scorpius laughed, swiftly taking her fingers in his and kissing them.

“Eww!” Lily squealed, snatching her hand back and slapping his shoulder a good deal harder than the first time.

Rose stood frozen, watching as Scorpius burst into laughter, his silver eyes never leaving Lily. “You should have seen your face! I knew your family didn’t know a thing about high society manners!” he laughed while Lily scowled at him, a smile tugging at the corner of her lips.

“It’s hardly manners to accost an unsuspecting lady!” she retorted in as dignified a voice as she could muster, her arms crossed defiantly over her chest.

“No? Then I’ll submit my intentions towards you in writing first,” he replied easily, his silver eyes dancing.

Lily’s eyes narrowed. “Self-assured prat.”

“Giggling and mannerless schoolgirl.”

“I am not a giggling schoolgirl.”

Scorpius raised a single eyebrow in response and, seeing her chance to insert herself in the conversation, Rose coughed, alerting them to her presence. “Erm, should we go a little further inside? We’re still in the foyer and all,” she suggested a little breathlessly, her cheeks flushed.

“Oh right,” Scorpius said, turning on his heel and leading the two girls down the hall with the air of a tour guide. “Parlor’s this way. My dad’s in there, said he wants me to introduce you two to him.”

Lily sucked in a breath, unconsciously quickening her pace just a few steps faster, all other thoughts forgotten as she and Rose followed Scorpius into the parlor. Her first thought upon entering the parlor was that Scorpius’ dad was rich, very very rich. The rich marble floors were covered in elaborate rugs, the long table laden with fine china, and sitting before the intricately carved fireplace, were two chintz armchairs. Suspended above it all was a massive and incredibly detailed glass chandelier, casting a cascade of sparkling diamond light over everything in the room.

“Wow,” Rose breathed. She glanced over to see her cousin’s reaction, but Lily’s eyes were focused further across the room, on a blonde man who was the spitting image of an older Scorpius.

The Father by Rosalie

Chapter Six: The Father

“Lily, Rose, this is my father, Draco Malfoy,” Scorpius said, gesturing to the blond man standing across the expansive parlor, arms crossed over his chest as he surveyed his guests.

Lily didn’t move, barely breathing as her eyes remained locked on the older man. He was the same age as her father and a business tycoon. His upper class upbringing was evident in the way he carried himself, the obvious quality of his expensive robes, and his aristocratic features. His white-blond hair was cut short but clearly by a stylist, just reaching the collar of his robes, a few strands falling in front of his eyes. He was handsome in a way her father never was, never could have been, of that there was no doubt. Seeing him for the first time, Lily could finally imagine what had once been a short-lived romance between her mother and this man. Being able to imagine it, to acknowledge that it could have happened, though, did nothing to bring peace to her troubled mind.

Scorpius’ father swept his gaze over Rose and then Lily, his silver eyes stopping on hers, a shadow of what could have been pain crossing his features and suddenly, Lily knew. Swallowing thickly, Lily tried to take her eyes away from him but didn’t dare, already feeling tears pressing against her, sure to make themselves known if she made any sudden movements. Her fingers clenched and unclenched at her side as she tried to relieve the tension from her body, unwilling to reveal her discomfort at being in Draco Malfoy’s presence. She kept up an inner monologue with herself, reminding herself that this was what she had wanted; she had wanted to meet this man, to see for herself...

‘To see what?’ she asked herself.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, girls,” Mr. Malfoy said smoothly, uncrossing his arms and stepping towards them. He shook hands with Rose first, asking after her parents, whom Rose replied were fine and doing well. He nodded curtly and turned his attention on Lily, lightly taking her hand in his. Lily reflected that his hands were smooth and warm, easily enveloping hers.

“I’m sure you’re asked about your famous father by every witch or wizard who meets you,” he said with a faint twitch of his lips, though Lily noticed the amusement didn’t reach his silver eyes. “How about your mother?” he asked. “How is she?”

Lily felt her throat close up, wondering what to say. She had no doubt that her mother had once loved this man, possibly still did. She should have hated him for the place he tried to take in her mother’s heart, the place that was her father’s, but looking in his eyes and seeing them so full of deadened pain, she couldn’t hate him and for that she hated herself.

“She’s good,” she croaked out.

He smiled then, his silver eyes softening, and Lily hated herself even more, her anger boiling just under the surface and wanting to lash out. “That’s good to hear,” he murmured. He lightly squeezed her hand and released it, stepping back slightly. “My wife is planning a dinner party for tomorrow night; she’s been looking forward to hosting another ever since Scorpius returned to Hogwarts after Christmas holidays, but she wanted him home, of course. Why don’t you girls come? Scorpius could do with the companionship, I’m sure.” He glanced back over his shoulder then and lowered his voice conspiringly, “He thinks the parties are dead boring. I thought the same thing at his age.”

Scorpius rolled his eyes but seemed pleased that his father had so welcomingly invited his two friends. Rose wondered if he had spoken to his father about it earlier and her heart fluttered slightly. “That sounds lovely,” she enthused a little breathlessly.

“You’ll both come, then?” Scorpius asked, looking to Rose a little hopefully, and she smiled.

“We’d love to.”

Scorpius smiled in response before turning to Lily, lightly nudging her. “What about you, Lils?”

“Oh, erm, well…”

Rose bit her tongue, somewhat hoping that Lily would decline, coveting the chance to have sometime with Scorpius to herself.

Scorpius though, seemed to have a different idea. “Come on, Lils,” he prodded.

Lily’s eyes flitted between Scorpius and his father, something stirring in the older man’s eyes that caught her attention. “Your parents are welcome too, of course. Both of your parents,” he added, dipping his head in Rose’s direction.

Lily’s eyes narrowed almost imperceptibly. “Thank you. I’ll tell them.”

Mr. Malfoy nodded his head. “Well then, I’ll leave you all. I have a few important owls to answer. A pleasure meeting both of you, and I look forward to seeing you all tomorrow evening. Scorpius can see to it that you get proper invitations, of course.”

Scorpius impatiently waved his father off as if to say ‘I got it’ and Mr. Malfoy nodded his head once more, grabbing a wine glass from the sideboard as he left the parlor.

Scorpius was the first to speak, frowning when he had to repeat himself as neither girl had seemed to hear him the first time. “I asked if you wanted to play a quick round of Keeper practice on the lawn. I’ve got enough spare brooms to outfit a league team.”

“Sure,” Lily nodded, her excitement at the prospect of flying acting as the perfect mask to her madly whirling mind, already planning how to ensure her parents attended the dinner party the next night, morbidly curious to observe her mother and Mr. Malfoy in the same room. Rose followed after them with a slight nod of her head, lost in worried thoughts as she considered the consequences of inviting her family to a dinner party hosted by the Malfoy family.

When Lily got home later that afternoon, she had already made up her mind to invite her parents; it was just a matter of finding the right timing. Her mother was busily preparing dinner in the kitchen when she walked in the door. “Oh Lily, how was your afternoon with Rose?” she asked, stirring gravy for the potatoes with her wand tip.

“Good,” Lily answered, leaning back against the doorframe between the kitchen and the dining room. “We weren’t in Diagon Alley for very long at all, though.”

“You weren’t?” her mother asked, turning around to face her with a curious expression.

“No, we ran into Scorpius Malfoy. Remember, I told you about him?” Her mother made a small sound of acknowledgement, turning back to stir the gravy. “Well,” Lily continued, “he invited Rose and me to his house for a few hours. We played a pick-up game of Quidditch, you know, hung out and all that.”

“Mmhmm.”

“His dad was there, Draco Malfoy. He was at school with you and Dad, right?”

Lily’s mother grunted in response, focusing her attention on the last of the dinner preparations, though Lily noticed her mother’s hands had briefly clenched and unclenched. “Anyway,” she plowed on ahead, “his dad invited us to a dinner party tomorrow night. I’ve got the invitation and everything right here,” she said, brandishing the official-looking envelope. “He made sure I invited you and Dad to come as well.”

“When is this dinner party?” her mother asked, her voice shaking slightly.

“Tomorrow night at seven.”

“Oh, honey, I don’t think that’s going to work. I think your father and I have plans already…”

“Really? I don’t remember you saying anything before.”

Just then, there was a faint crack of Apparition and Lily turned to see the front door open as her father stepped inside. “Hey, Lils!” he called, sweeping his daughter into a brief hug and peering in on his wife’s cooking. “Oh, I am starved! Ginny, this looks great!” he enthused, releasing his daughter as he walked further into the kitchen and snatched a roll just out of the oven.

His wife lightly swatted at his hand. “Don’t you even start that, Harry James Potter. Dinner won’t be ready for another ten minutes, and I hate it when you sneak food beforehand.”

“It’s hardly sneaking when it’s done in plain sight,” Harry argued back playfully, quickly backing down and holding his hands up in surrender. “Alright, alright. Lily, why don’t you help me set the table.”

Lily rolled her eyes but grabbed a handful of cutlery, afraid she was losing her chance. “Dad, did you and Mum make plans for tomorrow night?” she asked innocently, watching her mother’s reaction out of the corner of her eye as she laid out the silverware.

“Er, no I don’t think so,” Harry replied, his forehead creasing as he glanced back at his wife. “Gin?”

“Lily,” her mother sighed, looking slightly upset, “I never said you couldn’t attend the party yourself, but I don’t think your father and I need to be making an appearance as well, that’s all.”

“What party?” Harry asked, his brow furrowed as he glanced between his wife and daughter.

“The dinner party at Scorpius’ tomorrow night,” Lily replied, “Mr. Malfoy invited all of us.”

“Lily, I really don’t think that’s such a good idea…” her mother began, holding her hand to her brow and trailing off, shooting an appealing look to her husband, who had stopped setting out plates.

“Lily, would you go ahead and fetch your brothers for us? Tell them dinner’s almost ready.”

Lily nodded once, quietly slipping out of the room and around the corner where she leaned against the wall, carefully listening in on her parents’ hushed discussion.

Harry abandoned the stack of plates he’d been setting out and walked towards his wife, who was pointedly staring at the floor and wringing her hands together. “Ginny,” he lifted up her chin, feeling a slight pang at the sight of her watery eyes.

“I don’t want to go, Harry. There’s no reason we should,” she whispered.

“It’s a dinner party, Gin. That’s all. I’m not going to say you can’t go or try to prevent you from going.”

She shook her head, wetting her lips. “It’s not that, Harry. I-I just don’t think this is a good idea.”

“Look at me,” he urged, lifting her chin once more and lightly running a finger down her cheek, his green eyes sincere. “I have never held it against you, Ginny. Not once.”

“I know,” she whispered, glancing downwards once more and trying not to cry.

“You lived with him for almost a year, sweetheart. It’s alright if you want to see him again.”

Lily sucked in a breath from her position around the corner, her eardrums echoing her father’s hushed words, confirming everything she suspected. She licked her lips and focused her attention back on her parents' quiet voices, sure her mother was crying.

“Please, Harry, let’s not go. I can’t-” her mother’s voice broke.

“Shh,” Harry wrapped his wife in a hug, gently rubbing her back and lightly kissing the corner of her eyelid. “It’s alright, we won’t go, okay? Hey, why don’t you dress up tomorrow anyway? Hmm? I’ll take you out to that nice restaurant in Diagon Alley, the new one?” The woman in his arms sniffled but nodded her head, her lips twitching as she looked back up to meet her husband’s gaze.

“You’re too good to me.”

“How else would I deserve you?” he teased, lightly tugging on a loose curl of her red hair.

She swiped at her eyes, taking a slightly shuddering breath. “I’m going to go wash up before Lily and the boys come back in. Will you check on the potatoes for me?”

“Of course.”

She sent him a grateful smile and moved to leave the room and head down the hall towards the bathroom. Lily was already gone from her hiding place before Ginny passed.

End Notes:
Thanks again to Miss Opal for the quick beta! Please R&R! ;)
Properly Feigned Innocence by Rosalie

Chapter Seven: Properly Feigned Innocence

Lily walked into her parents’ bedroom the next evening just a few minutes before seven o’clock. Her mother glanced up from the bureau where her jewelry lay, fastening the pair of diamond earrings she’d received for Christmas in place. The face in the mirror smiled upon seeing her daughter standing in the doorway. “You look lovely, Lily.”

“Thanks.”

Ginevra Potter turned to face her daughter, her mother’s eyes glowing with pride as she took in her nearly sixteen-year-old daughter’s simple but elegant black party dress, her fiery locks pulled back from her face with two silver clasps and her curtain of silk hair otherwise tumbling down around her. Ginevra walked towards her daughter, unable to help the smile that lit up her face. She lightly brought her hands down on Lily’s shoulders, looking her in the eyes which were as green as her father’s.

“Are you excited?” she asked, grinning down at her.

Lily shrugged, a small smile escaping her, though it seemed a little forced. “I guess so.”

“Oh, I bet the dinner party will just be lovely,” her mother enthused, happy for her daughter’s sake. “There will likely be dancing, of course. I told you, right?”

“Yes, Mum, and yes, I remember all the steps. You did have James, Albus, and me practice during every summer holiday for years.”

“Well, then I did my job preparing you three, didn’t I?” Ginevra laughed, touching her daughter’s cheek. “Your father was a horrid dancer.” She shuddered, remembering, before giving her daughter a sly wink. “But I fixed that in time for the wedding, of course.”

“I remember you telling me,” Lily laughed. “You wouldn’t let him eat until he practiced the steps with you in the Burrow’s back garden for a full hour first. Don’t you think that was the tiniest bit obsessive?”

“Well, it worked, didn’t it?” she laughed. “Your father will be ready to take you to the Malfoys' in just a bit. He’s still trying to straighten his tie.” She cocked her head towards the expansive closet off the master suite and Lily glanced over her mother’s shoulder, grinning as Harry walked out with a scowl on his face.

“I was not trying to straighten my tie. I was trying a charm that would do it for me.”

Ginny clucked her tongue, her brown eyes teasing her husband as she stepped forward and retied and smoothed her husband’s front. “Don’t you look smart?” she murmured, glancing up at him with a faint smile that made him blush.

“Erm, Lily, you ready to go?” he asked.

“Have been for the last ten minutes,” his daughter replied cheekily, giving her parents a pointed look.

“Right then, Gin, I’ll meet you at the restaurant in five minutes.”

His wife nodded and lightly kissed his lips before stepping back, picking up her small black clutch and Disapparating with a soft pop. Harry grinned to himself, the smell of her perfume lingering behind her before he turned to face his daughter, his throat suddenly closing up.

“Lils, you look beautiful.”

“Ah, Dad, let’s not get mushy or overprotective, either,” she added, pointing a finger at her father, who only smirked at her.

“I only had an Auror tail you once, sweetheart.”

“And it was completely mortifying.”

“You did learn not to lie to your dad about where you were going pretty fast, though.”

Lily rolled her eyes, grinning in spite of herself. No, she had simply learned how to lie better. “Ready to go?” she asked. Harry gestured for his daughter to join him and took her hand in his, pulling out his wand and Side-Along Apparating them both to Malfoy Manor.

Lily would have stumbled when they arrived in the entrance hall had her father not been supporting her. “Well,” he asked, “do you know what time you’ll be home? Scorpius was going to bring you back, right?”

“Erm, actually, Dad,” Lily began, putting her last plan into effect and making her face appear completely innocent, “the thing is, Scorpius’ mum is expecting him to say goodbye to all the guests and, well, I really didn’t want to stay that long, and I’d feel bad if I asked him to leave early and he missed out on the party because of me. Could you and Mum pick me up around ten?”

Her father’s eyebrows rose but he quickly agreed, promising that he and Ginny would pick her up a little after ten. Lily hugged him and quickly ran off, disappearing into the crowd of the party to hide her excitement.

Harry was just about to turn around and leave for the restaurant when an arrogant drawl stopped him in his tracks and he turned back to face the speaker.

“Not going to pay respects to the host, Potter?” Draco Malfoy smirked as he swaggered into view, holding a champagne glass, his silver eyes teasing.

Harry grinned back, stepping forward and shaking hands with the man. “Well, I never much did like giving you any respect at all, Draco.”

Draco’s lips split into a grin, his arrogance lessening from his drawled accent. “Likewise, Harry.”

“Thank you again for having Lily over; she was very excited.”

“My pleasure. Scorpius talks about her as if she and your niece Rose were his two best friends.”

“Shocking, isn’t it?” Harry laughed while Draco nodded in agreement.

“So much for children taking after their parents,” Draco muttered.

“I don’t know about that.” Harry commented, “Lily looks like a mirror image of her mum, except her eyes, that is; she’s lucky she didn’t seem to inherit any more of her father’s genes.”

“Isn’t that the truth?”

“Watch it, Malfoy.”

The blond man simply smirked, taking a sip of his champagne.

“Anyway, I’ve got to be going.”

“Nice talking to you, Harry.”

“You too. Oh, and Draco?” Harry’s expression suddenly became serious, his green eyes flashing. “If your father comes anywhere near this house while my daughter is here, I’ll have the Aurors on you in a second.”

“Of course,” Draco smirked. “I’d expect nothing less from you, Potter. Nothing to worry about, my parents are on holiday in the Swiss Alps.”

“How nice for the rest of us,” Harry remarked.

“Careful, Potter, or I might just have you thrown out of the party.”

“Well, we wouldn’t want that, would we?” Harry grinned cheekily.

The two men said goodbye to each other, both smirking somewhat as they went their separate ways. Harry walked to the end of the expansive foyer and Apparated to the restaurant. He found his wife sitting at a small candlelit table and smiled, taking her hand as he sat across from her and lightly kissing her fingertips.

*

Back at the dinner party, Lily finally spotted someone her own age and grinned, seeing that it was Scorpius. After realizing how few guests there were that were her own age, she couldn’t blame him for the slight expression of annoyance on his features. Grinning, she quickly crossed the room towards him and lightly punched his shoulder so that he turned around to face her, still scowling somewhat.

“Where’s Rose?” she asked, having expected to run into her equally red-haired cousin by now.

“She couldn’t come,” Scorpius muttered, glancing away from her, his body rigid. “Coming would involve telling her parents, and that, of course, would mean getting here only by stepping over her father’s dead body, something she seems entirely unwilling to do,” he bit out.

“Bit morbid this evening, aren’t you?” Lily commented dryly.

Scorpius cocked an eyebrow, amused in spite of himself. He briefly glanced over the top of her head, though and swore under his breath.

“What?” Lily asked, glancing back over her shoulder.

“My mum,” he grumbled. “She’s heading this way, no doubt intending to tell me to greet more of her guests and play the good host. You’re nearly done with Hogwarts,” he mimicked in a high falsetto, screwing up his features in annoyance, “You should be more responsible and try to make better connections. What would your father say? My father would tell her to stop nagging and that she’s beginning to sound like my grandmother.”

Lily laughed and glanced back at Mrs. Malfoy once more before turning to Scorpius and suggesting, “Well, why don’t we just dance for a song, see if she heads a different direction and leaves you alone?”

Scorpius caught Lily’s eye, struck by her idea. He seized her hand and immediately spun her onto the dance floor so quickly she was surprised she didn’t lose her balance. He watched his mother over the top of Lily’s head and grinned, looking down at her. “Not a bad idea there, Lils.”

“I’m full of good ideas,” she quipped back.

“You don’t look half-bad tonight, either.” Lily moved as though to swat his arm but Scorpius squeezed her hand, not letting go and smirking at her as she started laughing at him.

“You’re impossible.”

“You’re childish,” he easily replied with a twitch of his lips. Lily opened her mouth, about to insult him back when he cut her off, grinning madly as he enjoyed antagonizing her. “You look nice, though.”

Her eyes narrowed, but she thanked him and soon both forgot that they were supposed to be keeping an eye out for his mother.

“She’s as beautiful as her mother, isn’t she?” Astoria Malfoy smiled, draping her arms over her husband’s shoulders from behind and directing his gaze to their son and his dancing partner. Draco took a sip of his champagne, silently agreeing with her.

As they were dancing, Lily suddenly asked, “Did you know our parents once fancied each other?”

“I beg your pardon?” Scorpius replied, one eyebrow cocked in amusement.

“My mum and your dad, they were together once, for almost a year. We could’ve been siblings,” Lily rambled, realizing she was hardly making sense but talking anyway.

Scorpius pulled back from her, still lightly holding one of her hands as he fixed her with a teasingly disapproving look before quickly pulling her closer and resuming the steps. “Let’s not entertain the idea that we could have been related; this dance is difficult enough without those sort of awkward thoughts.” Lily threw her head back in laughter and they kept dancing, oblivious to the time going by.

*

After paying the bill for their meal at Amortia’s, Harry proposed to his wife that they head home early since the boys were at George and Angelina’s for the night, and Lily wouldn’t need to be picked up for awhile. Ginny wetted her lips, grinning mischievously at her husband as he stood and pulled back her chair, brushing his lips against her cheek and murmuring something in her ear in such a low voice that her cheeks flushed crimson.

Sometime later, Harry glanced at the clock on his nightstand, the minute hand only a few spaces away from ten o’clock. He rolled back over to wrap his arms around his wife, pressing a light kiss to the back of her neck. Turning on her side to face him, Ginny grinned cheekily at him and brushed the dark hair back from his eyes, losing herself in their green depths. “It’s almost ten,” Harry murmured, catching her fingers and kissing them once more.

Ginny rolled her eyes and pushed herself up, murmuring, “Time for a few extra make-up charms, don’t you think?” Harry grinned after her and quickly got dressed, waiting for his wife until they were ready to pick up Lily from the party.

When they arrived back at the Manor House, it was ten minutes past ten and the dance floor was still full of twirling couples and swishing dress robes. Harry suggested to his wife that they split up to find Lily sooner and Ginny agreed, kissing his cheek before he disappeared into the crowd.

The instant he left her side, Ginny turned at the sound of a familiar voice, her heart jumping in her chest.

“A ravishing outfit as always, Mrs. Potter. Those are lovely earrings.”

Ginevra Potter spun around to find Draco standing behind her, offering her a glass of champagne in one hand and holding his own in the other, his silver eyes smoldering somewhat.

“Thank you,” she murmured, glancing down at the drink for a moment before meeting his pewter eyes once more.

He dipped his head, smiling slightly at her. “Your husband threatened to set his squad of Aurors on me should my father show up,” he smirked, earning a genuine smile from her in response.

“That’s Harry. Utterly overprotective and not unwilling to resort to abusing his underlings if he so chooses,” she replied with a light laugh, taking a sip of her champagne.

“Why am I not surprised?” Draco drawled.

“Because it’s just like him. Besides, it was probably a good idea on his part,” Ginny laughed. She turned then and caught sight of her daughter and Scorpius dancing together. “Did you ever think it would be like this?” she murmured suddenly.

“What, seeing our children like this?”

She turned on him, not amused. “My daughter,” she emphasized, “and your son.”

“You know what I meant, Gin.” Draco glanced to the young couple again, correcting his previous statement. “You mean, did I ever think I’d see your daughter and my son together? No.”

“They’re just dancing,” Ginny replied a little too quickly, face-flushed and rather uncomfortable. “They’re hardly about to walk down the aisle.”

“No?”

"Honestly, Draco, they're not even dating!" Ginny snapped.

Draco only raised a single eyebrow at her, his grey eyes dark. "Neither were we."

Ginevra gave him a severe look, unamused.

Scorpius was laughing at another of Lily’s antics, still dancing with her, when a hand reached out and firmly tapped him on the shoulder, politely asking to cut in. Scorpius pulled back, more than a little surprised at the intrusion when a gasp from Lily put everything in place. “Dad?”

The dark-haired man behind him grinned and Scorpius’ shoulders sank in relief. Lily’s father held out his hand to him, suddenly serious, though his face was still kind. “You must be Scorpius,” he said.

“Mr. Potter.” Scorpius held his own hand out, shaking hands with the man who was the same age as his father but happened to be the Head of the Ministry of Magic’s Auror Department. Scorpius swallowed, suddenly self-conscious, but Mr. Potter was no longer paying him attention, his eyes turning to his daughter instead.

“Are you ready to go?” he asked.

Scorpius turned to Lily in confusion. “I offered to take you home at the end of the night…” he trailed off, wondering why she had asked her father to come pick her up instead. Maybe her dad was just overprotective. Just by what he’d seen, it seemed most of the men in the extended Weasley family were.

“Well, I didn’t want to drag you away before the party was over…” Lily said, lying through her teeth and hoping neither her father nor Scorpius could tell, but her father’s eyes were already narrowing behind her.

“Scorpius, would you excuse us for a moment?” Scorpius only nodded and left the two to themselves, wandering off into the crowd of guests and disappearing from sight. Once he was gone, Harry faced his daughter, fixing her with an accusing stare. “Lily, you know how your mother and I feel about Scorpius’ father,” he quietly growled. “Why would you intentionally upset your mother and want us to come here?”

“I don’t know, they look awful cozy wouldn’t you say?” she snapped, pointing her chin off to the outside edge of the dance floor.

Harry turned to see his wife and Draco Malfoy standing close together, his jaw clenching involuntarily. “Excuse me,” he muttered, leaving his daughter and moving through the crowd. Just as Harry began heading towards his wife, Astoria came up beside her husband and reached out to shake hands with Ginny, flashing a dazzling hostess’ smile. “You must be Ginevra Potter,” she exclaimed. “Your daughter is absolutely enchanting. She’s been dancing with my son for half the night.”

Ginny smiled back at Mrs. Malfoy, quickly thanking her and returning the compliment. “Thank you, and your son is very handsome as well.”

“He’s the spitting image of his father,” Astoria beamed.

“I’d have to agree.” Ginny answered softly, carefully avoiding meeting the gaze of the silver eyes watching her. Just then, her husband joined them, quickly greeting Astoria and her husband and shaking hands, protectively looping his arm around his wife’s waist, sensing how close she was to tears.

“You alright?” he barely murmured and Ginny nodded, smiling thinly. Draco cleared his throat and brought up the last Falcons game in the ongoing Quidditch season. Harry nodded to him gratefully but Draco only returned the gesture, wrapping an arm around his wife’s shoulders, fully aware that she was the only one who could not become aware of the uncomfortable tension surrounding them as they all engaged in meaningless small talk.

When Scorpius finally found Lily again, spotting her vividly red hair, she was standing at the refreshment table, taking a long draw from her champagne glass and swallowing. He immediately crossed over towards her and took the champagne flute right out of her fingers, setting it down on the table and glancing around himself. “Are you out of your mind?” he hissed. “A good number of my father’s guests are in law enforcement, Lily! They’d jump at the chance to punish Harry Potter’s daughter for underage drinking!”

“Well, forgive me, but I rather thought I needed it considering the disgusting way our parents are looking at each other right now,” she snarled back.

Scorpius’ eyebrows knit together in confusion and she jabbed a finger towards where both their parents were standing, the two couples talking animatedly, though none looked entirely comfortable. Scorpius became rather tense, his eyes narrowed as he remembered what Lily had said about his father and her mother when they had been dancing, observing the two now as their eyes met every few seconds before both glanced away.

“I think you and your mother better go,” he muttered.

Lily looked up at him in surprise and quickly lowered her eyes, walking away from him. She approached her parents and interrupted their conversation, informing them that she was ready to leave. Before the Potters could make their way out into the foyer, though, Astoria sent after Scorpius to have him come and properly say goodbye to them. The seventh year Slytherin boy followed his mother’s wishes and bowed slightly, taking Lily’s hand in his and lightly pressing his lips to her knuckles. His grey eyes met hers and she swallowed, suddenly feeling sorry. “Thank you for attending,” he said smoothly, rising to his full height so that he towered over her by a few good inches, his cold eyes surveying her even as a muscle twitched in his jaw. Lily quietly thanked Scorpius and his parents, casting one last apologetic look to her friend before taking her mother’s hand and Disapparating with them.

When her mother asked if she had a nice night, Lily automatically answered yes, heading to her room and closing the door behind her, having had a wonderful night until the last ten minutes when her elaborate scheme had blown up in her face and ruined everything. She sank onto her bed, wondering if Scorpius would ever speak to her again and remembering how coldly he had asked her to leave. She was so caught up in her own thoughts and worries, that Lily never noticing the soft crying coming from her parents’ bedroom as Harry wrapped his wife in his arms, tightly holding her as if his very arms were the only substance holding her together.

Doubt and Stupidity by Rosalie

Chapter Eight: Doubt and Stupidity

The next morning Scorpius found himself sitting on the edge of his parents’ bed, his throat dry, watching as his mother applied her make-up charms, smiling in the mirror at him.

“Did you have a nice time last night?” she asked, beaming at him as she ran the powder brush over her cheeks.

“Nice enough.” He shrugged, not meeting her eyes.

Astoria Malfoy laughed lightly, the sound like a bell. “I haven’t seen you smiling that much at one of my dinner parties in ages. I’m so glad your friend Lily was able to come. She was such a nice girl.”

Scorpius swallowed, the very thought of Lily forcibly reminding him of what she’d said last night. He hadn’t been able to sleep all night, cold and angry about what he’d seen, the way his father had looked at Lily’s mother causing his mind to reel with questions and doubt.

“Mum? Have… have you always loved Dad?” he asked suddenly, his fingers clenching and unclenching at his side.

He watched as his mother put on her jewelry, fastening the clasp of a pearl necklace around her neck. “Of course I’ve always loved him,” she answered with an airy laugh, her cheeks pink as she ran her fingers over the string of pearls, her smile softening. “That love may have changed in form over the years, but I assure you we’re just as in love as the day we first met, well, outside of Hogwarts.” she amended with a trilling laugh.

“You’re not ever worried that love might fade?” he asked, his voice unsteady. “That - that there will ever be any reason to divorce?”

“Scorpius…” Astoria breathed, turning to face her son. She quickly stood from her chair, her robes cascading down around her as she lightly crossed over to where her son sat. Scorpius swallowed, turning away, but she slipped her fingers beneath his chin, turning his face towards hers. “Dear, why would you ask such a thing? Are one of your friend’s parents getting a divorce?”

Scorpius averted his gaze, cryptically answering, “Her mum’s in love with someone else.”

“Oh dear.” Astoria cupped her son’s face in her hands until he finally raised his eyes to meet hers which were bright with sympathy and at the same time offering a sincere promise. “That will never be your father and I. You understand?”

Scorpius nodded, feeling his heart rise in his throat, disbelieving every word. He quietly excused himself and slipped out of the room, his mother’s smile faltering in his absence. She would have Draco talk with him; perhaps Scorpius would actually listen to his father. When Astoria sent for the House-Elf to find her son, however, she was informed that Scorpius had already left.

*

Scorpius stood on the front stoop of the small cottage, having taken the Knight Bus to get there. He frowned for a moment, wondering whether he was making a mistake by coming. At the same time though, he didn’t care. He had wanted to get out of the house and Lily’s place was the first place that came to mind, despite his earlier anger with her. Besides, it wasn’t as if he could go see Rose; she’d likely claim to have never known him if her parents got involved. The thought was enough to make his blood burn in anger.

Heaving a resigned sigh, Scorpius raised his hand and rapped his knuckles against the window paneled door. He heard the water running in the kitchen stop and wetted his lips, waiting until he heard footsteps and the front door opened. “Scorpius. We weren’t expecting you…” the woman trailed off, an expression of surprise on her face.

“Mrs. Potter. Erm, is Lily home?”

“She’s upstairs. Why don’t you come in and I’ll call her down.” She held the door open and Scorpius slipped inside, following the older woman into the kitchen, more than a little uncomfortable in her mere presence after the way he’d seen his father looking at her the night before.

Lily’s mother stopped at the bottom of the stairs, calling up to her daughter. “Lily! Friend of yours!”

Lily answered back that she’d be right down and Scorpius felt his discomfort lessen marginally at the sound of her voice. Soon he heard her footsteps coming and looked up just as she reached the top of the stairs. “Scorpius!” Her voice was breathless with shock, her eyes widening in surprise. “What are you doing here?” Scorpius opened his mouth to answer, feeling a pang of guilt as he saw the wary look in her eyes.

“Thought I’d come see you,” he said quietly, wishing her mother wasn’t standing within hearing distance, shoving his hands into his pockets. “I didn’t get to take you home last night,” he offered, giving her a friendly half-smile which Lily returned, her hand trailing down the arm rail as she came down the stairs, both of them standing around somewhat awkwardly once she reached the bottom.

“Erm, do you want to go somewhere?” she asked.

“Yeah.”

“Great.” She smiled then and Scorpius’ shoulders relaxed in relief. Lily turned to her mother, silently asking permission and Mrs. Potter dipped her head in response, nodding towards the front door. “Flag down the Knight Bus, then. There’s a handful of Galleons on your father’s desk if you two want to get anything to eat.” Lily nodded, thanking her mother and heading into her father’s study to grab the money purse.

“Ready to go, Scorpius?” she asked, moving towards the front door. The Slytherin boy nodded and followed her out, glancing back over his shoulder to see Mrs. Potter watching as they left, a troubled expression crossing her features that Scorpius had come to recognize all too often recently.

Ginny heaved a sigh once the door swung shut behind Scorpius and her daughter, more than a little tense with everything that had gone on in the last few days. She didn’t even know that Lily and Draco’s son had been friends until a few days ago. In fact, she hadn’t heard anything about him even as recently as Christmas and a part of her wondered if their friendship had started that suddenly. Moving into the kitchen, Ginny began tidying up as she tried to sort out her muddled thoughts. She had cried in Harry’s arms for what felt like hours the night before, shaken up after being in the same room as Draco Malfoy after nearly twenty-five years. She laughed weakly to herself, unable to comprehend how so much time had passed and everything only began cropping up again in the last few months.

First there had been Rose, coming by to have a cup of tea and ask for some advice over Christmas break. Ginny had told her everything, never intending to; it had just spilled out of her, wanting to tell someone, and truthfully, it had felt good. It had been nice to confide to someone, someone besides Harry who wouldn’t make her stomach coil with guilt. Part of her wondered if it had all started then, a very paranoid part of her, that was. She hadn’t even mentioned Draco’s name for years. In fact, the only stories her children had heard of their father’s schoolboy nemesis had been told by their uncle Ron. Harry never brought him up, knowing how uncomfortable it made Ginny. She had even begun to think she was over Draco, something she’d never before hoped to be. That had been before she cried her eyes out last night, of course. Right now, the idea that she’d never shed another tear over Draco Malfoy was only wishful thinking.

Suddenly, the fireplace lit up and Ginny whirled around to be greeted with her brother’s face, floating in the green flames.

“George! I just saw you this morning!” she exclaimed, “Albus said he had a wonderful time…”

Her elder brother cut her off suddenly, looking quite agitated, “Yeah, well, I try…” he chuckled, looking rather uncomfortable. “So, Gin, erm, you in a good mood today?”

Her eyes narrowed suspiciously. “Why?”

“No real reason,” he said airily. “It’s just, well, I thought it was my duty, as your favorite brother of course, to let you know that James is in St. Mungo’s…”

“What?” she shrieked.

George waved a disembodied hand, trying to brush off his sister’s concern. “It’s nothing, he’s fine, he’s fine… just a slight explosion in the workshop. Probably a good thing you picked up Albus when you did now that I think about it.”

“George Fabian Weasley, I swear to God, I am going to flay you alive!” she stormed, making death threats and promising to kill him as she ripped on her cloak, shouting for Albus to come downstairs and telling him not to leave the house under any circumstances.

“Mum, I’m seventeen years old…” he complained.

“I don’t care, Albus! I’m losing my mind trying to keep track of where all you kids are! I never should have let your brother go to work for George!”

“What happened?” Albus asked, his eyes following his mother as she rushed around the house, grabbing her purse and her wand, preparing to Disapparate.

“Your idiot uncle!” she broke off, her face red and furious. “Stay inside!” she commanded one last time, Disapparating with an angry crack.

Albus turned his neck to see the offending uncle’s head, still floating in the flames and winced sympathetically. “Everyone in this family’s insane,” he muttered, turning to leave, sure he heard George muttering under his breath that he should have had Angelina make the floo call before he disappeared from the flames with a faint pop.

*

Bustling down the streets of Diagon Alley, Hermione Weasley led her daughter Rose through the crowds of shoppers, having looked through a series of local shops for a set of graduation robes for Rose, the end of her seventh year drawing close. “Mum, I really don’t like the navy robes, they’re too dark,” Rose complained, wanting a color that would lessen the severity of her very red hair.

“Rose, dear, the others were far too light and Professor Flitwick specifically said that all Ravenclaws ought to wear blue.”

“You’ve never cared about a thing as trivial as color choice before…”

“Then you agree; it’s a trivial detail. Come on, Rose, it isn’t that bad,” her mother pressed, pushing through the throngs of shoppers. “Besides, darker colors are much more professional, and stop fussing over your hair already! Merlin knows you have had a much easier time with it than I ever did!” Rose scowled but didn’t comment. Her hair may not have been as tangled as a briar patch like her mother's, but the red was like a beacon, making her stand out anywhere.

Just then, her mother made a noise of pleasant surprise, having caught sight of another redhead sitting outside of Florene Flortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor. “Oh, look, it’s Lily!” she exclaimed, pointing when her brow suddenly furrowed. “Who is that? Oh, my goodness, is that that Malfoy boy? Isn’t he in your year?”

Rose froze, her eyes following her mother’s line of sight to see that it was indeed Scorpius Malfoy who sat with her cousin, telling her some story that had her laughing hysterically, unaware of their witnesses. Rose swallowed, feeling as though something were constricting over her chest as she watched them, wondering what they had done together at the party the night before. “Mum, I need to ask Scorpius about one of our homework assignments. Can you wait here for just a bit?” she asked, her tongue like sandpaper.

Her mother’s eyes were narrowed suspiciously as she watched the two teenagers, looking as though she were studying a difficult formula. “I’ll come with you,” she said, looking determined. “I want to make sure that Lily’s alright. I wonder if Harry knows she’s here.”

Rose bit back the urge to argue with her mother and hurried forward, making her way to her two laughing friends. “Hey Scorp,” she interrupted, the blond boy’s eyes flitting up to meet hers, his expression suddenly one of surprise.

“Rose!”

“Erm, can I talk to you for a minute? It’s about that holiday homework we had, for seventh years…” she added, glancing at Lily out of the corner of her eye. Lily merely looked down at her ice cream.

“Sure,” Scorpius agreed somewhat stiffly, following Rose around the corner of the shop to discuss their homework.

The instant that Scorpius and Rose were out of earshot from them and vice versa, Hermione leaned in towards Lily, her brown eyes wide in concern. “Lily, are you alright?” she asked.

“What? Yeah, of course, Aunt Mione.”

“Are you sure? I didn’t know you hung around with Malfoy’s boy. Isn’t he quite a few years older than you?”

“Well, we do go to school together; I mean, it’s only expected we’d talk every once in a while, right?”

Hermione appeared unconvinced. “What were you doing running into him in Diagon Alley, though?”

“I just bumped into him that’s all,” Lily lied, glancing back to the direction Rose and Scorpius had disappeared to.

“But what were you doing here?” Hermione pressed.

“Wh-what?” Lily asked, spinning back around.

Her aunt pursed her lips disapprovingly and repeated her question. “I asked what you’re doing in Diagon Alley in the first place, Lily. Does your father know you’re here?” she asked, eyes narrowed suspiciously.

Lily rolled her jaw, forcibly keeping her voice level despite her irritation with her aunt. “Well, no, but my mum does,” she explained, sighing in frustration as she realized her aunt wasn’t going to stop pestering her until she heard more of an explanation than that. “Look, I just wanted to visit the joke shop,” Lily explained, her eyes wide and truthful despite the fingers she’d crossed behind her back. If anyone would cover for her, it was her uncle George. She hated lying to her aunt Hermione, but really, the woman was grating on her nerves. As if there was anything wrong with hanging around with Scorpius, honestly!

“You don’t have any shopping bags from there,” Hermione observed.

“Well, no, I don’t as I haven’t gone yet. Like I said, I ran into Scorpius and we decided to get some ice cream, and here you are!” Lily gestured to her aunt still standing in front of her, arms crossed over her chest.

Hermione pursed her lips, looking as though she didn’t know whether to believe her niece or not,and Lily fought back the urge to roll her eyes. Really, it was no wonder Rose hadn’t told her parents about the Malfoys' dinner party, her mum would’ve probably died from shock and there was no telling what her dad would’ve done.

“Satisfied that I’m not consorting with the enemy?” Lily asked sarcastically, losing the last of her patience with her aunt.

Her aunt’s shoulders sank as she let out a sigh, murmuring under her breath. “I never said Malfoy was the enemy. I was just curious, is all.”

“Overly concerned, more like.”

“Lily…”

Just then the others reappeared from the side alley, Rose storming back over to her mother, not so much as glancing at her cousin. Lily only looked to Scorpius questioningly but he didn’t seem to notice. Rather, his attention was focused solely on Rose, his cold eyes furious.

“Let’s get going, Mum. Still have a lot of shopping to do,” Rose bit out, her entire body rigid, clearly wanting to leave.

Lily watched as her aunt’s expression became one of bewilderment, glancing back and forth between her daughter and Scorpius. “But, Rose, what’s wrong?”

Rose shot a venomous glance back over her shoulder towards Scorpius, glaring at him coldly. “Nothing that isn’t expected when you have to deal with a Malfoy!” she spat scathingly. “It’s unpleasant just being near them.”

Scorpius’ eyes narrowed, a muscle ticking in his jaw, his fury evident. He easily looped an arm around Lily’s shoulders saying, “Not everyone would agree with that statement, Weasley. Lily certainly doesn’t.”

Without a moment’s warning, he turned his face towards Lily and pressed his lips against hers. Lily sucked in a surprised breath as Scorpius kissed her, pulling back, but he held her head firmly in place, the corner of his lips turning up in a cruel smirk as he watched for Rose’s reaction. The older girl’s eyes suddenly filled with tears and she hastily escaped into the crowd, her shocked mother following after her. Finally managing to prop her hands against Scorpius’ lean shoulders, Lily furiously pushed him back, forcibly breaking away and looking up at him with a mixture of shock and hurt. There was a ringing crack as she slapped him across the face, leaving a handprint as angry as she was. Just then a camera’s flashbulb went off, drawing the attention of anyone who hadn’t already seen. Fighting back tears, Lily pulled away from him, running into the busy street and heading towards the Leaky Cauldron.

Scorpius threw his head back, groaning in frustration as his mind caught up with his actions and he realized his mistake. “Oh, shit!” he cursed. He leapt to his feet and rushed past the murmuring crowds, their unfinished ice cream forgotten as he raced after her.

“Lily! Lily stop!” he shouted, tearing after her retreating form. Her hair whipped behind her as she caught sight of him following her and she quickened her pace, racing through the inn and into Muggle London. She ran into the busy street, raising her wand hand to flag down the Knight Bus just as Scorpius screamed her name behind her.

Lily, watch out!

She whipped her head around, her eyes wide as she recognized headlights, her scream drowned out by the car’s horn blaring for her to get out of the way.

Apologies, with Tulips by Rosalie

Chapter Nine: Apologies, with Tulips

Harry Potter was sitting in his office in the Auror Department, reading through a stack of current case files as he sipped his tea when his door was flung open. He flinched in surprise, a harried-looking Ron rushing in and brandishing a copy of the Daily Prophet. “Mate, you need to see this!” he instructed breathlessly, looking as though he’d ran all the way.

“Look at what?” Harry asked, calmly sipping his tea before focusing on the newspaper and making a face. “Oh, come on Ron, you know all those papers are rubbish!”

“Oh, yeah?” Ron asked, his eyes challenging. “Well, this is tomorrow’s edition and I think you ought to see it before it goes to print. Front page - your daughter locking lips with Malfoy’s rat-faced offspring!”

“What?” Harry asked, straightening up considerably. Ron threw the paper down on the desk before him and Harry stared at it in shock. Sure enough, the headline read ‘RIVALRIES OF A DIFFERENT KIND: POTTER DAUGHTER AND MALFOY HEIR ENGAGE IN HEATED LOVER’S QUARREL.' Harry’s eyebrows rose past his spectacles and into his hairline as he saw the black-and-white copy of his daughter leaving an angry handprint on Scorpius’ face.

“That’s definitely Lily,” he commented, glancing upwards to his best friend. “How in the name of Merlin did you get this?”

“My secretary’s husband’s brother… forget it!” he gave up, waving his own explanation off. “The point is that I have connections who thought that I thought you might want to be informed so you don’t have a heart attack reading the morning edition over your breakfast tomorrow. Press never did treat you all too well.”

“Merlin,” Harry breathed, looking back down at the photograph.

Just then, a woman ran in clutching a hospital dispatch envelope, her face white. “Mr. Potter, I’ve just received an owl that your daughter’s been admitted to St. Mungo’s!”

“What?” Harry rose from his seat, all the blood draining from his face. “Is she all right? What happened?” he demanded, blood pounding in his ears.

“There was a car accident in Muggle London just outside the Leaky Cauldron,” she explained, her fingers twisting themselves over the half-crumpled letter in worry.

Harry swore, rushing out of the office even as he ripped his coat over his shoulders. “Hannah, contact my wife! Tell her…” he broke off, swearing again and Disapparated with a sudden crack, leaving Ron open-mouthed behind him.

“Right, Justin, you’re in charge,” he instructed, jabbing his finger towards the nearest Auror before Disaparating after Harry.

His shoes nearly skidding over the linoleum floors as he ran, Harry rushed into the Emergency entrance of the hospital. An older man clothed in lime green healers’ robes caught sight of him and immediately ran forward. “Mr. Potter! Mr. Potter, I’ve been sent to meet you and update you as to your daughter’s condition!”

“Where’s my daughter?” Harry demanded, his heart pounding fearfully.

“She’s stable, only minor injuries, sir. Your wife is already with her…”

“What? How? I only just found out myself!”

The healer looked surprised, stuttering slightly. “B-but sir, she was already at the hospital earlier this morning…”

“Whatever for?”

“Your son, James, sir. T-there was an explosion at your brother-in-law’s joke shop. S-surely you already heard.”

“Oh, for God’s sakes,” Harry muttered, his feet keeping pace with the Healer as he led him down the hospital corridors. It seemed that his children had a habit of getting sent to the hospital more often than he had at their age, if that were even possible. He didn’t even blink upon hearing that James had been there. His wife evidently had known and she would have told him if it had been anything serious. When it came to dealing with magical accidents at the joke shop, the Potter family reacted first and informed later as there were usually too many incidents to be bothered with. Lily, on the other hand, had been in a car accident and the part of Harry that had been raised in the Muggle world was scared. Regardless of whether her condition was stable, car accidents were never good and people rarely walked away unscathed.

The Healer continued to assure Harry that his daughter was fine, so well, in fact, that her mother had already began reprimanding her for running into traffic. His reassurances did not make Harry any less concerned, though his shoulders relaxed marginally as he thought of his wife’s angry reaction, knowing she wouldn’t have been upset with Lily had their daughter been seriously injured.

As they rounded the corner and reached the proper corridor, Harry’s eyes narrowed, recognizing the young man sitting in the chair outside one of the hospital rooms, his head in his hands. Scorpius raised his head at the sound of footsteps, his mouth suddenly bone-dry as he saw Lily’s father stalking towards him.

He shot to his feet, rushing to apologize and explain himself when Lily’s father clamped his hand down on the Slytherin boy’s shoulder, shoving the seventeen-year-old back and up against the wall, bringing his face inches from Scorpius’. “What happened to my daughter, Malfoy?” he growled.

“Mr. Potter, it was an accident!” Scorpius explained, the pain shooting through his shoulder nothing in comparison to the sheer fear he felt under the Auror’s furious glare.

“My daughter ran into Muggle traffic running away from you!” he snarled. “Now you’re going to explain to me why!”

At the same time, both men could hear the sound of Ginevra Potter’s angry shouts, her voice raised at a pitch that echoed past the thick doors of the hospital room. “What have I told you about Muggle London, Lily? You’re nearly sixteen years old and you still can’t remember to look both ways before crossing the damn street!”

Flinching at the furious tone coming from the other room and trying not to cower beneath Mr. Potter’s glaring green eyes, Scorpius explained as quickly as possible what happened, everything from his mistake of using Lily to anger Rose to chasing her through Diagon Alley and into the busy Muggle street where the accident occurred.

“Look, is she alright?” he finally asked, his stomach churning with guilt, remembering his fear as the car had struck, hitting Lily and sending her body toppling over it, landing on the hard pavement with a sickening crack. Cars had screeched to a halt, the driver and several other Muggles running over to see if the injured girl was all right. Scorpius had screamed himself hoarse, trying to get Lily to St. Mungo’s instead of whatever Muggle place they were trying to take her to. Desperate, he had caused an explosion with his wand, throwing the Muggles into chaos so he could grab Lily, who had been bleeding severely, and Disaparate to the wizarding hospital. The amount of illegal magic he had performed and the consequences for it hardly measured up to what he was about to face, though. He shook himself, wanting an answer to his question, an answer none of the Healers had seen fit to provide him with. “Just tell me if she’s okay!” he asked again.

Furious, Harry shoved him back. “You better hope so, Malfoy! Now I want you to go home and tell your father exactly why he’s going to be hearing from my attorney unless I hear he’s punished you severely, docking your damn allowance or whatever the hell a proper punishment is in your family! Do you understand me?”

“Y-yes, sir…”

“Good!” Harry released the boy and left him in the hall, pushing open the doors to his daughter’s room and letting them swing shut behind him. Scorpius stared at the double doors, his hands clenching at his side, knowing it was positively suicidal to force his way into the hospital room.

Hurried footsteps sounded on the linoleum floors and a red-haired man came into view. Scorpius made himself appear as small as possible, quickly disappearing down a side hallway, wanting to avoid being threatened to within an inch of his life again. After all, his father would take care of that just fine once he found out and knowing his father, finding out was only a matter of time.

*

Draco Malfoy stalked into his house, absolutely livid. He swept in past Bernard so quickly that his cloak snapped against the elf. “Where’s Scorpius?” he demanded coldly.

A shadow moved in the parlor and Scorpius stood to his feet, swallowing as he faced his father. “Hey, Dad.”

“Hey, Dad,” Draco spat out mockingly, slamming down a stack of papers on the dining room table separating them. “You mind telling me exactly what happened today, Scorpius, that led to Harry Potter setting three Aurors and his attorney on me at work today?” he hissed.

Scorpius forced himself to meet his father’s wrathful gaze and explain the situation, keeping his voice as steady as possible. With each word, Scorpius watched as his father’s expression grew more and more furious until he was positively seething. When he got to the part about Harry demanding that he be punished, his father had a muscle tic in his jaw, slamming his fist down on the table and forcing himself to keep himself on the other side of it, the table the only thing standing between him and his son.

“You're damn right I’m going to punish you! Quite frankly, I don’t think docking your allowance would be sufficient! As of now, your Gringotts account is non-existent until you prove you’re a damn adult! Now you are going to go to Mr. Potter’s house and ask his forgiveness, more than that you’re going to apologize to his daughter, and you are going to bring her mother flowers with the most apologetic expression you can muster! Do you understand me?”

“Yes, sir,” Scorpius answered, quailing from his father’s rage and moving towards the door as quickly as possible.

“And Scorpius?”

“Yes?” he asked tentatively.

“Make sure you bring her tulips. It’s bloody spring already,” his father growled.

It wasn’t long before Draco received word that Lily Potter had been released from the hospital. It had only been a few hours after her accident and just when the Malfoy family was settling down for dinner, but it had only taken a single glance across the table in his son’s direction to have Scorpius out the door, presumably on the way to the flower shop before making the biggest apology of his life.

*

Scorpius stood outside the Potter house, holding an enormous bouquet of red and yellow tulips and feeling the most uncomfortable sense of déjà vu as he raised his hand to knock on the door. Just as she had earlier that morning, it was Mrs. Potter who answered the door, her eyebrows rising in surprise as Scorpius deposited the bouquet of tulips in her hands. Staring at the ground, Scorpius apologized and asked to see Lily.

Ginny rolled her eyes and easily cut him off, sounding exhausted and mildly annoyed. “Oh, enough, Scorpius. It’s hardly your fault I raised a daughter foolish enough to run into traffic. Besides, the Healers fixed her up in a matter of minutes; go see for yourself, and whatever is going on between you two, work it out already and do please leave the hysterics out of it.”

Lily’s mother vanished into the kitchen and busied herself with putting the tulips in a vase, ignoring Scorpius’ incredulous expression. Shaking himself, he mounted the stairs instead. He found Lily in a small bathroom, just across the hall from the top of the stairs. She was scrubbing sinks out with a sponge, working like a house-elf, but aside from the water and soap stains on her clothes, she looked completely unharmed. She raised her head to see him standing in the doorway and her expression fell, quickly looking down and away.

“Lils, I’m so sorry,” Scorpius croaked out. Stepping towards her, he tentatively reached out to touch her cheek but suddenly lost his courage, his hand falling to his side instead. “I’m so sorry,” he repeated.

She turned to face him, tears in her eyes. “You used me just to spite Rose.”

“I know. Lily, please don’t cry.”

“Shut up, Scorpius, I’m not crying!” she snapped defensively, sniffling somewhat. She rubbed the back of her hand over her eyes, hastily wiping away any evidence to the contrary. “I’ve been cleaning for ages and the chemicals are making my eyes water!” she growled out.

Scorpius’ lips twitched upwards in spite of himself at her determined denial, something he’d learned to accept from her. Lily never let herself be hurt but always hid behind harsh and biting words, and his actions had forced her to use them as a shield once more. He easily cupped her cheek in the palm of his hand, turning her head up to face him, pained by her still teary eyes. He bit down on his lower lip, and for a moment, he didn’t know what to say. He could only stare at her, knowing he’d messed up everything and had to put it right, even if that meant blocking the memory of his lips on hers from his mind.

“You’re really not hurt?” he asked hoarsely, shocked that there wasn’t a single bruise or cut on her.

“Not from the car, no,” she chuckled weakly, “but my mother seems determined to punish me by making me scrub my fingernails off in here.”

Scorpius felt a smile tugging at the corners of his own lips, grateful that the conversation seemed to be steering itself towards safer subjects. “Yeah, well, you aren’t the only one with a death sentence. My dad sent me on a suicide mission to come apologize to you and bring your mum tulips.”

Her eyes narrowed. “Tulips are my mum’s favorite.”

“Why am I not surprised?”

“Because you’re a slimy Slytherin and you’re rarely caught off guard?” she suggested cheekily.

Scorpius grinned, pulling her into a tight hug, his face pressed against her red hair, tickling his skin. “We’re all right, then?” he asked.

She nodded once, pulling back from him with a faint smile. “Yeah, we’re good.”

“Lily, if there’s anything I can do…”

She chuckled then, glancing down at the sponge in her hand and back up at him once more, her lips twisting into a lopsided grin. “Well, I could use a hand cleaning up in here; you are the reason I ran into traffic, after all.”

He threw his head back, groaning, “I’m never going to live this down.”

She looked at him dryly, arms crossed over her chest. “Neither am I, you know.”

“True, hand me a sponge.”

Lily smiled and slapped the half-soaked sponge into his open palm, turning to start scrubbing once more. Scorpius watched her for a moment, swallowing back the urge to hug her again and turned to the sinks instead. After all, he had screwed up enough for today. Still remembering how he’d felt kissing her, even if only for that moment, he felt his cheeks grow warm and immediately began scrubbing harder, trying to change the course of his treacherous thoughts, unaware of the glances Lily kept directing his way as she worried her lower lip.

End Notes:
Hope you all like it! Especially after that rather evil cliffie last time ;) The quote from Ginny screaming at Lily about running into traffic is taken from Charlie Wilson's War but switched around to be less inappropriate ;) Great movie, by the way! Please leave a review! And thanks again to Miss Opal for her beta and to everyone still reading after the last cliffie and not protesting instead. Lol.
The Dangerous Musings of Comparisons by Rosalie
Author's Notes:

Chapter Ten: The Dangerous Musings of Comparisons

Ginevra Potter stood alone in her comfortable kitchen, her cheek resting contemplatively in the palm of her hand as she critically surveyed the two dozen red and yellow tulips standing erectly before her on the table top. Each one of them was like a blazing mockery of her old House colors, and she knew Draco had everything to do with the enormous bouquet proudly taking up residence in her kitchen. For goodness sakes, he’d practically had his son hand-deliver them. He did have his son hand-deliver them!

Shaking her head to herself, Ginny couldn’t help the small smile spreading across her lips. Releasing an almost wistful sigh, she allowed herself to sink back into the chair at the kitchen table, glancing fondly back at what had always been her favorite flowers.

It had taken Harry years to discover that and many blundering dates, as well. Ginny grinned, remembering that her husband had once been so certain her favorite flowers were lilies. He’d almost seemed disappointed when she informed him that wasn’t the case, but he’d easily snapped back and the next day, Ginny, three months pregnant with their first son James at the time, had found dozens of white tulips when she’d come home from putting in her maternity leave request for the Holyhead Harpies. She had been overjoyed at the sight and the proud look on Harry’s face was proof enough that he knew he’d done something very very right. It was funny how he never got the color right though, Ginny mused, chewing thoughtfully on her lower lip as she reached out to stroke the vibrant red petals of the nearest tulip.

It was ridiculous how easily she could picture Draco’s seventeen year old face all those years ago when he’d caught her bookmarking pages of a bridal magazine. He’d teased her mercilessly, snatching the magazine right out of her hands and holding it high out of her reach as he pranced around their flat in Diagon Alley. He’d sneered that she couldn’t keep even her thoughts off of Harry. Exasperated by his childishness, Ginny had demanded the magazine back from him, calmly explaining that she was helping Angelina with her preparations to marry George and simply bookmarking which bouquets she had liked.

Ginny still remembered the odd look Draco had sent her before glancing back through the dog-eared pages once more, smirking slightly. He’d tossed the magazine back at her without another word and waltzed right out of the room, leaving Ginny to mutter to herself about hopelessly graceful pricks and their infuriating swagger. Ginny had easily thrown herself back into the comfy couch, sifting through the wedding images once more.

Weeks later, Ginny had all but forgotten the small incident, as there were far too many others in her daily life of living with Draco Malfoy. Her coffee was too weak, her clothes were too baggy, and then they were too showy. Everything she did was wrong in some fashion and he had never been the one to let it go. One night, Draco had been going on and on about how her part-time job had the worst hours he’d ever heard of and he was going to lose his mind if she kept leaving too early to make him breakfast in the morning. He had developed a sort of affinity for her blueberry pancakes and simply couldn’t stand being deprived of what he referred to as, ‘the only reason he kept her around’.

Having cornered her in the kitchen, he had brandished a spatula before her face with a pleading expression and just when Ginny had been about to tell him what he could do with his spatula, he suddenly threw it over his shoulder and kissed her. Everything Ginny had ever known about herself or the world had disappeared in that single instant during which her lips had met Draco’s, and nothing had ever been the same. She had finally pulled back from him, her eyes wide in fear as she remembered Harry, overcome by guilt and even horror when Draco began lightly tracing her cheek with his fingertips, smiling softly to himself.

“I wanted to try that for months now…” he’d murmured.

Ginny had been about to pull away from him, to flee before she could acknowledge her emotions rising to the surface and valiantly struggling to be released from her fast-beating heart. Her hopes to flee were dashed, though, when he’d tucked a stray strand of her scarlet hair behind her ear and pulled out an equally red tulip as if by magic.

Ginny had stared at him in wonderment and then back down at the beautiful red flower, more perfect than any she’d seen and her common sense had evaporated, left by nothing but at-the-moment thinking. She’d kissed him back. It didn’t matter that it was a simple spell, no better than a parlor trick. He’d noticed. He’d paid attention and he’d been so damn good at pulling it off too.

Now, staring thoughtfully at the bouquet sitting before her, Ginny acknowledged that that kiss had been her first mistake in her short-lived relationship with Draco Malfoy. It had been innocent and chaste but it had been the first step in tearing her heart between two men, and eventually she had had to choose. The gold wedding band on her left ring finger was proof of that.

The sound of footsteps came from down the stairs and Ginny looked up just as her husband came into view, breathing a weary sigh and running his hand through his raven black hair, looking distressed.

“That boy is back,” he murmured, leaning tiredly against the wall.

“I know.” Ginny smiled, glancing once more at the tulips before her and thinking back to Draco’s use of his son as a delivery boy.

Harry sighed once more, glancing back at the foot of the stairs with narrowed eyes. “The two of them are up there alone,” he muttered.

Ginny smirked up at Harry, trying not to roll her eyes. “They’re cleaning toilets, Harry. Neither of them is going to make a move; I can promise you that.”

Harry grinned at her, his green eyes hopeful. “You really think so?” he asked.

Grinning to herself, Ginny snatched her husband’s hand, pulling him down to take the seat next to her. “Trust me on this one, Harry. Woman’s intuition.” She pointed at her temple and winked, glancing once more at the vase in front of her, the ostentatious flowers having caught Harry’s eye as well.

“Who are these from?” he asked, his brow furrowing in confusion.

“Just a sympathy gift,” his wife easily lied, her expression giving away nothing. She lightly grinned at her husband’s incredulous expression, trying not to laugh. “One of the neighbors sent them after hearing of Lily’s punishment of wandless scrubbing,” she explained, her lie taking on a life of its own that she was thoroughly enjoying. Draco had taught her that. Ginny had to fight back the twinge of guilt at the thought of lying to her husband. It really was harmless, though; besides, she wasn’t sneaking around him with Draco. There just wasn’t any reason to bring up a painful reminder of the past when its son was already just upstairs. Draco was out of a different lifetime, it seemed, and there wasn’t any cause for upsetting Harry over a few flowers.

Ginny watched as Harry laid his head tiredly down on the tabletop in an expression of defeat, groaning softly under his breath, all thoughts of the tulips forgotten. “I want to wring that little rat’s neck…” he growled quietly.

Ginny shook her head in laughter, reaching forward to run her fingers through Harry’s tangled black hair, lightly scratching his scalp. “I think you’re just tired, Mr. Potter,” she dutifully informed him.

“Oh, am I, now?”

“Yes. You need something to eat.”

Harry chuckled weakly, pushing himself back up from the table and into a sitting position. “That’s always the answer for you Weasley women, isn’t it? Feed everyone and eventually even cancer will be cured.”

Ginny nodded, trying valiantly to keep a straight face.

Harry wearily rubbed his eyelids, still frowning slightly. “What do you have in mind?” he asked.

“You missed breakfast this morning…” she began almost hesitantly though her husband never caught the slight misgiving in her tone.

“Yeah? It’s long past dinner now…”

“Well, it’s been a rather long day, hectic and mostly insane,” she trailed off. “Maybe we should switch it up, keep the menu fun and all helter-skelter. Pancakes are notorious for being delicious all the time: morning, noon, or night,” she informed him, trying not to bite down on her lower lip and failing miserably.

Harry didn’t seem to notice, though, still rubbing his eyes and shrugging slightly. “Sure, why not? Still have that apple cinnamon recipe?”

Ginny felt her face fall unexpectedly. “Erm, yeah, I was sort of thinking blueberry, though. Those are always the best.”

“Mmm, I disagree.” Harry grinned, his emerald eyes shining up at her. “I’ve never had better pancakes than your apple-cinnamon ones. That would be perfect tonight after the hell today was.”

“Yeah, it would.” Ginny sighed, glancing down at the tabletop and the tulips in their vase, all seeming to droop somewhat, though it could have simply been her imagination.

“Need any help?” Harry asked.

“No, no, I’ve got everything,” Ginny quietly replied, getting out the mixing bowl and eggs, summoning the jar of cinnamon and several apples, already peeling them.

Harry stood and came over to lightly kiss Ginny’s cheek, grinning lopsidedly at her. “I’ll kick that Slytherin rat out and bring Lily and the boys down in just a few minutes, all right?”

“Alright,” Ginny agreed, her eyes never leaving the pancake batter she methodically stirred in front of her, sad memories building up behind her too-bright eyes.

As her husband left the room, presumably to go turn out Scorpius on his arse, Ginny felt tears pricking at her vision and glanced back to the tulips once more. Her fingers tightened around the wand in her hand, her stirring ceasing. Damn him, she thought, trying not to cry. Damn Draco for having always been so damn perfect and observant. For a moment, Ginny wondered if Draco would have heard the disappointment in her tone, seen the evidence of tears building in her eyes. She quickly shook herself. “Being silly,” she mumbled, swiping back at her eyes and stirring the batter once more. She turned her back on the enormous bouquet of tulips and concentrated on the pancakes instead, trying to drive any thought of Draco far from her mind before she lost it and did something rash, like tossing the tulips straight into the garbage. No, she musn’t do that. They were her favorite, after all, she conceded, gritting her teeth as she damned Draco once again for his perfectly insufferable ways even now.

*

Scorpius and Lily continued to scrub out the sinks in the upstairs bathroom. At this point, there were soapsuds everywhere, spilling over the edges of the counter and down the sides of the cabinet doors. Gritting his teeth, Scorpius continued to scrub until his fingers were raw. Really, this whole Muggle way of cleaning was entirely medieval. Glaring at a spot that refused to be scrubbed clean, Scorpius attacked the faucet with all his might, a low growl forming in the base of his throat. Beside him, Lily failed to stifle a giggle and he glared up at her, silver eyes glinting.

“Something funny?” he demanded hotly.

“Oh, no, not at all,” she lied with an expression of feigned innocence. Her lips twitched into a grin and she turned to the second sink, determinedly not looking at Scorpius though he was certainly looking at her.

Scorpius smiled in spite of himself, watching as a curtain of Lily’s vibrant red hair spilled over her shoulder as she scrubbed, getting in her way. She irritably pushed it back, her eyes narrowed in concentration as she scrubbed. Pretending to still be cleaning the faucet, Scorpius barely registered the limp way he held his own sponge, staring at Lily and thinking instead.

She and Rose were so different and so alike. The similar shade of their shockingly red hair was unnerving to say the least. Scorpius glanced down at his sponge, lost in thought. Memories of his argument with Rose still echoed in his thoughts, his head pounding with guilt and anger in equal part. He’d always known how Rose had felt about him, but he’d never once expected her to say it. She had never been the Gryffindor; she’d said it thousands of times herself. Seeing him with Lily in Diagon Alley though, seemed to have given her the necessary anger to finally confront him, and confront him she did.

When they had first turned the corner of the alley behind Flortescue’s, Scorpius lazily turned back to Rose, his face an expressionless mask. He listlessly demanded what she wanted, not caring much at all what she had to say, still irritated with her for being too cowardly to attend the party. Hadn’t he made it clear that he wanted her there? He certainly hadn’t expected for her brown eyes to flash up at him in anger and the cold hiss of her accusations.

“What the HELL are you doing with Lily, Scorpius?”

Scorpius raised a single eyebrow at her, momentarily stunned that she was being so blunt, though he concealed his surprise with indifference instead. “Eating ice-cream,” he said matter-of-factly, purposefully forcing her into saying it herself. She never would. She never had.

“What? You can’t find a house-elf to fetch your ice-cream for you? You had to go all the way to find Lily and bring her with you?” Rose demanded, her voice becoming increasingly strained.

Scorpius glared around the small alley in frustration, taking an angry step towards Rose, his furious face just inches from hers though he still towered over her. “Why don’t you just say it, Rose? Hmm? Quit pretending this is all about where I choose to eat my damn ice-cream, and just say what’s really bothering you. If you can,” he dared her, his silver eyes cold.

“You know I couldn’t come to the party,” Rose hissed, her eyes bright and threatening tears. She swallowed thickly, trying to keep a hold of herself as her voice became choked with tears. “Why are you doing this to me? You a-always go to Lily first, now. You n-never want to just spend time with me. She didn’t want to go to your stupid party, not at first, and it could have been just the two of us…”

“Of course she wanted to go!” Scorpius spat, “She actually came, didn’t she?”

“You see?” Rose demanded shrilly. “You always do this, ever since she started hanging around you! You only see what you want to see Scorpius, and you want Lily’s company! You want to make her smile and laugh, more than you do me!”

“Maybe because she isn’t afraid of who’s watching!” Scorpius hissed.

Rose took a step back, inhaling sharply. “My parents would never understand.”

“Understand what, Rose?” he demanded. “You can’t even say it yourself and I’m getting tired of waiting for it.” He swept past her, intending to leave her standing there when her words literally stopped him in his tracks.

“I like you, Scorpius.”

Rose watched, her eyes full of barely restrained tears as Scorpius slowly turned to face her, his expression one of shock. Rose took a shuddering breath, continuing. “I’ve liked you for ages and you’ve always known. You were so good and decent to me, and you never cared what our parents might think, but I-I can’t be that brave,” Rose sniffled, trying desperately not to cry. “I can’t risk what they would think. I have tried so hard to come up with something. You know I’m smart, and I’ve tried everything I can think of…”

“Except just telling them the truth,” Scorpius whispered bitterly, his chest tightening.

“Scorpius, I-I can’t…” Rose pleaded.

“And you never will.”

“So what? That’s just supposed to excuse what you’re doing with Lily?” Rose cried, gesturing to the end of the alley and in the direction of where her cousin was, out of earshot and out of sight.

“Sorry, Rose, but how is grabbing a bite with a friend, wrong? Perhaps, you should enlighten me,” Scorpius growled.

“You know what I’m talking about! You’re just mad and angry with me, so you’re running off to Lily instead. She doesn’t care about you like I do!”

“Good, maybe she won’t be such a disappointment,” he spat.

Rose glared at him, her hands balling into fists at her sides. She opened her mouth to speak but abruptly closed it, shaking her head slightly and furiously wiping at her eyes, ensuring there were no tears for her mother to see. Without a word, she stomped past him, leaving him to return to her mother. Scorpius remembered the look of confusion Lily sent his direction, but he hadn’t answered her. He had eyes only for Rose, wanting to strangle her in frustration. Then her mother had gotten involved, demanding to know what was wrong, and Rose had spat in his face with her words, injuring his pride. Scorpius still couldn’t believe how the girl who had liked him so much could just as easily turn on him. Furious and wanting to hurt her, he kissed an unsuspecting Lily and everything went to hell.

Pensively scrubbing the handle of the faucet, Scorpius felt his throat tighten. How could he and Rose have let it get this bad? And where did Lily fit into all of this? Glancing at her out of the corner of his eye, Scorpius found himself staring at her lower lip, caught between her teeth as she continued to scrub. Lily glanced up at him, grinning at him slightly and returning to her cleaning once more.

Rose’s angry accusations, that he was only seeing what he wanted to see in Lily, echoed in his head. Scorpius shook his head, purposefully shaking the doubts aside. He didn’t care if he was only seeing what he wanted in Lily. He still wanted her, didn’t he? That at least was true. She was braver than Rose and he enjoyed her company. He did like making her laugh or seeing her smile and knowing it was because of him. That seemed to be enough for Rose to think he liked Lily. What if she was right?

Hastily coming to a decision, Scorpius turned to Lily, opening his mouth, which was suddenly bone dry. He swallowed. “Hey, Lils?”

There was a swift knock on the doorframe and both teenagers whipped their heads around to see Lily’s father standing in the doorway, his eyes narrowed and a slight scowl on his face. “Your mum’s making dinner, Lils.” The older man emphasized his daughter’s nickname and caught Scorpius’ eye, the Slytherin boy fighting the desire to cower in front of the dangerous looking man.

“Right. T-thanks, Dad. We’ll be down in just a sec,” Lily stammered, glancing between her friend and her father.

Harry Potter crossed his arms over his chest, raising a single eyebrow at the two of them. “Actually, I think Scorpius had better get home to his own dinner. It’s getting late, you know. Your dad might be worried.”

“I doubt it,” Scorpius muttered under his breath, but he recognized an invitation to leave when he saw it. Setting down the soap-soaked sponge, Scorpius sent Lily an awkward grimace and left the bathroom, having to carefully side-step Mr. Potter, who had not made any movement to make his exit easier. Casting one final glance back at Lily, Scorpius breathed out a weary sigh and headed down the stairs and out the front door, wondering what might have happened if Lily’s father had not knocked when he had.

Snogging Sessions and Sneers by Rosalie
Playlist Ch. 11: 'Time After Time' by Quietdrive

Chapter Eleven: Snogging Sessions and Sneers

Days had passed and still Scorpius had not had the opportunity to talk to Lily. He hadn’t even seen her over the last few days of the Easter holidays, which were thankfully behind them. Seeing her in school, however, was not the same as really talking to her, and what he had to say required a little more tact than a simple snog passing between classes could properly convey, though he was sure she’d get the picture that way, too.

Truth be told, Scorpius didn’t really know if he was ready to initiate anything with Lily. Yes, he had admitted to himself that he liked her, more than liked her, really, but there was the whole issue with Rose and her still not speaking to him. Not to mention the negative way Lily had responded the last time he’d kissed her.

Scorpius rolled his jaw at the thought, remembering the stinging handprint she had left on his cheek. Tentatively, he reached up to touch his cheek, the mark having disappeared only an hour or so after the accident in Muggle London, and that had been days ago. Failing to pay attention to the last few minutes of Professor Binns’ lecture, Scorpius conjured up possible scenarios between himself and Lily instead. He’d thought of her for days now and still been unable to decide between ignoring his possible feelings for the Gryffindor girl or kissing her soundly and gauging her reaction. Both seemed painful to think about.

The longer Scorpius thought about Lily, and a nagging voice in the back of his head mentioned something about Rose, the darker his mood became. How had something this insane even happened to him? Everything had been very simple a few months ago, black and white. He had liked Rose, Rose had liked him. Rose didn’t want to say anything or let anyone else know, but it had been a clear-cut issue that way. There hadn’t been any confusion or decisions to make. All Scorpius had done was wait around with his hands in his pockets, hoping Rose would eventually be ready to tell people and they could act on their feelings. There hadn’t been anyone else he’d been interested in, even though neither of them had ever admitted to their interest in each other. It had just been hanging there between them, seen but unmentioned by either one. He had liked Rose and had been waiting for her, end of story. The moments they spent together in the library or on the rare prefect duty had been enough for him, but in retrospect, Scorpius realized he had been miserable. The only girl he had cared about had been ashamed of him, not wanting even her closest friends to know how they felt about each other.

Now, though, now Scorpius had someone else, someone who didn’t care if people knew about him, if her own family knew, if the society pages printed articles on their dancing together at his parents’ dinner party for the whole world to read about. Lily didn’t care because they were friends and that was all that mattered to her. She was up-front and honest, it seemed, at least about her feelings and her values. She had a manipulative streak, certainly, but what kind of Slytherin would he be if he couldn’t appreciate that?

Scorpius’ mood momentarily lifted as he thought about Lily, once again going through the ups and downs that he’d been coursing through day after day. He liked her; he could admit that. He wanted to kiss her again, that he was sure of. He most definitely did not want her to slap him again. Anytime that he came close to reaching a decision and talking with her about what he felt for her, Scorpius came up blank, always hitting an invisible barrier within himself. Rose would have called it cowardice, but the thought of being like her made him want to be sick. He was through with Rose. He wasn’t going to let her ruin the chance he had with Lily, with someone who really, truly made him happy, who wasn’t ashamed of him or what her family might think.

Finally the bell signaling the end of classes rang and Scorpius snapped out of his thoughts long enough to pack up his school bag and sweep out of the room, no closer to making a decision regarding Lily than he had been at the beginning of the class hour.

Stalking down the halls of Hogwarts, Scorpius hardly watched where he was going as the other students milled about him, all on their way back from their last class of the day. Scorpius merely stared at the cobblestone floor, lost in thought when suddenly he was painfully jerked out of his musings as a small fist made contact with his arm.

“Oy, watch it!” he growled, spinning around to glare daggers at the offender, his glare lessening immediately as he caught sight of Lily, twirling her red hair around her finger and grinning at him cheekily. “That was quite unnecessary,” he drawled, one eyebrow lifting in amusement.

“Wasn’t it though?” she laughed, biting down on her lower lip and smirking at him nefariously. “Just thought I’d say hello, is all.”

“Oh? And how the hell do you bid a bloke goodbye?” Scorpius chuckled, still rubbing his arm where she’d socked him.

“Poor baby, did ickle Lily give you a boo-boo?” she pouted.

Scorpius shook his head, fixating her with a warning glance but Lily only burst into laughter. Deciding retribution was absolutely necessary, Scorpius seized her in his arms, eliciting a squeal from her so that she dropped her stack of books as he furiously began running his fist over the top of her head, mussing up her hair. “No, don’t! Stop!” Lily squealed, trying in vain to push his hand away. “It’s already tangled, Scorpius, stop! IT’S ALREADY TANGLED!” she shrieked in laughter.

Scorpius only laughed, ruffling her hair one final time before he finally released her. “Maybe you ought to buy a brush there, Lils,” He commented lightly, trying not to smirk as Lily stumbling away, clutching the top of her head, her red hair sticking in every direction as if she’d been hit by a hex or maybe even a lighting bolt.

The students passing by paid their scuffle little attention except for the cursory glance, not one of them having offered to assist Lily, a few shaking their heads in amusement. “Nice hair, Potter,” one of her housemates commented as he passed, earning a smirk from her in response.

“Oh, I like yours, too, Finnegan! Real nice how it all sticks up on one side of your head. I’m sure all the girls just love that,” she enthused sarcastically.

The fifth year boy’s face turned brick red and he hastily disappeared down the corridor, self-consciously patting down his ever messy hair, Lily chuckling after him. She turned back to face Scorpius, trying in vain to suppress her amusement and muster up a disapproving expression instead. “That wasn’t very nice,” she reprimanded him with mock seriousness, hands on her hips.

“Not really, but it’s not as if I hexed you, either,” he smirked.

Lily only rolled her eyes, reaching down to snatch up her books when Scorpius beat her to it, gathering up the small stack and handing it to her, the two of them standing quite close together as they both rose to their feet at the same time. Lily flushed and quietly thanked him, glancing up to meet his silver eyes staring at her. “Erm, I’ll just see you later, then. I’ve got to get back to the common room and all.”

“Right,” Scorpius nodded, sticking his hands in his pockets and hating how everything was suddenly so tense and formal all of a sudden, though he still couldn’t bring himself to tear his eyes from hers.

“Right,” Lily repeated, flushing once more as she turned on her heel and started down the hallway, leaving him still staring after her and her tangled mass of hair.

Once she’d left, Scorpius closed his eyes and let out a soft sigh. It had been like this ever since that day in Diagon Alley when he’d kissed her and somehow shattered the boundary lines of what had been their casual friendship. Lily had certainly forgiven him, even if Rose hadn’t, but now everything between the two of them was awkward, and he never knew what to do with himself afterwards. They still hung out, but it wasn’t the same. He wondered if it ever could be the same when every time that he saw her, Scorpius felt his chest seize up, the constant desire to kiss her driving him mad.

He shook his head at the thought, groaning inwardly and burying his face in the palm of his hand. What was wrong with him? It had been one kiss and an insincere one at that, meant only to upset Rose. Why, then, couldn’t he get that memory out of his head? The problem was, as short as that kiss had been, it was still just that, a kiss.

Scorpius quietly cursed under his breath; who was he kidding? There was only one reason everything was suddenly so awkward and uncomfortable between them and he knew exactly what it was. The truth was, he had enjoyed it. He’d overanalyzed that kiss again and again, realizing that he had liked the feel of her lips on his and more so than that, he wanted to kiss her again. It was like something had slid into place between them when he’d kissed her and though she’d been furious afterwards, Scorpius couldn’t help but think that kissing Lily had been like forcing a final puzzle piece into place in their relationship. If only everything hadn’t gone straight to hell immediately afterwards.

Sighing wistfully, Scorpius scuffed his shoe against the stone floor, glancing up just in time to see Lily’s red hair whipping behind her as she disappeared around a corner and down another corridor. Groaning to himself, Scorpius paced back and forth, struggling against the insane desire to follow her and push her up against the wall before kissing the living daylights out of her. Seeing one of her schoolbooks lying forgotten on the floor, Scorpius mentally kicked himself, now having no choice but to follow after her and return the damn thing.

Seizing the small textbook, Scorpius jogged down the corridor she’d disappeared from, the crowd of students having all but disappeared. Turning around the same corner she had, Scorpius finally caught sight of Lily walking down the nearly deserted corridor, not once having seen him. About to call out to her, Scorpius paused mid-step, his mouth suddenly dry as he realized what kind of opportunity he’d been presented with and his stomach dropped unexpectedly. She’d be furious, he knew that, but his thoughts were already running away with him, already imagining the feel of her petal-soft lips pressed against his.

Quickly making a decision, Scorpius easily caught up to Lily, her head whipping around at the sound of his footsteps, her eyes flying wide in surprise. “Scorpius, what are you-?” Suddenly he seized her waist and his lips crashed down on hers, cutting her off mid-sentence.

Gasping in surprise, her lips parted of their own accord, just as they had that day in Diagon Alley. Her books slid out of her suddenly slack hands, falling to the floor beneath them. Scorpius pressed his lips more firmly against her own and felt her smaller body arch, her fingers instinctively curling around the fabric of his robes as he kissed her.

Suddenly realizing what she was doing, Lily’s eyes flew wide, quickly reclaiming her senses as she furiously slapped him away, a resounding crack as her palm made contact with his skin and disjointed their lips, an abrupt silence now hanging suspended between them. Scorpius rolled his jaw, turning his face back to see her scandalized expression, her breathing just as shallow and uneven as his.

“Are you a complete idiot?” she hissed at him, slapping at his shoulder, tears threatening to spill down her cheeks. “God, what the hell is wrong with you? I thought we fixed this!” she cried, hitting him a second time.

Scorpius easily caught her wrist to keep her from hitting him again, his voice suddenly low and earnest. “Stop slapping me. I wasn’t exactly performing for an audience, Lils,” he murmured, smirking faintly as he watched her expression change, her eyes suddenly wide, glancing past him to see that it was true.

“What? Then why?” she broke off, suddenly wordless.

Scorpius stepped closer towards her, his hand still curled around her wrist. He bent his head towards hers, his words sure even as his insides were a ball of nerves. “Maybe I liked kissing you,” he whispered.

Lily sucked in a slight breath as he bent closer, almost hesitatingly so. “But…” Her protests died on her lips as he lightly brushed his lips against hers once more, though only for a second.

Pulling back, he suddenly looked worried, his grey eyes locked on hers. His head was still bent so close to her own face, though he was no longer advancing anymore, swallowing dryly instead.

“Is this not okay?” he asked hoarsely. “Lils, tell me and I’ll kick myself, I swear…” He broke off, suddenly feeling like an idiot but before he could apologize, she had pressed her lips firmly against his, silencing him with a single kiss. Her hands reached up to tentatively touch his face, the feather-light touch of her fingers sending a shock through him. Scorpius lightly kissed her back, but all too soon, she shrank back, worriedly biting down on her now slightly swollen lower lip.

Scorpius leaned his forehead against hers, his breathing shallow and his eyes closing briefly. “Please, Lils, just give this a chance.” He opened his eyes, staring into hers to see that she was pale, her expression one of trepidation. “You kissed me back,” he continued, nuzzling the top of her scarlet hair. “That’s got to mean something,” he whispered.

“Does it?” she asked in a small voice, her body trembling slightly.

“Mmhmm.”

Lily closed her eyes, her breathing shaky and uneven as she inhaled the scent of him, standing so close to her. She swallowed tightly, glancing up at him, looking afraid, “What if this isn’t okay? Scorpius, you’re my best friend…”

“I know…” he murmured.

This time when he kissed her, Lily’s eyelids fluttered closed, her hands immediately reaching up and around his neck, pulling him closer as she responded to his kiss. Something had broken between them and at the same time knitted itself back together, and Scorpius again felt as if that final puzzle piece had been forced into place, everything between them suddenly right until Lily’s hands forced him back and he heard a name he’d rather she had forgotten.

“What about Rose?” she gasped, pulling back from him, “We can’t do this…”

“I don’t care,” he growled, shaking his head fiercely and moving forward in an attempt to reclaim her lips once more, but Lily only pulled back further.

“H-how do I know you’re not doing this to upset her again?” Lily demanded somewhat hysterically, suddenly appearing to be on the verge of tears.

Wanting to groan in frustration, Scorpius again cursed himself for his actions in Diagon Alley, hating the fact that he had broken her trust. Shaking his head, he cupped the sides of her face in each of his hands, gently forcing her to look up at him, wanting to reassure her and make her understand. “I used you before, Lils, I know that, and I’m sorry. It was stupid and I haven’t stopped wanting to kick myself for it, but I swear to you, Lily, I’m through with Rose.”

“How is that supposed to make me feel better?” Lily asked, shaking her head slightly and looking even more upset than before.

Scorpius leaned in towards her, saying anything to reassure her. “I liked her, past tense. I’m sure you’ve figured out that much, at least.”

Lily nodded, not saying anything and not looking at him either.

“Lils, look at me.”

Lily glanced up, her heart waging war with itself between how much she truly cared about Scorpius and the loyalty she owed her cousin. She didn’t know when he’d come to mean more to her than just a friend and she hated herself for letting it happen. Staring up in his silver eyes, she hoped he would say something to push her in the right direction, because she honestly didn’t know which way that was anymore.

“Lily, Rose and I, we’re never going to happen. I feel like utter trash for what I did to both of you in Diagon Alley, but I’m not going to just forget all she said either. I-I never thought, before this year, this last semester, that I could like anyone but her… and then you came along, and you’re funny and smart, and positively wicked.” He shook his head in amusement towards the end with a quiet chuckle.

Lily smiled faintly, her lips twitching though her eyes were still sad. She swallowed thickly and turned her face up towards him. “Please don’t tell me I’m a replacement for her.”

“No,” Scorpius fiercely shook his head. “No, Lily, not at all.”

Lily felt her throat close up with tears, distraught. “It sure feels that way.”

Scorpius ran his finger down the side of her cheek, her green eyes fluttering closed, a stray tear falling. All these days he’d been debating whether to tell her, whether to act on what he felt, and now it seemed that everything was crashing down around his feet. His chest tightened as he considered the possibility of losing Lily, of pushing her away. He couldn’t let that happen. She was his only friend now, more than a simple housemate. She was even more than a friend, and he didn’t want to lose her over an unresolved conflict with Rose. He had to make her see that this was all right, this was what they owed themselves.

Swallowing, Scorpius opened his mouth, prepared to tell her anything that would ensure she’d stay at his side, stay with him. “Lils, I haven’t given Rose a single bloody thought since kissing you last week,” he promised.

He hadn’t lied to her, he wouldn’t dare, but he knew what he told her wasn’t entirely honest either. It didn’t matter. Rose didn’t matter. He’d sort out everything with her later. What mattered now was Lily and making sure he did everything he could to stop her from crying.

Watching as Lily’s lips twitched faintly in spite of herself, he was assured that it had worked.

The Gryffindor girl grinned up at him, her heart swelling within her chest at the feelings his words prompted in her. She couldn’t help but tease him for it, if only to play down the blush creeping over her cheeks.

“Haven’t you?” she teased, green eyes shining, her arms looping themselves around his neck, “And you waited a whole week since then?” she asked.

“Well, your dad is pretty damn scary,” Scorpius laughed, his shoulders relaxing somewhat.

Her face broke into a happy grin, glancing down as her cheeks flushed prettily. Scorpius hesitatingly leaned his forehead against hers until she finally looked up at him, suddenly serious.

“Am I awful?” she asked.

Caught off guard, his brow furrowed, “What? No! Of course not!” he insisted.

“I feel awful…” she whispered quietly. “Rose… she… I-I don’t even understand what went on between you and her…”

“Nothing,” he assured her, though they both knew it was a lie.

“She doesn’t act like that…” Lily continued, now speaking in a much smaller voice. “I really didn’t know, not at all… She hasn’t spoken to me in days, not since… How can I do this to her?” Lily started to pull away but Scorpius’ hands tightened over her own, holding her in place against his chest. He bent his face closer to hers, eyes bright and pleading.

“Look, Lils, let’s not bring this up now…”

“But…”

He cut her off with a quick kiss, grateful that that at least seemed to distract her. Their kiss slowly lengthened as she responded to him, her lips so soft against his own, though salty with her few tears. Her lips were suddenly gone again and Scorpius wanted to curse in frustration.

“You’ve got to apologize to her,” Lily whispered pleadingly.

Groaning in exasperation, he didn’t answer, moving to pull her back instead, but she shot him a pointed warning look and Scorpius knew she wouldn’t let it go. “Alright, fine! Can we just get back to the snogging for now?” he demanded, trying quite hard to keep any thoughts of Rose or apologizing to her far from his mind. It didn’t help that Lily was standing only inches away from him, her kisses making his head spin.

Lily chuckled lightly, flushing as she realized what her constant backing away must be doing to him, hardly noticing his defensiveness.“Sorry,” she murmured, her cheeks still pink with a hint of embarrassment.

“So long as we get back to the snogging, you’re forgiven,” he whispered with a smirk, brushing his lips over hers and determinedly pushing Rose far from his mind. He hadn’t been lying when he said they were through. All he wanted now was Lily, who was trying not to laugh at his brusque attitude.

She rolled her eyes as he pushed her backwards and up against the wall, the stones now digging at her back. “Aren’t you just the hopeless romantic?” she chuckled with a distinct drawl in an uncanny impersonation of him.

Scorpius cocked one eyebrow at her with thinly veiled amusement. “I taught you that damned drawl,” he remarked, “Don’t go using it against me. Now stop teasing already.” And with that, his lips descended upon hers once more, this time without Lily interrupting their snogging even once and neither of their consciences voicing their fears.

*

Rose sat eating dinner at the Ravenclaw table, or rather, she sat stabbing at the bits of food on her plate, her lower lip trembling in fury as she stabbed her cutlery at her plate with a grating sound. She had just been walking back from the last of her classes when she’d stumbled across Scorpius and Lily beneath one of the stairwells, snogging each other senseless and looking as though it weren’t their first attempt either. Thankfully they hadn’t seen her as she had quickly disappeared, her stomach tying itself in knots even as her heart constricted in her chest. Hours later, she sat viciously stabbing at her food, having completely lost her appetite.

It hadn’t even been a full week since classes resumed, nine days since the Malfoy’s dinner party and whatever the hell had happened between those two there. Rose wanted to kick herself; she never should have left Scorpius and Lily alone. Rose felt angry tears pricking at the corners of her eyes, threatening to spill, feeling both heartbroken and betrayed.

Albus leaned across the table from her, apprehensively glancing at the torn up bits of food on her plate and her knife’s steady progress. “Rose, you okay?” he asked concernedly.

Rose glared at her cousin and quickly glanced back down, growling in a low voice. “I didn’t ask you to sit with me,” she bit out.

Albus swallowed, looking down at his own plate. “No, but you haven’t exactly sat with Lily and me in days; you always sit at Gryffindor table for lunch. Did you two have a row?”

Rose stabbed at her plate once more. “Not exactly observant, are you?” she sneered.

Ablus sighed wearily, trying to keep his temper in check so as not to lash out at his cousin. “Look, if you want to tell me, then tell me already, Rose. But I’ll just be going if you’re just going to keep biting my head off.”

“Then bugger off already,” Rose snapped.

Albus sighed and set down his fork with weary resignation, rising from his seat and returning to the Gryffindor table. Swinging his leg over the seat, he plopped down beside his other cousin who was steadily eating his way through an enormous helping of steak and kidney pie. “What’s up with your sister?”

“Hmm?” Hugo looked up from what he was eating to glance backwards at Rose, chewing thoughtfully at the permanent glare she wore. He quickly followed her line of vision and turned his head back in the other direction towards the Slytherin table and one blond boy in particular who seemed happily unobservant of Rose’s furious stare. “Well,” Hugo swallowed. “No secret there, is it? Shouldn’t those glasses of yours actually help you pay attention?” he asked nonchalantly, taking another bite of his dinner roll and glancing at Albus with curious eyes, seemingly unaware of the insult he’d just made.

“You know, it is so obvious you two are siblings,” Albus began. “Really, there is such a family resemblance between you two; maybe it’s the unholy amount of useless know-it-all-rub-it-in-your-face-rubbish you’re always spouting off. I’m going to the damn kitchens; mangy house-elves are better company than the two of you.”

Hugo simply shrugged his shoulders, his lips twitching in faint amusement. Of all his cousins, Albus was the easiest to upset, to think they’d even once had him convinced he’d end up in Slytherin. He watched as Albus rose to his feet once more and started off towards the kitchens, smirking at him slightly. “I’ll go on and save you the lecture on house-elves, shall I?” he asked innocently.

Albus groaned aloud while Hugo chuckled to himself, neither noticing the discreet glance that was shared between Lily and Scorpius Malfoy right before both stood up and left the Great Hall.

*

Lily let out a gasp as Scorpius pressed her up against the wall, smirking at her before capturing her lips with his. She giggled against him and he pulled back, raising one eyebrow in exasperation. “Is there the slightest effort you could put into actually boosting my ego rather than crushing it with incessant laughter?” he asked.

Lily laughed, even as he picked her up, her legs curling around his waist, fingers splayed over each of his shoulders as she looked down at him, red hair falling into her eyes. “But I don’t want to boost your ego.” She lightly remarked, “I despise your bloody ego… if I had a mortal enemy…”

“Yes, yes, it’d be my endless amount of well-placed and entirely deserved self-assurance. I know, Lils.”

Lily lightly touched his cheek, biting down on her lower lip to keep from grinning like an idiot. “What’s your worst enemy?” she asked, trying to sound seductive though she knew it must have come out ridiculous more than anything else.

“Other than your cheek?” Scorpius asked lightly, her eyes narrowing as she suddenly swatted at his shoulder, still holding her up. He chuckled deep in his throat and finally answered her, his grey eyes dancing. “Any member of your family seems perfectly capable of putting me in the hospital, so pick a ginger, any ginger, and chances are we’re enemies.”

“Except for me,” Lily cut in, looking proud of herself.

“Obviously, as that would make snogging you rather difficult.”

He suddenly kissed her and Lily’s tongue darted across their lips, trying to keep from grinning. “Are you afraid of Albus?” she teased, her words brushing over his lips.

“Merlin, no!” Scorpius started, ripping back from her at the thought, though his eyes narrowed as he realized she’d been baiting him. “Alright, two exceptions, though I’d certainly never kiss him.”

“I have,” she muttered darkly, her boyfriend’s eyebrows rising in surprise. “Long story,” she muttered as way of explaining.

“And mildly disconcerting,” Scorpius agreed, setting her back down on her feet again, one eyebrow lifted and trying not to smirk. “Care to share or will my ears bleed?”

Lily easily waved him off, rolling her eyes, “Family mishap with misplaced mistletoe. I was six; it’s hardly as bad as you were thinking. Rose used it on me as leverage in a game once…” She suddenly trailed off, remembering everything from the last time she and Rose had played that game up in the old Divination tower. Pulling back from him, Lily looked up at Scorpius with slightly wider eyes, realizing how short a time it had been since she’d ran barreling into him that same day though he was oblivious to the direction of her thoughts.

“What is it? Another family horror story?” he teased.

“Have you apologized to Rose?” Lily asked quietly, watching as his lips tightened.

“Not exactly.”

“Scorpius…”

“What do you want me to say, Lils?” he demanded, his hands on her waist. “It’s been two weeks; surely we can just drop it and leave it alone.”

“She’s still not spoken to me once. She’s my best friend,” Lily insisted.

“I thought I was your best friend…” Scorpius teased, trying to distract her.

“I’m not kidding around here, Scorpius.”

“I know.” He looked away and then finally back to her, swallowing with some difficulty. “I’ll find her, first thing tomorrow.”

“You’d better, or I will,” Lily warned, leaning forward and kissing him.

The Fury of Tears by Rosalie
Playlist Ch. 12: 'Movement' by The Higher

Chapter Twelve: The Fury of Tears

The next morning found Scorpius scouring the castle for Rose. Lily had made it clear that withholding on their snogging sessions was not beneath her, leaving Scorpius with little choice in the matter. Swallowing his pride, which was almost nonexistent after the amount of groveling apologies he’d made in the last week alone, Scorpius went off in search of Rose, intending to apologize to her for what happened in Diagon Alley. Lily had been pestering him for days about it, even in the middle of a snogging session, until he felt that he had no choice. It was only her cutthroat insistence that he apologize to Rose that had him even considering such a thing, but he wasn’t about to risk upsetting the fiery witch he considered himself to be dating.

The minute his first class was out, Scorpius started off in the direction of Ravenclaw Tower, wanting to catch Rose on her own before she could disappear to her next class as she had when he’d tried approaching her in the Great Hall at breakfast. He rounded the corner and caught sight of the girl he was looking for standing at the top of one of the spiral staircases, shouting at the girl in front of her who was trying not to cry. Scorpius felt his chest constrict in anger as he realized it was Lily on the verge of tears, struggling to interrupt her cousin and apologize even as Rose lashed out at her.

“Rose, I didn’t know! How was I supposed to when you didn’t tell me?”

“Don’t be an idiot, Lily! Your being a little thick in the head is hardly an excuse for how you’ve been acting around him, clinging to him every minute! Especially now, with the two of you always sneaking off together!”

“How is that any of your business?” Lily demanded harshly, “You never even told him that you felt anything!

“I certainly did, not that that’s any concern of yours!” Rose snapped, “What were you thinking, hanging around with him all holiday?”

“That’s hardly our fault, Rose! You never came!”

“And I’m sure the two of you just loved that!”

Cursing under his breath, Scorpius started up the staircase, determined to separate the two girls, wanting to shield Lily from her cousin who was raging before her.

“Nothing happened between us!” Lily swore. “I didn’t even kiss him until after we got back to school!”

“Oh, but he kissed you, didn’t he? That day in the Alley!”

“Enough, Rose!” Scorpius cut in, moving protectively in front of Lily, his silver eyes narrowed as he glared at the Ravenclaw girl. “You’d do best to keep your voice down!” he hissed.

“What’s wrong, Scorp? Afraid of causing another scene?” Rose spat.

“I’d rather avoid another, yes,” he bit out.

Rose laughed suddenly, the sound harsh and cruel. “Oh, that’s just rich coming from Scorpius Malfoy! You certainly weren’t afraid of that outside of Fortescue’s! What you did then was despicable!” she sneered.

Scorpius clenched his jaw, quick to seize Lily’s hand before she could dart out from behind him to his defense, keeping her separated from her cousin instead. Glancing around at the curious students passing them by, Scorpius fixed Rose with a narrowed glare, speaking quietly under his breath. “Why can’t you just let this drop, Rose?”

“I don’t see why I should.”

“You’re being unreasonable. I’m sorry for hurting you but…”

“Hurting me?” Rose exclaimed, laughing bitterly. “You have no idea how I felt that day!” she snapped, eyes flashing. Scorpius clenched his jaw, at a loss for words when Lily cut in to defend him.

“He’s apologized; why can’t you accept that?”

Rose rounded on her younger cousin, furious. “He made a fool of us both and here you are defending him because a few snogging sessions changed your mind!”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about!”

He kissed you and you just let him!” Rose screamed, somewhat unhinged. “Didn’t you think about my feelings at all?”

“I said I didn’t know!”

“Bollocks!”

“That kiss didn’t mean anything!” Lily cried, “Rose, I swear, nothing had happened before that!”

“It’s certainly happening now, though, isn’t it? I can’t believe you, Lily! You did all of this, always flirting with him! This is entirely your fault!” she screamed even as Scorpius forced himself between them once more, grabbing Lily’s wrist and starting to haul her away before the fight could escalate. Struggling to free herself from him, Lily slapped at his shoulder in anger, only serving to anger him further.

“Let it go, Lily!” he demanded but she paid him no attention, still shouting.

“Of course it’s my fault, Rose! It’s both of our faults! Me and Scorpius!” Lily cried as Scorpius tried to pull her away. His arms were now around both of her shoulders so that she was forced to twist around in his arms, her voice rising in pitch. “Did you think snogging was a one-way street? I thought you were supposed to be intelligent!”

Rose screamed in frustration and rounded on the younger girl, her face red and furious. “How dare you! How dare you throw that in my face after everything you’ve done to take him away from me!”

“I haven’t done a thing! Neither have you, Rose! You want to blame someone, blame yourself!” Lily shouted.

“Don’t you pin this on me, Lily! You never even liked him! You’ve let all of this spin out of control and all because you have mummy issues!”

Lily’s temper suddenly snapped, furiously untangling herself from Scorpius who was trying his damndest to keep a level head. He reached for Lily but she pushed him away, “Back off, Scorpius!” she shouted, rounding on Rose. “My mother has nothing to do with this!”

“Of course she does! You just can’t accept that your life isn’t the perfect fairytale everyone thought it was! You’ve done nothing but trail after Scorpius since the day you found out about his father!”

“Shut up, Rose,” Scorpius warned, his silver eyes flashing dangerously.

“How does it feel, Lily? Being so unable to trust your own parents that all you can do is to try and ruin everyone else!”

“SHUT UP!” Lily shrieked, angry tears welling up in her eyes. “You think I have issues? You’re so afraid of what your parents think that you can’t even muster up the slightest bit of courage! You blame me for kissing him, but at least I’m not pining after him like you are! What? Are you too afraid to tell your family and risk growing a spine?” Lily retorted, her anger finally getting the best of her.

Furious, Rose suddenly drew her hand back and slapped the younger girl across the face, eliciting a sharp cry of pain from her.

Scorpius lunged forward to steady Lily as she stumbled back, his arms tightening protectively around her. She was still clutching at her stinging cheek, her eyes wide in shock as tears began spilling down her cheeks, Rose covering her mouth in horror. Enraged, Scorpius only glared up at Rose, his blood pounding in his ears. Releasing Lily, he suddenly stalked forward, seizing Rose by her shoulders and shoving her back. “You little bitch!” he snarled, his silver eyes flashing in cold rage.

“I didn’t mean to!” she cried in a small voice.

Scorpius growled under his breath and shoved her up against the wall, his entire body shaking in fury as his fingers left bruises on her wrists.

“Scorpius, stop it, you’re hurting me!”

“You’re lucky I’m not wringing your filthy neck!” he hissed.

“Let go of me!” Rose cried, pushing back against him and sobbing. “I hate you!”

Scorpius glared at the cowering girl and in that moment, he honestly didn’t know if he would have released her or not. He was never given the chance to find out before there was a strangled shout from behind him.

“Get your hands off my sister, Malfoy!”

Scorpius turned around just as a blur of red ran towards him, a fist shooting forward and slugging him.

*

Two equally furious parents came barreling through the main doors of Hogwarts, anger rolling off their shoulders as they stalked into the school and up the Entrance Hall steps towards the Hospital Wing. The redheaded witch fixed the man at her side with a cool glare, determinedly not speaking to him, though he held no such reservations.

“Where’s your husband, Ginevra? Does he leave the school fights up to you to handle or does he just not want to be involved in another of your daughter’s public indiscretions?” he sneered.

“You’re one to talk, Draco, seeing as your son was the one to resort to Muggle dueling!” she snapped angrily, lifting the folds of her deep blue robes to mount the staircase that led to the Hospital Wing.

Draco Malfoy’s grey eyes danced with amusement as he matched her progress step for step up the marble stairs. “Careful, Ginevra, wouldn’t want to lose your temper and slip. I’d hate to have to carry you to the Hospital Wing to get yourself patched up before we even get the chance to properly punish our children.”

Her lips twitched in spite of herself, casting him a sidelong glance. “That would be a shame considering your fondness for disciplining your son in such,” she pursed her lips, “interesting ways.”

Draco smirked to himself. “I take it you received my flowers.”

Her cheeks flushed slightly but Ginny held her head high as she continued to mount the stairs. “The tulips were lovely, thank you.”

“You're welcome,” he answered smoothly, quickly changing the subject back to the matter at hand with a lazy drawl. “Any ideas how a catty argument involving your daughter ended up sending my son to the hospital wing, Ginny?”

Ginny sent him a withering glare and snapped back a rude retort that made his eyebrows rise, smirking slightly as both of them reaching the Hospital Wing at the same time. Draco held the door open for her with a sarcastic expression and she swept inside, glaring back at him.

“Well, if isn’t Draco Malfoy,” a voice spat as they entered the wing, Hermione Weasley standing over her son Hugo’s bedside and glaring at Draco, her arms crossed over her chest. “At the bottom of awful situations as usual.”

“I don’t see how your son is innocent in this situation either, Granger…Weasley,” he corrected himself, casting a glance at the fifth year boy who was sporting a broken nose but looked considerably proud of himself nonetheless. Seeing the nurse, Ginny left Draco’s side and went to speak with her and found out that Lily and Rose were still in the back office working things out, leaving Draco to deal with the bushy-haired witch and her son. Draco followed the younger boy’s line of sight and caught sight of his own son, sitting up in one of the hospital beds across from him. Scorpius’ lip was split and the black eye he had was rapidly swelling; overall, he looked like he had swallowed something sour.

“Shame you didn’t teach your son to stay out of fistfights, Malfoy,” Hermione called. Draco spun around to glare at her, his eyes falling on her son instead. Hugo actually looked much better for the fight, a fact that left Draco disconcerted considering how much younger he was than Scorpius. He could almost see the motherly pride in Hermione’s eyes as she observed him with a cool smirk. Vindictive witch.

“I see your son has inherited his father’s bad temper,” he said coolly.

“And yours has his father’s weak right hook,” Hermione smirked.

Draco bit back the desire to hex the woman and instead turned to his son, demanding to know what happened. Scorpius glanced away, muttering that Rose had struck Lily and then fell silent.

Draco waited for his son to continue, but he didn’t and he felt his anger simmer to a fine boil, entirely fed up with his son. “Oh, and did she give you that shiner as well or are you going to finish the story?” he demanded.

Without meeting his father’s eyes, Scorpius muttered, “I shoved her.”

Draco’s eyes narrowed and he grabbed his son, tugging him towards the back office where the two girls’ muffled voices could be heard through the door. “You idiot boy,” he hissed, dragging his son forward and banging on the office door, “I did not raise you to ever raise your hand to a woman! You’re going to apologize to the girl. You should be good at it now after all the practice you’ve had of late.” Draco released his son, intending to knock on the door a second time when there was a sudden bang, like a wand going off.

Draco ripped the door open and swore under his breath upon finding Lily on the floor, hand to her face and crying. Rose was standing over her with her wand raised, having just hexed her. “You’re just like your mum,” Rose snarled, voice thick with tears. “Don’t know what you want, so you just ruin everything for everyone else.” The room went completely quiet and Rose froze, looking up to see her unexpected audience, Lily still lying on the ground, dissolving into tears.

Scorpius growled in fury and lunged forward but his father hauled him back, shouting at him. “Stop it, Scorpius, stop it already!” he roared, yanking his son back to keep him from attacking Hermione’s daughter. Draco shot a cold glare at Hermione, who was staring at her daughter in utter shock, a hand clamped over her mouth. “Maybe you ought to be more worried about your own children before ridiculing mine!” Draco sneered at her.

Rose stood still as a stone, silent tears streaking down her cheeks.

Draco quickly moved to help Lily up but she flinched back from him, determinedly pushing herself up instead. She glared up at Rose, tears in her eyes but she held her chin up, her lower lip trembling. “I’m nothing like any of you. Least of all, you, Rose.”

“At least I can sleep at night.” Rose bit back.

“Shut up!” Scorpius roared at her, fighting to get past his father only to be pushed back again.

Rose turned on him, fuming. “Go ahead! Defend her; you’re just as awful! Did either of you know these two are snogging every spare minute in the empty corridors?” she shouted to the two parents.

Draco stared at his son in shock and Ginny’s eyes flew wide, staring back and forth between Scorpius and her daughter.

Scorpius clenched his jaw, his silver eyes narrowed as turned his back on Lily’s mother, glaring at his father instead. “What, we’re not allowed to make our own decisions, or are you just afraid we’re repeating yours?” he demanded coldly.

Ginny sucked in a breath, her head whipping towards Rose who paled considerably, glancing fearfully at her aunt. Ginny opened and closed her mouth for a few moments, hardly able to speak, her throat suddenly bone dry. She turned to her daughter. “Lily?” she choked, her face stricken.

Lily stared at her mother with tear-filled eyes, her throat closing up and her breathing shallow. Ginny shook her head from side to side, taking a step back in horror, tears silently sliding down her cheeks. “Please, no,” she whispered.

Lily averted her eyes, her lower lip trembling when she inhaled sharply, on the verge of tears once more. She brought a trembling hand up to stifle a choked sob and suddenly bolted from the room, fleeing the hospital wing. “Lily, listen to me, please!” Ginny cried, trying to snatch her daughter’s sleeve as she ran past.

Lily ripped away from her, shouting past her thick tears and losing her composure. “Just leave me alone!” she shouted, her voice breaking. She ran out of the room, her mother rushing after her. Ginny shouted her daughter’s name as she raced out into the corridor, skidding to an abrupt halt and glancing in both directions at a loss, her tears blurring her vision.

Scorpius finally pushed past his father with a low growl and ran after Lily, running past her mother who was staring after them, shaking and sobbing incoherently as she began to sink to the ground crying.

Draco ran up behind her, his arms curling around her and supporting her before she could collapse entirely, whispering fiercely in her ear as he tried to hold her up. “Ginny? Ginny? Pull yourself together!” he ordered, his hands clenching around her.

Ginny shook her head back and forth, staring down the hallway and sobbing brokenly in his arms, the only physical support she had anchoring her. “No, no… Oh my God! No!”

Rose blinked several times from where she still stood, a buzzing in her ears as her aunt fell to pieces in front of her eyes, guilt gnawing at her insides so that she couldn’t look away.

“Rose, what on earth happened?” Hermione demanded in a worried voice, shaking her daughter’s shoulders though Rose still could not look away.

“I promised not to tell…” she barely whispered, watching with horror as her aunt crumpled in Malfoy’s arms, still sobbing in the corridor.

End Notes:
I know, please don't be haters... Everyone still gets their happy ending, even if it doesn't look that way now. ;) Please leave me a review!
Aftermath and Argument by Rosalie
Playlist Ch. 13: 'She's Got to Go' (acoustic version from Beta Undressed) by Hotspur

Chapter Thirteen: Aftermath and Argument

Lily was lying on the stone floor, her small body still shaking with the force of her tears. Breathing a deep sigh and leaning back against the castle wall, Scorpius could only continue tracing the small circles over her shoulders, hoping to sooth her somewhat. He’d discarded his cloak already and her tear-stained cheek was resting pillowed against it. He wasn’t speaking and neither was she. Lily’s outburst from when he’d caught up to her was still echoing in his head, haunting him.

“Lily! Lily, slow down!”

Scorpius ran as fast as he could after Lily’s crying form, finally closing the distance between them. She had made it as far as the Entrance Hall when Scorpius caught up with her. He grabbed the crying girl from behind and pulled her against him until her head was buried in his chest, her tears soaking through his thin shirt.

“Shh, Lily! She doesn’t matter! None of them matter!” he promised her.

Her tiny hands twisted themselves into the front of his shirt, desperately clinging to him.

She was sobbing uncontrollably, pulling back from him enough that he could see the tears spilling from her eyes and down her face, drowning her so that she was gasping for enough strength for each breath. “E-everything that’s gone wrong is because of us!” she cried. “R-Rose, s-she hates me. She h-hates me!”

“She doesn’t matter!” Scorpius repeated, rubbing her back to soothe her.

“S-she d-does! And my m-mum, she, she’ll hate me too!”

“No!” Scorpius growled, pulling her back from him so that she was forced to meet his eyes. “Look at me! Look at me, Lils!” he growled until her large green eyes finally met his, the pain he felt reflected in her miserable stare. He swallowed back whatever he was going to say and just wrapped his arms around her, holding her tightly to his chest and burying his face in her hair.

“I’m sorry,” he rasped, “Lils, I’m so sorry…”

A strangled sob caught in her throat and her fingers fisted themselves in the fabric of his clothing, crying so hard that he had to physically support her to keep her from falling to the floor.

Swallowing painfully, Scorpius pulled her flush against him, lifting her off the floor by a few inches and pressing his lips to her wet cheek, his eyes suspiciously bright and about to shed tears of their own.

Scorpius’ expression hardened, continuing to soothe the small girl lying beside him. As he relived everything that had happened since Lily had stormed out of the Hospital wing, he felt his thoughts shift and darken with guilt and rage in equal measure.

He’d sat with her here for hours now and she’d only cried; his shirt was soaked with her tears until she finally laid down on the floor, still trembling with tears.

“We don’t need them, Lils. We don’t need any of them…” he whispered.

“I wish that were true…”she replied numbly, tears still falling down her cheeks.

*

Ginny quietly stepped into the dark house, neglecting to light the few lamps as she crossed the threshold, preferring to sit in the dark instead. She carefully slipped off her shoes and set down her purse, moving over to the cushioned loveseat and sinking into it with a weary sigh. Closing her eyes, Ginny could still picture the look on her daughter’s face, the way Lily had glared past her tears at her with such hurt… Her own tears now silently spilling down her cheeks, Ginny buried her face in her hands, her shoulders trembling as she tried to contain the sob still caught in her throat.

Draco’s words still echoed in her head from earlier and her skin acutely remembered the feeling of his arms around her, holding her together.

“Ginny, go home. Go home,” he had repeated.

She had nearly collapsed to the floor of the Hospital wing once Lily stormed out, falling to pieces with the knowledge that her daughter knew what she had done. Her children knew. She had wanted to disappear into the floor but Draco had caught her and held her. His arms around her had held her firmly against his chest as he had whispered for her to go home again and again until it was the only thought in place. So she had returned home, too distressed to have thought further than simply sitting in the dark living room and waiting.

She heard footsteps from down the carpeted hall and soon Harry stepped into the room, clad in an old tee shirt and plaid pajama bottoms, his hair mussed up.

“Gin? What are you doing home so late? I had to actually make my own dinner.” Harry chuckled lightly in an attempt at humor as he ran his fingers through his hair, lighting the few lamps with a flick of his wand. Catching sight of the flickering firelight reflected in his wife’s watery eyes, he sucked in a breath, crossing over to her in an instant. “Are you crying?”

Trembling, Ginny shook her head back and forth, tears spilling down her cheeks and neck, the front of her robes already damp. Harry quickly sat beside her, gathering her in his arms and pulling her against his chest. She was shaking with tears, taking great shuddering breaths.

“L-Lily… Lily k-knows…” she cried, burying her face in her husband’s chest.

Harry froze, his arms clenching protectively around his wife, knowing there was only one secret that she would be this devastated over their children knowing, the same secret that had been threatening their own marriage for the last twenty-five years, slowly building up until it had exploded into the mess his wife was sobbing over now. His wife was the most upset he’d ever seen her, tears now soaking his shirt as well.

“What happened?” he choked out with a weak rasp.

Ginny sniffled, her throat closing up with tears. She tried to speak and shook her head miserably. “It’s all my f-fault… I-I should have n-never t-told R-Rose!”

“Shh, Ginny… When did this happen?” Harry quietly asked, trying to keep his thoughts in order even as he tried to make sense of his wife’s garbled words, feeling a steadily rising panic of his own that he fought to conceal.

“R-remember when you came home from taking the boys Christmas shopping and R-Rosie was here?”

“Yes. You were crying then too,” Harry said slowly. “For the same reason?”

“S-sort of. Harry, I-I told Rose then. I told her e-everything.”

“Sweetheart, why would you…?”

“I d-don’t k-know… I was u-upset and I j-just… everything just came out!” she cried, sobbing uncontrollably.

Harry pulled his wife’s trembling body closer against his chest, rubbing soothing circles over her back that had no effect. He swallowed tightly, not wanting to ask his next question, fearing her answer for it could tear him apart. “Are you unhappy?” he asked quietly, his jaw clenched tight.

“N-no, no, I j-just… I t-told her, Harry! T-that’s all! That’s all, I s-swear! I t-told Rosie not to tell, but I s-should have never put that on her because now Lily knows and it’s all because of m-me!”

Harry closed his eyes, breathing a sigh of relief, grateful at least that Ginny wasn’t leaving him. For years he had feared that she was disappointed with her marriage and regretted choosing him, fears of his that he still had never left behind, not since twenty-six years ago when Draco Malfoy had walked right into her life.

Their relationship had never been the same. Harry had always told Ginny that he didn’t blame her, that he trusted her. Saying those things had even been easy once, before Malfoy had come right back into this mess, brought along by their daughter’s friendship with his son. After twenty-six years, Harry had thought he was sure of his wife, of their marriage and their future but that had been before the old doubt had rammed into them with all the force of a freight train. He swallowed back his accusations, struggling to keep his voice even and soothing if only to calm his sobbing wife, keep her from seeking comfort from Malfoy instead.

“Gin, everything’s going to be alright, okay?”

Ginny shook her head furiously back and forth, tears everywhere. “No, no, Harry, you don’t understand! They’re not s-speaking, Lily and Rose aren’t speaking! They h-hate each other and Lily is dating… she’s with his son! I was only trying to t-tell someone the truth and now I’m hurting Draco too!”

“He was there?” Harry asked, his throat tightening as his fears doubled.

Ginny nodded miserably. “The fight Lily was in, that McGonagall owled us about, Draco’s son was involved… I don’t even know what all h-happened, but Rose attacked Lily, and Scorpius got in the middle of it and Hugo too… Oh God, Hermione was there… She heard e-everything!”

“Shh, Gin… Hermione won’t say anything. Trust me on this. It’s okay… Shh…”

Ginny shook her head, more than certain that Hermione would make more problems of this than there already were without even saying a word. She sniffled loudly and tried to push the other woman out of her mind, relating the story of what happened to her husband instead.

“Rose just kept shouting and shouting,” she cried. “Draco and I were only trying to sort it out when they all started shouting again and Scorpius… he knew… and Lily knew and I-I just lost it…” She sniffed and started crying in earnest, her voice breaking. “Draco told me to go home so I came home…”

“Oh, Ginny…”

Finally, Ginny was crying so hard she could scarcely speak. “They h-hate each other, Harry! I s-should’ve n-never told Rose! I should’ve n-never put that on her and now Lily knows, Harry, she k-knows!”

Harry’s eyes fell shut, squeezing Ginny’s shoulders and desperately trying to comfort his wife even as his mind whirled with the knowledge that his daughter knew and was arguably making bad decisions as a result. “I’m sorry, I’m s-sorry,” his wife cried, her fingers clinging to him.

“Shh, Gin, it’s not your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong,” he soothed, saying things he himself didn’t believe, continuing to rub circles along her spine and feeling sick.

Ginny pushed herself back from him, hysterically wiping at her eyes, her fingers sliding over her tears, there were so many of them. “I need to see him, Harry. I’m sorry but I need to see him,” she cried, her eyes puffy and bloodshot.

Harry swallowed hard, feeling like the floorboards were crumbling from beneath him, his entire world’s foundation collapsing at the fear her words prompted in him. He couldn’t lose her, not again, not for this! This was done long ago; this wasn’t supposed to come back up again! Harry drew his wife into a fiercely tight embrace, kissing her hard.

“You don’t need to do this, Ginny,” he rasped, possessively holding tight to her. His breathing became restricted and painful, knowing he couldn’t stop her from leaving no matter what he did. “Don’t go,” he pleaded again but she was trembling now, shaking her head miserably as she cried.

“I have to, Harry. I have to see him. Please?” she cried, begging him to let her go. “Please, please, let me do this.”

Harry’s arms tightened around her, wanting to refuse and keep her home, away from any risk that he might lose her. Her face fell as she recognized his intentions and she began to pull away from him, face furious.

Harry stood to follow her and immediately seized her wrist, tugging her back so that she stumbled against him. “Let go of me, Harry,” she ordered, her eyes feverishly bright.

“Why do you need to do this?” he demanded. “What will any of this change?”

“I’m not trying to change anything!” she exclaimed, trying and failing to pull away from him, her voice becoming increasingly hysterical. “I’m with you, so you can stop trying to keep me here! This isn’t about us!”

“Of course it’s about us! If it’s not about us, then it’s about him! You never let him go!” he roared.

Ginny ripped her hand back from him, taking a few steps back and calming her erratic breathing. “Open your eyes, Harry, and think,” she demanded in a cold voice that caught him off guard despite their heated row. “This is about our children, Lily and Rose arguing over some boy!”

His son!” Harry fiercely cut in.

Ginny stood frozen, her voice controlled and even but laced with rage. “Yes,” she spat, “Draco’s son.”

“What makes you think we can solve any of this by you running back to him?” Harry demanded.

“It’s worth a try!” she shrieked.

“Is it? Is whatever happened today so horrible that you think it’s worth risking our marriage for, so you can race back to Draco and have him fix everything?”

Ginny only glared at him, immediately turning on her heel and retreating down the hallway. Harry let out a weary sigh, his shoulders sinking as he threw himself back on the couch, listening to the sounds of his wife slamming dresser drawers and cabinets in their bedroom. Rubbing the pads of his fingers over his eyelids, Harry knew better than to follow her. He hadn’t seen Ginny this furious in ages but he knew she needed time to cool down, even if it meant he would have to wait until she fell asleep before he returned to their bedroom.

Sitting alone in the darkness, Harry let himself be filled with anger, thinking only of the way she’d leave in the morning, first thing with how furious she was with him. He would have to watch her go, fists clenched and helpless to stop her. She said she was going to discuss their children, Lily and that sod Scorpius, but Harry knew better. His anger swirled behind his eyes, fueled on by the doubts that had plagued him for years, and in that moment, he knew his wife had never really gotten over Draco Malfoy.

There was the sudden spray of shower water falling and Harry let out a deep sigh, sinking back against the couch and staring angrily into the darkness. As the warm water no doubt helped rid his wife of the anger and tension in her body, his own fear served to rid him of his anger, replacing it with the icy cold fear only Dementors could bring about in him. Tomorrow, everything would change as she walked out that door, and he just might lose her forever. It didn’t matter that he’d been sympathetic and understanding with her. She still was hung up on Draco. After twenty-five years of marriage, she was still going to risk everything for the bastard.

Several minutes later, after the water had finally stopped, Harry listened until he heard the familiar sound of bedsprings being pressed down, Ginny having finally crawled into bed, dousing the golden light with her wand. Sitting up in the darkened room for a few extra minutes to ensure she fell asleep, Harry made a silent prayer that he could save his marriage and keep his wife from leaving the next day. He knew in his heart there was no stopping her, just as he’d worried about her brash independence years ago. She acted on her own at times and it scared him like hell.

Finally pushing himself up from the couch, Harry quietly crept down the darkened halls until he reached their bedroom, softly pushing open the bedroom door. He could just make out the shape of his wife’s form beneath the covers, her chest rising and falling in a slow and steady rhythm and even he didn’t realize she was only feigning sleep.

Silently slipping beneath the covers beside her, Harry turned his back to her and removed his glasses, setting them on the nightstand in weary defeat. He let himself sink against the pillows and tried to fall asleep, but sleep never came, his eyes simply staring off into the dreary blackness of their bedroom, unsure if he would ever escape from their waking nightmare.

Beside him, though he never noticed, Ginny was staring at the other end of the room, her back to her husband as well. Her fingers were shaking in the darkness, tears spilling silently down her cheeks. She had practically screamed at her husband earlier but that was not the cause for her tears and regret. She was only grateful that she’d stopped herself from arguing much longer with him, for her temper surely would have snapped in the circumstances and she would have accused him of things they’d rather both forget.

*

The next morning dawned far too soon for Harry but to Ginny, who had cried silently even as she struggled to sleep, the day could not have come soon enough. She woke to the sound of raindrops pelting against the roof of the cottage and warily pushed herself out of bed. Briefly glancing out from between the window blinds, she saw that the sky outside was clouded and grey, perfect in its misery. Ginny silently padded into the bathroom and gently closed the door behind her, stepping into the shower and trying to wash the night’s sticky tears from her body. Though she didn’t admit it even to herself, she was really only trying to avoid Harry for as long as she could before it was time to leave.

Listening to the running water, Harry lay still in their bed, his throat closing up as he stared unseeingly up at the ceiling, violet shadows under his eyes from not sleeping. He swallowed dryly when he heard the shower water stop and summoning all the strength in his body, forced himself up and out of bed, his heart pained as he slipped out of their bedroom and into the kitchen. His anger from the night before had ebbed away, replaced only by a sense of dread that make his stomach churn.

Once out of the shower, Ginny quickly dressed, grateful only that Harry had had enough sense to leave the room before another fight could escalate and rip them further apart. Though she didn’t want to admit it, he’d been right. Her visit to Draco wasn’t prompted only out of a mother’s concern for her daughter. She truly did need to see him and that was why Harry was so furious. Her throat closed up as she slipped her wedding ring back on, having taken it off for her shower.

Already feeling the presence of ready tears pressing upon her, she sifted through the jewelry box, sniffling as she savagely fastened Harry’s diamond earrings in place. She met her reflection in the mirror and raised one hand, moving her curtain of hair behind the slip of her ear on one side of her face, one earring showing and the other hidden. She took a shuddering breath, sure she was going to be split in half by what she was forcing herself to do, but today might be her only chance. She still remembered the way she’d left Draco all those years ago, hurried and in tears, and still her heart had never fully recovered from the force of shock she’d felt. She had wanted closure then and never received it. She’d get it now, even if she had to force it.

Though not overly satisfied with her appearance, Ginny quietly made her way into the kitchen. She bent to pick up her purse, her eyes resting on Harry who stood alone in the empty room, his green eyes distant and guarded. Hurriedly looking away, her fingers grasped her purse as she turned to leave, only the sound of her husband’s rasping voice stopping her before she could walk out the front door.

“Gin?” he croaked. “I love you.”

Ginny froze, turning slowly to look at her husband, the man she’d loved for more than half her life. She forced herself to smile up at him, past her tear-filled eyes. Swiftly, she crossed the room to him, slipping her arms around his waist and lightly kissing him with as much warmth as she could muster in her freezing cold body. “I love you too, Harry. I always have. I’ll come home, I promise. I just… I just need to do this,” she whispered, begging him to understand.

“What for?” he rasped. “What is there you could possibly still be fighting for?”

Ginny took a step back from him, her eyes suddenly cold, all traces of caring evaporated. “You’re nothing but a liar, Harry. That’s all you’ve ever been,” she muttered, shaking her head at him.

Harry rolled his jaw, averting his gaze and then glaring straight back at her, his hands clenched into fists. “What are you talking about?” he demanded.

She only shook her head at him, as though finally onto something even she hadn’t realized. “You claim to be so u-understanding and supportive,” she spat, “But it’s all just a clever cover, so I’ll keep blaming myself.”

“You’re out of your mind.” He shook his head, still staring at her, chuckling without any trace of amusement. “If what I’ve done for the past twenty-five years was anything but caring and supportive and effing saint-like, than you don’t have any clue about the hell you put me through.”

“What I put you through?” she demanded in a shrill voice, taking another step back and pressing her hand to her breast to fight back the sudden swell of pain. “That was a walk in the park compared to what you did to me,” she cried.

Harry scoffed, angrily turning away from her. “Just go then! Go and see Draco! Go on and keep pretending that you’re only being a good mother because that’s certainly not how I see it!”

“I’m not listening to another minute of this,” Ginny said, turning to leave, already reaching towards the door handle.

Her husband’s sharp words cut her off just as her fingers wrapped around the handle, his voice strained with desperation. “Don’t go, Ginny!”

She turned around to meet his emerald green eyes, wanting to scream and burst into tears all at once but she forced her lower lip to stop trembling and her face to remain passive and unaffected, the same cold mask Draco had been able to slip on so easily. She slipped into that same neutral expression and took a terse breath. “I’ll see you tonight, Harry.”

With that, she pulled the door open and stepped outside, closing it sharply behind her. As she walked into the rain and down the pathway to the street, Ginny pulled out her wand, her tears falling in earnest as she prepared to Disapparate.

Harry heard the unsteady crack of Apparation from inside the house. Losing control of himself, he seized the nearest vase and hurled it to the ground, glass shards flying everywhere. Breathing heavily, he stared down at the broken vase with hatred, forcing himself to mutter a quick reparo though he really could care less. Once the glass pieces joined together once more, Harry stared angrily down at the vase, recognizing it as the one that had held the tulips his wife had received after Lily’s accident, never having removed it from the table though the flowers had long since died.

Feeling pure rage rising within him, Harry broke the vase again with a shattering curse, leaving nothing behind but the smallest fractions of glass and those too, he vanished. He had recognized the tulips then and he’d kept his mouth shut as his wife had lied to him, never saying they were from Malfoy, but he knew. He remembered seeing them always decorating their flat, scattered around the kitchen and her bedroom, taunting him both then and now.

Remembering the words his wife had spoken to him before she left, accusing him of performing throughout all the years that he had tried to be understanding and forgiving, he felt his anger double. He had been sincere then, but everyone had a breaking point and he had met his weeks ago, the day he’d seen those tulips in his kitchen.

Hastily reaching for a bottle of firewhisky, Harry stalked down the hall to their bedroom, determined that he would not leave until she came home, if she came home. He would not go to work today; he couldn’t stomach the idea of what she would be doing with that bastard. Taking a long swig from his bottle, Harry threw himself down on the unmade bed, prepared to drink until he could no longer think or feel.

Coming Around by Rosalie
Playlist Ch. 14: 'Slipped Away' by Avril Lavigne

Chapter Fourteen: Coming Around

Draco leaned back in his black leather chair, taking a long draw from his brandy bottle, not caring a lick that it was hours till noon. He needed the damn alcohol, still trying to process all the events of the last twenty-four hours. His son seeing Ginny’s daughter seemed almost a trivial detail in comparison to everything else. Even the knowledge that his son knew the truth of his former relationship with Ginny was not enough to distract him from his thoughts of her. Perhaps it was because when it came down to it, Ginny was in the center of it all, of everything that had happened, but Draco knew it wasn’t for that reason that he couldn’t stop thinking about the beautiful redhead, his beautiful redhead. At least, she had been his.

Taking another swig of his brandy, Draco stared bitterly into the darkness of his office, the alcohol buzzing in his ears as his memories consumed him. He remembered when he’d first ran into her that fateful day in Diagon Alley, when she’d been sitting on the curb outside of Florean Fortescue’s, looking absolutely miserable. He’d stared at her, his eyes narrowed in concentration as he’d taken her in, the want ads stuffed under the crook of his arm practically burning his skin as he found a solution to his roommate problem. He’d bought her an ice cream in an effort to bribe her and tried to casually bring the subject up. She’d only laughed in his face when he did, flatly refusing him.

It had always been like that between them. Initially, no matter what he had asked, she always turned him down, but she always came around to his side in the end, despite the sour expression on her face. He had loved her brash independence and grew to delight in teasing her, always expecting her refusal and then relishing her defeat. He’d never been happier than when he’d first gathered the courage to kiss her, throwing that blasted spatula over his shoulder along with every principle he’d ever been taught. When they had finally broken apart, she had glanced up at him almost fearfully, not knowing what to do, but the flower he’d conjured for her without a second’s thought had brought that same small smile to her lips. She had glanced up at him then, her brown eyes sparkling as she’d softly kissed him back, giving into him once more and he thought he could never be happier.

Months afterward, when Draco had watched her walk out the door of their flat, it had been like a ton of bricks had fallen on top of him, crushing him so that he couldn’t even breathe. He had watched with nothing less than horror as she had thrown her things into a suitcase, crying and refusing to talk to him, to tell him what had happened to make her voluntarily rip herself straight out of his life, leaving him cold. He could only watch as every good thing he had gained in the few months since the war had fallen down around him. Shelves were emptied, cabinets and dresser drawers left bare. She was not only taking herself, she was eradicating any evidence that she’d ever lived there, ever been with him, and it had ripped a hole in his chest to watch. Watching her packing her bags, refusing to face him, he had numbly realized she wouldn’t be coming back, that nothing he could do would be enough to win her back.

“Shit,” Draco cursed under his breath, leaning forward and burying his face in his hands, his brandy forgotten though the alcohol he’d already consumed thrummed through his system, reminding him of every ache and pain she’d left him with. Twenty-six years. It had been twenty-six years since he’d been with her, since Ginny had been his, and still he could recall the unexpected panic she’d come home in, shaking with tears as she furiously packed a suitcase, shoving everything that could possibly fit inside the old thing.

“What the hell are you doing?” he’d asked, following her into her bedroom, watching as the then sixteen-year-old Ginny Weasley had spun around to face him, tears streaking down her cheeks.

“I have to go…” she’d whispered.

“What? W-why?”

She’d pushed past him to the sock drawer, wiping at her eyes and forcing her tangled mass of hair impatiently back. “I d-don’t want to talk about it,” she’d cried.

“Have I done something?” he’d asked, intentionally intercepting her, his hand poised just over her elbow.

She’d quickly averted her eyes, not wanting to look at him. “N-no…”

“Then why are you doing this?” he’d demanded, his throat tightening painfully. “What happened?”

“I-I said I didn’t want to d-discuss it, Draco!”

“Well, maybe I do!” he had exclaimed, grasping her slender shoulders and forcing her to look up at him, her brown eyes no longer shining with anything but pools of tears.

“I-I’m so sorry…” she’d gasped, a hitch in her voice.

“Why are you doing this?” he’d asked, staring at her with both shock and fear, fear that he was losing everything in an instant and he hadn’t even had a moment’s warning. “We’re happy here,” he’d whispered, almost pleadingly. “We’re happy, Gin. Why are you… Why are you walking away from everything?”

“Draco, I-I…”

“I thought you loved me…?” he trailed off brokenly, wondering at how his chest could hurt so much when she hadn’t even really left yet. He still had time to stop her, to talk some sense into her, but already the idea of her leaving him was enough to undo him entirely.

Her face had crumpled in misery as she’d looked away, her voice rising in pitch and desperation. “I-I can’t d-do this anymore… not, n-not to Harry…”

Those words had forced a barrier between them, closing Draco off. He’d taken a step back from her, his senses hyperaware of the agony shooting like fire through his frozen veins as the full weight of his realization crashed down around him. She was choosing Potter. She was going back to Potter…

“So you’re going to marry him,” he’d whispered bitterly.

She had stared up at him pleadingly, as tears fell impossibly fast from her eyes. “I-I d-don’t have any c-choice…” she’d gasped for air.

“What are you talking about?” he demanded, seizing her shoulders in a grip so fierce his knuckles paled. He wanted to shake her, to knock some sense in her but he forced himself to ignore that instinct and held himself back. “There’s always a choice!” he hissed. “Isn’t that your family’s bloody mantra? Huh? Always going on about choosing your fate! Make a different choice!” he shouted, finally losing his fragile control and shaking her until her tears doubled, each cry physically hurting him.

“You d-don’t under… unders-s-stand!” she cried.

His fingers stilled and he forced himself to release her, his breathing hot and shallow as he could only stare into her eyes, swallowing thickly. “Then help me, Gin. Tell me why you’re acting like this. What happened?”

She shook her head furiously back and forth, tears spilling down her cheeks as she crumpled into herself. “I-I… I h-had to c-choose!” she sobbed. She’d buried her face against the palms of her hands as he had pulled her towards him and against his chest, holding tightly so as not to let go, whispering in her ear, hoping she could hear his voice past the sounds of her own crying.

“Then choose me, Gin. Please, please, choose me…”

Draco swallowed the brandy with a painful slowness, letting the alcohol numb his memories but even then, he still couldn’t escape the image that continued to haunt him in his lowest moments of misery. It was the exact look on her face when she’d turned around to face him, one hand poised over the door handle, suitcase in her other hand. There had still been tears in her eyes but her decision had been made. She stood still for a full minute, her small body shuddering but she hadn’t said a word, tightly biting down on her lower lip. It was the last time he would ever see her in the place they’d been happy for almost eleven months of rent payments and he knew he’d never see her again once she shut the door. Draco had felt his chest constrict, his lungs suddenly unable to function as she did just that, letting the door shut with a mind-numbingly final click behind her.

He’d begged her to stay; he’d never begged for anything in his life, not even during his brief stint as a Death Eater when he’d been desperate to try and do whatever he could to save his parents. But he had begged her and she’d left him in that empty flat, completely alone and without any explanation, staring at the door that she’d closed between them.

He’d waited for weeks, months even. The day she married Potter, he had nearly drank himself into a coma, unable to bring himself to attend the wedding, the invitation lying unopened on his desk. He’d read it once years later, the night before he married Astoria, thinking back and plagued by the past and might-have-beens. The parchment had been wrinkled, stained by long-dried teardrops he was sure. She had apologized and pleaded for him to come, needing to see him; she’d called him her best friend and she’d signed it: Love, Ginny. But he hadn’t gone and he never saw her again until a little over a month ago when she’d been at his wife’s dinner party, looking more beautiful than even his memory thought possible, and his heart had ached and burned a little more just at the sight of her.

He’d held himself back, reminding himself that she’d left, that they had each taken their different paths and were both tied to their respective spouses. Yesterday, though, he’d seen her again and at his son’s biting words, everything had come back in a rush that threatened to undo them both. Ginny had fallen apart in his arms, more broken than he’d ever seen her and it had ripped the hole in his chest apart, leaving him in shreds inside. The words his son had spat, of their having made a mistake, had triggered a violent response in her as she’d burst into tears, struggling to breathe. Draco had never imagined the vibrant redhead he’d once fallen in love with could have unraveled so completely and he knew that something was killing her inside, even after all of these years.

Still cursing, Draco sat up in his chair, staring unseeingly at the door of his office, his eyes still distant and troubled. His memories of her were always bitter but made even more so by the alcohol’s dull burning and by the abundance of her tears the day before.

Unable to help himself, Draco finished off the last of his brandy, relishing the burning sensation as it took a little away from the pain of his troubled mind. Their past would never leave them and it was slowly ruining their lives and their children. Worst of all, Ginny had been hurt and Draco had promised himself when she’d left that he would never be the cause of her pain again. Yesterday had been like their wounds were ripped open anew, burning painfully even now. Time, the twenty-four or so odd hours that had passed since then, had done nothing to lessen the raw and acute pain he felt.

Trying to distract himself from his thoughts, Draco tried going through some paperwork, doing anything to get his mind off Ginny Weasley. It almost struck him as funny that years afterward, he still couldn’t drive the woman completely from his mind. She was a part of him, a part that would never leave and never stop aching, whether he loved his wife or not, and Merlin, he loved Astoria, and he felt vile every time his thoughts drifted to the red-haired witch instead of his wife.

Unexpectedly, there was a sharp rap of knuckles on the door and Draco groaned into the palms of his hands, finally looking up from his stack of letters, thoroughly irritated and no longer sober. Wondering why his secretary had not announced whoever was knocking, he rose from his desk and moved towards the door, reaching out to turn the handle.

The woman in front of him raised her glassy eyes to his, crying with tears falling freely from her sad brown eyes.

Draco felt his heart constrict painfully in his chest at the sight of her, her name falling in a whisper from his lips. “Ginny…” Her shoulders slumped in a hiccoughed sob as she nodded, unable to speak. Immediately, Draco wrapped her in his arms, fiercely and instinctively pressing his lips to her scarlet hair.

She let out a small cry as his arms circled around her, her own hands stretching upwards in order to cling to the fabric of his robes as she buried her face against his chest, her breathing shallow and labored by tears.

For a moment, Draco could only stare numbly down at the top of her scarlet hair, feeling each breath of hers build, exhale, and then dissipate against his chest. Her shoulders melted and she molded herself further against him, closing her eyes as though she’d come home after years of weary traveling and only wanted to rest. Swallowing painfully, Draco laid his cheek against hers, inwardly wondering if a heart could have a home outside of its own body.

A prickling feeling at the base of his neck had him turning around, only then aware of the wide eyes of his just-out of Hogwarts secretary. His throat tightened and he leaned down enough to whisper in Ginny’s ear, beckoning her into his office and away from prying eyes.

“Shh, come on inside, Gin,” he whispered. “We’ll talk inside.”

Ginny nodded weakly, seeming to come back to her senses once more. She quickly composed herself and stood straight though Draco noticed that her shoulders remained relaxed. Placing his hand gently around her shoulders, he steered her into his office, quickly closing the mahogany door to the stunned face of his secretary, he himself hardly noticing the fearful way she glanced at the post owls in the corner.

Once after closing the door behind them both, Draco turned to face her, taking in the watery brown eyes that held his gaze and the freckles standing out against her too pale skin. Her hair was long as he remembered and as his fingers reached forward to wrap themselves around the familiar strands, he realized he couldn’t help himself. He finally raised his eyes up to hers, hardly daring to breathe.

“Ginny… I…”

“I had to see you,” she blurted out, something flickering in her eyes once the words left her mouth, as if even she were surprised by their truth.

“Okay…” he swallowed. His lips twitched faintly in spite of himself and he held his arms aloft, gesturing as if presenting her with a long-awaited gift though his heart was aching in his chest. “Now you see me,” he whispered.

She let out a broken laugh and nodded her head, tears slipping down her face as she smiled up at him. “Yes,” she agreed, finally throwing her arms around his waist and burying herself against him as a child might cling to a teddy bear, never wanting to let go. “Yes,” she whispered again, closing her eyes and blocking everything else out.

Close Another Door by Rosalie

Playlist Ch. 15: 'December' by Lydia

Chapter Fifteen: Close Another Door

Amber stared back at the mahogany door of her employer’s office, the tearful reunion replaying itself in her mind as her fingers itched to do something. Her Slytherin mind knew that what she’d just seen went beyond any definition of an intimate embrace. She also knew that the red headed witch that had just entered Mr. Malfoy’s office was not his wife, nor Scorpius’ mother.

Amber bit down on her lower lip, seeing her younger friend’s smirk burned into her eyelids. She’d been good friends with the younger Malfoy and had met Astoria many times over the years, at various parties held at his house, other Slytherins there as well. She’d stopped going in the last year that she’d been out of school, but she hadn’t stopped being friends with Scorpius; he was one of the reasons she’d gotten her job, after all. Remembering that infernal smirk of his made her hands shake. What would he say if he knew about the woman who had just come to see his father at work, who was now holed up in his office with him doing God knows what?

The eighteen-year-old girl stared down at her stack of parchments, glancing up at odd intervals where the company owls were perched in the corner, ready for post delivery. She twirled her quill between her fingers, trying to concentrate on something other than what may have been happening on the other side of the mahogany door. Damn it, she thought, her fingers balling into a tight fist, Scorpius had a right to know. Ripping out a sheet of parchment, Amber furiously scrawled out a short letter, her conscience practically forcing her to let her friend know what was going on, even if her wording was too blunt and forceful as she penned her suspicions, hoping it wasn’t true but feeling compelled to let someone know.

When she finished the short letter, Amber glanced fearfully up to the old mahogany door, as though instantly afraid that her employer may hear her but there wasn’t even a sound of movement from beyond the door, not even the sounds of voices. Her eyes narrowed, Amber glanced back down at her desk, her fingers shaking as she sealed the letter into a tightly wound scroll and made her way towards the post owls, reaching forward to secure the note to the nearest eagle owl’s outstretched leg.

Finally tying the scroll in place, Amber felt a moment’s indecision before the owl flapped its wings and rose above her, well out of her reach. She watched in a mixture of relief and surprise at what she’d actually done as the eagle owl flew out the open window and into the darkly churning sky.

*

Draco let his hands drift aimlessly over the contours of Ginny’s back, her smooth blouse seeming to be the barest amount of fabric to his touch. She still leaned heavily against him, her breathing becoming more even and relaxed as they stood in the darkness of his private office, only the dim light from the storm outside enough to illuminate their figures, standing so close together they could have been one.

Draco felt his lips curve into a smile as he heard the soft humming noise she made and laid his cheek against the top of her head, closing his eyes while his smile disappeared, having lasted only a few moments. She was back certainly, but he knew that she would inevitably leave again and he wondered if his heart could survive it a second time.

Resignedly opening his eyes, he swallowed thickly, his voice scratchy when he was finally able to summon it. “Gin?”

She stiffened in his arms but said nothing, as if hoping he’d believe she hadn’t heard him though her rigid posture gave her away. Draco breathed a weary sigh, wondering if it would be better to follow her approach and say nothing, but he decided against it. One of them had to be the adult in this situation and he was well-enough fed up with her approach on handling things.

He pulled back enough to lightly grasp each of her shoulders, directing her to meet his gaze. “You don’t get to just stay silent this time,” he murmured.

Ginny’s brown eyes saddened at the memory of her departure years earlier and she lowered her gaze, looking shame-faced. She took in a steadying breath and finally met his eyes once more, a tired determination wrinkling itself between her eyebrows. “You’re right,” she chuckled weakly. “I promise I didn’t come here intending to say nothing at all.”

Draco’s own lips twitched and he lowered his head towards hers, saying nothing but only drinking her in. With a wry amusement, he dryly observed, “You still haven’t, you know? Said anything.”

Ginny’s face broke into a small smile and she nodded, glancing up at him once more. Unconsciously drawing her lower lip between her teeth, she held his gaze, tentatively reaching up to cup the rigidity of his jaw line in the palm of her hand.

“Still a pointy ferret,” she teased and Draco’s grey eyes darkened, unamused. She mustered up an apologetic grin, but they both knew he wasn’t upset. She could tease him endlessly and he would never say a word in complaint so long as he could continue listening to the sound of her voice.

“Why don’t you sit down?” he suggested, lightly steering her towards the black settee against the wall which faced the storm outside. Ginny complied and took her seat, already folding her legs beneath herself and Draco had to swallow the lump in his throat at the sight of her bare skin, not having realized she was wearing a skirt until now. It was modestly cut but still, he could not help but glance across the room to the wizarding photograph of his wife on his desk, the only personal effect in his otherwise business focused office. Astoria was smiling up at him, her blue eyes shining and seeing no one else. Knowing he would never truly cheat on Astoria, Draco felt his hands clench at his sides nonetheless and instantly the framed photograph laid facing down, his carefully directed magic setting the frame down lightly enough to not alert Ginny, though his stomach still churned with guilt.

He turned back around to face Ginny, his throat constricted and his voice hoarse. “Can I get you anything?” he asked quietly. Ginny smiled weakly up at him and shook her head, patting the space beside her, inviting him to take a seat.

Draco sucked in a trying breath and sat down beside her, staring straight ahead and wringing his hands in front of himself, his shoulders and back half-hunched over.

He didn’t see the way Ginny’s lips curved into a wry smile, her amusement faint yet still visible on her tear-stained face. “I thought Malfoys were supposed to have perfect posture,” she teased in a low whisper.

Draco grinned in spite of himself, glancing back and meeting her brown eyes. “Normally and usually, yes, but it’s rather trying once you’re older.”

“And have more problems,” she amended quietly, glancing down to her hands in her lap, loosely intertwined.

Draco heaved a weary sigh, leaning back to sink into the cushions beside her, finding it difficult to breathe. “Yeah,” he sighed, still staring at the overturned photograph on his desk. He squeezed his eyes tightly shut, willing himself to relax against the couch, feeling the warmth of Ginny’s leg pressing lightly against him.

With his eyes closed, Draco didn’t notice the way she was watching him, her brows creased worriedly together as she glanced from him to the picture frame and back. Her fingers clenched into a trembling fist which she pressed against her lap, fighting the need to touch him again, to trace the contours of his face that was at once so familiar and so different than she remembered. They were different, she sternly told herself, carefully releasing her fingers one by one into a flat palm against her skirt, trying to remember her place. He was a married man and looking down at the small band of gold on her own finger, she knew she was married too.

Sitting in the silence, Ginny finally found her voice, surprised by how meek she sounded. “Draco, I’m so sorry,” she whispered, new tears slipping down her cheeks that she could not will away.

Draco briefly closed his eyes, turning his body to face the witch beside him, taking one of her hands in his and lightly squeezing it. “Gin, please don’t sit there crying and saying things you’ll only regret,” he pleaded tiredly.

“I haven’t said anything to regret!” she cut him off, her brown eyes flashing but she quickly turned away from him, wetting her lips and speaking softly once more. “I’m sorry… for putting you through this.” She glanced back at the overturned frame on his desk once more, feeling sick with herself. “If I’m making you uncomfortable, I’ll go and you won’t ever have to hear from me again.”

Draco’s eyes flew wide in surprise, his fingers instantly tightening around her own, keeping her anchored beside him though she had yet to move to stand. She smiled weakly at him and his shocked expression softened, his shoulders slumping.

“I swear I didn’t come to tempt you away from your wife, Draco. Astoria’s a lovely woman,” she whispered.

His hand tightened around hers but he said nothing, only drawing strength from that barest touch. “I love her,” he finally whispered, eyes tightening.

Ginny felt a pang in her chest, but acknowledged it. She had wanted him to be happy. It was what he deserved. “I know you do.”

Turning in his seat to face her more fully, Draco squeezed her hand, his voice rough and laced with exhaustion and weary truth. “I loved you too, once.”

Ginny felt tears building behind her eyes and only nodded, unable to speak, to tell him she’d felt the same. He stared after her, as if that was exactly what he was waiting for her to say, but she never said it, she couldn’t.”

“Are you happy?” he asked in a gruff voice, his silver eyes searching hers in the darkness.

Ginny withdrew her hand from his grasp, wrapping her arms around her suddenly freezing cold body.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to pry…”

“Usually,” she cut him off in a quiet whisper, staring ahead and out the windows to the grey clouds that promised rain, waiting for it to fall and splatter heavily against the building, the small haven they’d found to be together for these few hours, minutes if she failed to warm her icy and frozen body. She cleared her throat, beginning again. “Usually, I’m happy, in love even. Today though… I’m not sure there’s a way to go about discussing it.”

Draco carefully reached forward as he saw a single tear slipping down her cheek, catching it with the pad of his thumb. Ginny turned watery eyes on his and he felt his throat close up, remembering everything in a fresh wave of hurt all over again.

“Is that what you’re here for?” he asked quietly. “To tell me, after all this time that you’re unhappy?”

Ginny stiffened, suddenly pushing herself up from the settee and rising to her feet, taking a few steps towards the windows, her arms still crossed protectively in front of herself as she tried to even out her breathing. Draco sighed behind her, reaching up to run his hands distractedly through his blond locks. “I’m not trying to offend you, Gin, but you must know how this looks, after all this time, coming here in tears, his wedding ring still on your finger.”

“Would you have me take it off?” she asked in a clipped voice.

Draco stared at her in shock, his hand falling at once to his side as she turned around to face him, anger flashing behind the sheen of tears in her eyes.

“I didn’t come here to throw away my marriage or tempt you away from yours,” she spat, her voice still shaking so that she was forced to avert her gaze and attempt to regain her composure before facing him once more. “How dare you…” she breathed, “After years of knowing me, how dare you think I would be capable of something like that.”

Draco stood to his own feet in one swift motion, his eyes narrowed coldly at the woman before him. “Knowing you? Years?” he scoffed. “It was eleven months, Ginevra, and I didn’t know you at all. I certainly never thought you would be cruel enough to tear yourself right out of my life like a bloody dagger, not even a word of explanation!” he spat, his eyes wild and unhinged. “I don’t know you at all. Frankly, I haven’t any idea what you’re capable of!”

Ginny flinched away from the sound of his shouting, failing to stifle the small sob that caught itself in her throat. Draco at once felt his fists unclench, his expression softening and guilt ramming into his core. He quietly crossed the room towards her, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her into himself, hating the sound of her crying and unsteady breaths for air. She leaned heavily against him, as if hoping his skin would wrap around her and envelop her as another part of himself, wanting to be rid of her own life, her life without him.

She swiped at her wet cheeks and her shoulders shook tremblingly. “I don’t know what I’m capable of either,” she admitted in a painfully timid voice.

Closing his own eyes, Draco lightly rubbed her bare shoulders, trying to spark some warmth in her as he leaned down to graze his lips over the top of her forehead. Swallowing carefully, he redirected the conversation with a much kinder, gentler voice, not wanting to upset her again. She was a soothing presence to him in the quiet privacy they had together, but a sharp and burning pain when she was in tears that tore at him as much as her.

“Why don’t you tell me what happened?” he asked softly.

Ginny’s shoulders sank and her words came out sharp and full of bitterness, self-inflicted it seemed by her self-deprecating tone. “I fell in love with this prat who was too decent, too perfect, too wonderful for words and then I left him for someone I thought was more of the same.”

Draco lifted a single brow, staring down at her in both amusement and confusion. “To which prat are you referring? Because, as I recall, that description could have fit us both.”

She chuckled almost darkly at that, nodding her head. “Both, then. You both utterly and absolutely ruined my life.”

“I sincerely hope that isn’t the case,” he murmured.

Ginny stared up into his shadowed gaze, not answering him. They were both silent for a few minutes and Ginny slowly pulled herself away from Draco, moving back to the black settee once more. He remained where they’d both been standing, slipping his hands deep into his pockets and sighing wearily.

“You’re killing me, Ginny.”

“I’ve been told I have that effect on people,” she quipped back, chuckling again though without even a trace of true amusement. “I’m sorry, Draco. I’m sorry I’ve dragged you into every mess up I’ve ever had.”

Draco turned back to her, smiling fondly. “Are you sure I’m not the mistake, rather than you just dragging me along? Maybe I’m the one ruining your life.”

There was a fear in his eyes that left Ginny staring, realizing that he truly thought so. She forced herself to smile up at him, shaking her head. “You weren’t the mistake,” she promised.

Draco nodded, glancing down to hide the last vestiges of his smile. “Just how long has your life been falling apart, Gin?”

She was silent and for a moment, neither spoke a word until she finally found the courage to summon her voice. “I’d bet on somewhere near twenty-six years ago was when it all began,” she whispered somberly.

“You really don’t know when to stop, do you?” he asked tiredly.

Ginny bit down on her lower lip, thinking back and wondering just why she had really come today. She had wanted closure, she reminded herself. She had wanted to see Draco again, possibly the only chance they would ever have alone together for the next twenty-six years as well. Staring down at the floral pattern of her skirt, Ginny wondered if she was getting that closure at all or only hurting Draco all over again. Glancing up at the rigid stance of his body and the shadows on his haggard face, she knew she had no right in coming to see him. He had fixed his life, he’d moved past their disastrous relationship and it seemed to be the last thing he wanted to discuss.

Feeling her aching heart press painfully against her ribs, Ginny forced down the need to tell him everything, everything she’d wanted to tell him so many years ago. She wasn’t going to get her closure, get her chance to explain why she’d left him. Saying anything more just might break him and she was unwilling to risk that a second time.

“I should go,” she whispered.

“No.”

“What?” she asked, straightening up to see him towering over her, blocking any chance of leaving the couch though his sudden closeness didn’t frighten her. She felt enclosed, held together by tape even, but she didn’t feel frightened. She stared up into his silver eyes, never leaving her own, and her heart constricted in her chest, once again wanting to tell him everything but she couldn’t.

“There’s nothing more to say, Draco,” she insisted.

He reached down to grasp her arms, lifting her only partially up from the couch and sliding down on the same cushion she’d occupied only a moment earlier, pulling her back down on top of his lap, his arms readjusting her body over his.

“Draco, I just said…”

“Nothing to say, I heard,” he said, his arms pulling her further back so that she could lean against him until she finally complied, resting her cheek just over his heart and listening to its steady, rhythmic beating.

“So now what? I just lie here and say nothing?” she asked in what she had hoped would be a cold voice but her anger had all but dissipated, sinking comfortably against him. She pillowed her face against his chest, trying not to cry all over again as he wound his fingers through her hair, not answering her for a moment.

“Draco?” she asked softly, “Draco, I said I should go.”

“For all your talking, Gin, you still haven’t told me anything I didn’t already know.”

Ginny felt her body tighten at the implication in his words, realizing he knew exactly why she had come to see him. She at once tried to push herself up from him but his arms immediately clenched around her, pulling them both up into a sitting position, his arms holding her captive against him.

“Why did you leave me, Ginny?” he whispered in an achingly soft voice.

Ginny squeezed her eyes tightly shut, willing herself to keep her breathing even. “We’ve both said more than either of us ever meant to already. Can’t we just let this one go?”

“Not if it’s the real reason you came.”

“And how do you know that’s the case at all?” Ginny asked worriedly, struggling to hide the truth reflected in her eyes from him while his arms remained like prison bars holding her in.

Draco released her with one hand, reaching up to gently touch her face, his thumb tracing the streaks her tears had left behind. “There’s nothing else I want to know,” he whispered. “There’s nothing else to settle between us. You’re right, I knew you too well to think you’d ever leave your husband and you knew how hard I would try to stay faithful to my wife.” He briefly let his eyes fall shut, looking as though he were biting the inside of his cheek to stay in control of himself, to keep from kissing her as he so desperately wanted to. He finally opened his eyes, staring into her own eyes which were wide with fear and something else, shame even.

“Please, just tell me the truth, Ginny. Tell me if it was me, or something I did.”

“It wasn’t,” she insisted, shaking her head as tears pooled in her eyes, helpless to stop them. Now that he was asking her, specifically wanting to know the secret she’d kept from him since the day she’d left him, Ginny lost her courage, unable to tell him what had truly come between them, too ashamed of herself.

“It’s in the past, let’s just leave it there.”

“Nothing’s in the past,” he insisted. “Why else do you think our children are wreaking such havoc? Because they know whatever tore us apart was never resolved, Ginny.”

“So now the fight in the Hospital Wing was my fault?” Ginny demanded angrily.

“Stop changing the subject, Ginny!” he snapped, removing his other arm that held her pinned so that he was now cupping her face with both hands, making her face him and see the raw pain etched in his features. “You can tell me, Gin. You have to tell me! Please!”

Ginny shook her head and took advantage of the absence of his hands that had once prevented her escape, pressing back against his chest and pushing herself up and away from him, seizing up her purse and moving to the door.

“Ginny, stop!” Draco cried, leaping up from the couch and seizing her hand, pulling her back and gripping her shoulders the same way he’d done years before, trying to hold her back and demanding explanations from her. She was crying the same as she had back then, struggling against him as he pulled her roughly against his chest where she dissolved into further tears.

“I c-can’t tell you, Draco! Merlin knows I want to, but I c-can’t s-say it!”

“Why?” he breathed. “If you won’t tell me why you left, then at least tell me why you won’t say anything now!”

Ginny shook her head back and forth, hating herself more than she ever had in her entire life. She should have never come to see him; she was only making them both miserable and she hadn’t resolved a damn thing. “I’m s-sorry… I just c-can’t…” she sniffled.

Draco pulled her further against himself, his entire body reacting with fear with the knowledge that she was going to leave again. She wasn’t going to tell him a thing and he was going to have to watch her walk out that door all over again. Her cries quieted as he tried to soothe her, his arms clenching around her as he burrowed his face against the slope of her shoulder, inhaling her scent in an effort to recommit her to his memory. It was something musty and of spice, the remnants of her husband’s cologne that must have seeped into her skin after so many years. He struggled not to breathe it in, feeling his jaw clench and his eyes water. She used to smell like strawberries and the flowers that had littered their flat.

Without his realizing it, Draco was crying, tears falling from his eyes and falling into her red hair, browner than he remembered.

“Why are you doing this to me?” he cried, his body shaking and his hands tightly gripping her in his arms. “Can you not even give me a fragment of the truth, after all these years?”

Ginny shook her head sadly back and forth, pulling back from him after a trembling sigh, staring up into his eyes as she reached up to lightly touch his face. “I hate myself far too much to make excuses now,” she whispered bitterly.

Draco’s weight sank heavily against her as he struggled to compose himself. “I want you to leave,” he murmured.

Ginny felt the blood in her veins chill at his words, struggling to breathe.

“You always got to be the one who decided when to go, when to leave and walk out on us. If you won’t tell me the truth, at least let me have this on my terms. Maybe then I’ll feel like I had even a hint of an idea why you left. Then I can have something to blame it on, whether it’s a lie or not. I want you to leave,” he repeated.

Ginny nodded and untangled herself from him, too afraid to meet his eyes though she could feel the heat of his gaze boring a hole through her soul. She carefully smoothed her blouse as she made her way towards the door, reaching up to swipe at her teary eyes before stepping out of the darkened office and into the real world, the world that she and Draco would never see each other in again.

Pausing before the door, Ginny wondered if it was worth it, if she should just tell him everything but she couldn’t. She was a fool to think she would ever have her closure, ever have the memory of her time with Draco as anything other than painful and heartbreaking. She reached out for the handle and turned it, opening the door and taking the final steps to cross the threshold and leave him. Their eyes met one last time, and Ginny swallowed back the truth that was attempting to claw its way up her throat.

Softly closing the door behind her, Ginny resignedly leaned her forehead against the smooth wood, trying not to cry. “I’m sorry,” she whispered into the nothingness of the outer office, so quietly not even his secretary could overhear. “I’m sorry, Draco.”

Yesterday's Robes by Rosalie

Playlist Ch. 16: 'Learning to Breathe' by Switchfoot

Chapter Sixteen: Yesterday’s Robes

Lily stirred in her sleep, struggling not to open her eyes to the inescapable morning. When she finally did, with a low curse in mind, she was greeted by the sight of pale blond hair, Scorpius’ face only inches from hers. She immediately tensed, almost jerking back but stopped herself before she could jostle him too much. His brow furrowed in his sleep, though, and he tiredly lifted one eyelid to take her in, his grey eyes almost void of any thought or emotion.

“Hey,” he whispered.

Lily felt her own brow furrow in confusion as she carefully reached forward to brush an errant strand of hair away from his eyes, her gaze resting there.

She could see the movement of his throat as he swallowed thickly, his voice so gruff she hardly recognized it. “Are you alright?” he breathed.

Nodding slowly, Lily glanced wonderingly from him to the emerald curtains surrounding them, the realization of where she was coming back in a horrifically sickening rush.

“Oh, my God,” she muttered.

Before she could leap into a sitting position, Scorpius’ arms easily pinned her back down, rolling himself so that he was propped up above her, resting on his forearms and his hair dangling in front of his eyes.

“Finally care to pay attention to your surroundings?” he asked teasingly, though his eyes were still shadowed and dark.

Lily audibly swallowed, glancing fearfully around the bed curtains once more, green bed curtains that were most certainly not hers. Her heart rate accelerating in her chest, she glanced down at herself, breathing a grateful sigh that she was still fully dressed in her uniform from the day before, only her school robe and trainers discarded. “Oh, thank Merlin,” she sighed.

Scorpius smirked wryly down at her, lowering himself so that his lips grazed over the exposed skin of where her throat met her jaw line, trailing his lips along the curve that reached her ear. “That’s not quite the reaction I was expecting from you,” he chuckled.

“Scorpius, what the hell are we doing here?” she gasped.

“Shh…” he warned, holding a finger to his lips, his expression suddenly serious. He lowered his voice to a whisper and pointed outside of the bed curtains. “I may have put up a silencing spell, but that doesn’t mean you ought to risk it by shouting. The last thing I want is for my Head of House to castrate me over having you fall asleep in my bed.”

“Is that all we did?” Lily breathed questioningly.

Scorpius tried not to roll his eyes at the open horror in her green eyes and instead softly captured her lips with his. “That’s all we did,” he whispered comfortingly.

“Oh—”

Thank Merlin, yes I know,” he smirked.

Lily rolled her eyes up at him, once again attempting to sit up and failing. “Let me up, will you?” she asked exasperatedly.

Scorpius grinned down at her, lowering his body even closer to hers, eliciting a sharp gasp of surprise from her as he pressed his weight down upon her.

“I’m officially going to kill you,” she whispered, her cheeks already flushed with warmth.

“Do I get to haunt you in the girls' dormitories?” he asked cheekily.

“What’s the need if you’ve already got me down here? Which I might point out is a huge breaking of the rules.”

“God, you sound like Rose…” he sighed, breaking off as suddenly as if he’d been burned, looking warily down to see Lily’s suddenly distant expression.

“Lils?” He gently reached down to cup her cheek in his hand, her eyes finding their way back to him and he felt his throat close up with guilt. “I didn’t mean to upset you,” he apologized.

“No, I… I know…” she sighed, briefly letting her eyelids fall shut and taking in a steadying breath.

“Let’s… can we just get out of here?” she asked, her words stumbling over each other on their way out, she was so distressed.

“Yeah, of course,” Scorpius quietly promised. He then lifted himself off of her and Lily sucked in a breath at the sudden cold she felt without his body pressing against hers. “You okay?” he asked again.

Lily nodded, trying to keep from trembling. Scorpius appeared unconvinced, though, and said nothing, only bending to pick up her discarded shoes and hand them silently back to her, both of which she quickly slipped back on. Her fingers trembled as she tied the laces and Scorpius only watched, the shadows behind his silver eyes returning once more.

“Lily, I know what you’re thinking, but what she did to you was inexcusable. There’s no reason you should feel guilty.”

“I’m not,” she replied, so quickly that it was obviously a lie.

Scorpius let his head fall back, breathing a weary sigh. She hadn’t seen the state she was in the night before, too overcome with her guilt to take any notice of herself. Lily hadn’t simply fallen asleep in his bed; she had collapsed in the corridor, crying so violently that she’d stopped responding to him when he told her they should go. Scorpius had tried shaking her and she’d only turned away from him, tears never stopping their progress down her freckled skin. As guilt-consumed as she’d been, she of course had forgotten the state he was in, blaming himself for her tears, for the fight, everything. Scorpius wanted to blame Rose, to hate her, but he had been the one helpless to comfort Lily. He’d been the one to lift her prone form up from the cobblestone floors and carry her back to his room. No, Lily had not just fallen asleep in his bed; she had lost herself crying against the pillows, finally finding relief in the blackness of sleep, Scorpius watching her for ages afterward until he finally sank into the same oblivion of sleep to join her.

Shaking his head to rid himself of the memory, Scorpius reached across the bed to deftly hand over her school robes. He draped them over her slender shoulders, helping her into them, the Gryffindor red of the hood standing out as a mockery of her supposedly brave house. She wasn’t even brave enough to be honest with him, preferring to hide behind closed emotions and run away. Neither of them truly realized it, but she was just like her mother, brave enough to face down the tip of a Death Eater’s wand, but too cowardly to confront her own demons.

Once Lily had her clothes back in order, wrinkled from sleep though they were, Scorpius carefully peered through the emerald curtains to see that his roommates were indeed still asleep, making their chances at escaping punishment much more likely. Not that it mattered; they’d all have detention for their row in the hospital wing until the semester ended anyway.

Holding out his hand and helping Lily to her feet, Scorpius led her to the door, silently opening it a crack just large enough that the two of them could slip through. With Lily’s hand in his, Scorpius led her up the winding staircase to the main common room, which was thankfully empty aside from one small boy who’d fallen asleep studying. Too exhausted to even comment on the snoring boy, Scorpius led Lily out of the Slytherin dungeons and back into the main corridors of the castle.

Once the passage shut behind them, Lily carefully took her hand from his and Scorpius turned to her with a confused expression. She tried to avert her gaze from him, moving from one foot to the other before finally facing him, trying to smile to put him at ease though it had the exact opposite effect. “I, erm, I think it’s fairly obvious that these are yesterday’s clothes, so it’s, it’s probably best if I just go back to the tower and change, get ready with everyone else.”

Scorpius nodded, both relieved and fearful to have her go. “Alright, then,” he sighed.

Lily turned as though to walk away from him and then spun back around to face him again, her eyes troubled. Scorpius swallowed at the indecision in her eyes, but thankfully she made the first move, swiftly crossing the few feet towards him and lacing her arms around his neck to press her lips to his. Closing his eyes, Scorpius sighed against her lips and then pulled back, resting his forehead against hers, she still staring down at her shoes and biting down on her lower lip.

“Thank you,” she whispered.

“For what?”

She finally raised her eyes to meet his, her face drawn and pale but determined to acknowledge something of what happened yesterday. “For taking care of me last night,” she softly whispered, her cheeks tinged pink with embarrassment and shame as she looked away again. “I may have had a shock upon waking up, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t snatches I remember now. I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t…”

Cutting her off, Scorpius gently lifted her chin with the edge of his fingers. “I really, really don’t want to see you that distraught ever again,” he whispered softly, his lips quirking up into a faint smile as he continued. “Especially in my room; much more productive things could have been happening,” he teased.

Lily only rolled her eyes in amusement and Scorpius was grateful to see the light back in her eyes once more.

“Meet me outside the Entrance Hall steps once you’re done?” he asked.

She nodded, only then slipping back away from him and down the deserted halls, the rest of Hogwarts’ students still sleeping in their beds. Scorpius watched her go, feeling his heart press painfully against his ribs, but he said nothing. He would get her to talk and open up soon enough when she came back down from Gryffindor Tower; he could wait until then.

*

Lily quietly slipped through the portrait hole and into Gryffindor Tower, careful not to make any noise as she moved into the dimly lit common room, only the sun’s first rays making their way past the foggy windows. She didn’t even look up until she caught sight of a flash of movement, her eyes flying wide in shock as she saw both her brother and her cousin sitting on the couch before the fire, the two Gryffindor boys glaring at her with hard expressions.

“Where the bloody hell have you been?” Albus snarled, pushing himself up from his seat and stalking towards her, Hugo watching over the rim of his still bruised nose from the fight earlier.

Unconsciously, Lily took a step back, immediately becoming defensive. “None of your damn business, Al,” she hissed, her green eyes flashing in warning.

He chuckled darkly then, seizing his younger sister’s arm and yanking her towards him, only inches separating his angry face from hers. “None of my business, huh? After what happened yesterday?”

“You weren’t even there!” Lily snapped, jerking her hand free from his grip and intending to march straight up the stairs to her dorm when Hugo unexpectedly rose to block her path, fixating her with a penetrating stare.

“Albus wasn’t,” he admitted carefully. “But I was.” His brown eyes flashed, so like his sister’s, and Lily stilled, her hands clenching into fists at her sides as she stood trapped between the two hell-bent boys.

“You may have rushed in to save the bloody day, Hugo, but you don’t know a thing more than Al does, so who cares?” she retorted angrily.

Hugo took a menacing step towards her and Lily unconsciously took a step back, actually feeling a little afraid though she would never admit it. Albus’ hand came out to steady her, but she flinched at his touch, still staring fearfully at Hugo, his anger seeming to double in the few steps he took towards her.

I care, Lily, because in case you’ve forgotten, we’re family and that bastard Malfoy had the nerve to push around my sister!

Lily paled at his accusations, feeling sick at the reminder of Rose, not for Scorpius’ actions but hers. “I didn’t mean to hurt her,” she said quietly, tears forming in her eyes.

You didn’t, at least not physically,” he replied almost softly, taking another step towards her. Just as Lily felt her shoulders begin to sink in relief, his tone abruptly changed, becoming rough as his voice rose with his anger until he was practically shouting at her. “You certainly weren’t the one to hurt her, shove her up against a wall and shake her! No, that was all your sod of a boyfriend, who from the state of your robes, you’ve yet to break up with! That bastard attacked my sister right in front of you and you did nothing!

“That’s not true!” Lily screamed, angry tears forming in her eyes, feeling her body tremble under the judging eyes of her brother and cousin.

Albus’ hand on her shoulder tightened, turning Lily around to face him, his green eyes wide in a sudden lurching fear behind the lens of his glasses. “What’s not true, Lily?” he asked worriedly. “What Hugo said about what you didn’t do yesterday or what you did do last night?”

“I didn’t do anything!” she cried, glaring hatefully at Albus and pulling back away from him, tears sliding down her cheeks. “Is this what you two were sitting up all night for?” she demanded past her tears. “Hoping to ambush me and hurl accusations?”

“Then why’d you come back to the tower, Lily?” her brother asked in a quiet voice. “Heading up to change clothes so no one knows where you were last night?”

“I’m not explaining myself to you two! You’ve already made up your minds!” she bit out, moving past him and towards the staircase when his voice calling after her froze her in her tracks, having just reached the foot of the stairs.

“I thought you had more sense than this, Lily,” he spat, looking at her with disgust.

Lily spun back around to face him, so furious that she didn’t even care if she missed her shower, if the whole school saw her in her rumpled robes. Instead, she marched straight up to her older brother, pushing past Hugo on the way and facing Albus with a furious expression burning behind her equally green eyes, her voice laced with venom.

“Scorpius is better than either of you will ever be!” she spat, jabbing her brother hard in the chest with her finger. “You want to know what we were doing last night, brother dearest? Hiding away from people like you! From Mum and Rose and the whole lot of you! I’m sorry that Rose got hurt, I never meant for that to happen, but I’m not going to let you say another word about Scorpius. You know what he was doing while you two were in here, hackles raised waiting for me? He went and found me, carried me back to his room because I was crying so hard and not one of you cared!” she screamed.

“Lily!”

She ripped her hand back from him and stomped away, her anger such that she nearly threw herself out of the portrait hole and back into the seventh floor corridor, intent only on reaching Scorpius as quickly as possible, feeling tears streaking down her face as she ran, her brother and Hugo’s voices calling after her.

Racing down the mostly deserted halls, Lily swiped furiously at her eyes, hating the tears that she was powerless to stop. She wanted Rose. She wanted to let herself be wrapped in the arms of the girl who was her best friend, had been her best friend before yesterday.

Sniffling loudly, Lily didn’t even see the other student turning the corner, her brown eyes flying wide in shock over the top of the stack of books she clutched to her chest like a physical shield. The books in question weren’t enough to shield her from the impact of her cousin knocking into her.

“Lily!” she cried in both shock and fear as she stumbled back, reeling from the force of Lily’s body running into hers. Lily gasped as well, her momentum launching her forward so that both she and Rose fell to the ground, the Ravenclaw girl’s books all toppling down around them.

Horrified, Lily immediately pushed herself back from Rose, who was staring at her open-mouthed with her eyes just as red and puffy as hers. Swallowing thickly, Lily immediately looked down, hurrying to gather up the dropped books and hand them to Rose, never meeting her eyes. When their hands brushed against each other, both girls startled and Rose’s eyes flitted upwards fearfully, taking in the sight of her disheveled younger cousin.

Lily’s clothes were rumpled and dirty, her hair a wild mess that would have made Rose’s own mother proud. Her fingers were trembling as she handed Rose the last of her books, tears falling silently down her cheeks, unable to make eye contact. Rose only watched at a loss for words, feeling immensely guilty for the state Lily was now in, only the morning after their horrible fight. She was certain that she looked no better, though she at least wasn’t in the same tear-stained clothes as the day before.

Mumbling a quick ‘sorry’ under her breath, Lily hurriedly pushed herself up from the floor. She moved as though to give Rose a hand up herself and then immediately thought better of it, shoving her hand back into the pocket of her robes, as if afraid of insulting Rose by even offering. The sight of how tremendously distraught Lily truly was made Rose’s insides churn with guilt and she opened her mouth to say something when the sound of shouting voices cut her off, recognizing them as Albus and Hugo. Judging from the way Lily’s shoulders immediately seized up, Rose was sure they were racing after the much younger girl and the cause for at least her initial tears, if not the ones that now fell down her flushed cheeks.

Lily fidgeted for a moment, looking ready to bolt when Rose finally found her voice, not even thinking through what she was saying, only wanting to help Lily in some way to lessen her own feelings of guilt.

“Come with me,” she urged, shifting the weight of her books to one hand and seizing Lily’s cold wrist with her other hand, tugging her around the corner she’d just come from without a word of explanation.

Lily glanced fearfully over her shoulder at the sounds of Albus and Hugo’s approaching footsteps, but Rose only tugged on her wrist, hissing a terse, ‘Come on!’ that was enough to prompt Lily into further action.

Together the two girls hurried down the halls in the direction of Ravenclaw Tower, Lily not having realized they were on the fifth floor until just then when Rose released her hand and took a shallow breath before answering the riddle to let them through the large door, something with the word love in the answer.

Rose pursed her lips as the door swung creakingly inward, glancing furtively back at Lily who kept her head down, unable to meet her cousin’s eyes.

“You don’t need to hide me in your common room,” she whispered tearfully.

“Of course not,” Rose replied, voice clipped in spite of herself. She immediately squeezed her eyes tightly shut, struggling to overcome her anxiety at having Lily standing so close and instead addressed her much more gently, even forcing a weak smile. “I just meant to say, that it would be silly to hide you in the common room when what you need looks like a decent change of clothes and maybe a hot shower.”

Lily stared up at Rose in breathless shock, but before she could open her mouth to speak, the door had finally brushed against the inner wall of the common room, allowing them access.

“Come on, then,” Rose sighed, taking Lily’s wrist once more and pulling her after her, her grip ever so slightly gentler than before in their haste to escape their respective brothers.

Climbing the stairs to the seventh year girls’ dorm, Rose forcefully set down her haphazard collection of books on the bed, releasing Lily and moving as though to help her out of her robes. Seeing just how rumpled her clothing was, even underneath the robes, Rose nearly froze, unfortunately imagining just why the boys had been shouting after Lily, why perhaps she’d ran crying from them, even what she may have been doing with Scorpius last night.

“I’ll look up a pressing charm for you while you’re in the shower,” she said quietly.

Lily sucked in a breath, quickly trying to explain herself, “Rose, I never…”

“Soap and everything’s all in the shower,” Rose cut her off, not meeting her eyes.

Lily nodded miserably and sniffled once more, moving past her cousin and into the small bathroom, grateful only when she finally stripped off the last of her uniform from the day before and stepped beneath the water’s scalding hot spray.

As soon as the water rained down over her body, Lily let out a small sob, leaning heavily against the shower wall and crying weakly. She stood under the spray for as long as she could to finally master control of her emotions or at least her tears without inconveniencing Rose for any more than ten minutes.

When she finally stepped out from the shower, Lily wrapped herself in the fluffy pale blue towel and stepped back into the dorm room. Her shoulders deflated upon realizing that Rose was nowhere in sight though there were her robes laid neatly across Rose’s four-poster bed, both pressed and clean, a fresh set of clothes set out beside it. Lily fingered the blue and bronze trim of the sweater vest and the tie, deciding against charming them any differently before she changed and made her way down the stairs, exhausted beyond measure but finally clean.

*

Scuffing her shoe against the cobblestone floors of the halls she moved numbly through, Lily was careful to keep her head down. She was well aware of the blue and bronze Ravenclaw colors decorating her collar, Rose’s tie around her neck making her feel both secure and somehow strangled. She couldn’t understand why Rose had suddenly helped her, but she was grateful for it, the feel of clean clothes on her skin enough to keep her sanity a little longer.

Remembering her disheveled appearance of only half an hour previously, Lily wished she had ignored her brother and Hugo’s accusations and taken her shower in her own dormitory, as now Rose was sure to think she and Scorpius had done something… well…

Feeling her cheeks flame, Lily put away that thought. Surely it was enough that they hadn’t, they’d never… She shook her head to herself again, so confused that a headache was already building at the base of her skull. For all the hours of sleep she must have gained the night before, it certainly hadn’t had a restful effect on her. Instead, Lily felt that at any moment she might collapse from the sheer emotional exhaustion of the past twenty-four hours. To think that her mother had been in a seemingly worse state than her only yesterday was almost a joke now. There was no way Lily could possibly imagine her mother having more emotional difficulties than herself.

Shaking away thoughts of her mother as easily as she’d shaken off thoughts of what everyone assumed she’d been doing last night, Lily quietly wandered down the hallways, only a few students moving through the corridors on their way to the early hours of breakfast before their earliest classes of the day. Most students would still sleep for a few hours more, but not Lily. She knew that if Scorpius wanted to meet her it would be sooner rather than later, the better to avoid any unwelcome crowds after the events of yesterday and perhaps even escape the notice of enough teachers that they might successfully avoid classes. Right now, listening to a lecture was the last thing Lily wanted to put herself though, not when her entire life was falling apart.

Finally reaching the Entrance Hall, Lily raised her head to see Scorpius waiting concealed in the shadows beneath the same stairwell they’d snogged under a thousand times in the last week alone. Smiling faintly at the irony of the situation, Lily made her way towards Scorpius, his grey eyes flitting up as she approached, his brow furrowing as he took in the sight of the blue and bronze colors adorning her uniform.

“What are you wearing?” he asked wonderingly, reaching out to finger the edge of her pleated skirt, the tips of his fingers having brushed her outer robes aside.

“They’re Rose’s,” Lily replied quietly, Scorpius’ eyes shooting up to meet hers in no small amount of shock. There was an almost angry expression on his face that she was quick to explain away, though her exhaustion made her seem slightly less than sincere.

She sighed tiredly, running a hand through her still-damp hair. “Albus and Hugo were waiting up for me when I came into the common room and we had a row between all three of us. It made getting to my own room rather difficult and I… ran away, straight into Rose. She let me use her shower and, and her clothes.”

Scorpius reached tentatively up to direct Lily’s gaze towards himself, lightly rubbing the pad of his thumb over the edge of her red-rimmed eyes.

“More tears,” he commented bitterly.

“I got soap in my eye,” she shrugged, her lips quirking at her by now familiar lie.

Scorpius rolled his eyes, chuckling under his breath and lightly kissing her temple. “You need a new manual for lying techniques, Lils. Come by my room again and I’ll make sure to get you the best edition of the Slytherin Handbook,” he smirked.

Lily lightly pressed back against his chest. “I’m not sure I’ll be making another venture to your room anytime soon, Scorpius. My late night of getting my robes in a twist has led to certain suspicions from my family members, enough that I’m afraid one of the boys might come after you if we’re not careful.”

Scorpius stared at her, his eyebrows narrowing. “Is that what your row was about? They were accusing you of, us of…”

“Shh, I handled it just fine,” she assured him, “Well, aside from the waterworks,” she amended.

“Are you alright? Merlin, I left you only an hour ago…”

“I’m fine,” Lily sighed, curling her arms around Scorpius’ waist and leaning heavily against him, shutting her eyes.

He wrapped his own arms around her and they stood there for a moment, each drawing some fraction of comfort from the other. “I love you,” Scorpius whispered gruffly.

Lily smiled faintly up at him, kissing his cheek. “You too,” she murmured. “Now what?”

Her lips were quirked in a small teasing smirk and Scorpius openly grinned back down at her, capturing her lips just once. “Now we eat breakfast.”

“Sounds like the natural progression of a relationship to me,” Lily giggled, letting Scorpius take her hand in his and lead her out from under the staircase. They passed the double doors of the Great Hall without his paying the students within even a cursory glance, instead leading Lily out of the castle to sit down on the outdoor steps, the early morning sunlight gracing the edges of the grounds and everything around them.

“Here, you look ready to collapse,” he said, tugging her down to sit on the step right in front of him, Lily leaning back against his legs like the back of a chair, closing her eyes in something as close to contentment as she could get.

“Now what?” she yawned, earning a grin from him in response.

“Now you, Lils, may enjoy the muffin your dashing Slytherin boyfriend procured for you,” he teased, reaching into the pocket of his robes to pull out two napkin wrapped bundles, handing one off to her.

Lily unwrapped her own, laughing as she did so. “And how exactly did you procure this?” she asked.

“Nicked them from a Hufflepuff first year,” he shrugged modestly.

“You’re terrible,” she laughed.

“Hey, the kid had almost six in his grubby little paws; I was doing him a favor, really, much too chubby to attract any girls later in life.”

“If that’s what you have to tell yourself so you can sleep at night,” Lily shrugged, picking at her muffin with a contemplative expression on her face.

“What?” Scorpius asked, around a mouthful of his own.

Lily scowled but didn’t say anything, continuing to pick at her muffin.

“Lily?”

“What?”

“What the hell are you doing?” he scoffed. “Eat the damn muffin.”

“But it’s blueberry,” she pouted, as if this explained everything.

Scorpius rolled his eyes, trading what was left of his muffin for hers, grumbling slightly. “Blueberry’s the best, you know. I try to be a gentleman and leave it for you, but no, you can’t appreciate the theft it took to get a hold of that muffin. Just want banana nut,” he sighed.

Lily rolled her eyes and the two finally fell into a comfortable silence, simply letting the sun’s rays soak through their skin, the only decent part of what had been a very exhausting morning. Perhaps, Lily thought, perhaps they would be lucky enough that the sun would continue to rise in the sky. Perhaps she and Rose would have a chance to repair their friendship and the rest of their unending mess would finally start to knit itself back together. Staring out across the grounds with a tired sigh, Lily wondered if she was putting too much faith in the naturally healing effects of serotonin.

*

After setting out a fresh uniform and leaving her younger cousin to her shower, Rose gathered up her books once more and headed downstairs to class, putting off any breakfast until she had the stomach for it. Worriedly biting down on her lower lip, Rose replayed the scene of her unexpected encounter with Lily again and again, wondering if she should have said more, done something beyond simply dragging the distraught younger girl after her and away from their brothers.

Shaking her head, Rose berated herself, unwilling to dwell on the subject. Despite all her efforts to forget, though, Rose couldn’t escape her guilt. Seeing just how badly Lily had taken the previous day’s events made her feel sick to her stomach and the sight of her sleep-mussed robes had made it hard to breathe. She kept trying to tell herself that she knew Lily better than that, that she wouldn’t have done anything with Scorpius so soon after they’d even become a couple, but she wasn’t so sure.

She blinked back the tears she wanted to shed, refusing to allow herself to break down. She had brought this on herself, she knew that. She had just been taken off guard by Lily and her unexpected collision, that was all, she assured herself, knowing all along it wasn’t enough to ever truly put her at ease. As she passed through the blur that was her early morning Arithmancy class, Rose wondered if she had any right to Scorpius… Perhaps Lily had been right when she’d screamed that Rose had never done anything to have him and truthfully, Rose knew she hadn’t.

Overcome by depressing thoughts she’d rather just shrug off, Rose eventually found herself walking the corridors, the other students now awake for their regularly scheduled classes and passing by and around her. Unexpectedly a hand clamped down on her shoulder and Rose spun around, her eyes flying wide to see her cousin Albus, his green eyes intense.

“Have you see Lily?” he demanded, voice hoarse.

“N-not really…” she lied, stumbling over her words.

“She wasn’t in any of her classes this morning,” he breathed worriedly.

“Albus, it’s not even noon yet,” Rose admonished though she couldn’t help being curious. “Just what exactly are you wanting from her anyway?”

Rose watched as her cousin’s jaw clenched, apparently unwilling to say anything less he upset her. “We had a fight this morning that never quite got sorted,” he finally admitted.

“They never really do,” Rose whispered quietly, staring down at her shoes.

Albus only nodded, taking in Rose’s too bright eyes, recognizing the shame she felt. “Well,” he shrugged, “If you should see her…”

“What would you even expect me to say to her, Al?” Rose sighed.

“I dunno,” he admitted, “Just… well, me and Hugo both just… we’re just trying to keep her out of trouble with Malfoy…”

“Right,” Rose nodded tersely. Shouldering the weight of her books, she then excused herself from Albus and headed to the Great Hall to grab a bite to stave off her hunger from having skipped breakfast. Moving past the oak double doors, Rose dully noticed that a handful of the post owls had been late in coming, one large eagle owl in particular soaring overhead and out through an open window to where its recipient must have been out on the grounds and oblivious to the news he was about to receive.

Feathers, Letters, and Fists by Rosalie

Playlist Ch. 17: 'Walk On Water Or Drown' by Mayday Parade

Chapter Seventeen: Feathers, Letters, and Fists

Whoosh.

Whoosh.

Flexing its wingspan, the eagle owl stretched out its feathered wings, riding one breezing current to the next as it came closer and closer to the massive stone structure standing out against the horizon. Sweeping around the castle’s turrets and towers, the bird sank in the drifting air currents, the open windows of the building’s largest hall beckoning it inside.

Closing its limbs about itself, the owl sailed through the nearest window and let out a hailing hoot as it soared above the heads of hundreds of students all chattering loudly around four long tables. Not seeing the blond head it sought out, the owl soared past another window’s frame and out into the grounds, the sun suspended high above in the noonday sky before spotting its target, blond hair rustling in the faint breeze, the long scarlet tresses of the girl in front of him whipping back into his face every few seconds.

Scorpius spat out another mouthful of his girlfriend’s hair, scowling down at her as she dissolved into giggling peals of laughter.

She tried to compose herself but failed, unable to keep the smile from forming on her lips. “Did you honestly just spit out my hair?” she exclaimed.

Scorpius raised a brow towards her, waving another whipping strand out of his eyes when it sailed past her sparkling green eyes, still dancing in amusement. When he pushed her hair back once more, it was her turn to scowl.

“Aren’t you supposed to be writing lovesick poems about my flailing scarlet locks, or should I dismiss all those romance books my roommates have as less than reliable sources?” she teased.

As another breeze sent her scarlet locks straight into his face, Scorpius seized the long tresses in his hand, lazily winding his fingers around the bundle until he was gently cupping the base of her skull, leaning her head back so that she was looking up at him, her slender neck arched.

“I’d write you a bleeding novel all about your fiery briar-patch of hair,” he smirked. “There’ll be chapters and chapters dedicated to the odd taste of your shampoo and the way it caught in my teeth like twine and floss.”

Lily wrinkled her nose up at him. “That’s disgusting!”

“I know,” Scorpius replied back sagely, nodding his head with a martyred expression, only the amusement in his grey eyes giving him away. Without preamble, Scorpius pulled her head further back, leaning forward to press a kiss to the curve of her neck.

Lily groaned pleasurably but before Scorpius could even congratulate himself on his success, he felt her fingers reaching upwards to grip his much shorter blond hair, tearing his face down further to hers.

“Ow! Damnit, Lily!” he cursed.

She giggled throatily at her boyfriend and released his hair once he let go of her own, the scarlet strands flying back into his face once more with an audible thwack.

Scorpius rolled his eyes while Lily continued to chuckle to herself.

Shaking his head and leaning lazily back against the outer steps of the school, Scorpius breathed a deep sigh, squinting slightly when he saw what looked like one of his father’s business owls soaring above them, having just left the open windows of the Great Hall.

Lily’s voice pulled him out of his trance, her fingers reaching back to lightly trace the wrinkles furrowed between his brows. “Scorpius, what’s wrong?”

Scorpius blinked, looking confusedly down at Lily and then back up at the owl slowly circling overhead, moving steadily downward.

“Scorpius?” Lily repeated, following his line of sight towards the owl, her own eyebrows knitting together.

“I think that’s my father’s,” Scorpius muttered, pushing himself to his feet as the owl swooped down towards them.

“Your father?” Lily asked, watching as the large eagle owl landed on Scorpius’ outstretched arm.

Swallowing and casting a wary glance back at Lily, Scorpius untied the thin scroll from the owl’s leg. The instant he had the parchment scroll in his hands, the owl took off despite Scorpius’ protests.

“Wait, you stupid bird! What if I need to send a reply?” he muttered irritably.

“Maybe the note doesn’t need one,” Lily suggested, biting down on her lower lip.

Scorpius quieted at that, glancing back at Lily once more where she still sat on the outside steps. Looking back down at the thin scroll in his hand, Scorpius tapped the seal once with his wand, the parchment unfurling itself into a small scrap, torn haphazardly from one of his father’s office stationeries. What caught him off guard though was the cursive yet messy penmanship, certainly not his father’s and if he wasn’t mistaken…

Yes, when he scanned the note, he could see Amber’s name scrawled across the bottom, the words ‘I’m so sorry,’ preceding her signature.

Without understanding why, Scorpius felt his fingers tighten over the piece of parchment, almost tearing it, his grip was so taut.

Lily didn’t move from where she sat, watching him apprehensively as his eyes narrowed and his breathing stilled.

“Scorpius?” she asked quietly.

He didn’t answer for a moment and when he finally raised his eyes to hers, Lily sucked in a breath at how dark and shadowed his face had suddenly become. She immediately pushed herself to her feet and moved towards him but he flinched away when she reached out to touch his shoulder.

“Scorpius, what is it?” she asked.

“I-I…” His voice shook and he wet his lips, seemingly at a loss for words.

Cautiously, Lily reached for the parchment, her fingers gently closing around it, as though silently asking permission to see it. Scorpius’ expression hardened, unsure if he ought to let her but she finally managed to gently pry it away from his fingers, turning it towards her so that she could read the scrawled and hastily written script.

He was watching her with hooded eyes, his silver irises sharp as iron, shaken and even a bit desperate. Desperate to tear the parchment from her fingers or to hit something, he wasn’t sure.

“Scorpius,” she read, quietly and slowly though her curiosity was already gnawing at her insides, demanding to read it faster, to know what was troubling him when he’d been calm and relaxed only moment’s before. Lily softly cleared her throat, her voice translating the scrawled patterns into actual words with meanings as she continued.

“I am so sorry for having to send this, as I’m not even certain if what I saw is real, but I had to tell you or our friendship and House ties never meant a thing.” Lily glanced up at her boyfriend with eyebrows knit together. “I thought this was from your dad…” she trailed off.

Scorpius only shook his head, “No, Amber, she, she’s a secretary in his office. Must have used one of their post owls.” He paused, averting his gaze for a moment. “She graduated only last spring from here. We always promised to be honest with each other, especially if there was bad news of any kind.”

“Bad news?” Lily repeated, feeling a knot forming in her stomach.

“Just keep reading.”

Lily glanced back down at the parchment, feeling the weight of Scorpius’ stare boring into her. She wet her lips and continued. “Our office only opened an hour ago and already your father had a visitor, unannounced and… warmly welcomed. They disappeared into his office and Scorpius, she wasn’t your mum. I don’t know if there’s something going on with your dad and this woman or not but I figured you may know better than I. I didn’t catch her name, she was in tears when she got here and I couldn’t make it out, but she had unmistakable red hair and if I’m right, I think it's Mrs. Potter. I’ve seen her in the society pages with her husband and… well, he wasn’t with her when she came only a few minutes ago. I checked and rechecked your dad’s business appointments but he didn’t have any company related business with this woman or anyone else today. Scorpius, I, I think… that there’s a bad reason for them closing the door behind them. I’m so sorry to end like this, with only suspicions and… I’m so sorry— Amber.”

Lily sucked in a breath, blinking rapidly as her eyes rescanned the parchment, her heart pounding in her chest.

“No, no, she… she wouldn’t really leave my d-dad would she?” she asked chokingly, her fingers balling the scrap of paper in her fist. Lily shook her head back and forth, wanting the messy script burned against her eyelids to go away, wishing she’d never read the letter. She took a step back, nearly stumbling on the stairs, finally prompting Scorpius to action as he shot out a hand to grip her arm and pull her back against his chest, preventing her from falling though it nearly toppled them both.

Swallowing thickly and with his breathing uneven, Scorpius looked down at the girl in his arms, both their faces registering the shock that had yet to fully sink in, Lily’s face even paler than his, each freckle standing out against her skin.

“Lils, I…”

“You don’t, you don’t really think…?” Lily broke off, blinking back the tears building in her eyes, her face crumpling. “What the hell is going on?” she whimpered brokenly, hardly able to breathe.

Scorpius wrapped his arms around her small frame, pulling her back against his chest as he burrowed his face against the slope of her shoulder. “I don’t know, I don’t know, Lily.”

She let out a miserable cry, the sound muffled against his robes and Scorpius squeezed his eyes tightly shut, feeling his jaw clench and wanting to destroy something. All he could picture was his mother’s face, crumpling in tears as Lily was now shaking with, the force of them racking her much smaller body with violent trembling.

Her fingers fisted themselves in the fabric of his robes as she began crying in earnest and Scorpius held tightly to her, his anger boiling just beneath the surface of his veins. As his arms clenched around her, however, Lily felt herself tense up, suddenly pressing her palms against his chest and pushing back from him, still struggling to breathe.

“They can’t have… I can’t… Time to think…” she spluttered, shaking her head back and forth and stumbling away from him, bringing a trembling hand up to her face, tears falling fast down her cheeks. Scorpius darted after her, seizing her shoulder as he spun her back around to face him but Lily pushed him away, something inside of her snapping so that she was suddenly near hysterics.

“Don’t touch me, Scorpius!”

“Lily, calm down!”

“Calm down?” she cried, “Calm down? Scorpius, I… I…” she broke off with a frustrated cry, tearing back from him once more and stumbling into the castle, sucking in a sharp breath as she reached out towards the wall for support, feeling faint.

Strong arms grasped her from behind, spinning her back so that Scorpius was tightly gripping her shoulders, his angry face only inches from hers. “You don’t get to be the hysterical one, Lils!” he spat. “It was your mother at my dad’s office! Not the other way around!”

“Are you saying this is my fault?” she cried, shoving him back as though to get away but he recovered easily, his hands now grasping her elbows, ripping her closer to himself as he growled at her, their faces inches apart.

“I’m saying this would have never happened if your mother hadn’t gone looking for him!” he roared, his shout echoing throughout the crowded Entrance Hall around them. Students were openly staring but it meant nothing to either of them, caught up only in their heated row, their chests heaving in anger and shallow breaths. “Everything,” Scorpius spat, “every last bloody thing that’s happened is all your mum’s fault!”

Lily burst into tears, screaming past them at the furious boy holding her.

“You think I don’t know that?” she cried, “You think I don’t know that it’s because of her? That it’s all because of her? The fight yesterday, Rose, everything!” she sobbed, her tiny fists flailing against his chest.

Scorpius blanched at the cries tearing themselves from her, his grip immediately loosening as she continued to rail against him. He pulled her against his chest, his arms winding so tightly around her that it was a wonder she could breathe, still fighting him though her movements soon became limp, her hands falling to her sides and her body sinking against him, sobbing into his chest.

Quietly trying and failing to soothe her, Scorpius glanced around himself, realizing all too late that another Gryffindor had seen their heated exchange, the furious green eyes of Albus Potter flashing as he lunged forward.

“You bloody bastard!” he roared, throwing himself forward in his sister’s defense.

Seizing Scorpius by the cuff of his robes, Albus tore him away from his younger sister, throwing the Slytherin boy unceremoniously to the floor, his hands bracing himself just in time to break his fall.

“Albus!” Lily shrieked. She raced forward but her brother shoved her back, heedless to her sharp cry.

Infuriated, Scorpius shoved himself up from the ground, wheeling about to face Potter, both fists raised. Without any warning, Albus’ fist shot forward, his knuckles ramming hard into Scorpius’ cheek, the force nearly shattering the teeth inside his skull, blood spewing from his split lip.

Scorpius slowly reached up almost as if in a trance as he felt blood soaking his fingertips. Relishing the chance to hurt something, anything, Scorpius wiped the back of his hand over his profusely bleeding lip, turning to face Albus once more. He caught sight of Lily’s frightened eyes and heard her cry for him to stop but it was too late.

He launched himself at her brother, the weight of their sudden crash knocking both seventeen-year-old boys to the stone floor, the entire Entrance Hall full of students exploding in a cacophony of noise.

Scorpius heard Lily screaming for them to stop. He could hear the tears ripping at her vocal chords, see the flash of her red hair as she rushed forward to stop them, suddenly torn back by her other cousin Hugo, the short yet stocky fifth year holding her back, screaming for Albus to pound Scorpius senseless.

The boys fell into a fierce and furious rhythm of sharp punches and flailing fists, each out for nothing more than the other’s blood splattering their robes.

“Don’t you ever touch my sister again!” Albus screamed, slamming Scorpius’ head back to the ground.

Scorpius gasped in sudden pain as the world around him inverted itself, a searing pain shooting through the base of his skull and dizzying his every sense. He choked for a moment, dully wondering if the extended Weasley family was made of something he couldn’t fight back against, remembering again how easily the fifth-year-boy had beaten him the day before. With the dull roar of students’ screams echoing around them, Scorpius began to force himself up despite his throbbing skull, screaming in fury as he threw his entire weight against Albus, shoving him to the ground with a satisfying slap of a body hitting the stone floor.

Sounds around them exploded with screams and Scorpius staggered on his feet, Albus righting himself as they prepared to throw themselves back into the Muggle duel once more.

“Scorpius, stop it!” Lily screamed, her cry echoing around the crowded hall.

*

Rose’s glass of pumpkin juice fell through her slack hands at the sounds of raised screams coming from outside of the closed double doors of the Great Hall, flinching back in shock. Meeting the eyes of others throughout the Great Hall, Rose hastily pushed herself up from her seat, racing behind the footsteps of others as they headed to the Entrance Hall, the shouts of teachers demanding that they return to their seats.

Rose only quickened her pace, suddenly throwing herself into the growing crowd of students, a sickening and building fear prompting her forward. It was too soon after their fight yesterday. It couldn’t be another student, it couldn’t be a coincidence.

When she heard the screams of students through the doors that others had just forced open, Rose felt her heart leap in her throat, recognizing Hugo’s shouting and Lily’s crying.

Forcing herself past the other gathering students, Rose’s eyes immediately alighted on the struggling forms of the dark-haired Albus and Scorpius’ blond hair stained with blood, the two boys grunting and shouting unintelligibly as they attacked each other. Suddenly there was a sharp crack as Scorpius was thrown back against the stone floor, stunning him for a moment. Rose clamped both hands over her mouth, watching in horror as Albus seemed to advance on the Slytherin boy, cheered on by the encouraging shouts of Hugo and others.

Though she wasn’t sure how she diverted her attention away from Scorpius, Rose forced her eyes upwards, seeking out her brother and seeing a sobbing Lily struggling against him. The younger girl tried ripping her arm back from him, her tear-filled eyes wide with fright every time she was able to see Scorpius, too focused on him to be able to free herself from Hugo. Rose watched with fury building in her chest as her brother seized Lily so tightly he must have been hurting her, actually lifting her feet from the ground by a few inches. She began sobbing hysterically against him and Rose instantly felt herself reaching for her wand; Hugo and Albus had been going on and on about how Scorpius had manhandled her and here her brother was, hurting Lily in the same way.

There was another crash as Scorpius somehow managed to knock Albus to the ground, having righted himself in the time Rose’s attention had been on Lily, the younger girl now screaming for Scorpius to stop fighting, her voice choked with tears.

Utterly furious, Rose whipped out her wand, screaming out a disarming jinx, commandingly. With a sharp crack, the spell exploded outwards from her wand, throwing the two boys to opposite ends of the Entrance Hall. The crowd fell deathly silent, Hugo’s jaw nearly dropping to the floor as he took in his sister’s presence.

“Rose?” he choked.

“Get your hands off of her, now,” Rose snapped, pointing the wand straight at her own brother. He immediately released his cousin and Lily stumbled back from him, casting Rose a grateful look, tears still streaming down her face. Rose nodded sharply and Lily raced forward, not to her brother but to Scorpius’ side, stooping to help tug him to his feet, slinging his arm around herself and helping to shoulder his weight.

The entire crowd of students watched in hushed silence as Rose continued to hold her wand up, waiting until the double doors of the Great Hall were finally thrown open by a pair of furious looking teachers, including Headmistress McGonagall herself.

“WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS?” she shrieked, her nostrils flared.

Rose finally lowered her wand, turning to face the Headmistress and taking her attention off of the pair trying to sneak away from the crowd of students, Lily’s redhead bowed beneath Scorpius’ weight, the two slipping off down a side corridor.

“If you’re looking for a culprit, it’s Albus over there,” she answered in clipped tones, pointing off to where Albus was just beginning to push himself up, looking up at her in confusion.

“Rose, what are you…?”

“Silence, Mr. Potter!” McGonagall snapped, turning her attention once more on Rose. “And are you claiming responsibility as the one who ended the fight, Miss Weasley, or are you saying you and your cousin were the ones dueling?”

Rose held the Headmistress’ knowing gaze for a full minute, knowing the older woman had seen her eating at the Ravenclaw table when the fight had first started.

“No, Headmistress,” she answered, “I wasn’t the cousin who was fighting.” She then pointed to her own brother Hugo who still had not gathered up his jaw from where it had fallen to the floor when she’d first cast the disarmament spell, staring at his sister in utter shock.

McGonagall pursed her lips, her nostrils still flared but nodded curtly. “You may go, Miss Weasley.”

Rose strode past the openly gaping crowd of students who all easily parted for her as she made her way down a side corridor, knowing exactly where she was headed.

Healing Spells by Rosalie

Playlist Ch. 18: ‘Nothing Better’ by The Postal Service

Chapter Eighteen: Healing Spells

Lily pushed both Scorpius and herself into the nearest deserted classroom, eliciting a wounded groan from his bloodied and parted lips as he leaned heavily against the dusty chalkboard, hardly able to hold himself up. He felt his vision spinning and distorting, the smell of his own blood enough to make himself sick. Her small hands reached up to support him as he began to sink to the floor, helping him make it there without his body crashing to the stone beneath.

She helped force him into a makeshift sitting position, cursing him under her breath as tears continued to slide down her cheeks.

“Lils…” he muttered.

“Oh, shut up, you bloody moron,” she miserably admonished, tentatively reaching up to cup the back of his skull, his blood soaking her fingertips. The wet substance was enough to make her gasp aloud, wanting to jerk her hand back from him but she held still, terribly afraid she’d hurt him if she moved too quickly or unexpectedly.

He coughed then, having to turn away from her just enough to spit out a mouthful of blood, the red staining the stone floor beneath them, enveloped by bits of dust and dirt. Scorpius looked upon the mess with distaste; he could still feel the hot blood drying against his chin. A single glance at Lily’s appearance told him he was a scary sight.

Forcing himself to focus past the spinning room and rush of noise still roaring in his ears, Scorpius focused his attention on Lily, taking in the sight of her tear-stained cheeks and the erratic movement of her chest, only now evening itself out as she finally was able to calm down and breathe again.

“Sorry,” he mumbled thickly, past the blood still in his mouth.

Lily grimaced at the sight of it, averting her gaze and squeezing her eyes tightly shut. When she opened them, she saw that Scorpius was staring miserably back at her, his grey eyes bright with a sheen of unshed tears. “I’m sorry,” he murmured again, blood seeping down from the corner of his lip.

Sniffling, Lily nodded and reached up with her fingers wound tightly about the cuff of her robe’s sleeve, using the fabric to help staunch the blood’s progress.

Scorpius winced at the contact, turning away when his head throbbed and he groaned in pain.

“I didn’t press down that hard,” Lily cried worriedly.

“That’s not the only place your damn brother punched me, Lils,” Scorpius answered back with a grimace.

She bit her lip in response, tears filling her vision. “I don’t know any healing spells…” she admitted embarrassedly.

“You wouldn’t,” he breathed. “Not till sixth year.”

“But someone needs to…”

“I will.”

Both Lily and Scorpius looked up to see Rose standing in the doorway, pulling it closed behind her with a barely audible click.

“Boy, am I glad to see you,” Scorpius breathed, smiling toothily past the blood in his mouth. “Thought Potter was going to break my skull.”

Rose appeared unimpressed. Albus practically did break his skull if the sickening crunch had anything to say about it. “You’re a bloody fool, Scorp, literally,” she added with a distasteful look at his torn robes, stained with as much blood as his face.

Lily chuckled under her breath at that, reaching up to swipe at her red-rimmed eyes. When she finally raised her gaze up to her cousin’s, her face crumpled for a moment and Rose immediately knelt to embrace the girl, her arms curling tightly around her.

“I’m so sorry, Lily,” she whispered.

Lily tried to say the same but could only nod, her throat choked with tears.

Scorpius watched the whole exchange behind heavily hooded eyes. “I’m sorry to interrupt you both,” he muttered truthfully, staring apologetically at his girlfriend in particular. “But the room is still spinning and I’m feeling sick.”

Rose immediately released Lily and moved towards Scorpius, instructing Lily to let him lean forward against her so that she could reach the base of his skull, where blood was still congealing in his pale blond hair.

Whispering incantations almost musically, Rose traced her wand over what was Scorpius’ worst injury, sharply commanding him not to close his eyes as he leaned against the slope of Lily’s shoulder.

Scorpius simply breathed in and out, trying to concentrate only on Lily’s fingers lightly stroking his hair, her petal-soft lips pressing a gentle kiss to his bruised cheek.

Rose saw the exchange out of the corner of her eye, but let it go. It would be difficult, but she would just have to get over Scorpius. It was obvious that he and Lily loved each other far more than she had ever been willing to dream of, not to mention risk. She still couldn’t help feeling a sharp pang of loss, though, as she watched Scorpius nuzzle his cheek against Lily’s, whispering something low in her ear.

Lily chuckled softly. “What?”

Scorpius repeated himself and Lily shook her head again, turning her attention to Rose.

“Rose, can you do something about his lip? I can’t understand a word he’s saying,” she admitted ruefully.

Rose rolled her eyes and gave her wand an almost careless flick, both vanishing the blood in and around Scorpius’ mouth and healing the cut. Scorpius nodded gratefully towards her and then leaned back into Lily’s embrace.

“Where’s the letter?” he asked almost too quietly.

Lily stiffened, sucking in a sharp breath. Rose tried to pay them no attention but couldn’t help herself, still mending the base of Scorpius’ skull as she watched them converse in careful whispers.

“I… I might have lost it…” Lily admitted carefully, looking terribly afraid.

Rose watched as Scorpius groaned softly, burying his face in the curve of Lily’s neck. Lily bit down on her lower lip as she reached up to hold him there, whispering against his hair.

“What are we going to do?”

“I’ll find it somehow. I’ll curse the damn thing, burn it to cinders…”

“But… what about… what it said?” Lily whispered.

Scorpius shrugged listlessly, at a complete and total loss.

“I dunno,” he finally admitted in a gruff voice.

“What letter?” Rose found herself asking, not realizing she’d spoken aloud until two pairs of eyes flitted upwards towards hers, more sad than fearful.

Lily swallowed thickly, a single glance at Scorpius telling her that he wouldn’t be the one answering Rose.

Rose waited with bated breath as Lily wet her lips, sighing quietly.

“Scorpius got a letter from his father’s secretary. She was in Slytherin last year and… she saw my mum with his dad, this morning…”

Rose sucked in a breath, staring from Scorpius to Lily and back, the shocked expression never leaving her face. “S-saw them what?” she asked breathlessly.

“Saw them barricading themselves in his office,” Scorpius answered back listlessly, his voice tinged with bitterness. “She saw them warmly greet each other and then lock themselves behind his door only an hour ago.”

“But, but they c-can’t have…” Rose broke off. “But your mum’s married,” she cried.

“So is my father,” Scorpius spat. “Doesn’t seem to bloody stop her, does it?”

Lily stiffened for a moment and Scorpius immediately tensed, sensing that she was on the verge of tears. He straightened up for a moment, leaning his forehead heavily against hers. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, his lips grazing over her skin. Lily closed her eyes, biting down on her lower lip and trying not to cry, nodding faintly as her facial features crumpled. Her fingers tightened instinctively around him and Scorpius apologized again, holding her tightly.

Rose watched all this with a growing feeling of wariness, trying to put the pieces together. “But Lily, you can’t really think that this is true…”

Scorpius shot her a venomous look, though Rose didn’t miss the way Lily’s eyes had widened, hoping if just for that instant.

“What more evidence would you like, Rose?” Scorpius spat. “A publicly-witnessed kiss? That seems to get the point across, don’t you think?”

Rose shrank back, wanting to cry when Lily unexpectedly cut in to defend her, venomously turning on Scorpius. “Don’t you dare, Scorpius!” she breathed, her green eyes fierce. She was so furious that she seemed to be shaking, trembling even as tears streaked down her cheeks.

Scorpius immediately felt sick as Lily pushed herself to her feet, robbing him of the perch she’d provided. He suddenly felt cold, watching her slip out of the room without a backward glance.

The door shut behind her and he felt dizzy again, blinking rapidly. He turned helplessly to Rose, muttering a faint apology.

Rose didn’t react except to take in the bloodied state of him. She patiently raised her wand to siphon off the last of his bloodstains, quietly telling him to go after Lily.

“Are you sure?”

She only nodded, staring downward. “Don’t be thick enough to leave everything in this mess any longer, Scorp. It’s been a long two days,” she sighed.

He nodded back, carefully pushing himself to his feet. Hesitating for a moment, he finally offered Rose his hand, helping her to her own feet, though she at once dropped his hand, letting hers fall to her side.

She felt Scorpius’ grey eyes boring into her and finally raised her eyes to meet his, feeling sick and unable to speak. She struggled for a moment and finally said, “Go after her, Scorpius.”

He stared at her a moment longer. “Thank you,” he finally whispered. He leaned forward and brushed a grateful kiss against her cheek, pulling back quickly so she couldn’t misconstrue it as anything else.

“I am sorry,” he whispered.

Rose smiled faintly. “Just go and get her.”

He nodded, turning and exiting through the same door as Lily, leaving Rose alone with her thoughts.

*

When he finally found her, Scorpius saw that Lily was curled up in a ball at the foot of the stairs to the sixth floor, as if she hadn’t been able to decide between going to her dorm or Rose’s. She had somehow fallen asleep there, her face etched in a permanent frown even in sleep. The tear-stains on her face were enough to make Scorpius’ heart climb in his throat, consuming him with guilt.

Kneeling to slowly shake her awake, Scorpius waited until her tired eyes finally fluttered open, looking even more exhausted upon seeing him there.

“What do you want?” she asked thickly.

“I wanted to say I’m sorry,” he murmured, grey eyes sincere. “And I apologized to Rose.”

She breathed in and exhaled, saying nothing for a moment. “Anything else you wanted?”

“Just one more question,” he promised.

“What?” she sighed.

“Is it too much to ask your permission to take you to your dorm, or if you’re feeling generous, to mine?”

Lily breathed a sigh, staring past heavily hooded eyes up at him. “I’m too tired to have a preference,” she said, forgiving him and just wanting to curl up and sleep, forgetting the past two days had ever happened though she knew she’d never be able to forget the note, the note Scorpius had hopefully found and destroyed. When she asked him if that was the case, he nodded, causing any lasting vestiges of anger she’d had towards the Slytherin boy to all but disappear.

“Then get me out of here,” she finally sighed, her heavy eyelids fluttering with exhaustion. Scorpius smiled softly down at her, curling his arms around her to help lift her up from the floor. Rose may have healed him, but he was hardly in any state to carry Lily’s weight completely. He merely helped support her against himself, the two of them making their slow yet steady way down the series of staircases until they finally reached the dungeons and the Slytherin common room. It was only a short time after noon and the fight that had broken out in the Entrance Hall, and no one was left hanging about the Slytherin common room. Scorpius wasn’t entirely sure that he would have cared, after everything else that had happened. Instead, he tugged Lily down the stairs to his dormitory, helping her between the covers of his four-poster bed for the second time in two days, pulling the emerald curtains closed around them and nestling in beside her for a much needed nap.

Almost immediately, he noticed the change in Lily’s breathing. She had fallen asleep the moment her cheek had come to rest against his pillow. Watching the steady rise and fall of her chest, in and out, Scorpius let his tired eyes travel over her, again noticing the blue and bronze trim of the sweater she was wearing. She hadn't even bothered to loosen her matching tie. Loosening and removing it for the sleeping girl, Scorpius pressed a lingering kiss to her temple, whispering a soft goodnight before he finally let himself fall asleep beside her, grateful for the heavy curtains that enclosed them in darkness and ignorance from what was to come.

Right before he fell asleep, he thought of Rose and sent up a prayer of thanks for having her friendship restored, for Lily’s sake as much as his. He might not have come out of that fight if it hadn’t been for her. He might not have met Lily if it hadn’t been for her…

As his conscious thoughts began to sink into oblivion, Scorpius wondered if she would be willing to do one more thing he could be grateful to her for, if she could help him convince Lily to try and run away with him, escaping the destruction of each of their families before it could occur. He thought of the crumpled letter he’d sought out before finding her, now nestled in the pocket of his robes and he wondered just where he and Lily could go that their parents’ past may never find them.

End Notes:
*Contented sigh* It has been a very incredibly long week with a new job and I am just so relieved to have something nice to add to it by getting another chapter out. Next one: dun, dun, dun... Ginny's real motives for leaving Draco REVEALED. And I hope it doesn't disappoint. I found it explains all of her water works quite well actually. I'll just let you all ponder that anxiously until the next chapter comes out ;) Don't forget to leave me a review! I love them dearly!
What Can't Stay in the Past by Rosalie

Playlist Ch. 19: ‘23’ by Jimmy Eat World

Chapter Nineteen: What Can’t Stay in the Past

Staring down into the depths of her by-now cold coffee mug, Ginny finally admitted to herself that it was time to go home. She had been sitting in the same slightly uncomfortable chair at the Muggle café for nearly four hours, trying to gather some warmth from the cozy atmosphere, wanting to inject that warm feeling into her very soul. Coffee shops, it seemed, were not as blissful and relaxing as she’d thought they’d be.

She had been staring at the empty seat across from her for ages, it seemed, thinking back on the time she’d shared tea with her niece and the truth, or at least part of it, had come spilling out with her tears. She had wondered then, as she still sometimes did, if it had just been a bad day for her when she was feeling particularly rotten and wanted a good cry or whether it was something darker and buried much deeper inside of her.

She had been honest when she’d told Rose that she still thought of her time with Draco almost every day, but why? She was married, she was happy… she was still haunted by that day and that choice…

Once more staring across from her, Ginny pictured Harry’s soft smile as he’d taken her out to Amortia’s the night of the Malfoy dinner party, hoping to distract her. He hadn’t been trying to prevent her from going, he’d as much as said so, but since then his generosity towards her had changed at some point. She’d kept her bitterness at the past buried so deep for so long that he had been all too willing to believe she was happy in the life she now lived. She had even thought the same thing up until…

When had it changed?

Scowling down at her coffee without any real conviction, Ginny thought back to the fight she’d had with Harry just last night, when she’d accused him of lying to her, deceiving her with his false sincerity and kindness. Had he really meant to deceive her all these years? Surely that was impossible. Surely they had been happy? But now doubt was creeping in and she could no longer separate the feelings of hurt that had felt so real in the past from those that she wasn’t sure were sincere in the present. All that filled her head were thoughts of Draco, of Harry, of that last day…

Had she buried the truth for so long from Harry that she’d eventually lost it to herself? Lost it and no longer recognized it? Remembering the day she’d finally chosen Harry, the day she’d left Draco, Ginny felt her head start to spin, sickness gripping at her and clutching possessively to her heart. She’d heard Healers and many news sources after the war going on about trauma and the long-terms effects of emotional damage but never had she considered that she could have been blind to it for so long, thinking her tears spilled in her moments of weakness over the years were nothing more than her being too emotional, just in need of a good and thorough head-shaking and maybe a cup of tea.

How wrong she had been.

Leaving her small tip on the table beside the unfinished cup of hazelnut coffee, Ginny stood up from her seat and made her way towards the bathroom at the back of the shop, glancing out past the strip of windows as she passed. The sky had only grown darker, rain falling in sheets and buckets down upon the congested streets outside, Muggles running from their vehicles with their glowing headlights to their various buildings and such, all of them hoping not to get wet.

Ginny, who would have normally smirked at the luck she had in being able to Apparate home, didn’t feel her lips even so much as twitch upwards, more than likely because home was the last place she wanted to be.

Once she ensured that she was the only occupant of the small ladies’ restroom, Ginny slipped her wand out from the sleeve of her blouse, still wearing the same clothes she’d had on when she’d gone to see Draco earlier that morning. Dimly, she realized that Harry was more than likely to make a very big deal out of how long she’d be gone but she couldn’t bring herself to care. All she had wanted was to tell Draco the truth, to explain that she hadn’t abandoned him, hadn’t ever stopped loving him… and even in the safety of his office she had been unable to tell him that, much less the circumstances around her sudden and tearful departure.

Flicking her wand and Disapparating with a sharp crack, Ginny soon found herself standing on the front stoop of her cottage, the rain here no longer falling, though the ground was still soaked. Staring at the front door before her, Ginny wondered if she had the courage to go inside and face the decisions she’d made. Finally breathing a weary sigh, Ginny let her eyes fall shut and turned the handle before stepping over the cheery welcome mat and walking inside.

The first thing she noticed was that the lights were all off with the exception of a few lamps down the hall. Ginny set down her purse and lit the other lamps in the small cottage, slipping out of her shoes and moving down the hall towards the kitchen where she quickly swallowed a mouthful of headache potion, needing to quiet the dull pounding of her aching mind.

The gruff voice of her husband should have startled her, but it didn’t, she was well used to his practiced and quiet footsteps by now, his Auror training having seeped into every aspect of his daily life over the years, even when he was completely hammered as his bloodshot eyes proved he inevitably was.

He was still in the same clothes he’d fallen asleep in the night before, his hair more mussed than she’d ever thought possible and green eyes shadowed behind his unevenly balanced glasses.

“Finally come home, did you?” he asked, a slight slur to his words.

Ginny made a small sound of acknowledgement but turned back towards the kitchen counter, not wanting to face him and wondering if another headache potion would take the burden off her shoulders as well as her mind.

Harry glared at her turned back, his fingers clenching into angry fists at his sides as he took in her cream-colored blouse and the black and white floral-printed skirt she wore.

“Did Draco think you look as beautiful as I think you do?” he asked drunkenly.

“He never made any such comment, Harry. We were talking about the children,” she lied.

“Really? For the past six hours?” he asked.

Ginny turned around to see a sheen of tears in his eyes and immediately felt awful, knowing she was the reason for his distress, the reason he’d finished off an entire bottle of Firewhisky and not even left their bedroom until now.

“Come on, Harry,” she whispered, “Let’s get you a hangover potion and get you to lie down,” she sighed.

“No.”

“Harry…”

He waved her off, looking disgusted with her, disgusted and furious and heart-broken and… She shook her head, wanting all the guilt, all of it for just once to rest on someone else’s shoulders than hers. Not wanting to argue with him or even defend herself, Ginny attempted to move past him and out of the kitchen, not even raising her eyes to his, instead looking down and averting her gaze.

He followed after her, walking so close that she had to squeeze past the hall walls in order to make it to her destination, reaching out to turn the handle to the small bathroom.

“Where were you?” he growled, suddenly snatching the wrist of her hand in his fingertips.

Ginny stared up at him, too upset to even show any emotion at all, closed off and utterly without tears, as if she’d cried herself empty all morning.

“I didn’t do anything to hurt you, Harry,” she whispered numbingly. “I just went to see him at his work. I was only there an hour, maybe less. The rest of the time I’ve been in a Muggle café, Luna says it helps to drink their coffees but… I didn’t notice any difference,” she sighed.

“You expect me to believe you were just sitting at a café around a bunch of Muggles when you started out by going to see him?” Harry asked, shaking his head in astonishment and without humor.

Ginny shrugged, muttering a faint, “Believe what you wish,” before slipping into the bathroom and locking the door with a quick spell behind her. She could hear Harry slam his open palm against the wood of the door, demanding to know what she’d done with Draco but Ginny didn’t answer. Instead she sank against the edge of the bathtub, lazily flicking her wand to cause the showerhead above to spray down water, the sounds of the water slapping down against the drainage hole and being sucked downward drowning out the sounds of her husband’s voice.

Realizing she could still hear him, Ginny flicked her wand again to turn on the wireless at the edge of the bathroom sink, Celestina Warbeck’s smooth dulcet tones weaving out of the ending song as another, more soothing rhythm took its place. Closing her eyes, Ginny leaned her head back and listened to the shower’s spray and the song’s soft melody, losing herself in memories brought on by seeing Draco that morning, memories of the last day they’d had together and of the reason she’d finally felt she’d had no other choice but to leave him.

*

*

*

Draco stood in front of the mirror, his fingers trembling as he wound the thin necktie through his fingers. Ginny stood watching him for a moment, her arms crossed and a worry line forming between her eyebrows. Biting down for only a moment on her lip, she crossed the room towards him, inserting herself between him and the mirror, reaching up to take the thin fabric from his fingers in her much more steady hands.

His breath caught for a moment and he stared down at her, his expression unreadable as she began knotting his tie, making him more presentable than he had dressed in the nearly eleven months they’d now lived together. Her lips quirked at the memory of his usual attire, often a simple jumper and muggle jeans. It seemed she had indeed had an effect on his normally meticulous taste in clothing, something he’d always jokingly said he was afraid of when they first became flatmates.

Still winding the tie through her fingers and then slipping it under the collar of his shirt, Ginny tried not to notice the sadness in Draco’s eyes or the fear, not wanting to acknowledge just how hard the day would be on him, how much it would take out of him.

“I can go with you, you know,” she whispered quietly.

He only smirked though it was rather forced. “Normally I would accept your offer, except for one small detail…” he trailed off.

“My family will be there,” she supplemented for both of them.

Draco nodded. “It would completely undo the entire secret of who you’ve been staying with all this time, don’t you think?”

Ginny begrudgingly agreed, nodding faintly. “I just don’t want… I don’t want you to face everything by yourself…” she murmured truthfully.

Draco shrugged his shoulders in a false show of indifference for her benefit, one of his many attempts over the past few days to put her at ease. “Potter already testified on my mum’s behalf, and mine,” he added with a small scowl in place. “We got off; his word may be enough to help my father,too…”

“But it may not,” Ginny said quietly, finally raising her eyes up to meet his, her fingers stilling and resting just over his chest.

Draco swallowed thickly, averting his gaze.

“Draco…”

“I’ll see you tonight, when everything’s… decided.”

“But…”

Draco pulled back from her, giving the mirror only a cursory glance, though still addressing her in a light attempt at humor. “I expect something delicious when I get back. Blueberry pancakes would be a definite upside in my day, should you be feeling generous, of course.”

Ginny placed her hands on her hips in mock annoyance. “Sometimes I think all you ever do is take advantage of my cooking,” she scowled with an exaggerated roll of her eyes which he mimicked as he walked away from her, pulling on his cloak.

“Well, you are a Weasley as I recall…” He shot her a pointed look and grinned faintly, straightening his robes and reaching for his wand on the dresser. “Just remember, I’m expecting blueberry, not that rot Potter thinks is so good.”

Ginny rolled her eyes, shaking her head slightly. “By the time you get back it’ll be nearly seven. Pancakes are hardly appropriate.”

“Pancakes,” he corrected her, “are always delicious and therefore appropriate, even for supper. Don’t you roll your eyes at me again, Gin. That’s twice now!” he sharply reprimanded her, his grey eyes bright and a smirk tugging at the corner of his lips.

“Oh yes, sir,” Ginny laughed, saluting him.

Draco smiled back and leisurely crossed the room over to her, lightly brushing his lips over her forehead and whispering quietly as if to make sure no one else could hear though they were the only two in the room. “Thank you,” he murmured. “You somehow can make any situation less horrific with a few well placed sneers and insulting jokes,” he teased.

Ginny rolled her eyes again and Draco seized her face in both of his hands, laughing loudly, his eyes bright. “That’s it right there, another roll of your eyes!” he laughed as Ginny clapped her hands over his, trying to pull back.

“Get off me!” she cried, giggling madly.

Draco held her just long enough to press his lips to hers before finally pulling away, shooting her a sly wink as he took a few steps back to Disapparate, shaking his head all the way. “What exactly am I going to tell my father when he asks why I’m so cheery to greet his tribunal?” he chuckled. “That I’m in love with a Weasley?”

Ginny burst into a fit of giggles, shaking her head in the negative. “I think that knowledge might just kill him,” she teased.

Draco nodded sharply, offering her one more brief smile before Disapparating with a crack, his earlier dark mood all but evaporated. Ginny smiled after him as she hugged herself, hoping Harry’s testimony would be enough to get the older Malfoy cleared of all charges. The last thing she wanted was for Draco to come home in any worse shape than he’d left her in. Over the past few months of living with him, the effect the war had had on Draco and his family had been inescapable, even to her when she tried to ignore it. He still had the Dark Mark, he still had the sneers of the wizarding public, he still had the threat of imprisonment hanging over his head.

Though Ginny didn’t feel her part truly mattered, she had been the one to help convince Harry of testifying on Draco and his mother’s behalf, knowing already that he didn’t truly want the Malfoys to end up in prison, not after understanding Draco’s motives and receiving Narcissa’s help in the final battle. No, Harry likely would have testified regardless of her desire for him to, but helping Lucius clear his name, that had taken some convincing and Ginny fully took the credit for talking him into that. After all, if she wanted the man pardoned after everything that had happened in her first year with Tom’s diary, then Harry really didn’t have a leg to stand on. He’d agreed and hopefully, his testimony would be enough to get Draco’s father off, just as it had worked for him and for his mother. More worried than she cared to dwell on, Ginny shook her head, hoping to clear her thoughts of the matter.

Sighing deeply, she turned and headed out of Draco’s bedroom and towards the main living room and attached kitchen, wanting to make sure she had enough batter left after only just making Draco the exact same pancakes only a few hours earlier.

Seeing a flash of unruly black hair, she jumped in surprise, her hand flying to her heart. “Harry, my God, how long have you been sitting there?” she cried.

Harry stood to his feet from the small couch, his green eyes pained though he tried to hide it. “A few minutes, long enough, though.”

“All your Auror training is really starting to make me fidgety, you know that?” she chuckled, moving past him to clean up the mess left in the kitchen. She began Vanishing the mess of scattered flour with her wand, her movements stilling for a moment. “Harry?” she called over her shoulder.

“Yes?”

She jumped again as his hands wound around her waist, the voice she’d expected from the other room coming instead from a low whispering in her ear. Her body tightened unconsciously, struggling to bring her breathing back down to normal and swallowing thickly.

“Sorry, could you not do that? You scared me again,” she breathed.

“Do what? Touch you?” he asked, his hands gently rubbing her sides, not taking even a step back from her.

“Harry…” Ginny broke off, holding her breath as he lightly pressed his lips against the curve of her neck, her scarlet hair in its pulled back braid allowing him easy access. “Harry, stop…”

He finally pulled back from her though his hands never left her waist and Ginny had to turn in his arms to face him, quickly averting her gaze from the dark shadow in his green eyes.

“Shouldn’t you be at the trial?” she asked breathlessly, glancing past him and at the still messy kitchen counter-tops.

“In a few minutes, yeah,” he shrugged. “I wanted to see you first, have a chance to stop by when Malfoy wasn’t here, watching you like a hawk.”

Ginny lightly snorted, privately thinking Harry was more of the hawk than Draco had ever been.

“What’s so funny?” he asked with a light grin down at her and Ginny worriedly bit down on her lower lip, feeling a pang seeing the same boy she’d been in love with for the past several years smiling down at her. Her heart still melted around him at times when she saw the Harry she once knew, but she just as often became tense and guarded around him, knowing he was still expecting an answer from her, an answer she wasn’t prepared to give.

“What did you come to say to me, then?” she asked almost tiredly, always afraid of the same question that tied her emotions in knots, making it easier to just hide them from him.

Without preamble, his green eyes darkened, his expression hardening with weariness. “How much longer?” he asked.

He’d asked the same question months earlier, then having been all too understanding when he’d agreed to give her the time and space she needed after his unexpected proposal. Now, though, he was fast losing his patience and seemed to ask every few days and it was making Ginny look less and less forward to seeing him.

She breathed a deep sigh and closed her eyes, leaning back against the counter. “Harry, I love you, but I have told you again and again now that I can’t do this right now. I can’t marry you. Not today, not in a week. You said you’d give me time…” she pleaded.

“I did, nearly a year now.”

“And I’m still not ready to get married…” she exclaimed.

“When then?” he demanded, his voice becoming less friendly, his jaw tightening. “You say you love me, that this was only a temporary solution to give you time away from your family, from their pressuring you.”

“And now you’re the one pressuring me!” Ginny cried, trying to hold in her frustration but unable to, especially when he was still standing so close to her in the home that was hers and Draco’s, Draco whose face was flitting through her mind with an ache. “Harry, this really isn’t the time to rehash this all again,” she whispered wearily. “Draco’s father’s facing the tribunal and you have to go and testify. You can’t be late because of me, nothing’s going to be sorted out now between us that wasn’t yesterday.”

“I really think you owe it to me to put a little more effort into this,” Harry said coldly. Ginny flinched at his tone but he was standing so close that she couldn’t not meet his eyes, almost paralyzed by them, emerald green but darkened by some strange shadow.

“Harry, I am still only sixteen…”

“You’ll be seventeen in a few months. What will your excuse be then?

“Stop it, Harry!” she snapped, “I can’t make a rational decision when you keep hounding me like this. I asked for space and time and you promised to give that to me.”

“And you promised to come back to me,” he replied darkly. Ginny stilled, her response dying in her throat. Harry bent his head closer to hers, leaning his forehead against her own, his voice lowering to what he meant to be a soothing whisper but that only made her stomach churn with guilt and her heart press painfully against her ribs. “You promised to come back to me,” he repeated. “You loved me.”

“I still do,” she argued back weakly.

“And you love him.”

Ginny sucked in a sharp breath.

“You can’t have it both ways, Gin. You need to make a choice,” he whispered.

“Why are you doing this now?” she asked brokenly, wanting to pull back from him. “You should be at the Ministry,” she reminded him again.

“Is that all you care about? What happens to Malfoy?”

“No, Harry, I just… you have responsibilities… You promised Draco you’d testify for his father…”

“You’ve made promises of your own; perhaps you ought to honor them before asking anything of me.”

“What are you saying?” Ginny asked, suddenly fearful.

Harry swallowed thickly, pressing his forehead to hers once more, his hands still around her waist. “I’m saying I can’t take much more of your empty promises,” he whispered. “You’ve waited in indecision for long enough now. I can’t keep watching from the sidelines as you fall in love with him. God, you’re already living together…”

“It’s not like that!” Ginny pleaded.

“But it will be, if you don’t make a decision now.”

“Why today?” she asked with a whispered breath, suddenly feeling that she understood much more than she should about what was happening between them. This wasn’t just another of Harry’s pleadings with her; there was something different and it scared her.

“Maybe, after how selfless I’ve been, how much patience that I’ve given you, I’m just not feeling very generous towards Malfoy anymore.”

Ginny’s eyes widened in horror, feeling as though she couldn’t breathe. “You wouldn’t dare…”

Harry swallowed thickly, unnamed emotions swirling behind his green eyes. “I’ve had enough, Gin. I want an answer. I have given you everything you asked and I can’t keep waiting for you to drag me around by your little finger. I deserve an answer, not an extension so you can only fall further in love with him.”

“And what if I say no?” she asked quietly, seeing the pain reflected from her eyes in Harry’s.

He clenched his jaw, struggling to keep his voice steady. “Then that’s your answer. Just tell me, I have a testimony to give and I don’t have much time.”

For a moment, a horrible fear shot through Ginny’s very heart, panicking at the idea of what Harry might say if she distressed him enough with a refusal now, only minutes before he took the stand.

“What will you do?” she asked fearfully, her voice trembling at the thought of Draco bearing the pain of his father’s imprisonment, after everything he’d already been through since the war.

Harry shrugged listlessly in response. “I won’t throw the trial, if that’s what you’re asking,” he murmured in a dead voice.

Ginny tried to calm her erratic breathing, squeezing her eyes shut as she felt tears pressing upon her. She wanted to make him swear to it, swear that he’d do everything to keep Draco’s father from being imprisoned and locked out of his son’s life forever. Ginny wanted so desperately to make Harry promise that wouldn’t happen but she knew it was cruel, too cruel to ask from him only to reject the boy she’d been in love with for years now. Truly, she never had completely given Harry up, but she wondered if she’d be able to give Draco up instead. Perhaps it would cause them all less pain, and if it was enough to ensure Harry stayed in his right mind during the trial, that he didn’t lash out with anger against Draco for Ginny rejecting him…

Biting down so hard on her lip that she felt sure she’d draw blood, Ginny wondered if this pain was anything like what Harry claimed she’d put him through, drawn out over months of telling him she’d come back to him, promising she would marry him when she was ready only to let him watch as she started to fall in love with another instead. In a shocking moment of utter self-hatred, Ginny realized it was her fault that her time to decide between he two men she loved had come down to this, a few minutes in a messy kitchen, the trial just minutes away…

“Alright,” she choked. “Alright, I-I’ll pack my bags tonight…”

Harry’s shoulders sagged in relief and he almost kissed her, catching himself only a moment before his lips could brush over hers, staring into her eyes with fear. “I’m not… I’m not forcing you to pick me, Ginny…” he trailed off, almost asking it seemed.

Ginny fought the desire to sneer at him, to push him away from her in her anger, instead calmly taking a deep breath. “No,” she whispered. “No, Harry, you didn’t do anything.”

His breathing was shallow and just as pained as hers had been moments before, trying to reassure himself of the finality of her answer in some way, fearfully realizing that this was not the happy agreement he’d waited for from her. “I waited…” he whispered, “I waited for you for months… I could wait longer…”

“You and I both know that you can’t,” Ginny replied numbingly, feeling sick inside.

“You’re right,” he nodded shakily. “I was patient, and I… I was understanding… I just, I just couldn’t handle you putting off rejecting me any longer.”

“I know,” Ginny choked, a sob catching in her throat that she hadn’t anticipated, suddenly feeling a horrible weight of guilt descending on her thin shoulders, thinking Harry was right. He was selfless and kind and patient, he always had been but she’d been too cruel with his emotions, never returning them, pushing him until the point that he’d finally demanded an answer. How she wished it hadn’t been today…

“I’m sorry, Harry…” she cried, tears now falling down her cheeks, still standing pressed against the kitchen counter. Harry immediately moved to comfort her, never realizing just how convoluted her emotions had become as they twisted about themselves. She’d hidden her true feelings from Harry for so long that she no longer recognized them, supplanting guilt for the anger she should have felt at his pressuring her. Within minutes, she was crying so hard that she was shaking against him, feeling rotten to the core for what she’d put him through and what she would put Draco through. She was nothing, horrible, deserving of nothing.

She didn’t deserve either one of them.

Harry whispered comfortingly in her ear, trying to soothe her. Ginny caught a glimpse of the clock behind him, her breath hitching in her throat. “The trial, you have to go. You’re already late, Harry, please…”

He nodded then, quickly kissing her cheek and telling her he loved her, moving back to quickly Disapparate, making one final promise to her before he went, that they’d sort everything else out later…

With a crack, he vanished and Ginny took a shuddering breath, her knees suddenly buckling out from under her as she sank to the kitchen floor, scattered dishes and flour surrounding her, one of the bowls falling and shattering into ceramic shards against the floorboards, the crash causing her to flinch at the sound. Her tear-filled eyes flitted around the apartment endlessly, picturing when Draco had been laughing with her only a few minutes beforehand.

“Oh, God,” she cried out, burying her face in her hands, shaking with the force of her tears. “God, God, what have I done?” she sobbed.

Practically sinking into the floorboards, Ginny fell into a curled up ball on the floor, crying so hard that the kitchen cabinets around her became distorted through the haze of her tears, unable to see anything of the life she’d had with Draco.

Draco…

She had to get out of there. She had to escape the evidence of him all around her, everything there had ever been of the two of them living together. In the hours that Draco spent praying for his father’s release and that Harry spent testifying in court, Ginny hurried through the flat, packing her bags in a whirlwind, tears coursing down her cheeks.

She had to get away from him.

She had to close down her emotions, her feelings, she had to stop the tears from falling though nothing helped, nothing but the steady packing of her suitcase, the vanishing of the tulips lying in the kitchen and on her nightstand.

She stripped the walls of her bedroom, emptied out her drawers.

She was going to marry Harry…

And all she could think of was that she was tearing herself to pieces.

The guilt fell so heavily upon her that she struggled to breathe, knowing only that she didn’t deserve Harry after everything she’d put him through and she owed it to him to finally be the loving wife he’d wanted from her. She owed him for all the pain she’d put him through.

She owed Draco an apology too, even an explanation… but she didn’t have the strength for either.

Her absence would have to be enough, because she didn’t trust herself enough to do the right thing anymore.

She had filled her trunk and then started filling her last suitcase, the small collection of belongings she’d first had moving in having expanded to so much more baggage over those eleven months, more baggage than she’d ever recover from.

When she Apparated back from her second trip of returning her things home, Ginny froze at the sight of Draco standing in the middle of the living room, looking around in confusion and hurt. His grey eyes found hers, any trace of his earlier relief that his father had been cleared of all charges, all but vanished from his face. Instead he was staring at her in hurt, unable to comprehend what was going on.

Ginny felt her throat close up and hurriedly pushed past him, her shoulders shaking as she dissolved once more into tears. He chased after her, demanding to know what was going on, why she was leaving him.

Ginny only shook her head, staring at the release form in his clenched fist, wondering numbingly if it had really been worth it. Staring up into Draco’s hurt grey eyes, she wondered if she would have hurt him anyway, if she’d stayed, if she’d gone. All she ever did was destroy her loved ones it seemed. She couldn’t make Harry happy, she couldn’t make Draco happy.

She destroyed everything she touched and after hours of crying and sinking into madness without a soul to help hold her up, Ginny truly believed that. She didn’t see the act of desperation that had come in her agreement to marry Harry, she didn’t see the cleared charges and the life of prison she’d saved Draco’s father from. No. All she saw was Draco’s face and his normally silver eyes, clouded in pain and filling with tears that she’d never once seen him shed before now but which were openly streaking down his face, begging her to stay.

He took a step towards her, his hands trembling as he gripped her shoulders in his, his silver eyes only centimeters from her brown ones, filled with even more tears. She was sobbing and as she refused to give him an explanation, struggled to stop crying in front of him, she really and truly lost a part of herself, leaving him behind when she walked out the front door, her last suitcase in hand and tears streaking endlessly down her face.

“I’m sorry,” she cried.

Draco stared after her as she stepped out of the door and out of his life, his father’s release form lying forgotten on the carpet behind him. He watched her leave, never realizing that the reason she’d left him, to try and protect him from losing his father, was all explained in a neat, ministry-issued form, lying at his feet, forgotten in the wake of her absence.

*

*

*

Ginny let out a broken and heart-wrenching sob as she leaned back against the tub’s frame, the steady downpour of water behind her sounding like the broken fragments of her heart, each of them shattering against the shower bottom in the slew of her memories, of what she’d given up.

The soft tones of the Wizarding Wireless faded into the background, finally ending with the last piano chords. It would have been sad and so powerfully emotional but it wasn’t the melancholy chords that tore at her heart. It was her memories. They’d been strong enough to continue ripping her heart to shreds for the past twenty-six years…

Gulping back tears that would never stop, Ginny wondered if they ever could.

*

A million miles away or so it seemed, Draco Malfoy lay awake in his bed, staring unseeingly up at the ornate ceiling overhead, his wife’s sleeping form lying beside him, the steady in and out of her breathing bringing him little comfort from the darkness of his tumultuous thoughts.

She’d finally come to see him again.

Ginny had finally forced herself back into his life and then ripped herself straight out again, leaving his chest aching with a searing pain he was sure would never fade.

Swallowing thickly, Draco wondered at the feelings battling for the will of his heart, the guilt he felt towards his wife, the swell of his heart as he’d held Ginny in his arms and heard the sounds of her voice, choked with tears though it had been. He had felt complete when she’d stepped into his office, letting him wind his arms around her and hold her, but it was a painful kind of complete, like forcefully shoving a jagged piece into his equally torn apart soul. They had once fit but they’d become too damaged by life and choices and hurt to ever be whole again.

It made him want to die inside.

Blinking past the tears he felt building behind his eyes, Draco tried to focus past the blur on the decorated ceiling overhead, trying to escape the horrible thought that clung to him with a draining force. In his fist was the crumpled wedding invitation that Ginny had sent him twenty-five years before, the parchment now yellowed with age and stained by old tears, and fresh ones.

He’d found it shortly after retiring to their bedroom, Astoria still downstairs. He’d found it at once, hidden amongst his old Hogwarts trunk in the back of his closet. Ginny had never been in his life during their Hogwarts years, but it had seemed fitting to hide her letter there all those years ago. His time at Hogwarts was long over, as was his time with Ginny in his life.

He had found the old wedding invitation, lying untouched, read only once that night before he married Astoria, two years too late to have ever attended the lavish event that was the wedding of Harry Potter and Ginevra Weasley.

Now, twenty-five years too late, Draco had read the letter again, not the formal invitation on its cream-colored stationary, but the shaking script of Ginny’s handwriting, begging him to come, pleading with him for just one last time.

Squeezing his eyes tightly shut and refocusing on the ceiling once more, Draco pictured her anxious face, staring fearfully out past her wedding veil, searching a crowd for his blond hair and realizing, numbingly, that he wasn’t there.

He should have opened the wedding invitation.

He should have found her note.

He should have stopped them and somehow saved her from the choice she’d made to leave him, the choice that had its reasons he still couldn’t even begin to understand.

He should have never let her walk out of the door of their flat.

Swallowing past the hot tears in his throat, Draco again pictured her face, her brown eyes searching for him, her lips pressed tightly together, trying to hold back tears upon realizing he wasn’t coming, he wasn’t coming to save her as she’d saved him.

Draco’s eyes flew wide as he sucked in a sudden breath, his heart pounding against his ribs as he tried to retain that fleeting thought, a thought he’d never before had and couldn’t hold onto, couldn’t grasp from fading back into the recesses of his mind. Throwing himself up from the bed, Draco didn’t pay his rudely awoken wife the slightest attention, pacing restlessly and cursing to himself.

“No, no, NO! You just had it, you bloody fool!” he snarled, tearing at his own hair.

“Draco?” Astoria cried in astonishment, watching her husband burn a hole in the carpet with his pacing. “Draco, what are you talking about?”

He didn’t hear her, he was running back through his mind, picturing Ginny’s face as the tabloids had shown her, looking off in an almost distant kind of shock. The news rags had cited her lovely face as having ‘stared off into her future with her beloved husband, no doubt picturing the wonderful life they would have together and in awe of it’. Neither the reporters covering the event nor Draco had seen the truth; he hadn’t yet read her letter, hadn’t realized she had been waiting for him, only he’d never come, he’d never come to save her…

Groaning in frustration and cursing, Draco ripped at his hair once more. He was so close. He could feel it, see it in her shaking script, her pleading words burned forever against his eyelids. He could sense it in her quiet desperation that she had expected something of him, how desperately she had tried to tell him something of it only this morning when she’d come to see him.

He couldn’t name it.

It was there, openly staring at him in the face but Draco saw nothing, nothing but the family portraits hanging on the walls of their master bedroom, Astoria and his wedding portrait, one with Scorpius as a child, curled up in his mother’s arms, the portraits of each of their parents’ wedding days, his mother and father staring back at him.

Draco didn’t pay the portraits the slightest attention, staring past them and back into the recesses of his memory, seeing only Ginny.

Detentions Aren't Without Scheming by Rosalie

Playlist Ch. 20: ‘Use Somebody’ (Kings of Leon Cover) by Paramore

Chapter Twenty: Detentions Aren’t Without Scheming

Scorpius was pulled unceremoniously from his exhausted sleep as the emerald curtains were thrown back from his bed, Lily and himself both flinching back in shock to see one of Scorpius’ roommates glowering down at them, the evidence of a stinging hex burning on his cheek.

“Well, that could certainly explain that witch’s cutthroat insistence,” he sneered, his eyes narrowing as he took in Lily lying on his friend’s bed, rubbing his cheek as he stared down at her.

“What the hell do you want, Bletchley?” Scorpius demanded, quickly pushing himself to his feet and pulling Lily up beside him, her cheeks flushed red and refusing to make eye-contact with either boy.

Travis Bletchley glared at his roommate and gestured behind himself at the darkening sky outside. “Seems you two have a detention to serve and that Ravenclaw Weasley decided to send me to fetch you, both of you I suppose,” he added with a dark glance in Lily’s direction.

Scorpius caught Lily’s look of confusion, turning to Bletchley and demanding more answers with a jerk of his chin. “Was the stinging hex to make you follow through on telling us or for your ogling her in Arithmancy all the bloody time?”

Bletchley only glared at him. “Just get to your bleeding detention already, Malfoy. I’d hate to have to drag you down there myself when you can’t even handle a damn fist fight.”

Scowling, Scorpius put his arm around Lily’s shoulders as he reached towards the bedside table and pocketed his own wand, steering her out of the dormitory and knocking shoulders with Bletchley as he did so.

Slamming the door heavily behind them, Scorpius glanced fearfully at his wristwatch, realizing with a sinking feeling that they had been asleep for almost six hours.

“Shit,” he cursed. “There’s not even enough time to nick something from the kitchens or we’ll be late to detention.” He groaned aloud and Lily sent him a look of sympathy, patting his arm as they exited the rather crowded Slytherin common room and made their way to the hospital wing, what McGonagall had called ‘a fitting location for their punishment to take place’. Scorpius sneered at the memory. He just hoped McGonagall had enough sense not to include either Albus or Hugo in the same room as him or he would really have to kill himself. He couldn’t lose a third fist fight in less than as many days.

Straightening his robes as Lily smoothed her hair, Scorpius led the way to the hospital wing, the petite redhead matching him almost pace for pace, only slowed by her rapidly worrying mind.

“Scorpius, you don’t think, what Bletchley said about Rose, that she… she didn’t know he’d find me with you, d-did she?” she asked worriedly.

Scorpius glanced back at Lily, pursing his lips together. Not knowing what to say, he took her hand in his and pressed a kiss to her knuckles, still holding her hand comfortingly as they walked the last few winding corridors to the hospital wing.

When they arrived, Scorpius breathed a sigh in relief upon seeing only Rose in the otherwise empty hospital wing, both girls’ brothers apparently nowhere in sight. “Bloody lucky, that,” he sighed, looking around gratefully and finally making eye-contact with Rose.

Her lips twitched up at both of them, not failing to take in the sight of Lily’s second set of rumpled school clothes. “You really ought to get those pressed,” she teased.

Lily looked staggered for a moment but Rose quickly waved her off. “Only joking. I’m not foolish enough to pick another fight after everything that’s happened,” she assured. She wasn’t about to lie and tell herself she was completely over Scorpius, but she was at least going to make the effort to appear so, for Lily’s sake as much as hers. “Oh, and speaking of which, Scorpius, I managed to convince McGonagall that it was Hugo who Albus was fighting while you two snuck away from the Entrance Hall, they’re now both serving their own detention down there. Thought it was only fitting,” she shrugged modestly.

Scorpius grinned down at her. He could still feel the pain from the bruises Albus had left him with and Hugo the day before, whether Rose had vanished them from sight or not. “Hope they really do have a fight of their own,” he sighed. “They deserve a taste of their own medicine.”

“You’re only jealous that they managed to best you pretty badly and publicly,” Lily smirked, earning a scowl from her boyfriend in response.

“I was defending your honour,” he cut in.

“No, that was Albus’ excuse,” Lily reminded him, giggling faintly. “You,on the other hand, were only out for someone’s blood and you damn well know it. That last time you were knocked senseless must have concussed you and now you’re just confused,” she quipped fondly up at him, and though Scorpius didn’t say anything, the scowl that seemed to permanently etch itself into his features was proof enough that he was not amused.

Rose rolled her eyes at the pair of them, reaching into the pockets of her school robes. “Well, we still have nearly ten minutes before the Headmistress shows up, I thought I’d have Bletchley wake you both a little earlier than necessary to make sure you had enough time to eat something,” she explained, brandishing two seran-wrapped sandwiches and a handful of Chocolate Frogs. “It’s not much, but…”

“But it is,” Scorpius insisted, taking one sandwich in an instant and devouring it faster than Hugo could have ever hoped to achieve. “I’ve only had a bloody muffin all bleeding day, this is brilliant!” he enthused.

Lily smiled softly and reached to take the other sandwich from Rose, the two girls sharing a brief smile.

“Thanks,” she murmured.

“You're welcome,” Rose answered back with a twitch of her lips.

“Speaking of Bletchley, Rose,” Scorpius swallowed. “Any theory on how he came to have a stinging hex thrown in his face before he came to wake us?” Scorpius smirked nefariously down at Rose, knowing full-well about the near-obsession his Housemate had had with the girl since their first year.

Rose crossed her arms over her chest, scowling at him in response. “Why do you think, Scorp?”

Lily’s green eyes flitted back and forth between her best friend and her boyfriend, trying to keep the smile from taking over her face as she realized that perhaps Rose wasn’t going to be alone for much longer…

“Did he try to snog you again?” Scorpius chuckled.

“Of course not!” Rose scoffed a little too quickly though she blushed incriminatingly.

“Rose!” Lily gasped, her hands flying to her mouth as her eyes protruded from her skull. “You never said anything about him in the old Divination Tower!”

”I tried never to say anything about anyone up there,” Rose explained, sniffling slightly as she glanced away, unconsciously playing with a loose curl of her hair, her voice dropping to a murmur, “And… I didn’t like him then…” she explained.

“Oh, but you like him now?” Scorpius pressed, his silver eyes dancing in amusement.

“It’s not like that,” Rose quickly explained.

“Then why are you blushing?” Lily grinned, hoping if she baited her cousin long enough she’d finally catch a glimpse of what Rose was thinking.

Rose only sighed exasperatingly, looking away from them both. “He cornered me after you two both left from the fight, after I helped patch you up,” she added with a glance at Scorpius. She rolled her shoulders with a sigh, trying not to give them any satisfaction from the story she related to them now.

“And?” Lily prompted, green eyes shining as she practically bounced on the balls of her feet.

“And nothing,” Rose denied, crossing her arms over her chest, mumbling almost inaudibly as she glanced down at her shoes, her cheeks flushing. “He told me he liked my… spell work…” she finally admitted.

“Oh, sweet Merlin!” Scorpius laughed, backing up a step and howling with laughter. “Your spell work? So then what? You gave him a nice fat stinging hex to the cheek as a thank you?”

“Oh, Scorpius, leave her alone!” Lily snapped reproachfully, turning to Rose with a beaming smile. “Well, I think it’s brilliant, whether he tried to snog you senseless and deserved a hex for it or not!”

“It’s really not like that,” Rose tried to explain again, her lips twitching faintly in spite of herself.

“Of course it is!” Scorpius laughed, “For Circe’s sake, Rose, he complimented your spell work! Your spell work! Now march your Ravenclaw arse up to him and give him a real stinging hex, right on the lips!”

Rose flushed crimson and Lily immediately came to her defense, smacking Scorpius hard on the shoulder with an indignant expression. He glared at her warningly for a moment before all three dissolved into laughter and Lily tugged both her cousin and Scorpius into a hug.

“Thank God, we can finally laugh again,” she sighed, closing her eyes for a moment.

Scorpius glanced over at Rose who was staring up at him, both smiling slightly. He playfully pushed her tangled mass of red curls aside and she rolled her eyes up at him, letting herself hug Lily back and agreeing with her completely. Everything had changed between them, but maybe it wouldn’t be as awful as she’d thought. It certainly could never be worse than the last few days, could it?

Groaning loudly, Scorpius finally pushed both girls back, snaking a hand out to snatch Lily’s wrist and tugging her back against himself, looking down at her disapprovingly. “That, Lils, was far too heart-felt and Gryffindoric for any self-respecting Slytherin to participate in, you ought to be ashamed.”

She only stuck her tongue out at him just as a stern voice interrupted them all, their Headmistress standing framed by the two doors of the hospital wing’s entrance. “I couldn’t agree more, Mr. Malfoy. All three of you ought to be ashamed of yourselves for your behavior in the past two days,” she said, her nose wrinkled in disapproval.

Three pairs of eyes all met each others as each of them shrugged their shoulders in weary preparation of the detention and all its inglorious labor that was to come.

*

Furiously scrubbing out the hospital bedpans when they could have simply vanished its grime with a flick of his wand, Scorpius was forcefully reminded of his cleaning the bathrooms of the Potter house with Lily. He couldn’t have been more grateful than now for the state of general cleanliness that those had been in, staring down at the horror in front of him with nothing less than the purest loathing.

He shot Lily a roll of his eyes where she was several feet away, scrubbing the grout of the cobblestone floors which were likely just as filthy as the bedpans. They had flipped a coin determining who would take which task, as neither was as familiar with potion labeling and sorting as Rose was, the Ravenclaw girl scurrying all over the hospital wing with various vials and flasks in hand, placing them all in the proper cupboards and resorting them based on ingredients used, gestation period, and expiration dates.

Scorpius shook his head watching her, oddly grateful that he had only been assigned to cleaning the bedpans. As Rose crossed over towards his side of the expansive room, Scorpius looked up at her, trying to prepare himself to call her over as he really did need her help.

“Rose, can I take a look at that vial?” he asked, nodding his chin towards one of the many in her bundle of arms.

“What? But I’m almost half-way…” She trailed off as she saw the look on Scorpius’ face, the intent set of his eyes. She glanced furtively to where Lily was now scrubbing the floor near the main entrance of the wing, her brow furrowed and a scowl on her lips as she ran the brush over the stones with a determined and frenzied intent. Seeing that nothing she did was likely to be noticed by her cousin anytime soon, Rose knelt beside Scorpius, wrinkling her nose at the odd smell coming from the bedpans.

“That’s disgusting…” she breathed while struggling not to.

Scorpius waved her comments off, digging deep into his robes. “Never mind that, listen, Rose, I-I want you to take a look at this,” he instructed, handing her the crumpled letter than he’d received from Amber earlier that morning.

Rose’s eyes flitted up to his in no small amount of shock and then glanced back down at the parchment, slowly unfurling it. “I don’t want to read this,” she whispered shakily, balling it back up in her fist and trying to hand it back to him.

“No, Rose, listen to me,” Scorpius hissed, his silver eyes boring into hers. “Our families are falling apart, Lily's and mine.” He swallowed tightly as he glanced back over his shoulder at where his girlfriend was still scrubbing, not yet having noticed their hushed discussion.

“What does that have to do with anything?” Rose exasperated, not wanting to get into what Scorpius was thinking, just wanting to move away from him and get back to sorting through her vials so she could leave.

Scorpius breathed a deep sigh, his shoulders sinking, unable to raise his eyes to hers as he finally admitted something she would have never expected from him, even in the wake of his news concerning his father.

“I just… I want to get out of here, away from this school and home, out of England even.”

“What?” she asked in a horrified whisper, her eyes wide.

He swallowed, nodding a few times. “Lily and I… the bottom’s going to drop out soon, I just know it, and I don’t want to be around here for when it finally happens.”

“What are you saying?” she hissed.

“Lily listens to you… listens to what you say. If the way she was acting the last few days you’ve been fighting was anything to go by, then…”

“No,” Rose warned, her brown eyes fierce.

“You’re not even hearing me out,” he growled back at her.

“I don’t need to hear anything you’ve got to say, Scorpius,” Rose hissed. “I’m not convincing my best friend to go traipsing across the continent with you over a bleeding letter you can’t even prove is real!”

“It is real!” he snapped, “It's right here in my fist, read it!”

“No, I don’t need to read it to know my aunt would never cheat on her husband!”

“Then maybe your loyalties are misplaced, Rose! No one’s marriage is perfect! Least of all hers with the way things are going. Do you think a happily married woman goes to see her ex at work? Locking themselves in his office?” Scorpius didn’t even realize that the letter in his hands had crumpled into an even tighter ball then before, crushed in his fist, so great was his anger steadily transforming into rage.

Breathing deeply and squeezing his eyes tightly shut, he refocused on Rose, trying one last time to convince her. “Please, Rose, it’s only going to get worse…”

“You’re on your own this time, Scorpius,” she answered calmly, clutching her vials to her chest once more. “I’m not going to put my aunt through any sort of pain like that again, not after what happened only yesterday. You didn’t see the way she looked at me, like I completely and utterly betrayed her.”

“What does that matter if she’s betraying her husband, her family? If she’s having my father betray his?” Scorpius seethed.

“I’m not helping you, Scorpius. I’m sorry.” Rose bit her lip, knowing there was nothing else to say and instead pushed herself to her feet, returning to her labeling and sorting once more, casting anxious glances back at Lily, wondering what the younger girl would choose if Scorpius asked…

*

Breathing heavily though never quite getting enough air, Lily swallowed tightly, trying not to tremble as Scorpius pressed his lips against her throat, her worn jumper that her grandmother had made for her last Christmas scratching faintly against her skin, the cold night air seeping in through the smallest of stitches.

She blinked rapidly, trying to calm her erratic heartbeat as his hands traveled down her sides, skimming her waist, though thankfully, he never moved to brush aside the fabric of her clothing. The grass was rustling softly in the gentle breeze and the warmth that should have come with summer was nowhere to be found in the dark night, the grounds of Hogwarts bathed only in moonlight.

They had gotten done with detention early that night, just like all the others, and Lily wondered if Scorpius was working intentionally fast just for this reason, to steal away a few moments out on the grounds, not in his dormitory or hers but just on the soft bed of grass.

She was trying not to shake as he planted kisses up along the curve of her neck and towards her earlobe, suddenly feeling very young and very, very scared. They had never gone any further than this but the pressure of Scorpius’ increasingly feverish kisses was making her head spin and her thoughts spin about themselves in their haste to flee her mind and abandon her senses, all but her physical senses, that is.

In a sudden moment of fear, Lily thought of Albus and how he had reacted to even the idea that Lily had stayed with Scorpius in his room, her thoughts rapidly shifting from him to her mother, wondering what Ginevra Potter would say if she could see Lily now, struggling to know what to do with herself as the son of Draco Malfoy trailed kisses down the angles of her cheek. He finally lowered his mouth to capture her lips with his and Lily’s entire body trembled in response.

He pulled back suddenly, looking down at her. “Are you cold?” he asked, his eyebrows knitting together. Lily nodded frantically but rather than help her up from the ground to go inside, Scorpius smirked down at her, whispering against her lips instead, “Guess we ought to warm you up then…” he trailed off.

Lily’s eyes flew wide and she immediately pressed her hands to his chest to push him away, enough that she could breathe. She turned her head to the side, gasping for air and trying to keep tears from forming, utterly terrified.

“Lils?”

She clamped one hand over his mouth, hoping to keep him silent but his lips moved against the palm of her hand and she let out a small cry, trying to turn away from him as she swiftly released him.

“Lily, what’s wrong?” he asked, genuinely worried as he bent down to see that the small girl beneath him had tears in her eyes, one streaking down her cheek. He brushed it away with his fingertips, trying to turn her face towards his.

“Lily, look at me…”

“No, no, I d-don’t… I don’t want to do this…” she cried, feeling scared and unable to look at him, her eyes squeezed tightly shut.

“Hey,” he breathed, lightly brushing her hair back from her eyes, finally turning her chin so that she was looking up at him, struggling not to cry. “Oh, Lils, I’m sorry… I would have never… I didn’t mean… If you weren’t ready… I-I wasn’t…”

“I want to go home,” she cried, meaning Gryffindor Tower but unconsciously referring to her parents’ house where her mother could have wrapped her in a warm hug and given her a hot cup of tea, comforting her.

Scorpius stared down at Lily fearfully, feeling his throat tighten quite painfully. “Lils, Lily, I’m sorry,” he whispered sincerely, brushing another tear from her eyes.

She started shaking with barely repressed tears and Scorpius pulled her up into a sitting position, cradling her to his chest and whispering apologies as he felt his heartbeat slow, almost stopping.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered again, doing his best to comfort her. Eventually she began to sink against his embrace, her shuddering form slowly breathing evenly in and out again. Tears were still streaking down her cheeks, but Scorpius only kissed a few, trying to keep her calm. He had only wanted to get her in enough of a state to be able to more easily convince her of running away with him, as he’d been asking her for a few days now but she’d never really listened to, always clamping up and walking quickly away when the note and its contents were mentioned.

Holding her now and rubbing soothing circles over her back, Scorpius knew he’d gone too far and simply leaned his cheek against hers, realizing Slytherin manipulating had gotten him nowhere. Swallowing tightly, he whispered softly in her ear, trying to divert her attention from her near panic of only a few moments earlier back to what he’d originally wanted to ask from her.

“Lily? Lily, are you listening to me?” he asked.

She nodded faintly against him, her hands still wound tightly around his neck.

He reached into the pocket of his trousers, setting a crumbled bit of parchment in her hand and closing her fingers around it.

Lily flinched back with a hiccoughed cry at the feel of the rough edges of the paper, smooth where it was worn and thick where it wasn’t. She immediately knew what it was and tried to let go of it but Scorpius’ fingers wound around her wrist, preventing her from letting it tumble to the ground, forgotten as she wanted it.

“No, d-don’t…” she cried against his chest.

“Yes, Lils, it’s real, you know it is. You can feel it, squeeze it in your fingers…”

Lily shook her head back and forth, her chest heaving with shuddering cries. “N-no, no, I d-don’t want to touch it…”

Scorpius squeezed his eyes tightly shut, fiercely kissing the crown of her scarlet hair, dark as the color of blood in the moonlight, her skin almost translucently pale. “It’s real, Lily, what’s going on back home is as real as that crumbled bit of parchment in your hands…”

“No…”

“When we go back in a few weeks, that’s all that will be waiting for us, your mum and my dad and everything else is going to be falling apart and in shambles…”

“S-stop it…” she cried, her fingers clenching tightly.

“I can’t, Lily. It’s happening and you know it is, there’s no getting away from it.”

“We have to!” she sobbed, clinging tightly to him, his grip still forcing her to touch the wrinkled letter, the feel of it sending a stinging and burning pain up through her fingertips. “I don’t want to go back,” she cried. “I don’t want to see them!”

“You don’t have to,” Scorpius whispered quietly, his arms curling around her, holding her and swaying gently to calm her, hating that he had had to make her cry to make her see sense, though he told himself that her tears were really for her own good, forcing her to confront the sure destruction of their families because of their parents’ affair. “We don’t have to go back,” he repeated again.

“H-how?” Lily asked brokenly.

Scorpius leaned close towards her trembling body, whispering softly in her ear, trying not to feel guilty for the state she was in. “We’ll just not go home, Lils. We’ll get out of here, runaway, and I promise we’ll go together…”

Her small chest heaved with a tiny cry and she nodded her head against his chest. He finally released her wrist so that the parchment fell out of her slack fingers and fluttered away in the night breeze. She wound her arms around his neck, clinging to him as she tearfully agreed and Scorpius only rocked her back and forth, watching as the small scrap of parchment whipped up in the breeze and disappeared into the darkness with a rustle of shredding paper.

End Notes:
Thanks to Miss Opal for her beta as always!

And for anyone interested in beta-ing a completed 9 chapter story for me, please let me know. Properly used commas always seem to elude me and I could use some help ;)

Forwarding Addresses by Rosalie

Playlist Ch. 21: ‘Not Now But Soon’ by Imogen Heap

Chapter Twenty-one: Forwarding Addresses

Lounging lazily back in his compartment of the Hogwarts’ Express, Scorpius let his eyes fall shut, pressing his forehead against the cool glass of the train and releasing a deep sigh. When he opened his eyes, he was forced to immediately shut them again if he didn’t want to be sick. The scenery rushing by was enough to unsettle anyone, much less a seventeen year-old boy so unaccountably nervous.

It was finally over.

His seven years at Hogwarts were at an end and he was heading home with everyone else. Only he wasn’t planning on staying home. He tried to calm the nervous anticipation he felt, his hands curling into tight fists in his lap. Lily was nowhere in sight, and though her school trunk was stored beneath one of the seats, its presence did nothing to alleviate his ever-increasing feeling of stress. More unhelpful than even Lily’s absence could have been, was Travis Bletchley’s unwelcome presence in her seat.

The recently graduated Slytherin was kicking back languidly, looking for all the world as if he was the bored, unruffled boy everyone had always assumed him to be. Noticing his slightly sweaty palms, Scorpius was willing to bet that he was anything but.

“I told you I haven’t bloody seen Rose already, Bletchley,” Scorpius groaned, pressing his forehead further against the glass window and hoping its relative coolness would somehow alleviate his building headache.

Travis scowled over at Scorpius, stretching his arms back and behind his head to rest against with practiced indifference and a smirk on his lips. “We just bloody graduated after seven years of schooling together, and you still can’t call me by my first name, can you, Malfoy?”

Scorpius snorted, not even facing the boy, not wanting to give him the satisfaction, though the corner of his lips did turn upwards a fraction of an inch. “Not on your life, Bletchley.”

Both Slytherins grinned to themselves, neither caring to point out just how incredibly juvenile they were both acting, thinking it simply suited their friendship.

“So, where’s your redhead, then?” Travis asked, one eyebrow raised as a smirk overtook his lips.

Scorpius only sighed in response, finally turning in his seat enough to face the boy across from him, a dark expression crossing his face. “Presumably she’s off to find Rose somewhere, which I still don’t know where, so for the hundredth time, stop asking me.”

“Don’t know what you’re talking about,” Travis smirked, arms now folded across his chest, looking smug. “I only asked once, it's hardly my fault you keep interpreting my carefully crafted facial expressions as that of wanting further information.”

Scorpius rolled his eyes, unable to help from taking the mickey out of him. “Yes, I can’t imagine why I would think such a thing with your pathetic puppy eyes searching out the hall every few seconds,” he scoffed.

“No worse than you, moping like someone kicked your Kneazle.”

Scowling darkly at the boy across from him, Scorpius wondered at how he could have ever considered them to be friends. Deciding to tease him further, Scorpius went on, wanting to have the last word. “You know, it really is beginning to be just pathetic, Bletchley. Your obsession with Rose, that is. You’ve only been following her around for what? Seven years now? Going to trail after her to university for another seven? See if she finally takes notice?” he sneered.

Travis only shrugged, unfazed. “You know, Scorpius, not everyone has to get beaten to a pulp in front of the whole damn school in a show of bravado to decide what’s worth fighting for,” he said, only a shadow of superiority crossing his features. “Some people, myself included, know what they want and just wait for it.”

Scorpius sneered, glaring hatefully out the window once more at the memory of his two public school fights a few weeks previously. Bletchley had certainly been the one to come out on top this time in their verbal sparring, that was for damn sure.

“Besides,” Travis continued. “Rose would never take seven years more to finish her schooling. She could get a handful of degrees in as many as two years and you know it.”

Scorpius shrugged, admitting this was true. “I don’t even see why she’s going to university,” he said, “It’s not as if her NEWTS aren’t high enough for any position in the Ministry or other training program. What is she thinking? More than that, how do you seem to know so much about it?” he asked, his eyes narrowing in on the boy across from him.

Travis answered unconcernedly, waving Scorpius’ questions off with a careless wave of his hand. “She’s wanting to go into psychology, she told me, and I happen to know because she talks to me.”

Scorpius snorted aloud at this, trying and failing not to laugh. “You’re kidding? She doesn’t talk to you! She’s been avoiding you for years, ever since you tried snogging her under the mistletoe in Charms first year.”

“I was eleven,” Travis spat indignantly.

“And so was she, didn’t stop her from hexing you six ways back from Sunday,” Scorpius laughed.

Travis rolled his eyes, standing up and smartly straightening his robes. “Well, much as I love to be a victim of your verbal abuse, I just caught sight of a few redheads down the hall and chances are one of them is mine.”

“You wish,” Scorpius muttered under his breath.

The other boy smacked his friend upside the head, managing to escape just out of arms’ reach when Scorpius attempted to strike him back. Travis raised a warning eyebrow at him and both boys’ hard expressions crumpled as they chuckled at themselves.

“Go and get the hell out of here, Bletchley!” Scorpius shouted as Travis left the compartment, a roguish ‘Sod you!’ being echoed back to him before his compartment door was slammed unceremoniously in his face.

Rolling his eyes, Travis turned and knocked straight into one of the two redheads, Lily Potter’s muffled squeak causing him to back up a few feet in apology, thinking her narrowed eyes were a sign of irritation rather than appraisal.

“Looking for Rose?” she asked teasingly, her green eyes shining.

Deciding that silence was his best option, Travis pressed his lips tightly shut, trying to fight the heat creeping up the back of his neck. God, he was as bad as a first year!

Lily only giggled and pointed a finger down the train’s aisle, watching as the Slytherin boy’s eyes followed her line of sight, his flush increasing ten-fold as he caught sight of the other redhead a few cars down. “Thanks,” he muttered gruffly, moving past Lily and down the train’s aisle towards Rose, studiously ignoring the delighted expression on the younger girl’s face before she slid into his formerly vacated compartment to rejoin her boyfriend.

Rose was busy talking to one of her former roommates down the way, completely unaware of the Slytherin’s eyes on her as he headed towards her. Pulling a Muggle ink pen out from her jeans pocket and scrawling her new address for university onto her friend’s hand, Rose glanced up just in time to see a pair of blue eyes, immediately glancing away again and trying to concentrate on the proper spelling of said address.

Elbowing Scorpius to stop him from sniggering, Lily shot her boyfriend a filthy look and then returned her attention to her cousin and her stalker once more, trying to stop the grin from overtaking her face. “You don’t really think that’s cute, do you?” Scorpius whined.

“Oh, shut it, you are hardly the romantic type, so don’t go judging Travis for being utterly adorable,” she shushed him.

Adorable?” he choked, spluttering indignantly. “And how exactly am I not romantic?”

“Please,” she laughed, turning sparking green eyes upwards. “The first time you kissed me, you shoved me up against a wall,” she laughed.

“Technically, the first time I kissed you was in Diagon Alley,” he corrected.

Lily cast a withering glance at him. “My point exactly,” she drawled but he only grinned back at her, shrugging unapologetically as she turned back to watch Rose, who was now seeming very agitated indeed.

“I still don’t see how mooning over a girl like he is, is at all adorable,” he muttered.

“Because he’s been head-over-arse in love with her for seven years!

“That doesn’t make his actions adorable, it makes him a bloody stalker!” Scorpius scoffed.

SHH!” Lily hissed, motioning for quiet. “They’re talking!”

Scorpius rolled his eyes but clamped his mouth shut, well aware of the good smack his girlfriend would give him if he didn’t shut the bloody hell up!

Sliding the cap of her pen back in place, Rose smiled weakly at Hannah as the girl turned to walk back down the compartment the way she’d come. Biting down on her lip and trying not to meet those blue eyes a second time, Rose began to slowly turn, hoping there was a way she could follow after Hannah even though it was the opposite direction of where she had originally been intending to go.

“Hey, erm, Rose?”

Wincing, Rose turned back, schooling her features into a politely questioning look though the pen was still trembling in her fingers. “Y-yes?”

Bletchley ran a hand through his dark hair nervously, cursing the sounds of Scorpius’ sniggers from down the train’s length, a sharp intake of breath meaning that Lily must have elbowed and effectively silenced him.

“Er…”

Rose glanced away from the much taller boy, trying to form an excuse for leaving though for some odd reason her ability to think seemed to be failing her. “Listen, I should… um, get going, lots of people to say goodbye to and all…” she muttered, inwardly cringing at the excuse she made.

Just as she was starting to turn away, Travis took a hurried step towards her, his hand darting out to catch her shoulder and she spun around to face him.

“Wait, Rose, erm, I was just wondering, if… if I could write you? Being as it’s summer and we’re not exactly going back to Hogwarts again…” he trailed off, looking hopeful.

“Oh, God, this is too painful to watch…” Scorpius grumbled under his breath. “Just cut off his balls and call him a Hufflepuff already.”

“Oh, would you shut up!” Lily hissed, smacking his shoulder and looking eagerly back to where the two graduates were still standing uncomfortably, though close together, Travis’ hand still on Rose’s shoulder.

Rose glanced down at that same hand and how big it was, feeling heat seeping though the sleeve of her shirt. “Erm, y-yeah, that… that would be fine, I suppose,” she squeaked.

Travis grinned down at her, looking like he’d just won the Quidditch Cup, “Yeah? I mean, really?” he asked excitedly.

Rose smiled up at him, trying not to blush at the attention from this boy she’d ran from for nearly as long as she’d known him. “Erm, yeah, I guess so…”

“Can I have your address, then?”

“Like he doesn’t already know it,” Scorpius scoffed quietly, wincing when he felt another sharp jab to his stomach. “Damnit, Lils,” he croaked.

“I said, SHUSH!” she smiled sweetly down at him, down because he was half-bent over, clutching at his ribs and trying to breathe.

Unable to keep from smiling at least a little bit, Rose uncapped her pen once more and held her hand out, carefully not meeting Travis’ eyes as she wrote her new university address across the back of his hand. “Oh, and erm, I-I won’t be starting up at univeristy until September… so… here’s where I’ll be till then,” she squeaked, scrawling down a second address beneath the first. When she finally gained the courage to look upwards, it was to see a full-out grin on Travis’ face and before she knew what to do, he had leaned forward to swiftly kiss her cheek, both their faces flaming red when he pulled back.

“I, erm, alright, then,” he said.

“Yeah,” Rose breathed.

Travis grinned at her one last time before finally saying goodbye and heading down the train’s length, opposite from the direction that would lead him to his still sniggering friend. He glanced back over his shoulder at Rose as he went, positively beaming when he caught sight of the small curve of her lips and the twinge of pink in her cheeks. Glancing proudly back down at the addresses scrawled across his hand, he kept himself calm and composed, inwardly wanting to shove his marked-upon hand right back in Scorpius’ face and dance like a mad-man.

Rose had barely turned around before there was a flurry of red tendrils flying towards her and an excited squeal from Lily, the younger girl’s arms squeezing her ribcage painfully tight. “OH, MY GOD!” she squealed, “YOU TWO WERE SO CUTE!” she shrieked.

“Lily, I can’t breathe,” Rose gasped, laughing as she did so.

When her cousin finally released her, Rose was able to catch sight of Scorpius standing a few feet away, arms crossed smugly as he leaned back against his compartment door. “Why, Rose, I’m hurt,” he frowned, placing his hand over his heart in mock seriousness. “You never gave me your address, certainly not both of them,” he chuckled.

Rose wrinkled her nose distastefully at him, no longer able to fight the blush creeping over her face.

Lily only clapped her hands together, bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet. “Oh, that’s it! You have to tell me everything,” she enthused, seizing her cousin’s arm and dragging her back to an unused compartment, her boyfriend rolling his eyes behind her.

“Not like you didn’t see the entire sorry scene,” he sighed exasperatedly while Lily only dragged Rose further away from him, not giving him a second’s attention which made Rose erupt into giggles.

“And I suppose that I ought to just wait for you here?” he called after them. “All by myself, me and the trunks?”

“Maybe if you hadn’t taken the mickey out of Travis so badly, you wouldn’t have to sit all by your ickle self!” Lily sang, sweeping Rose into the nearest empty compartment so fast she fell against the seat, Lily slamming the door shut behind herself. “Now,” she sighed dramatically, face alight. “Tell me everything!”

Rose shook her head in laughter, refusing to give anymore details than Lily had already, wanting to keep everything to herself for just a little longer, to drag out the feeling she still didn’t quite understand and enjoy it. All she knew was that she had been utterly devastated by Scorpius’ rejection a few weeks earlier and that she was now feeling so good that she could even make light of his relationship with her cousin, turning the teasing back on her. “He really is a petulant child, isn’t he?” she laughed, referring to Scorpius.

Lily giggled in response, smiling fondly back behind herself despite the compartment door that prevented her from seeing much of anything much less anyone. “Yes, he is a bit of a prat in that respect, but really, he is good in spite of his spoilt brat tendencies.”

“Seems like it,” Rose smiled, her light mood wilting as she looked at her cousin, trying to gauge whether or not Scorpius had been successful in convincing her to run away with him. She’d been afraid to say anything before now, worried that somehow she would only be contributing to the problem. Now though, they were on the train back and she wondered…

“So, erm, have any plans for summer?” she asked carefully.

Lily’s smile immediately vanished as she turned back to face her cousin and Rose felt her heart abruptly plummet. “Erm, yeah, well, s-sort of…” Lily trailed off, becoming fidgety as she played with her fingertips in her lap.

“What kind of plans?” Rose questioned.

Lily wet her lips, looking away for a moment, seeming uncomfortable. “I really should have told you sooner, but I just… I suppose now’s the first time it’s really starting to feel… final…”

Rose reached across the small compartment, lightly touching her friend’s knee. “What’s final, Lily?”

“You know,” she sucked in a breath to steady herself, “you know all about that… that note, right?”

Rose nodded.

“Well, Scorpius reckons that things are only going to get worse back home and erm… well…”

“What is it, Lily?” Rose breathed though from the sinking feeling in her gut, she was sure she already knew. It would explain Scorpius’ agitation recently, Lily’s too bright smile the past few weeks… ever since Scorpius had asked for her help in convincing the other girl to go with him that day in detention…

“Lily?” Rose prompted.

“Alright, don’t interrupt me for just a moment, okay?”

Rose nodded, her hands balling together as she bit down on her lower lip.

“Um, well, Scorpius’ parents had provided for him to go on holiday to the continent as a graduation present. He’s known about it since the start of his sixth year, his mum let it slip ages ago… And, well, he wants me to come with him.”

Rose breathed a sigh of relief. A holiday might not be that bad, depending on…

“How long would you be gone?” she asked as lightly as she could.

Here Lily winced, averting her gaze as she answered. “I-I’m not quite sure…”

“Like, a few weeks, months even?” Rose asked, her voice starting to shake.

Lily’s face flushed, leaning further away from her cousin and back in her chair. “I, erm, I don’t think we’ll be coming back, anytime soon,” she added when she caught sight of the alarm in Rose’s eyes.

Immediately, Rose felt her hands ball into fists, so angry they were shaking. “Have you lost your mind?” she hissed. “You’re actually suggesting dropping out of school, out of Hogwarts and you’ve not even taken a single NEWT-level class yet!”

“Keep your voice down!” Lily hissed, glancing fearfully behind herself though the compartment door was still closed.

“Why are you doing this?” Rose demanded. “Because your boyfriend asked you to?”

“Yes!” Lily spat out defensively, flushing when she caught up to herself, “I mean, no, but, you don’t even know what’s going on back home, Rose!”

“Neither do you! Did it ever occur to you that that note wasn’t true? That it was all just…”

“What? My mum and his dad only looked like they were having an affair together?” Lily spat out scathingly, starting to rise from her seat she was so indignant. “No, Rose,” she sarcastically enthused, “that never did occur to me!”

“Lily, just listen to me!” Rose cried, seizing her cousin’s wrist to tug her back down but the younger girl only shook her hand off, glaring down at her with tears in her eyes.

“You don’t know anything, Rose!” she cried, tears streaking down her face. “This is why I didn’t tell you sooner! I knew you’d try to stop us!”

“You’re damn right, I’ll try and stop you!” Rose spat, rising to her full height and glaring at her cousin. “What you’re doing is utterly foolish and Scorpius is an idiot for thinking this solves anything!”

“What do you know?” Lily scoffed, turning to rip the door back open but Rose’s hand on hers prevented her. “What, Rose? What else do you have to say?” she cried, turning on her older cousin with hot tears spilling down her cheeks.

Rose looked aghast at this, suddenly unable to form a reply. “W-when do you leave?” she finally choked.

“Three days,” Lily sniffled, swiping at her tear-filled eyes.

Rose felt her shoulders deflate. Only three days. Three days to try and convince her distraught younger cousin not to make the biggest mistake of her life and they hadn’t even pulled into the station yet.

“Lily…”

“Just don’t, Rose. You go back to y-your family and I’ll go home to mine, but I’m not staying and nothing you can say will be enough to stop me!”

“Lily!”

But Rose was too late, helpless to do anything but watch as her cousin flung the compartment door open and fled down the aisle, vanishing into Scorpius’ and her compartment with a small sob. Rose sank heavily back against her seat in the now empty compartment, her mind buzzing hopelessly. She dropped her head in her hand with a frustrated sigh.

And it was supposed to be the holiday

King's Cross by Rosalie

Playlist Ch. 22: ‘A Lack of Color’ by Death Cab for Cutie

Chapter Twenty-two: King’s Cross

Ginny tried not to cringe as she walked alongside her husband, her brother, and his wife through King’s Cross station, her arms wound about in an effort to hug herself despite the warmth of June and the approaching summer. She was a mess and she freely admitted it, to herself at least. With Harry’s arm around her shoulders and Hermione’s disapproving glare sent her way every few seconds, it was a wonder she found the courage to walk forward at all, grateful only that Ron seemed to be oblivious as ever, something she was infinitely grateful for now.

Truthfully, Ginny knew that Harry was not trying to upset her with his arm around her shoulders, only trying to offer her some small amount of comfort after the horrible last few weeks she’d had. Ever since their fight the night she’d come home from Hogwarts and their children’s fight in the hospital wing, their marriage had been strained, made more difficult and almost impossible after her visit to Draco and the childish way she’d locked herself in their bathroom once she’d come home. Harry had been kind enough to blame himself for that one, horrified by his hangover in the morning and realizing he’d very nearly frightened his wife when she finally had come home. Ginny hadn’t bothered to correct him with saying that she hadn’t been so much scared of him as she’d simply wanted to avoid him.

Unfair though it may have been, Ginny wanted to blame her husband for manipulating her all those years ago in the kitchen of her and Draco’s flat, whether he truly meant to or not. A rational part of Ginny’s mind reminded her that Harry had never been intentionally manipulative of her in their entire marriage, but what did that matter if their entire marriage may have been founded upon that first hint of a threat all those years ago?

Shaking her head to herself, Ginny tried to focus on putting one foot in front of the other, her head down and unable to look upwards. Harry seemed to stiffen at her small shake of her head, glancing at her with his jaw uncomfortably clenched. He lightly rubbed her shoulders to gain her attention and Ginny glanced up at him, quickly looking away, well aware of the way in which her sister-in-law was watching her like a hawk, eyes narrowed suspiciously.

Ginny and Hermione, once trusted friends, hadn’t spoken since the fight between their daughters in the hospital wing. It no longer mattered that Lily and Rose had made up since then, as contrary to Harry’s earlier assurances, Hermione was deciding to become a very difficult problem indeed. After witnessing their daughters’ fight and seeing the way Draco had held her when she’d collapsed into tears in the corridor, Hermione had a right to her suspicions, feeling that the revelation of Ginny’s past was nothing less than a betrayal to Harry and blaming their daughters’ fighting on her as well. Glancing aside to her sister-in-law, Ginny knew that if she was looking for sympathy, she would not find it from her.

Feeling the whisper of her husband’s voice in her ear before she actually heard it, Ginny kept her vision fixed downward, still childishly wishing to avoid making eye contact.

“We’re at the platform, Gin,” he murmured.

Finally looking up, she saw that it was true and then with Harry directing her ahead of him, they stepped through the barrier and onto Platform 9 ¾. Immediately, Ginny senses were assaulted by the families crowding the platform and she was grateful for the relief from the awkwardness of her own family.

With the train still ten minutes out from the station, Ginny had nothing better to do than glance around herself, taking in the sights of other, less dysfunctional families and thankfully avoiding Hermione’s interfering questions, all so innocent but laced with an undercurrent of suspicion and dislike. Purposefully relaxing her shoulders and trying to appear unaffected by the hostility of her sister-in-law’s close proximity, Ginny was more than grateful that they had abandoned any notion of sharing a car with Ron and Hermione. The walk through the station had been difficult enough and she shuddered to think what a good hour or two would have been like in the bushy-haired woman’s company.

“Oy, are you two ever going to loosen up around each other?” Ron lamented aloud, rolling his eyes and jostling his wife with a bump to her shoulder. Hermione fixed a cold glare back at her husband and Ginny squeezed her eyes tightly shut, wanting to curse her brother’s stupidity in addressing the tension between them.

“Knock it off, Ron,” Hermione bit out.

“Are you mad? You two are normally going on like a pair of harpies over the Lily said this, and Rose scored that, and Hugo and Albus and Quidditch and James…”

“Your point, Ronald?” Hermione snapped, glaring fiercely at her husband with her arms crossed over her chest.

Ron seemed to falter for a moment, glancing across at Harry with an incredulous expression. “Do you see this mate? I’m tempted to think they’re both knocked up again! Wouldn’t surprise me at all what with the tiff these two are in. Merlin knows I’d hate to live through that hell a third time! Ow, damn it, Mione!” he cursed, nearly doubling over after receiving a sharp elbow to the ribs and grimacing.

Hermione spared but a withering glance for her husband before her gaze caught Ginny’s, dislike clear in every rigid angle of her expression. Ginny only glanced away, not actually bothering to feel sorry for her brother, just wishing he’d kept his damn mouth shut.

“That was hardly necessary, Hermione,” Harry admonished though his cheeks were tinged red from Ron’s all-too true referral to the two times their wives had been pregnant at the same time, first with Albus and Rose, then Lily and Hugo respectively. He and Ginny had been fortunate enough to have James as their first, without Ron and Hermione tagging along to birthing classes. He shuddered remembering how unbearable it had been when both women were pregnant, Hermione’s nastiness affecting his wife’s normally cheerful disposition and leading to more than several occasions where he and Ron would meet up at the local pub, ready to get pissed.

Matter of fact, Harry realized, glancing back and forth between the two women, Ron had been perfectly right in saying they were hostile with each other, and Harry remembered with a sickening feeling the fact that Hermione had been present when the truth of his wife’s past with Malfoy had come to light. Conflicted and unsure whether he wanted to defend his wife’s actions or not, Harry settled for silence, assuring himself that he certainly couldn’t bring the whole thing up in front of a clueless Ron anyway. Sighing deeply, he turned to loop his arm once more around his wife’s shoulders, but Ginny immediately tensed at his touch and he let his arm drop, feeling sick. She didn’t so much as glance back at him, averting her gaze to anywhere else.

Swallowing thickly, he turned again, catching Hermione’s eye without meaning to, and he certainly didn’t like the anger he saw swirling in her eyes, Ginny’s discomfort with him clearly serving as some sort of confirmation to Hermione and he shuddered to think what.

With her body tightly wound and her emotions rising up inside of her, Ginny’s eyes flitted around the platform, desperate to focus on anything but herself and the fact that her marriage was falling apart, that she was in fact letting it and helping it along with her practiced distance. She’d been unable to sleep for days, though, and her nerves were on end, the presence of tears near constant. Glancing around, she caught sight of a streak of blond and refocused her attention, feeling a pang of loss as she stared after Draco Malfoy, the same sick feeling blossoming in her chest as she always felt every time she caught a glimpse of him on Platform 9 ¾. So focused on Draco, Ginny hardly noticed the white-blond head of the man standing beside him, somewhat bowed as he spoke to his son.

*

Draco tried not to roll his eyes as his father attempted to look haughtily down at the lesser witches and wizards all around them, struggling because of his rather bowed stance from age and a few extended stays in Azkaban, the first when he’d been caught in the Department of Mysteries all those years ago and again the several months between the end of the war and his trial in which Potter had testified on the Malfoy family’s behalf and he’d been set free.

Glancing aside at his father, Draco was grateful that Azkaban had not had a worse effect on the proud man, as looking down to others would have proven much more difficult had his bones shifted any more. There was something sick about the place, Draco shuddered, and he owed Potter an immeasurable debt for sparing his father from that Dementor-infested prison. So it seems, were Lucius’ exact thoughts.

“Ah, look, there he is, the Savior of the Wizarding World,” Lucius Malfoy sneered.

Draco rolled his eyes once again, glancing only off-handedly back to where Harry Potter stood with his family, carefully passing over the sight of his wife’s red hair, unable to risk losing his train of thought and thinking of her in front of his father’s probing gaze. Instead, Draco merely shrugged, glancing back down at his wrist watch and wondering when the damn train would arrive.

“Look at that pretentious bastard,” Lucius continued, his displeasure deepening, unable to look away from the man he owed more than his life to. “I hate even looking at him,” he spat.

“Yes, well, I did tell you that I could manage picking up my own son well enough on my own,” Draco sighed. “You certainly didn’t have to come and be subjected to Potter’s atrocious company all on the other side of the bleeding platform.”

“Nonsense,” Lucius waved him off, straightening himself up to glance down the still empty train tracks once more. “It’s the last time my grandson will come home from that school and I intend to welcome him back properly.”

“You could have welcomed him home, at home,” Draco pointed out, smirking slightly knowing he was getting on his father’s last and very short nerves. “Astoria would have even kept you company, and you could have forgotten all about Potter while helping her order the house-elves into setting up for Scorpius’ arrival home.”

Lucius cast his son a withering glance that made Draco feel like he was only sixteen again, and he struggled not to roll his eyes as his father remained unamused. “You are patronizing me,” he spat.

“Perhaps,” Draco conceded with a shrug and playful smirk.

Lucius raised his head proudly, refusing to let his middle-aged son gain the upper hand in their petty battle. “You don’t understand what you would be asking me to miss,” he said. “Now that he has graduated, this will be the first time seeing my grandson as a full-fledged wizard.”

“As if he wasn’t one at his graduation you attended only a week ago,” Draco smirked.

“Enough. I tire of arguing with you simply for the sake of it.”

“Is that why you look so disdainful?” Draco chuckled.

“Unfortunately, no,” Lucius drawled, glancing back at the Potter family once more. “Every time that I catch sight of that scarred menace, I have the uncomfortable inclination to go and thank him for his testimony on my behalf,” Lucius spat out disgustedly. “These wizard’s debts are far too inglorious in my opinion and I despise every minute that I feel so inclined to reassure him of my unending gratitude.”

Draco shook his head to himself, glancing off down the still empty train tracks once more. “Do as you feel you must, but remember that I suggested you wait back at the manor,” he sighed, still smirking slightly.

Lucius cast him a disparaging glance before proudly turning on his heel and moving straight towards Harry Potter, hating every second of life that he had felt was indebted to the younger man.

Draco watched him go, finally letting his shoulders relax as he glanced past his father to where Potter was standing, Ginny beside him, hugging herself. Their eyes met for a moment and she quickly looked away, shame-faced and Draco felt as though he’d swallowed something awful.

Despite her looking away, Draco drank in the sight of her, remembering the morning she’d come to see him at work, the fear she’d tried to overcome to tell him her real motives for leaving, the fear she had been unable to get past and the truth she’d left buried, still haunting him, weeks after her visit, years after her departure. Swallowing painfully, Draco let his gaze trail over her scarlet, nearly waist-length hair, her slender waist and her Muggle jeans. He smirked at that, remembering how she’d once convinced him of wearing Muggle clothing as well, seeing that it had never quite lost its appeal to her. His eyes traveling back up, seeking out her face once more, Draco stiffened, seeing Potter’s arm loop itself around her shoulders. If he noticed the way his wife flinched, her body growing tight, Potter didn’t acknowledge it. Instead, he wrapped his arm around his wife’s waist, as if subconsciously reminding Draco that she belonged to him.

But Harry Potter was not directing any such thoughts towards Draco Malfoy, as when Draco blinked and tried to clear the sudden haze that had come over him, he saw that Potter was smiling weakly and nodding politely to his father, Lucius having gone to speak with him. Breathing shallowly in and out, Draco tried to calm himself, reminding himself that this was why he did not let himself linger on thoughts of Ginny, of the woman he could never keep his eyes away from for long. In a moment of pure weakness, he glanced back, seeing that she was still standing as rigidly as ever, her lower lip trembling as she struggled not to meet Draco’s father’s gaze.

His brow furrowing in confusion, Draco glanced between his father and Ginny, unsure of why she was so tense. She had always supported his father, if only to support him in the time they’d been together. Had she changed her mind about him in the years she’d spent with Potter, unable to even direct a proper smile at the man? No, no something wasn’t right, Draco realized, openly scrutinizing the three.

It had always been Potter who disliked his father. It had even been Ginny’s doing that he agreed to testify for the Malfoy patriarch at all, feeling that while the man’s family was innocent and redeemable, Lucius ought to rot in prison for the rest of his life. It was part of the reason Lucius hated thanking him so much, because Potter never wanted to help him.

Staring at the three people standing together, Draco felt his mind whirling back through his memories, an insistent feeling prodding at his mind. His eyes met Ginny’s for a moment and he froze, seeing the way her face crumpled upon seeing him, silent tears coursing down her cheeks. She averted her gaze, glancing sickeningly at his father and then staring down at her shoes, trying to keep her shoulders from shaking so long as her husband’s arm remained fixed around her waist.

Seeing her distress, something in Draco’s mind finally clicked and he felt as if all the air had been expelled from his lungs, his soul seemingly ripped from his body by the cold, harsh reality of what he’d just realized.

Potter hated his father.

Potter never had wanted him anywhere but in Azkaban.

Ginny had convinced him to testify on Lucius’ behalf, on Draco’s behalf.

And the trial had been the same morning Ginny had decided to leave him.

His breathing suddenly shallow, Draco took an unconscious step back, his mind reeling. He was going to be sick. He was going to fall to his knees and vomit out his humanity. Trying to focus his thoughts, his breathing, hearing the blood pounding in his ears, rage infusing every inch of his skin, Draco tried to keep his bearings, to keep from falling apart or launching himself forward across the station and ripping Potter to pieces.

He was going to kill him.

Memories, moments frozen in time and suppressed by hurt, flitted though his mind, burned against his retinas.

Ginny’s sixteen year old face, grinning cheekily up at him from the couch as he entered the flat, an insult ready on her lips to greet him with. The way her features had darkened, realizing something was wrong when he didn’t immediately respond. The feel of her hand resting comfortingly on his shoulder as she finally convinced him to tell her what was going on. The first time he’d cried in front of her, though only after hurling a frying pan against the back wall of the kitchen, raging about the Ministry and their witch-hunt, how both he and his parents could be sent to Azkaban after the brief two months he’d had thinking his life could piece itself back together. He remembered punching his fist through the wall, Ginny’s arms encircling him, her hands reaching up to bring his face down to hers, to let him bury himself in the slope of her neck. He felt his tears, soaking the neck of her Cannons jersey, the way her fingers ran through his hair. Her voice, usually quipping some snide insult directed towards him, instead had softened as she’d sought to comfort him, assuring him everything would be alright.

His memories stretched out, became longer and fit together seamlessly, like strips of a Muggle film, evidence that should have been so obvious if only her leaving hadn’t hurt him so badly. If only he had tried to make more sense of everything, if only he’d realized that the two were related, the trial, their relationship… It always had been that way; it should have been obvious.

His fears for his family and himself had brought out her compassion and his honesty, binding them together. Only now, standing in the train station with his mind and heart lurching, did Draco realize it had been what had ripped them apart.

Potter had not wanted to testify. He never had. And he had wanted Ginny to return to him, becoming impatient in the last several weeks of their living together. Draco remembered the difference, something he’d shrugged off at the time now standing out so blindingly clear.

Potter had given her time at first. He had come around every few days, eventually only once a week as he’d become bogged down with Auror training. He hadn’t realized that Draco and Ginny’s relationship was shifting until it was too late, having been gone and too busy to catch their shifting feelings any earlier. Harry had become enraged, hurt, coming by more and more frequently, insisting that Ginny come back to him, wear his engagement ring and finally marry him.

Draco had never been present for these confrontations but he remembered the state he always found Ginny in afterwards, miserable and in tears.

He remembered the first time he’d come home from looking into his father’s trial, both his own and his mother’s having been decided months earlier, Lucius’ pushed back as far as possible by the vengeful Ministry.

Draco had Apparated directly into the living room, his brow furrowing as he didn’t see Ginny there or in the kitchen. He called her name, wandering down the small hallway and glancing into her bedroom, seeing it was empty. The bathroom door was wide open, and she wasn’t there either. Feeling nervous and calling for her again, Draco had gone to search his own bedroom, taking a step back when he saw her lying on his bed, her red hair disheveled and tears streaking down her cheeks.

“Gin, what’s the matter?” he’d asked, sitting down lightly beside her and brushing her hair away from her face. Her brown eyes, full of tears had glanced up at him, her lower lip trembling.

She had softly admitted that Harry had come by again and Draco had stiffened, wondering why this time she was crying, though the pang in his chest told him he already knew the answer. Harry hadn’t come around much since their relationship began becoming something more. He’d been too busy with work and they hadn’t wanted to tell him. The tears in her eyes were evidence enough that he knew now.

“W-what am I doing here?” Ginny asked in choked whisper. “What am I doing h-hiding away from m-my boyfriend… trying to put off marrying him…”

“That’s no reason to cry, Gin,” Draco soothed, lightly rubbing her shoulder, she still not having moved in the slightest, her cheek pressed against his pillow, tears still falling and he wondered how long she’d been lying there.

“N-no?” she laughed, tears tumbling down her cheeks. “Then what is?”

Draco leaned down to press his lips to her temple, sitting up once more and still rubbing her shoulder. “Clearly I am the much better flatmate, better bloke, better shag…” he trailed off.

“You think so, we haven’t quite tested that theory yet,” she chuckled, smiling tearfully up at him.

“Do you consider him your boyfriend still?” Draco asked quietly, trying not to pressure her into answering a certain way but wanting to know, needing to know how she felt, needing to know if he was only setting himself up for heartbreak from a girl he couldn’t possibly bring himself to ever leave.

Ginny stared up at him, not saying anything for a moment. “I don’t know what any of us are,” she admitted quietly. “I don’t know if I’m engaged or not, as technically Harry says all I did was postpone it…”

“Run away, more like,” Draco cut in gruffly.

Ginny sighed, staring miserably down at his now tear-stained pillow. “I’m living with you, but… but those weren’t our original intentions when we signed the lease…”

“And now?” he questioned.

“Now,” she chuckled, “I’m fending off continuous pursuits from you every day.”

Draco smirked, lifting her hand to press a kiss against her fingers, his eyes never leaving hers.

She smiled weakly up at him, the curve of her lips seemingly forced. “I don’t know what I’m doing anymore.”

“You’ll have to make a decision eventually,” Draco whispered somberly.

“I know, that’s what Harry says…” she trailed off.

“How soon?” Draco asked, hoping she didn’t catch the way his breath hitched, his world seeming to upend just at the thought that she might ever leave him.

She shook her head sadly back and forth, tears falling once more. “I don’t know. All I know is he said soon… and I’m no sooner to knowing what I want…”

“I know what I want…” Draco whispered, leaning down enough that she couldn’t possibly look away from him, his silver eyes piercing hers.

“What?” she breathed, heedless to the way her eyes glittered with teardrops clinging to her eyelashes, her scarlet hair scattered around her in a tangle that left her looking stunning, her lips slightly parted in question.

Draco leaned down to swiftly capture her lips with his, closing his eyes against the threat that she might ever leave him, hoping that by making himself forget, he could make her forget, make her forget Potter and stay with him forever.

He never thought twice that he should have been using that time to plead with her and ensure she stayed his.

When she returned his kiss and let him roll them both over so that he was holding his weight above her, he never thought he would have to.

She was his perfect match, and nothing should have torn them apart.

“Oh, my God,” Draco breathed, trying to keep his heart from throwing itself against his ribs like a caged animal, wanting to rush to Ginny, to kill Potter… to kill himself for having been so stupid.

She had loved him.

She’d sworn only days before the trial, when he had cried to himself for hours in the locked bathroom, she had laid down outside the door, her gentle voice coming from behind the crack beneath the door, promising him that everything would be okay, that she would be there for him, never leave him, that she would never let anything come between him and his family if she could help it.

She had been what came between them.

Potter had wanted her back and had asked her for an answer only minutes before the trial, minutes before his father’s fate was decided. He couldn’t have asked any earlier than then, because Draco had been home, he would have remembered, would have noticed and read it in Ginny’s expression. But she had been happy, they had been happy.

She had loved him.

And all these years he thought she had chosen Potter to be rid of him.

She had saved him.

Feeling twenty-six years worth of self-hatred, questioning, and loathing building up inside of him, Draco directed all of his fury at the black-haired man standing across the platform, his arm still around Ginny’s waist.

Draco moved towards him, as if in a thick fog that slowed his movement, heedless of the train barreling into the station, the engine’s horn blaring into the cavernous platform, echoing all around them. It was hardly a sound compared to the blood rushing in his ears.

Moving past the other witches and wizards, Draco never let his eyes off of Potter, pushing past some, his hands balling into fists, itching for his wand in his robes. He knocked straight into another man, ready to push past when he realized it was his father, Lucius’ hand clamping down on his shoulder.

“What has gotten into you, Draco?” Lucius demanded incredulously. “The train’s here. Your son’s getting off, two hundred feet behind you,” he said, nodding his chin forward.

Draco glanced back, somehow taking in what his father was saying while simultaneously shrugging it off, not hearing it. It was unimportant, it could wait… Ginny couldn’t wait… Not any longer…

“Draco,” Lucius snapped, shaking his shoulder, his silver harsh gaze piercing his son’s. “I don’t know what has gotten into you, but you will turn around and greet your son properly. This is his first time returning as a true wizard…”

“True wizard, right,” Draco struggled to glance past his father, catching sight of Ginny and seeing her throw her arms around Potter, hugging him to her and smiling past her tears in utter relief. He blinked, feeling sick, finally realizing with immeasurable relief that it wasn’t Potter, it wasn’t her husband she was cleaving to her but her son, a boy no older than Scorpius, though he was undeniably the spitting image of Harry Potter.

Trying to calm his breathing, Draco stared after her, his eyes never leaving Ginny’s tear-filled eyes, the smile she struggled to plaster on. He felt his body turning at his father’s prodding, his feet moving in the opposite direction, his head finally turning as he was directed back towards his son, his footsteps stilling as he caught sight of him, his blond head bowed as he kissed his girlfriend goodbye, her red hair concealing her face from his view.

He was staring at his past, seeing himself and Ginny…

But he blinked and it wasn’t them…

Potter had ensured that there never would be a them…

“Greet your son,” Lucius hissed in his ear, pushing him forward. Draco swallowed, watching as his seventeen-year-old son glanced up at him, sheepishly releasing Lily Potter’s hand and murmuring a short goodbye, moving towards his father.

“Hey, Dad,” he said, glancing away awkwardly.

Blinking once, Draco brought his arms around his son, embracing him as he muttered gruffly in his ear, “Welcome home, Scorpius.”

He then released him, carefully avoiding the questioning look in his son’s eyes, letting his father welcome his only grandson back, Draco’s thoughts traveling back to Scorpius and Lily, to a Malfoy and red-haired girl, two heads bowed, silver eyes meeting brown.

He felt as though his heart had stopped in his chest and when he glanced back to try and catch sight of Ginny once more, she was already gone, nothing but the blur of other witches and wizards moving before his searching silver eyes.

Nothing Left To Hold To by Rosalie

Chapter Twenty-three: Nothing Left To Hold To

Playlist Ch. 23: ‘Running Up That Hill’ by Placebo

Rose didn’t know what was worse, knowing that Lily was planning to runaway in only three days time or finally catching sight of her parents on the platform, her mother’s arms crossed over her chest in obvious disgruntlement and her father’s weary roll of his eyes. Breathing a deep sigh and tugging her steamer trunk behind her, Rose was only marginally mollified when her father finally caught sight of her, his expression immediately brightening.

She gave him a tentative wave back and before she knew it, her dad was crossing towards her through the crowd, a look of great relief on his face before he slung an arm around her shoulders and wrapped her in a tight hug.

“Oy, Rosie, thank God you’re back!” he exclaimed, quickly shooting a glance over his shoulder and then ducking low to lower his voice. “Your mum is driving me crazy,” he said, his eyes just wide enough that Rose only thought he looked crazy.

Rose only forced a small smile. She glanced back over his shoulder, her expression faltering upon seeing that he was right. Her mum certainly did look to be in quite the snit, her narrowed brown eyes flitting glaringly back to where the Potter family stood only a few feet away. Rose saw her mother and Lily’s mum make eye-contact and then both quickly looked away, the color rising in her aunt Ginny’s cheeks.

A silent witness to the scene, Rose felt her shoulders deflate, wondering how on earth she would get the chance to talk some sense into Lily when her mum seemed so furious with her aunt. A feeling of enormous guilt flared up inside of her remembering that day in the hospital wing, the things she’d said all before her mother’s watchful eyes.

“Oh, God, this is going to be impossible,” she sighed.

Ron smiled weakly down at her, giving her a good encouraging shake. “Ah, it won’t be that bad, Rosie,” he reassured her. “Your mum’s been scaring me for more than thirty years now and I’m still alright!”

Rose cast her father a withering glance, one eyebrow raised, almost disbelievingly so.

He shrugged his shoulders, his eyes still bright with amusement as he dipped his head. “Point taken,” he said. “Now let me get that trunk for you and we’ll get out of here.”

Rose allowed her dad to take the trunk from her, her fingers releasing the handle only to ball back into a tight fist once more. Staring uncertainly after her father’s retreating footsteps, Rose finally found her voice, struggling to know what to say. “Hey, Dad?” she called in a small voice.

Her father turned back to her, his eyebrows rising in question. “What is it, Rosie?”

Rose opened her mouth but no words came out. She wanted to tell him everything, about the semester and Lily and Scorpius and everything she still had to do to ensure Lily didn’t leave, but somehow she couldn’t say anything, her shoulders slumping in defeat. “It’s nothing. I must have just forgotten. I’m just glad to be home,” she lied, smiling weakly up at him.

“I’m glad you’re back too.” He grinned, ruffling her hair fondly. “And don’t you worry about your mum. It’s summer and it’s sure to be a lot easier than school has been.”

Rose’s smile faltered at that, wondering at the irony of it all. From what she could tell, the summer was going to be a lot harder in these first few days than anything had been all semester.

“Yeah,” she agreed tonelessly, “I’m sure you’re right, Dad.”

Ron nodded and jerked his head back, the two of them finally making their way back to the end of the platform and where Rose’s mother stood, still tapping her foot impatiently.

Lightly clearing her throat, Rose averted her eyes from her mother’s, scanning the crowd for even a glimpse of Lily and she got just that, a flash of her cousin’s red hair just as she slipped through the platform. Sighing deeply, Rose wondered if Lily would just as easily slip out the window when she tried to leave England.

*

Lily slid into the small car, rolling her eyes as Albus elbowed her further away from the door so that he could take her seat. She glared straight back at him but bit her tongue at a single glance from him. He knew too much and it was in part thanks to her that he had spent the last several weeks in detention with Hugo, never mind that Lily had been serving detentions for just as long, though hers had been… more enjoyable with Scorpius for company.

Even thinking about him, Lily felt her cheeks flush scarlet and quickly stared out her own window, her unspoken truce with Albus still hanging there between them.

Her parents noticed nothing in her behavior, her father staring out at the traffic ahead, his brow furrowed and his mouth a thin line. Her mother only stared out the window, arms still crossed over herself to ward off the unnatural chill that never seemed to leave her.

*

Apparating straight from the station to the front lawns of Malfoy Manor, Scorpius’s feet slammed hard into the ground. Glancing up to the big house on the hill, he immediately felt his shoulders relax, recognizing the very feel of being home. Throwing a grin back over his shoulder, Scorpius started up the sloping lawns, his father and grandfather behind him, the early summer breeze wafting around them. Scorpius lengthened his stride, wanting nothing more than to open that front door and be home again.

Moving up the Manor’s porch steps, Scorpius reached for the handle, casting a glance back at his grandfather who nodded encouragingly. Draco trailed after them both, his grey eyes strangely distant.

Pushing the door open at the same time that it was pulled back from him, Scorpius saw his grandmother on the other side, smiling broadly at her grandson. “There he is!” she cried in delight, throwing her arms around him and hugging him tight. He returned her hug, grinning past her to where his mother stood just behind them, barely holding back a grin of her own.

He was home finally. Grinning at his mum and swiftly kissing his grandmother’s cheek, Scorpius moved into the house, giving his mother a hug as well and taking in the sight of all the elaborate decorations tracing a path from the foyer to the parlor room further into the house’s interior. All this was for him, he thought, unable to keep from smiling.

“Oh, come in, come in!” his mother insisted, seizing her son’s hand and beckoning him inside, her eyes bright with tears. “Oh, I’ve missed you so much, dear!” she cried, kissing both his cheeks. “Now come in, you’ve got to tell us everything of your year!”

“Everything?” Scorpius chuckled, already having decided not to share quite everything. His mother didn’t even notice his thin smile, simply nodding up and down expectantly. “Yes, I want to hear all of it!” she said.

Scorpius ran a hand through his hair, letting out a small sigh of breath as his mind raced backwards. Where to start? he thought wonderingly.

*

“So, what have you been up to Rose?” Ron asked around a mouthful of steak, finally swallowing and staring at his daughter expectantly.

“Erm, well…” Rose began when her mum cut her off unexpectedly.

“I do hope you haven’t been hanging around with that Scorpius Malfoy,” Hermione said thinly, staring down at her plate as she meticulously cut into her own steak. “He’s a bad influence, that boy. Unsurprising with who his father is. It’s a shame the ways he’s negatively affected… friends of yours.”

Hermione finally glanced up from her plate, seeing her daughter’s stony-faced expression. Ron watched them both with questioning, narrowed eyes while Hugo said nothing.

“I’m sorry, am I missing something?” Ron asked, directing a pointed look at his wife.

Hermione merely shrugged her shoulders, cutting into her steak once more. “Not really. Rose just has some friends at school that aren’t quite living up to the manner in which they were raised. I suppose it would be their parents’ fault, too,”she stated oh so casually.

“Now Mum, did you mean parents singular or plural?” Rose asked inquisitively, staring across the table and meeting her mum’s eyes with a flash of anger. “Because it seems to me that you weren’t quite as specific as you meant to be. Are you blaming her upbringing in general or just one of her parents?”

Rose’s glare never once wavered as she held her mother’s gaze, watching as her mum lightly cleared her throat, clearly about to put her in her place or make some other thinly veiled insult against Lily and her mum. Hermione reached for a napkin and lightly wiped the corner of her mouth before answering, her voice still that calm, evenly-measured tone that Rose had learned to associate with as the beginnings of a mother-daughter fight. Her father seemed to realize it too, his fingers clenched around his steak knife and fork as he struggled to swallow fast enough to stop them.

“I’m simply pointing out that her moral upbringing seems to be lacking. You can derive your own conclusions as to whether its her manipulative mother’s influence that seems to be the cause or not.”

“Alright then, enough of that,” Ron cleared his throat. “Let’s just change the subject shall we? How about Lily, Rose? How’s she doing? I know you two had some sort of fight earlier in the semester…”

“Lily’s just fine,” Rose bit out, carefully avoiding meeting her mother’s eyes, still trying to contain her frustration with her mum. “We had a row a few weeks back, I suppose, but everything’s fine now. In fact, Dad, I was wondering if I could stop by to see her tonight? I mostly slept on the train back and wanted to spend some time with her right after dinner if I could.”

“Well, are you sure, Rose? It’s nearly dark out and…”

“And I could take the Knight Bus!” Rose suggested, trying desperately to let her father see the urgency in her expression, trying to help him realize she needed his permission or her mum would never let her…

“Your father’s right, Rose,” Hermione cut in. “It’s too late and you just got home. You ought to be spending tonight with your family.”

“Technically speaking, Lily is family.” Rose pointed out and Ron coughed on his mouthful of food, chuckling slightly.

“She’s got a point, Mione,” he laughed.

“Don’t be stupid, Ron, you already said it’s dark out. She can ask permission some other time,” her mum cut in, Ron’s humor all but evaporating as he returned to his meal, wordlessly shrugging towards his daughter, the fight lost.

Rose’s face fell, her shoulders slumping as she gave up. It hadn’t escaped her notice that her mum hadn’t said she could go another time but that she could ask permission another time. From the looks of things, she was going to have to find a way to get to Lily’s on her own.

Seemingly satisfied with the conclusion of their conversation, Hermione turned to her son and asked, “Now how was your year, Hugo?”

*

Following his family into the parlor, Draco immediately took steps to withdraw himself from them, easily stepping around his wife after a small peck on the cheek, no more than an unfelt welcome kiss. Moving towards the sideboard, Draco took up a glass tumbler and filled it to the brim with the hardest liquor on hand, taking a sip as he traced his steps back towards the glowing hearth cut into the far wall.

As his family shared and sat behind him, Draco could only stare down into the flickering flames, grey eyes never wavering as his thoughts raced back, lingering on such similar scarlet tendrils of flame, framing a pale and freckled heart-shaped face.

*

Sighing wearily and finally able to glance upwards to meet the mirror’s cold reflection, Ginny couldn’t even summon the strength to criticize her pale and sleep-deprived appearance. She didn’t need to look any closer to clearly see the dark shadows under her eyes, the worn wrinkles that seemed to etch themselves across her forehead. When was the last time she’d slept all through the night, she wondered.

In the mirror’s reflection, she could see the empty bed behind her. Harry was still sleeping in the James’ old room where he had moved in ever since that night all those weeks ago that Ginny had come home after seeing Draco. They hadn’t slept in the same bed in nearly two months. They hadn’t eaten a meal together in so long that Ginny had actually been surprised when Harry sat down in his usual seat when they had dinner that night with the children back from school. The idea of telling their children, though present, was simply ignored, keeping up the pretense that their marriage was just fine. In all reality though, their marriage, according to all the usual signs, was falling apart and was only just avoiding collapse.

Unable to even muster a sigh, Ginny extinguished the lamp with a flick of her wand. Turning back to the bed, she pulled back the covers, slipping under the blankets and cradling her hands to her chest, searching for any form of warmth that she hadn’t felt in weeks.

Lying there in the darkness, the only one in the queen-sized bed, Ginny felt cold. As that cold traveled up her body, chilling her to the bone, she began to feel tears pricking her vision, distorting anything the darkness hadn’t already concealed from her sight. Tears now rolling silently down her cheeks, Ginny turned her body and pressed her face against the pillow, muffling the only cry she made as her lungs collapsed, all the air leaving her body in one desperate rush.

*

Sighing contentedly, Lucius sat back in the dark armchair beside his grandson, wordlessly handing him a freshly poured tumbler of the hardest liquor on hand. Scorpius’ lips twitched upwards in realization, sending his grandfather a dubious look and glanced across the room towards his mother, busy in conversation with Narcissa.

Lucius shook his head, dipping his chin once to indicate that Scorpius ought to take a sip, which after a steadying breath, he did and it burned.

Coughing slightly, Scorpius nearly gagged, turned away and coughing into the sleeve of his robes.

Both his mother and grandmother turned towards him in an instant, identical expressions of concern on both their faces.

“Dear, are you alright?”

“Are you sick?”

“He’s fine,” Lucius assured, clapping his grandson fondly on the shoulder, already having charmed his glass invisible to the two women.

Once the reassured women turned away, Scorpius stared at his grandfather and then his glass, his eyebrows rising and steadily climbing towards his hairline. “Charmed it, didn’t you?” he choked once more.

His grandfather only smiled slightly, taking a long swig of his own drink and muttering to himself. “Yours’ isn’t the only one. Living with your grandmother as long as I have has taught me to leave my habits and her disapproval of them well enough alone. You can’t be upset by what you never see or perceive,” he said sagely.

“Great advice that,” Scorpius chuckled. “Grand-dad of the year, you are.”

“Quite,” Lucius nodded, proudly taking a sip of his drink once more. “Now I’ve been informed by your parents that you are intending to take some time off to visit the continent this summer.”

Scorpius nodded, a grin already blossoming over his face, though not from the usual boyish excitement but from the escape from his own life that was just within arm’s reach, a morbid dream within his sights. And Lily would be with him…

“Sure am,” he nodded.

“And your girlfriend? How will she be handling that?” he asked curiously, peering over the rim of his glass at Scorpius.

Scorpius nearly choked at that. “My girlfriend?” he asked.

Lucius raised a single eyebrow. “I had assumed she was such after seeing the way you quite publically showed your affection for her this afternoon at the station.”

Scorpius’ cheeks colored and he quickly looked away, voice constricting slightly in his throat. “Erm, yeah, I, uh, that is, she is, my girlfriend, I mean.”

“And her family? What’s her surname?” Lucius inquired, clearly enjoying his grandson’s discomfort.

“Potter,” Scorpius cleared his throat slightly. “Lily Potter.”

Lucius’ eyes narrowed. “Harry Potter’s daughter?” he asked carefully.

“Erm, yeah, that’s the one,” Scorpius nodded, quickly swallowing half his glass’ contents.

“I see. And you aren’t at all worried that she might run off with some other boy while you’re gone? Or that you might find some other girl?” he grinned.

Scorpius grinned smugly back, beaming inside though he didn’t let his grandfather see just how much. “Not worried at all,” he declared, leaning back in his chair.

His grandfather surveyed him for a full minute but then nodded approvingly.

“It’s good for a young man to be on his own, learn about himself without all his mother’s coddling. Your own father moved out only weeks after his own graduation, though I suppose the circumstances were far more necessary if he were to escape the bad press,” he amended quietly to himself. “I never did find out where he was staying during that time. Hardly saw him those days, but it certainly made him who he is today. I can tell you that.”

Scorpius fell silent, glancing past his grandfather and taking in the sight of his father, withdrawn and staring deeply into the flames flickering in the hearth like tongues of fire leaping steadily upwards. It seemed so wrong to him, sitting there and knowing exactly where his father had been staying all those months he was away from home. Because Scorpius knew that that was the time when his dad had met Lily’s mum.

Feeling a surge of protection for his mother, Scorpius felt his anger rise, wishing he could forget what Lily had told him while dancing at the dinner party months ago. He wished it had never even happened.

Shaking his head, still silent, Scorpius took a much longer swallow of his drink, letting the burning sensation comfort him. Three days, two now that it was nearly midnight… He could last that long, he was sure.

*

The flames reached higher, almost dancing it seemed, taunting him with half-formed memories and haunting realities of that last morning they’d had.

Draco remembered Ginny smiling encouragingly up at him, her fingers deftly straightening his tie that he had somehow managed to fumble tying. She teased him and he teased her back, demanding her to be a good homemaker and have an enormous stack of blueberry pancakes for him when he got back from the trial, when everything would be okay and nothing would be standing between them at all anymore. She swatted at him, rolling her eyes and he pulled her fast against him, his lips capturing hers and stealing the breath from her body.

Their kiss finally broke, Ginny swaying just slightly, her warm brown eyes bright behind half-closed lids. “I love you,” she murmured.

He kissed her again and somehow finally tore himself away, joking with still rather red cheeks about his father’s trial and being late for being in love with a Weasley. She only laughed back, waving him off, promising she’d still be there when he returned.

He left.

Taking a large swallow of his drink, Draco stared bitterly down into the flames. He remembered this part. He’d never forgotten that last morning he’d had with her, before he’d come home to an emptied out apartment, Ginny in tears and shaking when he tried to console her, to encourage her to tell him what had happened, but she hadn’t told him, not everything. She said she was leaving him certainly, but her reason? He hadn’t had a clue till now, Draco thought, his hatred swirling behind dark grey eyes, forming the image of a man he wanted nothing more than to strangle with his bare hands.

The memories came faster, no longer his own or anyone else’s for that matter. They were simply strips of blame, accusation, and anger against the man who had ruined his life, stolen Ginny from him and done it all with that innocent smile of his.

Draco imagined an unsuspecting Ginny walking straight into Harry, not seeing him lurking in the shadows. He imagined Harry seizing her wrists, hurting her, because only threatening to hurt her would have made her leave him. No. He shook his head, trying to clear the haze in his thoughts. No. Ginny was stronger than that and Potter would have never hurt her, never touched her like that.

He shook his head again, jerking himself out of the dark thoughts that seemed to consume him. He couldn’t just stand here like this, picturing every detail of what had happened knowing only a few himself. Potter hadn’t threatened her, that he was sure of. Draco remembered the anger that had flared up inside of him at King’s Cross, a truth he couldn’t explain finally fitting itself into place in his memories. Only now he had to examine it more closely and imagining reasons for killing Potter was not helping him.

He must have found her right after Draco had left for the trial. He must have come to the apartment, Draco thought. Potter had asked her again, like he had several times already, when would she be ready for him? Ready to try again?

Ginny would have been unsure, confused as always, withdrawing herself from him and encouraging him to leave, to leave her and get to the trial to testify, and Potter would have realized what leverage he did have, leverage right in front of him.

He’d tell her to choose him, right then and there without any chance of changing her mind later, in exchange for Draco’s father’s freedom. She could turn him down and feel the guilt of ripping Draco’s father away from him or agree to what he was saying, agree and pack her things.

Draco clenched his jaw, glaring down into the flames, crackling like small fiery whips in the hearth. He imagined what Ginny must have thought, the sickness she must have felt in trying to decide, choosing to leave him rather than hurt him, not realizing her abandonment would nearly kill him. Draco remembered the tears falling down her cheeks, the way she had frantically ran from him, trying to escape his closeness, his demands to know what she was doing, what she was thinking.

He remembered her tears, her trembling, her desperation to escape his hold on her shoulders, to escape from their life together as intact as she could be, the shards of who they were falling around them like broken glass, never to be repaired.

Nearly losing his mind, Draco leaned heavily against the mantle, resting his forehead against the smooth dark cherry wood and releasing a long-held breath. His fingers clenched into fists, his anger and anguish ripped through his chest, tearing holes in his heart and his lungs, constricting his ability to breathe and think.

He could see her. He could still feel the weight of her supported by his arms when she’d crumpled into tears in the hospital wing only a few months ago, still as destroyed and broken as he. Draco remembered holding her, desperately wanting to Disapparate with her but instead fiercely commanding her to go back home, to stop making a scene. He hadn’t realized then who he was telling her to return to, and in hindsight, was it any wonder she had turned up outside his office door only the next morning? Even then, as she had paced around his office, he had expected her to tell him why, to tell him how she could have ever left him but she hadn’t, and he had shut her down, refusing to allow her to continue to destroy him. Draco had never known how frailly she was being held together, that at any moment she could break. He felt little different from her now.

There was a buzz of dying conversations behind him and Draco glanced blearily over his shoulder, seeing that his wife and his mother were leaving the parlor, retiring for the evening. Astoria swept towards him, brushing a kiss against his cheek that he didn’t feel, his body numb to everything.

Her eyebrows drawing together in concern, Astoria lifted her hand up to gently cup his cheek, turning him towards her until he finally raised his eyes to hers, his face expressionless.

Astoria’s expression faltered, her eyes staring up at him in confusion as she struggled to find her voice. “Are you alright, Draco?” she asked worryingly, staring into his void eyes.

He swallowed but did not answer except to say goodnight and his wife pulled back, wilting slightly at his dismissal. She gathered herself up, though, and left the room, unwilling to confront him further in front of the watchful eyes of their son, their son who was glaring darkly towards his father, his resolution only growing stronger.

Excusing himself, Scorpius left his grandfather and made his way towards the grand staircase, heading straight to his room to send an owl, reminding Lily to start packing before it was too late.

Hours later, Lily would receive his letter, her fingers clutched around it as she lay in bed, her eyes wide and staring in the darkness, staring at the open and still empty suitcase across the room. She tried to close her eyes and forget everything to sleep. She tried.

*

Startled by his grandson’s suddenly excusing himself, Lucius’ grey eyes following after his grandson’s retreat until he was lost from sight. Turning, he carefully scrutinized his own son’s reaction, his eyes narrowing at the utter lack of acknowledgement in Draco’s expression. In fact, his expression was hardly even present. He was simply staring into the fireplace with the deepest look of regret that Lucius had ever seen on his withdrawn face.

Carefully setting down his own tumbler beside the one he’d poured Scorpius during the small party, Lucius stood to his feet and took a few measured steps towards his son, standing just to his right.

“Quite melodramatic tonight, aren’t you, Draco?” he drawled.

His son released a heavy sigh, painfully tearing his gaze upwards towards his father’s. “What do you want, Father?” he asked tiredly.

“I am simply wondering what on earth has you so much in anguish that you cannot pay your own son the slightest attention tonight, the first he’s spent home since Easter holidays and after his final year no less.”

“Forgive me if I’m not as great a father as you,” Draco said, his irritation so lacking that his insult seemed lifeless and feeble.

Lucius didn’t so much as flinch, though his grey eyes grew a degree cooler. “I gave you what I could, Draco, which was more than any boy could ever ask for.”

Draco bitterly laughed, turning towards his father. “Yes, far more than any child would ask for. In fact I can’t think of a single boy my age who wanted to watch their mother be tortured by a madman, who wished to be forced into murdering an innocent man,” Draco spat. You’re right, Father, it was far more than any boy could have asked for.”

Lucius’ eyes grew black, his voice lowering and full of a cold fury, directed at himself or his son, he wasn’t sure. “Still so full of hateful jokes, aren’t you?” he spat. “I know and recognize my own mistakes, the ways I neglected you and even put you in harm’s way. For my own life, I have repented a thousand times over but I had certainly hoped you would have at least learned though your own experience to try and be a better father than I was to you! But Scorpius walked past you just now without a word and you didn’t even notice! Nor have you paid him the slightest attention since the train station! I had hoped you would have been there for him more! I had hoped you would give your son more attention and care than I gave you! That you would give him a better life!”

“I have given him a better life!” Draco snapped, suddenly turning on his father, his anger only building. “He has everything he will ever want and no threats of torture or imprisonment hanging over his head. You think he needs to have me around more than I am already? Just because you were never present doesn’t mean I have been the same! I have given my son everything you haven’t and he’s just as spoilt as I ever was and more! Does he look unhappy to you?” he roared, gesturing wildly, now becoming slightly unhinged. “He can be with whomever he wants, regardless of their name or social standing. He can date a bloody WEASLEY if he wants!”

There was a beat of stunned silence and Draco at once realized his mistake, as easily as he recognized the calculating dip of his father’s gaze. He took a step back, an attempt to withdraw himself. His father made the first move.

“Perhaps I am mistaken,” Lucius drawled, “but I do believe Scorpius informed me the girl was a Potter.”

“Aren’t they all the same these days?” Draco asked with feigned disinterest. He turned rigidly back to the fire, his chest aching after such a rush of words had left him, wishing he had never opened his mouth. Revealing secrets was a weakness and he had gone and lost his temper with his father, letting everything out. Whatever he hadn’t yet said would come soon. His father would not be the one to let this go.

Sure enough, he suddenly felt his father’s hand clamp down on his shoulder, the grip tight and constricting, unlike the gentle and fond clap on the back his own son received from the same man. Feeling only seventeen again, Draco let his shoulders sag with a weary sigh, knowing what was coming, what Lucius would ask and demand to know.

“You’ve been off since we left the train station, since I went to speak with that bleeding Potter and now you fail to even keep your enemies’ surnames straight in your own head. Just what is it you’re so consumed by that you’ve been staring into the flames all evening, heedless of your own family around you?”

Draco said nothing, his throat tightening though his father’s grip never loosened.

“Draco?”

He sighed, his eyelids closing wearily. “I did exactly what you wanted and gave Scorpius a better life than mine,” he sighed. “If he wants a Weasley, he can. The fact her surname is Potter is irrelevant because her mother is still a Weasley… and the only one I couldn’t be with because of you.”

His father’s grip, if possible, grew even tighter. “What are you saying, Draco?” he all but hissed.

“You asked me so many times over the years where I had been all those months after Hogwarts, and here you started by accusing me of not paying my son any attention. Did you know I heard everything? You still wonder where I had been.” He broke off, falling silent and not saying anything.

Lucius, however, did. “Where, Draco? Or should I ask with whom?”

“Diagon Alley,” Draco answered, “and with Ginny Weasley.” He took a deep breath then, continuing. “I had needed an ‘upstanding’ citizen to vouch for me in order to convince the tenant to let me stay there. I ran into her in the streets and she needed a place to go. We signed the papers that very afternoon and stayed there for eleven months.”

Draco broke off, staring morosely down into the hearth, the fire’s heat concealing his heated cheeks from Lucius’ open-mouthed surprise. For a moment neither spoke, and then Draco finally found his voice, continuing, though why he did not know. He had never wanted to tell his father, to tell anyone, but he hadn’t been able to think straight since leaving the station and now couldn’t stop himself from telling him everything.

Sucking in a steadying breath, he continued. “She left me,” he said. “The morning of your trial before the tribunal. While Potter was testifying on your behalf, she was packing her things. She had convinced him to try and release you, you know. Potter’s hardly the selfless saint you thought he was. It was all Ginny and he used it to make her leave me. Would’ve thrown your trial if she hadn’t…” Draco fell silent, feeling his heart beat painfully against his ribs.

“You’re hardly the reason we couldn’t be together, but at the same time, you’re exactly why it was impossible. You were the leverage and I’ve only realized it at the train station this morning.”

Lucius took a step back from his son, removing his hand and letting it drop to his side, hanging there uselessly. “Why of all people, are you telling me this?” he asked tiredly.

“Would you expect me to inform Astoria, or Scorpius? No, he already knows, and I imagine that’s plenty of reason why you’ve noticed my avoiding him. The truth is he’s avoiding me.” Draco chuckled coldly, his grey eyes pained and full of self-hatred in every way. He shook his head at a loss. “Everything I’ve poured myself into has been destroyed. When Ginny left me, I had no idea why. I met Astoria and tried to forget; I thought I had. I’ve raised my son to be a good man because you did the same with me. Regardless of the circumstances during the war, you never let me doubt your love for me. I gave that to Scorpius and I gave it to Astoria. I love them both but I never let go of Ginny. It had never affected them before now because it was impossible. She chose Potter. She chose him and she was just gone. Now though, she’s walked right back into my life and everything I know has all but crumpled around my feet, and to make it worse, now I finally know the truth that she never wanted to leave me.”

“What are you saying?” Lucius demanded coldly, suddenly and swiftly turning his son to look at him. “You think this truth matters? That what was determines any change in what is now? She left you. You have a family. You have a son who will slip right through your fingers if you don’t forget about your past and do your job by him. Your fate has been decided and you have been luckier than most in who you call family,” he hissed, “This girl, this woman who left you is nothing to throw your family away for!”

“But that is the point!” Draco seethed, turning on his father, his grey eyes as bright as fire in his rage and anguish. “She didn’t leave me! Don’t you see? This changes everything!”

“It changes nothing! You are a married man! You have responsibilities! Let the ghosts of your past stay right there where they belong!”

“No! No…” he trailed off, stepping back from Lucius and whirling slightly, his expression slightly unhinged and his face crumbling. “You still don’t understand. She left me for you, to keep you from being thrown into prison, to give me back my father. She did all that for me, for you as well, and you can’t even grant her the slightest concern?”

“She made her choice, if that is indeed what happened. It was years ago, Draco; it’s time you forget about it.”

“I can’t forget about it! It doesn’t feel like years to me, Father! It never has! For twenty-six years I have wondered what happened between us, how she could possibly leave me and now that I have the answer, now that I know that was never what was supposed to happen, you want me to pretend I never learned the truth at all?”

“What does the truth possibly change Draco?" Lucius asked quietly. “Would you ruin and destroy both of your lives, of your families’ lives just to relive a moment of your past?”

Draco stiffened, an iron weight collapsing over him and crushing him to death. He could scarcely breathe. Finally finding his voice, he turned pleading eyes towards his father, shrugging heavily in defeat. “What am I supposed to do?”

“Live your life, Draco, separate from hers, the way you have for twenty-six years now, and when the time comes, find a way to pay her back.”

Draco glanced up in surprise, his eyebrows knit together.

Lucius bowed his own head, unable to meet his gaze. “If what you say is true, her reason for leaving being in part my own fault, than you aren’t the only one who owes her something. I consider sparing both your marriages to be my own payment. You may discover your own way of repaying her within those boundaries.” Lucius finally raised his head, grey eyes meeting grey. “There is nothing more you can or should do.”

With a final dark gaze the likes of which only his father could direct towards him, Draco watched his father turn and leave the parlor room, his long shadow stretching out before him from the still flickering firelight. Swallowing tightly, his breathing constricted in his chest and held there, Draco stared back into the hearth, desperately wishing he had never found the truth out at all.

*

Turning the lock of her bedroom door, Rose sighed, leaning heavily against it and closing her eyes. She had escaped the rest of dinner as quickly as possible, wanting nothing more than to be rid of her mother’s accusing stares. Now that she was free, she was forcibly reminded again of just how difficult her task would be and felt more caged than before.

Not even meaning to, she began pacing the length of her small bedroom. There was no one who could help her. Scorpius certainly was the last option, being as he was the one convincing Lily to run off. Rose’s own parents were surely impossible if dinner was anything to judge by. And telling Lily’s mum would be the worst thing, not to mention getting in contact with any of the Potters was strictly not-allowed as of dinner that evening.

Letting out a small cry of frustration, Rose slammed her fist against her desktop, startling herself when a stack of parchments and quills tumbled in a pile to the floor. Pausing for a moment, Rose tilted her head aside slightly, her brow furrowing in spite of herself. She wondered if contacting someone outside the family would do the trick. The answer as to who, though unwanted, seemed painfully obvious.

Her decision made already, Rose brushed the lingering debris off the desk and onto the floor, seizing a fresh piece of parchment and quickly dipping her quill in the nearest ink pot, holding it hovering just millimeters above the parchment.

Staring down the tip of her inked quill at the still spotless parchment, Rose felt her hand begin to quiver, her nerves frayed from what she was about to do. She had no other solution, though, and much as she did not want to ask for his help… well, there was no one else to ask, no other way of getting a hold of Lily and shaking some sense into her.

Swallowing tightly and feeling her face burn in her lamp-lit bedroom, Rose pressed the nub of the quill against the parchment and addressed the letter, determined to follow through on sending it off despite whatever embarrassment she might feel.

Owl Correspondence by Rosalie

Chapter Twenty-four: Owl Correspondence

Travis Bletchley always thought it was odd how he could have fallen so hard for a Weasley of all people. He knew what insanity it took, for a Slytherin especially, to admit to having a crush on such a girl, and then to have her reject him, constantly, publically, scoffing, rolling her eyes, turning red in embarrassment if Scorpius was watching. To have her avoid him, refuse to talk to him, go on and fancy his best friend instead… well it was enough to discourage any young man of common sense. But Travis supposed it was a good thing he didn’t seem to have common sense. If he did, he would have given up long ago and he certainly wouldn’t have been scared out of his wits by an owl attacking his cereal bowl in the morning, a letter for him pinched in the bird’s talons.

Travis lowered his spoon in shock, staring blinkingly at the familiar owl, the one he had watched hopefully for the entirety of his second year in Hogwarts. He knew that owl. And now here that owl was, staring at him with one eye raised or so it seemed. As far as Travis was concerned he could be hallucinating the entire thing because one enormous fact stood out glaringly obvious to him: that this owl could not possibly belong to Rose Weasley. Sure, he had asked to write her and she’d even agreed, but never had he thought that she would write him. The idea was almost paralyzing.

Still, he could not help the hopeful smile that crept across his lips as he reached for the letter, taking it carefully in his hands, the feminine handwriting confirming his suspicions. The owl loudly ruffled its feathers as if to sigh aloud, urging him to pluck up some courage and read the damn thing.

Travis grinned sheepishly at the owl. “Sorry,” he chuckled under his breath. “Rather a big deal this, you know? Alright, I know, I’m a bloody pillock. Just let me die from shame without an audience, would you?” Once again, the owl seemed to actually roll its eyes and it was all Travis could do not to laugh aloud. “Right then, get you. I’ve got a letter to read,” he declared smugly, moving as if to shoo the great bird away but the owl screeched and flapping its wings once more, refusing to leave. Travis blinked once, a sudden idea he’d not considered occuring to him. “S-she wants me to write back?” he asked.

Next thing he knew, Travis was ducking a whirlwind of feathers, as if the owl had tried to slap him across the face. He turned red, aware of just how much a fool he must look: one letter from the girl of his dreams and he was asking a bloody bird what to do next. And he was supposed to be a Slytherin. Pathetic.

Berating himself, Travis finally slit open the envelope, taking Rose’s letter out and barely processing the meaning of the words, only the fact that they were there, scrawled across the page, proof that she’d actually written him. “Snap out of it, damn it,” he cursed to himself, finally blinking and starting from the top.

His eyebrows knit together, surprised by what Rose had written him about. He couldn’t help chuckling softly to himself by the end, shaking his head, completely unsurprised by the girl who’d caught his fancy for so long. It was bizarre and somehow just like her. It wasn’t quite a date. That much was certain, he grinned, but it was something. He quickly got up, grabbed a small piece of parchment and wrote a single line of agreement, attaching it to the owl’s leg. He didn’t even wait for the owl to fly out the window before he headed back upstairs to change and get ready to leave.

Sitting on the table, one would almost imagine the letter giggling from the absurdity of it all. There it was, proudly laid out for all to see, the first evidence of a correspondance between Rose Weasley and Travis Bletchley.

Travis,

Please don’t take this the wrong way… oh but you really should give me a chance to finish. I know that didn’t sound right. I’m just… Just please finish reading and don’t get too upset as I really do need your help.

I’m sort of needing you to come pick me up, on a date if you could help convince my parents that that’s what it is. Though it’s not or at least it doesn’t have to be. What I mean to say is I’m as close to being under house arrest as you can imagine and there’s sort of a crisis situation going on that I really do need to take care of. I would explain everything to you now except it’s a letter and I just… can’t. If this letter is absolutely horrible of me, I’m really very sorry because I don’t mean for it to be. I just… I could really use your help.

Oh Merlin, I sound like an idiot.You can disregard all of that if you like but I’m sending it anyway.

Rose

*

Across the expanse of Britain, Rose lay on her bed, breathing a great sigh that blew the hair right out of her face. She stared morosely up at the ceiling, her arms spread out on either side of her, offering herself up to what would be her fate: lying around uselessly at home while her best friend and cousin went off and ruined her life, and all without Rose attempting to say a single word of wisdom to stop her. Some Ravenclaw she was. Ooh and sending that bloody embarrasing letter to Travis too! Rose squeezed her eyes tightly shut, cursing herself. But of course, she couldn’t simply fail on her own, she had to announce it to Travis and humiliate herself in the process, and she was just starting to like him too! And now he’d go on thinking she was a manipulative whining brat. With a small scream, she thrashed on her bed in frustration, finally bringing her arm over her eyes and sighing bitterly. Curse her.

When the doorbell rang and echoed thoughout the house but a moment later, Rose immediately moved her arm, her eyes darting up and side to side, hardly daring to breathe much less believe that…

Just then her owl rushed in the window, flapping its wings as it settled on her bed, but before Rose gave it a chance to breathe, she snatched the small piece of parchement from her pet’s leg, unfurling it to see a quickly scrawled— be there in five minutes.

Another doorbell and this time Rose could hear her mother’s footsteps coming towards the door, her question carrying back into the kitchen. “Hugo, is that a friend of yours? Merlin, he seems too tall to be a fifth year, doesn’t he?”

Rose shot up from bed, her heart pounding as she rushed to the staircase landing. Sure enough, her mother was standing at the door, a tall boy on the stoop across from her, his eyes drifting briefly up, his lips twitching upon seeing Rose, though her face was surely as red as his.

“Hey there,” he finally got out, nearly stammering. “Er, ready to go?”

“Yeah,” Rose sighed, unable to keep from smiling back down at him, hardly registering her mother’s confused look between them.

“Rose, is this a friend of yours?” she asked questioningly.

“Well, y-”

“Actually hoping for something more than that,” he cut in, his Slytherin instincts taking over. It helped of course that it was true.

Hermione Weasley’s eyebrows rose in amazement, turning back around to question her daughter, but Rose had already come to stand just behind her, her purse already over her shoulder and ready to go. “Yeah, Mum, I actually forgot to mention that, erm, Travis had just agreed… I mean, decided to ask me out today,” she said in one rush, Travis nodding behind her mother.

“He asked you today?” Hermione asked surprised.

“Yes,” Travis answered, Rose stumbling to agree with him, nodded her head emphatically.

“This morning,” she said.

Hermione looked back and forth between the two at a loss for words, finally turning back to her daughter with an almost hurt expression on her face. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

Rose caught herself just in time to keep from telling the truth, that she wasn’t sure he was going to be coming until just a minute ago, and her eyes reeled, desperately coming up with words out of nowhere. “I, erm, I guess I-I was just too excited to say anything,” she lied rather breathlessly.

Unable to help it, Travis allowed himself a small grin, shaking himself just in time to step in and save Rose from further interrogation. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Weasley. I just wanted to ask Rose out for awhile now and I’d planned it better than this, but I just found out my family’s leaving to visit relatives tomorrow and I didn’t want to lose the chance to take Rose out. I promised her on the train back to write her… so I did.”

“Oh… well that was very sweet of you, Travis…” Hermione trailed off, the wheels of her mind turning as she tried to process how a boy she was more than certain her daughter had disliked had come to call on her daughter at nine in the morning. She glanced over at Rose who smiled weakly, trying to silently encourage her mother to take a step back and let them go before she could ask anymore questions.

Hermione faltered, at a loss for words. Shaking her head to herself, she finally stepped back, waving them off in spite of herself. “Well, have fun then, you two,” she said, still staring rather uncomprehendingly.

“Thanks, mum,” Rose breathed out in a rush, grabbed Travis’ arm and pulled him after her. She left her mother standing in the doorway staring after them. Hermione finally shrugged her shoulders, closed the door behind them and headed back into the house.

*

Rose sighed in relief, leaning heavily against Travis, her cheek brushing against his shoulder blade. He was chuckling to himself and turned to stare down at her, unable to stop laughing. “So I asked you out, did I?” he grinned.

“Oh stop it. I know and I’m sorry,” Rose groaned, burying her face further, suddenly freezing when she realized how close they were. She stiffened before taking a step back, her face immediately coloring. For once, Travis didn’t blush but held her gaze as much as she wanted him to look somewhere, anywhere else.

“Erm, we should probably go,” she said quietly.

“Well it would certainly help if you told me where we were going, wouldn’t it?” he smirked.

For a moment, he reminded her of Scorpius, and Rose had to shake the thought away. It made sense; they were both Slytherins after all and had been roommates for seven years. But it didn’t matter, she reminded herself. Scorpius was obviously an idiot anyway. Was it really a bad thing to go on a pseudo-date with someone who had all of Scorpius’ same characteristics? Sure, Travis could be a bit of an idiot at times, but he wasn’t nearly as impulsive or unthinking as Scorpius… He wouldn’t toy with her, would he?

Rose stared down at her shoes, unsure how to escape the questions surrounding her, none of which answered Travis’ question. What had he been asking? What were they doing?

She blinked in sudden surprise. His face was suddenly level with hers’, his head cocked to the side and his eyes looking at her with concern. “I know it’s not a date, Rose,” he murmured. “What do you need to do?” he asked kindly.

Rose could only stare at him for a moment, any thought of needing to compare him to Scorpius fleeing from her mind at once. She took a deep breath, finally feeling calm, and started to tell him everything.

Travis listened in silence, only his eyes widened as Rose explained the exact circumstances of Lily’s intent to run away and all the things she’d never said to stop her that had plagued Rose endlessly since the train ride back. Once, Travis tried to say something, but Rose’s frantic words cut him off, not even realizing it. Her eyes were flitting back and forth in obvious agitation, and she was fretting with her hands. She finally paused for breath, but before Travis could speak, she went off again, cursing herself for not having done something earlier.

“And goodness knows that if I had just confronted her weeks ago, well, but not in the way I actually did confront her, that’s not any good…” she trailed off dismally, sucking in a great breath and ranting further. “I just know I could have stopped this even before it started if I had just said something!” she said exasperatingly, even stamping her foot for emphasis.

Travis felt his lips twitch in spite of himself and reached out to catch her shoulder. Rose froze at his touch, suddenly snapped out of her ranting. She stared up at him, seemingly just then catching on to how long she’d been talking. “Sorry,” she murmured, quickly looking down again.

“Its fine,” he assured her, eventually and almost reluctantly lowering his hand. “Where does your cousin live?” he asked.

“It’s not far from Diagon Alley in London,” she breathed, absently playing with her fingers again.

Travis nodded. “Well that settles it then.” Suddenly, he took a step away from Rose. Her head snapped up at once, worried that he was leaving her. It made sense of course. She had only asked him to come over long enough to give her a reason for leaving the house. She could get to Lily’s on her own and really he didn’t have any part in this, but the thought of him leaving so soon made her sad and she didn’t know why.

Sure enough, the next thing she knew, Travis had thrown his wand hand out into the street, summoning the violet Knight Bus which arrived with a crack and a slamming of the brakes. He was really leaving her, going back home. She hadn’t even noticed at first, she’d been talking so much and now that she thought about it, he’d hardly said a word. He must have taken her letter the wrong way afterall, she thought, cursing herself for having ever written it. She was so stupid!

His voice caught up to her then and Rose had to shake herself. She looked up to see that Travis was standing on the bus’ first step, holding the doors open. “You coming or not?” he asked, looking at her strangely.

“Wh- t-to Lily’s house?” she finally managed to ask.

Travis rolled his eyes. “No, the bloody Queen’s house. Yes, Lily’s. What were you just ranting about a second ago then? Come on! Let’s go before she gets any ideas of leaving sooner than later.”

“Right,” she nodded, taking a dazed step forward and then finally hurrying to catch up with him, Travis still holding the door open for her when she climbed the bus’ steps. Travis deftly paid the driver and then led Rose towards the back of the bus where they both plopped down into a set of chintz arm chairs. A moment later the bus took off down the road. There was an alarming CRACK, and the next second, they were rolling through the countryside on their way to Lily’s.

Rose glanced up at Travis sitting next to her, a distant look in his eyes. “Thank you for coming with me,” she said quietly.

He blushed, but nodded anyway and cleared his throat. “Don’t worry. We’ll manage to talk her out of it, Rose. She has to listen to you, right?” he grinned.

Rose wasn’t as sure but she nodded once, her throat closing up, already nervous for what they were doing: attempting to sabotage Lily’s plans before she could act on them. Unable to help herself, Rose started wringing her hands once more.

Travis saw and quietly reached for her hands in her lap, lightly closing his much larger hand over both of hers, calming her nervous movements. They sat like that in silence for the rest of the trip, neither looking at each other but both hyperaware of their hands still touching, neither having pulled away.

*

With a small scream of frustration, Lily threw nearly all the contents of her sock drawer on the floor and aimed a good kick at her bedroom door. Her hands reached straight up to her face, fully intent on ripping out her own hair.

“Lily?” her mother’s voice called from down the stairs. “Dear, what are you doing up there?”

Cursing her own stupidity for not being quieter, Lily gave a weary sigh. “Nothing, Mum, just packing my things.”

“Packing?” Ginny asked, looking up the stairs in confusion.

Lily slapped her hand to her forehead, correcting herself. “Un-packing, Mum! I meant un-packing!”

“Right then…” Ginny wrapped her scarf around her neck before heading out, wondering at the queer feeling at the back of her mind. She pursed her lips but just couldn’t get the niggling feeling sorted. Shrugging, she situated her purse and called back up the steps. “I’m heading out for some shopping, dear. Your father and I are going to Ron and Hermione’s tonight for dinner, and I need to get a few things. You’ll be alright on your own?”

This time Lily actually opened her door, peering over the landing to fix her mother with an annoyed expression. “Merlin’s trousers! I’m sixteen, Mother! Of course I can handle a few hours alone!” she snipped.

Ginny seemed to deflate for a moment but quickly shrugged it off with a small smile. “Just wanted to check with you, dear. You’ve been acting so out of sorts since you came home.”

At this, Lily’s cheeks turned red, her fingers playing nervously with her hair. “Oh, um… well, how do you mean, Mum?”

Ginny tried to put her finger on it but simply couldn’t, shrugging in defeat. “I must be overreacting,” she decided, looking up at her daughter with a fond smile. “Sorry dear. Don’t know what’s got in to me lately. I know you can handle yourself. I just… I just nothing, I suppose.”

As her mother turned to walk out the door and Disapparate, Lily felt the beginnings of guilt start to settle in the pit of her stomach. Before she could catch herself, she called out, “I love you, Mum!” to her mother’s back.

Ginny turned around, a hint of amusement in her eyes. “See what I said? You have been acting strange.”

Lily didn’t know what to say and could only look sheepish, but her mother quickly said she loved her too and was out the front door.

Lily’s small shoulders slumped when the door shut, feeling suddenly awful for what she was doing. She was just wondering if she ought to rethink this packing or at the very least put it off till tomorrow, when the front door was pushed open once more. Lily’s head snapped up, thinking her mother had forgotten something but instead saw two people she was very much not expecting to see standing there, both looking worriedly up at her.

“Hey Lily,” Travis waved good-naturedly though with a bit of awkwardness.

Lily stared at him in shock and then to the girl beside him. “Rose… What are you doing here?”

End Notes:

Hey everyone,

I know it's been just over a year since I last updated this story. I just want to assure you all that it finally is completed, at least on my personal computer. Everything left is simply a matter of editing and submitting it to the archives. Sorry for such a long wait. Thanks for staying with the story thus far!

-Rose

Interference by Rosalie

Chapter Twenty-five: Interference

“Rose, what are you doing here?” Lily asked in a half-strangled voice.

“Well, that is, um…” Rose began wringing her hands together and just as he had done on the bus, Travis caught hold of her fingers in his and gave her a sharp look that filled her with courage. It was as if his eyes were saying, you can do this. More than that, she had to do this.

Setting her shoulders, Rose looked up at Lily, meeting her cousin’s eyes and said, “We need to talk.”

“I’m a bit busy at the moment, but maybe later…”

“Well I don’t see how that would work, or didn’t you tell me on the train there might not be a later?” Rose snapped out angrily.

Lily bounded down the steps, her voice automatically dropping to an angry hiss. “Anyone could have heard you!”

Rose put her hands on her hips, eyebrows raised. She waited a beat and then replied. “Nope, didn’t hear anyone else. You ninny, what’s gotten into you? No one’s home!”

“All the same,” Lily retorted, highly affronted and also slightly embarrassed with herself.

“Merlin’s beard, you are high strung. Come in the kitchen. I’ll make some tea.”

“No, Rose,” Lily argued, putting her foot down quite literally. “I don’t need you mothering me and pestering me with a bunch of silly questions to make me stay. I’ve made up my mind and it’s high time you get it in your head that there’s not a thing you can do to change it!”

Rose was nearly speechless when Travis cut in. “Lily, I’m not going to pretend that I know everything going on here,” he began but both Rose and Lily fixed him with such disbelieving looks that he quickly gave up, throwing his hands up in surrender. “Alright, alright. Rose told me. I know pretty much everything going on. The point is you’re making a huge decision right now and Rose at least needs to know she’s done everything she can to make you consider all your options.”

Rose scowled at Travis, turning sharply back to Lily. “That’s not at all what I’m doing. I’m not coming so I feel better about all this, though that’s a fair point. I’m coming to make you see sense and reconsider your only option!”

Travis rolled his eyes, lowering his voice to speak to Rose. “I had meant to give you an opening she might actually consider, but jolly good one blowing that to pieces.”

“Oh… I hadn’t realized…”

“Oh, look at the pair of you!” Lily exclaimed. “You,” she gestured to Travis, “trying to be all cunning with a plan of attack, as if I wouldn’t see through that anyway, and you, Rose, being so hot-headed you don’t even realize it… why should I listen to the pair of you?” She demanded, crossing her arms over her chest.

“Because you’re making a terrible mistake, Lily,” Rose whispered.

And it had finally been said. A heavy silence hung in the air and Lily faltered a bit, wanting to push both Rose and Travis out the door to avoid this entire conversation but it was already too late, for she did feel the weight of her decision and it scared her. Her fears were already out there and Rose had given them a voice.

“Please, Lily. No one else is here. Let’s just sit down and just listen to me for a bit…” Rose pleaded, her cousin still standing one stair above her and looking frail. Rose took a breath, continuing. “I saw your mum leave right before Travis and I came in, Lily. Don’t tell me you don’t feel bad about what you’re doing to her. She doesn’t even know what you’ve got planned and you’re basing everything your leaving for on something that might not even be true.”

“And if it is?” Lily asked quietly.

Rose paused, glancing to Travis for help. He shoved his hands in his pockets, meeting Lily’s fearful eyes dead on. “Then it won’t do any good running away, will it?”

Rose held her hand out, ready to lead Lily into the kitchen, wordlessly beckoning her to join them and sit down and talk. Lily finally dismounted the final step and went with the pair into the kitchen, Rose’s arm around her shoulders.

Soon there was water in the kettle, coming to a slow boil on the stove. Rose was managing the muggle way, the better to focus her attention on her younger cousin. And in next to no time she had the teacups out and filled to the brim, all three of them sitting round the kitchen table. Travis certainly felt a bit awkward in this situation but could do nothing but drink his tea. The two girls were sitting across the table from one another as if prepared for a difficult negotiation rather than tea-time conversation.

“So…” Lily began, an obvious disgruntlement in her words, her fingers tracing the rim of her teacup.

Rose cleared her throat, her hands cupping her mug for warmth. “Lily, I just, I can’t believe you think this idea is even remotely sane.”

“Rose, I’ve already…”

“No, you listen. Look,” Rose breathed a sigh, glancing over to Travis somewhat apologetically. “Despite all Travis’ attempts to help, I did in fact blow it and you already know that I’m here to talk you out of this entirely…”

“And you’ll just ignore the fact that I don’t want you to?” Lily cut in.

Rose sighed, staring at her tea. “Yes.”

Lily crossed her arms, her irritation evident. In fact, it surprised Rose that Lily wasn’t yelling already and attempting to kick her out so she decided to act quickly before Lily could argue back. “Look, I understand that Scorpius has you convinced that your parents are having an affair and everything is going to come crashing down but that’s not necessarily true…”

“Not necessarily true?” Lily scoffed, standing up and slamming her hand down on the kitchen table. “What about that secretary’s letter? How does evidence like that leave any room for ‘not necessarily true’?”

“But Lily, you’re mum would never do that!”

“And what evidence is there of that, hmm?” Lily demanded, heatedly. “She’s been keeping secrets for years, Rose! Lying to all of us! We wouldn’t even have known what was going on if she hadn’t told you everything last Christmas!” she exclaimed.

“And do you have any idea how sorry I am for that?” Rose cried, folding her arms protectively around her chest, and staring defiantly up at her younger cousin.

“I wasn’t trying to blame you, Rose…”

“Sit down!” Rose snapped angrily, tears building in her eyes. Lily faltered but did as Rose asked, slowly sitting down across from her, still resisting what her cousin was saying but still trying not to hurt Rose at the same time. “Listen,” Rose began. “You never gave me a chance to explain everything that happened at that game in the tower, Lily. You never let me explain what your mum meant, how she felt.”

“I’ve heard all this before, Rose. She was sad and upset and beating herself up and I’ve heard it all before!” She cried, her voice only increasing in volume.

“I asked her if she cheated on your dad, Lily, and she was appalled, horrified at the thought. Your mum would never cheat.”

“The letter Scorpius got would indicate otherwise, wouldn’t it?” Lily answered coldly, but her expression had softened at Rose’s words.

“Forget that letter, Lily, for just a moment,” Rose pleaded. “Isn’t your mum’s character more of an indicator than the word of some girl you’ve never even met?”

“And what of my mum’s word, huh Rose?” Lily whispered. “All she’s done is lie and keep secrets. What’s to say she isn’t having an affair with Scorpius’ dad? You saw them in the hospital wing,” she whispered.

Rose clenched her jaw in frustration, getting nowhere with Lily. “Why can’t you just look at the different possibilities, Lily? Why is that so hard to consider?”

“Forgive me for not acting rationally; you’re not the one whose parents are likely to get divorced!” Lily cried, real tears in her eyes.

Travis watched their entire exchange with his blue eyes narrowed but at Lily’s tears, his expression changed. He glanced at Rose, both of them recognizing their intervention was having no impact on Lily’s decision. Travis saw Rose’s shoulders slump, glancing to Travis helplessly.

“Lily,” he began.

“What?” she answered coldly, not even glancing in his direction.

“Even if both your parents’ marriages are falling apart, what is the good in running away?”

“I should think that was obvious- getting away from it all. You think either Scorpius or I want to be around when the bottom drops out?”

“What about your schooling? Or your family? Even if all that happens, don’t you think they would need you here, helping keep them as much together as you can?”

Lily sniffled, looking up at Travis. “You and Scorpius are friends. Aren’t you supposed to be on my side?”

Travis glanced sheepishly to Rose and back. “That might have been the case previously. But to be honest, I didn’t have a side in this until I found out what was going on all of an hour ago.”

Lily sniffed once more, wiping her tears away. “Then let me clear a bit of this up for you then, hmm? From an unbiased perspective?” She glared at Rose, who made no reaction at all, simply looking over her cousin in disappointment.

Her voice gaining conviction, Lily stood, staring Travis straight in the eye as she began. “My mum and Scorpius’ dad lived together for nearly a year before my parents were married. Now she chose to hide this information for whatever reason, likely because it had nothing to do with her marriage now, should have had nothing to do with it. But then she decided to tell Rose here all about Draco over a cup of tea last Christmas. Nothing wrong with sharing an old story, right?”

Travis didn’t speak but only nodded, allowing Lily to continue.

“But she said she still loved him.”

“She didn’t say that, Lily!” Rose cut in angrily, but Lily quickly turned on her, snapping.

“She MEANT it!” she screamed, pointing accusingly at Rose. “You said so in the game! In that stupid game! You said she was IN LOVE with him! IN LOVE!”

Rose stood up herself, hands palms down on the table, Travis looking between them both, anticipating their fight but having no say in it. “She said she still thought of him, Lily!” Rose corrected angrily. “She said she still cared about him, and yes she still loved him, but she hadn’t been with him in YEARS!”

“But she was with him the other day wasn’t she?” Lily snapped.

“Look, this is all my fault, Lily!” Rose shouted. “Your mum told me all that in confidence because she was trying to help me and I’m not about to let you paint her black for being honest with me! She didn’t do anything wrong!”

“Oh? And how was she helping any of us? She’s been the cause of all the problems we’ve had, everything that happened this semester!”

“She helped me!” Rose cried. “I didn’t have a clue what to do about loving Scorpius and she told me all that to help!”

The table went silent and Lily glanced down at where Travis still sat, Lily’s face stricken, hoping Rose hadn’t blown her chance with the Slytherin boy with her outburst but Travis just sat there, glancing up at Rose and waiting for her to continue, not a hint of judgment or blame on his face.

Rose slowed her breathing, meeting Travis’ eyes unapologetically, and then facing her cousin. “What? Do you expect me to apologize, Lily?” she said quietly. “Do you expect me to rush to fix what I just said so as to spare Travis’ feelings?”

“Rose…” Lily breathed, still glancing fearfully at Travis, unable to understand how he hadn’t left in a storm of anger.

“I liked Scorpius, it’s the truth so why should I hide it from him, or apologize for it?” Rose asked, still in her careful measured voice. Travis was still watching, simply listening. “He knew,” Rose continued. “Travis knew I liked Scorpius even before I did, certainly before you. And I did like him Lily. The fact that you’re dating him or Travis’ being here now doesn’t change what happened then. And I shouldn’t have to apologize for it, and neither should you mum have to apologize for what happened in her past. Why should you so readily assume she’s cheating on your dad for something that happened before either of us were born? How is that fair?”

“But, but Travis…” Lily cut in, glancing fearfully down at the older boy.

“I’m not apologizing,” Rose answered. “And why should I have need to? He’s here now, isn’t he?” Her cheeks flushed pink at that and Travis’ lips quirked a fraction of an inch.

There was silence then and Travis waited a minute before breaking it. “Am I supposed to make my verdict now? Having heard both sides?” he asked calmly but with a kind, faint smile.

Lily’s face darkened, her green eyes glaring down at him. “Fortunately, it’s my choice that matters and not yours, Travis,” she said coldly.

Travis’ smile disappeared, looking at Lily with only sadness.

“You just don’t want to forgive your mum,” he murmured, “Or Rose.”

“What?” Lily asked in shock, even Rose’s eyebrows lifting in surprise as she looked questioningly down to Travis.

“What are you talking about? Rose and I are fine.”

“You’re not,” he replied, still addressing Lily. “Or you would be trying a bit harder to listen to her.”

“I’m not listening because she’s wrong!” Lily corrected angrily.

“No, you’re not listening because it’s Rose contradicting your boyfriend and you don’t want her to be right. You’re mum’s past isn’t an excuse for you being a child anymore, Lily. You need to sort out your own problems instead of hanging them all on your mum’s mistakes, past or present.”

“Go to hell, Bletchley,” Lily snapped, her eyes cold and distant.

“Is that true, Lily?” Rose asked, hurt. “You’re still mad at me.”

“I’m not mad at you, Rose,” Lily explained.

Rose pursed her lips, finishing the sentence for her. “You just won’t forgive me.”

Lily opened her mouth but was unable to speak.

“Well then,” Rose murmured, collecting her mostly untouched teacup and Travis’, walking them over to the sink. Travis watched her, expressionless while Lily could only stare, still having nothing to say.

“I think Travis and I had better go then,” Rose said, calmly wiping her hands on a dish towel.

Travis nodded, standing up and pushing his chair in, meeting Lily’s downcast eyes. “Is there anyone you would listen to, Lily, really listen to? Or are you just mad at everyone?”

Lily’s glare hardened at that. “I’d rather have a heart to heart with Draco Malfoy himself that continue speaking with you about things you don’t even understand.”

Travis smirked, inclining his head slightly. “Then Rose and I will be off. Enjoy your tea.”

With that, he guided Rose out of the kitchen, his hand hovering just over the small of her back.

Rose glanced back from the door for just an instant but left with Travis, the front door clicking shut behind them.

Lily watched them go with a mixture of defeat and deadened anger, unsure how the Slytherin boy had seen everything so well.

*

“Well,” Travis began, putting his hands on his hips and glancing up at the clouds, sounding more cheerful than Rose thought was appropriate. “Time to fetch another Knight Bus.”

Rose glanced up at him, her face a mask.

“I’m sorry that that was just…” she chuckled dryly, “a complete waste of time.”

“Not your fault,” he cheered her, lightly knocking her elbow, “and after all, even if it was your fault, you wouldn’t be all that likely to apologize, would you?” he grinned.

Rose turned pink but held his gaze nonetheless. “I was serious,” she said. “I’m not apologizing.”

“I’m not asking you to,” he smiled and with that he threw his wand hand out, summoning the Knight Bus. Rose’s shoulders slumped, glancing back to her cousin’s house before boarding the triple decker bus.

“Where to?” the driver wheezed.

“Malfoy Enterprises in London,” Travis answered.

Rose whipped her head up, looking to Travis in surprise. “But why…?”

“Your cousin said she’d rather talk with Draco, didn’t she?” he asked quite innocently.

Rose’s lips began to turn up at the corners in disbelief. “And you think she’ll change her mind if she talks to the one person she hates the most right now?”

“Well it certainly can’t hurt things, can it?” Travis grinned. “She can rail at him all she wants, but I’ve been around that man when Scorpius isn’t getting his way before and I can guarantee she won’t get anywhere with him, not if he’s made up his mind to stop her.”

“And why would he decide to do that?” Rose asked quietly.

“Well don’t you think it’s possible he still loves her mum too?”

Rose smiled, climbing the bus steps and taking Travis’ hand, both smiling at each other. With a sharp crack the bus took off like a fire cracker and the two of them were thrown against the back of the bus, Travis with a grunt of surprise and Rose a squeal of fright. As the bus went careening through the streets, Travis and Rose collapsed in a fit of laughter, the Slytherin boy eventually gaining his balance and helping Rose up and into the nearest seat before they could both be thrown back again.

Secretaries and Appointment Books by Rosalie
Chapter Twenty-six: Secretaries and Appointment Books

Rose leaned against Travis, her head rocking back and forth on his shoulder with the Knight Bus’ jerky movements. She groaned, reaching to touch her forehead as if to hold her skull in place, already feeling a strong headache coming on. Travis chuckled quietly, gently laying his hand over hers, her eyes briefly coming up to meet his.

“Fun date, huh?” she asked miserably.

“It’s definitely something new,” he grinned.

She nodded, thinking back to the exchange with Lily, her face falling. “How could you tell all that so easily? That she still hated me?”

“I never said she hated you,” Travis murmured.

“She won’t forgive me.”

“She doesn’t want to face the fact that these problems are solely her own, not because of someone else’s faults.”

“Her mum and Scorpius’ dad are hardly her fault,” Rose argued, not understanding.

“But it is her fault that she refuses to forgive either of them,” he corrected.

Rose nodded to herself, falling silent.

“Hey, you tried to talk to her,” he said. “You did your job. Now we’ll just talk to Scorpius’ dad, send him in like the chess piece he is, and go home.”

Rose smiled briefly, reaching up to tuck a stray hair behind her ear. “Guess so. I am nervous about seeing him though,” she admitted quietly. “Much more nervous than I had been with Lily.”

“Why?”

“He kind of saw the worst side of me and I haven’t seen him since. What if he doesn’t want to help us? Doesn’t want to even talk with us because of me?”

“Don’t worry, I’ve been to Scorpius’ loads of times, practically grew up there. His dad’s not that bad.”

“That’s what you think,” Rose warned.

Eventually the bus came to an abrupt stop outside of an impossibly tall office building, and Rose stared out the window in fascination, the tower climbing up and up.

“Come on, Rose,” Travis said, lightly tugging on her hand until she got up and followed him off the bus.

Once off the bus, Rose stared infinitely upwards at Scorpius’ father’s building in front of her. Travis had taken her hand to ensure she not lose her footing coming down the steps and the touch finally brought her back to meet his level gaze.

“Welcome back,” he joked.

“That building is enormous,” she breathed, her eyes still quite large.

He raised an eyebrow, as if to ask if she had expected anything less, which truthfully, Rose supposed she hadn’t.

Rose breathed a deep sigh, more than a little intimidated. “Merlin’s beard, how are we going to do this, Travis?”

“Well, we’re going to go through those double doors, get in a lift, and go up to his office. How’s that sound?”

Rose rolled her eyes but still waited for Travis to make the first move towards the tall building, privately fearing that she was losing whatever courage she had left.

*

Stepping off the lift, Rose looked around herself in wonderment at all the expensive furnishings of the corporate office. There was a secretary in the corner answering owls. She quickly looked up and her shoulders sagged in relief upon seeing that it was only students rather than an important client. “Give me a minute, will you both?” she said abruptly, quickly returning to her letters.

Rose scrutinized the girl, reading her name plate. “So this is Amber…” she murmured.

Travis bent down to hear her properly, “Oh, her, yeah, she was in Slytherin with Scorpius and me.”

“Mmhmm, she also wrote the letter that started this mess,” Rose muttered. Travis cocked an eyebrow at her and she sighed. “Oh all right, she contributed to the mess; it started with me.”

“Come on, I wasn’t trying to blame you…” Travis protested when the secretary cut them abruptly off.

“And how can I help you two? Are you looking for donations or job applications?” she asked with a lazy drawl, barely glancing up from her work.

“Actually, Amber…” Here Travis strolled over and put his hand on her desk, the older girl’s eyes rising in first irritation and then recognition.

“Bletchley?”

He smirked and she grinned back, laying her paperwork aside and giving him her full attention.

“What brings you to see me, hmm?” she smirked, one eyebrow raised in question.

Rose felt her face redden, instantly disliking the older girl and forming rather bad opinions about her already.

“Actually I’m not here to see you,” he grinned. “I’ve brought my friend Rose Weasley and we were wanting to see Mr. Malfoy.” He gestured for Rose to join him, which she did, albeit with her arms crossed over her chest and looking down her nose at the secretary.

Amber regarded them both with some surprise. “Why on earth are you looking for Scorp’s dad? Can’t you just see him at the manor next time you’re over?” she questioned.

“I don’t see why that matters, considering it’s none of your business…” Rose began nastily, but Travis put a hand on her shoulder, effectively cutting her off.

“Play nice, girly,” Amber said, smirking at her.

Travis interrupted the girls’ cold glares, drawing Amber’s attention back to himself. All familiarity with the Slytherin girl had gone though, and his blue eyes were suddenly direct and unwavering. “We’re here to see Mr. Malfoy,” he said.

“Do you have an appointment?” Amber questioned him rudely.

“Why don’t you see if you can’t find us one? Hmm?” Travis replied with a pointed stare and a false smile. “It’s urgent and I’d hate to tell Mr. Malfoy that you’ve been giving any clients a difficult time just because they’re friends with his son, you know, the one who got you your job?”

Flushing pink, Amber seemed to remember her place as secretary and quickly checked an appointment log beside her. “He has a free half hour in about ten minutes,” she replied. “Would you like me to pencil you in?”

Travis smiled. “Please.”

“Very well, Mr. Bletchley and… what was it?”

“Weasley,” Rose bit out, both irritated with the secretary and relishing the older girl’s embarrassment.

“Right, Weasley. Please have a seat; Mr. Malfoy will be with you in a moment,” Amber said sweetly, her eyes dark.

Rose turned to take a seat in the waiting area when Travis suddenly put his arm around her shoulders and spun her around, turning back to Amber. “What are you…?” Rose questioned but Travis was already speaking.

“Oh, and one more thing, Miss. You wouldn’t know about an owl delivered to Hogwarts a week or so ago? It concerned a Mrs. Potter.”

If it were possible, Amber turned even redder. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she bit out. “Is that what this is about, Bletchley?”

Mr. Bletchley” he corrected her. “And I haven’t decided yet.”

Amber glanced around herself, her voice no more than a whisper. “That letter was for Scorpius only. You could get me fired if you tell Mr. Malfoy that I…”

Just then the door opened and voices were heard, an older businessman they’d never seen before stepping out and wiping a sheen of sweat off his brow. He glanced at the two teenagers and said, “Good luck if you’re meeting with him.”

Rose paled and no one moved until the man left, the lift doors shutting behind him.

“Was my aunt here that day or not?” Rose hissed.

"Your aunt?" Amber questioned, her eyebrows narrowing in realization. “Look, what exactly are you two planning to do? To say to Mr. Malfoy?”

“None of your concern,” Rose snapped.

“You tell me or I shan’t tell him you’re here. He’s not expecting you after all and he’s booked the rest of the day. Tell me now or you can say goodbye to seeing him today and for the rest of the week.”

Rose felt ready to strangle the secretary but Travis quickly cut in, well- versed in Slytherin threats. “Was Mrs. Potter here that day or not, Amber? Did what you wrote in that letter really happen?”

“Why does this matter?” Rose exclaimed. “It’s Lily we’re worried about!”

“Because this impacts how willing he is to help, Rose.”

Rose stared at the boy next to her, trying to understand his angle, but he was already demanding an answer from Amber again.

“You’re not going to tell him I sent it, are you?” she asked. “Travis, we were in the same house…”

“I’m not saying a word; I just need to know.”

Amber bit her lip, warring with herself.

Travis glanced at the clock, only two minutes left before the time he needed to meet with Mr. Malfoy, the clock still ticking away.

“Now, Amber.”

“Yes, she was here. Why would I go sending a fake letter? Honestly!”

“What did you see? Anything between them? To indicate that they were…” Travis trailed off, shrugging his shoulders.

Amber sighed, leaning forward in her chair. “I didn’t have to see it to know.”

“Well what does that mean?” Rose cut in, turning red.

Amber sent her a withering stare, rolling her eyes. “That man was in love with that woman. Could see it plain as day. He cancelled all his appointments for the rest of the day. Mr. Malfoy never misses a chance to make more money.”

“Isn’t it possible they were just having some sort of emotional reunion?” Rose asked hopefully but Amber rolled her eyes, clearly thinking it wasn’t possible. Rose nearly stamped her foot, she was so mad. How dare this girl accuse her aunt, even admitting she hadn’t seen anything! She opened her mouth to give the witch a piece of her mind when the hand of the clock moved, their appointment with Mr. Malfoy was at hand.

Amber glared at both Rose and Travis, rising from her seat. “Are you going to keep quiet about the letter or not?” she whispered. “Tick, tock…”

“We won’t tell,” Travis assured her.

Amber nodded, smoothing her skirt and moving around her desk to the office door, knocking quietly. “Mr. Malfoy?”

“Come in.”

Amber slipped into the office, lightly shutting the door behind her, no doubt informing Mr. Malfoy of his unexpected visitors.

Rose turned on Travis, still whispering angrily under her breath. “What that secretary saw doesn’t prove a thing. My aunt didn’t cheat!”

“And you’re probably right, but we still got information we needed.”

“And what’s that?” Rose demanded, throwing her hands up.

Travis lowered his voice, meeting Rose’s gaze. “She said he loved her. Draco Malfoy still loves your aunt and I’d be willing to bet he’d go pretty far to help her, even help us keep Lily in England.”

Rose blinked once, taking his idea in. “You really think we can convince him?”

Before Travis could answer, the office door was opened once more, a tall blond man stepping out with Amber waiting behind him.

Draco’s grey eyes widened in recognition of Travis and in surprise at the sight of Rose.

“Miss Weasley…”

Rose swallowed, nodding slightly. “Mr. Malfoy. I-If Travis and I could have just a minute of your time…”

“Oh I don’t know if that’s necessary, is it Travis?” Draco asked, one eyebrow lifting in question. “I see my son’s friend every few days, but you Miss Weasley, I don’t believe I’ve seen you since my visit to Hogwarts over a month ago.”

Rose turned brick red, fidgeting with her fingers as she remembered the scene she caused in the hospital wing. Seeing Draco Malfoy’s cold, grey eyes, she realized just how angry he must have been for what she’d done, not to Scorpius but to her aunt Ginny.

“Come inside,” Draco gestured to his open office, Amber quickly scurrying out of the way and back to her desk. Draco led Rose inside with a hand on her shoulders. Rose glanced back to Travis, seeing his worried blue eyes for only an instant before the door shut quietly behind her.

Negotiations by Rosalie

Chapter Twenty-seven: Negotiations

“Sit down, Miss Weasley.”

Rose sat, her eyes flitting nervously as Draco Malfoy took a seat across from her, kicking his feet onto his desk, his fingers steepled, hands resting on his chest. Somehow, Rose imagined this was not the business tycoon’s usual way of carrying himself and wondered again at how much she must have angered him with her outburst in the hospital wing all those weeks ago.

“Mr. Malfoy, if I can start by saying how sorry…”

“I said sit; I did not direct you to speak, Rose.”

Rose flushed as if it were her own father berating her, though Merlin knew her dad had never made her feel this rotten.

“But… but about the hospital wing…”

“Rose.”

She abruptly cut herself off, simply meeting the older man’s cold, grey gaze.

“I can only assume,” he began. “That Travis only brought you here and that he has nothing else to do with what you actually want to discuss with me. The fact you even mention the incident in the hospital wing is proof enough that this impromptu meeting is about those persons present, of which Travis Bletchley was not. Am I correct?”

“Yes,” she admitted, unable to say anything more.

Draco resettled himself; his feet finally back on the floor. He was leaning across his desk now, finally meeting her eyes. “Truthfully, Miss Weasley, I am sorry for my son’s behavior that day. I was embarrassed by him and he was punished severely.”

“It’s nothing,” Rose waved him off, her voice trembling slightly. “Scorpius and I are fine. Lily and I made up too, so… maybe everything with that is settled now and…”

“Hardly.”

“Pardon?” she asked quietly.

“I said it’s hardly settled or you would not be here now. Would you?” he asked pointedly.

Rose shifted in her seat under his knowing stare. “No,” she admitted in defeat.

Draco Malfoy nodded almost imperceptibly, steepling his fingers back together and not saying a word.

Rose waited for a beat before she clenched her hands at her sides, finally gaining the courage to address him. After all, she only had thirty minutes, thirty minutes to beg for this man’s help and she had already wasted several fidgeting in awkwardness.

“Mr. Malfoy, I am here about Lily… and Scorpius technically.” Draco didn’t speak so Rose continued. “Sir, from what I understand, Scorpius is travelling the continent over the summer hols, and that he’s leaving early tomorrow?”

“Yes.”

“Well,” Rose swallowed and suddenly started speaking very quickly, trying to get it all out in a single rush, she was so uncomfortable. “Well Scorpius invited Lily to join him and she is, but the problem is she’s going for longer than his original trip was planned for, and I’m pretty sure the two of them aren’t intending to come back soon, certainly not in time for Lily to go back to Hogwarts in September, and she is only just out of her fifth year and it’s going to be a huge mistake and Travis and I went to speak with her just this morning but she won’t listen to me and even though I’ve done everything I can to fix everything that happened between the three of us this semester, I’m afraid I didn’t do enough because Lily is still not listening to me and she’s blaming all of this on her mum which is again all my fault because I’m the one who told about her mum and you in the first place,” she gasped for breath at the end, looking worriedly to the older man across from her. “Could you please help me?”

Draco’s grey eyes narrowed, his expression cold. “What about your aunt and myself?” he asked quietly, though he’d already heard the whole thing once before in the hospital wing.

Rose was surprised he wasn’t ranting about his own son’s involvement in all of this, but she supposed her telling Ginny’s secret and causing all these problems likely angered him a good deal more.

“Just… everything…” she shrugged helplessly.

Draco leaned back in his chair, a muscle ticking in his jaw. “Why don’t you enlighten me further?”

Rose flushed, glancing down at her shoes. “It all started with me letting it slip that Lily’s mum still… still loved you.”

Draco didn’t move. To Rose, it looked as if he didn’t even breathe or blink, only staring coldly back at her.

“That’s, that’s when all the problems started, because of me. Lily was morbidly curious, Scorpius a little less… but…”

“What does this have to do with their juvenile trip to the continent?” Draco asked tiredly.

“Well, um, they both, Lily and y-your son… are convinced you’re having an affair…”

Draco chuckled humorlessly and Rose stiffened, the sound raising the fine hairs on the back of her neck.

Draco leaned back in his office chair, blearily rubbing his eyes with the palms of his hands, as if he were more tired than Rose could possibly imagine.

“M-Mr. Malfoy? You aren’t, are you? Cheating with Aunt Ginny?”

Draco continued to lean back in his chair, staring unseeingly up at the ceiling. “When I knew her, she was just Ginny.”

Rose felt her heart rise in hope. “Then you’re not, not seeing her.”

Draco raised an eyebrow at the seventeen year old girl, “You’re rather sure, aren’t you? What gave it away?”

“The past tense,” Rose admitted. “You said when you knew her, as if you don’t know her anymore.”

“Isn’t that the truth…” Draco trailed off, a frown line appearing between his eyebrows, staring off into the corner of the office. “Now I know more…” he murmured to himself, thinking back on all the revelations he’d had of why Ginny had left him all those twenty-six years ago.

Rose lightly cleared her throat, interrupting his musings. “Do you think, sir, that you could convince Lily of that? That you’re not having an affair? Scorpius’ convinced her that both your marriage and her mum’s are about to fall apart and now they want to run away from it before it happens. Please, sir, I only have less than twenty-four hours before my cousin makes a huge mistake and I just can’t let her do this. You have to help me.”

“Why?” Draco asked listlessly, still lost in thought, squinting against the light from the window.

“B-because… to help Ginny.” Rose answered simply. If she had expected Draco Malfoy to brighten at that, to sit up in realization and determination to help, she was wrong.

Draco Malfoy only sat there, musing to himself. “My son wants to leave. He’s an adult now and Merlin knows I did the same at his age. I can’t stop him.”

“Yes, but Lily… she’s not even sixteen yet and…”

“And she’s not my responsibility,” Draco finished, finally turning to meet Rose’s shocked face.

“But… but she’s Ginny’s daughter.”

Draco simply stared ahead and Rose could’ve sworn she saw a shadow of something like hurt pass behind his eyes. But it was gone just as quickly.

“I’m sorry, Miss Weasley, but children have to make their own mistakes.”

“Like you and Aunt Ginny.”

Draco bristled at the word ‘aunt’, unconsciously correcting Rose. “Ginny,” he growled, “just Ginny.”

Rose narrowed her eyes, becoming suddenly frustrated with the older man. “Are you really going to let her daughter run away as if it doesn’t concern you at all?”

“Does it?” Draco asked sarcastically. “And why’s that?”

“For the same reason you can only refer to her the way you used to. ‘Just Ginny’,” she mocked.

“What was that supposed to mean?” Draco snapped at her.

“You still love her. You’re still in love with her. Did you think we didn’t know she came here the day after the hospital wing?” Rose snapped, standing up from her chair and glaring down at the older man, who looked ready to strangle her. “She came here and the two of you were in here for hours!

“So everyone thinks we had an affair? Is that it?” Draco growled.

“No, I know she didn’t,” Rose said, utterly convinced of it, lowering her voice now. “But I bet she messed you up for days…”

Draco stiffened, staring at Rose in hatred. “You ought to hold your tongue, girl.”

“Help me convince Lily to stay.”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because I will have nothing more to do with that family!” Draco roared, standing up and slamming his hand down on the table, glaring at Rose, who was taken aback by his response.

“Why not?” she asked softly.

“As if I would admit anything to the one girl who started this mess,” he said scathingly.

Rose took a step back. “You’re being a coward,” she said coldly, “and a child.”

“You ruined us!” Draco shouted, his face turning red in anger. “You devastated your aunt!”

“I KNOW THAT!” Rose shouted back just as furiously.

“Then WHY are you HERE?”

“To keep her family from falling apart anymore!” Rose screamed. Draco stopped shouting, Rose now breathing heavily. “You keep saying that you want nothing to do with it, but I know you don’t want her hurt anymore. You still love her. And I know she still loves you. Could you please do just this one thing to help her?”

Rose waited, unable to tell if Draco was considering what she was saying or not.

He finally sat down in his chair with a weary sigh and Rose could tell he was close to agreeing. She sat down across from him, right on the edge of her seat. “Mr. Malfoy, you must owe her something… There must be something you could tell yourself so that you’d agree to this.”

Draco sighed deeply, finally meeting Rose’s gaze. “This problem just keeps getting more and more out of hand. Should I do this, I’d likely just see you here in another month, trying to solve something else of this mess.”

“I won’t. Please, Mr. Malfoy. Just convince Lily that nothing happened with you and her mum and all this will just go away. There won’t be any more problems. I swear.”

Draco considered her. Finally he stood up and moved to the office door. Rose stared after him for a beat, quickly coming to her senses and getting up, following him out into the waiting room. “Please, if you’ll just please do this one thing…” she pleaded after him.

But Draco was ignoring her, holding out an expectant hand to his secretary. Amber quickly placed the open appointment log in his hand. Draco addressed Rose without looking up from the book. “Is your cousin home now?”

“Y-yes.”

“Her parents?”

“I-I don’t know… They weren’t when we left her…”

Draco lowered the appointment log in frustration, fixing Rose with an irritated look. “I’m not about to step foot in that house if there’s the slightest chance either of her parents will be there.”

“Well, um, oh, my parents they’re having Uncle Harry and A-,” she caught herself, “I mean, Ginny, they’re having them over to dinner tonight at six. James will be working at the joke shop… and Albus… I’ll get rid of Albus,” she promised.

“You can guarantee all that?” Draco asked.

Rose paused but finally nodded. “Yes.”

“And I’ll help her,” Travis spoke up from where he was standing, hands in his pockets.

“Then I’ll be there at six. Be there to let me in. I’ll not be scaring the living daylights out of a teenage girl because of a lack of communication.”

Rose nodded. “Okay. Mr. Malfoy, thank you…”

Draco nodded his chin, glancing back at his appointment book and addressing Amber. “Cancel my dinner with the undersecretary. Find a time to reschedule before the end of the week.”

“Yes, sir.”

“And Rose?”

“Yes?”

“This is the last time you are permitted to speak of anything we discussed in my office. I will talk to your cousin, but this is a closed issue afterwards. Understand?”

Draco’s cold grey eyes met Rose’s. She swallowed, seeing that familiar shadow of hurt pass over his eyes again. “I understand,” she said.

He nodded once, and gestured to the lift doors, unceremoniously kicking them out. Rose found herself nearly tripping over her own feet to rejoin Travis, the two of them already pushing the button for the lift.

“Good to see you, Mr. Malfoy,” Travis said with an awkward wave.

“Do not patronize me, Travis,” Draco drawled, turning back to his office once more, still addressing Travis over his shoulder. “You’re quite lucky you aren’t looking for employment here.”

Travis turned red in embarrassment but was spared from answering when the lift arrived. Rose and Travis got on, catching one last glimpse of Draco Malfoy’s back before the two lift doors shut.

Travis let out a sigh, his shoulders slumping. “Damn, I hadn’t planned on job searching anywhere else…”

“You’re not serious?” Rose asked in utter bewilderment.

“You’re right, I’m not,” he grinned. “Still, it would have looked good on a résumé.”

Rose shook her head to herself, finally breathing deeply now that she was out of that office. “Well, at least that’s done. Getting Albus out of the house should be the easiest task of the whole day.”

“Now that’s the cheerful attitude we’ve been looking for,” Travis laughed, the two of them grateful to be leaving the imposing building behind. Rose thought back to the shadow in Draco’s eyes all during their tense conversation and she wondered at the pain he must still be holding onto. She wondered what his conversation with Lily would look like and how much more awful it would be than the thirty minutes she’d spent in his office.

When they stepped out of the building and onto the street, Travis summoned the Knight Bus and they boarded once more for their last trip of the day. The sky ahead was already changing color with the beginnings of the sunset.

Sabotage, Payback, and More by Rosalie

Chapter Twenty-eight: Sabotage, Payback, and More

Ginny stood in front of the mirror, staring back at her reflection. Her hair was being difficult she decided. She knew perfectly well how good she could make it look, especially in a chignon, for Hermione and Ron’s dinner, but she also knew how much she’d rather have it all down, hiding her face from view. Hermione had been absolutely impossible since that day in the hospital wing at Hogwarts and Ginny knew, she simply knew that Hermione would try and punish her for it tonight and couldn’t help but muttering curse words under her breath about the other woman.

“Well, best to face a confrontation head on,” she murmured to herself, taking out her wand and styling her hair up, out of her eyes and yet purposefully messy just because she knew Hermione was neurotic about these things and would hate it, though Ginny liked it well enough. Ginny paused, glancing up to meet her reflection in the mirror. “Hermione would hate it,” she murmured to herself, as if seeing how the idea felt. Ginny chewed thoughtfully on her lower lip, glancing over her shoulder to the small black dress hanging by her closet, the dress she had been intending to wear. The four of them had made it a priority to take a night for themselves as couples every month or so over the past few years, and Hermione had come up with the idea of it being a dressed up affair. Ginny eyed her black dress. It was a nice dress, she thought to herself, which was precisely why she no longer had any intention of wearing it. If Hermione was going to punish her, then she was going to punish Hermione.

Ten minutes later, Ginny was putting on her make-up; after all looking underdressed was no reason to look as if she’d forgot to dress. The devil was in the details she thought to herself. Just then Albus came into the room, a look of disgruntlement and determination on his face in equal part. “Mum, did you know Rose has got herself a new boyfriend?” he demanded scathingly.

Ginny looked up in surprise, wand in hand as she curled her lashes. “Hadn’t the foggiest,” she replied, finally turning to her son. “Do you know him?”

“Travis Bletchley,” Albus spat. “Slytherin.”

Ginny smirked at that, returning to her make-up charms. “Well good for Rose.”

“No, mum, not good. What is it with all the women in this family falling for bleeding Slytherins?”

“Isn’t that the truth?” Ginny mused to herself, Albus not quite hearing her.

“Mum, can you believe this?” he exclaimed.

“Albus, honey, why are you so worked up about this?” she asked, glancing back to her son, her eyebrows suddenly rising. “Why on earth have you got your broom out?” she asked incredulously.

“Because that bloody boyfriend of hers came over earlier to make nice. Rose wanted to introduce me to him. Ha! As if I didn’t know who he is already! He’s practically best mates with that sodding Malfoy!”

Ginny nodded. “And the broom?”

“He wants me to play him in Quidditch. Tonight at five till six.”

“Well that will be fun, honey.”

“Yeah, beating him into the dirt will be,” Albus muttered under his breath, his eyes flashing with excitement nonetheless.

“Well have fun, dear,” Ginny smiled, reaching out to ruffle her son’s hair but he was tall enough now to evade her and she rolled her eyes instead. “Where are you meeting him?”

“The old field where James and I used to play. He’s invited a few of those Slytherin bastards…”

Ginny directed her son with a pointed look and he relented, albeit reluctantly, “Slytherin… idiots…” he amended. Ginny nodded and he continued. “Anyway, I called up James and he and Uncle George are going to join us. Angelina promised to watch the shop so they could come.”

“Sounds like fun,” Ginny smiled.

“No, sounds like payback,” Albus corrected her. He then told her to have fun at her dinner and swept out of the room with a purpose, no doubt plotting to beat the other boy to a pulp if given the chance.

Ginny watched him leave; privately thinking it was a very good night for payback all around.

Lily glanced up from where she sat on the floor of her room as her brother rushed past and hurtled himself down the stairs, her eyebrows flitting up in surprise. She had abandoned packing her things once her family came home, but if her parents and Albus would both be gone… Her eyes drifted to her bed, conscious of the suitcase hidden underneath and contemplating. She could finish packing tonight, be completely done… The thought made her dizzy for a moment, but she knew that she was far behind in packing and this would be her last chance before leaving with Scorpius in the morning from the border apparition point in London. Checking her clock, Lily bit her lip, only a quarter till six. Soon everyone would be gone.

Ginny had just finished the final touches on her make-up, when Harry walked into the bedroom, slipping out of his auror robes and reaching to undo his tie. “G-Ginny, what are you doing? We leave in ten minutes,” he spluttered.

“Hmm? Oh, this? I don’t know; I just felt like something more… simple tonight,” Ginny replied, putting her small earrings in place. Harry took in her black long-sleeved jumper, the only evidence of attempting to dress up being a simple necklace and her earrings. It wouldn’t have been bad except for the very obvious muggle jeans Ginny wore, their dark wash not concealing what they were.

“Uh, Ginny, did Hermione say tonight was casual?”

“Nope, but I just really wanted to wear this tonight. Much more comfortable. You ought to wear something comfortable too,” she said, patting his arm.

Harry looked down in surprise, one eyebrow lifting. His wife had not voluntarily touched him in days…

She gave him a small smile and started slipping on her shoes.

“Okay…” Harry said slowly. He shook his head to himself, going into the other room and changing. He came out a moment later, wearing something in between the usual nice outfit he’d wear to their dinners, and the casual garb Ginny was trying to convince him to wear.

Ginny raised an eyebrow at his slacks, rolling her eyes. “Chicken.”

“It’s still casual,” Harry defended. “Besides I don’t want to bring on the wrath of Hermione.”

Ginny turned on him, suddenly quite serious. “Harry, who are you more afraid of, Hermione or me?”

“I guess I’ll go change,” Harry muttered in defeat as he headed back to his closet with Ginny smirking to herself behind him.

Only a minute later, she was standing at the foot of the stairs, ready to disapparate. “Lily, your father and I are leaving!” she called.

“Okay, have a good night!”

Ginny rolled her eyes to her husband, reaching for her purse. “She’s been in that room all day. I’ve hardly seen her at all.”

Harry simply ignored her though, preoccupied with his thoughts. “Are you sure we want to encounter a very brassed off Hermione tonight?” he asked seriously. “Things between you both have been tense enough lately…”

“You’re right,” Ginny nodded, still smirking somewhat. “Which is why I thought it’d be best if everyone loosened up, wore something comfortable. You’re comfortable aren’t you, Harry?”

Harry sighed deeply, his shoulders falling. “Let’s just get this over with.”

*

Lily was in her room when she heard her parents leaving, the front door closing behind them. Taking in a sharp breath, she reached under her bed and pulled out her barely filled suitcase, staring down at it in dismay. She had a lot of work to do.

Just then she heard the front door open again, and her eyes widened in surprise. She hurriedly shoved the suitcase back under the bed and peeked out of her door, seeing not her mother at the foot of the stairs but Rose, talking quietly to a tall blond man. The man looked up upon hearing Lily on the landing and her mouth fell open in shock.

“Mr. Malfoy?”

Face contorting in anger, Lily stamped down the stairs, turning on her cousin in fury. “What is he doing here? Did you actually let him in?”

“I did,” Rose said calmly, her hands clasped in front of her.

“This isn’t your house, Rose! You can’t go inviting him in! How did you even get here?” she demanded.

“Unlocking charm.”

“So what? You waited out in the bushes?”

“No, I disapparated from my house once your parents showed up at the door. Scorpius’ dad agreed to meet me here.”

“WHY?” Lily shouted, turning on the older man, unable to constrain her anger. “Why are you here?”

“Because I am apparently financing a trip of yours for an undetermined period of time and I think you’ve lost your senses,” Draco drawled.

Lily’s jaw fell in surprise, mouthing wordlessly. “How did you know…? Rose!

Rose glanced down at her shoes but then back up, forcing herself to hold her cousin’s gaze.

Lily sneered. “Let me guess, you’re not apologizing.”

“Well now that we’ve gone through introductions and explanations, perhaps we can have an adult conversation?” Draco asked mockingly.

“Get out of my house!” Lily shouted, gesturing to the door. Realizing neither Rose nor Draco was going to move, she stamped her foot in anger and raced up the stairs, slamming her door behind her but there was a sudden pop and an arm reached out of nowhere and stopped the door from slamming shut. Lily jumped back in fright, seeing Draco on the other side of her doorway. He lazily twirled his wand through his fingers, having just Apparated.

“Get OUT!” she screamed at him.

“SIT DOWN,” he barked.

Lily’s eyes widened in shock and she unconsciously took a few steps back, plopping down in her desk chair. “I don’t want to talk to you,” she insisted, still quailing somewhat under his presence.

“Not your decision,” Draco snapped, calling loudly over his shoulder. “If you’d be so kind as to wait downstairs, Miss Weasley?”

There was an answer back from Rose and Draco nodded, his eyes sweeping over Lily and taking in her room. “Where’s the suitcase?” he asked interestedly.

Lily’s eyes flitted to the bed without her meaning to and Draco smirked, giving his wand a small flick. Her mostly empty suitcase shot out from under the bed, landing with a thunk at the older man’s feet.

“Ah,” he exclaimed, bending down and holding up a pair of socks. “Definitely necessary… shirts, shoes, pair of Muggle jeans…”

“And why are you going through my things exactly?” Lily demanded, crossing her arms over her chest.

“Uh uh uh… I didn’t say you could speak,” he reprimanded, waving his finger at her in disapproval.

“Excuse me?” she snapped, building up steam. “This is my room! You can’t just order me around!”

“Silence!”

Lily flinched, immediately falling silent.

“You can’t talk to me like that,” she quietly complained.

“Sure I can,” Draco drawled. “Now tell me, how long do you think these clothes will last you? The summer in comfort; a few months more, they’d get tiring, same thing every week… Theoretically they could last you for years if you were willing to wear them till they were rags on your back,” he raised his eyebrows in question but Lily remained silent.

“Naturally you’d want to buy some new clothes, but where to pack them when you do? It would depend on if you stayed in one place or kept moving regularly, of course. But the money you do bring, that would be needed for food not clothes. How long do you suppose the money would last, hmm? Astoria and I are only providing Scorpius with enough to be comfortable for the summer, but if he’s splitting it with you…” he gestured, “money runs out twice as fast.”

“I’d bring my own money!” Lily sneered. “I wouldn’t just use Scorpius like that!”

“You mean your parents’ money.”

Lily blinked, at a loss for words. Draco finally leaned against her bureau, arms crossed over his chest. “Did you really think your father wouldn’t find you? Wouldn’t have the entire Auror’s squad searching over all of Europe for you?” Lily’s face fell. Draco leaned forward, continuing. “Forget about accessing your parents’ money without their noticing. There would be posters of you up everywhere. You’d be in custody of an international Auror in less than twenty four hours. Unless you managed to hide very, very well, which would be some holiday, you can count on that,” he said sarcastically.

“You’re saying it’s useless. Running away,” Lily summarized.

Draco nodded but didn’t say anything. He didn’t need to.

Laughing humorlessly, Lily stared down at the floor. “And what if I don’t care that it’s pointless?”

“And why’s that?”

Lily looked up at him, her green eyes angry and Draco was struck by how much she looked like Ginny, all but those damn eyes of Potter’s. “I don’t want to be here,” she bit out, “when everything between you and my mum comes to light,” she snapped. “Running away is worth it, even if it’s impossible, just to get away from you.”

Draco chuckled to himself and Lily burned with anger at him. “WHY are you SMILING?” she yelled.

“So you think you know everything, don’t you?” Draco laughed to himself, looking up at the ceiling. “All the details of my sordid affair with your mother.”

Suddenly she snapped and Lily was launching herself at Draco, trying her level best to hit him. “How dare you! She is my mother!” she cried, hot angry tears streaking down her face. Draco caught her wrists in both his hands, stopping her small fists before she could attack him any further. Sucking in shuddering sobs, Lily stopped fighting, her shoulders heaving as she continued to cry. “You’re ruining my family! I hate you! I hate you and I hate her!”

“Don’t hate your mother,” Draco whispered, still holding the younger girl’s wrists but gently.

“W-why n-not?” she cried, choking back as many tears as she could. “She did all of this… She said she l-loves you!”

Lily continued to cry, not noticing how Draco’s eyes fell closed, his jaw tightening.

“Your mother and I are not seeing each other,” he assured her. “I swear on my son’s life, Lily.”

“That’s n-not p-possible... I know she was t-there, at your off-office…”

“Why does everyone seem to know that?” Draco asked aloud, shaking his head. “Ah… my secretary…”

“D-don’t go f-firing her for telling us the truth!” she cried, Draco finally releasing her so she could wipe her eyes.

“You don’t even recognize what the truth is,” Draco told her with a sigh. “How many times must I or your mother or your cousin tell you that there is no affair?”

Lily stiffened, but quickly tried to argue her way past him, not caring what she said, only that she didn’t let him convince her, didn’t let it all go away because it couldn’t go away. It couldn’t just all disappear like nothing had ever happened. So what if the affair wasn’t real? The feelings behind it were, weren’t they?

“She said she loved you,” Lily said with quiet finality. “What does anything else matter?”

“What matters is that you are purposefully ignoring everything I’m telling you, what really happened! Which was nothing,” he finished disheartened, his grey eyes full of nothingness.

Lily stared up at him, swallowing painfully. “Then why aren’t my parents the same? Why is everything so tense and falling apart? My dad, he doesn’t trust her anymore. My mum, I heard her over Easter holidays, after she saw you, she wouldn’t stop crying.” Draco’s jaw tightened but he did not look away and Lily felt her voice waver. “I saw her in the hospital wing. She was horrified that I found out.”

“And why do you think that was? Hmm? Look me in the eye and tell me why she was so devastated that you said anything.”

Raising her head, Lily stared up at him, meeting his flat grey eyes but there was something there, some unnamed emotion and it made her uncomfortable. It made her want to cry all over again. She quickly looked away but couldn’t get the image of such deadness in Draco Malfoy’s eyes out of her head.

“Why, Lily? Why did it hurt her?” he asked gently.

“B-because it’s painful.”

“Sit.” It was the same word he’d ordered her to do before, only now it was gentle, like a father trying to talk to his daughter and Lily supposed that was some of what this was, a father talking to a daughter, related only by bitter circumstances frustrating them both. She sat on the corner of her bed and Draco Malfoy bent so that he was eye level with her, those same dead eyes meeting hers.

“It is painful, Lily, and I imagine that’s why your mum felt safe telling your cousin Rose about what happened, because your cousin was in pain then and needing someone to talk to. It was a relief to your mum, talking about it, but it was also painful. And it was painful to see me and for me to see her. And it was like a freshly cut wound that day in the hospital wing. Can you imagine it from her eyes? Seeing her daughter and her niece fighting, hating each other over a secret that she let out? The mistakes she made in her past were causing you pain, you her daughter.”

Lily sniffled, wiping at her eyes, her tears still falling down her cheeks. “There really was no affair?”

“No,” he smiled, though there was no feeling in it. “She may have admitted to loving me, and I her, but she loves you infinitely more than that and would have never done that to you, not after everything that happened.”

“Maybe beforehand though?” Lily sniffed. “If it hadn’t got out? If you two had just ran into each other again, and no one knew? Would she have gone back to you then?”

Draco lips thinned, eyes distant. “That’s not what happened. You can’t know that which never happened.”

“Do you wish it had?” Lily whispered, tears shining in her eyes. She wasn’t sure what she was hoping for from this man, but she morbidly awaited his answer.

“I love your mother,” he said, his voice gruff and dry, his own eyes now bright. “But I love my son as much as Ginny loves you and I pray I would never do that.”

“But you still love her.”

He nodded. “And miss her.”

“And it’s still painful?”

“God, yes. That’s why I’m begging you, Lily. Don’t do this to her. Don’t put her through this. You will only add to her guilt. She’ll think it’s all because of her. What happened between us is painful now because of how it ended then,” he said, his voice now raw and aching.

“What do you mean?”

Draco’s expression tightened and Lily let out a soft gasp, seeing that he was genuinely in very real pain, the kind she could never describe to anyone afterwards, even if she wanted to.

“What happened?” she asked, a hitch in her voice.

“This is not a conversation we should be having,” he bit out.

But that pain was still there and it was only getting worse and Lily wanted him to say what it was, just to take that secret away from him, it looked so awful.

“Please? Please tell me what happened.”

Draco closed his eyes and stood up, pinching the bridge of his nose and trying to breathe. Why had he agreed to do this? It wasn’t worth it. It wasn’t worth it. All the memories came flooding back. Ginny, sixteen and smiling up at him in the kitchen of their flat, her warm brown eyes encouraging him, telling him it would all be okay. Her gentle touch as she fixed his tie and smoothed the front of his robes. Her smile was the worst; it filled him with a sharp pain unlike any other because it was a smile that took over her whole face, making her bright and beautiful, all the more so because he knew she had been his.

Until she wasn’t. Until she was gone.

He could destroy this girl here and now. He could tell Ginny’s daughter exactly what had happened, what her father had done but he thought of Ginny and how she had cried in the hospital wing, losing her ability to hold herself up, distraught over her daughter and blaming herself.

And he couldn’t do it. He had to lie to the girl, no matter how much the words were like poison in his mouth. “She chose your father,” he whispered, his voice barely audible.

Lily watched him closely, a single tear sliding down her face. She saw past his words and to the truth, not knowing what it was but recognizing it as something much, much uglier. She saw his rigid stance, the clenched fists as his side. She saw the hatred in his eyes, whether he hated himself or someone else, Lily didn’t know. But she knew she would get no further answer from him and she told herself she didn’t need one.

She wiped away the last of her tears and breathed in. “Do you know a quick charm to help me unpack?” she smiled weakly up at him.

Draco met her eyes and his lips curved up a fraction of an inch. “Was it the emotions that got you?” he asked dully but with a wry smile. “Your mum always fell for the sob stories.”

Lily shook her head with a small upturn of her lips. “Seriously now, about that charm…”

With a roll of his shoulders, Draco flicked his wand and all her things went soaring back to their places, drawers opening to collect their missing collections and shutting right afterward, the entire room put back to rights.

“Thank you,” Lily dipped her head towards her empty suitcase but she meant more than that.

Draco nodded and looked up. “Well, I suppose it’s time I left now, isn’t it?”

“I’ll walk you to the door…”

“That won’t be necessary but thank you,” Draco assured her. Lily nodded and watched as the tall man left her room, hearing his footsteps as he descended the staircase.

Rose stood up from her place sitting at the foot of the stairs, a hopeful expression on her face. Draco nodded curtly to her and she sighed in relief, giving her cousin a weak smile where Lily stood on the landing, watching Draco Malfoy’s retreating back. He was just on the last stair when the front door swung open, Lily’s parents arguing as they walked inside and freezing in their tracks.

“Draco…” Ginny breathed, her purse suddenly falling from her slack hands, her husband standing furiously next to her.

“Hello, Ginny…”

*

*

*

Collision by Rosalie
Chapter Twenty-nine: Collision

Rose sat in her room, wand in hand, staring at the clock on her nightstand, ten more minutes till six. Ten minutes left till her aunt and uncle arrived for dinner and she had to Disapparate, had to meet Draco Malfoy and hope to God that he could talk her cousin out of packing her bags and leaving without a second thought.

She nervously tapped her wand against the palm of her hand, the tick tocking of her clock making her go mad. She tried to clear her head, to think of Travis who was proving to be better than ever. She flushed, thinking of how she introduced him to her cousin Albus, as her boyfriend. Travis had unwittingly broken character, his eyes flitting to hers in surprise, a hopeful question there. She had smiled faintly back at him, still quite careful with what she said so that Albus didn’t realize too much, though he was already ranting and raving and Rose needn’t have bothered.

Travis’ eyebrow rose in question, his ears faintly pink. Rose knew he didn’t want to ask. He knew this all was pretend, all him going out of his way to help her. Realizing all he had done for her and what fun she had had with him, Rose bit her lip, unable to keep from smiling up at him. “I just thought, after everything,” she swallowed, “That maybe we ought to make it official?” There was a question in her tone, asking him.

And he beamed back at her, taking it all in stride as he threw his arm around her shoulders, excitedly facing Albus, right back in character, which was now a reality. He introduced himself as her boyfriend and Rose flushed, smiling in happiness, holding fast to the one truly great accomplishment of her day, all other ventures paling in comparison to how happy she was knowing Travis was her boyfriend now and he would be for some time.

Rose smiled to herself until she was broken out of her reverie by two pops of Apparation. Jumping up from her bed and realizing she had no time left, Rose waved her wand, Disapparating with a soft pop.

*

Hermione Weasley walked briskly out of the kitchen, ready to greet Harry and Ginny when she suddenly froze in her tracks, blinking in surprise.

“Wow, Herm, that’s a lovely red dress!” Ginny enthused, shrugging off her purse and slipping out of her shoes the second she arrived.

Hermione faltered, taking in the sight of two pairs of muggle jeans, Harry grimacing in apology.

“Don’t you two look… comfy…” Hermione trailed off, attempting to keep a smile on her face.

Ginny grinned back at her, sighing contently as she wriggled her now freed toes on the carpet. “Much better,” she sighed happily.

Just then, Ron rounded the corner, his expression one of a whining child when he saw Harry in jeans and a simple button-up shirt. “Oh come on! Why can’t I wear something like that, Mione?”

Hermione pursed her lips, hands on hips and silent.

“Oh, go on Ron, go change into something like what Harry’s got on,” Ginny encouraged him. “No reason to be such a stuffed shirt when you don’t need to be, eh?”

Ron pumped his fist, looking eagerly to Hermione for permission.

“Harry, perhaps you could help him pick what to wear?” Hermione suggested lightly.

“Erm, Hermione, I’m really not comfortable with going through another man’s clothes, even if it is Ron… that’s just a little…”

“Harry?” Hermione called, a thin smile on her face.

“Y-yes?” he faltered.

“Please. Go with Ron.”

Harry glanced between his wife and Hermione, well aware that an argument was about to take place and he decided helping Ron shovel through a laundry basket searching for clean jeans was as good a way as any for occupying his time.

He headed down the hallway, leaving his all too cheery wife to face a very unhappy woman.

“What are you doing?” Hermione demanded as quietly as possible.

“Nothing, Mione, honest,” Ginny promised with false sincerity. “I just wanted everyone to be comfortable for a change, you know… that way nobody feels on edge.”

Hermione’s eyes narrowed. “Well I’m not changing, if you don’t mind. I’m comfortable as can be,” she promised, indicating her stylish red dress.

“I’m glad,” Ginny smiled. “I’d hate for any of these last minute changes to upset you.”

“I’m not upset at all. I’m perfectly not on edge,” she bit out.

“Lovely. Because I’ve been meaning to ask you, what do you think about eating out in the living room tonight? We could watch a quidditch game on the telly you rewired, have some beers…”

“Did I hear the word beer?” Ron asked excitedly, rejoining the girls in his Chudley Cannon’s jersey and a pair of worn jeans. “That’s a brilliant idea, Gin. Don’t know why we haven’t tried this before. Come on, Mione, I’ll help you with the dishes. We can put the china aside and use the Gladrags wear, toss the food on plates and catch the game.”

“Of course,” Hermione smiled, her expression tight. “After all, if that would make everyone comfortable…”

And with that she re-entered the kitchen with Ron, leaving Ginny to smile at Harry, a satisfied gleam in her eyes as she plopped down on the couch and turned on the telly, the sound of the sportscaster allowing their conversation to go unnoticed.

Harry sat down next to her, his expression un-amused. “Why don’t you admit you’re just trying to make everything as uncomfortable as possible?” he sighed.

She glanced at him, an eyebrow raised in challenge and a smirk on her lips. “Alright then, I admit it.” Grinning, she turned back to the television, loudly cheering that the game was starting and calling for Ron to hurry up and join them.

An hour later, well before Harry and Ginny would normally leave a dinner at Ron and Hermione’s, they were moving to disapparate, Ginny slowly slipping on her shoes and grabbing her purse. “Honestly, Herm, I didn’t mean to upset you,” she assured, trying not to laugh. “I honestly thought beer pong would be fun, you know, reliving our younger years, loosening up, getting a bit more…”

“DON’T YOU DARE SAY COMFORTABLE!” Hermione shrieked.

“Alright, alright,” Ginny relented. “I won’t say it. Have a lovely evening Ron, Hermione. I hope you can both relax and enjoy the rest of the game…”

“Get out!”

Ginny stumbled into Harry after they Disapparated, his hand automatically reaching out to steady her. “Well that was fun,” she declared, disentangling herself from him as the two walked up from the edge of their driveway.

“It most certainly was not,” he disagreed, fixing his wife with a pointed glare.

“Oh come on, Harry. She was ten times as bad to me at the station the other day and you didn’t even attempt to defend me,” she argued back, already heading up the long driveway.

“That is not my fault, Gin,” Harry argued, following after her. “I didn’t even know what she was mad about.”

“Oh please,” Ginny snapped, turning on him. “I told you everything that happened between Lily and Rose in the hospital wing that day and I told you Hermione would cause trouble. You knew exactly why she was in such a snit and didn’t do a thing to help me.”

“What was I supposed to do? Announce in the middle of King’s Cross that you lived with Malfoy for nearly a year and assure Hermione you weren’t cheating with him when I’m not so sure of that myself?” he shouted.

Ginny froze, glaring at him in cold fury. “You’re right, perhaps you should work on your own perceptions before correcting Hermione’s. You might convince her of more going on than even you believe.”

Harry groaned aloud as they moved through the dark to their cottage, trailing after his offended wife. “Gin, come on Ginny, slow down. Look, I’m sorry,” he called. “I shouldn’t have said…”

“No,” Ginny snapped. “You shouldn’t have even thought it.”

Harry followed her up the porch steps, as she was reaching out for the handle. “Look, Ginny, I’m sorry.” Ginny turned to face him and he could only see the reflection of her eyes in the darkness. “You’re right,” he sighed. “You’ve always been honest with me about the times you’ve gone to see him.”

Time, Harry. I saw him once,” she corrected him, her face expressionless.

Harry nodded. “Right; at his office.”

Ginny turned the door handle, addressing Harry over her shoulder as she dug through her purse. “It’s not as if he’s sneaking around our house or anything…” she trailed off abruptly, falling utterly silent as Harry stiffened beside her. Ginny sucked in a breath at the sight of Draco Malfoy standing on the bottom stair, suddenly still. Ginny blinked and her purse fell from her slack hands, the sound of it hitting the floor barely registering with her.

“Draco…”

“Hello, Ginny…”

Ginny mouthed wordlessly, blinking against the tears coming unbidden. “W-what are you doing here?” she asked in a whisper.

Draco’s jaw clenched, forcing his eyes to stay open, to keep from showing any emotion at all, preferring to make them painfully dry than to shed tears.

“Well,” he inhaled sharply, his drawl returning to him with ease. “I do believe I’ve had my fill of talking with teenage girls for this evening. If you’d excuse me, Mrs. Potter, I’ll just be leaving now.”

He stepped off the last stair but Ginny moved to stand in front of him, struggling to find her voice. “I-I…” she shook her head, “I don’t understand… why you’re here…” Her large brown eyes were searching his, searching for any indication of why he was standing in her front hall. “Draco…”

Her husband’s hand was suddenly on her shoulder, gentle but firm and commanding. “Ginny… move aside so Malfoy can get out.” He bit out, his eyes flashing with something like fury at the other man but Draco didn’t react, still looking at Ginny.

“Please move,” he whispered and Ginny’s face fell. Her eyes flitted down full of confusion and embarrassment and from what Lily saw, that same pain she’d seen in Draco’s eyes only moments before.

She was openly crying now, her face crumbling as Draco Malfoy moved past her. He nodded once to Rose and reached for the door handle, his expression pained. He opened the door and stepped outside. Ginny suddenly choked out a tearful no, turning quickly and reaching for the door to rip it open and follow after him but Harry’s hand slammed flat against the door, barricading it shut.

“No,” he growled, his body tense with rage.

“Harry, please…” she cried.

“How do you expect me to trust you?” he yelled, pounding his fist back against the door once more, glaring down at her. “After this?”

“I d-didn’t know why he was here!” she cried. “If you’d let me speak to him…”

“NO!”

Angrily Ginny pulled at the door, her frustration quickly turning to incoherent crying as she struggled. She finally succeeded in forcing the door open, rushing outside in the dark only to falter, realizing he was already gone.

Rose watched her aunt shake, her hands trembling as she grasped bits of her hair, pulling at the strands and struggling not to cry aloud. She was barely a silhouette in the darkness, shaking like someone who’d just seen a ghost. Without realizing it, Rose felt tears on her cheeks, raising her eyes to see her uncle’s face, utterly expressionless. Snapping suddenly, he slammed the door shut so hard that the hallway shook, Harry stalking past Rose and away from the front hall, the front door swinging back open from the force of its impact. Rose heard glass breaking from inside the kitchen, wedding china no doubt being hurtled against the walls, and still there was her aunt, now sitting on the grass outside, crying brokenly.

Rose finally looked back up the stairs, wanting to see her younger cousin, to see if she was alright.

She was gone.

*

Draco fell against a brick wall in a dark alley when he apparated, his hands automatically scraping against the worn brick to hold himself up, his legs already given out from under him. Breathing shallowly he leaned against the wall until he was sitting on the hard pavement. He didn’t know where he was. He didn’t recognize this place, especially not in the dark. But it was empty and silent and he leaned his back against the wall, staring upwards at the sky and gasping for breath.

He swallowed painfully, tears falling down his face like he’d never cried in his life before. He didn’t even have the strength to be embarrassed. “Oh, God… Oh God help me…” he croaked, squeezing his eyes tightly shut and crying. He bit down on his lip so hard he drew blood and he tasted salt from both that and his tears.

He was shaking, physically shaking like he was having a small seizure and he couldn’t stop. He couldn’t stop crying from the pain of that ripped-open hole in his chest, burning like salt in a wound.

“Help me… God, Help me…” he cried.

Everything was distorted past his tear-filled eyes, his vision blurring but he froze in sudden recognition of the place he was at. Slowly his eyes drifted upwards and round himself and his heart fell to his stomach like a stone.

Up above him, the window alight with a faint glow, was their old flat.

Gone by Rosalie
Author's Notes:
Much thanks to DGgirl for beta-ing this chapter (and those to come). I could not have gotten this finished without her.
Chapter Thirty: Gone

Rose felt her heart drop to her stomach, seeing that Lily was no longer at the top of the stairs. Grasping the railing, Rose hurried up the staircase, rushing to her cousin’s room. But when she pushed the door open, her shoulders slumped. The window was open, and Lily was gone. The suitcase that had been laying empty on the ground was gone, drawers from the dresser all hanging open, one even lying on the floor, as if Lily had ripped it out too quickly in her haste to leave. Rose looked helplessly around the deserted mess of a room, stamping her foot in an effort to hold back tears. Everything she and Travis had worked to accomplish all day, everything Draco Malfoy had willingly put himself through, it was all for nothing because now Lily was gone.

Rose shivered in the breeze from the window, staring morosely outside. Lily couldn’t have gotten far, she told herself, rubbing warmth back into her arms and thinking. Sitting on the bed with a small sigh, Rose ran through her options. She could tell Harry. She could tell him and he’d be out the door in an instant, calling up off-duty Aurors to find Lily. She’d be home in a number of hours, surely. Flinching at the sound of another plate being hurtled against the kitchen walls downstairs, Rose faltered. Could she really blame Lily for running away? Another crash echoed from downstairs, and Rose sniffled, tears suddenly falling down her face, one drop at a time.

If they had been only a moment later in coming home… she thought, crying quietly. She curled her legs underneath herself, reaching for a stuffed teddy bear of Lily’s, and holding it tight. She had been so close, so close to putting everything back how it was supposed to be, and now she was just crying in her cousin’s room, clutching a stuffed animal like she was a child again.

Rose heard the front door close with a soft click and sat up straighter, listening. There were soft footsteps and, her curiosity getting the better of her, Rose peeked around the corner of Lily’s room.

Ginny was standing by herself at the foot of the stairs, finally sitting down on the bottom step and running her fingers distractedly through her hair, the chignon she’d worn earlier in a mess.

“I wish you’d been only a second slower to open that door,” Rose found herself saying in a quiet voice.

Ginny glanced back up at her niece, her eyes red and puffy as she sniffled. “Yeah, me too,” she whispered.

Rose slowly came down the stairs and sat beside her aunt, her hands lying uselessly in her lap. “Lily’s gone,” she finally admitted.

Ginny turned to her in confusion, blinking a few times. “What do you mean gone?” she asked. “What do you mean?”

Rose glanced down at her shoes, biting on her lower lip. “She ran away. She told me on the train that she and Scorpius were going to run away. That’s why I brought Draco Malfoy here. I thought he could talk her out of it, and he did… but then…” Rose gestured helplessly, “then you two came in.”

Suddenly pale, Ginny pushed herself up from the bottom step, running up the stairs two at a time.

Rose simply waited, listening to her aunt calling her daughter’s name, doors opening and shutting upstairs as she searched every room.

“Lily? Lily?”

The front door opened again, and Rose looked up to see both her Uncle George and her two cousins, Albus and James with broomsticks over their shoulders, looking elated as they elbowed Travis behind them. They all stopped rough-housing and joking about when they saw Rose sitting on the bottom step in front of them, her face wet with tears. Everyone started asking what was wrong all at once, Rose’s uncle immediately laying a hand on her shoulder. “Rosie, you okay?” he asked. “What’s wrong?”

Lily’s brothers shared uncomfortable glances, neither knowing what to do.

Rose only glanced up to meet Travis’ blue eyes, his shoulders slumping in realization. “She’s gone isn’t she?” he asked quietly.

Rose nodded weakly, and it was all she could do just to put her head in her hands in defeat as everyone started asking questions and demanding answers at once.

*

Lily sat in a corner of the Apparition point in London, sucking in a shuddering breath and trying not to cry. Scorpius was off trying to change the time of their departure, the destination, everything, the two of them wanting to leave as soon as possible before the Aurors were set on them just like Draco Malfoy had warned her. Lily sat with the hood of her cloak concealing her face, hoping the Apparition patrol could be kept in the dark a little longer, and keep her father from knowing where to find her. Thank Merlin the tickets were in Scorpius’ name and there wouldn’t be a trace of her.

The Aurors could likely trace Scorpius of course, but they’d have a much more difficult time if they could get a head start. For not the first time, Lily found herself hating being Harry Potter’s daughter, wishing she could run away with no one able to find her.

Scorpius finally returned to her with a weary sigh, sitting down next to her. “They changed them. We’re licensed to leave in an hour.”

“Why the wait?” she sniffled.

“Something about getting paperwork to the Apparition point we’re arriving at. Thank God they’re not relying on bloody owls or we’d be here for days.”

Smiling slightly, Lily finally met her boyfriend’s gaze, seeing the dark circles under his eyes, not having slept since coming home. “Maybe you should sleep till it’s time to go,” she suggested, reaching out and lightly touching those dark circles.

Scorpius closed his eyes with a sigh. “Not a chance,” he yawned, wrapping an arm around her shoulders.

Lily leaned her head against his shoulder. She squeezed her eyes shut to block everything out, two tears escaping and rolling down her cheeks.

Scorpius bent his head to whisper comfortingly in her ear, and she burrowed her face against the sleeve of his jacket. The two fell silent, but it was Lily who fell asleep, Scorpius watching the clock in the station and waiting.

*

The Potter house was a warzone. Albus and James sat uncomfortably at the kitchen table, their parents screaming at each other and hurling accusations, George trying to mediate long enough to get the couple to come to a solution.

Rose stayed far away from it all, still on the bottom stair, head in her hands. The only improvement from earlier being Travis on the step behind her, comfortingly rubbing her back. “Hey, it’ll be okay. They’ll work something out,” he promised.

Rose finally sat up, leaning back against him, her arms resting on each of his legs. “I hate this,” she muttered, still hearing the shouts from the kitchen.

“I know,” Travis lightly rubbed her shoulder, his blue eyes wandering towards the other room, brow furrowed at the ongoing argument.

“Malfoy spoke to her last, and if you think I’m not going to question him for your sake, you’ve lost your senses!” Harry roared.

“Rose said he was only here to talk Lily out of leaving,” Ginny countered. “What would he know about where she’s gone?”

“That bastard dares to come into my house, and you expect me to ignore him when ten minutes later our daughter went missing?”

“She isn’t missing! She ran away!” Ginny shouted. “Is it so hard to imagine why with how you’re behaving?”

“Me? You ran after him, you lying…”

“Oi!” George shouted, physically separated them with an arm outstretched against both of them. “Harry, calm down!” he shouted.

“Get out of my face, George! You don’t even know what happened!” Harry yelled, punching his fist against the cabinet doors.

“I lived in Diagon Alley then too, Harry!” George shouted. Harry and Ginny both fell silent, Harry’s shoulders still heaving with labored breaths.

“Then you shouldn’t be asking me to calm down,” Harry bit out.

“I wasn’t asking,” George snapped.

Albus and James looked up from where they were sitting at the kitchen table, Albus’ left hand shaking so that he had to clench it in a fist to stop it. James was unblinking. Finally the arguing had let up, though no one knew for how long the silence would last.

Ginny took a step back from George, leaning against the counter, her arms crossed protectively over her chest. In a quiet voice she said, “Why can’t you find her without tracking down Draco? You have all those Aurors you could send…”

“It’s precisely because I am an Auror,” Harry said evenly, a growl behind his words, “and he’s a suspect.”

“He isn’t a suspect!” Ginny cried. “A lead, sure, but not a bloody suspect!”

“I’m going to find him,” Harry said, green eyes blazing.

He pushed past George and Ginny in an instant, Ginny stamping her foot behind him. “He is not a bloody suspect!”

Harry rounded on her, seething. “When are you going to put your concern for your daughter ahead of protecting him?” he snarled.

Ginny turned white, unable to speak as Harry seized his Auror’s robes and grabbed his wand, ready to Disapparate.

I brought him here, Uncle Harry.”

Harry stopped, his wand dropping to his side as he turned to face his niece.

Rose stood up from the foot of the stairs, right in front of the door, and in view of everyone. Travis sat on the stairs near her, watching.

“I know you brought him here, Rose,” Harry said evenly. “Your aunt already told me.”

“Then why are you going after him? Why are you mad at Ginny when I brought him here? She’s just trying to be honest with you. Draco Malfoy isn’t going to know where Lily went. He was trying to get her to stay, not leave.”

“And why would he go doing something selfless like that?” Harry demanded sarcastically.

Rose’s mouth opened and closed, knowing she couldn’t say why. She couldn’t say it was because Draco Malfoy still loved Ginny. She couldn’t answer her uncle like that.

“Right,” Harry muttered, as though he understood without her saying. He glanced back to his wife, his anger still evident, but he was making an effort to control it. “Ginny, I’m just going to ask him a few questions.”

Ginny folded her arms over her chest, but Harry didn’t wait for her approval, he simply waved his wand and Disapparated with a crack.

Ginny unfolded her arms and ran a hand through her tangled hair, trying to even out her breathing.

“Mum, what is going on?” James asked, Albus still clenching his fist beside him.

“It’s just… just a fight that got out of hand,” she sighed, brushing the hair impatiently out of her eyes. “George, could you please stay with the boys?” she asked, her older brother nodding.

“Where will you go?” he asked.

“To visit someone who might actually be of help,” she muttered, George nodding behind her.

With a weary sigh, Ginny walked up to both of her sons where they sat. She wrapped her arms around Albus, kissing the top of his messy black hair, and pulled James in too, kissing his cheek. “I love both of you, understand?”

“Yeah, Mum,” James nodded, giving her a small hug back.

Ginny smiled slightly, looking down to see her younger son Albus, hands still clenched.

“This is what everyone’s been fighting about at school, isn’t it?” he asked.

“Yeah, it’s pretty much all your mum’s fault too,” she smiled self-deprecatingly, her eyes serious. “But I’m going to go and find a way to get Lily back, and we can talk about all of this then, okay? Okay?”

Albus didn’t respond, fingers still clenched, jaw tight.

Ginny’s eyes filled with tears and she took in a shuddering breath, wrapping her youngest son in another hug, tight, tight, tight. “I love you, sweetie,” she promised.

Albus finally nodded, a gruff “I love you too” escaping him.

Ginny rubbed his shoulders before releasing him, smiling tearfully down at both her boys, addressing them and George. “I’ll be back.”

With that she turned and left, grabbing a cloak and raising her wand to Disapparate when she saw Rose still hovering by the steps, watching her. Ginny smiled, walked over, and touched her niece’s cheek. “That was awfully Gryffindor of you,” she smiled.

“But it wasn’t very smart, was it?”

Ginny lifted up her chin, bringing her eyes up to meet hers. “You’re very smart. You’ve done everything you can to solve this mess.”

“It isn’t working,” Rose sniffled.

“Sure it is. It’s just the second phase now. It’s time the grown-ups step in and act their age to fix the rest.”

“Aunt Ginny, I’m sorry…” Rose breathed.

“Oh Rosie, there’s nothing to be sorry about. I’ll send you an owl when Lily’s back home. Cross your fingers that we’ll find her soon.”

“She’ll have changed her ticket,” Rose said tearfully, swiping at her eyes. “Her ticket was to leave in the morning, but she left tonight – she wouldn’t have risked waiting.”

“Thank you, Rosie,” Ginny hugged her. “Now why don’t you have Travis take you home? Hmm?” She smiled warmly down at Rose and then took a step back, Disapparating with a lonely crack.

*

Draco Malfoy sat alone in the dark, still leaning back against the bricks of their old flat building, looking up at the exact window they’d seen the view from so many times before. The lamp light from earlier had been extinguished, and Draco somehow couldn’t bring himself to leave, lost in his thoughts he’d rather forget.

Ginny giggled beside him, lying on her back in the dark alleyway, stretching and pressing against him. Draco looked down at her and smiled in spite of himself, rolling his eyes as he tried to push her away. There was a splash as his hand made contact with a puddle; Ginny was gone. Draco closed his eyes, leaning his head against the palm of his hand, his other pushing at the pavement to hold himself up, street water still dripping off him.

“Ginny…” he groaned, hating himself for having such vivid memories of the girl.

There were footsteps in the mouth of the alley then, and a man’s voice. “I thought I might find you here, Malfoy.”

Interrogations and Favors by Rosalie

Chapter Thirty-one: Interrogations and Favors

Draco straightened up, his eyes narrowed as Harry Potter stepped out from the shadows, finally recognizable up close. Draco groaned aloud, leaning back against the wall. “What the hell are you doing here, Potter?”

Harry crouched down in front of him, taking in the dingy water on his hand, the dirt and the faint smear of blood in the corner of his lip. He whistled appreciatively. “What did you do, beat yourself up?”

Draco held up his hands with a weak and humorless chuckle. “I wish,” he drawled listlessly. “But alas, I am drunk on my own failings and didn’t feel like getting up out of the dirt.”

“Malfoy…”

“Sod off, Potter,” Draco said, his jaw tightening, his grey eyes pained; he just wanted to be left alone.

“Look, I promised Ginny I wouldn’t arrest you.”

“Oh really?” Draco sarcastically enthused, one eyebrow raised in disbelief.

Harry rolled his shoulders, glancing away and back again. “No, not really,” he admitted. “But I still would rather avoid that, all things considered.”

Please, you would love to arrest me. But good for you, trying not to get in trouble with your wife,” Draco said, clapping his hands in mockery and then letting them fall in his lap again, his expression suddenly sharp. “Now get out.”

“Where’s my daughter?”

Draco’s eyes fell shut and he leaned his head back against the brick wall, sighing deeply. “She ran off anyway, did she? Bollocks.”

“You talked to her last, Malfoy. What did she say?”

Talked to her last… What am I? A kidnapping suspect?”

“You could be,” Harry answered tightly, losing his patience fast.

Draco chuckled weakly, looking up at the window of their old flat, his humor vanishing. “I have nothing to say, Potter. If you want to keep asking me questions, you’ll have to arrest me which we both know is so difficult for you to bring yourself to do.”

Harry gripped the other man by the neck of his robes, yanking on the cloak. “That can be arranged, Malfoy. Don’t think I won’t do it,” he warned.

Without a word, Draco flipped him off.

*

“Merlin, don’t you people have a clock in here?” Draco asked dully, glancing around the cramped interrogation room, waving sarcastically to the two-way mirror, other Aurors no doubt on the other side of the glass.

The dark haired man didn’t answer him, reading through papers he held instead.

Draco leaned forward. “Going to read me my rights?” he asked.

Harry glanced up at him, not answering.

“Let me guess, you had to make something up, something ridiculous or I’d be able to just walk straight out of here. Let’s see, breaking and entering? I can counter that. Your niece let me in. Domestic disturbance?” he shrugged, thinking for a moment. “Well no, I don’t recall saying anything… well unless greeting your wife upset your happy family. If there was a disturbance, you no doubt caused it after I left.”

Harry glared at him and Draco grinned. “Did you lose your temper, Potter? Throw something in a fit of rage?”

“You’re here because you may know something that could help me find my daughter, Malfoy,” Harry bit out. “Nothing more.”

“And to think I told her you’d be sure to find her in hours,” Draco chuckled. “Guess I was over-estimating your investigative skills if you’re wasting time asking me questions.”

“Where is she?” Harry asked in a cold voice.

“She was up in her room last I checked,” Draco replied scathingly.

“She’s gone and you were the last to speak with her…”

“You’re making me sound like a kidnapper!” Draco roared, throwing his chair to the floor. “She bloody ran away, Potter! She ran AWAY!”

“Because you told her to?” Harry demanded, standing up and turning the table over.

Draco told Harry to go to hell, and turned around, pounding on the glass of the two-way mirror. “Oi! Get me out of here or get me a damn lawyer this instant! That’s a direct order or I’ll sue your entire department!”

“What did you say to my daughter, Malfoy? Right before she left.”

Draco only ignored him, still tapping on the glass. “Lawyer. NOW!”

“She must have said something to you! Where did she go?” Harry demanded.

“I DON’T KNOW! I was trying to convince her not to runaway, you deaf bastard!” Draco shouted, turning on him, face red in anger.

“And why would the noble Draco Malfoy go and do something selfless like that?” Harry spat.

Draco took a step towards him, his icy eyes flat and voice cold. “What? I did it for Ginny? Is that what you want to hear? Or what you don’t want to hear?”

Harry slammed Draco back against the two-way mirror. The blonde man gasped in pain, Harry’s hands fisted in his collar, pinning him there.

“She is my wife!” Harry growled

“And I thought the interrogation was about your daughter!” Draco spat.

Harry released him, still glaring daggers at the other man. He finally stalked away, flicking his wand and setting Malfoy’s thrown chair right-side up. “Sit.”

Draco cursed at him with a lazy drawl and Harry seized his shoulders, forcing him into the chair opposite him; Harry didn’t sit down, shouting down at him instead.

What were you doing in my house, Malfoy?

“I already told you,” Draco snapped. “Attempting, without success I might add, to convince your daughter to stay.”

“Why? What interest did you possibly have in keeping Lily in England?”

Draco’s grey eyes were flat again, expressionless, just as Harry had found him in the alley. His eyes narrowed, only half-answering him. “Your niece asked for my help.”

“And you just dropped everything to help a seventeen year old kid? I don’t think so, Malfoy.”

“Your wife made sure that my family stayed together,” Draco answered evenly, “I was trying to do the same for her.”

Harry’s green eyes darkened. “Where’s Lily?” he repeated, changing tracks almost instantly.

“Oh no you don’t, Potter. If we’re going to dig through the skeletons in the closet, we’re going to dig through them all.” Draco chuckled “You wanted to know my motives? You’ll hear them. I know about the trial.”

Harry’s jaw tightened, gritting his teeth. “You don’t know anything. You weren’t there.”

“You know, it was so simple to put together, I don’t know how I didn’t realize it sooner. I guess, I was always expecting the hurt to eventually go away, maybe then I would have figured it out. But it didn’t. Stroke of genius on your part, making me think she actually chose to leave me,” he sneered. “You chose for her.”

“All I did was ask her to make a decision,” Harry growled. “You had been trying to steal her away for months.”

“So you took her from me?” Draco roared, veins pulsing on his neck. “You bleeding coward! She didn’t stand a chance! What jury wouldn’t throw my father in Azkaban with the recommendation of the Boy Who Lived? And you knew that! You knew what you were forcing her to do and you told yourself you were doing the right thing, you self-righteous…”

“She was living with you!” Harry shouted, “Living with you, eating with you…”

“Sleeping with me?” Draco asked dangerously, his voice laced with venom. “Did you know she used to get nightmares? Couldn’t sleep alone... Needed someone there to hold her while she slept…

Harry knocked Draco to the ground, seeing red as he pressed his head back, making him struggle to breathe. The door to the interrogation room was suddenly thrown open. Ron ran inside with two other Aurors, who hauled their leader off of Malfoy, holding him back.

“Helpful as always, Weasley King,” Draco hissed, rubbing his fingers over his bruised throat. The two other Aurors finally released their hold on Harry but didn’t leave him, still standing between him and Malfoy. Ron turned and held a shaking hand out to Draco, which he reluctantly took, allowing Ginny’s brother to haul him to his feet. Ron only stared at him, blinking and no doubt taking in everything he’d heard about Draco and Ginny. He finally turned to Harry, saying something Draco didn’t hear; he was too busy watching tears fall down the grown man’s face, as Harry Potter finally collapsed in his chair, looking like he wished he were dead.

Ron turned back to Draco, clearing his throat. “Erm, y-you can go now. I think we have all the information anyone’s going to get from this.” Ron’s ears were red and Draco only glared.

“Where was my bloody lawyer?” he hissed.

“We… we didn’t call one…” Ron admitted.

“I should have your badge, Weasley, and Potter’s for sure.”

Ron nodded, body tense. “We broke protocol.”

“You think?” Draco spat, straightening his robes. He stepped over the broken chair he’d been sitting in and swept out of the room, pushing past another Auror who stood watching from the door, holding Draco’s wand that had been taken from him.

“S-sir, Mr. Malfoy? I could have an Auror escort you home?” the younger one offered, hoping to placate the situation.

Draco laughed derisively. “No, Sheldon,” he sneered, reading the man’s name badge, “That won’t be necessary. You see, I’ll be reinstalling the wards on my property the second I get home. And I’d just hate it if one of your officers were to be skewered on accident.”

The young Auror gulped and Draco ripped his wand out of the boy’s grasp, Disapparating with a violent crack.

*

Draco Apparated to the front porch of the manor, popping his neck with an exhausted groan. He checked his watch, cursing the bleeding Aurors and their lack of a wall clock. It was well past eleven at night and all the lights were on. He must have had his wife worried sick, wondering where he’d been for the past five hours. Sighing heavily, he pushed open the front door and walked into the foyer. Bernard was not there and Draco raised an eyebrow in surprise, wondering why the house elf wasn’t at his post. He walked further into the house, finally reaching the parlor before the sound of voices reached him, two women sitting on the couch talking quietly, the house elf shuffling back to the kitchen with a tray of their empty teacups. Draco stood still, releasing a weary sigh as he saw Ginny look up from her conversation with his wife.

He swallowed dryly. “I really can’t take much more of this,” he began tiredly, but Astoria cut him off, standing up in front of Ginny.

“Draco, thank God you’re home! Did you know Ginevra’s daughter ran away with our son?” she asked, stricken.

“I’ve been informed,” he drawled.

Astoria turned back to look at Ginny, her hand on her heart, “Really, Ginevra, I am so sorry, for putting you through this. I had no idea my son was planning to…” she broke off, at a loss for words. “I am so sorry.” She turned back to Draco imploringly, “We have to help her find her daughter, Draco.”

Draco’s eyes fell shut, having nothing to say.

There was movement then and he looked up to see Ginny standing, just behind his wife’s shoulder. “Harry already asked you, didn’t he?”

Draco smirked, his grey eyes cold. “It was hardly so polite as a mere question and answer, Gin.”

Her shoulders fell, her eyes drifting down in embarrassment. “I’m so sorry, Draco. I… I tried to talk sense into him…”

Astoria looked between the two, finally taking in her husband’s appearance, the dirt on his robes from the alley he’d ended up in, grime on his hand from the street water, a faint smear of blood on the corner of his lip. “What ever happened?” she asked breathlessly.

“It’s a very long story, dear,” Draco sighed, “And I’m quite tired.”

He looked at Ginny, his grey eyes flat, his face expressionless aside from his exhaustion. “I’ve already proven unhelpful to your husband. Must you interrogate me as well?”

Ginny took a few steps forward until she was standing right in front of him, her brown eyes searching his. “I know you know how to find them, Draco,” she urged him in a low voice. “Please, just help me. Help me put this right.”

They held each other’s gaze for a full minute, Draco groaning inwardly. “I’ve had enough,” he whispered hoarsely, his silver eyes full of hurt from so many days and months and years. He was at the end of his rope.

Her expression wavered, struggling to maintain a small smile as he saw her eyes grow moist. “Please? I’ll leave it alone after all this. I swear you won’t hear from any of us again.”

Draco took her in, the muggle jeans, the tangled hair, the freckles and the tears in the corners of her eyes, still puffy and red. He thought of all the times he’d seen her cry over the years and all the times he’d tried so hard to make her stop crying. He remembered what his father had said only the other day, of wizard debts, paying Ginny back when the opportunity came, and here she was asking him to help her find her daughter. Just asking.

“I suppose that I can track where my son is accessing his bank account, follow his spending from there.”

Her face brightened at that and without thinking, she wrapped her arms around him in gratitude. Draco stilled, unable to return the embrace though he was sure he’d stopped breathing. It was as though time had sputtered for a moment and then stopped completely. She was here, she was real. As suddenly as time had stopped, it sped up again in only an instant. Draco became aware of his wife standing at the edge of his vision, seemingly unconcerned with the woman embracing her husband. Astoria simply smiled, proud of her husband for agreeing to help a worried mother; she saw nothing more. Draco saw everything though and he couldn’t bring himself to hug Ginny back. He stood still as stone, hardly daring to breathe.

Ginny stiffened, slowly realizing what only his body language was telling her. Her cheeks were a faint pink and she lowered her eyes in embarrassment. She deftly pulled away and Draco felt a pang of guilt despite himself.

She softly cleared her throat, tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear. “You’ll um, contact me then? Once you know where they’ve gone?” she asked hopefully. She glanced worriedly up at him and Draco could only stare.

He nodded once, not speaking.

Ginny smiled tearfully up at him, her lower lip trembling but she quickly mastered herself. Without another word or even a glance to Draco, Ginny turned her back, approaching Astoria once more, hugging her and whispering her thanks.

“Honestly, Astoria, I just don’t know what I’d have done if you hadn’t come to the door,” she laughed weakly.

Draco watched from across the room as his wife embraced the other woman without a shred of suspicion, only seeking to comfort her. His chest hurt watching them.

Astoria pulled Ginny back, smiling at her, “Don’t you worry,” she assured. “My husband is a miracle-worker with these things. He’ll fix everything.”

Ginny smiled, hugging Astoria one last time. “Thank you… for listening and for the tea…” she gestured, overcome.

“Of course, anything for an old friend of Draco’s.”

Ginny and Draco both were silent. Finally, Ginny summoned her voice. “Well, I’d best be going. It’s awfully late. Thank you again, Astoria, Draco…” She nodded to them both, gathering her purse with trembling hands and moving towards her discarded cloak lying on the back of the couch.

“Oh, I almost forgot. Draco, be a dear and help her into her cloak. I sent Bernard into the kitchen without thinking.”

“No, that’s really not necessary,” Ginny assured, quickly reaching for her cloak but Draco’s hand reached it first, carefully lifting it up. Ginny pursed her lips but walked towards him, carefully pulling her hair back as he draped the fabric over her shoulders, her fingers finally reaching to fix the clasp

“I promise, Draco. I’ll be gone after all this. I won’t bother you again.” She whispered so only he could hear.

Draco turned her back to face him, meeting her brown eyes and lowering his voice to a whisper no louder than hers. “Will you stay with him? After all this?” he questioned, not knowing why he asked.

“I’m just going to start with bringing Lily home,” she answered simply.

He held her gaze for a full minute but her face gave nothing away.

Draco felt his shoulders sink, disappointed that she hadn’t given him a true answer. She turned to leave, thanking Astoria one last time as she walked to the door. As he watched her retreating back, he wondered why he cared when it shouldn’t have mattered at all.

End Notes:
Thanks for staying posted everyone. Just a few more chapters to go to know the outcome. Thanks for sticking with the story for so long now!
Confianza by Rosalie
Chapter Thirty-two: Confianza

“Sp—n.”

Draco’s voice crackled and faded out indistinctly as Ginny blinked down at the small phone, shaking it slightly. Muggle phones were hard to use between wizards, but Draco was not about to contact Ginny via floo powder after his last encounter with her husband. Instead, he had had his owl deliver this.

“What?” she asked again, pressing the phone against her ear.

“Ginny, they’re in Spain.”

Ginny swallowed with difficulty, glancing around her empty kitchen. “You’re sure?” she asked, her voice thick with emotion.

“Positive. I can’t tell what hotel they’re staying in, they paid with cash, but Scorpius used the bank in Barcelona. My son’s incapable of going anywhere inconspicuous,” he said, no doubt shaking his head on the other side of the phone.

Ginny sat down at the kitchen table, picking at the sleeve of her bathrobe. “When are we leaving?” she asked quietly.

“I can’t hear you, Gin.”

She cleared her throat, attempting to speak clearly, “I asked when we were leaving, Draco?”

There was a pause and Ginny chewed on her lower lip in anticipation.

“You don’t need to go with me, Ginny.”

She swallowed.

“I do,” There was a slight hitch in her voice and she prayed Draco didn’t hear it.

“I could just as easily bring them back myself.”

“She’s my daughter,” Ginny argued, feeling tears blurring her vision. “If she’s in Spain, then I’m going. When do we leave?”

“I have an Apparition point set up to leave at ten. I can get a second ticket.”

“Do that,” Ginny sniffed, glancing at the clock in the kitchen and seeing she had just over an hour to get ready and get there. Her cereal stood untouched in front of her.

“Meet me at the station?” Draco asked.

“Mmhmm,” Ginny nodded, “I’ll be there.”

There was another pause and Ginny pressed her fingertips against the corner of her eyes, restraining her tears from falling.

“I’ll see you then.”

There was a click and the phone went silent.

*

Finally dressed and cleaned up, all traces of her tears gone, Ginny stepped out of the bathroom and went into the bedroom to her closet, pulling out her passport, identification cards, anything she would need to leave England.

“What are you doing?” Harry asked from behind her, his voice gruff and unused.

“I’m getting Lily back,” Ginny answered curtly, filling her purse.

Harry’s eyes widened, “W-where is she?”

“Spain.”

“I-I’ll call their Embassy, their Aurors, have one of them pick her up…” he said, getting ahead of himself, just wanting his daughter home. He hadn't slept the last two nights that she’d been gone and it showed in his hollow eyes, lined by dark circles.

“I’m picking her up, Harry,” Ginny turned to face him, her face expressionless.

Harry blinked. “Then I’m coming with you,” he said, as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

“No, you’re not,” she said quietly, her mouth a thin line.

“Ginny, you can’t be serious…”

“I am. I’m meeting Draco at the Apparition point in thirty minutes and I’m going to go with him to Spain and find Lily and bring her home.”

Harry took a step back, unable to meet her eyes. “I don’t believe this…”

“Harry…”

“You’re going with him… and you think that will convince her this family isn’t falling apart?” he questioned angrily, his jaw tightening, eyes bright in pain, pain that Ginny was inflicting.

Ginny took a deep breath, forcing herself to meet his eyes, knowing what she was putting him through. “You need to let me go,” she said quietly but firmly.

“No…” he shook his head, blinking rapidly.

“Yes, Harry. You prove you can trust me, or I’ll walk out of this house forever.”

“Trust you? You want me to trust you? Then don’t do this!”

”Harry…”

“This isn’t fair,” he choked. “You’re just being selfish and cruel; it never ends with you, does it? He has this sick hold on you that I just don’t understand anymore!”

“And when have you ever tried?” she demanded shrilly, her eyes suddenly bright as she took a step forward to face him. “How dare you accuse him of any of this!”

“Oh, go on and defend him! You always did!” Harry snapped, throwing his hands up in anger. “Defend that son of a…”

“ENOUGH!” she snapped, her eyes blazing and heart hammering out of her chest. “Enough, Harry…” she repeated more quietly, almost soothing. “Let it go and please, please just let me go.”

He deflated in an instant, looking utterly lost as his shoulders fell and his anger vanished, replaced by cold fear. “And let you what?” he rasped, “Let you go straight back to him?”

“I never said that…”

“You may as well have…”

“Look, Harry… I…” she broke off suddenly, seeing that tears had begun silently sliding down his face.

Ginny mouthed wordlessly, watching each tear fall. She was ripping him open and in that moment, all of her strength seemed to leave her. Standing there in silence, Ginny was simply hollow and empty inside. All the usual warmth in her eyes was gone, diminished to nothing. She no longer knew who she was… But seeing those tears, her heart seemed cold and lifeless.

“Look at me, Harry,” she said, trying to keep her voice strong.

He did and she felt nothing but emptiness stretching forever between them. Who was she becoming?

“We’ve got a lot to work on,” she acknowledged. “I admit I'm confused, and I’m sure that helps nothing, but you have to let me go do this and you have to trust me this once or there is nothing we will ever be able to do to save this marriage.”

He swallowed with difficulty, forcing himself to suppress his anger and fear. “What if,” he began. “What if I c-can’t trust you? Ginny, I’m trying,” he pleaded, “but I just can’t anymore.”

Something broke inside her and without warning, Ginny’s own face was wet with tears. She took in a shuddering breath, trying to breathe but her chest was tight. She cursed quietly under her breath.

“Then,” she gulped, trying to regain her composure. “I guess I’ll have to settle for you trying… really trying, Harry,” she whispered.

Her husband’s eyes fell shut. “If I say no?” he shuddered.

She shook her head, her only control left forced into that single act of defiance.

Harry pulled her into a tight embrace, his grip a vice. “I hate that you keep doing this to me,” he choked, arms encircling her, hands trembling, and then tightening their grip around her. “I hate you for doing this, again and again…”

Ginny closed her eyes, her chest constricting painfully over her heart. “I hate both of us,” she whispered. The silence her words caused seemed to dig itself into both of them, scraping against some dark and ugly truth. Harry was utterly silent.

With a rattling breath, he loosened his grip, pulling slightly away to meet her gaze. The tracks his tears had left stood out sharply on his skin, but his eyes were suddenly dry. “If I don’t… let you go…” he breathed, “You’ll never stop hating me, will you?”

Ginny cast her mind back, thinking, remembering her husband’s fist slamming cabinets in the kitchen, throwing plates in his rage, she thought of how he’d arrested Draco the night before and what he’d done to him. Her eyes narrowed, taking in her husband’s searching gaze. And then she remembered those same green eyes, intense and unforgiving, demanding an answer from her so many years ago in the flat she had shared with Draco. Had she always hated him? Ever since that moment? No…

“I don’t hate you, Harry,” she murmured, shaking her head slightly. “I just don’t know who we are anymore, either one of us…”

His jaw tightened. “This is a damn poor time to try and figure that out with Malfoy’s help, don’t you think?” he bit out.

Ginny let out a sigh, like a weary laugh. “That’s just the point, Harry. I don’t need anyone’s help; no one’s but my own this time. “

He said nothing, his expression stony and silent.

“You know I’m bringing her back,” she said, trying to give him something. “I’m bringing Lily back, Harry. I’ll be back.”

He rolled his shoulders, glancing away but forcing himself to nod. “Go then.”

Hesitantly, Ginny leaned forward and kissed his still wet cheek, wondering if she ever would kiss him again. The thought left her with a strange and uneasy feeling in her stomach and she pulled away.

He glanced down at her, his intense green gaze holding hers. Was he thinking the same thing?

She swallowed. “If we can get through this, just today,” she told him, “maybe then we have a chance.”

He didn’t respond.

Lowering her gaze, Ginny turned and left the room, silent tears suddenly pouring down her cheeks. She hastily wiped them away as she headed down the hall, passing her sons’ room, their light snores drifted down the hall after her and Ginny paused without thinking. She listened for a full minute, her eyes slowly welling up with tears as she listened to her sons, still fast asleep. Unable to stop herself, she glanced back over her shoulder, taking in the sight of their sleeping forms. James was sprawled out across his bed, the sheets tossed off in every direction and tangled around him. Albus though appeared not to have moved at all, curled on his side as though he had fallen asleep trying to make himself as small as possible. Ginny watched as their chests rose and fell in time.

She was an awful woman. A horrid mother.

Right then, she glanced over to Lily’s empty room, the door still open. Her daughter’s absence hung like a weight over the house and it descended on Ginny now, filling her with self-loathing. No, she would not be a horrid mother. If she broke every last thread that held her family together, if all of that was sacrificed by her actions these past weeks, it didn’t matter. She would be damned if she didn’t find Lily and bring her home, regardless of what home there was left.

Shaking herself back to her senses, Ginny looked down at her watch. It was time to go. She went downstairs as silently as she could, and quietly shut the front door behind her. The lock clicked, and she took in a shaky breath, steeling her nerves. Opening her eyes, she let go of the handle, vanishing with a soft pop!

*

Ginny arrived at the Apparition point, looking nervously around for a familiar head of white blond hair. Finally, she spotted Draco in his designer suit.

He had already seen her and was making his way through the crowd to her.

The bruises on his neck stood out even more in the daylight and Ginny inhaled sharply, already reaching out to touch them.

He caught her hand in his, grey eyes guarded. “Are you ready to go?” he asked softly.

She nodded, carefully removing her hand from his.

With a hand on her shoulder, Draco led her to the left side of the room towards their Apparition point.

The next few minutes passed in a blur of activity as Ginny had security guards scan their wands over her, checking all that she carried and searching through her purse with a quick revealing charm. She had to answer a series of questions as to the nature of her visit and faltered when they asked when she would be returning to England.

“As soon as possible,” Draco answered, his own arms held aloft as they scanned their wands over him, well used to protocol after traveling so much for his career. Finally they were both approved and were allowed to move to the area the security wizards indicated.

Ginny nervously tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear and Draco held his hand out to her. She looked up at him and his silver eyes met hers, for once inviting. Her lips turned up at the corners and she slipped her hand in his. His fingers lightly pressed down on hers before they vanished from the station with an echoing crack and Ginny saw such a whirlwind of light and flashing colors that it could have been lightning.

*

Lying on the ground, her face pressed up against the smooth floor, Ginny finally blinked her eyes open. There was a palm against her forehead; Draco’s concerned face hovering over her.

“You okay?” he asked kindly.

She struggled to open her eyes fully, groaning softly. “What was that?” she winced.

Draco’s mouth quirked up at the corners. “International Apparition’s not for the faint of heart,” he smiled.

“I think I’m going to be sick,” she muttered.

“You already were,” he chuckled. “Fainted on me. Don’t worry, it wasn’t messy, but if you must insist on losing your breakfast as well, I think I ought to move out of the way.”

“Please stop… talking…” she breathed.

Draco felt her forehead again, his concern leaving him. “You’re alright,” he assured her. “Just breathe for a minute and I’ll help you up.”

Ginny nodded, finally she held out her hand, allowing Draco to help pull her to her feet. She felt dizzy and leaned heavily against him, embarrassed with herself.

“How did Lily do this?” she cursed under her breath.

Draco laughed and, putting his arm around her, helped support her.

Finally, Ginny looked around and saw that they were in the corresponding Apparition point and judging from the foreign words on all the signs, the swell of language all around, and the sun baking them through the clear sky lights, they were in Spain.

*

The first thing they did was flag down a vehicle similar to the London Knight Bus that careened to a sudden halt in front of them. Ginny groaned aloud but Draco helped her up the steps, insisting that she trust him.

He helped her into the seat right behind the driver and immediately began conversing with the driver in rapid Spanish, gesturing towards Ginny and asking the driver to be careful on sharp turns and sudden stops.

The driver readily agreed, laughing heartily as he looked back at Ginny, nodding again and laughing.

“What did he say?” Ginny questioned as Draco sat beside her.

Draco grinned to himself.

“What did he say?” Ginny repeated, looking scandalized.

Draco laughed, shaking his head, “He thinks you must not be able to handle your liquor either if the Apparition’s affecting you this bad.”

Ginny flushed pink, but soon turned green as the rickety bus took off with a bang. Feeling nauseous, Ginny put her head between her legs, trying not to be sick as the bus hurtled towards Barcelona.

The trip was vomit-inducing, but Ginny managed to keep from becoming sick, counting sheep in her head, concentrating on nothing else.

To the driver’s credit, when they finally reached their destination, the bus came to a rolling stop rather than the screeching it was accustomed to. The driver laughed again upon seeing Ginny’s white face, her hands trembling as she pushed her hair back from her face.

Draco said something back in Spanish that made the wizard laugh, finally paying him and helping Ginny off the bus.

It took off again like a shot, but Ginny was safely on the ground and didn’t mind in the slightest, sinking into a chair at an open air café. The streets were full of Spaniards and tourists, no doubt some wizards hidden in there somewhere.

“Hey, you going to be okay?”

“Yeah, now that the world has stopped spinning. I’m sorry, Draco. I didn’t realize I would be this much of a liability.”

“Hey, we’re here, aren’t we? And the bus certainly didn’t go any slower for your sake, so I’d say you didn’t delay us at all.”

Ginny took in a breath, briefly closing her eyes. “Why are you being so nice to me?” she asked quietly.

Draco closed his mouth, his throat tightening. “I just don’t want Lily to find her mother in hysterics because she can’t hold her lunch,” he smirked, the humor not reaching his eyes.

Ginny couldn’t help her small smile, knowing he was just making an excuse to put off her questions for the time being.

He quickly changed subjects. “We need to find a hotel.”

“No, we need to find Lily and Scorpius,” Ginny insisted.

“And we don’t know how long that will take, which is why we need to find a hotel. You can rest and get to feeling better, and I can start asking questions around town.”

Ginny didn’t look convinced, wanting only to find her daughter as soon as possible.

“It’s a big city, Gin.”

“Right, okay then,” she nodded, standing up again. “Which way do we go?”

*

The hotel was a beautiful building, tall and historic without being intimidating. Draco led Ginny inside and she looked around in wonder at the open arches to the outside, views of the city all around them.

She felt disappointed that she couldn’t go with Draco to search the city.

The concierge was speaking with Draco in Spanish, Ginny watching curiously when Draco suddenly turned red, shaking his head and holding up two fingers.

Ginny turned beet red as well, glancing quickly away. If they had accidentally reserved a single bed... She shook her head to herself, trying to put it out of her thoughts.

Finally Draco handed her a key, slipping his own in his pocket. “I’ll be back when I can. I want to get a chance to ask as many questions as possible around the city.”

Ginny nodded, “You’ll be okay without me?”

Draco laughed. “Well, seeing as you can’t speak Spanish, you’ve never been here before, and are just now recovering from all the travel, yeah, I think I can manage,” he smirked.

Ginny elbowed him with a roll of her eyes, finally taking a few steps back. “Good luck,” she told him.

He smiled back and left, leaving her with her thoughts and only a room key.

She turned and made her way up the stone staircase that climbed the outside wall of the building, coming out on the second floor, which overlooked the pool and thriving plants in the summer heat. She finally reached her room, the last door on the left, and slipped the key in the lock turning it. Inside, there were two queen-sized beds and a nightstand between them. Ginny inspected the bathroom, and then the closet, shaking her head and mentally berating herself when she realized she had only packed one extra set of clothes. She had expected this trip to be over quickly, and the change of clothes was only a precaution. Instead, she was waiting in a hotel while Draco simply asked questions. He didn’t know where Lily and Scorpius were any more than she did, and now she was worried.

Sitting heavily on one of the beds, Ginny started biting her nails, realizing just how little thought she had put into this. She was in Spain with Draco Malfoy, sharing a hotel room, with a single change of clothes and no idea how to find her daughter or how long it would take.

Glancing at the bed beside her, she was suddenly overcome and stood up, grabbing her purse and her room key. Separate beds were a start, she told herself, but what they needed were separate rooms. She marched down to the concierge, and caught herself. She didn’t know Spanish. Cursing her idiocy, Ginny wished she knew if the man were a wizard and could use her wand to explain, but that would be foolish. Instead, she mimed writing with a pen to him, gesturing until she could make him understand that she needed a piece of paper.

He nodded, smiling and hurried back to the room behind the desk to fetch one, handing her a pen and paper.

Ginny spent the next several minutes trying to explain her sketch of two beds and two rooms, trying to make him realize she needed to make a change, pointing from one drawing to the other.

Finally the man laughed, realizing what she was saying, he answered her in his very broken English.

“No one room,” he said, holding up a finger and smiling, “Two room?” He held up two fingers, pointing at Ginny’s drawing.

She smiled in relief and said yes in Spanish, one of the only words she knew in the language.

But the man shook his head, shrugging his shoulders. He pointed at her drawing and shook his head again, holding up a zero with his fingers. All their rooms were full for the night.

Ginny thanked him anyway and turned away, wondering what she was going to do.

*

Ginny awoke to a hand lightly shaking her, blinking in the slight darkness of the room, only fractions of the fading daylight seeping in from the window curtains.

“Hey, get up, Gin. It’s nearly dark out.”

Ginny slowly pushed herself up to a sitting position on the bed, blinking tiredly up at Draco who stood above her.

He flicked his wand and the lamps came to life, the small bright lights helping Ginny take in her surroundings.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to sleep so much…”

“No, it’s good. You should be feeling better now, right?” he asked, sitting down near her feet, looking at her.

“Listen,” he began, looking down, “I’m sorry about the room. I thought I had told him two rooms, not two beds in one room. They’re all full for the night… so…”

“I know, I already asked,” Ginny informed him.

“Oh… good.”

An awkward silence grew between them, Draco finally clearing his throat. “Anyway, we’ll get it sorted out in the morning and change to separate rooms but for tonight… we’ll have to make do. It’s not like we haven’t lived together before, right?” he joked lightheartedly, likely as nervous and uncomfortable as Ginny.

This was just too close to everything they didn’t want to do. The hotel, the shared room… Ginny shook her head, clearing her thoughts.

“What did you find out?” she asked, changing the subject to the actual reason they were both there.

“I checked around a handful of the hotels, including this one before we checked in, but no one’s seen them. There is a man who’s seen a boy that looks like Scorpius in his shop for the past two days. He said he looked lost the first day and that’s how he noticed him. And a woman at the market swears she’s seen Lily. She couldn’t stop talking about her red hair,” he laughed.

“Guess the Weasley hair stands out everywhere,” Ginny shrugged with a smile that soon disappeared. “You don’t think we’ll find them tonight? That it’s not worth searching?”

“Of course it’s worth it, it’s just unlikely. Look, we have a few clues; we’ll keep looking in the morning.”

Ginny nodded, agreeing that would be best.

“I assume you haven't eaten anything?”

She shook her head, and Draco offered her a hand, deciding to go to the hotel restaurant for dinner.

The meal was unlike anything Ginny had ever had, but she couldn’t fully enjoy it, lost in thoughts about Lily and Harry and most of all the man sitting across from her. Draco didn’t speak much during dinner, no more than small comments here and there about the food. Ginny felt herself grow frustrated, finally understanding why Draco hadn’t wanted her to come. They couldn’t be around each other after everything that happened. They wanted to, she felt sure of that, but under the circumstances, their marriages, they simply couldn’t. It was too painful to be so close together, to touch or laugh and know none of their past could be brought up now. It was like being in a cage, seeing what she wanted standing right before her eyes, but being unable to reach it.

Seeing the glint of gold on her ring-finger, Ginny felt a pang of sorrow. She glanced at Draco’s hand and saw his wedding band as well. No wonder the concierge had put them in one room; they looked like a married couple.

Suddenly Ginny wasn’t hungry anymore and she set down her fork. “I think I’m going to make a phone call.”

Draco looked up, realizing what she meant and nodded. “I’ll see you tonight, then.”

Ginny’s eyes widened until she finally realized he meant the hotel room, mentally berating herself. She made a small noise of agreement and got up from the table, leaving the restaurant and returning to the front lobby, where she had to act out another game of charades with a different concierge until her could point her in the direction of a phone.

Ginny finally dug through her purse for Muggle coins, hoping she could make the phone work and feeling lonelier than ever upon realizing she didn’t have any Spanish currency. Tears started falling down her cheeks and she hastily moved to wipe them away when the concierge saw, his expression one of empathy.

Unnoticed by Ginny, he left his place by the desk and moved towards her, slipping a coin into the slot from behind her.

Ginny spun around to face him, her tearful face breaking out into a grateful smile. “Gracias.” she said, butchering the simple word.

The boy smiled and returned to the desk, leaving Ginny with the phone.

Searching her memory, Ginny dialed the number of the cell phone Draco had sent her earlier that morning, the phone she’d left sitting on her kitchen counter at home.

Harry picked up on second ring, his voice gruff. “Hello?”

“Hi, Harry, it’s me.”

“Hey,” he breathed.

For a moment neither said a word.

“Are you still trying?” she asked with a slight hitch in her voice.

“Yeah,” he sighed, “I’m trying, Gin… but…”

“Me too, then.”

There was a sigh of relief from the other end of the line and Ginny felt tears pricking at the corners of her eyes once more. “I’ve only got a minute left on this Muggle thing,” she said. “We’re going to keep looking for Lily in the morning. Dra—” she caught herself, “Malfoy thinks we can find her by then…”

“Good. Sounds good.”

“I need to go then.”

“Goodnight, Ginny…”

“Goodnight.”

She hung up the receiver with a soft click, staring at the Muggle phone and trying to get a hold of herself. She had to go up to the room now, she realized, wiping helplessly at her eyes. She gave the boy at the desk a final smile and started up the outside staircase, heading to her and Draco’s room.

End Notes:
Thanks all for being so patient. This has just been a busy semester. The good news is there are only 2 chapters and an epilogue left to go, so fingers crossed for me finishing it sooner. Thanks to DGgirl as always for her beta-ing!
This story archived at http://www.dracoandginny.com/viewstory.php?sid=6412